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He doesn't know siccem from scat!
What my mother used to say
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2012/11/04
11:37am
clairep
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I heard your program ‘nothing to sneeze at’ and heard your discussion on siccem. I was surprised you didn’t mention what my mom used to say – He doesn’t know siccem from scat.

When growing up I never knew what that meant exactly when I was a kid so really appreciated your defining siccem (as a shortening of seek them). And then of course my mom’s phrase made all the more sense. Someone did not know enough to know if they (or maybe their dog) should chase someone or run away.

I grew up in a fairly small town in West-central Missouri where siccem was commonly used for ordering your dog to chase someone or something. It was also a term used on the farm that my dad and his family would sometimes use. My mother on the other hand was a southern belle where I can’t imagine she picked up in Arkansas, Tennessee or Florida where she lived, though it is possible that some of their black servants might have communicated this saying to her. Mom then went to live on the farm in Northern Missouri with my dad’s family. Anyway, she didn’t set foot in Washington State until she was about 70 years old so you comment that siccem was mostly from Washington State didn’t seem right to me. 

Claire

2012/11/05
1:21am
Robert
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Kind of confused, I am just summarizing what I see here and from my experiences:

You don’t know siccum = (By Grant, American Northwest) You don’t know anything

He doesn’t know siccem from scat = (By Clairep, region not determined) He’s not smart enough to chase, or to run away, as maybe a dog.

That statement sounds to me like ‘This dog hasn’t learnt the command seek them’  because it sounds so similar to this common one:

He doesn’t know scat  = he knows s**t = he knows nothing

Scat being slang for s**t, from scatology.

Still, there is this other Scat that fits better Clairep’s interpretation above: Scat ! = Go away !    

(This scat probably is from scatter)

2012/11/05
7:53am
Dick
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Maybe I can clear a little of your confusion, Robert.

First, “siccem” and “siccum” are the same word spelled differently.

Next, “scat” in the phrase being discussed does not mean “shit”.  It means, as you have deduced, to go away.

You also mentioned a different phrase that could be confused because they mean the same thing.  This is,”You don’t know shit.”  This phrase is also a shortened form of the original, “You don’t know shit from Shinola.”  Many people may not remember Shinola Shoe Polish from the 1940s but it was the biggest brand of shoe polish in the country. (Shinola is pronounced with a long “i”)  This phrase developed as a way to tell someone he had no common sense.  As the years went by and Shinola lost it’s prominence, many started saying, “You don’t know shit from shoe polish.”  Still colorful but I think it lacks something from the original.

2012/11/05
10:15am
Robert
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The expression ‘know s**t !’ is a most natural one in the whole language, too natural to need any historical roots whatsoever. The only reason I mention it is it just might make a basis for Claire’s statement to mean the same as Grant’s. And why is that significant? It’s because Claire has a different interpretation, one about a man or a dog running away. And why is that called confusion? It’s because confusion means uncertainty, one meaning of it, and there is a situation here of a statement that may mean one thing or the other. And why is it not just one or the other right off ? It’s because clearly Claire poses the issue as an issue open for discussion, not to assert what that statement means one way or the other, not yet, because then what is the point?

2012/11/05
3:43pm
Dick
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I should offer two apologies, Robert.

First, I misunderstood what your confusion was about.  Grant’s statement and Claire’s statement mean exactly the same thing to me. They are both talking about dogs that don’t understand their commands and compare them to people who don’t know basic common sense. The fact that one says “scat” and the other says “come here” is irrelevant to the final meaning, even though they are using two opposite commands for the dog.

Also, I apologize for my explanation of “shit from Shinola.” Of course “You don’t know shit” came a long time before Shinola Shoe Polish and the shoe polish was added to the original phrase just to make it more colorful. I told the history of the phrase because it also means the same thing as “You don’t know siccem from scat” and “You don’t know siccum from come here.” I told this history only for interest but my explanation was totally wrong.

2012/11/24
4:28pm
Escondido, CA, USA
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My wife’s geology teacher in Australia used to say, “He doesn’t know sh*t from clay.”

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