Posted by R. Berg on August 06, 2003
In Reply to: Sentences posted by ESC on August 06, 2003
: : : : Hi,
: : : : I am currently reading "The Anatomy School" by Bernard MacLaverty and have come across a few sentences which I don't understand (I'm french...). Would anyone be kind enough as to explain to me what they mean ?
: : : : Thanks a lot
: : : : Zia
: : : : 1) feel your head !
: : : : 2)And Ned Kelly asked him a question and your man says : I haven't a baldy.
: : : : 3)mutton dressed as lamb
: : : : 4)it'll only stunt your growth
: : : : 5)the water stood the town on its head
: : : : 6)he ate enough to show he was trying
: : : : 7) they went around acting the Bishop, taking a swing like John Wayne in a fist fight. Making slap noises with their mouths and collapsing sideways on to the ground.
: : : : 8)they gave him a crisp corporation towel and a slice of red carbolic soap.
: : : : Cheers
: : : 1) Could you give the context?
: : : 2) Ned Kelly asked him a question and your man (= the person of whom the question was asked) says: I don't know, I have no idea.
: : : 3) Mutton dressed as lamb refers to a person who gives the impression of being important but is not.
: : : 4) It'll only stunt your growth = it will slow down your rate of growth. This is often used to try to deter young people from smoking.
: : : 5) I'd need more context for this one. 'Stood the town on its head' probably means 'caused great awe or confusion among the townspeople.'
: : : 6) He ate enough to show he was trying = he wasn't really hungry but he ate enough to satisfy his host(ess) and avoid causing offence.
: : : 7) I'm not sure about 'acting the Bishop' but the rest of the passage describes a mock brawl or fist-fight similar to those shown in old Western films.
: : 8) Crisp corporation towel: in Ireland, 'the corporation' usually meant Dublin Corporation, responsible for street cleaning, etc. Items such as towels issued to employees were selected on the basis that they were cheap and would last as long as possible, so the 'corporation towel' would not have been soft and delicate. Similarly, carbolic soap was cheap, but it was also antiseptic.
: I disagree on one:
: 3) mutton dressed as lamb -- Usually said about a mature woman who still dresses like a woman in her teens or 20s.
Yes, my understanding of "mutton . . ." matches ESC's. We're both American.
Eric Partridge was British. From his book "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases":
"'mutton dressed' (or 'dressed up') 'as lamb' has, since latish C19, been directed at middle-aged and elderly women dressing in an unbecomingly youthful fashion. Drawn from the terminology of the butcher's shop."