A good pawn never shamed his master.

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Silver

Senior Member
Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
"A good pawn never shamed his master."

Hello, above is a proverb, but I want to know what on earth it means?

Because I checked out many chinese translations, now I am confused.
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    My take: A good servant never brought shame on his/her master. ("Never brought" in the sense of never doing or saying anything that would bring shame on the master, the employer.)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    "A good pawn never shamed his master."

    Hello, above is a proverb, but I want to know what on earth it means?

    Because I checked out many chinese translations, now I am confused.
    I've never heard of it, Silverobama, and I don't know what it means. Is it supposed to be an English proverb?

    EDIT: Google suggests it's Finnish.
     
    Last edited:

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello Mr.Copy, what does "my take" mean? thank you
    Hello, Silverobama. Copyright was telling you that he thinks the phrase means that a good servant never shames his master. He never does anything that would make the master feel ashamed. Like Loob, I had never heard this one before, but I'll bet Copyright's interpretation is right.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I also googled this as it made no sense to me - I was thinking of pawn as a chess piece. I found text on a Finnish website which had been translated from a good pawn never shamed his master. I then ran the Finnish through Google translate which came up with Fair mortgage loan do not dishonor. That is clearly a poor translation, but it suggests that pawn is being used in the second COED meaning of:
    pawn2
    n verb deposit (an object) with a pawnbroker as security for money lent.
    n noun (usu. in pawn) the state of being pawned.

    ORIGIN
    C15: from Old French pan 'pledge, security'.
    I also found this web site which contains this
    1538.
    A good pawn never shames the master. — Ho. ; Glapthorne, Wit in a

    Constable, v.
    A good pawn never shamed his master. — Brathwait, Whimzies, 1631,

    "A Wine Soaker."
    No shame to borrow on a good pawn. — K.
    So in 1538 and 1631 it seems to have been understood to mean that there is no shame in borrowing money from a pawnbroker, as long as you get a good deal.

    Perhaps the correct reply to Silverobama is that this was a recognised proverb 400 years ago, but makes little sense in English now.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Yes, excellent find. But I must admit I don't like the "his master" -- but who am I to talk about 400-year-old usage. :)

    Anyway, I like "A good pawn never shames the master."
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The Google Translate instance may be a coincidence or a intentional pun/change on the part of the original translator (the two senses of pawn are not etymologically related) and there seems to be no equivilent to "master" in the Finnish.
    I am sticking with pawn as in a foot soldier (related to peon) for the English version even if the original Finnish seems to be about loans.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Fair enough, Myridon:).

    But the bottom line is surely that - whatever it means - this proverb is not used in English any more.

    Silverobama, it strikes me that a number of your recent questions have related to antiquated expressions. Forgive me - but I suspect you should throw away your current textbook and find a more up-to-date one.....;)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I love the way this forum uncovers previously-unknown definitions and uses of words.
    Here is another pawn:
    2. a. A thing (or person) given into another's keeping as security for a debt or for the performance of some action; a pledge, surety.
    ...
    d. In Africa: a person held as a pledge or security for debt, and used as a slave.
    You can see how the proverb could be relying on this definition.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Fair enough, Myridon:).

    But the bottom line is surely that - whatever it means - this proverb is not used in English any more.

    Silverobama, it strikes me that a number of your recent questions have related to antiquated expressions. Forgive me - but I suspect you should throw away your current textbook and find a more up-to-date one.....;)
    Hello Loob, You know what, I am so happy that you can gave me this suggestion, to throw my textbook away. I really want to ask is whether you natives, are still studying archaic English or ancient English like we chinese do, "Dust thou art and undo dust shalt thou return" cannot be more familiar to me.
    But I suppose most of the natives don't know what does it mean and obviously here is not a forum for talking about it. But what I do hope Loob, you as a wonderful sister, to know is that not simply am I learning those may seem "old-fashioned" English, I might be a bit audacious to say that the next, even next next generation will do so, because through learning English I really understanf what English means to me.
    I don't have a text book, I have many notebooks, they could be a witness for how I work, I tend to keep it till I kick the bucket, but Loob, my dear sister, I want to tell you that "culture" is really important but not necessarily essential for different people.
     
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