ALTENTEIL.

I’m always interested in finding words that can’t be succinctly translated, and I ran across one such today. Georg von der Gabelentz, in his Die Sprachwissenschaft (1891), uses metaphors to express semantic change. First he says that when new words were created from old, “frischere neue Farben deckten die verblichenen alten” (‘fresher new colors covered the faded old ones’). Then he writes: “Nun ist bei alledem zweierlei möglich: entweder das Alte wird durch das Neue bis zur Spurlosigkeit verdrängt, oder es führt daneben noch ein mehr oder minder verkümmertes Dasein, — rückt auf den Altentheil.” The part before the dash is easy to translate: “Now there are two possibilities here: either the old is displaced by the new without a trace, or it continues to lead a more or less atrophied existence alongside it.” But then he brings in a new image: “shoved off to the Altenteil” (to use the modern spelling). An Altenteil is (or was) a cottage or part of a farm reserved for the farmer when he hands over the estate to his son. Because that custom did not exist in England, there is no English word for it, but since sich aufs Altenteil setzen is used to mean “to retire from public life,” I guess “—rückt auf den Altentheil” could be rendered “—hustled off into retirement.”

Comments

  1. Put out to pasture, as it were.

  2. The nearest equivalent I can think of is “dower house,” which is not really very near.

  3. ToussianMuso says:

    Is that the same thing as the “old daudy haus” used by the Amish?

  4. But isn’t it “moves into …” rather than “is moved into …”?

  5. “pensioned off”
    or possibly
    “put on half-pay” although that phrase, if you follow the metaphor through, would suggest that the word in question might one day come back into use.

  6. Modern Greek has a similar notion, at least: γεροντομοίρι (literally corresponding to Altenteil), although it’s only the part of the farm, not a cottage.

  7. rootlesscosmo says:

    “Superannuation”?

  8. Altenteil sounds like a ‘mother-in-law apartment’ (British ‘granny flat’).

  9. Kicked upstairs.

  10. Well played! I didn’t know Jeeves had started spamming.
    Hybel is the Norwegian word for a self-contained unit within a larger single-family house. I’ve found no English equivalent for that. English words, including the old-fashioned (1950s) & non-U.S. “bedsit”, from “bed sitting-room”, don’t imply that it’s part of a larger house.

  11. “An Altenteil is (or was) a cottage or part of a farm reserved for the farmer when he hands over the estate to his son.”
    I see! Thus, Finnish syytinki, Swedish sytning or undantag, Icelandic próventa, is Altenteil in German! Thanks!

  12. Danish has “aftægtsbolig” for the same phenomenon. “Aftægt” being exactly the state of (semi)retirement for a farmer.

  13. An Altenteil is (or was) a cottage or part of a farm reserved for the farmer when he hands over the estate to his son. Because that custom did not exist in England, there is no English word for it…
    But there is. Ask the Duchess of Devonshire who was mightly, publicly annoyed when she was turned out of Chatsworth into the dower house.
    So I disagree with Dale because, on the face of it, dowerhouse fits perfectly.
    However, as I don’t have the German to understand the nuances of Altenteil, could LH or Dale explain why it doesn’t fit, please ?

  14. “Sanyas” apparently refers to the renunciation stage in the life of an older Hindu (man), when he withdraws from the business of life, retires, and meditates, etc. while his heirs take over. So it seems to me that our spammer isn’t terribly far off the mark.
    If this is an obligatory stage I can imagine that many ordinary men without a gift for meditation etc. might well resent being kicked upstairs this way.

  15. According to Wikipedia, a dower house is “a moderately large house on an estate which is occupied by the widow of the late owner”; the widow moves into the dower house from the larger family house on the death of her husband. While this is a parallel phenomenon, it is for widows rather than retired farmers, and thus is not suitable as an equivalent of the German.

  16. How about “moves to Florida”?

  17. The idea reminds me strongly of some of William Kentridge’s films. He draws with charcoal, erases, then re-draws on the same page (or whatever he uses), eventually animating the series. Traces of each image are retained and never fully disappear.

  18. Translation depends on context. I have had to translate it as ‘life interest’ – I suppose you could say a lot of legal terms are ‘untranslatable’. I have also had the synonym Ausgedinge (Austrian).
    The dower house is the building, but dower is wider, and so is Altenteil: not just the cottage, but the rights that go with it.

  19. michael farris says:

    “on the face of it, dowerhouse fits perfectly.
    … could LH or Dale explain why it doesn’t fit, please ?”
    For me it doesn’t fit because I’d never heard of it before and I would bet that most native speakers (especially Americans, no matter how well educated) haven’t either. I’m sure presumed familiarity should be an issue in most translations.
    That is, semantically it might well be pretty close, but in terms of usage it’s out of the ordinary in a way the German (or judging from comments here, equivalents in other N European languages) aren’t.
    On the other hand, ‘put out to pasture’ works pretty well for me as a very rough dynamic equivalent.

  20. Terry Collmann says:

    “Shoved into the attic”?
    Although the Jane Eyre-ian implications of that metaphor might make it unsuitable …

  21. I’m surprised no one has suggested “old-folks’ home”. It differs in the details, of course.
    Do German speakers think of Altenteil concretely as a place or generally as an annuity and it associated contract? Usually, but not always, involving the use of a cottage, but also including some provisions? E.g., here. (Which specifically mentions the context in which Americans know it, namely German fiction, though there were equivalent contracts in German-American communities in the Midwest, such as here. Today retirement communities and reverse mortgages are handled outside the family.)

  22. I’m surprised no one has suggested “old-folks’ home”.
    That is in fact the translation used in the text I’m currently editing (where I ran across the passage), but I don’t like it because the implications are entirely different. An old-folks’ home is a grim place no one wants to wind up in; an Altenteil is (I presume) a nice enough place to spend one’s twilight years, as long as one gets along with one’s heirs.

  23. mollymooly says:

    Going to your offspring’s house to live in the annexe is not the same as having your offspring come to live in your house and shove you into the annexe.
    I’ve never heard of a “mother-in-law” house and am trying to understand the name. The husband is the breadwinner and hence property owner. His wife is younger than him, hence her parents will be younger than his. Women outlive men. Therefore, the last surviving grandparent will be the wife’s mother, i.e. the property-owner’s mother-in-law.

  24. Sich auf sein Altenteil zurückziehen, sich aufs Altenteil zurückziehen and variants are old-fashioned expressions that are, however, still in mildly jocular use.
    The intransitive rückt in rückt auf sein Altenteil simply means “moved to” or, in this case, “retired to”. In this particular intransitive use, there is absolutely no connotation of “hustled off”, or being “farmed out”, or “kicked upstairs”, or sudden action. You could say of the members of a rock band; sie rückten auf die Bühne (they came onto the stage). Of one of the members, er rückte näher zum Schlagzeuger (he moved closer to the drummer).
    In transitive use, there can be some “jerkiness” or irregularity of action: when someone is sitting on a chair and rückt den Stuhl näher an den Tisch, he scoots his chair closer to the table. However, if he were not sitting on the chair, rückt den Stuhl näher an den Tisch could just mean he moved the chair closer, without any implication of jerky motion. Note the difference between rücken and rucken, though. Rucken is always a jerky or irregular motion. Eine ruckartige Bewegung is a sudden movement. (But I wouldn’t be surprised if David Marjanovic were to say that all this is slightly different in Austrian German)
    I’ve come across the phenomenon of Altenteil in German novels from the 19th century. I’ve just read a lot of George Eliot, in which something similar is occasionally talked of – somewhere for the original farm owner to live when his son marries and his wife moves in – but I get the impression that the practice was not as widespread (standard ?) as it apparently was in Germany.

