Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

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Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by tony h » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:21 am

I just ask as I puzzled over why a novel called "one man's meat" was renamed when it was published in the US. It was renamed to: it shouldn't happen to a dog.

fyi I understand the origin of the phrase is:
Quod ali cibus est aliis fuat acre venenum by Lucretius De Rerum Natura iv. 637
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Re: Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:51 am

Lucretius probably should have considered the American audience more when he wrote the thing. He needed a better agent.
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Re: Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:37 pm

Is it written by a word-dog?
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Re: Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by tony h » Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:33 pm

... but is it used by citizens of the USA
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Re: Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by hsargent » Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:34 pm

I'm in the US. We have a similar expression but I think we used "meat". I can't remember or find what else it might have been.

It would sound better with "Puddy". (We like alliteration.)
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Re: Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:18 pm

Tony, I used Google's Ngram Viewer tool to try to find the answer to your question graphically. This tool has certain limitations -- among other things, it doesn't treat apostrophized words as unitary entities, and the length of a phrase sequence is limited to five words.

So I used just part of the expression -- meat is another man -- as a surrogate for the complete proverb One man's meat is another man's poison.

Here are the results for the period 1900-2008 for British English (BrE) and American English (AmE):

BrE: http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?co ... g=3&share=

AmE: http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?co ... g=3&share=

Both graphs show roughly equal and parallel levels of usage in the British and American corpuses, with a decline in the use of that phrase from 0.0000041% in 1900 to 0.0000017% in 2008 for BrE, and from 0.0000045% in 1900 to 0.0000013% in 2008 for AmE. The chief difference was the significantly higher (and relatively constant) prevalence of the expression in BrE during the period 1916-1950, with an average level during that time of around 0.000005%; it peaked in 1926 and 1932 with a level of about 0.0000058%. Hence the rate of decline in AmE during 1900-2008 was steadier (or, if you prefer, less variable).

Abbreviating the phrase to meat is another revealed similar trends and similar prevalence levels, though in AmE the average prevalence level for this version was about 0.0000005% higher than for the longer phrase.

For what it's worth, I asked my (American) wife how familiar the proverb you asked about was to her. She said she thought Americans would probably be more likely to say One man's trash is another man's treasure.

If you want to know more about the Ngram Viewer tool, including how to configure it to enable you to home in more narrowly on the type of result you require, go here.

What prompted your curiosity about the prevalence of the expression in the USA?
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Re: Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by hsargent » Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:27 pm

I have heard trash and treasurer!
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Re: Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:22 am

.. can I venture that in the US the slang usage of meat in reference a man's genitals is common .. with the effusive sensibilities of the US it may have been thought that it might offend somebody who was unaware of the real idiom .. when you think of it those terms >> One man's penis is another man's poison it takes on an interesting meaning ..

Woz who is a carnivore
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Re: Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by tony h » Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:03 am

Erik, thank you. I had been unaware of the ngram tool from Google. I can see myself using it often. The reason for the question was as a result of watching the Flaxborough Chronicals on DVD. An excellent series small town detective story based on the town of Boston (Lincolnshire). Looking up the set of novels I noticed the renaming of some for the US market which led to the question.

Colin Watson's The Flaxborough Novels:
- Coffin, Scarcely Used (1958)
- Bump in the Night (1960)
- Hopjoy Was Here (1962)
- Lonelyheart 4122 (1967)
- Charity Ends at Home (1968)
- The Flaxborough Crab (1969) - U.S: Just What the Doctor Ordered
- Broomsticks over Flaxborough (1972) - U.S: Kissing Covens
- The Naked Nuns (1975) - U.S: Six Nuns and a Shotgun
- One Man's Meat (1977) - U.S: It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog
- Blue Murder (1979)
- Plaster Sinners (1980)
- Whatever's Been Going on at Mumblesby? (1982)
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Re: Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:21 am

Strange things happen for the American market. I watched "Skyfall" on the aeroplane coming home from Australia. In his psychological test, Bond is asked to supply a word for country; he answered "England". A Scotsman may have answered "Britain", "U.K." or "Scotland", but is as likely to answer Peru as England.

Later in the film he was handed his "father's hunting rifle" which was, as far as I could see, a twelve-bore shotgun.

By the way, I got a wiggly line for 'aeroplane', does that mean it's not a word? :-)
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Re: Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:38 am

Bobinwales wrote:...Bond is asked to supply a word for country; he answered "England". A Scotsman may have answered "Britain", "U.K." or "Scotland", but is as likely to answer Peru as England.
That's how a Scotsman demonstrates that perudence is a virtue.
Bobinwales wrote:Later in the film he was handed his "father's hunting rifle" which was, as far as I could see, a twelve-bore shotgun.
I have known people who could bore enough for twelve. I found them almost impossible to bond with.
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Re: Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:40 pm

Erik - I checked on {meat is another man's,is another man's poison} on an Ngram, and got beautiful close and near-parallel curves. Adding 'meat is another man' gives a far lower frequency. Perhaps the Ngram doesn't recognise 'meat is another man' as part of 'meat is another man's. One really has to know the inner workings of the device (and probably very few people do) - accidental or deliberate skewings are well attested.
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Re: Does the US use One man's meat is another man's poison

Post by John Barton » Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:48 am

This proverb is one of a rather long list of contradictory ones. The converse being:
"Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander".
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