Discussion in 'Vocabulary & Translation Help' started by General Joy, May 15, 2008.

  1. General Joy

    General Joy Well-Known Member

    I was going to have my character call his (female) friend "housenko" in conversation, as a nickname, meaning "caterpillar." Yes, not as traditional as "sweetheart" or "darling," but he means it endearingly. However, according to slovnik.cz, "housenko" can also mean "grub." (!) In English, calling someone a caterpillar can be cute, but to call someone a grub is just an insult. So... in Czech, what's the connotation of "housenka"? Possibly cute and endearing, or equivalent to calling someone a worm?
  2. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    I think more a worm :). Not very flattering.

    Actually I don't see difference between caterpilllar and grub. What is the difference in English? According to Wikipedia, caterpillar IS kind of grub (larva). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larva
  3. Petr_B

    Petr_B Well-Known Member

    I don't think any lady would appreciate to be called "housenka". In my opinion, definitely not cute in Czech, gives a wormish impression. In Czech, the only cute character calls based on insects coming to my mind right now are "beruška" (ladybug) and "brouček" (little beetle/bug). The difference between a caterpillar and a grub is that caterpillar will change to a butterfly (or moth), right? Also I think it could be somewhat insulting to call someone "housenka", because it might mean that the person in question is somewhat ugly now, but can be transformed into a beautiful butterfly later (something along the lines of ugly duckling). Caterpillars also have image of gluttony pests. But all this is language independent, kinda weird how caterpillar can be considered to be cute in English.
  4. Yerusalyim

    Yerusalyim Well-Known Member

    OK, this brings up a subject I have interest in...how does Emilie become Miluschka?
  5. General Joy

    General Joy Well-Known Member

    Okay, thanks! Maybe it's just me who thinks caterpillars are cute. :) But then, this is the kind I'm used to seeing, and also the woolly ones:

    http://share.triangle.com/sites/share-u ... review.jpg

    Grubs, on the other hand, more closely resemble a maggot, and therefore are rather ugly and icky. Even the sound of the word
    grub is not very pretty, and people use it to denote something dirty (you might hear the phrase "grubby hands" in a sentence, like "get your grubby hands away from my plate!") So there is a difference in connotation between caterpillar and worm or grub.
  6. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    In same way Robert become Dick? :)
  7. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Dick is Richard, actually.

    In fact, Miluška is a diminutive of the Slavic name Miluše which itself seems to be diminutive of the Slavic name Miloslava. It is unrelated to the name Emílie which is of Latin origin. It is comon to use the diminutive of the different name because of the “mil” cluster they have in common. A standard diminutive for Emílie could be Emilka.
  8. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Thanks. I knew it, but I mistyped it.
  9. kibicz

    kibicz Well-Known Member

    More interesting would be Josef to Pepa proces;)
  10. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Or Jan and Honza :)

    Btw do you think it is possible to have first name "Pepa" or "Honza" here in Czechia?
  11. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Or John to Jack

    In english, I thing we imagine a big difference between a caterpillar and a grub.

    Caterpillar.positive. soon to be a beautiful butterfly

    grub..not necessarily negative feeling, but less positive...squirming around in the soil and maybe one day becoming locust or something.
  12. DanielZ

    DanielZ Well-Known Member

    Very generally speaking, a caterpillar lives above ground and goes through metamorphosis, becoming a butterfly.

    A grub lives under ground and eats the roots of plant life having one stage of adult life.

  13. Petr_B

    Petr_B Well-Known Member

    Anyway, cute character calls in Czech are usually diminutives, so using "housenečka" instead of "Housenka" would a bit better. If you think caterpillars are cute, ask some women to take them in their bare hands. :lol: Kittens, puppies and some other young animals are considered to be cute, insects or arthropods are usually not.
    Is it just me or does English really lacks the Czech flexibility when it comes to diminutives - in Czech you can make a diminutive of pretty much any noun, it's not that easy in English, right?

    And speaking about Emilie -> Miluška thing such are not uncommon in English either, are they? Above-mentioned Richard -> Dick, William -> Bill, Margaret -> Peggy and there must be many more when even I can list three, while it's the first time I hear that Jack comes from John.
  14. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    I think english diminutive forms of names is simply to put the 'Long E' sound after them.

    Robert, Rob or Bob, Robbie or Bobby
    Tim...Timmie(not sure of spelling)it does not look right.

    And you are right. I don't think we use the diminutive near as much as it is used in czech.
  15. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Actually, most American women will allow a caterpillar to walk on their bare hands. Most American women refuse to touch bugs, all but ladybugs & caterpillars. We think they are cute, so they are allowed. :wink:

    The American conception is not that the caterpillar is ugly now and becomes a beautiful butterfly, but rather is very cute now and will become beautiful. More like a pretty teenager blossoms into a beautiful woman. Not an insult at all.
  16. General Joy

    General Joy Well-Known Member

    Exactly, dzurisova... I'm glad you agree! :wink:

    Regarding nicknames, I read an interesting article once about names (I wish I could find it now) and how more parents are naming their children what used to be diminutives. For example, Jack might be someone's birth name, not John, from which it's derived. Also Tess/Tessa comes from Teresa, Sally from Sarah, Nancy from Ann, Colin from Nicholas, etc. Those all used to be nicknames, but it's more common now to see them as real first names.
  17. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

    Similar difference between Czech and Slovak nicknames:

    in Czech "brouček" is a nickname
    in Slovak similar nickname is "chrobáčik"

    but definitely "chrobáček" would not be a nickname in Czech (at least I think so 8) )
  18. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

    Giuseppe = Beppo = Pepa
    Josephus = Sepp = Beppo = Pepa

    This is more straightforward:

    Johannes = Hans = Honza
    Johannes = Johan = Jan
  19. laylah

    laylah Well-Known Member

    I think the English diminutive was the suffix "-kin", which corresponds to the German "-chen". But like old English case endings it has fallen out of use except for a few instances where it still appears, for example in fairy tales or nursery rhymes - manikin (a little man) and lambkin. It was also used with personal names eg jenkin, from John or Wilkin, from William.
  20. Irena M

    Irena M Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't want to be called that; sorry.

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