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  1. Tinkerbell's Avatar
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    #1

    Holy hell weasel

    Before I could even turn the first page, I dropped it back on the papers. “Holy hell weasel,” I breathed.

    Holy hell weasel??


    For the sake of Holy Hell?

  2. Tullia's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Holy hell weasel

    It's not an existing phrase. I guess it's a made up curse-word to sound "authentic" within the universe of the novel, and because you can't really have people swearing in a children's book.
    It sounds funny though :D

  3. Tinkerbell's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Holy hell weasel

    So, can I use "For the sake of Holy Hell" for it?

  4. Tullia's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Holy hell weasel

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerbell View Post
    So, can I use "For the sake of Holy Hell" for it?

    I'm not sure you need the "for the sake of"; it sounds a bit stilted.

    Maybe just "Holy Hell" would work - but then you lose some of the humour from it; "holy hell weasel" makes me giggle because it's so odd. Weasels are not the scariest of animals, after all.

    Could you not substitute something similar in your own language to retain the humour? I don't think it's the "semantic sense" of the words that is important about the phrase - more the fact it doesn't really make a lot of sense!

  5. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Holy hell weasel

    Quote Originally Posted by Tullia View Post
    ...Maybe just "Holy Hell" would work - but then you lose some of the humour from it; "holy hell weasel" makes me giggle because it's so odd. Weasels are not the scariest of animals, after all.

    ...
    This came as news to me when I was first told, but in some cultures the weasel is regarded as an animal of ill-omen. This belief gave rise to an intriguing set of propitiatory euphemisms meaning 'weasel' in Romance languages:

    French - bellette (beautiful little thing)
    Italian - donnola (little lady)
    Portuguese - doninha (little lady)
    Spanish - comadreja (motherly 'friend' on the analogy of compadre and confrère)

    I imagine modern-day speakers of those languages don't realize they are, at root, euphemisms, but maybe the author of Demonglass knows about this association.

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 16-Sep-2010 at 11:51. Reason: Added one more example

  6. Tullia's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Holy hell weasel

    That's really interesting, BobK!

    I certainly agree that weasels aren't ever going to be seen as a "nice" (such a weasel word, pun intended) animals - after all, they were the "bad guys" in The Wind in the Willows (and various other children's books) so the evil connotation is clearly still present perhaps subconsciously, and even nowadays we use it as a word with negative connotations when referring to things other than the animal.

    However, I still don't think they are "scary" in a meaningful sense: the language of the novel is very modern American and the intended audience is teens from what I can gather. I would be inclined to stick to my guns and say that weasel was intended primarily for its incongruity as an oath, and the resultant slightly comic effect. After all, were I to start using "Ten thousand furies and serpents" as an oath nowadays, I suspect (far too) many people wouldn't understand the reference - in fact I doubt one in a thousand would - and find it comic rather than serious.
    Last edited by Tullia; 16-Sep-2010 at 14:10.

  7. BobK's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Holy hell weasel

    I'm inclined to think you're right. But I still have the vague suspicion that, probably by way of some learned source like Tolkien, the association of weasels with evil may have found its way into the stock-in-trade of 21st century fantasy literature. A lot of on-line game players have a very clear idea of what - say - an orc looks like and can do because Tolkien popularized them - even if they've never read a book in their life (let alone one by Tolkien).

    I know this smacks of me shifting my ground, but I do think someone like Tolkien may well have introduced some real-life folk beliefs into the world of modern fantasy fiction.

    b

  8. Tullia's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Holy hell weasel

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I'm inclined to think you're right. But I still have the vague suspicion that, probably by way of some learned source like Tolkien, the association of weasels with evil may have found its way into the stock-in-trade of 21st century fantasy literature. A lot of on-line game players have a very clear idea of what - say - an orc looks like and can do because Tolkien popularized them - even if they've never read a book in their life (let alone one by Tolkien).

    I know this smacks of me shifting my ground, but I do think someone like Tolkien may well have introduced some real-life folk beliefs into the world of modern fantasy fiction.

    b
    Mr JRR has a lot to answer for when it comes to fatasy fiction (and believe me there's a knock-on effect relating to fantasy gaming too which is very clear).

    I doubt we could track weasel down too closely to a single source; there are - aren't there always? - Shakespearian references that are pretty negative, but I think Kenneth Grahame via A. A. Milne probably had more impact on your generation and mine!

    Interestingly as I was just doing some casual research (all hail Google) as your post had piqued my interest, I found some interesting comments about the Christian view of the weasel, which seems considerably more positive.

    I came across a few websites, this seemed the best summary:
    ChristStory Weasel Page

    However, as always, I want to make the caveat clear: this was not scientific research, just casual browsing and link clicking, so I can't vouch for the veracity of the source.
    Last edited by Tullia; 16-Sep-2010 at 15:30. Reason: correcting typo

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