  25. an Altenteil is (I presume) a nice enough place to spend one’s twilight years, as long as one gets along with one’s heirs.
    Just so, Hat !

  26. mollymooly says:

    An old-folks’ home is a grim place no one wants to wind up in

    Is this true or just a convenient stereotype, like “mother-in-law” = “nagging busybody”?
    Maybe “retirement community” has better connotations.

  27. This doesn’t relate entirely to your post languagechat, but since you are interested in untranslatable words, I wonder if you can help?
    I am studying a MA in translation and my tutor mentioned a Brazilian Portuguese word which means something like “clearing the brash from the floor of coffee plantations” does this mean anything to you? Do you know the word in question?
    Also I am looking for words which cannot be reduced to Architransemes vis a vis Kitty Van Leuven-Zwart’s model.
    Any ideas?
    Thanks
    Marianne

  28. In the midwest someone who can’t take care of themselves would go to a “retirement home” or a “retirement center” or more commonly a “nursing home”. Years ago there was a “county home” maintained at public expense for those without money, likely to be inhabited by DD as well as geriatric, but now those people are incorporated into other institutions, sometimes in a no-frills area in the back. Frequently family members try to care for their parents, but in their own homes–it can be a burnout situation, and often they find they can’t do it even if they want to, but it’s very expensive if they need to hire help. Back in the 80′s when I was doing it, an agency would charge $14 an hour for a sitter or an aide. Few farmers’sons want to do farming themselves these days, so when a couple decides to retire, they sell the farm and use the proceeds to buy a house in town. In the unlikely event the son does share the family business (I’ve never seen a daughter do it) he would build a more modern house on the property at some distance from the parents’ home, but that’s pretty unusual.
    Real estate agents here advertise that a place has possible “related living” if there is a separate apartment or building on the property that could be used for in-laws. (They will be somebodies inlaws.)
    In Icelandic sagas, a farmer might retire to a cottage on the homestead, while his son or a rival who had beaten him took the main building, but I don’t remember offhand which sagas described that situation or the wording used to describe the buildings. I seem to remember the hired help having separate quarters as well–wasn’t there something like that in one of the stories about Olaf Peacock?
    The husband is the breadwinner and hence property owner. His wife is younger than him
    Doesn’t happen here. Most property is held jointly by husband and wife, I think it’s called “joint tenants”, they have rights of survivorship. Back in the 20′s or so, there used to be a type of land mortgage where the land had to be held by both, and if one of them died the land would revert to the original owners. This is now considered to be a predatory practice, I think illegal.
    Farm work is physically demanding for the whole family; everyone works from sun up to sun down, although these days children are no longer allowed to drop out of school to help on the farm. I have known farmers, husbands and wives both, to take outside jobs, but on the night shift–there were many at a state hospital where I worked.
    For a first marriage, here most are about the same age, since they often meet each other in school. An Italian once told me Italian men are always much older than their wives since they must get established in some business and save up some money before they can marry, and this takes time–at that point they marry a wife who is 16 or 17. We Americans think we can get married on nothing more than love.
    For some who got married during the depression, they sometimes lived in a one room “shack” on the farm of one of the parents, usually this was a very brief arrangement. There were also some itinerant workers (okay, they were alkies) who would live in a shack. The only shack I have seen the inside of had a bed, a chair, and a sink with a coffee can under the drain, also two windows with curtains. A few steps away there would be an outhouse, and in the U.S. this does not mean the same as a hoghouse or a chickenhouse (a two-seater was standard).

  29. Is this true or just a convenient stereotype
    It’s true of every such place I’ve seen, and I’ve never known an aging person who had any desire to live in one. A retirement community, of course, is an entirely different matter; there you’re in your own place, and you don’t have to put up with those pesky young whippersnappers on your lawn.

  30. The Inuit had a custom of retiring the old folks to a little hut and then walling up the entrance, as I remember. Or maybe that was the Old Norse.

  31. How about “sent to the wall”?
    When people said: “the weakest go to the wall” it sounds like a bad thing, like a firing squad. Its origins were more compassionate. Instead of standing in church during a service, the weakest/oldest could go to the wall, where there was seating.

  32. Trond Engen says:

    “Off into retirement” works brilliantly for me.
    AJP: Hybel is the Norwegian word for a self-contained unit within a larger single-family house. I’ve found no English equivalent for that. English words, including the old-fashioned (1950s) & non-U.S. “bedsit”, from “bed sitting-room”, don’t imply that it’s part of a larger house.
    A hybel doesn’t necessarily have to be part of a family home. Think studentbyer (student accomodations).
    The Norwegian equivalent of Altenteil is kårstue. Kår “conditions” (or føderåd “provision” or folge “following?”) was a pre-modern pension system, a right to food and lodging on the farm for life; farms, also tenant farms, were transfered to the next generation (or out of the family) for an amount of money and kår.
    John E: The Inuit had a custom of retiring the old folks to a little hut and then walling up the entrance, as I remember. Or maybe that was the Old Norse.
    The nearest thing I know about: For the kings of the mythic pre-saga past it was an honourable thing to be locked up in a mound (or be burned, or perform another funeral ritual of their liking) with their loyal men when they faced an overwhelming enemy and their riches were about to be lost.

  33. Trond Engen says:

    Panu: Finnish syytinki, Swedish sytning or undantag, Icelandic próventa, is Altenteil in German!
    Two linguistic points:
    The Swedish word was borrowed into Finnish before the ending -ning replaced the older -ing (mostly in Danish and Swedish). -ning has been blamed on low German, but I believe the intrusive n is from the inchoative forms under influence of LG.
    Icelandic is the one with a borrowed word.

  34. marie-lucie says:

    In Canada some houses have an “in-law suite”, meaning a small ground-floor apartment with a separate street entrance but which can also be entered from inside the house. A couple I know used to have a regular house where they lived with their children, but the wife wanted her parents (who lived in another province) nearby as they got older, so the parents moved and bought a house not far from their daughter’s. As both of her parents started to have mobility problems, and meanwhile her children grew up and moved out, the two couples sold their respective houses and jointly bought a house with an “in-law” suite for the old parents to live in. This is a very good solution when the older people require some help but not twenty-four-hour supervision or medical care.

  35. to be locked up in a mound
    In some of these pre-Viking age stories it is children, especially girls who are locked up in the mounds in time of war, presumably to keep them safe. In a typical story of this type the girl eats all the food then emerges to find a different world, strangers living in her families’ house, but in the end marries the heir. I think nisse or some sort of trolls (hogboon?) also live in some of the mounds. I’ve seen archaeological type drawings of buildings that were mostly underground, not much more than a chimney showing, but they were further east, more in the area where Poland is now.

  36. A hybel isn’t the equivalent of student accomodation, Trond, although it can be that. Many Norwegians dump their relatives in hybels upstairs or downstairs or nextdoor to the main living space.

  37. A hybel isn’t the equivalent of student accomodation, Trond, although it can be that. Many Norwegians dump their relatives in hybels upstairs or downstairs or nextdoor to the main living space.

