The History of Proverbs

Australian, English and American Sayings.

An email received 6th November 2015:-
G'Day mate,

To start off, I enjoyed reading the list you have posted, thanks.

Grew up in country North Queensland (over 50 years ago) and heard a lot of proverbs and sayings (rarely used nowadays) by the older folk whilst growing up, but as I was reading your list, I found this one to be odd.

I have known a old one said in one of three ways - "for donkeys ears", "for donkeys" or "for donks" or a variation "yonks" - all depending on how lazy (and in a lot of occasions, how drunk) the person is when saying it.

It is a old rhyming slang of donkeys ears (being long) and years and it is done in the same way as - I am going to have a "Captain Cook" - for look.


It is also said in England as "donkeys ears" - I lived in northern England for about a decade and if asked the locals would have explained it - "tis em two long things on is ed", I had to explain "yonks" to the English locals after using it and replied in a similar fashion.

Fortunately English and Australian abbreviated speech and slang is very similar.

I have also heard "donkeys years" but said in the cities - a mixed up version similar to your "donkeys ages".

Never heard it said with ages on the end and it seems a bit silly to add donkeys with ages because you are doing a tautology (a unnecessary repetition of words with the same meaning, like saying "a deadly lethal fatal killing" - heard this over-the-top version used by a reporter once - sorry if I am informing someone who already knows).

So I thought I should let you know.

Just a side note - during my stay in England I asked a local what was the single and double yellow lines on the road near the gutter - their reply was "a single line means you are not allowed to park at all and 2 lines means you are not allowed to park at all at all".

I remember quite a few unusual explanations and word constructions by the locals as they sounded funny to me, just like I would have sounded funny to them when saying things like "wheres ya dunny", "I'm from Straya" or "owyagon".

United States of America

Although my best ones were in the USA when I lived for over a decade teaching children. They loved my unusual manner of speech and I taught them so many that their parents would ask what language I was teaching them. All because they could not understand them.

Example - they would ask to "go to the washroom" when they wanted to go to the toilet and I would hassle them with "why, the washroom, are you dirty?". So I got them to say "perform their ablutions in the dunny" and their parents did not know either ablutions or dunny. We always refereed to our toilet block as the "ablution block" when at school.

Anyway, hope my narrative above was a pleasant read and made you smile at least once. And my explanations clear enough.

Have a great day,