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  1. VIP Member
    Student or Learner
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      • Native Language:
      • Bulgarian
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      • Bulgaria
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      • Bulgaria

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 5,000

    to go to the dogs

    Dear teachers,

    There is a brief excerpt from the Bernard Show’s “August does his bit”:

    “I do not ask you, sir; and I will not alow you to say such things in my presence. Our statesmen are the greatest known to history. Our generals are invincible. Our army is the admiration of the world. How dare you tell me that the country is going to the dogs!”

    In my opinion, the idiom in bold used in colloquial, rather vulgar speech, in the present case means “to be ruined”

    Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am right with my interpretation?

    Thank you for your efforts.



  2. stuartnz's Avatar
    Senior Member
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      • New Zealand
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      • New Zealand

    • Join Date: Mar 2008
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    Re: to go to the dogs

    I'm not a professional teacher, but in my experience, the idiom "going to the dogs" is not even remotely vulgar. It might be considered informal, but is common and much used in attempts to add colour and vigour to speech or writing. Eric Blair's ridiculous tirade, 5 Rules for Effective Writing, would have it that using it is in breach of "Rule Number 1", but like most of Blair's prescriptivist rantings about language usage, his so-called "rules" aren't worth the reams of paper they've subsequently been printed on.

  3. Offroad's Avatar
    Key Member
    Interested in Language
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      • Brazilian Portuguese
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      • Brazil
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    • Join Date: Feb 2008
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    Smile Re: to go to the dogs

    go to the dogs = to become worse in quality or character

    if a country or an organization is going to the dogs, it is becoming less successful than it was in the past.

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