not cricket

Discussion in 'English Only' started by kahroba, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. kahroba Senior Member

    Tehran
    Persian
    As far as I know "not cricket" means "unfair, unsportsmanlike". Please kindly confirm if this is the case in the following context, taken from "1919" by John Dos Passos:
     
  2. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    That is the meaning of "not cricket." Here, the term has been stretched to indicate that the he disapproves, apparently rather strongly, of her ideas.
     
  3. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    It should be noted, though, that none of the terms that George is using ("blighters", "rotters", "ripping", "cricket", etc.) is American slang. They are instead British slang, and for George to use them is a very distinct affectation on his part. Depending on the rest of the context, the tears may be the result either of annoyance at the phony English mannerisms, or jealousy at what is perceived as George's "sophistication".
     
  4. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Yes, this is British slang, but of a type very rarely heard these days. I would advise learners of British English not to employ these terms if they do not wish to appear "unusual".
     
  5. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    Of course, wearing a World War I uniform would also be considered unusual today. :)
     
  6. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I don't see what you mean by that, GWB. There are still people who use that type of slang without putting on a uniform, believe it or not.
     
  7. Eigenfunction Senior Member

    England - English
    Also, do not learn your British slang from an American author, since most people would say it's just not cricket. Saying her ideas were not cricket sounds silly to me. I would have thought it fairly obvious whether or not she was suggesting a ball game with a bat and stumps.
     
  8. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    You had said that such slang is not common today. This is not surprising; 1919 takes place in, well, 1919. The uniform described (with puttees, for example) is a uniform of that day, just as the slang is the slang of that day. No one should expect either to be what is commonly found in 2008.
     
  9. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Some slang remains in use for decades, GWB, and that is the case with these terms, which are still sometimes heard. My point was that students, though they may still come across them in spoken English and in modern texts, should not adopt them. I don't think we can assume that students will always conclude that the slang of 1919 has gone out of use.
     
  10. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    ... because while they may still be heard, they are no longer common, no?
     
  11. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    They never were common, GWB, but students are not to know that, just as they are not to know that they are uncommon now, unless it is pointed out to them.
     
  12. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    BE does have quite a lot of idioms derived from cricket, though we sometimes disagree where they come from - I remember a discussion on the source of 'on the back foot'.

    It's not cricket means very much the same as it's not playing the game (we could spend a lot of time discussing which game).

    To play with a straight bat means to play fair, or to avoid corruption. The headline below dates from 2006:

    Always play with a straight bat: MP Nigel Griffiths, Deputy Leader of the British House of Commons, recently finished a six-day visit to Vietnam. He spoke with Vietnam Investment Review's Bich Ngoc about Vietnam's strategy to fight corruption.(News)(Interview)

    I think there may be tens of other cricketing metaphors, and many of them - to have had a good innings (to have had a long and enjoyable life), to have been hit for six (to have been extremely surprised and upset), etc. - are in current use. "It's not cricket" gets 27K Google hits webwide. I don't think it's as unusual as Sound Shift suggests, though it's associated, for me, with a certain sort of middle-class English. I doubt if the many working people who play cricket would regard it as part of their active vocabulary, unless they were parodying the toffs.
     
  13. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    I am not so sure about that. I think "ripping", for example, was popular enough decades ago to be considered "common" at one time. It was certainly more common in the past than it is today.
     

Share This Page

Loading...