Loneliness is where the shoe pinches

< Previous | Next >

Silver

Senior Member
Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
Hi,


The other day I talked to my friend, I told him the biggest problem for me now to face is loneliness, because I have to pass the exam so as to get the certificate then I can find a job, but because everyday I immerse myself in study, I don't anything which aren't connected to English learning, so I feel extremely lonely from time to time. So when my friend asked me what made you go astray in your world, can I say:


"Loneliness is where the shoe pinches."


Thanks
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Yes, you can certainly say that -- but don't be surprised if no one knows what you're talking about. :)

    The best idiom I could find was: Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. Meaning that no one else can know your suffering.

    I've never heard the original, but even if I had, your usage doesn't match its meaning.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Hi, Mr.Copy, indeed "where the shoe pinches" is an idiom from dictionary.reference.com, so I wonder that usage, put "loneliness" before the idiom.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    You have to be careful about chopping an idiom in half and adding something new. Idioms are idioms because they stay intact. You can't go from "A stitch in time saves nine" to "A belt in time saves nine." Or from "Hunger in the best pickle" to "Hunger is the best rutabaga."

    This is not to say that you can't have some fun with them, working off "canary in a coal mine," for example, to comment on a friend's business venture: It held all the economic promise of a cannery in a coal mine. (Please don't ask about that -- it's just a made-up example.)
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Hi, Mr.Copy

    I have to say sorry for making you misunderstand, or if you don't mind, please trust me because I won't chop the idioms off for fun, but in the meantime, I still feel greatful for your gentle reminder, whereas I want to say I do understand what you means, but what I want to emphasize here to you is, the "where the shoe pinches", this idiom before you told me the whole sentence of it, I think it shall be an idiom, here is the source:

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/where+the+shoe+pinches

    As a non-native speaker, I am not qualified to question about the authoritativeness of a tens-of-millions hits English online dictionary, I also believe many people are relying on him, just like what I am doing but I refuse to become a victim of it, that is gist of English learning.

    Thanks a lot for the original source and I will try to find out some other relevant articles about it.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I checked your link and found this as a definition for the idiom: where the shoe pinches, the true cause of the trouble or worry. (#28 for anyone following that link.)

    I'm slightly confused by your "tens of millions" of hits -- you mean just for the dictionary? Because for the phrase where the shoe pinches, I found only 70 hits in Google -- which, to me, is an indication that it's not very popular.

    Looking at them quickly, I see that many of the links are to foreign-language pages, which sounds like someone is just sweeping up the floor with all the English idioms ever recording and providing local-language definitions for them. Then there's a couple of "Only the bearer knows where the shoes [sic] pinches." And many of the others are the entire phrase Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches that I originally quoted.

    If you are interested in learning idioms, you might try to find a book or a website that specializes in popular ones. :)
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello, Silver. I think Copyright's suggestion that you look at different sources for idioms is a good one. Idioms are tricky, and it's easy to use them incorrectly. Most of them use figurative language in a set way.

    The most common mistake that people make when using phrases like these is to mix them up or use them with other words that really don't make sense. In your statement about "where the shoe pinches", you are really using figurative language to describe some point of aggravation or annoyance. "Loneliness" doesn't really fit here.

    So, you should review as many different sources for any idiom that you can find. Look closely at the sentence examples. Use those idioms exactly as you find them. Don't try to innovate or extend the idiom for now.
     
    Last edited:

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    I checked your link and found this as a definition for the idiom: where the shoe pinches, the true cause of the trouble or worry. (#28 for anyone following that link.)

    I'm slightly confused by your "tens of millions" of hits -- you mean just for the dictionary? Because for the phrase where the shoe pinches, I found only 70 hits in Google -- which, to me, is an indication that it's not very popular.

    Looking at them quickly, I see that many of the links are to foreign-language pages, which sounds like someone is just sweeping up the floor with all the English idioms ever recording and providing local-language definitions for them. Then there's a couple of "Only the bearer knows where the shoes [sic] pinches." And many of the others are the entire phrase Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches that I originally quoted.

    If you are interested in learning idioms, you might try to find a book or a website that specializes in popular ones. :)

    Hi, Mr.Copy, I am really grateful for your patience, I seldom see someone who helps me by sacrificing his own time, I have to say sorry, thank you very much, I remember the first time I wrote my process of learning English, and that's what I always want to let you know, I am also suffering from English learning, idiom is a big problem, but I am trying my best.

    You are right, the hits, which I was talking about, it is that there are many people using this online link, so I say I am going to doubt the correctness of it, at least, from my point of view, It is much better than the Chinese one.

    I still remember you told me not to you "cause", since "cause" not always means "because", right? I remember what you said, your suggestions for me are invaluable.

    Thanks a lot.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Hello, Silver. I think Copyright's suggestion that you look at different sources for idioms is a good one. Idioms are tricky, and its easy to use them incorrectly. Most of them use figurative language in a set way.

    The most common mistake that people make when using phrases like these is to mix them up or use them with other words that really don't make sense. In your statement about "where the shoe pinches", you are really using figurative language to describe some point of aggravation or annoyance. "Loneliness" doesn't really fit here.

    So, you should review as many different sources for any idiom that you can find. Look closely at the sentence examples. Use those idioms exactly as you find them. Don't try to innovate or extend the idiom for now.

    Thanks, O.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    So when my friend asked me what made you go astray in your world, can I say:


    "Loneliness is where the shoe pinches."
    I wouldn't advise using this expression as I explain below. You do well to use WR to check out the accuracy of what you read, and to practise using it: surely this is what the forum is for. I don't see that Copyright's excellent warnings about chopping up fixed phrases are relevant here, because you weren't chopping anything up. Dare I say that Copy has gone astray, for once. Anyway, please don't be upset or feel you have to justify yourself.

