March 13, 2004

canary in a coal mine

It never ceases to amaze me how much English I really don't know. While reading my daily dose of Doc today, I came upon this unfamilar phrase:

[...]that's a dead canary in the coal mine.

I had to do a little lookup. And y'know, it wasn't until a few years ago that I finally discovered what Knock On Wood meant.

Times like this makes me feel I need to get out more.

BTW: The Phrase Finder is an awesome site.


Thanks dude, I'm going to have to keep that link in my Favorites folder.

"Knock on wood" has carried over to Taiwan. People around me get sick all of the time and are always cautioning me to be careful and wear more clothes as the weather is perfectly conducive to getting sick. When I inform them that I haven't gotten sick in my almost 7-month stay in Taiwan, their eyes get large and run to the nearest wood thing and give a few knocks. I've asked them how they know this saying and they kind of just grin and shrug, as if knocking on wood is second nature and never had to be learned. I find that fascinating.

#95 - Posted by: Jenn at March 13, 2004 10:37 PM

You know I have heard the canary line for years and
didn't know what the hell it meant either. That is a really good site.

#96 - Posted by: Carol at March 14, 2004 02:18 AM

Hey, I'm glad you liked the link. It's always great to learn some new jazz about English.

Don't know if you'd be interested, but I also occasionally check out a site called Urban Dictionary, which has lots of newer slang. I usually go there when I hear some younen' say some word or phrase that I have absolutely no clue about.

"Fo' shizzle my nizzle" seems to be holding top record as the most popular phrase for a while, though, hehe.

#97 - Posted by: Ivan at March 15, 2004 03:55 PM
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