Author Topic: Idioms in literature  (Read 5484 times)

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Offline Anastasios

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Idioms in literature
« on: December 20, 2008, 02:16:27 PM »
Sometimes when I read literature, there are idioms which I do not understand, or references, etc.  I figured we could start a thread where we could discuss such confusing passages and offer each other help understanding them.

My first question is, what does it mean to say that someone has sparrow hands? Does that mean their hands are claw-like? If so, why sparrow and not say crow?
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Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: Idioms in literature
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2008, 04:29:48 AM »
Small and dainty or delicate, I would imagine. Crows feet don't work in that sense.
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Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Idioms in literature
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2008, 12:10:13 AM »
Very useful thread. As a resident English teacher, I offer my services.
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Idioms in literature
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2008, 01:32:54 AM »
Small and dainty or delicate, I would imagine. Crows feet don't work in that sense.
Have a look at a sparrow's claws- they're far from dainty or delicate!
It seems to resemble clubbing of the fingers.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2008, 01:33:55 AM by ozgeorge »
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Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: Idioms in literature
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2008, 10:30:28 AM »
Small and dainty or delicate, I would imagine. Crows feet don't work in that sense.
Have a look at a sparrow's claws- they're far from dainty or delicate!
It seems to resemble clubbing of the fingers.


Must be a Aussie type...certainly looks nothing like what I'm seeing out my windows right now. But apparently you have no idea either about the answer to Fr. Anastasios' question.

However, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn certainly used it. You decide for yourself his intent:
http://www.sad34.net/~globalclassroom/Library/Russiathreeprosepoems
« Last Edit: December 23, 2008, 10:38:50 AM by Αριστοκλής »
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Offline EofK

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Re: Idioms in literature
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2008, 12:32:20 PM »
Sometimes when I read literature, there are idioms which I do not understand, or references, etc.  I figured we could start a thread where we could discuss such confusing passages and offer each other help understanding them.

My first question is, what does it mean to say that someone has sparrow hands? Does that mean their hands are claw-like? If so, why sparrow and not say crow?

Do you happen to have a passage containing the phrase?  I'm wondering what the context is.
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. -- Douglas Adams

Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: Idioms in literature
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2008, 03:43:51 PM »
Sometimes when I read literature, there are idioms which I do not understand, or references, etc.  I figured we could start a thread where we could discuss such confusing passages and offer each other help understanding them.

My first question is, what does it mean to say that someone has sparrow hands? Does that mean their hands are claw-like? If so, why sparrow and not say crow?

Do you happen to have a passage containing the phrase?  I'm wondering what the context is.

In the link above is "The Duckling" in which A. Solzhenitsyn writes,
Quote
"What keeps it alive? It weighs nothing; its little black eyes are like beads, its feet are like sparrows' feet, the slightest squeeze and it would be no more. Yet it is warm with life. Its little beak is pale pink and slightly splayed, like a manicured fingernail.  Its feet are already webbed, there is yellow among its feathers, and its downy wings are starting to protrude. Its personality already sets it apart from its foster brothers."
"Religion is a neurobiological illness and Orthodoxy is its cure." - Fr. John S. Romanides

Offline EofK

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Re: Idioms in literature
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2008, 03:56:02 PM »
Oh, ok, sorry.  I'm on a work computer and it doesn't open the link.  I'll try it at home, but thanks for the excerpt.
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. -- Douglas Adams