Mutating idioms by Angela Caldin

He did it off his own back You hear that a lot these days, so much so that it’s entered into common use. In fact, the original expression is ‘He did it off his own bat’. The bat in question is a cricket bat and the first activity that was said to be done ‘off someone’s own bat’ was to score runs. The idiom conveys the idea of someone doing something independently, without prompting. Each one worse than the next This phrase makes no sense if you pause to think about the… Read More

“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” (Joni Mitchell) by Trevor Plumbly

“There ain’t half been some clever bastards” (Ian Dury) I listened to a British talk show recently and, like NZ and Oz, they’ve got loads of folk waffling about the mundane things of life. The target for these media crusaders (let’s call them ‘progressives’) was language; this particular bunch decided, after some deliberation, that certain descriptive terms are no longer acceptable. They focussed on name-calling: describing someone as ‘skinny’, ‘tubby’ and the like is ‘body shaming’ and must now be considered emotionally damaging. I was shocked by the attack on British schoolboy… Read More