I found an article, titled “The mystery of people who speaks dozen of languages” written by Judith Thurman in the latest New Yorker (September 3 issue) very intriguing.
She introduces a 27-year old Peruvian linguist, Miguel Rojas-Bersia, a doctorial candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistic, who has good command of 22 living languages including English, French, German,Italian, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Hakka Chines, Japanese, Korean, Serbian, Esperanto, and so on, 13 of which he speaks fluently and is versed to classic languages such as Latin, Ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew. Thurman describes this young hyper polyglot as;
“He looks like any other laid-back young tourist, except for the intense focus – all senses cocked –with which he takes in a new environment. Linguistics is a formidable discipline.
I have no idea about the phrase, “all senses cocked,” and I checked several English dictionaries at hand as well as online dictionaries without avail.
What does “all senses cocked” mean? Is it a common English phrase?