Kvetching

Meaning – To yammer on about trivial details – pendantry. Example:

Tabula can be translated as ‘wring board’. So tabula rasa would be a slate to use as a writing board. Maybe the concept ‘tabula rasa’ meant clean slate to someone spoke latin. You’d have to be a latin speaker to know.
It’s a problem with all languages. A series of words may convey a concept. But you can’t necessarily translate those words over into another language & retain the concept. My ex wife would accuse me of coming in in my big shoes. I know what that means in french. I’m damned if I can think of an equivalent phrase in english gives the same concept. Certainly nothing containing either shoes or big. “to walk all over someone” is close.

29 thoughts on “Kvetching”

  1. Touché, Tim. My point was neither tabula nor rasa translate as clean, latin > english
    But car names. What were Ford thinking about when they named their mid range, ’60s saloon the “curtain”.

  2. A Mexican/American comic had a lovely bit about Chevy. “Why did the call a car “No Go”?” The Chevy Nova……

  3. Well no, kvetch just means ‘complain’, with an implication of ‘habitually.’ Sorry (not) to be pendantic. I would have thought that tabula rasa = blank slate was thoroughly domesticated in English by now, but I suppose the decline of learning may be re-wilding it.

  4. “I would have thought that tabula rasa = blank slate was thoroughly domesticated in English by now,”
    By certain of the English, to ostentatiously demonstrate a particular education. And slightly amusing, because the written “high” latin is fairly obviously not what actual latin speakers actually spoke. Most of them would have been as confused by such bon mots as a lot of us are. “Clean sheet” would be more common & comprehensible

  5. “Emm Errrr Deux”; “Merde”

    Heh, heh. It’s said that the name Merlin was introduced into the Arthurian legends because the historical character on which he is based was called Myrddin. Since the Normans didn’t know how to pronounce the Welsh dd they thought the name in bad taste, hence the adaptation.

    It must be true I read it in a book.

  6. A Spanish professor spent some time hammering on my son’s class over using American idioms translated directly to Spanish. The idioms have meaning in English; translating directly to Spanish creates gibberish.

  7. @BiS… Re “The Ford Curtain”, I think they wanted to associate it with the “glamour” of the ski-resort Cortina d’Ampezzo. I know that for an advertising campaign for the car Jim Clark and a couple of other GP drivers took a Lotus Cortina down the bob-run at said resort.

    Re nothing in particular, the Ford Pinto didn’t sell too well in Brazil (I think) as the word “pinto” was slang for “cock” (not the feathered variety). 🙂 I’ve also mused on the naming of the current Nissan “Juke”, as ISTR that the “juke box” got its name from its use in “juke joints”, which were I believe, amongst other things, brothels.

  8. I think the Welsh “dd” is pronounced like the soft “th” in the English word “mother.” I was told the Welsh use the letters “th” for the harder sound in the English word “moth.” (Hides away, ready to be pounced on from a great height by a Welsh speaker!)

  9. Try literally translating something into another language and then back again. A friend of the family was studying Russian and translated “Out of sight, out of mind.” to another student. When translated back, it came out as “Invisible idiot”.

  10. There’s an italian comic who does an act with italian versus english sayings. nobody’s perfect versus the Italian version Jesus, our lord and saviour, made only 12 choices and still he made a mistake. (though can’t envision Osgood saying that)

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain October 19, 2020 at 9:52 am – “Most of them would have been as confused by such bon mots as a lot of us are. “Clean sheet” would be more common & comprehensible”

    That may be so. But Aristotle referred to the young human mind as a blank writing slate. Not in Latin I admit. But it would seem to have been a reasonable analogy to use for educated people in the Classical period.

    After all, its modern use is mainly from John Locke and I doubt he knew much about clean slates. They were probably still in use in the wider UK – certainly in Scotland – but maybe not among his class.

    So I would think Locke lifted it from a classical source – perhaps quoting Aristotle.

  12. BiS: I wonder if the Welsh ever used thorns. Common in Anglo-Saxon but nowadays, I think it’s only the Icelanders who use them.

  13. ” I wonder if the Welsh ever used thorns. Common in Anglo-Saxon but nowadays,”

    Was there a welsh written language? They seem to have adopted latin characters fairly early. Since there seems an obvious relationship between eth & the welsh double-d (english misuse of y in ye – the?) seems likely.

    Always seems a shame to me we don’t use some of the archaic letters in modern english. Just to fuck-over forriners for their accents.

  14. The Icelanders use “thorn” symbol a lot (can’t see how to get it on my phone).

    Anyway foreigners have enough trouble with “th” as it is.
    To my utter despair a singing competition on Jerry telly was announced as Ze Woice of Chermany by its announcer. I was only watching cos Nena was on it (she’s still lovely but completely hatstand).

  15. Diogenes pissing on the chips again

    ” A Mexican/American comic had a lovely bit about Chevy. “Why did the call a car “No Go”?

    Is it an iron law that every assertion of foreign language mishaps on the Internet is fake? A popular brand of Mexican petrol was called Nova. The stress is on the first syllable whereas “no va” stresses the second syllable. Besides it is easily understood as meaning new and it also sold widely in Latin American countries over a period of years. If you saw a dining suite sold under the name Notable would you assume it had no table….

  16. Dennis, Pointing Out The Obvious

    My ex wife would accuse me of coming in in my big shoes. I know what that means in french. I’m damned if I can think of an equivalent phrase in english gives the same concept.

    I don’t think there is an equivalent phrase. Not that many English speakers have multiple orgasms in their shoes.

  17. @ SMFS & Ottokring
    Locke would have probably had one at school

    I had a slate when I started school in Derbyshire in 1943

  18. And what about the internet rumour that Mitsubishi got the name of the “Pajero” wrong?

    Are you thinking of the Starion?

  19. Pajero is, as far as I’m aware, a vendor of straw – paja. Also a word for something else, true. I think the word you’re looking for, SMfS, is ‘golipollas’ What the ‘goli’ means, my spanish isn’t good enough but polla (pronounced poya) I’m quite familiar with. But whether the concept comes over is another matter. The english ‘w*nker’ is loaded with a whole lot of connotations aren’t necessarily there in spanish.

  20. No idea about the Pajero but it seems to have been around for a long time, almost 40 years? Didn’t they use differed names in different countries? My guess is that the stories about the Mitsubishi Wanker are probably fake

  21. In the list of my kid’s stationery items in France was an “ardoise”. That is, a slate. We were somewhat baffled.

    It turns out those mini-whiteboards are “ardoise d’ecolier”. They perform exactly the same function, so why not the same name?

    I disagree that clean page is the same as blank slate. Slates can be wiped clean, and pages cannot. Blank screen perhaps. We also have the phrase still in English “wipe the slate clean”.

  22. Bastian Schweinsteiger the ex-Bayern player who signed up for Man Utd had much fun made of his name. My German friends were puzzled as his name just means “Swine-herd” but of course literally translated into English it means “Pig-mounter”.

    I always thought Arnie’s name a bit bold till my missus patiently explained that it was not Schwarze-negger but Schwarzen-egger, egger being dialect for ecke or corner.

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