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Thread: to have the give of elm

  1. #1
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    to have the give of elm

    And the latest component to come over all hopeless is my left buttock, which suddenly has the give of elm.
    (J.Clarkson The Top Gear Years)

    Does anyone knowe how to understand this expression?

  2. #2
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    Re: to have the give of elm

    Assuming no typos, I'd say it's a bad metaphor. He's saying that his left buttock is bendy like elm wood.

  3. #3
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    Re: to have the give of elm

    The meaning of the noun "give" is "a tendency to yield under pressure; resilience". Wood is stiff and does not yield much (is not very bendy) so his buttock is very stiff.
    Your meaning is not what you think it is, it is what your listener thinks it is

  4. #4
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    Re: to have the give of elm

    I took it to mean the opposite. Of the all woods he could have chosen, elm is among the bendier ones. (Are stiff buttocks synonymous with hopelessness?)
    Last edited by Beryl from Northallerton; 11th February 2013 at 8:49 AM.

  5. #5
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    Re: to have the give of elm

    My elm flooring is not very bendy - I interpreted the comment as meaning as bendy as a board of any wood, rather than a thin strip and the choice of elm was just Clarkson's style, rather than singling it out as particularly supple
    Your meaning is not what you think it is, it is what your listener thinks it is

  6. #6
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    Re: to have the give of elm

    I'm with JulianStuart. There's elm in my sideboard and dining table, and I've used it in a boat; it has very little give, even though it tolerates bending well (if steamed). I take him to be saying he has a numb bum.

  7. #7
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    Re: to have the give of elm

    People should not be shy about providing context and background. You are allowed to quote up to four sentences from a single source, and to summarize in your own words topic being discussed. Although the necessary information should be in the post itself, it is helpful to provide a link, which one is available. Here is the link to this article: http://www.topgear.com/uk/jeremy-cla...ing-2004-04-01

    J.Clarkson, is writing about a car he is considering buying. a car which is awkward to get into and out of. He is especially concerned about this because he is 43 and is beginning to have physical difficulties:
    Things just break in the night. And the latest component to come over all hopeless is my left buttock, which suddenly has the give of elm.
    Getting into an armchair hurts like billy-o. Getting out again is pretty much impossible.
    This seems to support JulianStuart's suggestion that the elm tree represents something stiff, something with nearly no bend at all.

    Please read this for future reference: Context and Background

  8. #8
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    Re: to have the give of elm

    I think the hopeless means it's condition is hopeless. And yes, stiff. He means to say it's wooden and he picked elm to make the text more colorful than just saying wooden.

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