No matter how many times you tell some stories, certain expressions bear repeating, especially when the phrase itself becomes synonymous with a particular holiday. As is the case all too often in this phrase game of "I Didn't Know That," some classics are handed down like your grandmother's china pattern and today's phrase is one such example.
Ladies and gentlemen, today we're going to talk turkey.
An expression used year round, talking turkey suggests that you're getting down to brass tacks (a phrase we'll save for another time). In short, it means you're talking frank (and I don't mean hot dogs...I mean gut level honest. Gut level being yet another expression that will have to keep for now.)
Whether myth or legend, story has it, the first turkey talk was attributable to a pre-thanksgiving exchange wherein a white man and a native American Indian go to divvying up their take after a day of hunting birds.
According to my sources, the spoils of this hunt consisted of three crows and two wild turkeys, the exchange for which spawned the phrase.
First, the white man gives the Indian a crow, taking for himself a turkey. Next he gives the Indian another crow, and takes for himself the second turkey. In what appears to be a 3 to 2 exchange, the white man extends his hand to give the Indian the third crow, at which point the Indian objects, only for the white man to point out that the Indian was given three birds to his two. It is at this point (we're told) that the Indian wisely replies, "We stop talk birds, we now talk turkey."
As to whether this exchange truly happened, well who can say? But the bottom line is that talking turkey is a sure fire way to cut to the chase.
Karlen Evins is the author of Southern to the Core and the "I Didn't Know That" series of books and columns. For more information please visit www.karlenevins.com