Let’s face it, our parents and grand parents had their own language rich with folksy expressions that everyone understood. Nowadays, few people comprehend or use common expressions from our youth. Because the majority of early Americans were growing their own food and living on or near farms, many old folk sayings had reference to farm life or nature. Everyday conversations were colored with expressions like: strong as an ox, weak as a kitten, or light as a feather. Everyone knew immediately what you were talking about. Ask a modern teenager what an ox is, and I bet few would know. I can just picture a grandfather of today advising his modern plugged in, tech savvy teenage grandson to be as strong as an ox.
Other sayings could confuse him also like…Do you have a burr under your saddle? or That’s some pickle you got into last week. It’s water under the bridge, and we don’t want to air our dirty linen in public would likewise bring a blank stare. The teen might understand the terms: an old stick in the mud, party pooper or being a wet blanket but try these phrases panty waist, cheap skate or sore loser to see what reaction you get.
Speaking that way was how our parents passed down lessons and morals they wanted us to learn. Many farm or animal terms were amusing but descriptive and useful to teach the young’uns. Try: crooked as a dog’s hind leg or lower than a snake’s belly or flatter than a pancake or the Southern version flat as a fritter. We as kids were admonished to be: sly as a fox, sharp as a tack, straight as an arrow, sweeter than honey, or quiet as a mouse. In those days, kids were to be seen but not heard. Try that one today.
It’s fun to use these colloquialisms and show our posterity that we too had our own youth culture and slang that was part of our daily lives. I hope you won’t get too frustrated when your grandkids send you emails or text you on your cell phone with unintelligible abbreviations like ?4U (question for you) or RUOK (are you okay?). It’s part of the evolution of the human race.