Did you know the origins of these sayings?!

Early aircraft’s throttles had a ball on the end of it, in order to go full throttle the pilot had to push the throttle all the way forward into the wall of the instrument panel. Hence “balls to the wall” for going very fast.

During WWII , U.S. airplanes were armed with belts of bullets which they would shoot during dogfights and on strafing runs. These belts were folded into the wing compartments that fed their machine guns. These belts measure 27 feet and contained hundreds of rounds of bullets. Often times, the pilots would return from their missions having expended all of their bullets on various targets. They would say, “I gave them the whole nine yards,” meaning they used up all of their ammunition.

In George Washington’s days, there were no cameras. One’s image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are ‘limbs,’ therefore painting them would cost the buyer more. Hence the expression, “Okay, but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg.”

As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year (May and October). Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good wigs made from wool. They couldn’t wash the wigs, so to clean them they would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term ‘big wig’. Today we often use the term ‘here comes the Big Wig’ because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.

In the late 1700’s, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used for dining. The ‘head of the household’ always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest, who was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal. To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. They called the one sitting in the chair the ‘chair man.’ Today in business, we use the expression or title ‘Chairman’ or ‘Chairman of the Board.’

Common entertainment included playing. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the ‘Ace of Spades.’ To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead. Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren’t ‘playing with a full deck.’

Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV’s or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars. They were told to ‘go sip some Ale and listen to people’s conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at different times. ‘You go sip here’ and ‘You go sip there.’ The two words ‘go sip’ were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we have the term ‘gossip.’

At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized containers. A bar maid’s job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in ‘pints’ and who was drinking in ‘quarts,’ hence the phrase ‘minding your ‘P’s and Q’s’.

In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem….how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a ‘Monkey’ with 16 round indentations. However, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make ‘Brass Monkeys.’ Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey; Thus, it was quite literally, ‘Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.’

(ed. – Thank you to our friend Dick Inwood who sent this missive through to us this past week. Always appreciated Dick!)

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

5 shaggy-dog (pun-ishing) stories

Here are 5 gems to get you through the week!!

  • King Ozymandias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great possession was the Star of the Euphrates, the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Croesus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan. Croesus said, “I’ll give you 100,000 dinars for it.” The King protested, “But I paid a million dinars for it! Don’t you know who I am? I am the king!” Croesus replied, “When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are.”
  • A marine biologist developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of seagulls. One day, his supply of the birds ran out so he had to go out and trap some more. On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them, he gingerly stepped over them. Immediately, he was arrested and charged with — transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.
  • An Indian chief was feeling very sick, so he summoned the medicine man. After a brief examination, the medicine man took out a long, thin strip of elk rawhide and gave it to the chief, telling him to bite off, chew, and swallow one inch of the leather every day. After a month, the medicine man returned to see how the chief was feeling. The chief shrugged and said, “The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on.”
  • A skeptical anthropologist was cataloguing South American folk remedies with the assistance of a tribal pujo who indicated that the leaves of a particular fern were a sure cure for any case of constipation. When the anthropologist expressed his doubts, the pujo looked him in the eye and said, “Let me tell you, with fronds like these, you don’t need enemas.”
  • Ollie Oyster and Sam Clam were best friends. They grew up together, went to school together, and even played in a rock band together. One day they had a horrible car accident, and both died. Ollie had lived a good life, and went to heaven. Sam went to the other place. Ollie wanted to play in a rock band again, just like before he died. But the only instrument allowed in heaven was the harp. He was a little sad about it, but learned to play the harp anyway, and became pretty good about it. But Ollie Oyster missed his good friend Sam Clam. One day he asked God if he could visit Sam. God said “Well, we don’t normally do that kind of thing. But you were a very good oyster, so I can make a small exception. I’ll let you visit Sam for one day. But the catch is, you have to take your harp with you. They don’t have harps in hell, so when you want to get back into heaven just come to the front gate and play your harp, and we’ll know it’s you and let you in.” Ollie was overjoyed, grabbed his harp, and went to visit his old friend. Ollie found Sam, and they soon caught up on old times. Musical instruments of all kinds were allowed in hell, and Sam had formed a band, made a lot of money, and eventually opened his own disco. The two friends partied the night away in Sam’s disco, talking about old times, drinking heavily, and having a great time. Finally, Ollie realized that time had gotten away from him, and he had only minutes to get back to heaven. He rushed out of the disco, leaving his harp behind. He made it to the front gates of heaven, and pounded on the door. St Peter peeked out, and said “God told me you would be coming back, but I can’t let you in until I hear you play your harp!” Ollie cried “Oh No! I left my harp in Sam Clam’s disco!”

