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Divided by a common language

I had one of those moments today, trying to pry two stuck stackable chairs apart and I said, “we have to put a little English on it” and all the English people went quiet and stared.

Yeah. I’ve wondered where the phrase came from, too. That seemed like a really good time to look it up.

In case it is hopelessly old-fashioned of me, “to put a little English on it” is most often heard in the context of baseball for putting a spin or curve on the ball. Metaphorically, it is giving something a little twist.

Someone in the room guessed it came from cricket. Which is a very good guess, because the pitcher (erm, bowler) often puts a little spin on the ball so it hops up unpredictably after the first (obligatory) bounce.

I gather. Nobody has ever tried to explain cricket to me, and with any luck no-one ever will.

Anyway. No. It comes from France. And billiards. The expression was to put a little ‘angle’ on it, which is a natural pun for Angles and the Anglais. Ironically, the pun doesn’t work in English.

You’ll have to take my word for it, though. I did all this on my phone, on the hoof, and I’m too lazy to look up the exact liink again.

March 27, 2019 — 9:08 pm
Comments: 15