Professor of English and Literature at Oxford explains common mistakes
The phrases include 'the proof is in the pudding' and 'off your own back'
And, he points out error in 'one foul swoop' and 'begs the question'
Along with this, explains meaning of 'the exception that proves the rule'
By SIMON HOROBIN FOR THE CONVERSATION
PUBLISHED: 20:16 GMT, 14 October 2016 | UPDATED: 00:48 GMT, 15 October 2016
English is a language rich with imagery, meaning and metaphor – and when we want to express ourselves we can draw upon a canon replete with beautifully turned phrases, drawing from the language's Latin, French and Germanic roots, through Chaucer and Shakespeare right up to myriad modern wordsmiths – not to mention those apt aphorisms that English has appropriated from other languages.
So why is it we so regularly misuse some of these phrases?
Here are five of the most common sayings that have somehow become lost in translation.
English is a language rich with imagery, meaning and metaphor, not to mention those apt aphorisms that English has appropriated from other languages. So why is it we so regularly misuse some of these phrases? One such phrases is 'the proof is in the pudding'
The proof is in the pudding
This is a confusion of a proverb first recorded in 1605 in its correct form: 'The proof of the pudding is in the eating'.
One of the reasons for the confusion is that the word 'proof' is being used in the older sense 'test' – preserved today in a proofreader who checks the test pages (or 'proof') of a book before publication.
Confusion was further encouraged by the tendency for people to use a shortened version of the proverb – the proof of the pudding.
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