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Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line


 
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RedMF40
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:36 am    Post subject: Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Yes, Toe the Line, not TOW the line. It's pretty well understood to mean that one follows the given rules, adheres to them. I wanted to know where it came from, and found so many different explanations that I decided not to accept any of them. One claimed that it derived from Britain's House of Commons, where the lawmakers were to stand behind a certain line while that body was in session. Doesn't seem to make much sense to me. Maybe they were required to stand behind such a line--I don't dispute that--but how did that give rise to: Toe the Line?
 
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kcm.MN
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:49 am    Post subject: Re: Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Just guessing here, but I would assume that "Toe The Line" originated with foot races. Didn't matter if it was a vine, rope, string, or just a boot mark in the dirt, there was always a start line. Anyone inching out over the line was cheating.

I grew up (SE Texas) understanding the saying as "Tow The Line", meaning to finish to completion. I have no idea of origins of either saying.
 
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Steve@Advance
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:49 am    Post subject: Re: Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I thought it referred to lining up for a race, where the competitors put their toe on the line for a fair start.
 
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RedMF40
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:04 am    Post subject: Re: Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line Reply to specific post Reply with quote


Yes, that was one of the most popular explanations for the expression--lining up for a race with your toe on the line. I guess it goes to follow as two of you pointed out, that if you're across the line, then you're cheating--not following the rules.

I'd never heard it to mean: finish a job, see something through to completion. We all have our regional interpretations. These days Off the Hook means something other than what I knew it to mean growing up. The meaning I knew was that someone was absolved of responsibility, that somehow they dodged being blamed or held responsible for something--usually bad--that happened.
 
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sms
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:16 am    Post subject: Re: Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I always thought it came from boxing. By
London Prize Ring rules the boxers had to
come to a mark in the ring to start the
next round.
London Prize Ring rules are in here

 
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Ian Beale
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line Reply to specific post Reply with quote

A suggestion for another (if I don't get banned!)

"Queering the pitch"
 
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Traditional Farmer
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Figured it must come from the cops making suspected drunk drivers walk the line(LOL)
 
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Hay hay hay
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I applaud your intentions but think you are "casting pearls".

After all we need to deport them there fellers that ain't never narry tried to be lernt to speak no proper english,
liken our folks done did in school.
 
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Hay hay hay
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line Reply to specific post Reply with quote


Sorry to hijack your post. Today I listened to a radio talk show caller rant that we should deport people that do not learn to speak English. Of course he is a native born American, been here all his life, (probably 40 years) and spoke with the vocabulary of a 4th grader and the grammar of a holstein steer.
 
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RedMF40
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 7:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line Reply to specific post Reply with quote

CVPost-Hay hay hay wrote:
(quoted from post at 19:21:48 09/14/1Cool
Sorry to hijack your post. Today I listened to a radio talk show caller rant that we should deport people that do not learn to speak English. Of course he is a native born American, been here all his life, (probably 40 years) and spoke with the vocabulary of a 4th grader and the grammar of a holstein steer.


Hay hay hay, I'll sidestep the casting pearls remark but am actually glad you brought up hijacking posts. It's a thread that I wanted to start, and--in brief--I think the original post is just the starting point for a conversation. I think of my family, for example, and the convoluted twists and turns that bring a comment about grilled cheese sandwiches to a full-fledged discussion of NASA's space program. May be exaggerating, but not by much. I suppose the real exception to all this would be someone genuinely trying to unclog a tractor-related problem. They are probably not interested in grilled cheese sandwiches if they're trying to get the float in the carburetor unstuck.
 
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Hay hay hay
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:46 am    Post subject: Re: Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Well said. Almost Every conversation with an interesting person takes a lot of convoluted twists and turns. You never know where it will go but
it is usually interesting. I have for sometime been listening more carefully to people of all economic and ethnic groups speak our mother
tongue. I?m not sure who to blame, our school system , family environment, or peer pressure , but overall I do not think our language skills
have made much progress in the last 50 years. I also think you could probably listen to someone for five minutes and make a pretty good
estimate of their educational background and the way in which they make a living
 
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RedMF40
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 4:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Mr. Languge Man: Toe the Line Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I also think you could probably listen to someone for five minutes and make a pretty good
estimate of their educational background and the way in which they make a living[/quote]

Possibly true. What I personally love about language--and purists don't share this view--is how varied it is from one person to another--one group to another. I'm actually drawn to the imperfections, those colloquialisms that may be specific to a very narrow geographical region or even clan. It gets my imagination going, and it is a rare glimpse into someone expressing themselves honestly and with no affectation.

I came up with this analogy, which I think is pretty good: You may know a fellow who likes tinkering with things--hammering on this and that in the shade of a big old tree, sometimes getting the hammered thing back to life, sometimes just leaving it be. Well, maybe one day he has a stuck exhaust manifold bolt. Can't get it off. Doesn't have heat, doesn't have the right tools. So he beats on it with the biggest adjustable wrench he has. He destroys the wrench, which he's using as a hammer, but finally the bolt comes loose. He succeeds with the repair.

Maybe the same can be said for someone who has little grasp on syntax or rules of grammar, or spelling or anything related to writing. And maybe when he speaks it's even worse. But mostly those listening to this person can understand what he's trying to say. He beat on the language with the biggest adjustable wrench he had, yet we still understood the message. For me, that's all that counts.
 
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