I was getting ready to post another Why? Wednesday, but I kept running into discrepancies between my book and online sources. And since the whole point was to just copy stuff out of the book (not do actual research), I'm killing the idea.
I suppose I didn't actually even need to make this post. This segment could have gone off into the long, dark night, escaping like so much post-Chipotle gas. But if I'd done that, how would I have shared this lovely picture? I wouldn't have, that's how. And then the terrorists win.
My first thought when I saw this shirt hanging up in Walgreen's was, "Fish Will Work For..."?
I recognize that this t-shirt was probably printed in a country where English is not their native language. But I would venture to guess that there were many, many eyes (most often in pairs) that belonged to native English speakers which passed over this design before it got hung up for purchase.
And did none of them say, "Ya know, we really read top to bottom, not bottom to top. This shirt doesn't make sense."
Or maybe it's supposed to be a joke in reverse. Like you say, "Will work for...?" with that raised-eyebrow, expectant "Guess what I'd finish this sentence with" look. And then you'd turn the page, and there'd be a big picture of a fish and we'd all laugh and have another round.
Except this is on a shirt. And it doesn't make sense.
What is the reason we call a gratuity a "tip"? The book's answer: Years ago in English inns and taverns if was customary for the patrons to drop a coin for the benefit of the waiters into a box placed on the wall. On the box was a little sign which said: "To insure promptness." Later just the initials of the phrase were put on the box—T.I.P.
Wikipedia's answer: The Oxford English Dictionary states that tip is derived from the English thieves' slang word tip, meaning "to pass from one to another." The notion of a stock tip or racing tip is from the same slang.
The word "tip" is often claimed to be an acronym for terms such as
"to insure prompt service", "to insure proper service", "to improve
performance", and "to insure promptness". However, this etymology
contradicts the Oxford English Dictionary and is probably an example of a backronym or apronym.
Another possible source for this term is a concept from Judaism that it is a chiyuv (obligation) for a seller to "tip the scales" in favor of the customer. The Torah says, "Nosen lo girumov
(Give to him a tip)." For example, if your customer has asked for three
pounds of onions, you should measure out the three pounds plus one
extra onion, tipping the scale in his favor.
As I am one of the "word guys" in the office (having "writer" in your job title will do that to you), I often get asked about proper word usage. For example, a couple of guys were quizzing me awhile ago about the difference between "getaway" and "get away".
At the time, it astounded me that this would even count as a "quiz". But there I was, answering their rapid-fire scenarios of "which one is right".
Not a week later, we went to a new wings place near work, and it struck me just how many people probably don't get this. For plastered all over their t-shirts and tabletops, forever ensconced under a hefty coat of bar epoxy, what what you see at right (click image for closeup).
In case you don't understand why "time to getaway" should be "time to get away", I offer the following breakdown (references courtesy of dictionary.com).
Getaway (one word) –noun 1. a getting away or fleeing; an escape. 2. the start of a race: a fast getaway. 3. a place where one escapes for relaxation, vacation, etc., or a period of time for such recreation: a little seaside getaway; a two-week getaway in the Bahamas. –adjective 4. used as a means of escape or fleeing: a stolen getaway car. 5. used for occasional relaxation, retreat, or reclusion: a weekend getaway house.
Get Away (two words) –verb 1. Break free, escape, as in "The suspect ran down the street and got away," or "I wanted to come but couldn't get away from the office." [c. 1300] A variant is get away from it all, meaning "to depart and leave one's surroundings or problems or work behind." For example, "Joe is taking a few days offhe needs to get away from it all." 2. Start out or leave quickly, as in "The greyhounds got away from the starting gate," or "I thought I had the answer but it got away from me." 3. Go, move off. For example, "Get away from my desk!" or "Get awayI don't want you near that hot stove."
Where did we get the expression "auld lang syne"? It's a Scottish phrase that literally means "old long since"—in other words, the "olden times." The song, "Auld Lang Syne," though usually attributed to Robert Burns, was not composed by him. He heard an old man singing it and took it down. The author and composer are wholly unknown.
And if you already know the answers, it'll give you a chance to feel smug about yourself. Everybody wins!
Flash in the Pan.How did we get the expression "flash in the pan"? The old flintlock type of gun had a "pan" on which a little trail of powder led from the charge in the gun to the flint. When the hammer struck the flint and ignited this trail of powder but the gun did not go off—then it was just a "flash in the pan."
On a side note, does anyone know if it is legal to quote from a book like this? I searched a bit on Google, but couldn't come up with anything outlining lengths of allowable quotes or the such.