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  #21  
Old 01 November 2017, 07:42 PM
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IMS, the p's and q's is about how the letters are similar, but reversed, so someone learning to write might mix them uq.

ETA: From M-W:
Quote:
from the phrase mind one's p's and q's, alluding to the difficulty a child learning to write has in distinguishing between p and q
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  #22  
Old 01 November 2017, 07:52 PM
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I find that fascinating. I have not put any thought into the actual meaning, but to me it was always a variance on "mind your please and thank you".

Something a parent would say to a child.

I am much wiser today. Thank you.
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  #23  
Old 01 November 2017, 09:49 PM
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I was going to say, I'm sure there was a snopes page about this very saying, and there is (sometimes when I'm sure about pages I've seen in the past, I'm either wrong, or the page has disappeared for some reason):

https://www.snopes.com/language/phrases/pqs.asp

Quote:
Claim: Barkeepers kept track of patrons’ tabs by chalking p’s and q’s on the wall (for pints and quarts), hence the admonishment to “mind your p’s and q’s.”

Status: FALSE
Sorry, AliBaba, but as one of the few people who's both still posting and has been here longer than me, I think you might deserve to have it drawn to your attention...!

Sadly, there is no accepted theory for where that saying came from, but as I understand it one of the more likely ones is to do with printing, and the fact that "p" and "q" each look like the other when reversed and so were difficult for printers, in the days of typesetting by hand, to distinguish. (This is also mentioned on the page above - it's not definite either, but it seems from other things I've read to be more likely than the others. Also pretty much what GenYus said.)

(eta) In practice I speculate that it's probably a mixture of the difficulty of distinguishing "p's and q's" (in the handwriting sense rather than printing) and what UEL said - and this also matches the sense in which it's used, to tell people to behave; it works as an admonishment to children in both senses - handwriting, and "mind your manners", and it's a pune or play on wordes that people would remember.

Last edited by Richard W; 01 November 2017 at 09:56 PM.
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  #24  
Old 02 November 2017, 12:59 AM
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"She's ugly enough to make a freight train take a dirt road." I don't know why--it doesn't even make sense--but the first time I heard that it struck me as so funny I literally fell down laughing.

No, my UNCLE was drinking. I never touch a drop.
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  #25  
Old 02 November 2017, 02:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
"She's ugly enough to make a freight train take a dirt road." I don't know why--it doesn't even make sense--but the first time I heard that it struck me as so funny I literally fell down laughing.
That is a good line.
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  #26  
Old 02 November 2017, 04:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
No, my UNCLE was drinking.
Are you sure it wasn't the piano?
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  #27  
Old 02 November 2017, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
"She's ugly enough to make a freight train take a dirt road." I don't know why--it doesn't even make sense--but the first time I heard that it struck me as so funny I literally fell down laughing.

No, my UNCLE was drinking. I never touch a drop.
I've heard variations on that: she's got the wind up of a clock and a face to stop it; ugly enough to stop a train--twice.

What is it with trains and ugly people?
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  #28  
Old 02 November 2017, 03:14 PM
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Trains have different ideas of beauty than do people who make jokes about other people being ugly. The trains are so awestruck by the beauty of the people being joked about that they stop in the hope that these beautiful people will board them.
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  #29  
Old 02 November 2017, 03:34 PM
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Trains run on very fixed schedules and don't make unplanned stops and are very massive, so making one stop or divert is a huge deal. Making a car or truck stop isn't so big as they do it themselves dozens or hundreds of times in a trip. A train makes one stop per leg of a journey.
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  #30  
Old 02 November 2017, 06:11 PM
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There was I saying that I remember some kids use to say when I was in middle school back in the early 00s. They use to say "this is an A B conversation, so C your way out." I don't know when people started saying this. But from what I can remember, most people that said it, said it in a joking manner.
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  #31  
Old 02 November 2017, 08:12 PM
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I have it on good authority from multiple people that it used to be possible to flag the train down along the tracks and get on it or load one's produce on it.

Admittedly, they were talking about the first part of the 20th century. It hasn't been possible for some time. And even then, it was most likely only possible with some trains in some locations.
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  #32  
Old 03 November 2017, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
Trains run on very fixed schedules and don't make unplanned stops and are very massive, so making one stop or divert is a huge deal. Making a car or truck stop isn't so big as they do it themselves dozens or hundreds of times in a trip. A train makes one stop per leg of a journey.
Was the pun intended?
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  #33  
Old 03 November 2017, 12:02 AM
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Since I'm not sure what pun you mean, I'm going to have to go with no.
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  #34  
Old 06 November 2017, 06:14 AM
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I actually can't remember what I thought was the pun so I don't know what I meant. And I hadn't been drinking either.
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  #35  
Old 13 November 2017, 09:12 PM
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I can't divert a train, but I did derail the thread. Sorry!
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  #36  
Old 14 November 2017, 12:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
Il y a plus des singes en France. Les singes sont dans les arbres...

(Sorry, something of an in-joke between me, a friend I fell out with more than ten years ago, and Eddy Izzard. It's OK if you don't get it. It's only funny to me, regardless of language. And my French is terrible anyway.)
Here's the bit, in case anyone wants to watch it. I always think of it when I think of the word singe.
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  #37  
Old 02 December 2017, 05:42 AM
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Why do we say "That's nothing to sneeze at"? Do people sneeze at things they think are insignificant?
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  #38  
Old 02 December 2017, 06:00 AM
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http://www.word-detective.com/2011/1...-to-sneeze-at/
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  #39  
Old 12 December 2017, 07:27 PM
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Quote:
Sorry, AliBaba, but as one of the few people who's both still posting and has been here longer than me, I think you might deserve to have it drawn to your attention...!
How about that. Well apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Or maybe we should it amend the phrase to "you can teach an old dog an old trick that's been there the whole time if she'd bothered to look." Yeah, no, doesn't quite roll off the tongue, that.
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