1. The forums will be closed for a major forum upgrade for around 2-4 hours on Sunday, starting around noon US Eastern Time (GMT -4, 18:00 in most of Europe). Details
    Dismiss Notice

an idiom to express avarice

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by mirla, Mar 22, 2012.

  1. mirla Senior Member

    Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Russia, Russian
    Hello!
    In Russia when we want to buy something, but it costs more that we are prepared to pay or we just don´t want to pay that much we say that 'a toad is strangling me'. Is there a similar expression to such kind of situations in English?
     
  2. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Elsewhere
    English English
    How would the actual dialogue that this appears in go, Mirla? [in English, obviously]

    It's always easier to come up with idioms if we have an exact situation to slot them in to.
     
  3. DocPenfro

    DocPenfro Senior Member

    Little England
    English - British
    I'm sure that there are lots; however English people are not renowned for their ability to haggle. If you have paid a very high price for something, a common expression is "It cost an arm and a leg."
     
  4. mirla Senior Member

    Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Russia, Russian
    'to cost an arm and a leg' you would use AFTER you've paid, but I'm searching for the expression for a situation like this: two friends are looking at a dress in a shop, and one says: I really like this dress, but look at the price! I'm not sure I'll buy it. I have the money, but 'a toad is strangling me', it's just, I know that within a few month it will cost two-three times less and I just don't want to pay so much now.
     
  5. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    Hi Mirla,

    The fact that it cost an arm and a leg might stop one from buying it.

    The French say it cost the skin off my buttocks. It's interesting that the high cost should immediately be associated with the loss of parts of the body in both languages.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
  6. mirla Senior Member

    Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Russia, Russian
    Yes, it is interesting. But is there nothing, no idiom about hesitation?
     
  7. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi mirla

    I can't think of an idiom to mean "Even though I've got the money, I don't feel like paying such an exorbitant price".

    The closest I can come to it is "I'm feeling a bit tight-fisted at the moment".
     
  8. DocPenfro

    DocPenfro Senior Member

    Little England
    English - British
    I think that there is a difference in cultural tradition. We associate skill in haggling with Middle Eastern/Eastern societies, and English people tend to be dismissive of such practices. Doubtless this is to our disadvantage, but the result in linguistic terms is that I can think of no obvious equivalent to your "toad". However, there are plenty of ways to grumble afterwards that you paid too much.
     
  9. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Elsewhere
    English English
    I'm strapped for cash at the moment = "I'm short of money at the moment".

    By the way, Mirla, your question seems to have very little to do with 'avarice':(

    And who mentioned haggling?:confused::confused::confused:
     
  10. morzh

    morzh Banned

    USA
    Russian
    Ewie,

    Yes it does....for a Russian :)

    You have to make an allowance for the other language using the same word for being stingy, greedy, or avaricious.
    In Russian it is the same word (zhadnost'). And the expression "zhaba dushit" (toad is stifling me, literally) means exactly that.

    Now, the exact meaning of this Russian idiom is "I want this, but I hate to pay for it".

    I've just asked a native here, and he's confirmed my suspicion, that there is no good idiom for that, and he usually calls it simply "being cheap" / "feeling cheap".
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
  11. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In that context we, in my part of the world, might say that the shopkeeper was "putting the arm in".
    The sense is that I believe the shopkeeper has put an excessively high price on the dress, more than it's worth.
    Unfortunately I can only find one online example of this:
    A: Scan have said thay will ship but would charge £20 per Kilo - its about 7Kg!
    B: Scan is really putting the arm in.
    Source
     
  12. morzh

    morzh Banned

    USA
    Russian
    I asked a native here, having translated the Russian idiom to him, and he said that the only way he could express this was "I am feeling cheap".
     
  13. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    I really like this dress, but look at the price! I'm not sure I'll buy it. I have the money, but I feel I'm being ripped-off/done/turned over/robbed."

    Also, "I've got deep pockets and short arms." and "I'm tight[-fisted]."
     
  14. morbo Senior Member

    Русский
    For sure, it doesn't have anything to do with culture or tradition or both combined. Since it's all about not being able to talk oneself into shelling out money on something, then even if haggling is involved, it's haggling with oneself, not with a shopkeeper at a middle-eastern market over the price of a rug. And, honestly, I don't see how haggling over a price of a dried monkey head is different from negotiating a business deal or talking down the sticker price of a new car, the difference being, of course, that the latter two would proceed in a most civilized Western way.
     
  15. DocPenfro

    DocPenfro Senior Member

    Little England
    English - British
    Maybe not, but you will observe that none of the BE & AE native speakers have been able to come up with anything as colourful as the homicidal toad.
     
  16. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    It's a shame. We've got his eyes are bigger than his stomach to express gluttony.
     
