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Where is that good-for-nothing son of yours? Options
onsen
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2018 7:18:28 AM
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Hello,

Quote:
Where is that good-for-nothing son of yours?
Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries.

On what occasion from whom and to whom is this sentence spoken?

Thank you
Hope123
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2018 10:01:08 AM

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Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Hi Onsen.

That phrase is not really appropriate anywhere, unless you are trying to start a fight - maybe with a step parent. Every parent does not like to hear their offspring is lazy and is "good-for-nothing". Of course if they agree with you, or if it is an "in" joke, that's a different story.

The past is to be respected/acknowledged, not worshipped. It is in our future we will find our greatness. Pierre Trudeau
Wilmar (USA)
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2018 10:16:52 AM

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You need to be very careful using expressions like this "as a joke". Most people won't see it that way.
Ashwin Joshi
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2018 11:18:42 AM

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Hi Hope123, what is an 'in' joke? I dont know.

Me Gathering Pebbles at The Seashore.-Aj
Gabriel82
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2018 12:56:35 PM

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onsen wrote:
Hello,

Quote:
Where is that good-for-nothing son of yours?
Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries.

On what occasion from whom and to whom is this sentence spoken?

Thank you


This phrase would only be spoken in anger, from a stepfather to the mother of the child, or a father to a mother (when the father doesn't want to recognize the son as his or is saying this to imply the "son" has inherited few or none of the father's qualities).

Actually, this might have been appropriately said of the parents that went to court to evict their 30-year old son from their basement (yes, it was a real court case).
NKM
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2018 1:30:26 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/14/2015
Posts: 4,960
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Location: Corinth, New York, United States
Ashwin Joshi wrote:
Hi Hope123, what is an 'in' joke? I dont know.

══════════════════════════════════════════════

An "in" or "inside" joke is one which can only be understood by someone who is "in on" whatever it's about.

For example, "It's only one scoop!" has recently become an "inside joke" punchline at my house. To anyone not aware of the situation in which the phrase was uttered (by my great-grandson), it would be worthy of nothing but a blank stare; to those of us who are "in the know", it's funny because it invokes the memory of something that we laughed about on a particular occasion.

(Also called "private joke".)

Romany
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2018 7:54:26 PM
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Joined: 6/14/2009
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Onsen,

I completely agree with the others that it's not something you should say.

However, I see that all the answers you have received come from North America.

So, just in case you come across it somewhere else - in a book or movie from another source:- it could be puzzling if it's two people who know each well, or are fond of each other, or are related. You might wonder why one of them is suddenly insulting the other, or being rude to them.

This is because in that case, it wouldn't be meant badly at all. A Brit/Aussie/Pacific Islander etc. uses "insults" rather differently - it shows a close bond and is meant jokingly. The more we like someone the more we "insult" each other! It's a cultural thing. And the tone of voice we'd use wouldn't be angry or nasty at all.

So no, don't use it - even to someone you know well, if it isn't part of their culture. Besides which, it's also a fairly old phrase and is unlikely to be used by younger people any more.

onsen
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2018 8:25:56 PM
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Joined: 9/14/2017
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Romany wrote:

The more we like someone the more we "insult" each other! It's a cultural thing.


It is a case of 'Familiarity breeds contempt', isn't it. I'm careful of this proverb.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, June 4, 2018 10:08:01 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi Onsen.

No, it's nothing to do with contempt - the very opposite.

The môres of communication demand politeness at all times. Except in extreme cases of anger, you will not often hear a British person seriously insulting anyone, we don't say things which offend people (normally). Also you will rarely hear a British person express how much he or she likes someone, either. However, it is not only British - It definitely applies in Australia and South Africa - and, I should imagine, all over the world.

The main time you DO hear insults is when they are not meant - they 'cover up' the feelings of friendship and love which are not expressed.

These excerpts are from an article in "Elite Daily" - written by a New Yorker.
Quote:
If you’ve ever met me or any of my guy friends and managed to overhear one of our standard conversations over a cup of coffee and some bagels, you’d probably think we didn’t like each other very much.
I’m rarely rude to people I don’t know or don't like. I'm only rude to people I do like.
Realistically, when we insult each other, we’re actually showing affection -- albeit in a fairly unusual way. But when you truly feel comfortable around someone, you won’t feel the need to feign compassion or walk on eggshells with regard to their feelings.
Nobody enjoys being around the person who can’t laugh at him or herself. Friends who mess around with each other encourage playfulness with regard to subjects that may appear the most touchy -- like ourselves, for instance.

So - yes, it's true that a question like that would only be heard in cases of extreme anger or in cases where the two people talking (and the son) were very good friends.
"good-for-nothing" does sound a little 'old-fashioned', though.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Eoin Riedy
Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2018 12:27:18 AM

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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Your question made me think of a World War I song from a hundred years ago about a girl who grew being called "good-for-nothing":

"The Little Good For Nothing's Good For Something After All"
Ashwin Joshi
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2018 12:02:25 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/3/2016
Posts: 1,421
Neurons: 74,351
Location: Jandiāla Guru, Punjab, India
NKM wrote;

An "in" or "inside" joke is one which can only be understood by someone who is "in on" whatever it's about.

For example, "It's only one scoop!" has recently become an "inside joke" punchline at my house. To anyone not aware of the situation in which the phrase was uttered (by my great-grandson), it would be worthy of nothing but a blank stare; to those of us who are "in the know", it's funny because it invokes the memory of something that we laughed about on a particular occasion.

(Also called "private joke".)

Thanks NKM. I get it.

Me Gathering Pebbles at The Seashore.-Aj
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