Translation musings: bless…

Jan 22, 2014 | Language

socksAn expression perhaps slightly overused in our office is ‘bless’. Ever so slightly patronising, I know, but a harmless enough phrase – the equivalent of ‘awww’. Yesterday, I filled out the phrase to its full ‘bless his cotton socks’ (I was talking about a baby, so not too patronising!). This was a blessing too far for my non-British colleagues. It also cost me an earworm, which was then unexpectedly (but rather marvellously) reinforced by hearing (the wonderful) Teardrop Explodes on the radio (yes, now it’s back).

So, where does the phrase ‘bless your (little) cotton socks’ come from? Well, it appears to be another vague one (at least according to a well-known search engine…) One, in my humble opinion, slightly unlikely theory is that English clergyman/educator/bishop George Edward Lynch Cotton, had a thing for giving nice warm socks to deserving children and would bless the socks before they were distributed  – the packages being labelled “Cotton’s socks – for blessing” or words to that effect. Hmm, slight sceptical on that one. But you never know – it certainly makes a good story!

On the blessing subject, do you know why you get blessed, sometimes by strangers, when you sneeze? Apparently to stop your soul escaping your body! Pesky souls. Bless.


image credit: doriana_s @ stock.xchng