  38. Trond Engen says:

    A hybel isn’t the equivalent of student accomodation, Trond, although it can be that. Many Norwegians dump their relatives in hybels upstairs or downstairs or nextdoor to the main living space.
    I know. It’s defined by function, not environment. I’ve had three of them myself. The first one, my first year as a student, was a narrow room with a wash, a refrigerator and a boiler plate in the attic of an old tenement building, the second was one of four rooms sharing a bathroom and a kitchen/living room in a studentby, and finally I lived in a basement hybel at Høn for a couple of years. In between there I spent the better part of a year in the hybel of my wife to be, in the basement of her parents’ house. Those two latter were ~40 m² one-room apartments, hybelleiligheter.

  39. Is hybel cognate with English hovel ?

  40. Trond: Hybel does sound like the English “granny-flat” to me – an independent lodgement attached to or in the main family building.
    Michael: “on the face of it, dowerhouse fits perfectly.
    … could LH or Dale explain why it doesn’t fit, please ?”

    For me it doesn’t fit because I’d never heard of it before and I would bet that most native speakers (especially Americans, no matter how well educated) haven’t either. I’m sure presumed familiarity should be an issue in most translations.
    I think dower house is quite well known in the UK, which constitutes a good part of the “native speakers”, I would suggest.

  41. Trond Engen says:

    Is hybel cognate with English hovel ?
    I was excited for a moment there, but I don’t think so. Hybel is a worn-down compound hý-býli “home; household”. The first element originally meant “people in the household” or some such, the latter “lodging”. (In most compounds hý- meant “thrall, servant”, or rather “staff”, I presume.) That doesn’t fit too well with the earliest attestations of ‘hovel’. And -ov- doesn’t fit with -ýb- either.

  42. What about hovel & høvel?

  43. What about hovel & høvel?

  44. Trond Engen says:

    Paul: What you call a “granny-flat” is a subset of what we call a hybel. There are whole tenement buildings where all apartments are hybler.

  45. I think dower house is quite well known in the UK, which constitutes a good part of the “native speakers”, I would suggest.
    All too often we forget that American civilization can be traced back to the indigenes of the British Isles, whose colorful native cultures survive to this day.

  46. Anybody who reads Dorothy Sayers knows what a Dower House is.

  47. …colourful …

  48. …but not “civilisation”?…

  49. mollymooly, mother-in-law apartments – the ones that I know of – tend to be either garages or the attic spaces over garages, re-built to be habitable as studios or one-bedroom apartments.
    I’m pretty sure the name has no stereotypically stereotypical pejoration attached to it. The idea is to give the surviving spouse of a couple who’d grown old together a comfortable home. If one of the children of the living parent has enough ‘house’ to swing the addition, it’s sometimes (often?) more pleasant for the widow/widower to live with her/his kid’s family than in a “home” (which might not be much of a home). Wives (generally) living longer than their husbands, that new construction on the house was named for ‘widows’. Rather than calling it a “mother’s apartment”, there already being a mother in the house: mother-in-law apartment — as far as I know: with no more traffic in insult intended than that (which I take to be) in the phrase ‘granny flat’.
    So: a mother-in-law apartment is a re-conditioning of an existing structure to make it livable for one person, namely, an older, solitary family member who needs a) less room than before, and b) closeness to some part of the rest of the family. To me, that sounds similar to das Altenteil.

  50. More to-the-point would have been: “Wives generally out-living their husbands, . . .”

  51. In the end I think Hat is right: there is no succinct English translation. “Granny flat” and “mother-in-law apartment” do not catch the sense of turning over your place (and your job) to the younger generation while remaining somewhere in the picture.
    I’m glad to have learned Schlagzeug(er) on this thread — what a great word.

  52. That’s true, ø; the similarity is only in the result (the older person living on a kind of annex to her/his child’s family’s house). As you say, the farmer has moved out of (or alongside) his home to make room for the next two generations, while the ‘mother-in-law’ has moved into (or alongside) a home new to ‘her’.

  53. GS: somewhere for the original farm owner to live when his son marries and his wife moves in – but I get the impression that the practice was not as widespread (standard ?) as it apparently was in Germany.
    When the Crown Prince got married, in 2001, the King & Queen of Norway had their empty palace in Oslo renovated and moved out of their country estate, which they gave to the happy couple. Their (older) princess daughter had to find her own digs. In Pride & Prejudice Mr Bennett’s cousin, Mr Collins, will take over Longbourn when Mr Bennett dies, because the Bennetts have no male heirs.

  54. GS: somewhere for the original farm owner to live when his son marries and his wife moves in – but I get the impression that the practice was not as widespread (standard ?) as it apparently was in Germany.
    When the Crown Prince got married, in 2001, the King & Queen of Norway had their empty palace in Oslo renovated and moved out of their country estate, which they gave to the happy couple. Their (older) princess daughter had to find her own digs. In Pride & Prejudice Mr Bennett’s cousin, Mr Collins, will take over Longbourn when Mr Bennett dies, because the Bennetts have no male heirs.

  55. Nijma: I always get s and z mixed up because I wrote US style for so long …

  56. Paul, I taught British style, and still want to type “favourite” automatically, but then again, I don’t think America can be said to have a “civilisation”…it sounds too European and more than a little pompous.

  57. Dorothy Sayers: I had to google it, but it seems Lord Peter Wimsey‘s mother lived at something called Dower House.

    “Two a. m. saw Lord Peter Wimsey arrive in a friend’s car at the Dower House, Denver Castle, in company with a deaf and aged lady and an antique portmanteau.”

  58. Wimzey.

  59. Wimzey.

  60. The problem with this thread is the level of translation that we need to come up with.
    On one level we have this Altenteil, that seems not to really have any translation in English because of different institutions.
    On another level we have the problem of rückt auf den Altentheil, which is quite a different question. Translating this does not necessarily require equivalence of institutions. But it does require an alertness to nuances.
    The main problem that I see with “dower house” is not that it is not known to Americans (although this is definitely a problem), but the fact that taking a roughly equivalent expression to the institution of the Altenteil and using it to render rückt auf den Altentheil doesn’t necessarily work. Nor should it. Translation is not such a stultified activity that the same expression can be used anywhere without change. Altentheil in an explanation of the institution and in translating the expression rückt auf den Altentheil are not necessarily going to be the same at all.

  61. Exactly, which is why I’ve suggested “goes into retirement” in my query. The exact nuances of the institution aren’t important in context.

  62. Although “put out to pasture” was good too.

  63. Although “put out to pasture” was good too.

  64. Would old farmers prefer to be brought in from pasture?

  65. Shoved off implies an involuntary old-age retirement, as does “put out to pasture”, which also works for my American English. “Goes into retirement” is more vague/general. I’m thinking of a 30′s era actress who gets married and retires from the stage or someone who is financially independent and stops working or someone like Howard Hughes who became reclusive. “Retires” would be more common than “goes into retirement”. There is also “forced retirement”, someone who is pushed out of a position and because of their age can collect benefits, and “mandatory retirement” where everyone must retire at a particular age (in this state I think it’s at the age of 70, although that may have been overturned).

  66. Didn’t “retirement” also used to refer to the time in a pregnancy when women “showed” and were expected not to be seen in public? They used to actually go to bed at some point, believing that activity was bad, not understanding the benefits of exercise.

