give it some English

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sam's mum, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. sam's mum

    sam's mum Senior Member

    England English
    Hi chaps
    I heard this expression the other day on the TV programme Heroes. I've since found out it means give it some spin, from anglé (sounds like anglais, therefore English). My question is, is this a common American expression? I've never heard it used in England.
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    For what it's worth Urban Dictionary knows about it. Here's a typical example:

    English my ass... this pool table is so shitty you couldn't make a straight shot if you wanted to
  3. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    The expression is common in AE, but seems to be limited to certain areas, e.g. pool or billiards.

    We also use the expression body English, about which, Wikipedia says:

    "The useless but common practice of contorting one's body while a shot is in play, as if in the vain hope that this will influence the balls' trajectories; the term is considered humorous"
  4. tannen2004 Senior Member

    It's not a terribly common expression but I've heard it occasionally. You also hear put some English on (a ball - for example), but like I said, it's pretty uncommon.
  5. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Yes, it's a fairly common term for a very specific thing. I have heard it used in billiards/pool, baseball and even bowling. I imagine it could be used elsewhere.

    Here is an example in basketball from They Call Me Coach, by John Wooden:

    I faked a shot and passed to him underneath the basket, and he laid the ball up on the board. In doing so, he gave it a little English -- it went around and around and then out.

    From an ESPN article on a baseball game:

    "I thought it was going to hook so I tried to give it a little English at the plate, and it kind of stayed fair," Harris said.

    From an L.A. Times article about a baseball game:

    “I tried to give it a little English with my body and I was saying, ‘Stay fair, stay fair,’ ” Spiezio said. “That stuff doesn’t work.”

    This time it did. The ball dropped into the seats in the right-field corner. In the sixth, he belted one to right field that gave him the second two-homer game of his career

    From an article on cue sports techniques in Wikipedia:

    The term english (called "side" in the UK, and sometimes simply called "left" or "right", and sometimes "check side" for left-hand side, and "running side" for right-hand side) normally refers to sidespin put on a cue ball by hitting it to the left or right of center. Generally, english is used to change the angle of reflection of the cue ball after it contacts a rail. English also affects the direction an object ball takes on impact (the "throw" effect), as well as the path of travel of the cue ball after impact with a cue ("deflection" or "squirt").
  6. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    As to derivation, anglé is not French I've ever heard for spin on a billiard ball. I've played a certain amount of French billiards and the word for spin is effet. There isn't even a French verb angler of which this might be the past participle. The French do use the word angler but that's from the English and means a fisherman. Perhaps, Sam's Mum, I misread you as suggesting that interesting derivation came from the French.

    I'm intrigued. Where did it come from?
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2008
  7. kitenok Senior Member

    Me too.

    The OED has some speculation, but nothing conclusive. Here is their explanation for this sense:
    "quot. 1959" is interesting, but has the makings of an urban legend:
    All citations from the first one in 1869 until this 1959 one have English with a capital letter. This seems to me to cast some doubt on any theory that its derivation is separate from that of the adjective for the country or the language.
  8. sam's mum

    sam's mum Senior Member

    England English
    Supposedly, anglé means bent, as in cor anglais -
    "la qualification "anglais" provenant d'une confusion faite avec la désignation visuelle française "anglé" (courbé ou coudé)"
    Thanks for your help, chaps!
  9. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Very interesting; thank you. Courbé and coudé are both common words, meaning curved or bent (literally elbowed) but my enormous French dictionary hasn't got anglé, and my French google won't even look for the word, it switches straight over, saying try it with this spelling anglais.
  10. sam's mum

    sam's mum Senior Member

    England English
    I couldn't find it in my French dictionaries either. But putting another e for a feminine agreement found this, talking about a cat's tail:
    Sa queue est anglée...
  11. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    MODERATOR RAMBLE: I don't think I've ever seen so much French in English Only before ... still, impossible to discuss the derivation of the term English/anglais/anglé without some French, I suppose. If you do quote something in French, please translate it so we can all read it ... ( ... and judge if it's relevant enough to stay:D)
  12. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    In a recent French Conversation class my instructor pointed out that French dictionaries have a different sensibility to them compared to English dictionaries. He said that English dictionaries are "packrats", collecting and keeping a word forever, where French dictionaries have most older words edited out. To find a word that is no longer in use you often have to consult a dictionary from a prior century.

    I heard from my instructor that "clé anglaise" (monkey wrench, literally "English key") comes from this same (obsolete) adjective of "anglé" because of the bend in the wrench.

    I have now probably tipped the balance and this thread will be moved to French-English vocabulary. :)
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2008
  13. sam's mum

    sam's mum Senior Member

    England English
    Sorry chaps, so much English comes from French anyway. As Clemenceau (a french President) said, (in French) Ah, the english language, it's only French pronounced badly.
  14. Grop

    Grop Senior Member

    Except, of course, for online, etymological dictionaries like the altif. If you understand French dictionarese.

    (Without seeking for complicated French stuff, give it some English sounds pretty much like give it some angle, imho).
  15. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Thanks very much, Grop. Most helpful. Altif gave it, so Sam's Mum's source may well be right.
  16. davidorth New Member

    I like this phrase and use it outside the pool/billiards context. I teach woodworking and metalworking and there are many skills that require you to impart a unique pressure or twist in a way that is not obvious. These unique "spins" (not always a literal spin) make all the difference between a safe, effective action and a total fizzle or maybe even an injury. For example, pushing a piece of wood through a tablesaw requires that as you push the wood straight through the blade, you also hold it up tight against the guide to the right and if the board is longish, you need to impart a little twist, too, so that the leading end of the board is also held up against the guide. This kind of stuff is never spoken of in "how to" books but it makes all the difference. This kind of "giving it some english" is generally something you can only feel from inside your hand, it is usally subtle compared to the overall action, and it is very important. "Body english" on the other hand is overtly obvious and ineffective. I think it is important to distinquish between the two meanings.

Share This Page