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Oct 1, 2014

An old retro phrase - and a rant on modern day vernacular

"I'm as fine as a split hair on a toad"

This one comes from my own memory banks.  Whenever my Grandfather was asked how he was doing, he would often answer with this very phrase.  The meaning?  Well.. seeing as a toad has no hair to speak of, a split hair on said toad would be pretty fine indeed!

I've used this phrase on many occasions in the past, but stopped utilizing it many moons ago.  The reason being, is that nine times out of ten, I would usually get a blank stare, and would succinctly have to explain the meaning of the phrase.  In fact.. the only time the saying was understood, was when I uttered it to folks my parents age and older.

Knowing there was no way I could be the only one to remember this endangered phrase, I turned to Google and indeed found it, along a few other variations..

  • "finer than a split hair on a toad's back"
  • "finer than a frog's hair split three ways"
  • "finer than a frog's hair split four ways"
  • "finer than frog hair"

So why don't great old sayings like this work in this day and age?  It's quite simple.. we're slowly but surely getting dumbed down.  Many people don't want to exert too much effort when deciphering a joke, watching entertainment, reading, or writing.  I'm sure I'm not the only person to see company e-mails circulate that are composed with shortened cyber words such as ROFL, THX, or IDK.

On a side note.. have you noticed that the good old fashioned double entendre is also becoming a thing of the past? (unless it's dirty or off color that is).  Not that I'm opposed to such humor.. but I miss the days where I could sit down with my kids to watch a television show, and not be bombarded with vulgar punch lines and raunchy jokes at every turn.  This type of raunchy humor seems to be a crutch for some of the most popular sitcoms on television these days.

Another trend is the desire to save as much time as one can while speaking.  Music is where I first noticed this.  When I was a kid, Bachman Turner Overdrive became known as BTO,  New Kids on the Block started being referred to as "NKOTB", I also see that Lady Gaga is now becoming more widely known as "Gaga".

Advertising execs and national retailers are now getting in on the act of simplifying brand names as well.  The Sci-Fi channel is now named "SyFy".  Wasn't "Sci-Fi" already a shortened phrase? And how about IHOP?   I don't know about you, but I personally never got winded or irritated by having to take a whole two seconds to utter the words.. "International House of pancakes", but that's just me.

I have a 1961 California school text book that is full of fairy tales, that I used in second grade.  The biggest differences I notice between this book and today's books for the same grade, are pretty distinguishable. The books of today seem simpler, with shorter sentence structure and simpler use of the English language.  The 1961 textbook didn't dumb anything down.  The words may have been a bit more complex, and while there were times my friends and I scurried to keep up in regards to comprehension, it ultimately made us better writers, speakers, as well as more articulate.

I wonder just how much more simplified and lazy our vernacular will get after a few more decades pass?  IDK.. TTBOMK, WAD.. WAEF.. most of us WILCO.

Not current on your Cyber phrase lingo?  You can decipher these abbreviations and many more at:  Net Lingo


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