Tuesday October 23, 2012
Enjoy your rhymes!
By NITHYA SIDHHU
When facing adversity, one should ‘thrive, despite strife’. But when success has been achieved, ‘don’t ride on pride’. Enjoy your rhymes!
WHEN my daughters were still in primary school, they had a habit of calling out two well-loved catchphrases to one another.
Taking her leave, the elder one would shout, “See you later, alligator,” and the younger one would reply, with a smile in her voice, “In a while, crocodile!”
I just discovered that the alligator expression was already in use back in the 50s. Apparently, even Britain’s Princess Margaret used it in a biography of hers. According to Wikipedia, the “see you later, alligator” catchphrase was further popularised by a 1955 song with the same name by Bill Haley & His Comets. The song even featured in Rock Around the Clock, a musical film by the same group.
Have you ever noticed that phrases like this catch on because they work on the basis of rhyming words: “later” with “alligator” and “while” with “crocodile”? Even “rock around the clock” is catchy because it rhymes “clock” with “rock”.
Just today, my younger daughter (who is an adult now) told me how much she loves watching DVDs of the US TV comedy The Big Bang Theory. She can freely quote the witty questions from the show such as: “What’s the word, hummingbird?” and “What’s the gist, physicist?”
By the way, if you are a teacher reading this, haven’t you been continually reminded to play the role of a “guide by the side” rather than a “sage on stage”? Frankly, I love these expressions.
When I mentor young teachers, even I urge them to focus on doling out academic tasks that train the brain of every student they teach.
Nothing promotes learning more than fun-filled tasks or activities that stimulate thought, reflection and introspection.
When my charges are down in the dumps, I often use an expression my eldest sister taught me. This is, “don’t say die, up man and try.”
As far as such expressions go, I must say I learned the most from the excellent English teachers I had as a student in school. They were fond of using phrases that taught us a thing or two such as: “don’t ride on pride” (meaning, come up in life by having substance and merit while remaining humble) as well as “read with greed” (encouraging us to better ourselves by reading a lot).
I’m sorry to say that I did have a teacher who used to rap our knuckles when we made careless mistakes and then jibe us by saying, “no pain, no gain”; while another, after handing out huge amounts of homework, would exhort us to “thrive, despite strife”.
But, I liked the teacher who taught us the expression “trot, don’t rot”, because it jolted me into progressing instead of stagnating or becoming stuck in a rut. When cut to the quick by criticism that is painful, yet true, I remember till today the phrase taught by a wise old bird who told me to “heed, not bleed”.
As for idioms, how can I forget the famous ones like, “a stich in time saves nine” or “birds of a feather flock together”?
Talking about how deeply meaningful such expressions can be, I am sure you have often read, like I have, not to fight circumstances, but to practise the virtue of patience and “bide with the tide”, which is similar in meaning to “go with the flow”. Easier said than done, right?
In dealing with deadlines that were breathing down your neck, don’t many of you recall bosses who expected you to finish the project by “hook or by crook”?
There are many more such expressions. I once put on the first outfit I could find in the cupboard only to be told by my daughter as I walked out of the house, “Mum, that’s a mess of a dress!”
Meanwhile, as a mother, I always used to let the phrase “mother, not smother” ring in my brain to make sure I allowed my daughters some room to grow.
Chipping in, my husband would try to “make Sunday a fun day”.
All these catchphrases and more are not only simple to remember but they are embedded with powerful advice such as: “buy if the price is nice”, “don’t chide and hide” and “all hail the sale”.
When “the flaw is in the law”, the relevant question might be: “Do you have the might to fight?”
Property agents might sell you something “in lieu of a view” while the recent case of a student sex blog stirs up “dare to bare”.
If you think about it enough, phrases with rhyming words are “all in your mind for you to find”.
Not a preacher, but a teacher with 25 years experience, Nithya Sidhhu has been constantly thinking of how to make, not break student spirit and how to bring out their best in every test!
She lives by the motto: guide, abide, work side by side and don’t forget to enjoy the ride!