Friday, November 4, 2016

For Dwight

This morning I had such an enlightening conversation with Dwight that ended with a discussion on the origin of the saying, "mind your p's and q's". Dwight had expressed that admonition to me, as my dutiful older brother, but then he wanted to know where on earth that expression came from. I told him it meant watch your pints and quarts and suggested, or rather confidently said it referred to back in the pioneer days when people were watching every little thing they had stored in their pantry. Well, I suspect being partly right is ok for a Friday. I did suggest to Dwight that he look it up on Google, which he dismissed as probably not being productive. So, like the good little sister, I couldn't resist giving it a try - and here is what I found.

Wikipedia says attempts at explaining the origin of the phrase "mind your p's and q's" go back to the mid-19th century. However, even they contradict that timing by the end of their information. It goes on to say that it is supposedly an English expression meaning "mind your manners",  "mind your language", "be on your best behavior", etc. Or yet another explanation is that "Ps and Qs is short for "pleases" and thank-yous", because somehow, somewhere thank you contains a sound similar to the pronunciation of the name of the letter "Q". I think that is a stretch - I'm just saying ------. 

And then there is this possibility that comes from the 17th century, (see the contradiction - don't think this is still the mid 19th-century as stated earlier), when the bartenders would keep a watch on the pints and quarts of alcohol consumption of the patrons at the English pubs and taverns.  The bartender would tell them to "mind their "Ps and Qs". 

So - there you go, just in case you were really wondering, and if not - oh well.