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    #1

    turn the process on its head

    What is the following red saying?

    At the stockyards, butchers removed certain cuts as each carcass passed by, until nothing was left. Ford turned the process on its head, giving each mechanic a particular task to do, standing at a single work location, with all the parts and tools within arm's reach.

    Thank you.

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    #2

    Re: turn the process on its head

    '...turned the process on its head' means 'completely reversed the order of doing things'.

    However, in the above context, that doesn't appear to be the case. They seem to be doing exactly the same as before.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: turn the process on its head

    Yes, I just looked it up. Indeed, the slaughterhouses moved the carcass from worker to worker to do their limited part, just as the Ford moving assembly line. It's a completely wrong use of the phrase. He emulated it, replicated it, adapted it, and many other things, but certainly didn't turn the process on its head.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #4

    Re: turn the process on its head

    I think the reversal is that the butchers were removing pieces of the animal, while Ford's workers were adding pieces to the cars.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: turn the process on its head

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I think the reversal is that the butchers were removing pieces of the animal, while Ford's workers were adding pieces to the cars.
    I think you are probably right, but that was not clear to me from the original sentence. Like Barb and Rover, I thought the phrase was misused. It would have been clearer if it had been something like:

    At the stockyards, butchers removed certain cuts as each carcass passed by, until nothing was left. Ford turned the process on its head, giving each mechanic a particular part to add as the auomobile passed by until, at the end of the line, the automobile was complete.

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    #6

    Re: turn the process on its head

    Maybe it's just the case of wrong pronoun. If it read "turned the process in his head" I would be likely to understand that he was thinking about it over and over again, until he found a way to adapt it to the fabrication of motor vehicles.

    But then again, I may be completely off track here.
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: turn the process on its head

    I'm afraid in this case, you are off track. You might "turn something over in your mind" to think about something, but "turn a process on its head" is a standard expression.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 20-Jan-2014 at 20:22. Reason: typos
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #8

    Re: turn the process on its head

    I just have to note that they do turn the dead animal over on its head.

  5. charliedeut's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: turn the process on its head

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I'm afraid in this case, you are off track. You might "turn something over in your mind" to think about something, but "turn a process on its head" is a standard expression.
    Thanks. Duly noted.
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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