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Posted by Lewis on March 29, 2007

In Reply to: Re: Street Whys posted by Smokey Stover on March 26, 2007

: : : : Street Whys:

: : : : I found the phrase "Street Whys" in a documentary. Does anyone know what it means? It is a documentary about wildlife, and in the STreet Whys segment, the presenters ask the public what their opinions are.

: : : : THanks in advance for your reply.

: : : : Natalia

: : : Is it possible that the phrase was "Street Wise"? Most wildlife is anything by streetwise, and without seeing the documentary its hard to imagine what attitudes the public could have opinions about. What saves wild animals who invade the city, with its streets, its noise, its cars, is that they usually do it at night, when traffic and noises are at their least. The principal invaders, and the only ones that could be considered streetwise, are raccoons and possums. Skunks occasionally wander in, as do hungry bears in lean years. But these guys are far from streetwise. Deer will invade if the scenery is right, that is, big back yards with overhanging trees, lots of grass and plants (flowers and shrubs) that deer like to eat. And if they're bold enough they'll do it in daylight, which is why my community has an expensive program to kill as many deer as possible, about which I am extremely sorry, not to mention in a permanent state of rage.
: : : SS

: : My guess is that the documentary writers made up "Street Whys" as a pun on the word "streetwise," incorporating the long-standing practice of "man on the street" interviews, which are what you described - interviews with people found at random in public. ~rb

: Ms Berg is undoubtedly correct, and my rant should be read as that of one of those man-on-the-street interviewees. Why didn't they call me?
: SS

In law, the sample person who is the equivalent of "the man on the street" was "the man on the Clapham omnibus" - in its time, the phrase would have had a connotation of ordinariness, even if the language seems strange today. It is so long that 'bus' has been used instead of 'omnibus' that few people would realise that it is a truncation. 'omnibus' is of course Ltn for 'all together', which is what the people were - all together in one vehicle.

the use of "street-whys" as a homonyn of "street-wise" is not unusual - puns are common in business names - there is a chain of stores "Buy Right" (by right) and for some reason plumbers appear particularly fond of (aquatic) puns in the naming of their businesses - other punny customers include delicatessens (e.g. 'good elf') - and that is without the barrage of puntastic headlines in newspapers.

'pun my word, there's a lot of it about.

L