Anyone who knows me may be surprised to learn that I own three Bibles (the Revised Standard, the New English, and the King James), as well as the Book of Mormon, the Nag Hammadi Scriptures, the Apocrypha, and an English translation of the Qur’an. I know the difference between an Apostle and an Epistle, I can list the twelve sons of Jacob*, and I can whip out a quote from the four Gospels for just about any occasion.Continue reading “The shape of words.”
It’s been raining cats and dogs here for the past two days.
“Raining cats and dogs”: Everybody has said that at one time or another. It’s a distinctive expression, and is pretty much universal in the places where English is spoken. Oddly enough, however, nobody seems to know where or how it originated.The first use of the phrase is in print is in A Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation by Jonathan Swift, published in 1738; presumably the expression was common enough by that time that he felt comfortable using it without providing an explanation. A number of possible origin myths have been put forward in the centuries since, but they are all little more than speculation, long after the fact, with nothing much to recommend one over another.Continue reading “Turning a Phrase.”