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Picture of arnie
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When I was a kid and found myself coughing or choking on something my grandmother used to say, "Choke up chicken!" while patting me on the back. I've not thought about it until now, when I met a colleague at work who was coughing and spluttering. I cheerily said, "Choke up chicken!" and he gave me a most peculiar look.

Have other wordcrafters come across this phrase? I Googled it and found only five hits, three of which were dead ends. One, Hometruths, refers to the author saying it and realising he'd inherited the phrase from his father. One Google hit (which no longer seems to contain the same text) seemed to expand the phrase: "Choke up chicken, it might be a gold watch!".


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I haven't heard the "choke up chicken" part but my Dad does say "cough it up, it might be a gold watch". "it might be a gold watch" gets over 5000 ghits. The full phrase as used by my Dad gets a mere 22 ghits.
 
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That's a new one for me. I've heard of choking the chicken, and that probably explains the peculiar look.
 
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Never heard of it . . . nor of the "it might be a gold watch" thing. Wonder if it's an old joke?


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~Dalai Lama
 
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Yeah, what neveu said. Eek A bit bawdy here in the USA.
 
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I've never heard it either. That one's strictly British. My mother-in-law used to say "arms up" when the grandkids were choking. It really worked too. No chickens anywhere though.

WM
 
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quote:
Originally posted by wordmatic:
I've never heard it either. That one's strictly British.


Seems to be strictly arnie. Smile
 
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quote:
Seems to be strictly arnie

Not quite! At least one other person (British) in the world has used it; see the link in my original post. Smile


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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In this link it says "gold watch being some bizarre ryhming [sic] slang for phelgm [sic]." That's strange. Do they mean Cockney rhymes, do you think? (This Aytch might want to bone up on his spelling. Wink)
 
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"Gold watch" is Cockney Rhyming Slang for "Scotch" in my experience (Scotch being, of course, the drink, not the nationality).


Richard English
 
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That link of Kalleh's gives a real treaury of weird sayings. Many of them appear to be Scottish. I've heard several of the others, though. I can't think of a word that "gold watch" might be rhyming slang for; it looks like a guess by the poster; as Richard says, it's usually slang for Scotch (whisky). I'd say it's just used as an example of an expensive object. "Diamond ring" would fit just as well.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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No gold watches on the 9th., Arnie - but a tidy few glasses of pig's, I reckon. Young's bar at around 1220, if my train's on time and the queue's not too long.


Richard English
 
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but a tidy few glasses of pig's

Shouldn't that be pigs' (ears) for beers? I suppose if there were only two jars, it could be the same pig, but after that, you'd have multiple pigs.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I don't think that apostrophisation is a strong point amongst Cockney Rhyming Slang creators ;-)

But my belief is that the rhyme itself is pig's (or pigs') ear (not ears), meaning beer (not beers). Once the rhyme has gained currency then it is treated as a noun in its own right.

So "titfer" (tit for tat = hat) would be used as would the noun hat, regardless of its etymology.


Richard English
 
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I was just joshing you, Richard. I see I misread your post. Obviously, a few glasses of beer is what was meant. I was just wondering how one would pluralize pig's. If I wanted to say "I had one too many beers last night" in Cockney rhyming slang, would I say "I 'ad one too many pig'ses" or "I 'ad one too many pigs'"? That's all. Sorry for my confusion.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Actually you'd probably say, "Gosh. I was Brahms last night!"


Richard English
 
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Brahms

OK. Or Oliver or Schindler's?


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Maybe. Or perhaps "Elephant's"


Richard English
 
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... Or Scotch (Mist).


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Ok, boys - can you translate for me, now, please? <smiles kindly>


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"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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Starting with elephant's (trunk) 'drunk', and going through the others: Brahms (and Liszt), Oliver (Twist), Schindler's (List), and Scotch (Mist) 'pissed', i.e., 'drunk'.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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No wonder I couldn't translate either--I think of "pissed" in its American slang meaning: i.e., angry, annoyed, sore-headed--not drunk. Tnx for the translation, Zmj!

WM
 
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Yep, me too, Wordmatic...unless you're trying to say one has "urinated."

Clever, boys! Smile
 
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No wonder I couldn't translate either--I think of "pissed" in its American slang meaning: i.e., angry, annoyed, sore-headed--not drunk.

I had noted this difference myself and put it down to the difference between Dudweiser and real beer. Real beer makes you pleasantly merry and lets you wake up with a clear head; Dudweiser doesn't get you merry but is likely to make you vomit and wake up with a foul headache and dyspepsia.

Thus the difference between the slang terms since the result of Dudweiser drinking is likely to be annoyance and the result of proper beer drinking is pleasure. Thus "pissed" in the USA means annoyed; in the UK, drunk.

Well, it's a theory of sorts Wink


Richard English
 
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In the UK we might say "I'm pissed off" with something meaning that we were annoyed with it. On its own, though, "I'm pissed" means "I'm drunk", not "I'm annoyed".


