In Reply to: I didn`t fall of the turnip truck yesterday posted by David FG on February 11, 2009 at 11:41:
: : : : : : : : What is the origin of "I didn`t fall of the turnip truck yesterday"?
: : : : : : : I'm not a country lad/gal who just got into town.
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: : : : : : ESC, you're from the US. This has the same meaning as "I wasn't born yesterday", pretty much. An old European story (told to kids too young to have the mysteries of copulation explained to them) used to be that babies were brought by the stork. Go back a generation or two in the US, would they have told children that they'd been brought on the turnip truck, grown on a tree, or whatever? (GC)
: : : : : And my wife reminds me of gooseberry bushes and cabbage patches - and something to do (in the US?) with watermelon seeds. Would turnips (etc) fit into this? (GC)
: : : : Graham - I used to hear this expression, in midwestern US cities, and it carried no connotation of "where babies come from". Rather, it suggests a country bumpkin hitching a ride to town with a truck-farmer: so the meaning is, "I'm not naive; you can't easily fool me." - Bac.
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: : : Babies are found in a patch. They don't make it on the truck. Way, way back in the country, most people didn't own a vehicle. (I'm talking, for example, Abraham in West Virginia in the 50s and 50s.) They had to hitch a ride with the letter-carrier or with whoever was going into town. On White Mountain we were in the country -- but not way, way back in the country. We had daily bus service. So we didn't have to ride the turnip truck.
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: : Thanks, guys, for putting me straight. I guess it was because we had "fall off" rather than "get off" that I started thinking on these lines. Mind you, the phrase "I wasn't born yesterday" also means "I'm not naive; you can't easily fool me" - here in the UK, at least.
: : Certainly most of the instances on the list I posted earlier (those in current use) had a rural flavour - trucks and carts, logs and woodpiles and trees (though the latter group don't make a real good mode of transport). But people adapt and embroider existing phrases, and from what you say we probably have carts and trucks as the "root" of this phrase. If it started off with "carts", I guess it's origins could be quite old.
: : One phrase we do have in the UK (and I think I've heard in the the US) is "straight/fresh off the bus" - and that would be applied to a country bumpkin in the big city - generally as someone who can be fairly easily separated from their money. From the same stable, I guess. (GC)
: In Ireland we have 'I didn't just float up the Liffey on a lily' which means the same thing, (for those who don't know, the Liffey is the river that flows through Dublin and 'lily' is a shortened version of lilypad.)
For a while, now, I've been wishing someone would emend the phrase to "fall OFF the turnip truck." This is one of those phrases which sounds just plain wrong if modified, and the unmodified version is, "I didn't just fall off the turnip truck." In indirect discourse it can be something like "He said he hadn't just fallen off the turnip truck." You can't just add the word "yesterday" with impunity. As we have been told, "yesterday" comes from the phrase, "I wasn't born yesterday."
I have always assumed that the turnip truck was the truck bringing turnips from the farm to the market. One or more hands would ride with the turnips in the back. But I confess that I have never actually seen a turnip truck. I think the original author of the quip was just trying to make the farm truck sound as much as possible like the epitome of hickdom.