When you demand that an opponent “Say ‘Uncle’!”, the response is “Uncle!” meaning “I submit!”. They say that the expression has anecdotal origins. What happens when you ask a parrot to say “Uncle”? Will the bird submit or will he repeat the behavior you have shown him? And why the parrot may be the bravest bird of all in the story below.
There was a man who purchased a prattling parrot that was said to speak very well. When he said “Brother” the parrot would reply, “Brother”. When he said “Mother” the parrot would reply, “Mother”.
Happy with himself, the man bragged to his friends that the parrot would repeat anything he said. The man command the parrot “Say ‘Uncle’!” several times in front of his friends, but the parrot did not answer. “Say ‘Uncle’!” The man repeated sternly. No reply. Then the man became irate with the bird, pinned him to the floor and shouted, “Say ‘Uncle’! Say ‘Uncle’, you bugger!” No reply. When the man had enough he shut the parrot up in a coop with his fearsome, fighting fowls. He thought he would teach the parrot a lesson.
The next day the man opened the coop to find the fowls backed against the wall, wide-eyed. In the center of the coop the parrot pinned a fighting fowl to floor and shouted, “Say ‘Uncle’! Say ‘Uncle’, you bugger!”
London Origin as told by me
Hi, my name is Cory Shaw. I am an author and illustrator of books and book covers for children.
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