Any Way You Slice It, I Want My Cake

By February 8, 2008 culture, language No Comments

The beauty in language is its depth and mystery. There is always something new to learn about word origins, proper word usage, and correct pronunciation. I love it!

Even so, sometimes these discoveries take me by such surprise that I feel a little scammed—how is it that I’ve gone for so long in such ignorance? Why is it I’ve never wondered or noticed or come across the truth previously? Are my ears deaf to such things? And if everyone else is privy to it, have they been cringing at my poor speech all these years without telling me?

My most recent discovery is the use of the expression “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” It is often used to pronounce judgment on someone who wishes to have things both ways (both which benefit himself). Little did I know, you really can’t have your cake and eat it too, because that is not even logical.

As noted in Right, Wrong, and Risky, by Mark Davidson, if you have your cake in your possession, why can’t you also eat it? Davidson’s research found that the original 16th-century proverb has, over the years, been reversed, thereby inverting its comparison. The original sentiment was that “you can’t eat your cake and have it too.” This is much more logical: You can’t consume what you have and then expect to still have it.

Makes sense to me! I’ll see what brain gears I fry then next time I attempt to access this expression in the midst of conversation. I would love to use the expression correctly, but that may result in a short in my brain functioning and a stutter in my communication. But I guess I can’t have my cake and eat it too.

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