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give a tinker's cuss

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by malina, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. malina

    malina Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spanish/Catalan
    Hi,

    I guess this is a phrase and I imagine that the meaning is something like she doesn't care, but I'd like a confirmation.

    "Then she said she thought she'd sleep over and that in the future she wouldn't give a tinker's cuss who knew she was sleeping with him."

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Ritoha Senior Member

    Murcia,España
    English-England
  3. duncandhu Senior Member

    Madrid, Spain
    United Kingdom, English
    Yes, the contruction "I can't/couldn't give a [something rude]" means that they don't care.

    for example:
    "I couldn't give a fuck/shit" se puede traducir mas o menos como "Me suda la polla" (Esp)

    Other versions:
    "I couldn't give a rat's arse about your new job"
    "I don't give a flying fuck whether you want to go out tonight"
    etc etc. (I think you get it now)

    But your example made me laugh quite a lot :)

    Saludos
    Duncan
     
  4. Ritoha Senior Member

    Murcia,España
    English-England
    Duncan, it's got to be from an old book,i haven't heard it used since i was a child! :D
     
  5. malina

    malina Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spanish/Catalan
    Hi,

    in fact it is not an old book, it's from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". But I've found some old expressions and old-fashioned words in it.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  6. mijoch Senior Member

    British English
    It's not particularly rude.

    "A tinker's curse".---Tinkers and gypsies had similar customs----Cursing (maldiciendo) those who wouldn't do business with them.

    I remember hearing "I don't give a tinker's cuss."

    M.
     
  7. Spug Senior Member

    (una observación para los hispanohablantes nativos)
    Agreed, in fact this version is not rude at all.

    It's a very old expression. I can remember my mother and grandparents using it frequently when I was very young.

    The most commonly heard version in the southern US was "I don't give a tinker's damn." Even this stronger version is only very slightly rude. I doubt that most adults would be offended to hear it.

    duncandhu... on the other hand, a couple of the alternatives that you've suggested are in fact very rude indeed, and should only be used among close friends ((una observación para los hispanohablantes nativos :))



    Saludos...
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2009
  8. malina

    malina Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spanish/Catalan
    The woman who says that is 56, maybe it's for that that she uses an old expression.
     
  9. Ritoha Senior Member

    Murcia,España
    English-England
    Yes, you do tend to find that people still use expressions learned when they where young, probably from hearing parents/grandparents.
     
  10. duncandhu Senior Member

    Madrid, Spain
    United Kingdom, English
    Yes, apologies... they were the first ones that came to mind to give examples of when that structure was more commonly used...

    Saludos
    Duncan
     
  11. Spug Senior Member

    No, no need to apologize... I just wanted to point that out so that our Spanish-speaking friends would realize it.

    Cheers...
     
  12. NancyC Senior Member

    Spain
    English - American
    A "tinker" was a pot-mender. A "tinker´s cuss," I think, is a small, non-important curse.
     
  13. bondia

    bondia Senior Member

    Illes Balears
    English-England
    "A tinker's damn (cuss)" meant the slightest amount, not worth a tinker's damn. From the tinker's reputed habit of cursing at the slightest motivation.
    A tinker was, oiriginally, a person who mended the metal utensils used in the houses of the time, and, in Scotland and Ireland was also a term used to describe a Gypsy, and later became a synonym for someone who carried out his work clumsily.
     
  14. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    Agree with Spug that duncandhu's suggestions should never be used in polite company!
    What would be a nice mild equivalent in Spanish to "not give a tinker's damn"?
    I have read that the word originally was not even "damn" at all but "dam," some kind of tool used for mending pots.
     
  15. bondia

    bondia Senior Member

    Illes Balears
    English-England
    I think it was "cuss", a tinker's cuss (curse). See my previous post. I've never heard of "dam" as a kind of tool
     
  16. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    I have no idea if it's true or not. But I have seen explanations along these lines:
    (From http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/27/messages/292.html)
    But "cuss" obviously is from "curse," so that part at least looks pretty dubious.

    The etymology given for this phrase indicates that it is the solder used by tinkers to mend pewter ware.
    I always understood that the tinker actually had a small device among his tools that he could use to dam up molten solder and hold it in place over a repair. It was this tool that was actually a tinker's dam and not the solder itself. But I have no basis for this conjecture except having read it somewhere, years ago. If someone doesn't give a tinker's dam (or cuss) the they are reckoned to be completely indifferent to the outcome of an event. Dam (note the lack of a terminal "n") is used today to describe a structure for holding back water; so it was in the days of tinkers. They used to travel the country earning their livings mending pots and pans and sharpening knives. They would mend the pots by filling the leak on the inside with some clay and then repairing the outside with permanent material. When this was done the clay was discarded. The clay stopper was the tinker's dam. The dam was also known as a cuss. Both were worthless, hence the saying.
    An alternative explanation is based on the supposed frequency that tinkers swore - so frequent that the value of their 'damn' was worthless. You choose - I prefer the first explanation.
     
  17. bondia

    bondia Senior Member

    Illes Balears
    English-England
    Thank you, k-in-sc for that information. NOW I see the connection between "dam" (without a terminal n)and "curse"!
    Live and learn..
    Best regards
     
  18. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    I'm not saying that etymology is true! It's just one explanation. Nobody really knows for sure ...
     
  19. Dragowoman Junior Member

    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Spanish - Spain

    Hi you all!

    Nice contributions, very instructing and enjoyable ;-)

    I just wanted to get back shortly to some nice and mild equivalents in Spanish to that of the dam[n]:

    Me importa un pito.
    Me importa un pimiento.
    Me importa un rábano.

    I probably forgot some other suitable and nice vegetables.

    Saludos!
     

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