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Idiomatic communication

June 13, 2012
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Oh how I love idioms. I promised I wouldn't broach this subject again for a month of Sundays, but I believe this is an idea whose time has come.

An idiom or idiomatic phrase is a group of words when used together have a different meaning than the individual words.

As an example, some might think my words go against the grain. This idiom means across the alignment of fibers in a piece of wood. So, to me, anything "against the grain" is contrary to my feelings or ideas. As a qualified contrarian, many things in my life go against the grain.

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To native speakers, idioms come easily; for those learning English, not so much.

Some of you might believe writing a weekly column is a piece of cake, and perhaps think your weekly columnist can't see the forest for the trees. But, once one decides to paddle one's own canoe, the result is, you have to put on your thinking cap. A case in point, I believe I have managed to carve out a niche. Sometimes writing this column every week is like nailing jelly to the wall.

While at times I like to paint the town red, I take great pains to not paint myself into a corner.

While I might be a square peg in a round hole, I firmly believe the pen is mightier than the sword. While I try to humor, I try not to become a thorn in your side. My long range goal is to continue writing this column until the cows come home.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but someone may only offer a penny for your thoughts. Is this to say pictures are worth more than thoughts? All-in-all neither is worth a plug nickel.

You might consider me to be mad as a hatter, but there is a method to my madness. hope I've gotten you to put on your thinking cap, and given you some food for thought.

Many times this column is written in fits and starts, and today is no exception. I will admit that at times I live in a fool's paradise and this column might be a fool's errand.

So for this exercise, we have reached the point of no return.

Will I write a column similar to this again? Not for all the tea in China. Actually, I may, but not for a month of Sundays or perhaps only once in a blue moon. However, with this particular column, I have managed to have a field day with idioms

Our vernacular is awash in idioms.

So here you have it, warts and all. So, let's call it a day.

Until next time--

You can read past columns by visiting and clicking on the "Local Columns" button at the bottom of the page.

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2005 - 2012 Mike Gilchrist.

Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342



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