1. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Speaking of idioms - Do you walk to school or take your lunch?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ChickenFreak, Nov 15, 2011.

    Speaking of idioms...

    I've always wondered about the phrase:

    "Do you walk to school or take your lunch?"

    At first glance, this looks like sheer nonsense - two totally unrelated questions put together in a structure that implies that they're related. I don't know if it's a joke, or if it's perhaps something that you'd say to suggest that someone has asked a ridiculous question, or to suggest that two ideas that someone thinks are related, are in fact not related.

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    But when I consider the question, I find myself picturing a small town where anyone who lives close enough to walk to school, also _of course_ walks home for lunch. And only the students who live too far away to walk would bring their lunches. In that context, the question would make sense.

    Looked at in that light, then the phrase seems to be more about people who assume that other people's world view is exactly like theirs. Edited to add: Or perhaps something about non-obvious knowledge and relationships.

    I know I'm overthinking this, but I'm asking for others' thoughts anyway. :)

    ChickenFreak
  2. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    at first glance it means nothing to me but more two perfectly written sentences put together randomly just because you could.
    it is very easy to make stuff up and circulate it because of talking/internet and so on.

    do you drive or do you have breakfast?
    do you sing or do you write a book?

    and so
    do you walk to school or do you take your lunch? means maybe the speaker/person cannot make their minds up about something so they compare to two very unrelated actions to highlight the crisis of indecisions the speaker is finding themselves in.
  3. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Supporter Contributor

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    I'd agree that at first glance it looks fairly nonsensical. But I think that's only in isolation. In context, I think the rationale behind it would become clearer.

    But it's certainly an interesting point to think on.
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I looked at it and thought "What's the problem?" Because where I come from, it's exactly as you surmised - if you lived close enough to school to walk, you didn't eat lunch at school. And 'take your lunch' was equivalent to eating the lunchroom-provided meal. Rural shorthand.

    Context is everything.
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i've never seen or heard that sentence... where is it used and why?

    as for its meaning, to me it makes no sense, since one can do both, so the 'or' confuses things...

    'take your lunch' in the us [all the parts i've been to, anyway] means you bring your lunch with you, which you would do if you walked to school, or had a ride... if it means something else in the uk, please enlighten me...

    the reasoning that if one walks, then they automatically go home to eat makes no sense to me, because as a child i walked to school and did not go home for lunch, i 'took' it!
  6. Blue Night
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    Blue Night Member

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    "Do you walk to school?"
    "Take your lunch."
    Putting a logical question with a logical statement doesn't form an idiom.
    In this case, it would just be jargon.
    "Bearing the weight of the world on my shoulders..." is an idiom.
    "She moved faster than lightning," is an idiom.
    There is nothing counter deducible in the words you provided. Therefore, it cannot be an idiom.
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not been to the rural Midwest then ;) Of course, this may have changed in the 30-plus years since I was in school.
  8. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    well tobe honest with from what I gather it is not lunch but called ''school dinners''..so Iam not sure it is related to school at all.
  9. leafmould
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    leafmould New Member

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    "Do you walk to school or take your lunch?"

    Why write this when there are better ways?
  10. art
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    art Senior Member Contributor

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    A quick Google suggests it is/ was a joke. Aside from its pleasantly baffling quality it provokes especial hilarity when asked of a child who, get this, both walks to school and takes her lunch...(since, how is she to answer?). What larks!
  11. Ixloriana
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    Ixloriana New Member

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    I've never heard that phrase. Probably for good reason. That explanation (that if you are close enough to school to walk, you go home for lunch) makes sense if it's used in some places, obviously, since it makes sense to shadowwalker.

    To me (I am 24 years old, from the US, and live in the suburbs), it doesn't make any sense. When I was in high school, our lunch break was only 25 minutes -- no one could get home, eat, and get back to school in that amount of time no matter where they lived!

    In some other countries, the school day is shorter, and the school does not serve a lunch at all -- everyone goes home for lunch. Also, Cacian, I can't speak for the OP, but where I live, "lunch" is a smaller mid-day meal and "dinner," the largest meal of the day, is eaten at the end of the day. So "school dinner" sounds just crazy to me!

    It's all about context, eh? Even though these words have the same meanings, they imply much different things to people from different places.

    Edit: The internet is a funny thing that way. I said to my friend the other day, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" and he had no idea what I meant.
  12. leafmould
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    leafmould New Member

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    ^^^^^

    "More tea, Vicar?"

    :)
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Member Contributor

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    The question makes perfect sense to me. I even heard it as a kid, living on the outskirts of Toronto. My school was only about three blocks away, so I walked, and came home for lunch. No big deal - most of the kids in the school lived close by and went home for lunch. The kids who took their lunches to school were the ones who lived too far away to go home for lunch. Either it was too long a walk to get home and back to school at lunchtime, or their parents drove them to school, or they took a bus, whatever. But "Do you walk to school or take your lunch?" was not an odd question when I was a kid. Everyone knew what it meant, and it was appropriate for lots of kids.
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  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in the us, schoolchildren's meals are called 'school lunches' not 'school dinners'... some schools in low income areas also offer breakfast now, too...

    to most folks in the us, 'dinner' is a meal eaten in the evening, or in the early afternoon on sundays or holidays... it's almost synonymous with 'supper' though the former is considered by some to be more formal, or elaborate...

    and 'lunch' is the meal eaten at midday... 'breakfast' is the first meal of the day, taken in the early morning... 'brunch' is when breakfast and lunch are combined in one meal late in the morning...

    to complete our round of ingestion terminology, 'snacks' can be eaten any time of the day or night and 'noshing' is akin to 'snacking'... ;)

    to get back to the 'walking' issue, when i was in grade school there were no school buses, so everybody walked and those of us cursed with the longest walks 'took their lunch' [there were only a rare few working moms then, so a mother not being there to fix it wasn't an issue]... by jr high, buses were on the scene, so we'd ask, 'do you walk, or take the bus?'
  15. cobaltblue
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    cobaltblue New Member

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    I've never heard the phrase
    but the explanation of why it makes sense to some, makes sense to me.
    I walked to and from school and went home for lunch every day.

    On the subject of lunch served at the school - where I grew up, you could eat lunch at school and it was called ' school dinner' and the ladies who served the food were called the 'dinner ladies' - even though 'lunch' meant a smaller mid day meal and 'school dinner' was served at this time, it was a more hearty meal than the sandwich I walked home to eat, and it most often included a dessert (aaah caramel shortcake and custard!).. and at the end of the school day all the kids would go home for dinner.
  16. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    a glass of wine rather.:D
  17. digitig
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    digitig Senior Member Contributor

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    Who says there are better ways? This might be just the job for giving a character character.
  18. digitig
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    digitig Senior Member Contributor

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    In Britain it depends on class and region, and is very confusing.
  19. cobaltblue
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    cobaltblue New Member

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    Just to add further confusion to the lunch v dinner v supper conversation, supper is the small meal I eat before bedtime.
  20. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    We had lunch and supper during the week, and a big Sunday dinner (which was mid-afternoon).

    Second breakfast, anyone? :D
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