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Thread: Misnomers, figures of speech, colloquialisms...

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW summerb's Avatar
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    Misnomers, figures of speech, colloquialisms...

    So I had a brilliant (in my head, at least) idea for a new MG novel. I need to think of lots of figures of speech that could be funny if taken literally. Can you guys help me brainstorm? Here's what I have so far

    raining cats and dogs
    couch potato
    do you think money grows on trees?
    grammar police
    when pigs fly
    a little birdie told me
    cat got your tongue
    in a pickle
    cat out of the bag
    lose your marbles
    kick the bucket
    break a leg
    jellyfish
    starfish
    funnybone
    fireflies
    ladybugs
    butterflies in the stomach
    if it was a snake, it would have bitten you

    That last one was one my mom used to say, not sure how common it is Thanks for any ideas, guys!
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  2. #2
    Alas, poor Yorick, he fed me 'nanas DavidBrett's Avatar
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    If you're thinking of making a novel where these things literally happen, be aware that some have been done before in the form of jokes, short stories and sketches on TV shows. Otherwise, have fun!
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  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW summerb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidBrett View Post
    If you're thinking of making a novel where these things literally happen, be aware that some have been done before in the form of jokes, short stories and sketches on TV shows. Otherwise, have fun!
    Hi David! Thanks for the advice - if you can give me any concrete examples, that would also be helpful - Obviously it's not a completely unique concept, but I think my idea is different enough to make it work If not, it will still be a hell of a lot of fun to write, so maybe I'll just consider it a writing exercise.

    Again, if you have any examples that you think are too big to bear repeating (e.g. jumping to conclusions in Phantom Tollbooth) please let me know those too!

    Thank!
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  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW ucf612's Avatar
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    There is a PB called PARTS (and MORE PARTS and EVEN MORE PARTS). They are all about a kid misunderstanding those figures of speech. My 5-year-old cracks up at it.

    Not sure if this is something you mean but my grandpa used to say "What's this we? You got a frog in your pocket?"
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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW SheilaJG's Avatar
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    Have you read the Amelia Bedelia books? It's a series about a maid who always gets into trouble for taking things literally. Puts real sponges in her sponge cake, etc.
    something

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    Moderation in All Things AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    The entire Magic of Xanth series (by Piers Anthony) is built around puns of common words and phrases. A night mare is an actual horse that brings bad dreams. A shoe tree is an actual tree which grows shoes. That sort of thing.

    The series is very well known, and you should be familiar with it. If nothing else, you should read the first in the 27-book series: A Spell For Chameleon.
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW summerb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SheilaJG View Post
    Have you read the Amelia Bedelia books? It's a series about a maid who always gets into trouble for taking things literally. Puts real sponges in her sponge cake, etc.
    Ahhh, I DO remember Amelia Bedelia I used to love those books. If I remember right, a lot of her language is pretty dated, but I'll have to check them out from our library to refresh my memory.

    Roger, actually I haven't read those, thank you!
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  8. #8
    figuring it all out
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    if it was a snake, it would have bitten you
    your mum is right, he tells truth in simple words and it is effective. very easy to understand. we might have to learn from your mother

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    My mom said the same thing, only it was a bear that would've bitten you

    Teaching second-language learners and very literal-minded kids on the autism spectrum has made me realize how many of these we use.

    Me: See, I told you this would be a piece of cake!
    Kid: after waiting a few moments: Ms. Judy, can we have the cake now?

    Me: Just wait a minute while I finish this...
    Kid: counts to 60: Okay, now it's my turn.

    Another book that uses some of these confusions is Ramona the Pest. I remember on her first day of kindergarten, her teacher says they might change the seats later, but "for the present" Ramona can sit in this one. Then Ramona won't leave the chair because she's waiting for her present.
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  10. #10
    careful...you'll end up in my novel RuthD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MsJudy View Post
    My mom said the same thing, only it was a bear that would've bitten you

    Teaching second-language learners and very literal-minded kids on the autism spectrum has made me realize how many of these we use.

    Another book that uses some of these confusions is Ramona the Pest. I remember on her first day of kindergarten, her teacher says they might change the seats later, but "for the present" Ramona can sit in this one. Then Ramona won't leave the chair because she's waiting for her present.
    My mom said "snake."

    So true about the literal thinkers. Finally figured out why one little darling always wrote his name too low, so the letters were half above/half below the line. It's because I said, "Write your name ON the line." So he put the letters, quite literally, ON the line. Now I say, "Write your name above the line," and he does it correctly.

    Ramona has some great examples of this kind of thinking. She puzzled over the song about the "Dawnzer Lee Light," which she assumed to be a sort of lamp. And once she was late for school because she was told to leave at a quarter after, and, knowing a quarter was 25 cents, she left at 25 after.
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  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW ucf612's Avatar
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    my mom always said the snake one.

    Also "if your head wasn't attached"
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  12. #12
    careful...you'll end up in my novel RuthD's Avatar
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    My mother also said, "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach."

    My dad would say, "I'll get the iron out of the stable," when getting the car out of the garage.
    My blog: Readatouille

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW
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    Oh, I love the Ramona story where she throws a fit about the PTA, which she assumes is a bag of chips or something else yummy and therefore forbidden, because her parents always spell things out if they don't want her to have them.
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  14. #14
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Probably not really helpful for the original poster, but thinking of literal thinkers reminded me that it wasn't until he was almost six that my son could get through his head that it was still Sunday even if it was cloudy.

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