Lynne_Abraham_75_Great_Philadelphians

How to speak Lynne Abraham: Translating the 73-year-old’s Philly Mag Q&A into modern English

Lynne Abraham did an interview with PhillyMag that was published earlier today and in it the 73-year-old mayoral candidate shared her views on pot, schools, race and crime among other topics. You may have had a tough time understanding it, though — some of her idioms are a bit old-fashioned.

But don’t worry — Billy Penn has translated Lynne into language you can understand.

Abraham on Obama: “We see that in our President, who had youth and handsomeness and brightness. Hasn’t served him well, because he didn’t know the nuances of governing, and he’s gotten his head handed to him 12 different ways.”

Translation: Abraham actually got this saying a little wrong. She likely meant “hat handed to him.” That expression refers to the Revolutionary War era practice of handing a gentleman his hat on his way out the door, i.e. kicking him out. So, Abraham is throwing shade on the president. His good looks, ability to play basketball and computer smarts don’t count for anything, not like being old and experienced does!

Abraham on schools: “The problems kids face today are entirely different than the problems I faced. First of all, we didn’t have television. We didn’t have all these electronic devices.”

Translation: This is less of a translation than an observation, but it deserves some space here. When Abraham was a kid going to school she called friends on rotary phones like this:

She could unwind by tuning into “Bandstand,” which wasn’t even hosted by Dick Clark until Abraham was 15 — but, as she says, she didn’t have television. So there’s a reason why Abraham doesn’t quite understand that Uber thing. Also she doesn’t use e-mail.

Abraham on decriminalizing marijuana: “Let’s just cut through all the baloney. Let’s just get to what’s real and what’s fake. It’s a fake program. The kids who are stupid enough to give their real name and address will come in for a program.”

Translation: Baloney, the way Abraham uses it, traces back to the 1930s. Apparently former New York governor and presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith used that word to describe the bureaucrats in D.C. So Abraham is saying the measure requiring possessors of marijuana to attend a counseling program won’t be adequately enforced.

Abraham on opposing the decriminalization of weed because it could harm kids: “There isn’t any free lunch with drugs.”

Translation: Free lunch dates back to the 1850s, when saloons used to give customers free food. Abraham says that using drugs will always lead to painful consequences: “I can tell you that we are going to pay a heavy cost for all this fun and games that we think is so great.”

Abraham on councilman Jim Kenney’s marijuana bills: “They’re not worth the paper they’re written on.”

Translation: Early 20th century film producer Samuel Goldwyn made this saying famous — and actually, it’s something Wikipedia calls “a well-reported misrepresentation.” Goldwyn once said “His verbal contract is worth more than the paper it’s written on.” Either way, this means Abraham is not down with the decriminalization of pot.

Abraham on charter schools not always living up to their promise: I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions. There are, but if they had their druthers I think, all parents, they want their kid to have a good quality education, the same as they had.

Translation: “If they had their druthers,” is a saying that dates back to the 19th century, too. The phrase “If I had my druthers,” was also the title of a song by Johnny Mercer and Bobby Darin. They were popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Druthers means having your preference. Abraham believes parents want their kids to have a good education.

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