When we are irritated, we sometimes ask others not to compost my brains. And someone says a little differently, using the word “compose”. I must say that this phrase is used not only by people of the older generation. Obviously, it is a reference to a certain composter. People born in the Soviet Union probably remember what it is. But what does the brain have to do with this device?
♥ BY TOPIC: How many people can live without sleep?
There is a “Big Dictionary of Russian Sayings” authored by V.M. Mokienko and T.G. Nikitin. There you can find this phraseological unit – “compost brains.” Yes, yes, with the letter “T” in the middle. The idiom is based on the word “composter”, which refers to a device for compostering tickets and coupons for various types of transport: trams, buses, trolleybuses, railways.
Once in the Soviet Union, passengers were asked to punch their own tickets. They were purchased either at stops, in kiosks, or from the driver, and then lowered into a special device. This composter left special marks on tickets, most often in the form of small holes. So the coupon was redeemed. At the same time, it was impossible to cheat and use a ticket in another bus, tram or trolleybus. The fact is that each composter had a unique pattern. The controller, however, noticing a passenger whose pattern on the coupon did not match the pattern of the composter in this transport, fined the sly one. To prevent people from forgetting to validate their tickets, this was constantly reminded over the speakerphone.
And the inventor of the composter is the Pole Jan Jozef Baranowski. This engineer presented his device for canceling tickets back in 1849 at the National Exhibition in Paris. The composter turned out to be a simple and efficient solution for transport, but it began to be used in various European countries much later. In Poland, the device was called kasownik, and in Germany – der Entwerter.
Varieties of composters
In Germany, the composter began to be used only in the 1960s, and in the Soviet Union the product appeared in general in the 1970s. Around that time, the expression “don’t compost my brains” appeared, its appearance is directly related to the appearance of composters in public transport and constant, slightly annoying, announcements about the need to use it. And the essence of the phrase is that irritation is associated with the constant immersion in the brain of some unpleasant information that leaves caustic traces there. This is exactly the same as composting tickets. When a person is very bothered by someone, personally or with phrases, then the idiom is used “Don’t compost my brains”. Its simpler version is “don’t talk nonsense”.
And now, for 50 years, the ringing phrase lives on. There are no longer composters in transport, many do not know what it is and what brains have to do with it. Meanwhile, the phraseological unit was remembered and preserved in the people’s memory.