  67. I don’t think America can be said to have a “civilisation”…
    I’m far too well mannered to agree ….

  68. On the other hand, we have had several civilizations.

  69. rückt auf den Altentheil
    The correct phrase is rückt auf sein Altentheil. The Theil here – or as it is today Teil – is das Teil. There is “another” word der Teil (part, section). This tends to confuse non-German speakers. Sometimes even the high and mighty Grumbly, when he hears Teil coming in the sentence he was about to finish, gets cold feet about der/das Teil and has to reformulate real fast in order to avoid the word.
    My advice is to remember der Teil as an identifiable “part” or “section”:
    dieser Teil des Gebäudes (this part of the building)
    der Vorteil / Nachteil (advantage / disadvantage)
    der Anteil (share) as in “my share”. A stock share is die Aktie.
    However:
    das Zugabteil ([train] passenger compartment)
    The other one, das Teil OR der Teil, occurs in many fixed expressions, and means “thing” or “part” in a more abstract sense. Around Cologne, it’s usually das Teil.
    er hat sein(en) Teil abbekommen (he got what was coming to him)
    er denkt sich sein Teil dabei (he’s got his own [private] thoughts [about that])
    However, there is the immutable slang expression:
    Das ist ein geiles Teil ! (that’s a hot number !), said of a woman or a hotrod, take your pick.

  70. You can say Das ist ein geiles Teil ! about anything you think is really great. But you should not be older than 20 if you say it. Otherwise, you’re just “young at heart” and probably in denial.

  71. A “guyless tile”. I’ll try to remember that one for the next time I want to impress an under-20 German.

  72. I worked in Hamburg with a 30-ish architect whose expression of enthusiasm for a drawing or design idea was always Geil!, or “horny”. Everyone laughed at him for it.
    I’ve probably mentioned before, that what you might call the metaphorical reasoning behind designing a building to be as long and extruded-looking as possible (sort of like Ffrank Lloyd Wright did at the Robie House) was that “länge läuft”, length runs, which is apparently a sailing expression. I don’t know if it also exists in English.
    I like the German word for “hull”, which is Schiffsrumpf.

  73. I like the German word for “hull”, which is Schiffsrumpf.
    If you think the German Rumpf means “rump”, think again. It means “torso”. The rude sense of “rump” is related to Rumpf according to the OED, but that’s about it. Because Rumpf doesn’t mean “rump”, you have to order Rumpsteak in a restaurant. A *Rumpfsteak wouldn’t fit on your plate.
    There’s another “rump”, meaning “refuse of nutmegs”. And also “garble” meaning “refuse of spices”. I hope to find an opportunity to deploy these words this year.

    1610 Rates of Marchandizes Fvij, Garble and Rumpes of Nutmegs the pound, xij.d.

  74. If you think Rumpf means rump
    Nope. It’s pretty obvious they’re related, but I just like the sound of the word.

  75. If you think Rumpf means rump
    Nope. It’s pretty obvious they’re related, but I just like the sound of the word.

  76. Okay, you’re half right, I think it’s the onomatopøic -pf at the end of rump- that I like.

  77. Okay, you’re half right, I think it’s the onomatopøic -pf at the end of rump- that I like.

  78. Then you may also like Sumpf (marsh), mampfen (chew food slowly and with gusto, cheeks full and making the occasional discrete smacking noise), Pimpf (ratty boy, “new boy”), Krampf (cramp).
    Or, with lots of plosives and fricatives, Dampfschiffgeschichte (steamship history).

  79. Duden tells me that Pimpf derives from an older word Pumpf ([small] fart).
    There’s another word for the New Year !

  80. No, to put it bluntly it’s the arse connected to the farting noise that I find amusing, although I do like Dampfschiffgeschichte. It’s a word that “copy & paste” might have been invented for.

  81. No, to put it bluntly it’s the arse connected to the farting noise that I find amusing, although I do like Dampfschiffgeschichte. It’s a word that “copy & paste” might have been invented for.

  82. There’s another “rump”, meaning “refuse of nutmegs”.
    Thank you, I have often felt the lack of a word meaning “refuse of nutmegs.”

  83. If you look up “rump parliament” in Wikipedia, it says:

    “Rump” normally means the hind end of an animal; its use meaning “remnant” was first recorded in the above context. Since 1649, the term “rump parliament” has been used to refer to any parliament left over from the actual legitimate parliament.
    But that must be wrong, it must have the same origin as the word for nutmeg remnants.

  84. If you look up “rump parliament” in Wikipedia, it says:

    “Rump” normally means the hind end of an animal; its use meaning “remnant” was first recorded in the above context. Since 1649, the term “rump parliament” has been used to refer to any parliament left over from the actual legitimate parliament.
    But that must be wrong, it must have the same origin as the word for nutmeg remnants.

  85. John Emerson says:

    When Joseph Needham was learning Chinese he encountered a character meaning “the song of the woodcutters returning from work” and surmised that he would not often have need of that one.

  86. I have often felt the lack of a word meaning “refuse of nutmegs.”
    I assume that was on occasions when you wondered how people on small incomes could afford to put some variety into their food.
    The OED citation

    1610 Rates of Marchandizes Fvij, Garble and Rumpes of Nutmegs the pound, xij.d.

    is like a small fossilized bone from which one can reconstruct the type of dinosaur it belonged to. I imagine the citation is from a price announcement, or bill of lading, for spice remnants. Only rich people could afford the nutmeg, while poorer people could take the remnants.
    The citation is a sociological ankle bone.

  87. “the song of the woodcutters returning from work”
    Would that be “I came, I sawed, I conquered” ? I can’t remember the melody, but I imagine it would resemble what the Seven Dwarves sang as they anhelated homewards to Schneewittchen each evening.

  88. I imagine the citation is from a price announcement, or bill of lading, for spice remnants.
    Actually, I believe it’s tables of custom duties.

  89. OK, so it’s only a shard of ankle bone. But there’s no doubt about the critter it belonged to, is it not ?

  90. a character meaning “the song of the woodcutters returning from work” and surmised that he would not often have need of that one.
    In English it’s “Hi ho, Hi ho, It’s off to work we go…”

  91. a character meaning “the song of the woodcutters returning from work” and surmised that he would not often have need of that one.
    In English it’s “Hi ho, Hi ho, It’s off to work we go…”

  92. Oh. Sorry, Grumbly.

  93. Oh. Sorry, Grumbly.

  94. As Jimmy Durante used to say: “Everybody wants to get in on the act”.

  95. And anyway, that’s their going-to-work song, not their returning-from-work song.

  96. “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s home from work we go.”

  97. Needham’s decision to ignore that character was clearly ill-advised. Look at the network of connotation we have discovered to be attached to it !

  98. a character meaning “the song of the woodcutters returning from work”
    A single character?
    There’s the classic 樵歌.
    木遣り is a separate lemma in Japanese-English dictionaries.

  99. “the other song of the woodcutters returning from work”

  100. “the other song of the woodcutters returning from work”

  101. Classical Chinese has always defeated me, so MMcM’s link left me at sea. However, according to 漢語大詞典, 樵歌 qiáo-gē is simply “woodcutter’s song”, 樵 being a word for ‘woodcutter’. Whether it was sung going to work or on the way home is a moot point.
    The Japanese 木遣り ki-yari is a kind of song traditionally used when transporting word — the yari refers to transportation. It was a work song designed to help people to exert effort in unison. According to this site, however, there was a second type of kiyari-uta that was sung at “ground-hardening” ceremonies, where presumably the ground was compacted by pounding. This formed the basis for the modern kiyari-uta as sung by traditional fire-fighting forces in Japan, best known as part of the country’s New Year traditions (try these Youtube clips: kiyari-uta, dezome-shiki).

