I embarrassed myself with two words

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I love words, and the origins of words and phrases are an endless source of entertainment. I save the most interesting ones in long term memory, even – a place that barely keeps names or which light switch turns on what light.

I got in trouble over on FB yesterday by congratulating someone on their new job in a large retail establishment. I said that it had to be better than slinging hash, because the last job this person had was in a restaurant.

What else could I possibly have meant? Oops. Yes, hash does have other meanings, doesn’t it? I never thought! Would anyone even call drug dealing ‘slinging’? The phrase ‘slinging hash’ means only one thing to me; a colourful way of saying working, especially cooking, in a cheap restaurant, like a diner. I can’t remember if the restaurant was a cheap one, but I figured it’s a former job, so it couldn’t have been that much fun to work at and a little insult to it would be okay. I actually thought of all that before I used the phrase – and never once thought of anyone not knowing what it meant.

The offended party is early twenties, and maybe never heard ‘slinging hash’ before. It does seem like a 1940’s sort of phrase. Can you even get hash in a restaurant anymore? I don’t eat it, I wouldn’t know. Or perhaps the phrase has grown a whole new meaning in the six years I’ve been over here.

Maybe it’s because I was speaking to an American and I expect all Americans to know the strictly Yank turns of phrase. This is one of the ones I wouldn’t use here, because here ‘hash’ really only has one meaning, and it isn’t corned beef. I’m more likely to use American slang when I can, because I’m quite aware of when I can’t. I think in three versions of English: American, English, and Irish. Like knowing that I can never say ‘ride’ in Ireland, but it is fine in the UK and the US.

In any case, I’m sorry if I freaked anyone out, I was innocently trying to say congrats on a better job.

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9 responses »

  1. Hillarious! That’s like my mother asking her New Jersey cousins if they had any craic in the early 80s. She also asked if one of them was doing a line.
    God I love trans-cultural misunderstanding!

  2. Weird predicament, spider-person: I can even open my mouth lately without putting my foot into it, big-time. And it seem like every time I even hit a keyboard, I lose a friend or alienate somebody with what I’ve written. Words can get you in huge trouble…3 words in particular : I love you…can get you into the deepest s**t of all.

  3. Doh! I only know One meaning for hash..I suspect most other nationalities also..it’s not just an Irish thing.. & ‘slinging’? it? whoops.
    Forget about it.. It’s done.
    I’m a Yorkshire lass & our dry sarcasm & way of bantering doesn’t quite work with Irish people.. Although It used to, it does face to face..but not on fb (or other nws).. Hey look, it we were all sat in a bar, we’d laugh about it..(on fb, things get taken out of context..we can’t hear the intonation nor the accent,
    & we can’t see the facial expression or the body language)
    Offence is easily taken..

  4. I’d have taken it as a joke, even assuming it was a drug reference. Because who would actually say “Thank goodness you aren’t selling crack anymore” if that actually WAS someone’s old job? Unless they hated the person. I would have just posted a recipe for hash after posting that.

    Oh, and it’s not just a yank thing and many places do still sell it. Kwix loves it.

Thoughts? Gardening tips? Cocktail recipes? Don't just like and leave, please - I can talk for Ireland and would love to prove it!

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