Bob’s Your Uncle

May 14, 2019

     There are many phrases and ways to use words throughout history that come and go.  People decide what words best portray the meaning and emphasis that they want and use those words.  Larger groups, of course, have entirely different languages of course that have multiple differences in word and sentence structure but also semantics.  Each language has different ways of saying words like “hi” of equal, unique, and beautiful qualities.  Here are some ways to simply greet people in different languages:

Hellier describes some older English phraseology that aren’t in use much anymore such as the following:

  • To be sure, brother, you know these matters better than I.
  • How do you do, sir?
  • How does all at home?
  • The like to you, madame.

Out of context and without understanding these phrases might seem confusing, silly, or even frustrating. However, with someone or a reliable source to help one understand the meaning and specifics then it becomes easier, more usable, and friendly.  I have learned many phrases like this throughout the years including the phrase “Bob’s your uncle.” 

     “Bob’s your uncle” is a phrase used in Britain to convey a certain meaning.  It is commonly used as a way of expressing how simple a task might be.  For example, I might say, “You twist the new light bulb into the socket, and Bob’s your uncle, you can flip the switch on and it lights up!”  This phrase was unknown to me growing up mostly because I didn’t grow up in Britain and I only heard it on a cruise that I had the opportunity to be on.  The captain of the ship would end every broadcast over the intercom with a, “Bob’s your uncle.”  The way he used the phrase; I assumed it was some way to say goodbye and that he was wishing us a pleasant day somehow.  I also thought he might be saying something along the lines of “There you have it” or “Things are going well”.  Honestly, it wasn’t until I looked up the word on a website today that I figured this information out, but the website also signifies that the name “Bob” might have been used in phrases in the past to also describe something that is good (Bob’s Your Uncle).  I also learned that no one really knows the exact origin of the phrase like many catch phrases, but it was quirky and interesting enough to remain a common phrase throughout the United Kingdom.

      I thought of writing about this phrase because it represents a few concepts to me while working in Lexington.  Firstly, it is a different way to use language.  Language is always changing and many languages are used in the halls of LHS and other schools in this district.  Secondly, it shows the unique task of finding out how to figure out and understand each other in situations where there are people from different cultures.  This has been happening through the history of the world and sometimes comes with confusion and difficulties.  However, this can also come with great growth and becomes easier once more is understood. I feel like the experience I have had in LPS has helped me to understand more and has challenged me to succeed and grow more.

     Ironically, understanding the phrase, “Bob’s your uncle” could lead me to say the words, “Bob’s your uncle” because once I learned the meaning and ways to use them properly, it seemed easier.  Around Lexington Public Schools and many other communities there might be many of these unknown phrases in the form of words, behavior, or body language that people are unaware of.  However, once someone is enlightened of some of these differences, then it seems easy.  Of course, that’s what school is all about; understanding that which is not understood. Once something is understood then it could be improved on and things can start to be more mutually beneficial for everyone involved with what is being learned.  Students can build using math or write using different languages.  They can create robots with computers and jump over bars by flinging themselves up with a long rod.  They can cook food, fix automobiles, weld metal, and sew with practice and knowledge of tools and techniques.  There is so much potential with simply learning how to do a task and seeking empirical guidance on how to do that task.   

 

 

Work Cited

 

Hellier, Cathy. (n.d.). The King’s English: Eighteenth Century Language. Retrieved from     https://www.history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/june03/english.cfm.

 

Bob’s your uncle. World Wide Words: Investigating the English Language.  Retrieved from http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-bob1.htm.

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