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
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
'...in Idaho' (which I did not collect locally in Indiana), and 'West
Tennessee' and 'New York State' for '...in Alaska.' Only 'West Tennessee'
also had '...in 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,' '...as/than hell,' '...as/than 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]epix.net
Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]pilot.msu.edu