08 January 2009

Or By Crook?

Will "taking the phone off the hook" survive as an expression?* You can't really take the phone "off the hook" anymore, can you?

But it's a nice way to describe having a quiet night in with no intrusions. "I'm taking the phone off the hook and finishing this book I've been reading." "I'm switching my mobile off" doesn't have quite the same ring to it. [If you'll pardon the pun. And you probably won't. But that's outside my control so do as you will.]

*For the record, my survey sample of one - The Antiquer - says yes it will. But he was so busy trying to sort books he would have said anything to shut me up. He could be an unreliable source, if you see what I mean.


Karen said...

It will likely survive for the lifetime of our generation (people who still remember phones that you could take off the hook). When you and I are in our eighties, small children will ask their parents why the old ladies say "taking the phone off the hook" when they are turning it off. The parents will be able to explain how phones used to work because they saw it in a documentary or a period drama or something like that...

Beyond our generation the phrase will probably drop out of usage. That's my guess.

Then again, I still use the word "mileage" for the number of kilometres my car travels on a tank of gas. And web sites that specialize in word origins are constantly explaining how some aspect of medieval life led to a phrase that once had literal meaning but is now completely divorced from its origins. So who knows?

Spud Mack said...

Hate to tell you old lady, but my generation has already stopped using it.

However, since everybody clearly pardons puns already, is there any need to ask for the pardon? Can we just start saying 'pun' and accept that a pardon would have existed without asking?

hazelblackberry said...

Karen, to sum up: only time will tell. Some words and terms are just neat and fit: like mileage, or being only inches from something. Metric just doesn't have that colloquial feel to it.

Spud - "old lady"?? I'm glad I left a mean response to your other comment, you little upstart.