Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Episode 32: Skin of My Teeth Transcript

Click on "Read More" for the full transcript!

Shauna:                               00:00                    Welcome to bunny trails, a whimsical adventure of idioms and other turns of phrase. I'm Shauna Harrison
Dan:                                     00:05                    and I'm Dan Pugh and we are live currently from podcon. I am a, I have to say, I usually record in a room all by myself. So I am not used to looking at other people while I am talking. Frankly, I don't normally even wear pants. So this is uh, this is definitely different for me, but that has been really cool to be able to do this in front of other podcasters and people who already know they love podcasts. So that is very helpful. Shauna, are you enjoying podcon?
Shauna:                               00:30                    I am. Podcon is amazing so far we've mostly attended workshops and we're learning all kinds of things to help us make our show better and I'm really looking forward to improving our presence online and getting a good flow going for the future. Uh, so, but there are quite a few other podcasters here, both new and established as well as fans and just generally awesome people. I only fan girl a couple of times with my fellow nerdfighters and, and you know, cool babies, but visiting Seattle in general has been really great. I love this weather. I like drizzly, rainy, chilly days. Perfect.
Dan:                                     01:08                    Seems the opposite of what I want, but that's okay.
Shauna:                               01:11                    Uh, we got a chance to do some of those. Must've do a items in, in town, like the space needle, pike place. Uh, we did a harbor cruise and went to the aquarium and the science center. Yes. I even saw starbucks. Starbucks here in town. A few I've heard. So if you want to see more checkout our patreon. We've got pictures and other cool stuff from our adventures. It's
Dan:                                     01:36                    Well, each week we delve into the origin and history of an idiom or another turn of phrase and we discussed how it's been used over time. Now this often takes us down some fun, interesting research rabbit holes. So this week we're going to look at a freeze by the skin of your teeth. So the Oxford English dictionary defines skin of your teeth as an idiom, meaning a very narrow margin or barely or only just and the common law is this phrase originated with job of biblical fame. And I hate saying this definitely isn't true because it kind of depends on how you want to attribute translations. The book of Job was written in Hebrew and this is of course an English phrase. So even if Job had directly dictated, this isn't necessarily his phrase that he intended it to mean or used in the same way that he would have intended it.
Shauna:                               02:25                    Gotcha. So Job maybe told the story or the story is about Job, but it wasn't a direct quote, necessarily.
Dan:                                     02:32                    I couldn't find anything in the AP style guide on how you're supposed to. A tribute in a test to people in translation. So we're just going to have to delve a little bit further into it. So this ordinate originates in 15, 60 with the Geneva Bible. This is one of the first English translations of the Bible, specifically job Chapter Nineteen, verse 20. And it says, I have escaped with the skin of my teeth. Now let me tell you first trying to research earlier language versions of the Bible was difficult because the character's name is job, which is spelled j o b, which in English is spelled just like the word job. So Google's is going. Yeah, exactly. Google kept telling me that jobs were available for a biblical translation lists, which is apparently a very lucrative business. So if you're looking for a new career path, I guess that's an option for you.
Dan:                                     03:23                    So the Geneva version of the Bible wasn't the first English translation. Wycliffs gets that honor. And of note, wycliffs translated the phrase differently, more like only my lips were left around my teeth. That sounds gross. And the Oxford English dictionary even points out that they're not entirely sure the translation is accurate and there's a lot of debate over it. So Job may not have even meant for this to be a narrow escape in the context of what he was talking about. However, the Geneva Bible though, is still hugely significant because it was the first mechanically printed mass produced Bible that was made directly available to the general public.
Shauna:                               04:03                    That's actually, I think that's pretty cool. That's a significant feat. That alone may add that mass production and being make it, making it accessible like that,
Dan:                                     04:13                    especially once we talk about Queen Mary who was very much not a fan of that kind of a thing, but we'll get to that in just a minute. So the Geneva Bible also had a variety of study guides and aids and including verse citations that allow the reader to cross reference one verse with numerous relevant versus in the rest of the Bible and also in included introductions to each book of the Bible, then acted to summarize all of the material the book would cover, which is something you see in bibles that are printed in English and other languages today. Right? So quick oversimplified version of the book of job. Job was said to be a great man who had the utmost faith in God. Satan claimed that job only followed God because God protected job. So God gave Satan permission to test job's faith, so long as Satan didn't kill him, and Satan does takes away job's home wealth and even killed his family and job goes through this variety of emotions and coping mechanisms and in what was mes and such, probably a warranted, but still remains faithful to his god.
