On Compromise

26 03 2013

The last week or so we’ve been joined at work by a couple of colleagues from Timisoara in Romania. As is so often the case, I’ve been stunned by the level of English our visitors command. I speak not one word of Romanian, but they are entirely comfortable conversing and writing in English. Their entire support infrastructure (which they linked through to in Romania via the Internet to demonstrate to us) was in English. Every specification and document used by the entire development team is in English. Their command of my language is so good that they were freely laughing at subtle word play and making jokes themselves.

Yesterday though, I was reminded that language is not just the words, but the idioms used by native speakers. In Romanian, it seems, a compromise is described as “keeping both the goat and the cabbage happy”. It struck me how pastoral the image was, and I struggled to think of the English equivalent. The best I could come up with was “squaring the circle”.

In looking for an illustration, I discovered that the French have a similar phrase: Ménager la chèvre et le chou… Managing the goat and the cabbage. It would seem it comes from the old puzzle about crossing the river with (in this case) a wolf, a goat and a cabbage. In English, it’s more usual to puzzle over a fox, a chicken and a sack of corn.


18 12 2012

No idea where “pish” comes from, but it was often used as a euphemism for “shit” or somesuch when I was a kid. It predates Shakespeare, as Othello attests:

“Pish! Noses, ears, and lips. Is ’t possible? Confess!”

Today I learnt something and I thought I’d share.

I came across an ad site. Not this one actually, but I can’t find the original. Anyway, this one will do: Rashers: Pish | Ads of the World™.

It displays the work of Illustrator Steven Hall for Ad Agency Ogilvy & Mather on their campaign for Rashers. Who are they, thinks I? Rashers.ca tells me a little more, but not much… they’re not up and running yet. Oo goody – I’m in at the start of something big! Of course it’s going to be big! (i) It’s Canadian (deduced from the .ca Sherlock, keep up) and (ii) it involves bacon!


But wait! Though I now have my suspicions from the “948 Queen Street East” on the pish, there are many cities of the world with Queen Streets. And there’s this Hogtown thing on the website. Abracawikipedia, via google, and the answer is some Canadiana history…

“Hogtown”, related to the livestock that was processed in Toronto, largely by the city’s largest pork processor and packer, the William Davies Company

The ad below is a pish, but follow the links or click on the picture to see my favourite – the picken. This is for those advocates of Agile software processes who can’t decide if they’re a chicken or a pig. If you’re fortunate enough to have not been exposed to agile methods (the software equivalent of having JWs beating on your door every weekend) just enjoy the art of Mr Hall and think yourself very lucky indeed…

Source: Ads of the World. “Pish” for Rashers

When all’s said and done, you can’t beat a good ol’ bacon buttie!