As slow as a ??

Discussion in 'English Only' started by e2efour, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
    The expression As slow as a turtle recently appeared in one post.

    I think this must be an AE expression (if it is genuine), since turtles (in the sea) can travel at 20 mph and tortoises (land creatures in the UK) cannot walk faster than 1 mph.

    According to Merriam Webster only tortoise refers to a slow person, not turtle. So to say "this computer is as slow as a turtle" would seem to be a strange expression, which I have never heard in the UK.

    Are speakers of AE familiar with the expression?
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I wonder if your question isn't based on a false premise, E2, that a simile must be established before it is idiomatic to use it - I may have misunderstood you.

    I think the most effective similes are often original.

    I'm not sure that most people know as much about tortoises and turtles as you do.

    Having said which, I remember objecting a few years ago when someone said that something was as clear as pi, on the grounds that pi wasn't very unclear or clear.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2010
  3. Bevj

    Bevj Allegra Moderata

    Girona, Spain
    English (U.K.)
    I remember the thread which you refer to, though I can't find it right now. If I recall correctly, the person who started it was Japanese, so maybe it's a common expression in that part of the world.
    I have never heard 'slow as a turtle' either; I've heard 'tortoise' or 'snail' used in this phrase.
  4. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    In AmE isn't 'turtle' the common word for all chelonians? So there a tortoise is a kind of turtle, and a very slow one.
  5. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Why you think it is either (1) AE or (2) "an expression" escapes me. It is not an AE idiom or expression; rather, it is a simile constructed by a non-native speaker to ask a question about a point of grammar unrelated to turtles.

    This and the other thread you mention are the only instances I can recall in which "slow as a turtle" appear.
  6. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
    I am just reacting to the simile since to me turtles (sea creatures) are not in general slow. All I know about them is that some of them can swim fairly fast, which contradicts the simile.

    What I'm wondering about is whether the simile is an American one (possibly because the distinction is not usually made between turtle and tortoise).
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    [For information, not for discussion in this thread, the pi simile was mentioned in passing in Easy as pie ? - probably the thread people are recalling.]

Share This Page