More Fascinating Scholarship from the We Are Scientists

Following is a list that we — in our linguistic trolling — have turned up of once-popular aphorisms that, for one reason or another, have quietly dropped out of use. Some are too confusing, some too obvious, and others appear simply to have been replaced by better sayings that cover the same wisdom. Sounds rather dry, doesn’t it? Actually a lot of these are pretty fucking funny, because we favored humor over realism when we made them up. We’ve indicated in parentheses our guess as to why each phrase went extinct.

A chicken in your basket is similar to two of them in another place that you don’t control, but better, if only slightly. (Likely outmoded by Franklin’s “A bird in hand…”, which is after all a bit more gracefully phrased.)

She who drives not forth when it is for forth that is called, shall be damned. (This is both a little confusing and, once the meaning has been extracted, not at all intuitive.)

An early bed-time and a similar variety of rising-from-bed-time make a person a good, solid person. (Again, Franklin saw an unwieldy phrasing that nevertheless contained promise and improved it immeasurably.)

What with brute force you doodle, in time will surely noodle. (This one is actually pretty good and should in our opinion be considered for resurrection.)

Marzipan and little hands make for stubbly porridge. (Ditto this one. Very nice. Succinct, witty, informative about porridge and so forth — very nice.)

The mangy dog is ill-advised who, on his barely tolerant master’s new carpet, poos.(We tossed out another keeper, people. What the fuck’s wrong with us English-speakers, huh?)

What is done daftly in deed, indeed may deftly be done. (How perfectly splendid and true! Fuck it, we’re just going to start using this one, obsolete or not.)

How fortunate the sapling that, deprived of water, finds a way to GET that water, whether or not, all for one. (This is not so much an aphorism as an awesome, awe-inspiring story that totally makes us want to do better. For instance: enough sitting around and bitching! About nothing most of the time! Granted, certain very real burdens have been beyond our ability to shrug off. We’re thinking here of the gimpy leg we were born with, which prevents us from competing successfully in a foot race with even a spritely turtle, and which dangles there like a shrivelled, gnarly branch, and which like a branch is made of wood, because it is a fake leg, the cheapest one Father could find, we’re assuming, damn him to hell. But another aphorism we’ve always hated is “Be yourself,” which is maybe not an aphorism, but deserves mention because it’s so fucking stupid, because of course you’re going to be yourself, that being your single, solitary, exclusive option, so it’s hardly a choice, and if it were you would, in our case certainly, choose immediately to be someone else — anyone, anyone else at all.)