"I know a hawk form a handsaw"

Discussion in 'English Only' started by mangelme, Jul 29, 2006.

  1. mangelme New Member

    Santiago De Chile
    español Chile
    I don't found these words sawddling and handsaw.."I know a hawk form a handsaw"
    "that great baby you see ther i s not yet out of his sawddling clouts.."

    Thanks :)
  2. felicia Senior Member

    Norwegian, Norway
    Must be a typing error, it is "swaddling". This word comes from old usage, where a new born baby was tightly wrapped up in cloth and its legs wrapped with the same, supposedly to keep them straight. This fashion was still in use in the Balkans and parts of Poland not very many years ago. In Scandinavia it went out of use around the sixties. Thus, a person who is not yet "out of swaddling clothes" (clouts is a dialect word for clothes) is a person who is not yet grown up, somewhat immature. I think...? Compare, Mary's child was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in the manger.."
    To know a hawk from a handsaw probably means that the person knows what he is talking about, or has knowledge of something, that he is not quite stupid...:D
  3. ojyram Senior Member

    Tampa, Fl, USA
    USA English (Learning Spanish)
    swaddling = restrictive wrapping or clothing

    I know a hawk from a handsaw means I can tell one thing from another, so I will not be tricked or mislead with an imitation or substitution.
  4. Kevman Senior Member

    Phoenix, Arizona
    USA English
    "I know a hawk from a handsaw" is from Hamlet Act II sc ii. Hamlet seems to be confessing to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he is only feigning madness:
    Ham. ...my uncle father and aunt mother are deceiv'd.
    Guil. In what, my dear lord?
    Ham. I am but mad north-northwest: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.

  5. maxiogee Banned

    Indeed. It is believed that handsaw is a corruption of heronshaw, a heron.
  6. A90Six Senior Member

    England - English.
    Really! I just assumed both hawk and handsaw were referring to the tools used in the building trade.:(
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    What's a hawk?
    Ask a plasterer.
    A hawk is one of these.
    Plasterers put plaster on the hawk to work it before applying it to the wall.

    What is a handsaw?
    It's one of these.

    So, rather strangely, this expression is just as meaningful to modern-day builders as it was to Shakespeare's falconers.

  8. A90Six Senior Member

    England - English.
    As is hawking. Falconers loosen birds of prey, and builders loosen phlegm all day.:D

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