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    #1

    Question "Whistling in the graveyard" / "Whistling past the graveyard"

    Hello,

    I came across the following sentence in an article titled "Why We Can No Longer Trust Microsoft" on the pcmag website.

    "If Microsoft thinks it can ignore what is happening by whistling in the graveyard, it is in for a big surprise. The investors will be the first to get a clue, and the customers will follow."


    I looked up the meaning of 'whistling in the graveyard' on Google, by entering 'meaning whistling in the graveyard'. The search results returned - 'whistling past the graveyard'. One of the search result entries is from usingenglish.com:
    "
    If someone is whistling past the graveyard, they are trying to remain cheerful in difficult circumstances. ('Whistling past the cemetery' is also used.)"

    Now I understand the meaning. My question is - is 'whistling in the graveyard' used in some places, perhaps in BrE?

    Thank you

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    #2

    Re: "Whistling in the graveyard" / "Whistling past the graveyard"

    Both expressions are unknown to this BrE speaker.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: "Whistling in the graveyard" / "Whistling past the graveyard"

    Whistling past the graveyard is more common in AmE.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: "Whistling in the graveyard" / "Whistling past the graveyard"

    I wasn't familiar with it either.
    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.

  3. probus's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: "Whistling in the graveyard" / "Whistling past the graveyard"

    Anyone who ever thought we could trust Microsoft is an idiot. Having said that, I agree with Mike: whistling "past" is more common.

    And I think it is an Americanism.

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: "Whistling in the graveyard" / "Whistling past the graveyard"

    This BrE speaker has never heard of either. I rather like them though. Perhaps the writer used "in the graveyard" because they feel that Microsoft is even closer to "death" than just walking past the graveyard - they are actually inside it.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #7

    Re: "Whistling in the graveyard" / "Whistling past the graveyard"

    not a teacher

    I've read the expression "whistling past the graveyard", but never heard anyone say it. I'm sure I've heard "whistling in the dark", which can have the same meaning of adopting a nonchalant attitude in an unsettling situation.

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    #8

    Re: "Whistling in the graveyard" / "Whistling past the graveyard"

    It's a common expression for me. With "past," that is. I think someone here simply doesn't know the correct expression.

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    #9

    Re: "Whistling in the graveyard" / "Whistling past the graveyard"

    I think JMurray's idea that mixing two phrases is behind the mistake is likely.

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    #10

    Re: "Whistling in the graveyard" / "Whistling past the graveyard"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I think JMurray's idea that mixing two phrases is behind the mistake is likely.
    Sort of like Indians (and some British) people (persons?) mixing the AmE and BrE pronunciation of 'schedule'. (They say 'skey-dule' instead of 'shey-dule' or 'skey-jule' - sorry, not sure how to accurately write the pronunciation).

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