Of course we know that language is peculiar. And English? Any new speaker finds it ridiculously bewildering.
I’m reading a book by Rachel Anderson called Asylum. More about that will come in a book-review soon, but it brought me to laugh aloud at the ridiculous English language.
We learned similes in school.
As fresh as a? Daisy! (Never mind if none of us really knew what a daisy was)
As cool as a? Cucumber! (I always thought of the vendors all the way up to Sinhagad, and imagined them calling out ‘as cool as a cucumber, as cool as a cucumber, as cool as a cucumber’.)
I remember all these comparisons that we cheerfully chanted in school.
Rosa, a young immigrant in Asylum, loves figurative language. She picks up expressions like a magpie picks up anything that shines.
As pretty as a picture.
As sharp as a needle.
As light as a feather.
Of course, all of that is understandable.
But …As bright as a button? How many bright buttons do you know?
And what made me laugh was how perplexed she was at one simile. I can nod my head and say, with a smile, “I understand where it comes from, I understand, I can explain.” But I understand even better why the expression is so bewildering …
The problem is that the expression simply is not
As clear as mud.