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Re: Whistle for it (U.S.)

Posted by R. Berg on February 12, 2002

In Reply to: Not in NY posted by Word Camel on February 12, 2002

: : : : This was a saying I've heard since I was a little kid. Whenever someone was owed money, and needed it paid by someone, they would always (sometimes) say, "Charge it to the ground and let the rain settle it." Maybe I'm trying to make too much out of this. What does it mean?

: : : It means the person owed wasn't getting his money back. He had about as much chance of getting his money from the ground as from the debtor. I hadn't heard that phrase. It's a keeper.

: : Again a slight sideways shift. In the UK, if someone has no intention of ever paying a loan back, he might well brazenly say to his creditor "You can whistle for it". Is this phrase multi-national in English-speaking nations?

: At least not that I know of - I phoned a few people and asked them. (How's that for pseudo science?) However, I have noticed that continuity between English phrases - British and American - at least - is influenced by geography and generation. I have come across words used in my home town in South Dakota that I've not heard in other parts of the states but have heard in Britian. I have also noticed that older Americans sometimes use British phrases.

: It's probably a matter of the languages moving apart over time, then again it might have to do with the domination of American cultural influences. I was horrified to be greeted by Mexican street merchants as "Hey guys". How long before it's "Dude"?

: Personally, as a person who loves language, living in the UK for so long and being exposed to the colour and variety of English has been one of the great joys of my life.

: Sentimental Camel

"Whistle for it," referring to a debt: I've heard it, but not recently. I probably heard it at home in the 1950s/1960s from one of my originally midwestern parents.