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Once a friend of mine, a non-native English speaker, asked why we say, "raining cats and dogs."

I did some research, and it turns out there really is NO way of knowing.

The thing about metaphors like this is they are spoken long before they are written down.

Sometimes for hundreds of years.

All we know is somebody used that, it sounded good, so people copied it.

Marketers and advertisers have TRIED to come up with slogans to get them copied and pasted from brain to brain, but very, very few of them stick.

Which means when super smart dudes TRY to come up with phrases that stick in our brains, they pretty much suck.

Anyhow, my "research" turned up three possibilities.

One is that the word "cat" in old French sounds kind of like waterfall.

Another is a goofy idea (that has been used as email spam) that back in the days, dogs and cats would get up on the roof to stay warm, and fall off when it started raining.

I don't know about you, but I've never seen a dog climb up on a roof.

The third is the most interesting.

Whether it's true or not is anybody's guess.

But way back in the day, people that lived in London were pretty dirty.

Trash everywhere, etc.

So when it rained really hard, it would wash away all the trash.

Including all the dead animals.

"Hey look! It's raining cats and dogs!"

Maybe, maybe not.

Another interest phrases (same guy asked me about) is why we say "cocktail" for a mixed drink.

Again I did some research and found a few potential answers.

The most compelling is back in the day when they used to have "mixed" races.

Thoroughbreds, and non thoroughbreds.

And the non-thoroughbreds had a big red ribbon around their tail.

So a "mixed" horse had a "cock tail" or a "rooster tail."

cocktail = mixed horse

And since everybody was always getting hammered at the races, it stuck.

cocktail = mixed drink

This type of thing is fascinating.

This "collective memory" of humans.

Brain to brain transfer, via spoken speech, can stay in the "collective memory" long before anything is written down.

And when it comes to speech, there is both form and function.

Form is what you say.

Function is how you say it.

Both of these, form and function, are inextricably intertwined.

You can impress people what WHAT you say.

Or you can impress people with HOW you say it.

Which is more important?

Unless you are giving a technical speech, where the words are critical, HOW you say it will make all the difference.

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