Date: Thu, 20 Oct 1994 13:07:59 -0400
From: TPRATT[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UPEI.CA
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:
"tpratt[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]upei.ca"
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
THE ATLANTIC PROVINCES OF CANADA OR THE NEW ENGLAND STATES. You
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]upei.ca"