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Mike's Proverb

英語を勉強している方のためのフォーラムです。練習のために英語の文章を投稿してもかまわなく、英語の文法・語彙に関する質問をしてもけっこうです。

Mike's Proverb

Postby coco » Fri 10.05.2007 3:08 pm

I try to understand Mike's proverb of this post, but it's very difficult to me.

Mike Cash wrote
Always remember: When you're up to your ass in alligators it's hard to remember you came to clean out the swamp.

I could not figure out what "up to" and "ass in" mean.
Then either interpretation looks very weird or silly.

1) When you (plural) are going to put your hips in alligators, it's hard to remember you came to clean out the swamp.

2) When your donkey is approaching to a swamp full of alligators, it's hard to remember you came to clean out the swamp.

Could anyone explain what Mike's proverb means, please?
Thank you.
Last edited by coco on Fri 10.05.2007 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 10.05.2007 3:19 pm

"up to your ass" means that you are being overwhelmed with something. The literal meaning is supposed to be that something is piled up so high that it reaches your butt. There's a related expression "up to [one's] eyeballs", which to me makes more sense because your eyeballs are a lot higher than your butt. It's possible that the "ass" variation is more popular because of the profanity.

i.e. "I am up to my ass in work" = "I have a very large amount of work".

So "up to your ass in alligators" in this context would mean "surrounded by alligators".

I do not know what this proverb means, though. I have never seen or heard it.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Fri 10.05.2007 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby richvh » Fri 10.05.2007 3:33 pm

When one is buried in problems, it's hard to remember what one's original plan was.
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby queshaw » Fri 10.05.2007 3:35 pm

Someone on alt.quotations attributes it to the book "When you are up to your ass in alligators":

This link was too darned long so an admin changed the format.
Last edited by queshaw on Fri 10.05.2007 4:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby queshaw » Fri 10.05.2007 3:39 pm

richvh wrote:
When one is buried in problems, it's hard to remember what one's original plan was.


I think that makes sense. A person is trying to drain a swamp, but is made busy fending off alligators and finds it difficult to focus on the original plan.
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby two_heads_talking » Fri 10.05.2007 3:49 pm

coco wrote:
I try to understand Mike's proverb of this post, but it's very difficult to me.

Mike Cash wrote
Always remember: When you're up to your ass in alligators it's hard to remember you came to clean out the swamp.

I could not figure out what "up to" and "ass in" mean.
Then either interpretation looks very weird or silly.

1) When you (plural) are going to put your hips in alligators, it's hard to remember you came to clean out the swamp.

2) When your donkey is approaching to a swamp full of alligators, it's hard to remember you came to clean out the swamp.

Could anyone explain what Mike's proverb means, please?
Thank you.


to put it literally it means as richv explained. when you are overwhelmed with problems, it's hard to remember what your original plan was.

up to your ass in alligators is an expression.. meaning there are so many alligators they pile up to your ass.

in MIke's expression the person came to clean the swamp but the amount of alligators overwhelmed him and he was not able to clean the swamp as he was now more worried with the problem of getting rid of the alligators.

his response was to the person who wanted to learn Japanese but was being responded to by people who weren't so helpful.. (ironically)

it is also part of a quote

Alligator Allegory:
The objective of all dedicated product support employees should be to thoroughly analyze all situations, anticipate all problems prior to their occurrence, have answers for these problems, and move swiftly to solve these problems when called upon. However, when you are up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult to remind yourself that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.

unfortunately for the life of me I can't find the person who originally used this phrase.
Last edited by two_heads_talking on Fri 10.05.2007 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby richvh » Fri 10.05.2007 3:57 pm

A 1987 book? I'm pretty sure I saw that proverb when I was in the Marines, and I got out before that book was published.

A search of Google Groups turns up one message older than the publication date of the book (though only by a few months.)
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby coco » Fri 10.05.2007 10:35 pm

Yudanさん
"up to [one's] eyeballs in" は役立ちそうな阜サです。ご解説、ありがとうございました。

Richさん
的確なご回答、ありがとうございました。

queshaw-san,
Thanks for the informative link. It was very helpful.
リンクをありがとう ございました。とても 参考に なりました。

Two-headsさん
詳細かつ分かりやすいご説明のおかげで
この言葉の意味を誤解なく理解することができたと思います。たぶん。
ありがとうございました。

さだめし
「目標遂行の入り口でつまずくと、当初の目的を思い出すことさえ難しい。」あたりかと。
『マーフィーの法則(Murphy's law)』を思い出しました。

Mikeさんにも「ありがとう」。
Last edited by coco on Sat 10.06.2007 1:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby Hatori » Fri 10.05.2007 11:05 pm

Oh my God... I knew something weird was going to be posted just seeing Mike's name... :o
我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。
lol
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby ss » Sat 10.06.2007 12:07 am

>> Oh my God... I knew something weird was going to be posted just seeing Mike's name...

Weird? I think it's absolutely fine for native Japanese to clear up their doubts in an "English-speaking" forum here. 大チャンス to practise English too. ^^
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby Hatori » Sat 10.06.2007 12:49 am

SS wrote:
>> Oh my God... I knew something weird was going to be posted just seeing Mike's name...

Weird? I think it's absolutely fine for native Japanese to clear up their doubts in an "English-speaking" forum here. 大チャンス to practise English too. ^^

WOAH! I didn't notice that it was a native Japanese speaker posting... I just skimmed through and I'm even confused with Mike's quote. :p
我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。
lol
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby ss » Sat 10.06.2007 1:28 am

Need some Kit-Kat? :p
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby tanuki » Sat 10.06.2007 7:30 am

Tee-hee.

Anyway, coco-san, the only advice I can give is that a 99% of the times the word is used, "ass" doesn't mean "donkey". Or it does mean donkey but with a double-entendre in mind.

The same goes for pairs like "cock" and "rooster", "pussy" and "cat", "bitch" and "female dog"... It's better to use the second one to avoid ambiguity (if you're referring to the animal, of course).

Care should be taken with the word "beaver" as well.
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby SirFirestorm » Sat 10.06.2007 7:49 am

oh dear
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RE: Mike's Proverb

Postby tanuki » Sat 10.06.2007 8:06 am

It was a serious post, this is something learners must sometimes learn the hard way.
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