Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Steve Evans: Language Usage 23-25

Three headlines in the daily paper caught my eye today, July 23, especially in relation to language in American English:

no. 23: Ruling the Roost (page 1A) - Be in charge, boss others, as in "In our division the chairman's son rules the roost." This expression originated in the 15th century as rule the roast, which was either a corruption of rooster or alluded to the person who was in charge of the roast and thus ran the kitchen. In the barnyard a rooster decides which hen should roost near him. Both interpretations persisted for 200 years. Thomas Heywood (c. 1630) put it as "Her that ruled the roast in the kitchen," but Shakespeare had it in 2 Henry VI (1:1): "The new-made duke that rules the roast," which is more ambiguous. In the mid-1700s roost began to compete with roast, and in the 1900s roost displaced roast altogether.

This headline referred to an article on the historic home of a former Johnson City mayor.

no. 24: Honeymoon over? (page 1A) - An idiom indicating that an initial harmonious period in a new relationship has ended, as in After the first ninety days, the honeymoon between the new President and the press was over. The figurative use of honeymoon (literally referring to the first month of marriage) dates from the late 1500s.

This headline referred to Obama's time in the presidency.

no. 25: Cleaning up the creek: Carver residents wading into project (page 1B) - I like the rythm here, the use of Cs. I also like the play on words: "wading" into a project, in light of the fact the project has to do with water - a creek - and the image of wading into water.

Source: Johnson City News, Wednesday July 23, 2009

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