Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Speaking of Home

The English language is an odd beast, seemingly with more exceptions than rules. Whenever I hear a non-native speaker stumble or just completely crash I remind myself that they speak English a whole lot better than I'll ever speak Mandarin or Urdu.

It's especially hard to get American English idioms. We seem to love using them even when their use obscures rather than clarifies. When stocks go 'through the roof', what does that mean? Why not just say stock prices went up a lot? What's more than 'through the roof? Through the clouds? Through the ionosphere? Through the Van Allen Radiation belt? 

When writing news stories a little color goes a long way. Tell me what, when, why, where, who. Season to taste. Lightly, please.

The subject of idioms got me thinking and I decided to commemorate the event by jotting down a few house and home related examples. Enjoy, share your own favorites and remember to give ESL speakers a break. It's always hard to get used to a second home.

This Old Idiom House

I was floored,
My blood pressure was through the ceiling
Right through the roof.
I was up against the wall.
My plan went out the window.
Even if it did blow the doors off the competition.
It crossed the threshold.
My team was in the cellar.
They were in the toilet.
Down the drain.
Took a bath.
But they're in a hot stove league.
So I back-burnered it.
The window of opportunity closed.
I kicked it upstairs.
Then I was called on the carpet.
So I cut a rug.
With my kitchen cabinet.
Toys in my attic bought in the bargain basement.
Played with my garage band named House Brand.
Great foundation.
House rules.
Home rule.
Packed to the rafters.
I'll couch it in these terms: I chaired the meeting after getting up on the wrong side of the bed so we tabled the proposition.

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