"No one washes a rental car"

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Sun Jun 4 21:03:15 UTC 2006

Regarding the putative ". . . rented car/house" variants:

Such expressions seem to follow a very old commonplace of
medieval/early-modern Christian Platonism--allegorizing the
transcient nature of corporeal existence.  The best-known
articulation occurs in Shakespeare's (uncharacteristically
Christian-sounding) Sonnet 146; addressing the "poor soul":
<<Why so large cost, having so short a lease / Dost thou
upon thy fading mansion spend?>> (lines 5-6).

The problem is well-nigh intractable for those of us who
collect or study proverbs and related expressions:
What "counts" as an INSTANCE of (or evidence for the
existence of) a given proverb?  How are we to regard an
apparent allusion to an unquoted proverb, or an expression
with parallel structure but quite different imagery or
wording, or a "synonymous" saying (synonymy determined
how?), or a functionally similar saying, etc.?

Of course, proverb "dictionaries" usually identify proverbs
by key words--suggesting a narrow answer to the
quandary . . . .


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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