    "XXX is where the shoe pinches" sounds sort of OK to me but only because I have read what it means! :) I think it is an entirely separate expression from the proverb or saying, that just happens to include ill -fitting shoes.
    "Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches".


    It's apparently used when talking about the problem (XXX) in a given situation. My problem is, or was, that I have never heard anybody use it so if you had said it to me in a conversation I would have wondered what you were talking about.
    It strikes me that it is hard to use this expression successfully. You have succeeded because loneliness is a single word concept and fits neatly and rhythmically with "...is where the shoe pinches". It sounds like a film or book title.

    I have been trying without luck to apply the expression to my own life.

    "I love my art class but the only problem/difficulty/thing wrong/ with it is the woman who sits opposite me."
    "My life is wonderful except that now my husband has retired too, I don't get enough time to myself."

    The blue clauses
    would be the XXX if, in some nightmare world, I had to do an exercise using this saying. The first would convert to "..... but the woman who sits opposite me is where the shoe pinches", and the second would be "... but the fact that I don't get enough time to myself is where the shoe pinches". Both these are silly uses of an expression just for the sake of using it.

    My original sentences were just fine and so is your original one, "I told him the biggest problem for me now to face is loneliness", (except that it needs a very slight tweak to be make it perfect).
    So, there are two excellent reasons for forgetting about the shoe pinching : it is an obscure expression, rarely if ever used, and it's very difficult to use successfully. Keep life and language simple!

    You should post again about "be/go astray" because that's not the right use of it - it isn't a synonym for be/go wrong. This is useful to know at the level of mastery you are at already.

    What is this Chinese obsession with proverbs and sayings? Are you expected to know them and do you get tested on them, or what? If I learnt Chinese would I have to learn proverbs to be counted as fluent?
    I once spent a couple of hours reading through English proverbs and sayings lists on Chinese sites. At least one third of those given were useless for varying reasons. Some were total nonsense.
    I think I'll post in Culture Cafe about this.

    All the best
    Hermione

    PS Here is an English proverb applicable to you at the moment "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". Very seriously, you will work and learn better if you give your brain a good rest each day.
     
    Last edited:

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I wouldn't advise using this expression as I explain below. You do well to use WR to check out the accuracy of what you read, and to practise using it: surely this is what the forum is for. I don't see that Copyright's excellent warnings about chopping up fixed phrases are relevant here, because you weren't chopping anything up. Dare I say that Copy has gone astray, for once.
    Although one source lists "where the shoe pinches" as an idiom, I think they have reduced it a bit too far if you look at real-world examples. It is more likely to be found as "knows where the shoe pinches" if you check this Google link.

    Which means that you almost never find it in the wild as "where the shoe pinches" with a unique lead-in. So it's not a very fruitful endeavor to take a little-known idiom (in whatever form) and try to play off it.

    "XXX is where the shoe pinches" sounds sort of OK to me but only because I have read what it means! :)
    Which is our point here, I think -- we're just being polite and not coming right out and saying, Don't use this expression!

    I think it is an entirely separate expression from the proverb or saying, that just happens to include ill -fitting shoes.
    "Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches".
    Perhaps, but try to find examples in Google.

    I sometimes think that as native English acrobats, we do double-back flips with a full twist into order to justify something that should more appropriately be put in a burlap bag with a brick and sailed off a bridge. Part of our responsibility here -- in my opinion -- is to warn people off certain expressions, idioms and constructions.

    Just a thought ... we're still fast friends. :)
     

    Aardvark01

    Senior Member
    British English (Midlands)
    Yes, you can certainly say that -- but don't be surprised if no one knows what you're talking about. :)

    The best idiom I could find was: Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. Meaning that no one else can know your suffering.

    I've never heard the original, but even if I had, your usage doesn't match its meaning.
    I have to agree with copyright. I understand it but had never heard of this idiom before so I would not have recognised the clause "where the shoe pinches" as part of an English idiom.

    Before you provided the link to the Merriam-Webster dictionary I was going to ask if it was a Chinese idiom.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Although one source lists "where the shoe pinches" as an idiom, I think they have reduced it a bit too far if you look at real-world examples. It is more likely to be found as "knows where the shoe pinches" if you check this Google link.

    Which means that you almost never find it in the wild as "where the shoe pinches" with a unique lead-in. So it's not a very fruitful endeavor to take a little-known idiom (in whatever form) and try to play off it.

    Which is our point here, I think -- we're just being polite and not coming right out and saying, Don't use this expression!

    Perhaps, but try to find examples in Google.

    I sometimes think that as native English acrobats, we do double-back flips with a full twist into order to justify something that should more appropriately be put in a burlap bag with a brick and sailed off a bridge. Part of our responsibility here -- in my opinion -- is to warn people off certain expressions, idioms and constructions.

    Just a thought ... we're still fast friends. :)
    Hi, Mr.Copy

    I think what you are trying to do is right, you can directly tell me "Don't use this expression", I suppose to be more grateful, because I really don't want to become a victim of the poor usage fudged by some irresponsible people.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think what you are trying to do is right, you can directly tell me "Don't use this expression", I suppose to be more grateful, because I really don't want to become a victim of the poor usage fudged by some irresponsible people.
    Thank you for the permission. I try to be careful with my admonitions because because I only have my own experience to go on and other people may be familiar with an expression I've never heard.

    In this case, however, even Google isn't a fan. :)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top