  102. Is there really a character meaning “the song of the woodcutters returning from work”, or was Needham referring to the character compound that MMcM found? Would be very interested to know :)

  103. And what about Kant?

  104. 1610 Rates of Marchandizes Fvij, Garble and Rumpes of Nutmegs the pound, xij.d.
    Hard to tell if the fvij is separate from the garble and rumpes or if the fvifs, garbles, and rumpes are all derived from the nutmeg. A good argument for the serial comma. “Refuse of nutmeg”:— mace. Discription. “When the Dutch controlled the Moluccas (the Spice Islands), one colonial administrator sent orders that the colonists should plant fewer nutmeg trees and more mace trees.”

  105. Yikes, description, nap time.

  106. Fvij means folio 7, I believe.

  107. John Emerson says:

    I confess that I cannot remember exactly what Needham said. The joke has been accurately transmitted, but maybe not exact the kind of song it was. So I defer to Bathrobe and MMcM.
    I have never known a transvestite lumberjack, but I have known a gay opera-singer lumberjack, a heroin-addict PhD ex-lumberjack, and a Sinologist whose relatives were all lumberjacks (except the women.)
    City of London v. One Bag of Nutmegs. From an earlier thread here.

  108. Bathrobe’s (fixed) links, with additional translation provided by YouTube:

    kiyari-uta:— “Preservation Association to traditional songs木遣木遣Urawa in Saitama City, the Edo木遣traditional eye-bridge roof-raising ceremony will be performed at a”

    dezome-shiki:— “Matome出初expression木遣’09 Kiryu Kiryu City Fire Brigade”

    In English it’s “Hi ho, Hi ho, It’s off to work we go…”
    There’s also “weigh, hey and up she rises” and “Yo ho heave ho

  109. Sumpf (marsh), mampfen (chew food slowly and with gusto … )
    Speaking of words with “mpf”, schimpfen is pretty great. I mean, I like this sound for this meaning. I was going to translate it as scold, but the first place I looked online gave inveigh, upbraid, grouch, …
    Good grumbly words.

  110. What Needham said was:
    “I remember, when beginning the study of Chinese, seeing in some dictionary a character the meaning of which was ‘the songs of woodcutters returning at night’, and reflecting that I should not often want to use that one, at any rate.” (Science and Civilisation in China: Introductory orientations, P 36).
    Since Needham is no longer alive, there is no real way we can confirm what character he was speaking of — presuming that he remembered the entry correctly. Even if we could find out which dictionary Needham used when he was studying Chinese, finding the particular entry that caught his eye would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

  111. Apparently some of the materials Needham used when learning Chinese (at age 37!) do survive in a couple boxes at Cambridge.

  112. John Emerson says:

    Even if we could find out which dictionary Needham used when he was studying Chinese, finding the particular entry that caught his eye would be like finding a needle in a haystack.
    Well, someone needs to do it. If you want to be a shirker I guess there’s nothing we can do about it. It would be ungentlemanly of us to remind you to assertively of the gravity of the crisis, or of the men, women, and children who have found themselves forced to rely on you.

  113. I guess we can rule out Giles’ How to begin Chinese: the hundred best characters and How to begin Chinese: the second hundred best characters. Soothill’s The student’s four thousand ? and general pocket dictionary looks marginally more promising.
    Should we book a ticket to Cambridge?

  114. schimpfen is pretty great. I mean, I like this sound for this meaning. I was going to translate it as scold, but the first place I looked online gave inveigh, upbraid, grouch, …
    In most situations, schimpfen is simply “scold”. The classical topos is:

    Sie schimpfte mit ihrem Mann (she scolded her husband)

    “Upbraid” is a high-tone word for the same thing. If there is no person present at whom the schimpfen is directed, it might be rendered as “grouch”:

    Er schimpft wegen des schlechten Wetters (he’s grouching about the bad weather)

    Schimpfen is a plain ordinary word, which “inveigh” is not. Schimpfen might seem to suggest “inveigh [against]” in the following example, because of “moral decline of the nation”, but this would miss a subtlety:

    Er schimpfte wegen des moralischen Verfalls der Nation *(he inveighed against the moral decline of the nation)

    The use of schimpfen suggests an irate Joe Blow whose rhetorical abilities are not adequate to his subject. “Inveigh” would conceal this.

  115. And what about Kant?
    MMcM’s link has Kant reporting that there is a Chinese character meaning Guten Morgen, mein Herr !.
    I wonder whether something like the following has occurred here. Suppose we have a German-speaking person A who understands little Chinese, and his Chinese-speaking interlocutor B who understands little German. If A tries to elicit the written Chinese form of Guten Morgen, mein Herr !, B may think that A is asking for the written Chinese form of the kind of thing that Guten Morgen, mein Herr ! represents, namely a Gruß (greeting). As a result, A obtains a single Chinese character for “greeting”, and believes this means “good morning, sir !”.
    Fvij means folio 7, I believe.
    That’s what I guessed too. I’ve seen terminal “i” in Latin numerals written as “j”.

  116. Not that I’m ever likely to have the need to translate schimpfen, but (for what it’s worth) inveigh is similar in that you inveigh against, and apparently you schimpfst mit or wegen etwas. Google Translate suggested “rail against”.

  117. Not that I’m ever likely to have the need to translate schimpfen, but (for what it’s worth) inveigh is similar in that you inveigh against, and apparently you schimpfst mit or wegen etwas. Google Translate suggested “rail against”.

  118. Yes, but “rail against” is a bit elevated, and “inveigh” is high-tone, while “schimpfen” is what ordinary wives do, i.e. scold.
    There are other words and expressions that better match the registers of “rail” and “inveigh”: sich ereifern wegen, sich echauffieren wegen, sich [bitterlich] beklagen über, anprangern, brandmarken.

  119. brandmarken is actually more like “condemn” or “denounce”. It’s not something that can be done over an extended period of time, unlike the others (see the analytical distinctions that Ryle draws in The Concept of Mind). brandmarken is a summary concept.

  120. Schimpfen = ‘go crook at’, ‘rouse on’. Of course, these are obviously bad translations as neither Brits nor Americans would understand them. But very few people would say “scold” in Australia.

  121. But very few people would say “scold” in Australia.
    Can’t a mother “scold” her kids there?

  122. I would never say “scold” myself because it always reminds me of scald.
    “Rouse on” is something I’ve never heard, despite being half-Australian.

  123. Google results for “rouse on him,” if you want to see the phrase in action. My Oxford Australian Dictionary has:
    rouse /rows/ v. 1 scold; Mum really rouses when I come home late. 2 (foll. by at or on) berate, tongue-lash.
    From which we learn that it’s pronounced with unvoiced /s/, unlike the general English verb rouse /rowz/, and that it can be used without the “on.”

  124. John Emerson says:

    “Upbraiding” to me is much more thorough and devastating than scolding, and is presumptively aimed at an adult target who really should have known better, not at a child or at someone already unworthy of respect.

