I got to thinking today about colloquialisms. What exactly is the son of a gun? Where did he come from? And why is it a boy and not a girl? Surely if a gun can reproduce, it can have sons and daughters.
Why is it so normal for someone to exclaim, "Son of a gun!" when something goes poorly or when a discovery is found? My colleague and I got to chatting about it, and we decided that we want to replace "son of a gun" with "daughter of a pistol." Much more politically correct in these pre-election days, and it sounds fresh and new.
Since I was so curious, I turned to my good friend Google who referred me to Wikipedia. I know that Wikipedia isn't always the most accurate source, but they're usually pretty darn close. And they always let you know when they're unsure. At any rate, I discovered a few things. First, there are many, many songs that contain this phrase. My two favorite references are from "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" - " I told you once, you son of a gun, that I'm the best there's ever been." and from "Girlfriend (Cupid's Chokehold)" - If I had to choose her or the sun, I'd be one nocturnal son of a gun." (At this point, if I were blogger techno-savvy, I might attach a clip of each song...but I don't know how to!).
The other interesting thing was that the phrase is prevalent in both British and American English, but they have different origins. "In British naval slang this term refers to a child of questionable parentage conceived on the gun deck, hence 'son of a gun'. However, children born on board British naval vessels to enlisted men were referred to as a 'true son of a gun'." And "In American folk idiom (American), this term has similar meaning to the British one, but was derived from military bureaucratic treatment of young enlisted men of uncertain familial background." Isn't it amazing that two different cultures would come up with the same phrase in similar ways?
Check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_a_gun
So, my goal is to forget "son of a gun" and go with "daughter of a pistol." Help me spread the word!!