Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Where'd That Come From Anyhow?

Do any of you watch 'The Bad Girls Club'? Oh admit it - it's a guilty pleasure! I haven't seen past seasons, but this one just amuses me to no end. Especially Tanisha! Did you see the episode with her birthday in it? She goes crazy when she realizes the cake is an ice cream cake, she begins screaming that it's not cake and starts stabbing it! It's pretty funny and has become a source of amusement in our household. Well, one day I started thinking about cake, and that saying, "you can't have your cake and eat it too". A saying that makes absolutely no sense to me. Never has. Never will. All dieting issues aside here, if you've got the friggin' cake, you're going to eat it. If you don't eat it, you don't friggin have it. You can have your cake and you can eat it too - it happens almost every year for my birthday - I have the damned cake, I ate the cake. So where in the world did this come from? I decided to look it up. Turns out it's been a tad misquoted. Anyhow, here's a direct paste (I hope that's allowed!) from Wikipedia:

To wish to have one's cake and eat it too or simply have one's cake and eat it (sometimes eat one's cake and have it too) is to want more than one can handle or deserve, or to try to have two incompatible things. This is a popular English idiomatic proverb, or figure of speech.

The phrase's earliest recording is from 1546 as "wolde you bothe eate your cake, and have your cake?" (John Heywood's 'A dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue') alluding to the impossibility of eating your cake and still having it afterwards; the modern version (where the clauses are reversed) is a corruption which was first signalled in 1812.

Paul Brians, Professor of English at Washington State University, points out that the original and only sensible version of this saying is “You can’t eat your cake and have it too,” meaning that if you eat your cake you won’t have it any more. People get confused because we use the expression “have some cake” to mean “eat some cake,” and they therefore misunderstand what “have” means in this expression.[1] Alternatively, people understand that "have" and "eat" represent a sequence of actions, so one can indeed "have" one's cake and then "eat" it. Consequently, the literal meaning of the reversed idiom doesn't match the metaphorical meaning.

Well, now that makes a bit more sense. But I still won't be quoting it.

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