Sight un­seen

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE - By ELLEN WHYTE

As Oct 9 is World Sight Day, and the month of Oc­to­ber is ded­i­cated to World Blind­ness Aware­ness, check out some pop­u­lar phrases fea­tur­ing the blind.

AS Oct 9 is World Sight Day, and the whole month of Oc­to­ber is ded­i­cated to World Blind­ness Aware­ness Month, check out some pop­u­lar phrases fea­tur­ing the blind. The blind lead­ing the blind A proverb used to de­scribe a sit­u­a­tion where some­one with no knowl­edge is try­ing to in­struct oth­ers.

This comes from the Bi­ble, Matthew 15:14, where Je­sus Christ says of the Pharisees, a pow­er­ful group of schol­ars, “They be blind lead­ers of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into a ditch.”

Je­sus called the Pharisees hyp­ocrites on sev­eral oc­ca­sions. How­ever, the Pharisees were also in­stru­men­tal in re­plac­ing the bloody sac­ri­fices that were part of tem­ple cer­e­monies with prayer and study.

Ex­am­ple: Ja­son is prac­ti­cally il­lit­er­ate yet he’s tu­tor­ing some dyslexic kids. Talk about the blind lead­ing the blind. To be blind­sided To be taken by sur­prise, usu­ally not in a good way.

In the 1600s, a blind side was an un­guarded area – a spot where you could sneak up on some­one un­de­tected. Later, the blind side was the side of the face where an eye was missing, or a spot where you couldn’t see due to some eye trauma.

In 1959, the blind side was used by rugby play­ers to de­scribe the side near­est the touch line. In 1968, Amer­i­can foot­ballers be­gan us­ing the term to mean a sur­prise tackle or block. They strung the two words to­gether. In the spirit of cousinly ri­valry, un­kind Brits say this is be­cause Amer­i­cans can’t spell.

Ex­am­ple: Elin Norde­gren said she was blind­sided by her hus­band’s af­fair. Blind as a bat To have poor vi­sion.

Bats are not blind but most can’t see very well. In­stead of re­ly­ing on their eye­sight, bats give off high-pitched con­tin­u­ous calls when fly­ing. They spot the po­si­tion of po­ten­tial prey and ob­sta­cles from the way the sound waves bounce.

Whales, por­poises, and shrews also use echolo­ca­tion, but you never hear of some­one be­ing as blind as a por­poise or as short­sighted as a shrew. How­ever, a thou­sand years ago, as blind as a mole and as blind as a beetle were com­mon ex­pres­sions.

Ex­am­ple: Now into my 40th birth­day, I’ve be­come as blind as a bat. Blind drunk To be in­cred­i­bly drunk.

This phrase comes from 10th cen­tury Old English. The orig­i­nal im­age im­plied a stage of drunk­en­ness where you can’t see prop­erly.

In the United States, il­le­gal bars are nick­named blind pigs, pre­sum­ably be­cause the moon­shine or il­le­gal home­made corn whisky made you blind drunk.

Drink­ing has al­ways been a pop­u­lar pas­time in Bri­tain, so there are plenty of syn­onyms. These in­clude in­tox­i­cated which is for­mal and pop­u­lar with doc­tors; un­der the in­flu­ence which is used by the po­lice; and the in­for­mal sloshed, high, smashed, pie-eyed, tight, plas­tered, stewed, and zonked, and the slightly girl­ish-sound­ing squiffy.

Ex­am­ple: Dizzy and Jack went club­bing last night and came home blind drunk. To turn a blind eye To ig­nore some­thing de­lib­er­ately.

Ad­mi­ral Nel­son, a fa­mous Bri­tish sailor who won many im­por­tant bat­tles in the late 1700s and early 1800s is said to have in­spired this phrase.

De­spite hav­ing lost an arm in 1794 and an eye in 1797, Nel­son con­tin­ued to fight. On April 2,1801, while bat­tling at Copen­hagen, Nel­son’s boss ad­mi­ral Sir Hyde Parker thought Nel­son was los­ing the bat­tle.

Parker sent Nel­son a sig­nal to re­treat by rais­ing a spe­cially coded flag. How­ever, Nel­son put his te­le­scope to his blind eye and pre­tended not to see it. An hour later Nel­son had won the bat­tle. There were 1,000 Bri­tish dead and 6,000 Dan­ish ca­su­al­ties.

Ex­am­ple: Lim has three-hour lunches and the boss just turns a blind eye. In the king­dom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king A proverb mean­ing that in a sit­u­a­tion where peo­ple have no knowl­edge, a lit­tle un­der­stand­ing can make you an im­por­tant per­son.

This was a pop­u­lar proverb in An­cient Greece. It’s un­cer­tain when it was first trans­lated into English; how­ever, it prob­a­bly had a huge boost when it ap­peared in Adages, a col­lec­tion pub­lished by the Dutch scholar Desiderius Eras­mus in 1500.

It’s a pop­u­lar theme with writ­ers who en­joy writ­ing twistin-the-tale sto­ries. For one ex­am­ple, check out The Coun­try Of The Blind by H.G. Wells. It’s in the pub­lic do­main and freely avail­able on­line.

Ex­am­ple: In the United States, John couldn’t get on the school base­ball team but in Mo­gadishu, he’s a coach! You know what they say, in the king­dom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.