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Teaching grandma to suck eggs

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 12:32 am
by Archived Topic
Does anyone know where this phrase came from? I mean what is the logic behind it, not who made it up.
Submitted by Meirav Barkan (London - England)

Teaching grandma to suck eggs

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 12:46 am
by Archived Reply
Perhaps its meaning is getting lost in time as few people nowadays literally suck eggs. Many years ago people would suck out the egg contents by piercing the egg at both ends and then sucking on one of the ends. You could reverse the procedure and blow out the contents also. It was such a commonplace procedure then that to "teach your grandmother to suck eggs" was like a child trying to teach as new something the grandmother well knew how to do. The saying still survives despite the fine art dying out in our "civilized" and salmonella fearing culture.
Reply from Leif Thorvaldson (Eatonville - U.S.A.)

Teaching grandma to suck eggs

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:01 am
by Archived Reply
Perhaps its meaning is getting lost in time as few people nowadays literally suck eggs. Many years ago people would suck out the egg contents by piercing the egg at both ends and then sucking on one of the ends. You could reverse the procedure and blow out the contents also. It was such a commonplace procedure then that to "teach your grandmother to suck eggs" was like a child trying to teach as new something the grandmother well knew how to do. The saying still survives despite the fine art dying out in our "civilized" and salmonella fearing culture.
Reply from Leif Thorvaldson (Eatonville - U.S.A.)

Teaching grandma to suck eggs

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:15 am
by Archived Reply
There is an old childhood saying: If at first you don't succeed--suck eggs.
Reply from Charles Becker (Murray KY - U.S.A.)

Teaching grandma to suck eggs

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:29 am
by Archived Reply
World Wide Words (11/27/99) says:

It was first recorded in 1707 in a translation by John Stevens of the collected comedies of the Spanish playwright Quevedo: "You would have me teach my Grandame to suck Eggs". Another early example, whimsically inverted, is in Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, published in 1749: "I remember my old schoolmaster, who was a prodigious great scholar, used often to say, Polly matete cry town is my daskalon. The English of which, he told us, was, That a child may sometimes teach his grandmother to suck eggs".
But the idea is very much older. There was a classical proverb A swine to teach Minerva, which was translated by Nichola Udall in 1542 as to teach our dame to spin, something any married woman of the period would know very well how to do. And there are other examples of sayings designed to check the tendency of young people to give unwanted advice to their elders and betters.

BTW I don't know "an old childhood saying: If at first you don't succeed--suck eggs."
Sayings I know are:
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
If at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking till you do succeed.
If at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking till you do suck a seed.


Reply from Susumu Enomoto (Shiraokamachi - Japan)

Teaching grandma to suck eggs

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:44 am
by Archived Reply
Our esteemed compatriot from Japan just may have missed the word play in *If at first you don"t succeed (suck seed) -- suck eggs*. The last two of *if at first* I had never heard of. Glad to have two more *suck seed* quotes--it made my day!
Reply from Charles Becker (Murray KY - U.S.A.)

Teaching grandma to suck eggs

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:58 am
by Archived Reply
My goodness Charles, you are easily pleased!
Reply from Meirav Barkan (London - England)

Teaching grandma to suck eggs

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 2:13 am
by Archived Reply
Perhaps I went a little overboard, but at my age going *overboard* can have serious consequences. And yes, I am easily pleased--it's my Irish heritage--and Dutch, and German, and etc. Don't give up Meirav, I am also easily insulted. Perhaps we'll meet on the WW Chat someday!
Reply from Charles Becker (Murray KY - U.S.A.)

Teaching grandma to suck eggs

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 2:27 am
by Archived Reply
Charles - I think this site is the wrong place for the easily insulted, especially with people like Leif and Erik lurking about!
Reply from Meirav Barkan (London - England)

Teaching grandma to suck eggs

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 2:41 am
by Archived Reply
Variants:
Don't teach your grandmother to grope a goose.
... to grope ducks.
... to roast eggs.
... to spin.
... to sup sour milk.

Jonathan Swift wrote in Polite Conversation:
"Go teach your grannam to suck eggs."
Reply from Susumu Enomoto (Shiraokamachi - Japan)