  125. John Emerson says:

    A slang equivalent of “upbraid” or “denounce” or “excoriate” that I’ve heard is “slag on”. The last time I used it no one understood what I meant at all.

  126. I didn’t know there was an Oxford Australian Dictionary.

  127. Mmm: “denounce” or “excoriate” that I’ve heard is “slag on”.
    That’s funny, because in England it’s slag OFF. To slag someone off is to say bad things about them (behind their back). I wonder why that kind of switch takes place.

  128. rouse /rows/ v….From which we learn that it’s pronounced with unvoiced /s/
    Sort of like a verb form of “row” (5th meaning).

  129. David Marjanović says:

    Sich auf sein Altenteil zurückziehen, sich aufs Altenteil zurückziehen and variants are old-fashioned expressions that are, however, still in mildly jocular use.

    Regional differences again! I have never heard them spoken and consider them completely obsolete, and Ausgedinge older still. I didn’t even know what the precise meaning had once been.

    Note the difference between rücken and rucken, though. [...] (But I wouldn’t be surprised if David Marjanovic were to say that all this is slightly different in Austrian German)

    “Slightly”? Rücken is standard, and the same thing without Umlaut is dialect.

    Eine ruckartige Bewegung is a sudden movement.

    Yes, but that comes straight from the noun Ruck “sudden movement”, from which rücken is also derived (I guess it’s yet another fossilized causative).

    Icelandic is the one with a borrowed word.

    Will wonders never cease!

    However, there is the immutable slang expression: Das ist ein geiles Teil !

    Germany only, like das Teil in general.

    Pimpf

    Regional. Probably some kind of Middle German, judging from the odd combination of p and pf.

    “I came, I sawed, I conquered”

    :-D

  130. John Emerson says:

    I wish that the deutschephones would get their trip together and start talking the same.

  131. Preferably using the offshoot of Low German known as English, eh wot?

  132. marie-lucie says:

    JE, if you travelled much through England and Scotland you might think the same about anglophones.

  133. Grumbly: Sich auf sein Altenteil zurückziehen, sich aufs Altenteil zurückziehen and variants are old-fashioned expressions that are, however, still in mildly jocular use … David: Regional differences again! I have never heard them spoken and consider them completely obsolete

    Such differences as there are between Austrian and German German ! If you google with Sich auf sein Altenteil restricted to sites in German, you get over 23,000 hits, in articles on the sites of Arte (TV channel), Süddeutsche Zeitung, FAZ and other tony locations. Here is even a commenter on a Bildzeitung (!) article using Sich auf sein Altenteil zurückziehen. If you additionally restrict the search to “.at” for Austria, you get 8 hits.

  134. For those who like to read and paste German dictionary entries: LEO.

  135. John Emerson says:

    Yes, Im shamefully unfamiliar with America’s ancestral peoples.

  136. Come to think of it, “go crook at” and “rouse on” have probably been superseded by “get up”, which can be used for (often mild) upbraiding of both children and adults. “He got up me for not paying the rent on time”.
    But I’m rather out of touch. Young people probably use something totally different. :)
    I’m curious about the German situation. To what extent do media play a role in maintain a differentiation between Austrian and German varieties? Presumably expressions that make it into the German national media would be known nationwide. Is it because Austrians don’t watch German TV / read German newspapers that they don’t totally share the same language? Or is something else at work? I ask because Germany and Austria being geographically contiguous, it seems that there would be less hindrance to the movement of expressions than there was in the past… (And I don’t mean dialect; I mean Standard language expressions like the one that this thread is about).

  137. [from Langenscheidt]
    Schimpf insult; ~en v/t abuse, revile; v/i be abusive, rail
    -
    To me:
    To scold is more reasonable than this dictionary makes schimpfen sound. For example, for an adult to tell a kid ‘not to play with fire again’ could easily be a non-abusive scolding.
    To rail and to berate connote the conduct of a tirade, as does, slightly more diffusely, to rant. There’s a more forceful disallowance of the any disagreement or even alternative perspective than in a scolding.
    To rebuke is like rail, but more focused – that is, more concise and sharper.
    To tell off is like rail, but milder and more casual, with some slight room for later counter-argument or second thought.
    To inveigh is a slightly fancy word, and connotes the grappling with another point of view, even if with dogmatic hostility.
    To grouch is leveling complaint with a humorous self-awareness (or comically ill-humored lack of same; see Menander: Duskolos); the justice of the grouching is not doubted by the groucher, but the efficacy of the commplaint – or even the importance of the complaining – might be.
    To upbraid is, like inveighing, somehow elevated, except upbraiding communicates a more self-righteous, even smug, tone, a deafness to the upbraider‘s own complicity in the scolded activity – or, with greater damage to one’s own position, to hypocrisy in the scolding.
    To denounce is both public and official. An adult couldn’t denounce a child for ‘playing with matches’, but could be denounced for failing to do so.
    To condemn is religiously fervid, where to revile is more gastroenterologically indicative.

  138. Well, for schimpfen, Google Translate gives:
    1. moan
    2. grumble
    3. grouch
    4. bitch
    5. go on
    6. swear
    7. curse
    8. get angry
    9. reprimand
    10. rant
    11. tell off
    12. scold
    I don’t know how accurate that is, but if it is, the range of the word is quite broad.

  139. To rail and to inveigh are different because they don’t take the person as the direct object. So you can rail against injustice or inveigh against iniquity without directly addressing your comments to the perpetrator.
    To upbraid is not like inveighing for me and while the person doing the upbraiding does so from the point of view that he/she is somehow right (which actually holds for most acts of criticism), there is not necessarily a strong sense of self-righteousness.
    To condemn is not particularly religious. Politicians condemn things all the time, and not necessarily on religious grounds.

  140. To rail and to inveigh are different because they don’t take the person as the direct object. So you can rail against
    Dressing Gown, that’s what I was trying to say, except I couldn’t remember the phrase “direct object” (it’s been nearly 50 years). That’s why they’re good: you schimpfst mit or wegen someone, according to Stu. I like rail against, although I think it really means… Grumble.

  141. To rail and to inveigh are different because they don’t take the person as the direct object. So you can rail against
    Dressing Gown, that’s what I was trying to say, except I couldn’t remember the phrase “direct object” (it’s been nearly 50 years). That’s why they’re good: you schimpfst mit or wegen someone, according to Stu. I like rail against, although I think it really means… Grumble.

  142. I agree with deadgod’s analysis of the words, except that, like Bathrobe, I don’t see condemn as having religious connotations. It’s just a fancy word for saying something’s bad, used in speeches and editorials rather than conversation.

  143. marie-lucie says:

    “To denounce”: I thought that this word had the same meaning in English as in French, where dénoncer means to report a person to the authorities (such as a child going to a teacher to “tell on” another child). This can be done honestly (reporting a guilty person) or dishonestly (reporting an innocent person as guilty) but both can be shameful depending on the motives of the denunciator. Anonymous denunciations for private gain or even just spite (such as revealing the names and hiding-places of Jews during the Nazi period) tend to proliferate during totalitarian regimes, which encourage citizens to report each other’s doings. But the verb can also be used to mean “to expose” wrongdoing (by the government, corporations, etc) to the public.

