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  1. #11
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Re: counterfeit farthing

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Thank you, BC.
    You're welcome. I'd love to do this more often. I seem to have lost touch with Polish grammar. I had to edit this post twice and there's still a slight misinterpretation there. It's not "I" that's masculine, but "give". There's no gender distinction for the first-person singular nominative pronoun in Polish. And there's no pronoun in this sentence.
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 01-Dec-2011 at 19:53. Reason: thanks, 5jj

  2. #12
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: counterfeit farthing

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    In all fairness mistakes like this are only to be expected in a learner of English who wasn't even fluent in it untill he was in his twienties and make you wonder how someone learning English only as his second language can attain this level of mastery.
    And it was his third language.

    I re-read The Secret Agent a few months ago and it was as stunning a read as the first time, and thematically more topical- an amazing writer.

  3. #13
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: counterfeit farthing

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    You're welcome. I'd love to do this more often.

  4. #14
    JarekSteliga is offline Member
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    Re: counterfeit farthing

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    And it was his third language.

    I re-read The Secret Agent a few months ago and it was as stunning a read as the first time, and thematically more topical- an amazing writer.

    Prompted by your remark I looked in Wikipedia and learned the same. My uneducated guess is that English could have been his fourth or even fifth since at his day Poland was being occupied by Austro-Hungary (enforcing German as official language) and in this part of the country Russian or Ukrainian has always been spoken hand in hand with Polish (which gave rise to a mixed dialect still in use, called "Chachłacki").

    I suppose your current place of residence serves as a fitting backdrop to Condrad's narratives

  5. #15
    JarekSteliga is offline Member
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    Re: counterfeit farthing

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    By the way, what is the Polish idiom you're thinking of? "Nie dałbym za to złamanego grosza"? It may have been an influence but you surely see that they don't mean exactly the same thing literally. "Zły szeląg" could be translated as "counterfeit farthing", but is there an idiom with "zły szeląg" that means what Conrad meant? The one I know means something completely different.
    Well, this is an inapropriate venue for discussing the intricacies of Polish language but if no-one minds too much here is what I have to say about this.

    You are absolutely right and I only realized it after reading your post! I searched both "Polish Language Phraseology Dictionary" and "Polish Language Dictionary published by PWN" and found no prhase containing "counterfeit farthing or zły szeląg" which could possibly be used to convey what Conrad meant.

    When originally posting this thread I indeed erroneously thought that Conrad could have borrowed (perhaps instinctively) from "Nie dałbym za to złamanego grosza" little thinking that "broken farthing / złamany grosz or szeląg" is neither here nor there in front of "counterfeit farthing".

    This leads me to put forward these options:

    1. Conrad intended to say "Nie dałbym za to złamanego grosza" (I would not have given a broken farthing) but mixed up the "zły szeląg" (counterfeit farthing) with the "złamany szeląg" (broken farthing)

    2. Wrote what he wrote without any intention to borrow anything but rather spontaneously or off the top of his head


    By the way, which English idiom (through and through and tired as it might be ) could Conrad have used to convey what he meant?

  6. #16
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    Re: counterfeit farthing

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    1. Conrad intended to say "Nie dałbym za to złamanego grosza" (I would not have given a broken farthing) but mixed up the "zły szeląg" (counterfeit farthing) with the "złamany szeląg" (broken farthing)

    2. Wrote what he wrote without any intention to borrow anything but rather spontaneously or off the top of his head
    I still think you're missing 3. He had some Polish (or other) phrase in mind, decided to adapt it to English, but not translate it verbatim, and consciously coined that phrase. It was neither an error, nor unintentional.
    You'll often find novelists intentionally writing novel phrases. It's partly what their readers pay them for.

  7. #17
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: counterfeit farthing

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    By the way, which English idiom (through and through and tired as it might be ) could Conrad have used to convey what he meant?
    If they were around in his day, he might have said that it was not worth a straw/a sou/a damn/a cent/a tinkerís cuss, or that he wouldn't give (you) a haípenny/tuppence/ a thank you for it. There are probably many more.

  8. #18
    JarekSteliga is offline Member
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    Re: counterfeit farthing

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I still think you're missing 3. He had some Polish (or other) phrase in mind, decided to adapt it to English, but not translate it verbatim, and consciously coined that phrase. It was neither an error, nor unintentional.
    You'll often find novelists intentionally writing novel phrases. It's partly what their readers pay them for.

    I stand corrected. Conrad found himself in good hands when under attack from my irreverence .


    And many thanks to all for the general feedback.

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