The weeks


Ever wondered where certain expressions comes from? We do. So this week we checked up on an expression which has always baffled us. Not the meaning of it but the origin.

"When pigs fly".

Our good friend Wiki gave the answer. She's just so smart:

"When pigs fly" is an adynaton, a way of saying that something will never happen. The phrase is often used for humorous effect, to scoff at over-ambition. There are numerous variations on the theme; when an individual with a reputation for failure finally succeeds, onlookers may sarcastically claim to see a flying pig. ("Hey look! A flying pig!"). Other variations on the phrase include "And pigs will fly," this one in retort to an outlandish statement.
An example occurs in the film The Eagle Has Landed: an Irish secret agent working for the Nazis replies to a German general speaking of Germany's shortly winning World War II, "Pigs may fly, general, but I doubt it!" Later, when the Irishman sees German soldiers parachuting before an attack, he says to himself, "Mother of God! Flying pigs!"
An identical phrase, used to express impossibilities, exists in Romanian,
Când o zbura porcul, literally meaning "When the pig shall fly"; an equivalent also implying an animal is La PaČ™tele cailor, literally: "on horses' Easter". Similar phrases in English include "when hell freezes over", the Latin expression "to the Greek calends," and "and monkeys might fly out of my butt", popularized in Wayne's World skits and movies. They are examples of adynata. In Finnish, the expression "kun lehmät lentävät" (when cows fly) is used because of its alliteration.
In Polish, a similar expression is "See a tank rolling in here?", while simultaneously lowering a lower eyelid with a finger. Sometimes, when in return to this a slightly more limited, but still improbable answer is given, the speaker repeats the gesture, stating: "Maybe at least a gun barrel sticks out?":

  • "I'm sure that the cows will make a permanent colony on the Moon by the end of 2012."
  • "Yeah, sure. See a tank rolling in here?" (lowering the eyelid)
  • "Well, maybe not 2012, but 2013, surely."
  • "Maybe at least a gun barrel sticks out?" (repeating the gesture.)

Have a pig and pork free week and don't even think about doing
three sheets to the wind (until the weekend).