Monday, March 29, 2010

Language Rocks

         I have always appreciated all aspects language no matter if it's ours or anybody elses. There is much to learn and understand when we learn some of the language background. There are many Ah ha moments when one key point suddenly explains a whole lot of things. When we learn a second language we discover much about our own language.

        I came across a number of these ah ha's in the Alberta Retired Teachers' Association News and Views. They do not give an origin for these little pieces , but obviously someone had to do a fair amount of research to discover these gems. So here they are. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

      In the 1400s law was set forth in England that a man was permitted to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have " the rule of thumb."

      In Shakespeare's time , mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When a person pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened making the bed firmer to sleep on- hence the phrase..."Good night, sleep tight."

     It was accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding , the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead was honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based , this period was called the honey moon month. Today it has been shortened to honeymoon, without the father-in-law's obligation.

       In English pubs , ale is ordered by pints and quarts. In old England when customers became unruly, the bartender would yell at them "Mind your pints and quarts and settle down." From that came the phrase"mind your P's and Q's."

      Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim , or handle of their ceramic mugs. When they needed a refill they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle " is the phrase inspired by this practice.