Using food in idiomatic or political speech

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by S.A.M., Mar 18, 2010.

  1. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    From wiki:

    I love idioms. Especially related to food.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    But I am wondering how one can distinguish an idiom.


    The Boston Tea Party, is that an idiom?

    "Let them eat cake" is that an idiom?

    How about teabaggers?

    Another thing I came across while looking up idioms is the Principle of Compositionality:

    From wiki:

    In mathematics, semantics, and philosophy of language, the Principle of Compositionality is the principle that the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its constituent expressions and the rules used to combine them.

    Most jargon, slang, aphorism, idiom contradicts the principle of compositionality.

    Is that a way to identify an idiom? Or is that too simplistic?

    Finally, is there a reason so many idioms/expressions are related to food?
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2010
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Egg on the face

    Cheesy smile

    Old wine in new bottles

    Carrot and stick

    Eat crow

    Couch potato

    Cry over spilt milk

    Not my cup of tea

    Finger in the pie

    Full of beans

    Half baked ideas

    Gravy train
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Blindman Valued Senior Member

    Food for thought

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    No. You apparently didn't learn a lot about American history when you lived here, because the Boston Tea Party was one of the seminal events leading up to the American Revolution.

    Tea was a valuable commodity in the late 18th century, and the only way the American colonists could obtain it was from British merchant ships because Britain had a monopoly on trade with its colonies. King George taxed tea heavily, more heavily than it was taxed in England. The American colonists were not represented in Parliament, so they had no voice in the setting of tax rates. "Taxation without representation is tyranny," coined by Rev. Jonathan Mayhew in a sermon in Boston in 1850, summed up the principal grievance that the colonists had with the Crown, and this slogan became the rallying cry for the Revolution.

    In 1773, a mob of Americans, poorly disguised as Indians to avoid identification, stormed a merchant ship and tossed all of its tea into Boston Harbor, in protest of the unfair taxation. This was called the Boston Tea Party and it is one of the most iconic events in our nation's history.
    This time it's French history so you're excused.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Marie Antoinette was the Queen of France when the French Revolution started. I would have said, "had the misfortune to be queen at that time," but her inept and downright mean-spirited leadership was one of the things the citizens revolted against. The country's economy was completely dysfunctional. One day one of her advisors ran into her court and said tearfully, "There is no bread in any of the bakeries! Your people are starving!" In reply, she uttered the words that have become the symbol of that country's revolutionary era: "Let them eat cake!" She was executed by guillotine in 1793.

    The American Revolution was civil, polite and honorably waged compared to the French Revolution. It left so much rancor and ill will--not to mention a government that wasn't a whole lot more competent than its royal predecessor--that Napoleon was soon able to seize power and turn it away from democracy.
    The Radical Republican Right calls their meetings "tea parties" to evoke the anger of the Boston Tea Party. They fraudulently imply that President Obama is as much of a tyrant as King George I, even though he was elected democratically by a majority of their countrymen and almost any "tyrannical" decision he makes can be thwarted by Congress or the Supreme Court under the rules of the Constitution. (Hey, I'm not the guy's biggest fan but I understand how our govermment works, and when I don't like what they do I blame the people who elected them.)

    So the people who attend these "tea parties," or who support them in spirit, call themselves "teabaggers," an obvious and disarmingly cute derivation.
    Well duh. No one promised that language would be logical. Even the normal evolution of language violates compositionality: for the very good reason that many "proper" words and phrases evolved from idioms. Apparently that's how people think.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Your leading examples don't support that assertion. The Boston Tea Party really was about tea, and Marie Antoinette's remark really was about cake.

    But even if your assertion is correct, it's hardly remarkable. Food is a high priority in our lives, and it's something all cultures in all eras have in common.

    Do you know the etymology of the word "companion"? It's someone you share your bread with. Latin panis. (Whence French pain, Italian pane, Spanish pan, etc.)
  8. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Ah, that Fraggle chappie: worth his salt.
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    And you're a good egg.

Share This Page