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Thus the difference between the slang terms since the result of Dudweiser drinking is likely to be annoyance and the result of proper beer drinking is pleasure. Thus "pissed" in the USA means annoyed; in the UK, drunk.
I'm thinking Language Log (or Snopes for that matter!) would disagree with that etymological theory. Roll Eyes
 
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Arnie, back to your original thread, I just found this site after googling "Choke Up Chicken", (I had just had a similar experience to you; used the phrase and my colleagues thought I was slightly peculiar!). It was a phrase that I grew up with, and now say without thinking, and certainly one my sons are growing up with hearing - maybe its regional specific, I grew up in Windsor and seemed perfectly "normal" there, but my colleagues are from "the north" and have never heard it. You'll be glad to know that there are others that use/d it, not just you, your grandma, my family, but a transcript of an old Radio 4 programme used it, the journalist fearing he's turning into his Dad by using the old phrases. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hometruths/0227davesmith.shtml
 
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Just looking for this phrase online and I found this thread - the phrase as I know it is 'cough up chicken, you might find a gold watch down there' and my colleague also just looked at me most peculiarly! I think my stepmother used to say it - she is part english, part canadaian, so I don't know where she got it from, but all us kids say it now... and I expect my kids will too!
 
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Somehow I missed Ben's post in January, and now we've got another! That's four people who've posted here, plus the guy who posted on the BBC blog who've heard the phrase or variations thereof. I feel strangely vindicated; it wasn't just an invention after all! Wink


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Isn't it interesting, what brings people to our discussion boards?


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"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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welcome, greenwaterbaby!
 
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Yes, WELCOME, greenwaterbaby. Enjoy your time here.

00--00--00--00--00--00--00--00--00--00

If this other meaning for Choking The Chicken has been mentioned, I missed it.
 
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Jerry,

neveu mentioned it in the third post to this thread, but didn't actually define the meaning. I think he felt he didn't need to. Wink


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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This may be completely after the fact but I came across this message board and found it extremely relevant. I was looking for a "cleaner" definition of this phrase after blurting it out at work, and being completely laughed out by co-workers. My Welsh Grandmother always said this when anyone was coughing, and I use it all the time. I figured this was yet another weird UK phrase that no one else knew (my gram was a lady and wouldn't use inappropriate phrases).

Glad to know Gram wasn't not nuts!!! Smile
 
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Welcome, PolarBear. Pull up a chair and stay awhile. Wink
 
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Both sides of my family hail from the Midwest (of the USA), and EVERYONE (up until I decided that the phrase was just too weird for repeating and forcibly stopped myself from saying it in public) says a variant of this when people are coughing too hard to get a word in; 'Choke a chicky'. No one knows why the chick needs to be choked, but they say it.

We're mostly descended from German pig farmers, but there's a bit of English mixed in there as well. American mutts, as my mom says. It's nice to know that this phrase seems to have an origin.
 
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I always enjoy using new words or phrases. Except when the company either erupts into uproarious laughter or glares balefully at me for using a term which everyone else knows the dirty version.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Nice to see you here, sketchy! We hope you'll stay with us.
 
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Hi - just found this board when Googling some of my Nan's well-known phrases - she died this morning at the age of 93 and I've been talking to my son about her. One of them was "Choke up chicken - it might be a gold watch" said when you were coughing. I'm a bit non-plussed by the lewd connotations and certainly it wouldn't have even occurred to my Nan!

Anyway, she was born in Middlesex/London and lived all her life in the South. It's rather nice to know other people use it - most of my contemporaries have never heard it. I said it to my kids and I hope that they'll say it to theirs. I certainly am not going to stop using it because someone might snigger - their problem, not mine....

There are a few other references elsewhere. But no coherent explanation of where it comes from.

She had quite a few of these strange sayings including "Hang on the bell, Nellie" which turns out to be from a (rather mawkish) song recorded in the 40's. No doubt others will come back to me over the next few weeks...

My lovely Nan!
 
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Hello huggermugger,

Sorry to learn about your nan, but I am sure that you will have some wonderful memories of her and her sayings.

Anyway, welcome to our board; you will find we are a friendly crowd with diverse interests but with a common enthusiasm for the English language. We are spread around the world but have a significant presence in England, so you're among (relatively) local friends. Feel free to prowl around and add your comments to others' postings - or even to start some of your own.


Richard English
 
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You also have my condolences. We are, as Richard said, a friendly crowd, more like a family than a community. I hope you can stay around for a while.
 
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Thank you to you both.
 
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Hi all, bit late to the party but hey ho. I recently moved from London to the USA and i ALWAYS say "cough up chicken". Now i get very very odd looks from my husband and his family when i do. I was looking around for a definition and came across this site...well i have had a good giggle and am really please to see that i'm not going crazy! PS I read the BBC Radio 4 link and was amused to see "going up the stairs to Bedfordshire" my mum has always used it and I'm sure i will as well.
 
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I hope you've not suffered too much culture shock with your move, Purpletoe! Welcome to the asylum!

Geoff


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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My parents/grandparents used "up the wooden stairs to Bedfordshire". Looking at it now I wonder about the "wooden" part. We didn't have marble staircases in our home so all stairs were made of wood. I wonder why the qualifier was included?


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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We used to say, "Up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire".


Richard English
 
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There was a song in the mid-'30s called Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire that I believe Vera Lynn covered. Bed from Bedfordshire is pretty obvious, but I am not sure about the wooden, unless it means wooded. I knew a fellow who'd fought in the Second World War in a regiment from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and he and his mates always called it the Dear Old Beds and Herts


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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but I am not sure about the wooden, unless it means wooded

Our stairs were made of wood. Wooden Hill seemed obvious to me.


Richard English
 
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Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire

Here are the lyrics.

If you want to see a horribly-designed website, click on the link at the bottom of the page.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Originally posted by Geoff:
I hope you've not suffered too much culture shock with your move, Purpletoe! Welcome to the asylum!

Geoff


Thank you Geoff, I've done my best to completely confuse everyone with everything i say that is typically British!
 
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