Pass along your favourite puns! The By George Journal would love to post them!

If you’d like to see further punny stories and pithy shorts, here the full menu of our pun posts.

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Paraprosdokians to Enjoy

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation (i.e. “Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.”) .

  1. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
  2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.
  3. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
  5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
  6. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
  7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  8. Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good Evening,’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
  9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
  10. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
  11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.
  12. Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, ‘In case of emergency, notify:’ I put ‘DOCTOR.’
  13. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
  15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
  16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
  17. I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
  18. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  19. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
  20. There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.
  21. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.
  22. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
  23. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
  24. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
  25. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
  26. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  27. A diplomat is someone who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.
  28. Hospitality is making your guests feel at home even when you wish they were.
  29. I always take life with a grain of salt. Plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.
  30. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

(ed. – Thank you to our friend, Dick Inwood of Ottawa.)

Your Wordplay Weapons

For writers (and flacks and hacks), there are many weapons at your disposal to ensure the written word is lively and engaging. Here are but a few.

  • Malapropism – a comic misuse of language
  • Neologism – a made-up word
  • Anagram – a word formed by transposing letters
  • Acronym – a word formed by combining first letters or syllables of other words
  • Antonym – a word that means the opposite of another word
  • Paraphrase – to state something differently
  • Double Entendre – a word or phrase with an extra, often racy meaning
  • Metaphor – a figure of speech suggesting a likeness, but offering a description that is not literally applicable
  • Homophones – words with the same pronunciation
  • Cipher – secret writing, such as diplomatic writing
  • Palindrome – a text that reads the same in reverse
  • Spoonerism – transposing first letters of two or more words (i.e. right lane / light rain)
  • Pangram – a phrase using all 26 letters of the alphabet
  • Portmanteau – a word blend of two other words (i.e. breakfast and lunch becomes brunch)
  • Retronym – a modified name for an old item
  • Sesquipedalian – having many syllables
  • Paronomasia – a pun or play of words

(ed. – We dug this helpful piece out of the By George archives. Through the next few weeks By George will post lists of these “wordplay weapons.”)

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Rules for Writing Plain English

From How You Can Write Plain Language by Just Following These 39 Steps
By William D. Lutz, author of Doublespeak Defined and The New Doublespeak

 

The Writing Process

1. Know your reader, and write with your reader’s viewpoint in mind.

2. Organize your text: in a logical sequence, with informative headings, and with a table of contents for long documents

3. Use short sentences

4. Say only what you have to say, avoiding too many messages in a single sentence, and omitting surplus words.

5. Keep equivalent items parallel.

6. Avoid unnecessary formality.

7. Give an overview of the main idea of the text.

8. List conditions separately.

9. Arrange your words with care.

10. Punctuate carefully.

11. Use an average of 25 words per sentence.

12. Put most of your messages at the subject-predicate position.

13. For variety or emphasis, invert your sentences.

14. Use the art of subordination to smooth out choppiness.

15. Avoid disrupting your sentences with thought-stopping gaps.

16. Tabulate particularly complex information.

17. Get rid of compound prepositions.

18. Rewrite the adjective, adverb, and noun clauses to other structures satisfying the same functions.

19. Use phrases to smooth out the choppy noun-noun modifier.

20. Be fair and nonsexist, but don’t be stupid.

 

Usage

21. Prefer the active voice.

22. Use simple, “everyday” words.

23. Use words consistently.

24. Use familiar, concrete words.

25. Avoid multiple negatives.

26. Avoid nouns created from verbs.

27. Use action verbs; avoid the verb “to be.”

28. Use personal pronouns.

29. Avoid noun strings.

30. Avoid deleting words such as “which is,” “who was,” “that are,” etc. – that link a subordinate clause.

31. Avoid language quirks.

 

Presentation of Material

32. Make the document attractive and designed for easy reading.

33. Use white space in margins and between sections.

34. Use ragged right margins.

35. Do not use all caps.

36. Use highlighting techniques, but don’t overuse them.

37. Use 8 to 10 point type for text.

38. Avoid lines of type that are too long or too short.

39. Avoid strings of symbols.

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Well-Turned Phrases

Regarding apathy, I have no opinion.

