"Stop digging."

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 12 12:56:07 UTC 2010

While "making a splash" is always good, in my experience "making waves"
always suggests trouble or at least annoyance for somebody somewhere.

Or it used to.  It is possible that many younger speakers now interpret both
phrases as positive.


On Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 10:24 PM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "Stop digging."
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Victor Steinbok wrote
> >  It does not sound like "intermediate"--more likely euphemistic, as
> > PBDN was a "polite" paper.
> I agree, Victor, that the phrase "trouble up to your neck" might have
> been constructed as a euphemistic description of the situation in the
> scatological joke.
> The 1941 citation given in the Yale Book of Quotations for "Don't make
> waves" appears in a nationally distributed newspaper column called
> "Baering Down On the News" by Arthur "Bugs" Baer. The 1939 cite I
> mentioned above was written by the same columnist, and he may have
> been important in popularizing the sanitized scenario and phrase.
> Cite: 1941 January 6, The Washington Post Baering Down On the News by
> Arthur "Bugs" Baer, [Distributed by International News Service], Page
> 17, Column 4, Washington, D.C.
> I still follow my old formula for not aggravating the inevitable. When
> you are in trouble to your neck don't make waves.
> Cite: 1939 February 2, Palm Beach Daily News, Baering Down On the News
> by Arthur "Bugs" Baer, Page 1, Column 2, Palm Beach, Florida. (Google
> News Archive)
> Here's a little thing we learned that the boys over there might use.
> When you're in trouble up to your neck don't make waves.
> Of course, there are also many examples where making waves and making
> a splash is depicted positively.
> Garson
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