  144. Google News results for “denounce”:
    Brockton residents march to denounce recent violence
    Without cyber response policies, US can only denounce China attacks
    Congressional leaders, Washington aide denounce Hynes TV ad, defend Quinn
    Iraq urges barred candidates to denounce Saddam
    Republicans in Missouri House denounce federal health care reform proposal
    Police urge citizens to denounce CAN tickets dealers
    Wyclef Jean denounces attacks on Yele Haiti Foundation with YouTube video
    French MPs to denounce Muslim veils, ban later

  145. Google News results for “denounce”:
    Brockton residents march to denounce recent violence
    Without cyber response policies, US can only denounce China attacks
    Congressional leaders, Washington aide denounce Hynes TV ad, defend Quinn
    Iraq urges barred candidates to denounce Saddam
    Republicans in Missouri House denounce federal health care reform proposal
    Police urge citizens to denounce CAN tickets dealers
    Wyclef Jean denounces attacks on Yele Haiti Foundation with YouTube video
    French MPs to denounce Muslim veils, ban later

  146. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks, AJP, I see that the two words are faux amis. English denunciation is for the public good, French dénonciation could be so but too often is only for private interest.

  147. Not faux amis, but not common either. From Orwell’s 1984:
    ~The eyeless creature at the other table swallowed it fanatically, passionately, with a furious desire to track down, denounce, and vaporize anyone who should suggest that last week the ration had been thirty grammes.
    ~At eleven he had denounced his uncle to the Thought Police after overhearing a conversation which appeared to him to have criminal tendencies.
    ~And you thought that if I had a quarter of a chance I’d denounce you as a thought-criminal and get you killed off?

  148. Direct, schmirect! A prepositional object is just as good.
    You can schimpfen mit a person (which is much the same as scolding them), or you can schimpfen wegen a state of affairs (which is much the same as railing at it or denouncing it).
    To me, the more important distinction than transitive/intransitive here is between the verbs taking a person as object (direct or otherwise) and those taking a bad behavior as object.
    Not that I am not also interested in all those shades of meaning and register. That’s the most fun part. Well, no, the most fun is to be actually doing the grumbling, grousing, inveighing, railing, taking to task, getting on someone’s case, and so on.
    By the way, I will suggest that there is always a considerable market for new slang in this semantic area, because each generation feels a need to have its own ways to grouse about the scoldings they get from their parents, officers, bosses, etc.

  149. the most fun is to be actually doing the grumbling
    Why would anyone enjoy being a bully? I’ve been working my way through this procrastination essay in my “free time”:

    It’s a stream of self-abuse, guilt, shame, and blame: I call it the “mean mommy” or “mean daddy” (take your pick) inner dialog and, trust me, it doesn’t work. I talked to myself like that for twenty years, and it only inhibited my success, and many of my students have also spoken to themselves like that for decades and it also didn’t work for them. The truth is that most of us react to the mean mommy/daddy the same way we would to an “external” bully: by becoming resentful and oppositional. So now you’ve added those antiproductive attitudes on top of whatever other factors were inhibiting your productivity. The mean mommy/daddy approach has other problems. It misdiagnoses the root problem, which, as you now know, is not laziness or immaturity but fear. It also undermines you by reinforcing bad ideas about yourself and robbing you of self-esteem. It also tends to lie about the nature of your work and situation for instance, what if the “lot of stuff going on” mentioned in passing above were illness, a family member in trouble, or some other legitimate crisis? Punishing yourself for being sick, or for not meeting your urgent responsibilities, is not only antiproductive, but deeply unfair. The mean mommy/daddy voice is the voice of perfectionism which, repeating Anne Lamott’s apt phrase, is “the voice of the oppressor.” It is also the voice of negativity and hypersensitivity. It sounds as if it’s trying to solve your problem, whereas it’s only making it worse. Don’t listen to it. It also tends to attack most ferociously when you are frightened, anxious, guilty, ashamed or otherwise vulnerable.

    ‘go crook at’
    Not sure how to use this one–but it’s obsolete now in Oz? Maybe “he went crooking at his poor cowering child”?

  150. ‘go crook at’
    “I am not a crook”?

  151. Oh, heaven’s, Nijma, I wasn’t serious, except about grousing. It’s fun to grouse. Also, the more you complain, the longer God lets you live. True folk wisdom there.

  152. “he went crooking at his poor cowering child”
    No, it’s “He went crook at his poor cowering child”.
    “Crook” also has the related form “crooked”, usually found only in the expression “I’m crooked on you” = “I’m mad at you”.
    And “crook” is not obsolete by any means. It’s just that it probably isn’t as common as it used to be.
    BTW, “crook” has another meaning of “sick” (“I’m feeling a bit crook today”). Not to mention the criminal American meaning.
    Anyway, I daresay these expressions won’t be crossing the Pacific or Indian/Atlantic oceans any time soon, so I’ll lay off.

  153. condemn: I do, perhaps idiosyncratically, see the “damn” in this word; I meant “religiously” in the sense of ‘with the dogmatism of assumptively absolute license’.
    denounce: As I meant to suggest, it has the “official” meaning in English, but also the more ‘street’ – but equally public – sense that the French word has, as the googled Wyclef Jean example shows.
    new slang in this semantic area: For maybe 15 years, I’ve used to beast in this way: “Man, don’t beast the cashier; he’s working for a living. Get a manager or forget about it.” “Mary beasted John about talking to Sally ’til he just walked away.”
    -
    Nijma, I think I understand what you’re saying about cruelty and power, but sometimes you have to make a kid quit playing with matches – I mean literally. What you’d want to get the kid to understand is that the ‘rule’ of not playing with fire doesn’t flow from the force that you’re exerting to stop the kid in the urgency of that moment, but rather springs from the logic of fire itself: that it’s terribly destructive when it runs out of control.
    And even self-satisfying grumbling isn’t necessarily completely gratuitous or irrational, eh?

  154. I daresay these expressions won’t be crossing the Pacific or Indian/Atlantic oceans any time soon
    Too late, Ozzies are everywhere, and I bet something will catch on sooner or later. Already Americans are saying stuff like “spot on”, although I have to say it doesn’t sound right without the British accent.
    related form “crooked”, usually found only in the expression “I’m crooked on you” = “I’m mad at you”.
    American crooked as in “dishonest” is pronounced with two syllables CROOK-id, but something tells me this is pronounced “crookt”. I wonder if this usage of the word doesn’t have something to do with the shepherd’s crook, maybe with some sort of “twisted” or “bent out of shape” meaning. Or maybe “went crook at” chased with a stick or shepherd’s crook?
    feeling a bit crook
    Almost sounds like past tense of something: take/took creak/crook. Or maybe related to crocked=drunk=potted. I’m just guessing:— none of these usages is in my English-Australian phrase book. I suspect it’s an inferior publication.

  155. Nijma, I wasn’t serious
    Tonight there is blood all over my landing (not mine), paramedics in an ambulance down the street, and marked cars cruising up and down in front of the place, so this probably isn’t the most opportune moment for me to get the joke.
    the more you complain, the longer God lets you live
    Not necessarily; I have outlived several. It just seems like longer.
    you’d want to get the kid to understand
    The problem with that is that as the adult you need to understand the kid more than the kid needs to understand you. Kids can’t always understand – they aren’t capable – there are developmental levels to cognition. If the adult understood that, the kid would never have had access to the matches to begin with. And we’re not really talking about taking matches out of someone’s hand. We’re talking about a continuum of oppression from verbal to physical violence. I’m sure tonight’s adventure that ended with blood on the floor started out with someone wanting someone else to understand something, but how did that work out for them? “Terribly destructive when it runs out of control”? Yeah, I can see that one. But was it worth it for being selfsatisfying? Now we’re back to my original question about what kind of person wants to be oppressive.

