Is that how that idiom goes?
I’ve spent a lot of time in the past month or so realizing all of my errs (see Mision Cumplida for reference) with common idioms. I am now spending every day second guessing myself, and actually asking people, “did I say that right?”
Wait. What’s that you say? What is an idiom? Oh, well excuse me… I thought I was the only one that had to look it up!
1. an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements, as kick the bucket or hang one’s head.
2. a language, dialect, or style of speaking peculiar to a people.
Probably the funniest one as of late was my blunder in the above referenced Mision Cumplida post about my surgery. I wrote, “Aren’t they supposed to air on the side of caution…”. I actually didn’t know that it was “err” not “air”. It’s like airing your laundry. I have always aired on the side of caution. No sense in erring at all, so why would I want to err on the side of caution. It made sense to me.
Another one that seemed to make sense to me is “play it by ear.” It wasn’t until late teens, early twenties that I discovered it wasn’t “play it by year.” My parents used this term A LOT. Can we get ice cream? Let’s just play it by year. Ok… Can we go to Nana’s house this weekend? I don’t know yet, let’s just play it by year. Ok…
Again, like my previous err… I wasn’t just blindly using idioms incorrectly, I actually thought my version made complete sense. Haven’t you heard of playing it day by day? Well I applied that to this one and played it year by year. Of course that makes sense!
As I’ve aged, my listening skills may have improved ever so slightly, which could be cause for all of these corrections. When I was little, my brother and I would jam out with my mom to an assortment of music from an assortment of decades. All of these songs had lyrics that were way over my head, so it’s probably a good thing that I made up my own. I’m sure my mom put some of the errs in my head when it came to these lyrics. For example, when the Dire Straits said, “Money for nothin’ and your CHIPS for free.” Why would anyone get “CHICKS for free?” Of course these rich people getting money for nothin’ are also getting their Pringles for free.
Through these jam session with Ma, I somehow absorbed all of the lyrics to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel. Most people know this song and can sing along here and there. I know ALL of the words… or so I thought. In college I watched a powerpoint that someone timed with photos of each lyric. I had no idea what I had been singing all those years, nor do I still even know what many of those events and people that he’s singing about are. Even after that powerpoint I just sang along with the words that sounded right. Then the karaoke phase started (It hasn’t ended, just waned) and I now have most of the words under control. And man was I glad to find out that the trouble was in the Suez and not in our sewers!
I’d like to think that my naivety across the years has been in my favor but maybe I’m just not as smart as I thought I was. So to be constructive I am dotting my t’s and crossing my i’s every time I use an idiom to be sure I don’t sound like an idiot!
(did anyone catch that?)