Amazing expression of amazement

Discussion in 'English Only' started by cuchuflete, Dec 22, 2007.

  1. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    "Well, slap me with a moldy turnip and color me flabbergasted!"

    source: International Data Group's Computerworld

    Thread topic? about this: In your version of English, would the flabbergasted statement above be immediately obvious? Is the meaning clear to you?

    I'd never come across this particular collection of mixed metaphors, but found it strong and clear, in a muddled sort of way. Would people in your neighborhood understand it to mean, "I'm absolutely amazed"?

    Hint for BE speakers: you might substitute 'swede' for turnip if that feels more idiomatic.
  2. Matamoscas Senior Member

    Ireland English
    Yes they would. This style of nonsense hyperbole is widely used in slapstick American comedies, or even cartoons.
  3. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I reckon so. One hears a lot of these weird and wonderful concoctions in BE (though I suspect the best ones aren't necessarily the most spontaneous ...)
    It strikes me that you could say more or less anything so long as you stuck to the construction

    Well, [imperative verb] me [colourful phrase] and [imperative verb] me [another colourful phrase] !

    and it would come out as I'm totally gobsmacked.
  4. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    One of these that comes immediately to my mind is "Well, bow my legs and call me Bambi!" I believe I heard this in an old "Hopalong Cassidy" movie (50s?).
  5. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    How about Well, dip me in fat and call me a chip! (How much more British could it get?)
    Unfortunately the only other example I can think of is pretty coarse.
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I'm sure ewie's right.

    The most memorable ones have some sort of internal logic:

    Well cut off my legs and call me Shorty!
    Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit!
  7. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Shall I? Shan't I?
    Oh go on then, Loob, as you asked so nicely:rolleyes:
    Well, f*** me sideways and call me a letterbox!

    What's done is done.
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I keep getting flashes of Hugh Laurie as Lieutenant George St Barleigh in Blackadder Goes Forth. That's vaguely relevant because I think he uses this kind of expression a great deal.
    Unless, of course, that's somebody completely different.
  9. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    And let us not forget "Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians", popularized by British musical, "Jerry Springer - The Opera" (it's the title of one of the numbers). I have a feeling this one was around before the musical, but I may be wrong.

    I wonder who came up with the original of this formula.

    EDIT: I too am reminded of Blackadder (and the lesbian one brings to mind Julian Clary).
  10. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Yes, I kept getting echoes from Blackadder but, as ever, couldn't remember a single example. I think you're right about it being George who used them all the time.
  11. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    This does seem to be a frequent pattern.

    A few more found lurking in amazement around the web:

    …roll me up and call me curly
    …blow me down and call me shorty
    …dress me up and call me Sally
    …grease me up and call me slider
    Well pierce my ears and call me drafty. (source)
  12. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I just love this one from that source
    * well, dip me in mucous and call me phlegmatic

    Mind you, I would've preferred mucus, he said, only noticing the spelling mistake 3½ hours later
  13. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    A genuine Blackadder one, from the special, "Blackadder Back and Forth:

    Melchett (Stephen Fry): Well glaze my nipples and call me Rita!
  14. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    In the spirit of restrained intellectual debate which so characterises these forums, I believe I should highlight an anomaly. The sentence quoted by the Original Poster includes the phrase "colour me", whereas subsequent examples feature "call me". Might "colour me" be a modern variation on an older theme?

    I love "Pierce my ears and call me drafty".
  15. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    In the spirit of unrestrained intellectual frolic,
    Well, knock me over with a feather and color me startled.

    Search string: "Well * me with a * and color me*

    There are many that include fish and ladies' names. This string will provide many pages of them:
    "Well * me with a * and call me*

    One of the funnier and more tame examples-

    Well, slap me with a platypus, and call me Aunt Jemima,
  16. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Embedded in the link Cuchuflete provided in Post #7 is a link to a discussion on Language Log that some of you may find interesting.

    It is a discussion of variations on the pattern and an attempt to figure out which of its features are essential. (And has more examples as well.)
  17. Macunaíma

    Macunaíma Senior Member

    Um ninho de mafagalfinhos
    português, Brasil
    I had never heard one such expression and I'm absolutely fascinated. They are so amusing and lively and colourful. Thanks, Cuchuflete, for the thread. I'm delighted.

    I know this might be getting repetitive, but I cannot help posting the funniest ones I found:

    Well, shave my legs and call me grandpa!
    Well, paint my toenails and call me Sam!
    Well, love me tender and call me Elvis!
    Well, shit my drawers and call me Jubel!
    Well, skin me alive and call me luggage!
    Well, slap me around and call me serendipity!

    This is utter nonsense! And fun! I can't believe I've been missing out on this!

    How are these expressions created? Off the cuff, just like that? Are they as spontaneous as they seem or are there some set expressions of this kind that appear with more than chance frequency?

    They remind me of a Brazilian fixed expression (without variants) that have a completely different meaning but the same structure: Throw me against the wall and call me a gecko! ( in Portuguese here )

    While I searched, I read this one that crack me up too: My mouth dropped open like a two-dollar suitcase!

    That's why I cannot give up on English...

  18. Joobs Banned

    In a house
    Glasgow, Scotland - English
    As others have mentioned get yourself any episode of "Blackadder" and, usually, George will express one or more such expressions in reply to some blatently (and obviously) true statement by Edmund. And, with Baldrick, Turnips are mentioned quite often too.

    Nah, Turnip is more common than Swede over here. Unless you go to a Burns' Supper when, of course, the Scots word "Neeps" is used.:)
  19. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Oi Macunaíma,

    I know that they are nutty and fun. I have no idea when, where or how they began.
    Here is a wild speculation, which may be a specious as most foreign policy justifications.
    There was an old nautical expression, "blow me down". That might account for the first part. The second could well have been something even more logical, if not less.

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