(Olive Press/Phoenicia Times July 30, 2009)
I started reading these books called the Adventures of Stink (you may know these—he’s the brother of Judy Moody). The boy in these books writes these comics called “Idiom Comics,”except he has no idea what idioms are (he probably called the comics this because the word “idiom” sounds like “idiot.”) They are funny anyway because he takes idioms and uses them very literally. That’s the very last thing you want to do with idioms.
I have a friend who wanted to know what an idiom is. My computer dictionary says,
id·i·om n - a fixed, distinctive, and often colorful expression whose meaning cannot be understood from the combined meanings of its individual words, for example, “to have somebody in stitches”
The world of idioms is crazy. Everybody knows “nod your head” means you’re saying “yes.” Nod means to sleep though. Don’t people wonder, “why do I have to sleep!?” Why not just say “look at the sky, look at the chest, look at the sky?” At least then you would understand what you’re supposed to do with your head. Another one is “shake your hand.” Foreign people, who don’t understand our idioms might think “shake your hand” would mean put your hand into a convulsion. They wouldn’t even know that I just wanted to agree with them or meet them if I said this.
I’m not sure what idioms are good for. I guess they make some things shorter to say. Like, take the phrase “a bit much.” When you say this you mean that someone shouldn’t make a big deal out of a little thing. If you were to say, “you were way, way over the top” you might hurt someone’s feelings. But a “bit much” tells the person in a gentler way to stop being so dramatic. For some reason, I hear this phrase a lot :) Like last week, when I wrote about how disappointed I was in the money I got from the Tooth Fairy. Turns out I was being a “bit much” (wink, wink, nudge) because the tooth fairy did give me to half a dollars!