Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 09:41:27 -0500

From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU

Subject: Re: How cold was it?


'Colds' (from the beginning of the century through the early 70's in

southern Indiana) are as follows:

Colder than (or 'as cold as')

1) A well-digger's ass + (in Alaska/the Klondike/Hades)

2) A witch's/bitch's tit(ty) + ((in a brass bra) (on a frosty Halloween))

3) A creek rock

4) A (wet) frog

5) Ice

I did not collect 'in a snowstorm' as an extrension for either of the first

two. (Note that either or both extensions may be applied to the second only

with 'witch' and their order is fixed if both are selected.)

Happily, these are not all from memory, and those interested in other

proverbial comparisons from Southern Indiana (although I certainly do not

claim that they are unique to that part of the world) might check out my

dusty 'Proverbial Comarisons from Southern Indiana,' Orbis XXIV,1:72-114


As for distribution, for the well-digger, I listed 'Ozarks' and 'Western

Tennessee' for the unadorned version, 'Eastern' and 'Western Tennessee' for

' Idaho' (which I did not collect locally in Indiana), and 'West

Tennessee' and 'New York State' for ' Alaska.' Only 'West Tennessee'

also had ' the Klondike.'

I list 'Ozarks,' 'Western Tennessee,' and 'New York Strate' for all of the

possible extended versions of the second, but only 'New York State' also

had the 'bitch's' alternate (without the extensions, as noted above).

'Creek rock' was not found in any other published list (although 'cold as

stone' has a long history); 'frog' (without 'wet') appeared in lists for

'Indiana,' 'Nebraska,' 'Ozarks,' 'Eastern Tennessee,' 'Western Tennessee,'

and 'New York State'; of course, 'cold as ice' is ubiquitous.

Those regional identifications are based on published collections; I am

certain that many other areas support these (and similar) proverbialisms.

Except for 'cold as ice' (which Whiting and Whiting 1968 list from 1300),

these items appear to be fairly 'modern' and uniquely 'Anmerican' since I

could not find parallels for them in historical dictionaries of

proverbialisms in the US or of any such historical or current lists for the

UK (or other English-speaking areas).

(Although it may not be worth mention, there is, of course, a number of

'catch-all' closers for proverbial comparisons, but they take almost any

adjective beginning. 'Cold' is frequent with them (e.g., ' ... as/than all

get-out,' ' hell,' ' shit, '... as/than a son of a


DInIs (fixin' to get as cold as all of these way up here in MI)

PS: A list equally erudite? Say it isn;t so!

On another list, smaller but equally erudite, the matter of cold weather

came up along with its relationship to certain anatomical topography of

those of the Wiccan persuasion. A lady from Boston (it's possible) said it

had been colder than a you-know-what -- period. A member from Arkansas said

it was colder than a YKW in a snowstorm. Here is the Northeast I have

always heard that it was cold as a YKW in a brass brassiere.

Has anyone ever mapped this?

Duane Campbell dcamp[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Dennis R. Preston

Department of Linguistics and Languages

Michigan State University

East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA


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