Dan:                                     05:12                    And at the end God gives job back all he lost. And then some, I think as much as that could be possible. So I don't know that this sounds like a good deal. This sounds awful. This is horrible. If if you're a protector of a person and you let that person get fired, robbed, and your wife and kids all murdered, just to prove that this person will still like you when they're done. That's, that's horrible. It doesn't, doesn't sound awesome. I don't need that kind of protector in my life. But anyway. So by the same token, if that protector is supposed to be an omnipotent, been, well then I think what that makes me think of is there's an episode of Star Trek the next generation called survivors. And the enterprise follows a distress signal and finds a world to be completely destroyed, save an older couple. It turns out the old man is not human as he appears, but as an immortal energy been with biblically awesome powers. His species are pacifists. But when the woman, he loves is killed fighting an invasion force, he retaliates by not only killing the attackers, but also destroying their entire race, about 50 billion souls
Shauna:                               06:11                    That is a lot of damage.
Dan:                                     06:13                    Yeah. And to do it at the snap of the fingers. I mean, it's like we're talking infinity war kind of stuff. Thanos stuff here.
Shauna:                               06:20                    Hey spoiler!
Dan:                                     06:22                    Sorry. Listen. The next one's about to come out. I don't know how you've avoided things this far. Anyway, at the end of it, Picard basically in all of his wisdom says that they're just not qualified to judge this bean because they don't even have laws to fit the magnitude of the crime. And I kind of feel that way about the god of the Old Testament. Some of the things that are attributed to the Old Testament, like the great flood Sodom and Gomorrah. And even to a lesser extent, this thing with job seems to me, um, something that I, I don't even, I don't know, I don't, I don't have, don't have the words to be able to judge someone for that, but it seems for them,
Shauna:                               06:57                    well, when you're talking about something of that magnitude, like how do you, how do you correlate any kind of rules are established rules for a power that you don't possess and can understand. So I think they encountered that a lot in the, you know, in those superhero universes where you're, you're trying to establish rules for, for something that is beyond what you're capable of understanding.
Dan:                                     07:18                    Yeah, absolutely. But anyway, back to job. So crediting this quote to him wouldn't be correct as the book of job of course was translated and we're not entirely sure that that's what it meant. So who maybe is more responsible for this? Well, the Old Testament translation of the Geneva Bible was overseen by Anthony Gilby. Gilby was a protestant from England who fled to Geneva, Switzerland during the 1550s during a time known as the Marian exile. This was when the queen of Queen Mary of England took a very hard stance against Protestants at the time and occasionally burned to death scholars who tried to translate the Bible into a common language.
Shauna:                               07:57                    No, that sounds also awful. Also awful. I'm so glad to be alive today.
Dan:                                     08:01                    Yeah. As opposed to back then when religion was used so often to just burn people.
Shauna:                               08:06                    Yeah, and then I. Man, that's a lot of people just getting killed for crazy reasons. Yeah.
Dan:                                     08:12                    Well, of course Gilby wasn't the only one who worked on this. There are other scholars who worked on that translation as well, including William Willingham, who supervised the New Testament version. He gets most of the credit because the new testament version came out in 1557 and the old testament came out in 1560, but so William Willingham oversaw the new testament side and Anthony Gilby oversaw the old testament side. There were others is myles coverdale, Christopher Goodman and Thomas Samson, along with William Coal, also worked on the old testament translations, so it's likely the one of these folks actually originated this phrase based on their interpretation of what job was said to have said. Now, as I alluded to before, there is some disagreement over whether or not the translation is accurate with this specific phrase, but it doesn't really change the fact that it is the translation on paper since the 15, well since 1560, and it is the actual first attestation of our phrase. So accuracy of this translation, not withstanding, we can, unlike most idioms, we can clearly state that the first time we think this was used was in the 15,60 version of the Geneva Bible.
Shauna:                               09:22                    That's, I think, one. It's really neat to be able to pinpoint a date because it's so difficult in language to find a specific date of when something was first used, whether that's in literature or in speech or any of that. Uh, but, uh, also I love the fact that basically somebody was translating the story of job and found a one part of it and just like through their own little analogy in there and it turned into something that still is being used,
Dan:                                     09:51                    Right? Well, it is hard not to read the book of Job and not come away with the same interpretation that he did escape, barely by the skin of his teeth, at least the way we use the phrase today. So this translator is basically creating a new idiom for this purpose. So as with most of our idioms though, if you do a quick google search online, you will find the wrong place that this is said to originate. So most of the articles and things that you look at for skin of your teeth, say it originated with the King James version of the Bible. But we know this is untrue and we can categorically debunk this because the King James version of the Bible came out in 1611 and the Geneva Bible came out in 1560. So there is a full 50 year difference between where most of the Internet thinks this phrase came from and where we see it a tested for the first time.
