Date: Thu, 20 Oct 1994 13:07:59 -0400


Subject: Recognize these sayings?

Some members of this list probably know of my DICTIONARY OF PRINCE

EDWARD ISLAND ENGLISH, 1988, and a few may know I am close to

finishing a sequel, on Prince Edward Island sayings. The thing is, I

have a few in this second collection that I don't trust as being

"local," and a few others the meanings of which simply escape me. I

haven't found enough information on either group in the numerous

other famous and otherwise collections of sayings (or catchphrases,

proverbs, idioms, etc) that I consult for each contender.

As a last resort, then, I turn to the members of this well-informed


What I propose to do here is show you these 19 sayings in two groups,

and ask you to write me, very briefly, if you have heard any of them.

I suspect that most subsribers would prefer that we not clutter the

list with public responses, so do consider that I have one of the

easiest addresses on the highway, simply:


But I will also number the sayings, so if you want to write a fast

public (or private) response, just list the numbers.

First, Group I, the ones that sound to me as if they probably are

used widely. I ask you simply to tell me if they are found OUTSIDE


might mention where the broader distribution is, but even that is not


1. Crazy as a lark. [not "happy as ..."]

2. Who died and left you king / queen / boss / God?

3. They would drink the well dry. [alcoholic]

4. Eatons don't tell Simpsons their business. [Canadian dept stores]

5. Someone will have lots of stars in their crown [in heaven].

6. You might as well try to keep Niagara Falls back with a

teaspoon / fork.

7. You might as well try to fill the Grand Canyon with a teaspoon /


8. You might as well try to climb Mount Everest.

Now Group II. These ones may well also be non-"local" non-

contenders. But in any case, I don't know what they mean. Sometimes

cognate or parallel or similar sayings, from anywhere, can help to

shed light on a meaning. Consider this list, with its attached

questions, analogous to the ones that the DARE editors sometimes send

out, about uncertain data:

9. A cross between a door-sill and a door-mat.

-- Someone is doubly imposed upon? Or something is an impossible


10. A face that could wear out two bodies.

-- Means ugly or pretty? Or two-faced, a double-dealer?

11. All that's left of him is the gear shift / the running gear.

-- And what's that? Is this sexual? Could it ever be "her"?

Does it mean 'very thin'?

12. Cakes and pies before your eyes where porridge was intended.

-- Used when? Any German connection here?

13. I went to school and got my Ph.D. [meaning 'posthole digger']

-- Rueful? An attack on eggheads?

14. When you see a pig you should kick it.

-- Why? (poor pig!) Is this a proverb?

15. You can hang a powder horn on the tip of the moon.

-- A weather saying re new moon, but for good weather or bad?

16. The two days will come to everyone.

-- Which two days - birth and death? The weekend?

17. To slip one's mind. [meaning NOT 'forget', but 'die']

-- Can this really have the meaning 'to die'?

18. By the end of the stick! [a mild oath]

-- Why? What stick?

19. To be sure to think one is not the train

-- How's that again?

That's it and thanks. You will be acknowledged in the volume, and I

will also post a thanks at the end of this process, along with any

generalizations that might seem useful.

Terry Pratt, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PEI,

Canada C1A 4P3. (902) 566-0677. FAX (902) 566-0420.

E-mail "tpratt[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]"