Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fresh thinking

Words, specifically the use of them, are a bit like rivers. The authorities may try to plan to their movement but they have a will of their own.  An example is the word fresh. Its standard meaning is similar to new or young, as in fresh start or fresh fish. Yet, in English we also have fresh water, which has a low salt content as compared to sea water, fresh vegetables, which are in contrast to cooked vegetables, and fresh children, who are not polite.

As a matter of contrast, French avoids any mention of freshness. River water is douce, a word whose general translation into English is soft. At a restaurant, you can order crudités, with the contrast with processed vegetables, such as steamed or sautéed ones. If your kid asks you why, it may because he is culotté, a reference to his underclothes, a bit like being cheeky.

Examining a language not based on Latin, Hebrew refers toמיים מתוקים  [maim metukim], literally sweet water. In terms of the vegetables, it is very rare to find  ירקות התוכות [yerakot hatuchot], literally cut vegetables in a restaurant.  Instead, chopped salads are the norm. Finally, when it comes to behavior, Israelis go straight to the issue. The kid is חצוף [hatsuf], having gaul, generally like his or her parents.

I hope I brought your attention to some fresh, albeit irrelevant, information.  Now go out and enjoy some fresh air!   

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