- Books, Literature, and Writing
Funny and Weird Phrases and Sayings
How many words does the average person speak a day? According to one source the average man says about 6000, while the average woman, 18,000. There are other sources. Each one of them has different numbers. (and woman tend to talk more than men) But all prove one thing. We say a lot every day. So it’s no wonder that sometimes we say stuff that makes no sense. I’m not taking about the occasional dumb opinion or misstatement. No, I’m talking about words and phrases that have become part of our language and conversations.
Today, as I took my lunch hour walk, I came upon two woman walking the other way. As I gave them room to pass me, I heard one of them say “he’s going to die laughing when he hears that”. In the context of the entire conversation it likely made sense to the person who heard it. The speaker was only guilty of a little exaggeration, something the listener likely did not even notice. But since I only heard the one sentence, I walked away thinking that while I had heard it a thousand times in conversation I never noticed what a ridiculous statement it was.
To “die laughing” would be quite ironic. And while there are other ways to die that are seemingly worse (not that I have experienced them), I would not want to die like this. I have had belly laughs in the past and frankly if it goes on too long it hurts. To laugh until I die would be excruciating. I know I will die someday. I just hope I am an (otherwise) healthy 103 year old and I just stop breathing in my sleep. It’s ok if I have a smile on my face when I go but no laughing!
I suppose she could have said to her friend “he’s going to get a kick out of it when he hears it’ But that would have been just as ridiculous. I have never seen a person laugh at a funny joke and then kick someone. And when something is funny it is not a riot. I’ve seen riots on TV and they look like real serious things.
Taking Death Lightly
It seems in our casual talk, we take death much too lightly. No one ever “died of embarrassment”. Embarrassment is not a pleasant experience. I should know. I’ve experienced it on more occasions than I care to recall and I’m still living. I’m sure medical schools don’t spend too much time teaching cures for it. “Dying of thirst” is another ridiculous idiom. It’s not a pleasant way to go either. When I was researching this Hub, I read what happens when the human body is starved of fluid. Suffice to say that including any details here would destroy the light tone of this column. Not too many people die of thirst. When I think of that my mind goes to the cliché of the man in tatters crawling across the desert in scorching heat. Not the person who has just worked out or eaten salty snacks. And there aren’t too many things that I would consider “to die for”. Maybe country, family or God. But I would have to give some serious thought to them. I’m sorry, no matter how good the cheesecake is, I’m not even considering it. If you’re “freezing to death”, put on a sweater.
But my pet peeve is the idiom, “I‘m starving“. I found myself using this phase a lot a few years ago and I realized how ridiculous it is. I’m not starving! I am a well fed (read fat!) American who hasn’t eaten in a few hours! I’m hungry, that’s all.
This is an extremely common saying. I hear this at least two or three times a week from family, friends or co-workers. To be fair, one of the on line dictionaries does list “very hungry” as an informal meaning. No doubt from years of misuse of the term. The same website also lists it as an English colloquialism which means “freezing to death” I supposed it’s misused in England in this way.
One thing these phrases have in common is that they use exaggeration to make their point as do “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” and “I told you a million times” We know that someone could not eat an entire horse (at least not in one sitting) and if you told someone something once every minute it would take you nearly two years to tell them a million times. People use exaggeration in conversation to get their point across. And it is effective for the most part. It also adds color to the spoken language. I’m not a linguist, and I’m sure many of these terms are accepted as informal uses of the language. Even if they aren’t, I enjoy hearing them.