Sunday, November 12, 2006

Such & So

So-and-So told me a good rumor about the Mayor during my daily walk downtown.

"So-and-So." How did two "so's" plus an "and" come to mean a person unnamed? We've been doing this for slightly over 400 years, but nobody seems to know why, or where it originated.

Odd, how our phrases come about; odder, how we don’t think about them. Ever wonder who those two So’s are? And why they refer to only one person?

* * *

Such-and-such an item was left on my front porch this morning.

“Such-and-such.” Now we have two “such’s” plus an “and” to mean some item we haven’t otherwise identified.

So-and-So gave me Such-and-Such an item this morning. How do you explain that to a Chinese person who has learned English very well, but has not learned our idioms? Even to a lifetime U.S. resident who has?

Most of ours make sense in some way; others are a little more obscure. But when you get to these two, all bets are off. Such-and-So, So-and-Such, whatever.


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