you can't teach an old dog new tricks

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you can't teach an old dog new tricks

Post by Archived Topic » Mon Oct 18, 2004 3:08 pm

Where did this saying originate?
Submitted by maria griffis (columbus - U.S.A.)
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you can't teach an old dog new tricks

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Oct 18, 2004 3:22 pm

Maria, This is a proverb and a proverb is by definition a “short popular saying, usually of unknown and ancient origin, that expresses effectively some commonplace truth [or perceived truth] or useful thought [or perceived useful thought].” (Random House Unabridged Dictionary).

YOU CAN’T TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS: The elderly cannot or will not change their ways. Old people are often unwilling or unable to learn new skills or adopt new methods. The saying dates from the 16th century, first appearing with literal meaning in a book of ‘Husbandry’ (1523), probably in the variant form ‘an old dog will learn no tricks.’ This also appeared in John Heywood’s 1546 proverb collection. One source says the proverb was first recorded in 1636 and I assume this means in the exact words of its present form.
<“Since I’m 95 years old, it may be that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,’ but I’m just not comfortable with new appliances. They make me nervous and . . . never work for me.”—'New York Times,' 25 January, page A1>
(The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs, The Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés)
____________________

Ken G – January 8, 2004

P.S. And I’m here to tell you that this proverb is false! (or nearly so) (<:)
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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you can't teach an old dog new tricks

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Oct 18, 2004 3:51 pm

"You're never too old to learn" is the antithetical proverb. There are numerous examples of such pairs, expressing truths or recommending behaviours in tension with each other. The old dogs must be the ones who bite the heads off those putting the balancing arguments.
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
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you can't teach an old dog new tricks

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Oct 18, 2004 4:05 pm

"YOU'RE NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN" is the antithetical proverb. Proverbs often exist as pairs expressing opposing tensions in truths or recommended behaviours - each true or appropriate in different circumstances or to certain degrees. Old dogs must be those who bite the heads off those expressing a different point of view.
"No generality is true - not even this one" looks hard to temper, but Tolkien came up with, "Go not to Elves for advice, for they will say both yea and nay."
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
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you can't teach an old dog new tricks

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Oct 18, 2004 4:20 pm

I think I'm an old dog when it comes to posting responses correctly! Sorry.

Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
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