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#77166 - 07/31/02 11:29 AM Givin' em what they don't need
Hyla Offline

Registered: 12/14/00
Posts: 544
Loc: San Francisco, CA
"selling coals to Newcastle"

I've only heard this as "carrying coal to Newcastle," in the sense of bringing something that is really not needed, or just doing something unnecessary, like showing up at the watermelon farm's annual picnic with a big, juicy watermelon. I haven't heard the version related to sales skill - is this how it's commonly rendered in the UK?

Do other USn's use the selling version or the carrying one?

#77167 - 07/31/02 11:42 AM Re: Givin' em what they don't need
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York

#77168 - 07/31/02 07:31 PM Re: Dearth of a salesman
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
I think more people in the UK would tend to use the 'carry' version rather than investing it with fisk's reference to salemanship, though that version may be simply outside this salesman's experience. The chime of hard 'c' sounds is the poetic key to its impact (carry...coals...Newcastle).

#77169 - 08/01/02 05:28 AM Re: Dearth of a salesman
FishonaBike Offline

Registered: 10/11/00
Posts: 1346
Loc: Sussex, England

I've thought about this some more, and you're all quite right and I'm wrong

The original construction was definitely "carrying coals to Newcastle", meaning a pointless effort.

The salesmanship ones are "selling snow to the Eskimos" and "selling sand to the Arabs", and are pretty universal anyway.

#77170 - 08/01/02 10:10 AM Re: Dearth of a salesman
RhubarbCommando Offline

Registered: 08/23/00
Posts: 2204
Yes, I agree with mav about "carry" rather than "sell", although the latter has gained a certain amount of currency over here - presumably as a copy of ice to Eskimos (ought to be Inuit, in these OC days, of course) etc.

But the question about universally acceptable phrases of this sort doesn't, surely include phrases like "ice to Eskimos?" Whilst that phrase is probably understood throughout the english-speaking world, it would have to be explained to someone who had not heard of the Eskimos or encountered ice.
My suggestion of selling (or taking, perhaps) moonbeams to the Sun would be understood anywhere on the planet, I think.

#77171 - 08/01/02 10:40 AM best non-dam site of the day
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10538
Loc: this too shall pass
...or the continuing saga of Devils Lake: http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/FS/FS-035-99/images/ND_fig02.html

#77172 - 08/03/02 09:59 AM Re: best dam site of the day
Sparteye Offline

Registered: 01/05/01
Posts: 1773

#77173 - 08/03/02 11:04 AM Re: best dam site of the day
TEd Remington Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/17/00
Posts: 3467
Loc: Marion NC
The very first house I can remember living in was a little saltbox house in rural Pennsylvania (so rural we didn't have running water!) It was about fifty yards from a water-powered cider mill. When I was 2 1/2 I was asked by the kindergarten teacher what my address was. I responded with the name of the property, as posted on the sign my parents put up. "Sister. my address is 'By a Dam Site.'" You know, death by apoplexy is not a pretty sight for a child of such tender years.

In retrospect, it's so nice to know that my punning ability rubbed off on my parents at such an early age.

I don't believe I've told this story before. Some years later I was an altar boy, but I only got to serve at one Mass. For you non-RCs, one of the high points of the Mass for the altar boy is pouring the wine and water into the chalice. You have two cruets, and you pour in the wine first. The priest raises the chalice slightly to click against the chalice to let you know that you've put enough into the chalice.

So here I was pouring away and the priest, Father Mulcahy, dinged the chalice against the cruet. I kept pouring, so he dinged it again. And again. I looked up at him, still continuing to pour, and said four little words that broke up the entire parish, "Say when, Father Mulcahy." The one and only time I got to serve Mass. My father told that story ever after, and my mother never went back to church!



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