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  1. #1
    vil is offline VIP Member
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    I would not touch him with a barge-pole

    Dear teachers,

    Would you tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence?

    I was so ragged and dirty that you wouldn’t have touched me with pair of tongs. (Dickens’ “Hard Times”)

    I would not touch him with a barge-pole = I would not touch him with pair of tongs = don't want to make common cause with him; he’s a very odious/ lousy person; I hate even to come close to him

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V
    Last edited by vil; 15-Oct-2010 at 08:06.

  2. #2
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: I would not touch him with a barge-pole

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    Dear teachers,

    Would you tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence?

    I was so ragged and dirty that you wouldn’t have touched me with pair of tongue. (Dickens’ “Hard Times”)

    I would not touch him with a barge-pole = I would not touch him with pair of tongue = don't want to make common cause with him; he’s a very odious/ lousy person; I hate even to come close to him

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V
    More modern, "I wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole."

    See here
    and here.

  3. #3
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Re: I would not touch him with a barge-pole

    You are right in your interpretation, Vil, but I wonder if the quote from Dickens should read 'a pair of tongs'?

    Tongs were often used for picking up very hot things, i.e. things you would want to keep at a distance. A barge pole is a long pole used to propel a barge. In both cases, an instrument used to keep things at a distance would not be long enough to keep away a dirty/unpleasant/hateful person.

    More modern people such as lauralie2 might prefer a ten-foot pole, but we old-timers (I'm 64) prefer a barge pole.

  4. #4
    vil is offline VIP Member
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    Re: I would not touch him with a barge-pole

    Hi fivejedjon,

    Thank you for your amendment.

    I beg your pardon for my unmeant foolish mistake. I was mislead by the close sounding if the “tongs” and “tongue”.

    Between you and me you are well-night in my age. I am 67 years old now but unfortunately I have begun to study English just since 2004, i.e. I have studied English only for the last 6 years of my existing life. This accounts my tedious imperfection.

    Thank you again for your kindness.

    V.

  5. #5
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    Tullia is offline Senior Member
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    Re: I would not touch him with a barge-pole

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    More modern people such as lauralie2 might prefer a ten-foot pole, but we old-timers (I'm 64) prefer a barge pole.

    I'm only 30, and I'd go with barge-pole automatically too! Perhaps it's a regional difference? I'm from an area rich in canals; are you?


    (I love being able to say I'm "only" 30!)

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