Say or nay?

Being a language teacher, I often question the usefulness of teaching certain language when it seems rarely used in daily life, if not nearly lost with a bygone era.  There are a lot of glaringly obvious examples to desert completely (has anyone actually said “it’s raining cats and dogs” in your lifetime), but in doing so, do we limit our ability to express ourselves clearly?  Are these words and expressions just being replaced by newer ones with the same meaning?  Or has our society/culture/environment just evolved to the point where describing it a certain way is no longer relevant?

Thinking about my grandmother the other day and what she used to say to me, I had the idea to blog about some of these types of linguistic challenges.  So tell me, whomever you are, do you think these are still used?  If so, when was the last time you heard it used or used it yourself?

#1 – saucy (adj)

I can remember when I was a little kid, I’d get frustrated and say something sarcastic.  And if in Gramma’s presence, she’d say, “now don’t get saucy“.  I also remember thinking it was such an odd expression to say in that situation when my mom never used it nor did anyone else I knew, even then.  Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever used it then or since. Variation of similar frequency:  lippy

Not actual grandparents

#2 – horse around (v)

I’m not sure why these two came to mind most recently (maybe I’m feeling like I’ve done something wrong, haha), but another one my grandparents said was not to horse around in the living room as though my friends and I would destroy something valuable.  Now this one’s a little tough for me to make a call on.  I do believe I’ve taught it to students at one point or another without really considering too carefully if I’ve ever used it myself.  And you know, I don’t think I have.  But for some reason, it doesn’t seem quite as outdated as saucy.

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About seburnt

I own 4C and teach at University of Toronto. View all posts by seburnt

7 responses to “Say or nay?

  • Carolyn Samuel

    I can remember my grandparents using both those expressions as well but only up until the 90s or so. After that, I too have no recollection of anyone in my family using them.

    • georgeman

      I’m from Sydney in Australia and my parents still use horse around all the time. My brothers play on the furniture quite a lot and straight away they yell not to horse around. Seems quite a normal expression round here.

      • kfbunny

        Definitely regional and even familial language definitely accounts for how often lexis is used. Hopefully through posts like these, I’ll get a better database (even if it is in my mind only) of frequency of use! Thanks for replying.

  • kfbunny

    Definitely don’t think less of me for repeating “definitely”.

  • shirley

    I certainly remember as a child, my parents, (your grandparents) using those two expressions. You say you don’t recall me ever saying them and perhaps i did not but I’m sure there were other expressions I did use that you remember and I don’t for the moment. I can remember lots and lots of expressions my parents used if you are interested. One that comes to mind is “pasteboard box” which now is a cardboard box. Want anymore? Just let me know!

    • kfbunny

      That’s neat! I’d love to hear more. I wonder if anyone out there still calls them pasteboard boxes. Very well could be.

      One that came to mind not long ago was “chesterfield”. I remember using that term quite often as a kid, but it seems to have disappeared.

  • Do you resist or embrace a changing English? | 4C

    […] chesterfield to describe what we now refer to as the all-encompassing couch and warned me not to get saucy when I started to be sarcastic.  These disappearances don’t upset me.  Links form this blog […]

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