Saturday, March 31, 2012

Do I look like I fell off the turnip truck! 
This phrase "seems to be a good example of an entire class of catch phrases based on urban-rural rivalry.

The thrust of such phrases is, of course, that 'I am not a fool or a newcomer,' and, in this case, that 'I am not an ignorant country bumpkin who just arrived in the big city on a truck full of lowly turnips that I was
dumb enough, on top of everything else, to fall off of.'  

This image of a bewildered hayseed ripe for fleecing by urban con artists is a close relative of more general phrases used to assert one's 'insider status' and thus intelligence or savvy.  

The United States being a nation largely composed of immigrants, it's not surprising that the all-time most commonly heard phrase of this type is 'I didn't just get off the boat.'"

Source: [Mark Israel, 'Phrase Origins: "fall off a turnip truck"', The alt.usage.english FAQ file,(line 4810), (29 Sept 1997)]

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