Mind your P’s and Q’s!

From Aladdin to Anne of Green Gables,
Tuesday ISG class has always encompassed groups of students who had been diligent enough in the studies of English to be able to communicate on a basic to conversational level.

The latest additions to our group,
a returnee from China and a boy with a passion for languages, make the classes particularly lively and dynamic.

But why P’s and Q’s? In our most recent Tuesday story, The Magic Finger, Mr. Glenn tells the little girl to mind her own P’s and Q’s.

This benign expression which basically means to “mind one’s manners”, or to “pay close attention to one’s affairs” in the modern tongue, has a few supposed origins.

One explanation is the following: “Back in the early days of printing presses, each line of text had to be set up one letter at a time.

Since the letters in the press were reversed (so they'd print forward), the printmaker (or typographer) needed to be careful not to confuse one letter for the other” (urbandictionary.com), [especially p’s and q’s].

One of my students found this expression especially interesting, and it created quite a bit of chatter in the class.

The English language is full of expressions for which native speakers know the meaning from social experience,
but that have much more obscure origins.

This is a good example.

posted by キューティマム at 10:17 | 東京 ☁ | Comment(0) | 授業日記