Old fashioned English sayings are confusing to the average Briton | STEPHEN HIRD - REUTERS - X90028

Every week Frank Leavers our man with the dirty Mac and half empty glass of inexpensive vino is looking at what lies just below the sophisticated gloss of island life. Come on folks; tell our Frank what’s really happening in Mallorca.

It appears that many old fashioned English sayings are so confusing to the average Briton that they are at risk of being sent to the ‘knacker’s yard’ according to a recent survey. Did you see what I did there? More than 2,000 people were given a list of quintessential British phrases and asked if they understood or used them.

Well, it seems that almost 80 per cent of interviewees had never used or did not understand the phrase “casting pearls before swine” which comes from the Bible which indicates that it is a waste of time to offer help to someone who will not appreciate it.

There are also fears that expressions such as “cold as a witches tit” could become obsolete or misconstrued by a more sensitive generation who apparently find talk of witches and t*** most upsetting, even if it is very cold outside.

A lady called Ellie Glason who undertook the research concluded that “It would seem that, many of the phrases which were once commonplace in Britain, are seldom used nowadays.” Believe it or not, one of the English languages most expressive phrases has come back into fashion, mainly because of the carryings-on at Downing Street recently - this being “…couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery” which rather says all, I think you’ll agree?

The most endangered sayings include - “A nod is as good as a wink” - then we have “A fly in the ointment” followed by a whole gaggle of previously used phrases in everyday use such as - “A stitch in time saves nine” and greetings such as “Tickety boo” and a particular favourite of mine, as in - “Pip Pip.”

It also seems that a phrase that describe certain types of people have fallen out of fashion - this reminded me of my old mum who used to say our rather inquisitive next door neighbour, when I was a child, was by definition “A curtain twitcher.” Naturally enough, my dear mother wasn’t immune from occasional glances through the net curtains, shaking her head and saying completely illogical things such as “She’s only as good as she should be.”

Come on, what was that supposed to mean? Anyway, as I’m “As keen as mustard” to complete this section in today’s column, I’d like to finally report that the phrase “As mad as a Hatter” is now frowned upon given the present climate regarding the subject of mental health. However I am extremely happy to have had the opportunity of “Nailing my colours to the mast” today, as only 20 per cent of you apparently will know what I’m on about.

Esperanto - A lost Language?

Talking about words and language I was sat watching a television quiz show when a question came up where the contestant had to name the language a certain word came from. Me? - Not a Scooby! With this, my 92 year-old mother-on-law Maisie, interrupted Bradley Walsh to quietly comment - “It’s Esperanto.” Correct! How did you know that Maisie? “We were taught it at school for a coupe of years in the 1930’s.” Blimey! Anyway, I looked it up and it seems that Esperanto is still being used, but - not as the world’s second language as predicted by a certain Ludwik Zamenhof a Polish born linguist who invented it.

Research tells me that Esperanto, described as an “artificial language” or “constructed language” did gain ground in certain countries prior to the Second World War and is still used by a limited number of people today. However, it didn’t become the world’s second language as predicted. Nevertheless, I discovered that notables such as JRR Tolkien, Jules Verne, Pope John Paul and rather strangely - William Shatner, all took up Esperanto to varying degrees. However, I am totally intrigued as to why an ordinary school in Poole, Dorset, would teach its pupils this language so many years ago. Any ideas?

Understatement - The English disease?

I do enjoy British understatement. At a time when the boastful and boring always seem to come to the fore, I love examples of restraint and understatement when describing anything. Unlike our American cousins, some of us Brits still think it rather vulgar to overemphasise certain virtues inherent in a town or city in which we live, or just visit. Indeed, when working in the US a good few years ago, I was always surprised and rather embarrassed by certain ‘tag lines’ cities, towns and whole States would attach to themselves. For instance, why would the lovely State of New Hampshire (the old one is my birthplace!) have on its public signs, the legend - “New Hampshire - Live Free or Die.”

Indeed, I flirted with the idea that my own county of Hampshire should consider putting on local traffic signs “Hampshire - Better Than You Think.” Indeed, a few years ago a number of us came up with tag-lines for our own home towns after a good few drinks one evening. A Brummie pal came up with “Birmingham - Some Unexpected Nice Bits.” Warming to the task, a native of East Anglia considered for a while and then decided upon - “Suffolk - By No Means All That Flat At All Really” My absolute favourite imaginary (non) welcome sign to a place was - “ Nottingham - Expect Flashes of Unexpected Charm.”

Way to go Rafa!

I do hope that womanhood in general on the island of Majorca has by now pulled themselves together after Rafa Nadal’s heroic five and a half hour victory at the Australian Open Tennis Tournament at Melbourne Park on Sunday. As we were busy on Sunday doing other stuff, my own dear heart kept in touch with the score in the match via her sister in Perth, Western Australia.

From the moment “My Rafa” set about his fightback, they Whats App’d each other what seemed like after every single point. Happily, her all-time hero came through with flying colours as God knows what she would have been like if the other chap had actually beaten him.