phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Home | Search the website Search | Discussion Forum Home|

Directional words

Posted by James Briggs on January 07, 2009 at 12:29

In Reply to: Directional words posted by R. Berg on January 06, 2009 at 18:11:

: : : : What is the origin of using directional words in such phrases as: "Wash UP, Clean UP, Wash DOWN the walls, or as in Hi THERE, or You THERE!!

: : : One actually does wash DOWN the walls. So the soapy dirty water drips the right way. Other than that, I don't know. We had a discussion in recent history about time and direction. The future is ahead of us, etc., but I couldn't find it. Thought it might have some application to this subject.

: : Similarly, one shouts "You there!" in a literal directional sense - "I, here, am addressing you, over there". (VSD)

: "Wash up," "clean up," "burn down," "mess up," and their kin are called phrasal verbs. English has many of them, and they help make it a hard language for nonnative speakers to learn.

: ESC, the procedure I was taught is to wash a painted wall starting at the bottom. If the dirty water drips onto the yet-unwashed surface below, it makes streaks that will never come off. ~rb

Some times these constructions use words to mean the same thing that in virtually all other contexts mean the opposite. 'Slow up' and 'slow down' is an example. No wonder colloquial Englsh can be very hard to lean for non-English speakers. I know many German people who have indicated that basic English is easy to learn, but then you come up against a mountain!