I love words. I love language. I love linguistics, although I don’t really know much about it other than language families, dialects, and other simple, basic concepts. Any linguists out there who are reading this now are thinking to themselves, “This guy doesn’t know anything about linguistics!” Well, they’re right. Oh, well – save it for the comments below, Mr. or Ms. Linguistics-Person.
Anyway, some things that people say, self included, don’t make a lot of sense. When I hear them, I wonder if they really know what they’re saying, or if they just say it because they’ve heard other folks say it. Here are some idioms, phrases and words that come to mind:
I could care less.
People usually say this to mean I don’t care at all. But, that’s not what it says. What they are actually saying is that they do care, and that there is some amount of care that is less than they currently feel. What they really mean is I couldn’t care less. See, now it says that they care so little that they couldn’t possibly care any less than they do.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Say what? Why can’t I? Let’s say I sit down and am helping myself to a piece of cake. Now, I’m not a big cake eater – it’s OK, but I don’t have a sweet tooth. Anyway, let’s say that, as I’m eating my cake, my wife calls out to me, “Hey, Stud, what are you doing?” (OK, she never calls me Stud, but this is my story, just go with it.) I’d answer, “Well, Sweet Mama (again, I don’t call her this), I’m having cake!” See! I’m having cake. AND I’m eating it, too! What do you say to that, huh? Don’t tell me what I can or can’t do! In fact, if I don’t have the cake, I can’t eat the cake. It’s at this point that my wife would say, “What? You have cake, and you didn’t get me any!” Uh-oh, now I’m in for it.
Bite your tongue!
People say this usually to mean, “Be quiet! Don’t say anything!” Now, I don’t know about you, but when I bite my tongue, I am anything but quiet. Usually, I cry out loudly, followed up with a string of not-so-nice words. So, I just don’t get the saying.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
Really? Is there? If so, how the heck did you come about this knowledge? Wouldn’t the SPCA or PETA hunt you down for doing this? I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in many states and municipalities too.
Flip the bird.
Extending your middle finger to a person looks nothing like a bird to me – at least, not any bird that I’ve ever seen in real life or pictures.
Buy One, Get One.
I don’t get this, not at all. If I buy one item, I dang well better get one item! Sheesh! What would I do instead, buy two to get only one?! It’s all in the marketing, I reckon.
Great minds think alike.
Excuse me, but I think that mundane minds think alike. Otherwise, we’d be buried in a plethora of great ideas. No, I believe that Great minds think differently. That’s what makes them great.
Plain vanilla? Really?! Have you ever tasted vanilla? It’s anything but plain! Every vanilla flavored ice cream tastes different from the last. Vanilla is a fine flavor, and one of my favorite. Honestly, it’s chocolate that’s boring – it’s just chocolate, the same flavor over and over again. Sure, add sugar, or cream, or salt. But, it’s still just chocolate.
If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.
Well, duh. It either is this thing, or it is not this thing. This isn’t rocket science here.
It’ll be in the last place you look.
This is another duh statement. Who the heck keeps looking for something after they’ve already found it?
Your guess is as good as mine.
No, mine is better, because I’m smarter than you.
How about you? Are there any phrases that strike you as odd, ridiculous, or just plain wrong?