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"Turn over a new leaf"
I just realized: It doesn't refer to leaves from a tree!
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Bob Bridges
Forum Posts: 675
Member Since:

I’m going through my email this morning—

Yes, by the time I post this it’ll be after noon, but I’m just now starting my day.  Like many programmers, I tend to stay up late and get up late.  This morning I woke a little after 10, was dressed and up by 11 and at a few minutes to noon am just now sitting down to my computer with a fried-egg-and-salami sandwich.

—going through my mail this “morning” and I found a bit of spam, something in Spanish about teaching materials for young children.  I enjoy trying to decode foreign languages, and in fact by now I can read most Spanish, stopping every sentence or two to puzzle out an unfamiliar word.  So I’m reading along in this one, bragging to myself about how well I’m doing, and run across this:”Además, cada letra se acompaña de una hoja de ejercicios que puede imprimirse….”

Now, it happens that I already know hoja, because I buy hoja de laurel in the grocery store; we call them bay leaves, but apparently in Spanish they’re laurel leaves.  So what are they doing in an ad about textbooks?  Well, clearly in Spanish they sometimes refer to pages of books as leaves.  And come to think of it, so do we in English.  Or we used to, though I don’t think I’ve read it recently.

And while I was thinking about that, I suddenly realized that the English idiom “turn over a new leaf” undoubtedly refers to a new page, not a leaf on a tree.  As a child I never understood why we said that; as an adult I forgot about it, but I get it now.

Probably the rest of you always took it for granted.

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