Posted by David FG on December 12, 2005
In Reply to: The American version posted by RRC on December 11, 2005
: : : : : What is the American version of the English saying 'to carry coals to Newcastle'?
: : : : Sell refrigerators to Eskimos.
: : : In German it's 'Taking Owls to Athens', both things being regarded as bastions of wisdom.
: : Oh, ESC, say it ain't so. You know that Eskimos living in Alaska share in the profits from the pipeline and oil royalties. That means that many can afford refrigerators. Why would Eskimos want refrigerators? To keep food cold without freezing. It's true. Refrigerator salesmen do a fairly brisk business among Eskimos. SS
: Yes, I think the "correct" expression as I've always heard it is "selling _ice_ to Eskimos." OTOH, it's not exactly the same meaning as it can also be used as a complement to the skills of a salesman. RRC
I would agree. The two phrases do not mean the same thing. 'Taking coals to Newcastle' is doing that which is pointless (Newcastle having plenty of coal already), whereas 'selling refrigerators to Eskimos' is a phrase used to describe the ability of someone to be persuasive; even to the point of being able to sell a person something for which they have no need.