Remember you’re unique, just like everybody else.

Give me ambiguity or give me something else.

Indecision is the key to flexibility.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Every morning is the dawn of a new error.

If all is not lost, where is it?

Ignorance is no excuse. It’s the real thing.

I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.

I plead contemporary insanity.

Committee: a body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

Yawn: an honest opinion openly expressed.

Education is what you have left after you’ve lost all your notes.

Procrastinate now.

Deja Moo: The feeling that you’ve heard this bull before.

Any philosophy that can fit into a nutshell belongs there.

No matter where you go, there you are.

Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.

Meandering to a different drummer.

Hermits unite!

Dyslexics Untie!

Eschew obfuscation.

Egotist: someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.

A PBS mind in an MTV world.

Ambivalent? Well, yes and no.

Entrophy isn’t what it used to be.

She had a body like a burlap bag full of bobcats.

Compost happens.

Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.

That was Zen. This is Tao.

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Text Message Abbreviations

There are few who will argue against the fact that modern language has degenerated with the advance of on-line communications – particularly our use of strings of abbreviations when we send text messages. For your reference to this new world of abbreviations, we have compiled some of the most commonly used:

AFK – away from the keyboard
ASL? – Age? Sex? Location?
B4 – before
BAK – back at the keyboard
BBL – be back later
BCNU – be seeing you
BRB – be right back
BTW – by the way
FAQs – frequently asked questions
IMHO – in my humble opinion
L8R – later
LOL – laughs out loud
MOF? – male or female?
NM – never mind
N/M – not much
NP – no problem
OMG – oh may god!
ROFL – rolling on the floor laughing
TTFN – ta ta for now
UR – your or you’re
W/ – with

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Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Some Scientific Equations You May Not Be Familiar With

Ratio of an igloo’s circumference to its diameter = Eskimo Pi

 

2000 pounds of Chinese soup = Won ton

 

1 millionth of a mouthwash = 1 microscope

 

Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement = 1 bananosecon

 

Weight an evangelist carries with God = 1 billigram

 

Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour = Knotfurlong

 

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Sterling

 

Half of a large intestine = 1 semicolon

 

1,000,000 aches = 1 megahurtz

 

Basic unit of laryngitis = 1 hoarsepower

 

Shortest distance between two jokes = A straight line

 

453.6 graham crackers = 1 pound cake

 

1 million-million microphones = 1 megaphone

 

2 million bicycles = 2 megacycles

 

365.25 days = 1 unicycle

 

2000 mockingbirds = 2 kilomockingbirds

 

52 cards = 1 decacards

 

1 kilogram of falling figs = 1 FigNewton

 

1000 milliliters of wet socks = 1 literhosen

 

1 millionth of a fish = 1 microfiche

 

1 trillion pins = 1 terrapin

 

10 rations = 1 decoration

 

100 rations = 1 C-ration

 

2 monograms = 1 diagram

 

4 nickels = 2 paradigmne

 

2.4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital = 1 IV League

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

The Five Oldest Words

Of all languages, throughout the ages, around the globe, there are five words that are today recognized as “the oldest.” University of Reading evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel studies have concluded the oldest words as:

I
Who
Two
Three
Five

These words are the most often used in daily speech – their forms or sounds date back over 10,000 years. Some of the other oldest words in mankind’s communicative history are:

We
Thou
Name
Tongue
What
How
Where
Four

This extraordinary work was first reported in a 2009 issue of National Geographic, but detailed reports about Professor Pagel’s study are found in U.K. media: BBC News and The Telegraph.

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a trusted executive assistant, a communications can-do guy, or a go-to-scribe? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.