Shauna:                               10:38                    Sweet. So we've got it. It's established Geneva people,
Dan:                                     10:42                    right? Absolutely. And so of course 1560, we saw that. And then in 1647, there's another example where the earl of Clarendon uses this in his songs and tracks that he wrote. And he says he reckoned himself only escaped with the skin of his teeth, that he had nothing left
Shauna:                               11:00                    and should, this isn't psalms that he wrote, but contemplations on the song,
Dan:                                     11:04                    right, right. It's contemplations on the Psalm. So yes. Yes. He, well he wrote, he wrote the contemplations he did not write the psalm. All right. So in the mid 16 hundreds we still see this phrase being used exactly as the way it was originally and the way we use it today. And we're going to see a pattern there. So in 17,74, Ethan Allen of, the American revolutionary fame also gave a brief narrative proclamation in the city of New York. And he said they left their possessions and farms, so the conquerors and escaped with the skin of their teeth. Nice. Yeah. In 1816, J. Martin wrote in a, in a narrative mission through Nova Scotia, he said, having an escape by the skin of my teeth, I may be allowed to look back upon the dangers I have passed, as with the voice of Salvatore warning to point them out to others.
Shauna:                               11:52                    Nice. Like, listen, don't, don't learn yourself. Learn from my mistakes. That's what, that's what he's saying there.
Dan:                                     11:58                    Absolutely. And even in the 1940s, we still see this. So jrr tolkien got into this. He wrote a letter in March 1941 and said, I ought to have got a good scholarship. I only landed by the skin of my teeth and exhibition of 60 pounds at Exeter.
Dan:                                     12:14                    So we even see this all the way through from 1560 through the 1940s. We still see this phrase used in exactly the same way in. And I love the fact that it hasn't changed, really hasn't changed in over 450 years because it's still used frequently today and we'll talk about that right after the break, but it is very interesting to see just this phrase sticks to it. That hasn't changed at all. And that's very, very odd for an idiom of over 450 years old.
Shauna:                               12:42                    Yeah, that's awesome. Well, today's show is sponsored by our patrons on Patreon. We want to say a special thanks to our log them or theology interns, Charlie Moore and Pat Rowe for sponsoring this episode. is a subscription service that allows you to support content creators you love. It's free to sign up and follow along if you are in a financial situation that allows for monetary support, you can get additional perks for as little as $1 a month. Features like early access to episodes of behind the scenes content bonus episodes and more are all available at
Dan:                                     13:24                    Looking at Google trends, we see this phrase or some variant like it, skin of my teeth, skin of your teeth, skin of his teeth, skin of their teeth as all having the typical ups and downs of most phrases since they started tracking it in 2004. It is interesting though, the dispersal on the trends show that this phrase is primarily used on the coasts, the east or the west coast, mostly the east coast pretty heavily as well, but far less in the midwest and in the northern parts of the states. I found that to be an interesting trend and I've been. This is my, this is the furthest West I've ever traveled and I don't know that I've ever heard anybody say it here, but I definitely have heard it used in casual conversation on the east coast and in Texas where I'm originally from, but the more I think about it, I don't know that I've heard it a lot in Kansas where we live now.
Shauna:                               14:12                    Yeah, I've heard it a couple of times in my over my life, but not, you know, on a regular. So I think. I think that's probably pretty true for the Midwest, at least on a regular, on a regular,
Dan:                                     14:23                    On a regular? Are we creating a new, a new phrase ourselves here? On a regular is fine. That's just how we're going to do it.
Dan:                                     14:28                    So a couple of examples. We see this in pop culture and in works of arts. The skin of our teeth was a play by Thornton wilder, which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. It opened in 1942 and it has three acts that don't form a continuous narrative, but they all tie biblical stories into modern concepts
Shauna:                               14:48                    That's really interesting for like 1942. I gotta I gotta find out what that's about.
