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    #1

    covert insults dear to

    Hi!
    What is the exact meaning of the following passage? It is from an itinerary written nearly 420 years ago in Spanish, and was translated into English, nearly 110 years ago. Of course it is from a foot note about the skirmish among the Portuguese and other European nations. It is about some ranks od officials in Ottoman empire.


    The Chawush moreover, is the other's superior in rank and roguery — less of an orderly and more of a bailiff — yet not of such rank that his mission to the Signory was any better than one of the covert insults dear to the Asian diplomatist.

    Thanks very much

  1. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: covert insults dear to

    You're not giving us enough information. Here's the best I can do with what you've provided:

    "The Chawush moreover, is the other's superior in rank and roguery" = The Chawush has more authority and fewer scruples.

    "Yet not of such rank" = Not powerful enough.

    "That his mission to the Signory was any better than one of the covert insults dear to the Asian diplomatist" = To do more than just annoy the Signory, as an Asian diplomat in the story likes to do.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: covert insults dear to

    Certainly not enough information.
    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    ...
    "... one of the covert insults dear to the Asian diplomatist" = To do more than just annoy the Signory, as an Asian diplomat in the story likes to do.
    Even the last point of Charlie's excellent gloss is over-precise I think. Given the date, and the European-supremacist assumptions commonly expressed at the time, the writer might be referring to a supposed common trait of all Asian diplomatists: "The <racial-stereotype> is <dubious-generalisation>".

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  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: covert insults dear to

    Yes! I didn't think of that. Just goes to show what a harmless drudge can do.

    Honestly, I'm not sure what the darn thing is all about.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  4. Skrej's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: covert insults dear to

    Paraphrased: Although the position of Chawush is higher in both rank (and has more dishonest tendencies) than his counterpart, it was still a low enough rank that sending him on the mission to meet the Signory (a higher ranking foreign leader) was a subtle insult that the Asian diplomat was fond of making.

    In other words, the Asian leader sent somebody just high enough in rank on a diplomatic mission, but still low enough to be insulting towards person he was meeting.

    In the world of diplomacy, the people meeting are supposed to be of roughly equal ranking. Sending a lower-ranking individual to meet somebody of higher rank would be construed as insulting.

    It's subtly saying "you're not important enough in our eyes to merit us sending somebody more important to meet you".
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