save it for the gleaners

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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save it for the gleaners

Post by incarnatus est » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:52 pm

A friend said the word 'gleaner' was used in her childhood, (maybe 50 years ago? not nice to ask) in this way:

"Oh, don't pick up that coin (on the street), save it for the gleaners." Meaning the people who depend on going around picking up coins.

The meaning is obvious, but I wonder if anyone else has heard of this use, in this context, before?

And if so, where regionally?

Thanks, Hugh Gilmore
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Re: save it for the gleaners

Post by trolley » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:10 pm

Hugh, it is used in that context her, on the west coast of Canada, but I'd never heard it until about five years ago. People (often "street people") who make a living from collecting useable, valueable or edible items from refuse piles are called "gleaners". Binners is another new term that (I think) means the same thing and refers to the garbage bins that they salvage from. Just within the last year, I've heard another name for those who subsist by recycling other people's cast-offs. Freecyclers.
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Re: save it for the gleaners

Post by Shelley » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:17 pm

This is one of my favorite words, incarnatus est. There's a painting by, I believe, Van Gogh, called The Gleaners. There's a wonderful documentary called "The Gleaners and I" (French, maybe) -- I'll get the information.
Anyway, strictly speaking, gleaners are the people who follow the harvesters and comb the fields for stray grain, overlooked potatoes and such. In a more urban sense, they might be dumpster divers, re-cyclers extraordinaire.
When your boss tosses you a report and says, "See what useful information you can glean from this", the implication is that there might not be a lot, but it's in there and you'll have to hunt for it.
Since I am a gleaner at heart, it's hard for me to "save it for the gleaners", but I love that expression. Employing it often may be the adjustment I need to stop picking up every little shiny thing I see with the intention of using it in an art project someday. Do you know, I figured out that, in New York City, there are some things you never, ever have to buy: paperclips, rubberbands, pens, hairclips or hairbands, pocketcombs, and, in the winter, gloves.
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Re: save it for the gleaners

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:42 pm

Shelley, the painting you are probably thinking of is by the Frenchman Jean-François Millet (1814-10-04 – 1875-01-20) (not to be confused with his contemporary, the English painter John Everett Millais, 1829-06-08 – 1896-08-13).

The painting forms part of the collection of the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. In French, its title is 'Les Glaneuses'.
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Re: save it for the gleaners

Post by Shelley » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:06 am

Indeed. Thank you, Erik. Here is a very good article and image of the painting. Great that Millet painted The Gleaners!

For those of you who are able to view a Youtube video, here are the first four minutes of "The Gleaners and I" (not exactly a precise translation of the French title) -- a documentary film by Agnes Varda. There is another documentary about gleaners working the garbage dumps in a city in Egypt (I think) called "The Gleaners".
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Re: save it for the gleaners

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:11 am

Not related to the apocryphal "Sold down the River" and "Taken to the Gleaners".
I wondered what they used the Pyramids for; perhaps they should make a film where huge piles of garbage cover the surface of the Earth.
Returning to painting, I know that Whistler painted Old Battersea Bridge and Balfour Beatty are going to paint the Forth Bridge, but I haven't got a clue who painted the Millau Viaduct. Perhaps it was a joint Anglo-French venture.
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Re: save it for the gleaners

Post by JerrySmile » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:08 pm

Great French documentary movie by Agnes Varda:

The Gleaners and I
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gleaners_and_I
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