If you say, “He stuck his spoon in the wall,” you mean that he died. In German, the person who’s deceased has passed along his spoon, and in Afrikaans, he’s jabbed his spoon into the ceiling. These expressions reflect the idea that eating is an essential part of life. An article in the British Medical Journal has a long list of euphemisms for dying, from the French avaler son extrait de naissance, “to swallow one’s birth certificate,” to the Portuguese phrase vestir pijama de madeira, “to wear wooden pajamas.” This is part of a complete episode.
- Punch List 07/22/2016: Books for sale, books for free, and wisdom passed down through the ages. Libraries aren't just repositories for books -- they're often a great place... [more]
- Sweet Dreams 06/17/2016: In deafening workplaces, like sawmills and factories, workers develop their own elaborate sign language to discuss everything from how their weekend went to when the... [more]
- How We Roll 06/10/2016: If you're serious about writing a memoir, what topics should you include, and what can you leave out? And how honest can you really be... [more]
- Gangbusters 05/27/2016: Sensuous words and terms of endearment. Think of a beautiful word. Now, is it simply the word's sound that makes it beautiful? Or does its... [more]
- XYZ PDQ 05/20/2016: How often do you hear the words campaign and political in the same breath? Oddly enough, 19th-century grammarians railed against using campaign to mean "an... [more]