An old literary misunderstanding has resurfaced – and it’s glorious
Way back in 2011, in a simpler time before most of us had even heard of Nigel Farage, and the President of the USA wasn’t a business genius who’d managed to bankrupt a casino, a Reddit user named OrdinaryPanda asked this question.
“What word or phrase did you totally misunderstand as a child?”
Amongst the thousands of replies was this one from Lard_Baron, who had a story that was the perfect example of how misunderstandings arise.
“When I was young my father said to me:
“Knowledge is Power….Francis Bacon”
I understood it as “Knowledge is power, France is Bacon”.
For more than a decade I wondered over the meaning of the second part and what was the surreal linkage between the two? If I said the quote to someone, “Knowledge is power, France is Bacon” they nodded knowingly. Or someone might say, “Knowledge is power” and I’d finish the quote “France is Bacon” and they wouldn’t look at me like I’d said something very odd but thoughtfully agree.
I did ask a teacher what did “Knowledge is power, France is bacon” mean and got a full 10 minute explanation of the Knowledge is power bit but nothing on “France is bacon”. When I prompted further explanation by saying “France is Bacon?” in a questioning tone I just got a “yes”. at 12 I didn’t have the confidence to press it further. I just accepted it as something I’d never understand.
It wasn’t until years later I saw it written down that the penny dropped.”
It cropped up again recently, when Twitter user, Polly, told us about her sister’s reaction to a Game of Thrones clip:
My sister just messaged me that she’d seen a Game of Thrones clip that quoted “Knowledge is Power”. She’d immediately responded “France is bacon” and laughed out loud because I once showed her this 2011 Reddit answer by Lard_Baron. pic.twitter.com/QfWl6YOtkz
— Polly (@Paper_Polly) April 12, 2019
Her tweet proved very popular and picked up a lot of appreciative comments.
That is wonderful. Because in a way, France IS bacon.
— Lev Parikian (@LevParikian) April 12, 2019
I just laughed for a solid 30 seconds which is a good way to start a working Saturday. So, thank you.
— Proofreeader (@Bridge_DepEd) April 13, 2019
Best thing I've read in a week.
— Bill🍕Crowder (@gluten_rocks) April 13, 2019
Some people shared their own misunderstandings.
When I was a kid I’d often hear the expression “daft ‘aporth” which I now know means “daft half-penny-worth. At the time I thought the word was “ape the” and presumed that a daft apeth was a kind of silly small ape. It took me well into my 30s to figure out.
— nilsinela boray (@northernheckler) April 13, 2019
I spent most of my childhood wondering what parmers were, as often, with our pasta, we’d have parmers and cheese.
— Peter Jackson (@peterajackson) April 13, 2019
My EngLang A Level tutor @GeraldineRyan set an essay each week. I misheard ‘What may cause language change’ asked for it to be repeated, heard same thing, thankfully she wrote it down or id have written a very different essay! 😳 I heard: ’What makes whores language change’ 😱😅
— Elizabeth Fraser (@Frauhaus) April 13, 2019
A Twitter user named blog had a question.
Are all countries cured pork products? Is England gammon?
— blog (@LogueBernard) April 13, 2019