This place matters

This place matters

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


We've discussed the dastardly CANOE initiative before (here and here) - the Conspiracy to Ascribe Naval Origins to Everything. But our boat fetish is certainly understandable given how much of what we say does come from the sea.
When we leave for somewhere, we set sail, and if we get drunk on the way, we're three sheets to the wind. You might drink grog, supposedly named for Admiral Edward "Old Grog" Vernon, who ordered his sailors' rum be watered down. The Royal Navy of England put lime juice in their sailors' grog, hence the term Limey. Although the navy gave sailors lime juice because it was thought to make stale, gross water more palatable, limes also warded off scurvy, a disease caused by too little vitamin C. This is common among sailors who didn't have access to fresh fruit, and if sailors didn't invent the term, it sure sounds like they did.
Men in romance novels always have fathomless grey eyes, and if you don't accept their proposals you'll take the wind from their sails, leaving them high and dry
If you get a new job, you must first learn the ropes. You might have to pass a test to prove you're ship shape, and if you pass it, you'll probably do so with flying colors
When you proceed cautiously, you're keeping a weather eye (watching for bad weather), lest you get carried away on stormy seas.
Mocha is named for a famous coffee port, and java is an island from which some coffee comes. If you put a shot of espresso in your coffee, it's sometimes called a depth charge (and always called delicious).
If somebody likes the cut of your jib, you've made a good impression on them.
When things get bad, you're up a creek without a paddle, and when you're out of options, you're dead in the water. If so, your demise might be in the offing, so you might need to send out an SOS (which doesn't stand for save our ship, or anything else for that matter - it's just a pattern that's easy to remember and easy to understand on Morse code) and when all hope is lost, you're sunk. It was a long shot anyway.

Someone probably should tell this
guy what anchors do for a living.
On the other hand, when things are going well, it's smooth sailing. 
The US Navy says that gossip is scuttlebutt because scuttlebutt once referred to the barrel from which seamen took their water, making it like today's water cooler.
Modern Americans don't spend too much time on boats, but we use the lingo of the sea without realizing it all the time. It isn't surprising though - our language was born and raised on a little bitty island that came to have a massive navy. 
Funny what growing up on the shores of Lake Erie will do to your sense of perspective... when I was a kid, I thought anyone with an above-ground pool was totally loaded, but people with boats, not so much. 

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