  156. “I’m crooked on you” — it’s actually pronounced the same as that in “there was a crooked man”. But “I’m crooked on you” isn’t very common. I got only one hit on Google! And it was by an aged politician. I think it’s obsolescent.

  157. an aged Australian politician

  158. Now we’re back to my original question about what kind of person wants to be oppressive.
    I assure you I’m at least as down on oppression as you are. The difference between us is that I wouldn’t dream of taking someone’s remark about it being fun to grumble as a pretext for launching into a diatribe about oppression. It is fun to grumble, and that has nothing at all to do with blood on the landing or oppression, for chrissake. If you’re feeling particularly touchy because of stuff going on in your house or neighborhood, it might be better to avoid the internet rather than take it out on other people who have nothing to do with the problems that are bothering you.

  159. There’s only one person who can give a definitive answer to whether it’s fun to Grumble.

  160. There’s only one person who can give a definitive answer to whether it’s fun to Grumble.

  161. I like N’s earnestness and if not to the internets where else one should go with the troubles, that’s what imaginary friends are for whether they listen or not
    if one would try to transfer one’s bad mood irl on other person, that’s real acting out

  162. Would it make me a bully, or an oppressor, if I grumbled about the weather, or about my aging knees?
    if I railed against the careless way people sometimes let kids get their hands on matches?
    if I inveighed against the recent ruling against corporate campaign contributions?
    if I took someone to task for the way they spoke to a child?
    I’m not saying that the word “fun” always applies to these acts, but neither do the words “bully” or “oppression”.

  163. as the adult you need to understand the kid more than the kid needs to understand you
    Well, yes and no – I think especially no to the “more”.
    Sure you need to understand the kid – if you want to communicate with her/him so as to get the kid to realize that you’re expressing power not to accumulate it, to luxuriate in it for the sake of its increase, but rather, being as strict on yourself as on the kid, to get the point across. I think good teachers, for example, can get across the facts of homework and testing – onerous regimes of domination and surveillance – as also having the character of ‘sacrifices necessary to make if you want to get the knowledge’.
    I also think that kids are generally (not always!) mature enough to understand that difficulty isn’t necessarily oppression, sacrifice isn’t necessarily only a stratagem of the strong to augment some existing disadvantage in their favor – even if some particular deprivation feels like malice. What I mean is that most kids (as I see them) are hip enough to realize that the greater “oppression” comes not from adults denying them, say, the irresistible fascination of fire, but rather the destruction latent in fire itself.
    I don’t mean to say that there aren’t maliciously domineering adults! just to deny that every exertion of force by the more powerful is “bullying”.

  164. Not all kids react in the same way, though.

  165. Not all kids react in the same way, though.

  166. Point taken, Hat, I have to admit it is unsettling to hear a child screaming your name over and over in the small hours of the night, to have to make a split second decision about how to act, and to wonder how much you need to factor in the possibility of a drunk and violent person getting pissed off at you. It certainly wasn’t my intention to cast aspersions on any of the fine Hattians; I would consider the potential for violence, physical and verbal, to be something we all have or we would not be human. I would also point out that I posted the excerpt from the procrastination essay long before the unfortunate young señora escaped into the 20 degree (that’s -6° C)winter night without her coat, (but with her life).
    I wouldn’t consider the procrastination excerpt I posted to be exactly a “diatribe” or “taking it out” on someone either; it merely points out that those tactics don’t work and in many cases do nothing more than add another layer of problems.
    Of course complaining has its uses; usually we want someone to commiserate or to solve our problems for us. Sometimes it works too. At work I have several times been moved to fix the copy machine, and other teachers have been moved to dig into their photocopy paper stashes for enough paper to get me through a class.
    But it’s not just about complaining, the schimpfe word that everyone is so taken with has a range of meanings, apparently including “swear, curse, get angry, reprimand, rant, tell off, and scold”, none of which are effective behaviours. The example of my real life landlady was a response to someone’s comment that “the most fun is to be actually doing the grumbling, grousing, inveighing, railing, taking to task, getting on someone’s case, and so on,” which has now been explained was a joke. I haven’t seen any holocaust or lynching jokes here, and I don’t know if people would let them pass without comment or chalk it up to “Freedom Hall”, but I understand that joking is a way to deal with something we feel uncomfortable with and try to bring it out into the open in a non-threatening way.
    I do hope more people think about bullying in education. Being mean or threatening children, making them feel fearful, does not help them learn. When you think about how corporal punishment is still used in a huge part of the world, it’s rather sobering.

  167. deadgod, were you never a boy scout? Fire is fun.

  168. Be prepared!
    I did say “irresistible fascination”. I was talking about playing with fire – starting fires, burning other people’s things — which are, sure, “fun”.
    “Bullying” is also probably “fun” for the bully. I’m not sure how one could stop a bully – which I’m guessing you’d support – in general, in the middle of an attack, without using force superior to the bully’s.

  169. Playing with fire, whether fireworks or candles or campfires, is something that can be learned. Children can be taught safety and conservation along with the firebuilding and cooking techniques. After they have mastered toasting marshmallows, they can learn how to handle matches safely under adult supervision, and how to keep fire under control. I have never known anyone who wanted to burn someone else’s things, that’s just crazy.
    I’m not all that sure that bullying is fun for the bully; I would think it would lead to social isolation, but maybe they’re never learned anything different. I’ve also noticed they tend to be insensitive to their own pain; that might be a learned pattern too.

  170. I have also noted that in the Middle East, from Jordan to Iraq to Egypt, children are routinely beaten in the classroom. I have frequently wondered what connection this might have with terrorism and 9/11.

  171. Children were until recently routinely beaten in the classroom almost everywhere, e.g. in England. What connection might that have with terrorism?

  172. A basic orientation towards using physical force to solve problems. Maybe having worked extensively in social services I’m looking at it from a have-hammer-see-nail perspective, but it does seem intuitive.

  173. under adult supervision
    That’s exactly what I’m talking about! When you say “taught safety”, you mean the adult imposing “safety” on a child who might otherwise gleefully set the curtains, or the cat, on fire – starting or accelerating an ugly . . . habit (?). Neither “force” nor even “physical force” mean just a fist, Nijma; I think the “supervision” we both, pragmatically but also (I’m guessing) compassionately, support entails the expression of unequal force — power.

  174. Good Lord, deadgod, what kind of bizarre alien children are there in your neck of the woods? Do you see UFO’s much? No, you don’t have to “impose” anything by “force” or “power”. The dear little angels want their Merit Badges and to get them must demonstrate knowledge and mastery of a subject — the same thing that motivates grownups like us to pay tuition in order to keep going to school. They also like marshmallows and hiking through the woods and will preserve those resources so they can have the same experiences with their own children. If you haven’t noticed lately, today’s parents say “good job” and “can you do X” a lot.

  175. want [and in order] to get [...] must demonstrate
    This dispute increasingly looks semantic – not a bad thing, necessarily.
    “Must” means power , Nijma – that is, indicates ‘relations of force’. As positive reinforcement and constructive incentives indicate the exertion of power. I use the word in a judgement-neutral way — not to mean ‘dispiriting or bloody-minded violence’.

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