American Express and Morgan Harjes comparison in a novel

bgmbrkmn

New Member
Turkish
“Are you going to write to me, a lot?”
“Fourteen Place Vendôme, every day.”
“How did you know?”
Oh, you’re a Morgan, Harjes girl, as distinguished from an American Express girl. I’ll write every day and cable every week-end. And what will I get for it? A postcard that I’d be ashamed to show to my own mother and a scarf from Liberty’s and maybe a Dunhill lighter.”



This is from John O'Hara's novel, Appointment in Samarra. We are working on its Turkish translation and couldn't figure out the words in bold. We know that Morgan, Harjes & Co. of the 1920s became the bank we know as JP Morgan today, but this doesn't help us understand the comparison made in this sentence. Does it refer to a distinction in social or economic status in the 1920s-30s? If so, which of these banks served to the upper-crust? Or is the author making an entirely different comparison between the two?

Thanks in advance...
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    This is not really a matter of language, but one of culture or history. The language effect only comes into play by the use of business names to describe a person.

    Morgan, Harjes & Co.
    dealt with governments at the highest level on matters of great significance; American Express dealt with the recently rich and their purchases of day-to-day items.

    “Oh, you’re a girl from a background that is capable of dealing impressively with serious matters in the long-term, as distinguished from a girl who is simply interested in the trivia of day-to-day life.

     

    bgmbrkmn

    New Member
    Turkish
    This is not really a matter of language, but one of culture or history. The language effect only comes into play by the use of business names to describe a person.

    Morgan, Harjes & Co.
    dealt with governments at the highest level on matters of great significance; American Express dealt with the recently rich and their purchases of day-to-day items.

    “Oh, you’re a girl from a background that is capable of dealing impressively with serious matters in the long-term, as distinguished from a girl who is simply interested in the trivia of day-to-day life.
    When translating, such uses become crucial to convey the right meaning. We will have to explain the context in a footnote for the Turkish readership and your answer clarifies it a lot. Thank you so much!
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    In England we might say
    "She is a Cambridge [Univeristy] girl, not a Derby University girl" as Cambridge University is synonymous with the highest standards and Derby University with a significantly lower standard.

    And, in a Turkish context: "She is a Sabanci University girl, not a Pamukkale University girl."
     

    bgmbrkmn

    New Member
    Turkish
    In England we might say
    "She is a Cambridge [Univeristy] girl, not a Derby University girl" as Cambridge University is synonymous with the highest standards and Derby University with a significantly lower standard.

    And, in a Turkish context: "She is a Sabanci University girl, not a Pamukkale University girl."
    Thank you, sir, for this incredibly illuminating answer. You made our day =))
     
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