Say it ‘with’ Elephants…

  • Why is it that from the majority of characters in children’s stories it is elephants that appear the most as models of exemplary behaviour? Elephants are typically pictured as surrogates for human “and their concern for the community and each other is depicted as something to which to aspire”: isolated young elephants going back to close-knit communities or elephant heroes; The Elephant’s Child by R Kipling’s Just So Stories, Disney’s Dumbo, The Saggy Baggy Elephant by Kathryn and Byron Jackson, Jean de Brunhoff’s Babar, David McKee’s Elmer and Dr. Seuss’s Horton. (Quotes from Andrews)
  • ‘seeing the elephant’… an American phrase of the mid-late 19th century. This mythical elephant was a very common way of expressing overwhelming emotions. It is found often in historical newspapers and journals, on tales of the American Civil War and Gold Rush adventures. Particularly found on accounts by the pioneers crossing lands towards a different coast of USA, often negatively used expressing the hardships of the journey.
  • What is an ‘elephant test’? The term has been used for long to describe a situation which is difficult to explain but easily recognizable when spotted. The term ‘elephant test’ is also used in the legal jargon when cases present important issues which are open to interpretation. An example in Cadogan Estates Ltd v Morris: “This seems to me to be an application of the well known elephant test. It is difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it”.