Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Lucky fishes?

From here.


  1. A very bad translation for what should actually be "Pisces", of course.

    I'm reminded of the following:


    Thus, we have the concepts of shomer negiah (”protecting touch,” or avoiding touching members of the opposite sex in any affectionate way) and yichud (avoiding being alone with a member of the opposite sex). As you can imagine, this leads to many a sexually-stifled college student.

    The term "shomer negiah" is not so new any more -- it must be at least thirty years old by now, if not older.

    And fascinatingly, it has already undergone a shift in parsing.

    Back when the term started (at the latest 1980, but I think maybe even several years before then, if not decades), it parsed like "shomer shabbes" -- the rule was "negiah", parallel to "shabbes", and someone who observed it was "shomer negiah".

    But now, the rule itself is called "shomer negiah", to the extent that the author of this article thinks that the expression "shomer negiah" means "protecting touch" (whatever that means), and that that is parallel to "shabbes".

    So, the parallel to shomer shabbes would have to be "shomer shomer negiah" -- and in fact, one does encounter sentences such as "do you keep shomer negiah" or "i observe the rules of shomer negiah".

  2. Fascinating. I don't know if I'd say "bad translation" so much as "mistake," that is, non-comprehension of the original term and then making a guess.

  3. To be fair, these are the work of the editors, not authors.

  4. Lipman: How not?

  5. Have you ever heard teenagers say: "Do we really have to learn....Can you talk about Shomer Negiah instead?"

    Incidentally, I find it interesting that the term for "one who keeps the rules of shomer negiah" is increasingly becoming simply "shómer". As in: "You might not want to date him, because he's shómer."

  6. Not a fan of the plural "fishes". Acceptable, yes. Elegant, no.

  7. Actually, S., it's a bad translation as well as a mistake. Even if Pisces didn't occur to them, it would mean "luck having some preposition-like relationship to fish(es)," not "fishes having some preposition-like relationship to luck."

    "Fishes" is ***the*** correct plural when talking about kinds of fishes, and "fish" is ***the*** correct plural when talking about individual fish. I can even pull a little bit of rank here, having had a minor role in preparing *Ecology and Evolution of Poeciliid Fishes*, ed. Evans, Pilastro, and Schlupp, for publication.



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