I realize that lot of people probably don’t spend their time thinking about words. But haven’t you ever wondered about some of the weird phrases we use? What about “thank goodness”? Are you thanking your own goodness, or lack of it? Or is it an atheist/agnostic version of “Thank God”?
Then there’s “Heavens to Betsie.” Okay, it’s not a phrase you hear anymore. But when I was a kid, little old ladies with blue hair said it all the time. And what’s it supposed to mean? Is it a practical outworking of “the meek shall inherit the earth” and Betsie clearly won't?
Of course, English isn’t the only language with weird phrases. Consider the French sacre bleu. Literally, it means “holy blue.” What is that? Is it swearing by some papist vestment? Or is it the French version of “holy cow.”
The weirdest phrase I know is a Dutch one. It’s used as the equivalent of “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it.” The phrase is mensen kinderen. It literally means “people’s children.” It implies “other people’s children,” and it is said with a sad shake of the head. You get the implication, right? When bad stuff happens, it’s the fault of “other people’s children.” See, at least the Dutch made sure their weird phrases did something—like passing the buck and shifting the blame. Yep, that’s efficiency at work. Don’t you wish you were Dutch?