  17. morbo Senior Member

    Русский
    I don't know why, having written what I've written, I forgot to say that there are no toads in this expression. "Жаба" is a russian word for angina. So the idea here is that of a suffocating sensation produced by the fit of unwillingness to part with money.

    I always forget to write something.
    Also, "жаба" is a word for toad, of course, and I fear the toad is what people think of when saying this. But the meaning of "душит жаба" is "to suffer from a fit of angina". But translate it literally, and voila, the strangling toad has appeared...
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
  18. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British English
    Oh dear, :(, how very disappointing - I rather liked that homicidal toad and had been planning to use it at the first opportunity, "as the Russian saying goes".Now I'm left with a boring old 'heart attack'.

    "It gives me a heart attack just thinking of paying that much"

    Hermione
     
  19. morzh

    morzh Banned

    USA
    Russian
    It is neither really a toad nor it is the angina pectoris, but the mangled French "jabot" that does sound like the Russian toad, that got mangled into the toad/angina" (folks etymology).

    None of the idioms I've seen here so far is really a good fit, but then we have to come to terms with the fact that not every idiom, or even a word for that matter can be adequately translated from any language to any language.

    Often times the translation becomes descriptive rather than a word for a word, or an idiom for an idiom.

    This one is well explained by:

    - I would really like it but I'm feeling cheap.
     
  20. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Elsewhere
    English English
    This thread has been moved here from English Only as we were getting precisely nowhere with it there.
     
  21. morbo Senior Member

    Русский
  22. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    "Sticker shock" is a phrase used to express amazement at the cost of an automobile. It has been extended in use and is applied to other purchases.

    "Greedy bastards" comes to mind when someone is clearly jacking up prices to line his pockets with gold.

    I used to have to buy some medications for my cat (not covered by insurance) and it cost me about $60.00 per month. But Merck found that it was a "niche" drug with limited use and sold the patent to another drug company. They raised the price to $900.00 per month, which made the product unatainable. (But my cat out-smarted them all and lived to 24 years to spite them). "Greedy bastards" is the term I used for the new drug company.
     
  23. Hoax

    Hoax Senior Member

    Russian
    I think it is not polite to post links to different dictionaries as Wordreference is a dictionary itself but there was suggested the following equivalent: A wish delayed is a wish denied. Can it be of any use?
     
  24. morbo Senior Member

    Русский
    Well, since in Russian this expression has accumulated rather vivid animalistic connotations, which actually dominate over its initial sense, why not use it this way?
     
  25. gvozd Senior Member

    Well, to be more precise... You should not understand that expression literally. Chest toad (грудная жаба) is an outdated term for Angina pectoris. A greedy person when looking at an expensive thing has a choking sensation.
     
  26. Hoax

    Hoax Senior Member

    Russian
    I may suggest the following translation: I have greed attack.

    It remains some disease connotation in it, like in panic attack or febrile attack or heart attack, etc.
     
  27. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Elsewhere
    English English
    That would be I'm having a greed attack, Hoax. (I like it, though:))
     
  28. Hoax

    Hoax Senior Member

    Russian
    Yeah, we are not friends with english tenses unfortunately =) thanks =)
     
  29. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Elsewhere
    English English
    If you wanted something a bit more playful: I'm having an attack of the greedies. (Based on an attack of the munchies.)

    Or My eyes are bigger than my purse [ladies] / wallet [gents].
     
  30. Hoax

    Hoax Senior Member

    Russian
    This one doesn't work as in russian example it means that a person doesn't want to pay even if his/her wallet/purse is big enough.
     
  31. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Elsewhere
    English English
    The Russian idiom seems to cover more or less everything, doesn't it?:D I agree with previous speakers that there's no English equivalent that covers all of it:(
     
  32. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English

    "Gordon Gekko'ed". (A new--brand new--coinage).

    Gordon Gekko was most famous (from "Wall Street", the movie) for having said, "Greed is good".


    If you Google "Gorden Gekko greed is good speech" you can get a video clip of the speech. Part of it is quoted below:


    The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.
     
  33. morbo Senior Member

    Русский
    I doubt the guy would've hesitated to spend on something he wanted or needed. And he would've paid for it with the money he sucked out of those who were the victims of his greed...
     
  34. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    "I like that dress/dried monkey head/set of matryoshka dolls etc., but I don't want to pay through the nose for it/them."
     
  35. morzh

    morzh Banned

    USA
    Russian

    Morbo, Vasmer is pretty useless here.

    We are not talking the word etymology.
    We are talking idioms.
    Vasmer does not explain idioms either - he explains words.

