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  1. Farbauti's Avatar
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      • German
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      • Germany
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      • Germany

    • Join Date: Feb 2014
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    #1

    Question 'Invertebrate' to describe a person

    Hello forum,

    in the book 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' there is an adjective that I don't fully understand, Chapter 2

    '
    (...)
    'Have you got a spanner?' said Winston, fiddling with the nut on the angle-joint.
    'A spanner,' said Mrs Parsons, immediately becoming invertebrate. ' I don't know. Perhaps the children ---'
    (...)
    '
    The dictionary tells that 'invertebrate' means an animal without a spine or bones. So the use of this word is obviously a kind of speech figure, isn't it?
    The german version of the book translates it like 'antriebslos - listless', but how adequate is that?

    Thanks for help
    Last edited by Farbauti; 10-Aug-2014 at 12:51.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 16,038
    #2

    Re: 'Invertebrate' to describe a person

    That dictionary defines the noun 'invertebrate', which is derived from the adjectival usage [=not having a backbone].

    Think of the metaphor spineless.

    b

    PS It's about 50 years since I read the book, but I suspect there was a political angle to Mrs Parsons's reaction - antriebslos doesn't strike me as a very good translation.
    Last edited by BobK; 10-Aug-2014 at 11:24. Reason: Added PS

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