"shower of turkeys"

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Jan 18 02:23:44 UTC 2012

>From the NYTimes of today, January 17: an article on the disasterous
sinking of a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

“But I’d suspect that on a modern cruise liner like that he’d be using
electronic charts,” Mr. Menzies said. To hit an uncharted rock “nowadays
that’s unlikely, but it’s possible,” he said. “The other possibility is
that they were just a shower of turkeys — incompetent — on the bridge.”

But the captain is king on his ship, Mr. Menzies said. “The man on the
bridge decides everything.”

The Times identifies Mr. Menzies as the head of a British organization of
Master Mariners.

Turkeys certainly have an unfortunate image in popular speech.

JGreen has a number of items beginning "shower of ...", but not "shower of
turkeys" -- he does have "shower of tom tits", which at least are birds.
He defines the general expression as an unimpressive group of people,
occasionally an individual.   The "shower" here might refer to a group,
meaning all of the officers on the bridge, but, although Menzies uses a
plural pronoun -- "they were just a shower of turkeys" -- what he is quoted
in the next sentence as saying suggests he was thinking of just one man,
the captain.

For those of you who still don't believe you have read the newspaper unless
your fingers are dark with the ink, the story began on p. 1, but the
passage quoted was on p. 10, col. 2.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.

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

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