Dan:                                     14:53                    Another interesting point is there was an Australian film have the same name based off of this play that won some awards in Australia in 1959 as well. Then there's also, if anybody is a fan of the group megadeath, there's skin of my teeth. That is a song that is more your style of music. So it's often 1992 album countdown to extinction. And the word say no. Escaping pain. You belong to me clinging onto life by the skin of my teeth.
Shauna:                               15:28                    Now yell it and get really growly. Really deep. Get in there. Just get in there.
Dan:                                     15:34                    You'll just have to take her word for that.
Shauna:                               15:36                    This is as deep as my voice gets so I won't be.
Dan:                                     15:38                    I can get way deeper first thing in the morning. But we've been up for a bit now.
Dan:                                     15:44                    So by the skin of his teeth is also a book by Anne Walsh came out in 2004. And this is the third book in the Barkerville mystery trilogy, which follows the mystery. Oh yeah. So of course it's a trilogy. So it follows the strange events. Have a 17 year old living in 18 sixties. British Columbia now. What I'm not sure of since I haven't read them. Was he 17 in all three of the books? Does he just not age? Uh, or was he 17 in the first book and then 19 in the. Or maybe it pulls a Harry Potter and it's like each year as a probably a year or something. Possibly. I don't know. It did seem pretty interesting. Some of the concepts that they dealt with in those, those books. So might be something that I add to my to be read list
Dan:                                     16:26                    also by the skin of our teeth: The art and design of morning breath.
Shauna:                               16:32                    Eww.
Dan:                                     16:33                    Well it's not quite what you think. So this book by Jason Nodo and Doug Cunningham came out in 2017 and it is a visual history of morning breath incorporated, the Brooklyn based Boutique Design Studio who's collaborators included renowned musical artists from Jay z to the foo fighters as well as such top brands as vans and Adidas. That's interesting. I had no idea that, that also, where did they get the name for their company? I do not know. We need a name and they look at each other and one of them you have morning breath and they're like, oh, that's it. That's it. Nailed it. Totally. That's probably, you know, I bet. I bet a bet that they probably talk about this in the book probably might be something to check out. So one of my favorite things about this phrase here is that it's a great reminder that sometimes the origin of an idiom is just an accident. So with the skin of your teeth, there was simply a guy who translated the text into another language and boom, an idiom is born and for 450 years the idiom has been used in pretty much the same way by English speakers all across the world. And I think that's a, that's a super awesome thing to think about. So how great is it that one can simply put something on paper and have it turned into something that people say for 20 generations and counting?
Shauna:                               17:48                    Yeah, I think this is the first phrase that we've had that's really done that the entire time. A lot of them will circle back around to the same meaning or will find that they kind of transitioned into what, how we use them today. But this one, the fact that it means the same thing, um, as its origin. You know, is really cool.
Dan:                                     18:05                    Yeah. It's definitely not what we normally find. Also, the other thing about this is we can pinpoint the moment I entered the lexicon, which fortunately since it was in an English translation of the Bible and future translations of the Bible continued to use that same translation, it, it definitely gained in popularity so we know exactly where, how it became popular, where it first started and it hasn't changed meaning at all, and that is probably the first time we've ever seen that with a turn of phrase. So for current and aspiring or current or aspiring writers, remember that. Keep dreaming, keep writing, start writing if you haven't started writing because someday those words you wrote will be talked about by your great. Great, great, great. There were 20 of them. One great.
Shauna:                               18:50                    Great. Great. You remember the um, what was that movie with the
Dan:                                     18:53                    emperor's new groove? That's the one with the little kids. She's like a jump roping. Great. Great. Great. Great. Great goes on forever. Yzma was definitely old. Great. Great. Great Grandma. Great. Great. All right, well that about wraps us up for today. Thanks for joining us here at pod con and a huge thanks to Ben Ratner in the fine folks at LiveU for helping us make this episode. We greatly appreciate letting us have the space here. I'd also like to say a big thank you to those who posted reviews for the show. Leave a review really is the easiest way to support our show or any podcast, so best of all, it's free. Go to the place wherever you get your podcasts and leave a review for your favorite shows throughout the week. You can catch us on twitter and instagram and occasionally even facebook all @bunnytrailspod.
Shauna:                               19:38                    If you have a suggestion for an idiom or other turn of phrase, catch us on social media or head over to Patreon and let us know. We post most of our additional content on Patreon and you can follow along there for free. Of course, if you want to support the show through monetary means, we're okay with that too. Either way, head over to trails pod for all the latest content. So thanks again for joining us and we'll talk to you again next week. Until then, remember, words belong to their users.

No comments:

Post a Comment