Phrase of the day: Tell it to the judge!

A couple of weeks ago, as part of the ADVANCED LANGUAGE AND CULTURE course I was teaching at the time, we discussed recent literary trends here in the UK. We looked at the best-selling books in different genres and talked about what the sales of certain titles might say about the state of society. As part of this discussion, we touched on the rise and rise of erotic fantasy over recent years – and the fact it’s often disparagingly referred to as mummy porn! Of course, much of the success of erotic fantasy is down to the incredible success of the Fifty Shades trilogy.

It has frequently been argued that the relationship between the dominant, authoritarian and very wealthy male character and his submissive female employee that is at the heart of the book struck a chord with women longing for a return to more traditional gender roles, to an age when men were men and women were women! Whatever the reasons for the books’ success, there’s no doubt it’s been a massive global phenomenon, with sales currently at 125 million and counting! I mentioned a flight I took a few years ago now on which every other women seemed to be reading Fifty Shades, and at this point one of my Polish students let slip the fact that she’d also read the book.

Now personally, I don’t think there’s any shame in having read a book, whatever the book may be, but from my student’s reaction, I could see she was slightly embarrassed about this admission. “I only read it to see what all the fuss was about – not because I really wanted to”, she began, “and of course I thought it was rubbish, you know” . . . . to which I replied “Yeah, yeah. Tell it to the judge!”

We often use this phrase to respond to someone when we think they’re not being entirely honest about something bad that they’ve done. It’s a way of saying we think they’re just trying to make excuses for their actions – and that we don’t buy these excuses. So, for example, imagine that your partner comes home very late one day, having clearly had a few drinks, and looking very guilty. As they start telling you that they really hadn’t planned to stay out so late and that they just went for one drink after work, but then got forced to stay for another, and one thing led to another, you can listen and laugh quietly to yourself before cutting them dead with this great one-liner: Yeah, yeah! tell it to the judge! Conversation over – and moral victory well and truly won.

Want to take the ADVANCED LANGUAGE AND CULTURE course with us here in London this summer? Email for details.

  • When was the last time you could’ve told someone to tell it to the judge?
  • Have you read any of the Fifty Shades books? Why do you think they’ve been so successful?
  • What other recent global phenomenons can you think of?
  • Have you ever read / seen something just to find out what all the fuss was about?
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2 Responses

  1. Ameenah Hajeej says:

    How funny that we use a similar phrase in our Algerian dialect, it literally tanslates into: “forgiveness is granted by the judge” 😀

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