Forgotten Expressions

I’ve been reading from a copy of Putnam’s Handbook of Expression: For the Enrichment of Conversation, Writing, and Public Speaking complied by Edwin Halmin Carr (1915). It’s a delightful read.

Some of the expressions in the book are still in prominent use. Many are not. Here are some forgotten expressions that caught my attention:

“The spawning place of crime, ignorance, and debauchery”

“Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle”

“I am the lonely slave of an oft-wandering mind”

“As tedious as a twice-told tale”

“As obsolete as croquet”

“As bald as a cannon-ball”

“As idle as a painted ship on a painted ocean”

“I warm to a man with gall in his liver”

“He is above the meanness of tale-bearing”

“He is a perpetual surprise even to those who know him best”

“I trust you will repeat this experience at some future date”

“I must apologize for my stupidity”

“Don’t let me detain you for doubtless you have engagements”

“The uncertainty is irritating”

“I know the nicest little secret”

“If I rightly remember”

“Don’t give way to sure fancy”

“Certain unforeseen emergencies arose to hinder me”

“I regard him as being the cleverest man of my acquaintance”

“I feel that I have no more backbone than a jellyfish”

“As burning as the thirst of the fever-stricken”

“This merits reflection”

“In perpetual protest”

“The matter is not past mending”

“An asset of incomparable value”

“A heart alive to all the beauties of nature”

“I am exceedingly sorry that your request comes to me at a time when I am so pressed by my own affairs, that I cannot, with any convenience, comply with it”

And my favorite:

“I always thought the hour struck sooner in your home than anywhere else”

Folktales Vs. Fairy tales

Fairy tale

Is there a difference between a folktale and fairy tale? In the following paragraphs Arthur Henry King (1910 -2000) reveals the strength of a folktale and the emptiness of fairy tale.

Matters like these should occupy the minds of parents and educators rather than the pleasantries of sedation and distraction that are constantly in view.

We need to acquaint children with folktales, which are the classics of their own tradition. And we need to recognize that there is a great difference between a folktale and a fairy tale. A fairy tale is a make-over of a folktale. A fairy tale tries to make the world more pleasant than the folktale represents it, pleasanter than it really is. Under the impression that the world will be bad enough for children when they come to it. The fairy tale represents life as something restricted and magically protected. The fairy tale does not help children at all.


If you turn to the original Grimm’s folktales, you will find that the folk have profoundly understood over thousands of years that children must face up to nightmares and horror and cruelty. And since children have to face up to those things, the best place for them to do so for the first time is on a parent’s lap, where they have a sense of security. If children are not “terrified” on their parent’s laps, they will be terrified in their dreams when their parents aren’t there. We know enough about children from a very early age to know that they have their nightmares and their horrors and their darkness. If we don’t give them those kinds of experiences, they still have them.


By becoming acquainted with folk literature, children may be educated. By that means, they may grow up facing reality. And if they grow up facing reality, there will be no crisis of confidence between them and society.

Arthur Henry King – Arm the Children, BYU Studies 1998, page 243-244.

Omit Needless Words – The Elements of Style

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short, or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

– William Strunk Jr. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition, p. 23.

  

A great quote from a book that should be studied by every English reader.

The original 1918 edition is online for free.