    The idiom "жаба душит" stems from "жабо душит", which meant the same, and then folk etymology turned "жабо" into more familiar "жабa". Which "жаба", angina pectoris or toad, is anyone's guess.

    Again, my post was deleted there (no Russian allowed), so I wrote that:

    1) We have to admit that both words and idioms translations are not always possible, and often we either have to look foe the "close enough" translation, or use descriptional translation.
    2) I spoke to several natives here now (US East coast); I explained to them the meaning (I want this, but I don't feel like spending the money), and none of them came up with any idiom for it, except saying that "I feel cheap" is the closest that could describe the situation for them.
     
  36. morbo Senior Member

    Русский
    By the way, mentioning Stone, Packard made me think of "Scarface": the moment where Montana, having decided that the bank that launders his money is ripping him off, tries to establish a new partnership, which ultimately turns out to be the beginning of his end. A typical example of what the toad can do.
     
  37. morzh

    morzh Banned

    USA
    Russian
    The typical meaning of "жаба задушила" is not what the situation with Scarface is all about. Scarface simply got greedy.

    Let's not forget the meaning that most people seem to attribute to this phrase, again:

    - Having second thoughts / lack of desire about paying for an item one really covets.
     
  38. morbo Senior Member

    Русский
    "Онъ страдалъ жабой и жаловался на"
    "который, будучи ребенкомъ, одно время страдалъ жабой, а потом"
    "унтеръ-офицеръ, еле дышалъ, съ трудомъ могъ выговорить слово: его душила Жаба"

    As a name for a medical condition, something tells me it predates the rise of popularity of French in Russia.
     
  39. morzh

    morzh Banned

    USA
    Russian
    (answer to teh previous post) - This does not even matter, which "жаба" it is. It can be a matter for a separate topic. It's an interesting discussion but has no bearing on trying to find the best translation for the idiom.

    Coming back to it: The problem I see with the whole situation is that in Russian, as I wrote before, but I can repeat, the word "жадность" that describes all of these situations, is universal, and may be used as "скупость", "стяжательство", etc, and when we go to translation into English we often get the first word that is used in dictionaries for "жадность", which is "greed", and try to use it.
    We also use it to explain the meaning of "жаба душит".

    In English every situation commands different words when it comes to "жадность". It may be stringy/avaricious/greedy/covetous/cheap/miser and some other words, I think, and they are not necessarily fully (or at all) interchangeable.

    "Being cheap (about it)"/"feeling cheap", to me, is what best describes the idiom's meaning.

    - I really want a new Ferrari, but I am being cheap about it. - Я жутко хочу новьиj Феррари, но жаба душит.
     
  40. morbo Senior Member

    Русский
    When somebody's unwillingness to spend leads them to face not-that-nice consequences, "жаба задушила" is exactly what can be used to describe that. And greed is a rather befitting reason for such unwillingness.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
  41. morzh

    morzh Banned

    USA
    Russian
    If that what he did - then yes. (I myself try to avoid examples from movies as not everyone has seen them. Personally I don't watch much, and have not seen "Scarface".).
     
  42. football_ Member

    Russian
    I should note that this expression ("жаба душит") is not known to everyone. As for me, I never heard it before; I'd understand it literally once heard (well, almost literally; I would reconstruct a part of its meaning from a context). Personally, I find this expression very unpleasant (just imagine the situation... no matter what exactly the "жаба" is — an animal or a disease).

    Cheers.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
  43. morzh

    morzh Banned

    USA
    Russian
    I have not up until now met a person (in life or on Internet) who would not know that expression.
    You have a dubious honor to be the first :D

    As for its unpleasantness, well, it became very popular not so long ago, but there are quite a few expressions that are widely popular and are way less pleasant than this one.
    This having been said, again, it is beside the point as we are looking for translation, and whether we like the expression or not, is of no concern to the asking party.
     
  44. football_ Member

    Russian
    Hope not the last :D
    Not an excuse of anything.
    ... and is a concern to a possible translator, who needs to translate an unpleasant expression in an unpleasant way.
     
  45. sagittaire Member

    Russe - Russie
    Regardless of the origin of the "жаба душит" expression, currently the majority of the Russian-speaking people understand that it's referring to the toad (the animal).

    zhaba-1.jpg zhaba_2.jpg

    It's worth mentioning that "жаба душит" does not necessarily take into account the actual price of the desired product (it could be expensive or cheap, little it matters) or the financial state of the person (he could be poor or rich, never mind that), who's the victim of the toad. It usually means plain and simple that the person is unwilling to part with money (not that the price is high or he doesn't have the money).
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012
  46. Kirusha Senior Member

  47. Q-cumber

    Q-cumber Senior Member

    Грудная жаба is an outdated name of stenocardia.
     

Share This Page

Loading...