Saturday, December 31, 2016

Head and shoulders, knees and toes

Every child learns the names of the body parts very early in life, often by song. Later on in life, they learn that these same words for body parts have meanings as verbs. The latter use is generally but not always related to the body part itself.

Starting at the top, to head a project is to run it while to head a ball in European football is to hit with your head, of course. To be scalped is to lose your head, literally, while scalping is privately selling tickets at higher price. Staying in the area, people must face their problems in order to solve them, i.e., deal with them directly. If someone is eyeing you, you are being observed while nosing around involves asking questions. Bad mouthing is making unpleasant references whereas teething is process of babies growing, well, teeth. While cheeky is not a verb, it is definitely not polite.  For that matter, chin-chin refers to the sound of glasses clinking (for a toast) and has nothing to do with the body part. Finally, as long as an argument is limited to jawing, the police will not intervene as it is all talk.

Descending, necking is what teenagers do in the back of the car or on a bench seat, i.e., long kisses, probably because of the various angles the neck takes (Interesting to know whether and how teenage giraffes do it). To shoulder a load is to bear it, as any backpacker knows. It is real fun to rib people, to make fun of them, as long as you know they have a sense of humor, with the other direction significantly less amusing. To arm people is provide them a weapon, something more dangerous than what nature provided them. For getting through crowds, you need to know how to elbow your way through, which involves using that joint aggressively. Handing something over does involve that appendix but not necessarily in a friendly way, even sometimes at gun point. If you are fingered, you should feel identified or insulted, as applicable. Thumbing is hitching for ride, which is signaled in the United States putting out your thump. Finally, couples need to back each other when dealing with children by supporting the other's decision.

On to the southern hemisphere, to be hip (grantedly not a verb) is to be cool and up to date, at least in the language of the a few generations ago. Once upon a time, when you ran out of gas in a remote location, you had to leg it to the next gas station, meaning to walk. Being kneed is very painful because the knee is a very hard joint. If you have to foot the bill, you pay out of your wallet. Getting your dog to heel on command is a basic part of canine training.  Finally, to toe the line (not tow!) is obey the rules and not go over the line.

Some of these examples are clearly prime material for Amelia Bedelia while others are child's play, so to speak.

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