inversions of common sayings in specific subcultures/fields?
October 3, 2013 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Cyclists say, "What goes down must come up," meaning if you have a nice long downhill going out, you'll have to climb the same height to get back home. Contra dancers say, "Better never than late," meaning if you don't have enough time to do a figure properly then just skip it and make sure you're ready for the next. What other subcultures or fields have domain-specific inversions of common sayings?
posted by d. z. wang to Writing & Language (32 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Engineering: You can't push a rope.
posted by sanka at 7:06 PM on October 3, 2013


Safety third. (Beer first.)
posted by mollymayhem at 7:08 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Government regulatory agency: The regulator is always right.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:15 PM on October 3, 2013


One of my mantras as a professional writer: Don't get it right, get it written.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:16 PM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I had a professor in college who said of our (modest, sleepy) college town, "It's a nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there."
posted by Betelgeuse at 7:19 PM on October 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


You can't push a rope.

...and its fluids companion: pumps don't suck.
posted by bonehead at 7:28 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you're not part of the solution, you're the precipitate. (Chemistry/similar)
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:41 PM on October 3, 2013


I'm not a musician, so I can't verify, but my brother calls oboes "an ill wind nobody blows good". At least I think it was oboes.

There are stupid t-shirts at the beach saying things like "$TOWN, a nice drinking town with a fishing problem."

Then on the subject of drinking, there's the description of a hangover as "the wrath of grapes".

History class, discussing feudalism: "It's your count that votes".

Neither of these are exactly what you're after, but they're sort of close. "Revenge is never the best way to live well." and "Time wounds all heels."
posted by skyl1n3 at 8:01 PM on October 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Zen Buddhists: "Don't just do something; sit there!"
posted by LauraJ at 8:14 PM on October 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


"Don't just do something; sit there!" is also part of therapy/recovery culture.
posted by jaguar at 8:37 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I doubt it's genre specific, but every TV thing I worked on:
Cheap, fast, good = 2 out of 3 ain't bad.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:45 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a popular bar in San Francisco with the motto, "Fast, friendly, service. Pick one."
posted by mollymayhem at 8:49 PM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Calibration: measure with a micrometer, mark with chalk, cut with an axe.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:09 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jugglers: there must be a harder way to do this.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:16 PM on October 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


People with delayed sleep phase syndrome: The worm should have stayed in bed.
posted by flabdablet at 9:48 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Architecture: "The devil is in the details," after Mies van der Rohe's "God is in the details."

(Although others lay claim to the quote, folks in the architectural field claim it as one of their own.)
posted by Specklet at 9:54 PM on October 3, 2013


Software Testing: when you do the same thing over and over, expecting a different result every time.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:00 PM on October 3, 2013


The Hash House Harriers call themselves "The drinking club with a running problem".

When things go wrong in TV news (a satellite feed falls over, the wrong tape plays, etc), I have often heard producers say things like "Don't worry, it's only live television". (The implication is that although any mistake on air is embarrassing, what has gone to air cannot be changed, so you might as well be thankful you're not in a profession like brain surgery or piloting planes where small mistakes can cost lives).

The cycling group Critical Mass is fond of slogans like like "Cars hold up traffic" or "We are traffic" - a play on complaints from motorists about delays caused by their mass rides.
posted by embrangled at 10:05 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


One is too many, a thousand is never enough.

You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day unless you are too busy, then it should be at least an hour.

Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.

The child is father to the man.

Bonus: He disagreed with something that are him. (From License to Kill)

...because after all, you're dead, not married. (Stephen Colbert, hawking condoms for the deceased)
posted by alphanerd at 10:16 PM on October 3, 2013


The Hash House Harriers are "a drinking club with a running problem."
posted by mbrubeck at 10:55 PM on October 3, 2013


Yoga/meditation/mindfulness: Don't just do something, sit there.
posted by girlgenius at 11:02 PM on October 3, 2013


Regarding religion, the supernatural, and/or anything woo-related: some things you have to believe to see.
posted by she's not there at 11:20 PM on October 3, 2013


"The client is their own best advocate" is one of the articles of faith of lobbying, reversing the lawyers' truism depicting themselves as "the best advocate of the client".
posted by dmt at 5:18 AM on October 4, 2013


"Ready, Fire, Aim" is used in a lot of business start-up ventures. I worked at a company that had that slogan printed on t-shirts for the employees, to build a sort of rah-rah-we-can-do-it mentality. We bitterly mocked those t-shirts a year later when the majority of us were laid off.
posted by BurntHombre at 7:26 AM on October 4, 2013


When my sister moved to Alaska, the feminine perspective on the dating scene was, "the odds are good, but the goods are odd."
posted by Mchelly at 8:40 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Folk Music & Renn Faire both have many instances of "Drinking Groups with Singing Problems".
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:49 AM on October 4, 2013


We joke at my CRM archaeology firm:

"Lift with the back, not with the knees"

and "Safety last!"
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 10:17 AM on October 4, 2013


From the Excessive Eighties:

"Too Much Is Enough!"
posted by Rash at 10:31 AM on October 4, 2013


not really applicable to any specific field, but I think Lily Tomlin has a great quote:

"It's going to get a lot worse before it gets worse."
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 10:34 AM on October 4, 2013


Rash: "From the Excessive Eighties:

"Too Much Is Enough!"
"

Actually, my born-in-1916 grandma used to say that. She was quoting her mother.
posted by Lexica at 7:54 PM on October 4, 2013


Journalism: Good news is no news.
posted by Occula at 9:58 PM on October 13, 2013


That's all well and good in practice but what about in theory?
posted by chrysanthemum at 2:36 PM on November 5, 2013


« Older Should we stop being annoying neighbors?   |   Ride the Lightning in a TDCPP Chair? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.