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Norwegian: to be tarred with the same brush

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by torrobin, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. torrobin Senior Member

    Norway
    Norwegian
    Hi, I wonder how to translate into Norwegian the expression 'to be tarred with the same brush'.

    I found this explanation on The Free Dictionary:
    'to believe wrongly that someone or something has the same bad qualities as someone or something that is similar (usually passive) I admit that some football supporters do cause trouble but it's not fair that we're all being tarred with the same brush.'

    At Phrase Finder I found this:
    'If you've looked this up, then you know that being tarred was at one time, in the U.S., literally to be covered with tar as a form of humilitation and punishment--either for doing wrong or for being different (e.g., being racially black). Sometimes the tarring was followed by being covered with feathers, as from a pillow or a recent chicken-plucking, hence "tarred and feather." This might be followed by being ridden out of town on a rail (e.g., fence rail). I cannot give you the history of this practice; perhaps someone else knows.'


    In the first example, with the football supporters, one could use the Norwegian phrase 'å skjære alle over en kam'. But it seems to me that 'to be tarred' includes a more 'active action'.

    thanks, torrobin
     
  2. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States
    I happened to look up the Norwegian word for brush yesterday and think you might want to use pensel instead of kam in the sentence you are attempted to write. Two of the translations for kam that I just found are "comb" and "hair brush." Also when I checked the verb å skjære in several Norwegian to English dictionaries, two of the translations I found are "to cut" or "to shear."
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  3. henbjo Junior Member

    Valencia, Spain
    Norwegian
    Idioms like these are notoriously hard to translate, because of their figurative nature. The most analogous idiom in Norwegian will be, as you said, å skjære alle over én kam. I got to display one of the few uses of the acute accent in Norwegian, too. :)
     
  4. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States
    What would be the English translation for the verb å skjære in this example? :confused:
     
  5. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    The expression actually refers to not giving everybody the same hair cut, i.e. not treating everybody the same way. Norw "skjære" is akin to Eng shear
     
  6. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States
    So would the literal translation of this expression be "to shear everyone with one comb"?
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
  7. torrobin Senior Member

    Norway
    Norwegian
    Just to end the discussion about 'skjære alle over en kam'; it doesn't mean to not treat everybody the same way. It's the opposite; it means to treat and/or judge various people in the same, often derogatory, general way. It is used often to indicate prejudices, for example: A person meets a man from India who is very rude, and he/she then claims that 'all people from India are rude'.

    As for the source of the idiom, here's from Riksmålsforbundet:

    '(...) man uttaler det med trykk på EN, som da bør skrives med accent aigu: én.


    Uttrykket skriver seg fra den tid da man ikke klippet, men skar håret. Man løftet håret med en kam (slik man gjør også i dag) og skar det som raget over kammen. Å skjære alle (eller alt) over én kam betydde altså å skjære alles hår på samme måte. Man kan kanskje forestille seg at "frisørene" hadde kammer av forskjellig bredde og brukte dem ifølge "kundens" ønske om hvor mye som skulle skjæres.

    Uttrykket er oppført i ordbøkene. I "min" ordbok (Norsk Ordbok med 1000 illustrasjoner, Kunnskapsforlaget 2005) står det under KAM og med henvisning fra SKJÆRE. Det pleier dessuten å stå i populærbøker om språk. Siste sted jeg har sett det omtalt, er i Kjell Ivar Vannebo: "Et columbi egg og andre uttrykk (Cappelen Damm 2009).'



    'Å skjære alle over en kam' is an idiom and as such the word 'kam' can't be changed into 'pensel' or anything else. Nor can the idiom be directly translated into English.

    Back to the discussion of this thread: 'To be tarred with the same brush'. I wonder if one might translate it into 'å bli behandlet på samme måte'.

    torrobin
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
  8. henbjo Junior Member

    Valencia, Spain
    Norwegian
    It seems like a perfectly valid translation in terms of being in keeping with the intended meaning, but you do lose the power of the idiom. I definitely think that if there's a possibility of using an analogous idiom as a translation, this is the best solution. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with using a widely known idiom as å skjære alle over én kam in a passive way: Det er urettferdig når vi blir skåret over én kam alle sammen.

    As an aside, this part of your quote from Riksmålsforbundet caught my attention:
    This is surely incorrect. The reason for the accent is not the emphasis you put on the word, but rather that it is the numeral one and you want to disambiguate it from the indefinite article en.
     
  9. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Which is exactly what "skjære alle over én kam" means!
     
  10. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States
    Tusen takk for det torrobin!
    This idiomatic expression makes a lot more sense to me now. :)

    I just thought I would add too that here in the U.S. one needs to be careful about using this expression "tarred with the same brush" because many feel that it has a racist history associated with the practice of whites unfairly punishing blacks by tarring and feathering them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
  11. torrobin Senior Member

    Norway
    Norwegian
    I found a discussion on the English forum: Tar with the same brush - politically incorrect?

    But I also found this site where the origin is said to not be racial at all:

    There’s nothing directly racist in its history, though there are such huge sensitivities in the United States and elsewhere over any expression that sounds as though it might be (as, for example, with words and phrases such as niggardly, call a spade a spade, and so on), that the reaction of your colleague is understandable.

    It also sounds as though it might be connected with the deeply pejorative expression a touch of the tar brush to describe somebody of mixed ancestry, though it’s actually a separate linguistic creation.


    As it happens, it doesn’t have anything directly to do with tarring and feathering, either, which is an American vigilante punishment known from the eighteenth century (it’s first recorded in Boston, as it happens) and which my reading suggests wasn’t usually a punishment of blacks by whites but of whites by other whites.


    The origin is the verb to tar, meaning to defile or dirty, known from the early years of the seventeenth century. The idiom appears in print first in 1818, in one of Sir Walter Scott’s novels, Rob Roy: “They are a’ tarr’d wi’ the same stick — rank Jacobites and Papists.” Our modern form appears in William Cobbett’s Rural Rides in 1823: “‘You are all tarred with the same brush’, said the sensible people of Maidstone.”

    The idea behind it is that two individuals who have been liberally daubed or painted with the same tar brush look much the same and so appear to have the same characteristics. The links of the colour black with matters that were detestable, dishonourable or evil also added to the negative sense.


    But, as you said, I guess most people - at least in the US - consider it racist anyway.

    torrobin
     
  12. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States
    I was wondering if adding dårlig might help make the meaning closer to the expression "To be tarred with the same brush"?

    å bli behandlet dårlig på samme måte - to be treated badly in the same way

    "Tusen takk" for posting these links torrobin. :thumbsup:

    Unless you are prepared to spend some time explaining why the use of a word or an expression is not racist, it's probably best to simply avoid using them, especially at one's workplace.

     

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