What can you send your grandfather to the village? And why – to grandfather and not grandmother? It would seem that women are more sensitive to correspondence. Let’s look for the answer in the history of the phraseological unit.
The phrase “to the village of grandfather” means “to nowhere.” This is what they say about shipments that do not have an address. If a person himself does not really know where he is going or to which address he is sending something, he is asked with irony: “To the village, grandfather?” This expression is also used when the sender imagines the destination of the addressee in the most general terms.
A thirteen-year-old schoolgirl writes a letter to Bilan and, hoping that every postman knows her favorite singer, points to the envelope: “Dmitry Bilan”. It is unlikely that such a message will fall on the table of a star.
A guy from a distant provincial town goes to Moscow to visit relatives whom he has never seen. He thinks he’ll get off the train and find their home right there. But without knowing the exact address, it is useless to look for relatives in the capital: Moscow is big. It turns out that a young man was driving, not knowing where – to the village to see his grandfather.
However, digital technology is advancing so rapidly that both of these examples are outdated. Satellite maps, social networks, fan sites and email servers are very helpful for modern people in navigation. So even the inscription “to the village of grandfather” can be slightly concretized and taken as a very real point of the route.
The origin of the phraseological unit
The source of this expression is fiction. The phrase came to us from the story of A. Chekhov “Vanka”, published in the “Petersburg newspaper” in 1886. An orphan boy, after the death of his parents, arranged as an apprentice to a shoemaker, writes to his grandfather how hard it is for him to live in strangers.
He asks his grandfather to take him to the village, fondly remembering how good it was there. But children’s hopes are not destined to come true: the boy does not remember his home address. On the envelope, he simply writes: “To the village to grandfather Konstantin Makarovich.”
It always amazed me how this piercing detail of the story, thanks to which many children’s hearts learn to feel pain and compassion for the first time, turned into an ironic phraseological unit.
Today we do not remember that the tragedy was hidden behind the phrase “to the village of grandfather” and we only smile at the stupidity of some senders. But each expression, as you can see, has its own destiny.
If we take as a basis the general meaning of the idiom “it is not known where”, “in an incomprehensible direction”, you can pick up several synonyms for it:
- where Makar did not drive the calves;
- where the eyes look;
- there, I don’t know where;
- to the Kudykina mountain.
Moving away from sentimentality, let us summarize. If you want the information to reach the recipient, it is better to thoroughly clarify the address.