austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Find out what it means to me

Here are some origins of common phrases. If you don't like these origins, we have some others in the back, though they may be a little stale, particularly the ones with price stickers dating back to Two Guys For Crying Out Loud. If you don't like the phrases we have others hiding in the walls and peeking at you, the fourth-leading cause of self-consciousness among single homes filing ownership. The leading causes of self-consciousness are self, consciousness, hyphens, mirrorlessness, and selenium. As we can see, phrases hiding in the walls don't actually make the leader board. We were fibbing. If you don't like words, we have some fine gutoral exhalations and cudgels.

Phrase: ``Clinically Proven''. This phrase first appears in Law French in 1485, under the guise of ``clerically proven''. In this construction it signified that a thing was not proven, but was also not unproven, and most certainly was not resting in that uncertain state where things are neither proven nor unproven. What it did have, however, was a man of the cloth ranking a level no less than canton but no greater than Ohio, waved at it. Note the metaphorical use of ``cleric'' to mean one who is ``not a cleric''. After this point the phrase disappears, only to turn up in the Domesday Book of 1087, as a category of wool in Sprankled Mews, Lancashire. No one knows how.

Phrase: ``I have my reservations''. This is a sarcastic contraction of the original phrase dating to 1887 in which the phrase's user would assert there was something one wanted to have reserved at a later point. In its original construction, developed by the Roebeling brothers using gerunds wound by the Trenton Verbal Works and sunk under the East River until the discovery of how that doesn't work, it was, ``I have my preservations''. This makes clear the difference between having something now and having something you mean to have later on. In particular this was to be one's servations, which were a popular method of keeping cool in the late 19th century before the discovery of ice, ice cream sundaes, not being set on fire, shade, ice cream, and the thermostat. Since the thermostat was discovered in a remote portion of the remaining forest primeval in Poland the popularity of servations has declined. The remainder now spend their days attending reunion conferences and sulking about how it isn't even music anymore, just noise. They could also be others' preservations.

Phrase: ``Stand right, pass left''. Without this phrase escalator traffic patterns would be a confused, anarchic disaster. Best projections indicate that crowds of people relaxing as they gradually go up or down one or, for the courageous adventurers, two storeys, would be set upon by bandits, robber-barons, Hoplites, space donkeys, wine jugs, and potato elementals. The resulting battles could last for upwards of a minute, on the slower rides. Thus it is ironic that the phrase originally traces to 1910 and the discovery of majors in United States universities, where candidates for a degree were expected to go through one of two doors to indicate the results of their bachelor's programs. Those passing their courses would go through the left door, those failing or, in the colloquial, ``targum'', would go through the right. The system worked well until it was tried, when a dispute broke out about whether the left as viewed from inside or outside, and when all 318 college and university students in the United States in 1910 failed their courses at once the system was reformed, though no one knows into what. The Otis company quickly installed escalators so the phrase would not go to waste.

Phrase: ``Swinging like a frog otolith.'' This phrase lacks common use now, but expects to be popular later in the decade, when the nascent frog craze intersects with the upsurge in otolith popularity. It will be disappointed, but it looks so cute dressed in footy pajamas and running around to clerics and servations talking about how great it's going to be in 2018. Ironically, it will be great, but for the phrase ``more popular than a phrase about frog otoliths''. Frogs will remain frogs.

Trivia: The Broadway musical Via Galactica attempted to tell the story of a band of nonconformists on an asteroid a thousand years in the future. Six large trampolines were used to help simulate weightlessness. It opened at the Uris theater on 28 November 1972 and closed after eight performances. Source: Not Since Carrie: 40 Years Of Broadway Musical Flops, Ken Mandelbaum.

Currently Reading: Opus 300, Isaac Asimov. (Even less time to read. Things are busy.)

Tags: humor

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