Knew From

Cidu Bill on Nov 29th 2017


Nothing to do with the comic itself, exactly, but… is “knew from” a construction really common in the Midwest?

Filed in Bill Bickel, Frazz, Jef Mallett, comic strips, comics, humor | 24 responses so far

24 Responses to “Knew From”

  1. qurlyjoe Nov 29th 2017 at 10:41 am 1

    ” is “knew from” a construction really common in the Midwest?”

    yeah, pretty much.

  2. padraig Nov 29th 2017 at 10:43 am 2

    If you know any Jewish folks whatsoever, and most of us do.

  3. Powers Nov 29th 2017 at 11:45 am 3

    I’m curious if Frazz is right, though; how literally did the Greeks take their mythology?

  4. Kamino Neko Nov 29th 2017 at 11:51 am 4

    ‘Knew from’ is one of those Yiddishisms that’s entered dialects not otherwise influenced by Yiddish through pop culture.

  5. James Pollock Nov 29th 2017 at 12:17 pm 5

    To be fair to those Greek storytellers, science hadn’t been invented yet, and all they had was natural philosophers.

    The main difference between a scientist and a natural philosopher is that they both come up with theories to explain the things they see and hear, and the scientist then tests the theories by experiment, while the natural philosopher declines to do so,preferring to rest the success of their theory by rational thought and imagination alone.

  6. Winter Wallaby Nov 29th 2017 at 12:23 pm 6

    When I was growing up in the Midwest, half my friends were Jewish, and this construction sounds weird to me. (”knew X from Y” sounds normal, but not just “knew from X,” as in this comic.)

  7. Vulcan with a Mullet Nov 29th 2017 at 12:51 pm 7

    By the time the familiar Greek myths were being written down during the Classical period, most legends and mythology were being taken not entirely literally. The mass of the populace still believed abstractly in the Olympian gods and obeyed the necessary rituals, but allegorical interpretation was not unknown to them and the elite/intelligentsia/philosophical commentators, at least, were pretty clear about what they considered to be purely allegory and what they considered as “heroic history”.

    So yeah, they were quite aware that the story of Icarus was allegorical. But as the Greek Jewish tailor says, “Euripides jeans, Euminides jeans.”

  8. Anna Nov 29th 2017 at 04:02 pm 8

    In this part of the Midwest, it’s not a Yiddishism so much as a polite version of “knew s**t from Shinola.”

  9. Brian in STL Nov 29th 2017 at 04:18 pm 9

    I guess I’d say it’s not an unfamiliar turn of phrase to me. I’m not sure that I heard often in general conversation around here, but I read a lot and have doubtlessly seen it quite a bit. Had I read this strip just on its own, I doubt I would have even noticed it.

  10. Cidu Bill Nov 29th 2017 at 04:37 pm 10

    Anna, “know x from y” is something different: this is “know from” meaning “know about.”

    I posted the Arlo and Janis comic today because what do I know from Christmas?

  11. DemetriosX Nov 29th 2017 at 04:50 pm 11

    I would guess that in Frazz’s part of the country “know from” is not a Yiddishism, but rather a Germanism/Scandinavianism.

  12. Anna Nov 29th 2017 at 08:42 pm 12

    I took him to mean that the story listeners knew the difference between an allegory and someone talking about the real world.

  13. ja Nov 29th 2017 at 10:14 pm 13

    It doesn’t strike the ear of this Michigander (and Ohio native) as Midwestern.

    DemetriosX may be on the right track that it is a Germanism/Scandinavianism. Frazz appears to be set west of Lansing and North-north east of Grand Rapids. This area is dominated by descendants of Dutch Reformed Calvinists and German Lutheran immigrants. Frazz’s surname is Scottish, not Dutch, but he certainly looks like he could be of Dutch heritage.

    However,the construct certainly could be a Yiddishism, too. MetroDetroit has a large Jewish population. There are pockets of Judaism elsewhere in the state, too. There were a couple of attempts to create Jewish cooperative communities in the later half of the 19th century. There were a number of Jewish apple growers in the west side of the state. And the “Catskills of the Midwest”– an area of some 60 resorts on the southeast coast of Lake Michigan that thrived in the first half of the 20th century– was located only an hour’s drive or so from the approximate location of Bryson Elementary.

  14. Divad Nov 29th 2017 at 10:33 pm 14

    I have no idea how many versions of the Icarus story there are, and how the oldest versions tell it, but one of the earliest I ever read told that wax was not part of the original construction. Daedalus warned his son Icarus to be careful with the wings while they finished preparing to escape, but Icarus was screwing around and broke one. They didn’t have materials to rebuild or properly fix the wing, so wax was used to hold it together. Icarus was then warned not to fly too high, otherwise the wax would melt. Now, it may be that this version was aimed at elementary/middle school age, and was trying to pack two lessons into one story. Icarus ignored paternal advice twice, got carried away in his enthusiasm, and killed himself. And that’s an allegory, kids.

  15. Mark in Boston Nov 29th 2017 at 11:20 pm 15

    Maybe you have to be a geezer to know from “know from”. Much of the humor of the early part of the 20th century came from Jewish people. The Three Stooges, Groucho Marx, Mad Magazine, Allan Sherman. Also heard: “He don’t know from nothin’.” Now I’m not hearing so much of this.

  16. chakolate Nov 29th 2017 at 11:28 pm 16

    It doesn’t strike this Chicagoan (Michigan native) as particularly common, but I’ve certainly heard it before.

  17. Arthur Nov 30th 2017 at 12:07 am 17

    When in doubt, search the Web and hope you get a reasonably
    accurate site. Who knows, this might be one:

    Note that it’s not until we’re halfway into this short article
    that she actually starts talking about “know from”.

  18. Mitch4 Nov 30th 2017 at 12:52 am 18

    I’m familiar with the phrase, but as something of a NPI (negative polarity item - - more natural feeling in a negative than affirmative context)

  19. Powers Nov 30th 2017 at 10:50 am 19

    To me, “knew from” has a slightly different connotation to it than “knew about”. The former implies grokking, a thorough philosophical understanding, whereas the latter is more about facts and basics. But maybe that’s just me.

  20. Cidu Bill Nov 30th 2017 at 11:15 am 20

    Yes, I’ll go with grokking.

  21. Winter Wallaby Nov 30th 2017 at 11:56 am 21

    Arthur #17: Nice article!

  22. Bob Nov 30th 2017 at 02:29 pm 22

    An old phrase I often heard as a youngster - “That dog doesn’t know from sick ‘em.” Never really “grokked” it until many years later, when I figured out “sick ‘em” instead of “siccum”.

  23. chuckers Nov 30th 2017 at 03:38 pm 23

    “I don’t know him from Adam” is a fairly common(?) phrase is it not?

  24. Meryl A Dec 6th 2017 at 01:49 am 24

    Divad - maybe wax hadn’t been invented yet,when the story was first told? :-)

    Natural Philosophy was big with upper middling sorty/gentry class men in the later 1700s (maybe earlier ones also, but that is the period I know best). When visiting the restored homes of people such as Peyton Randolph (president of the 1st Continental Congress - if he had not died we would all be saying “Put your Peyton Randolph on this.”) and George Wythe (in Williamsburg) one sees the sort of items they would have as a result of their interest in same. as well as certainly in Jefferson’s Monticello and a bit in Mt Vernon.

    Know from and knew from are certainly expressions I know from. But then again, no one says that they are proper speaking. Ya’ know?

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