And the rich were so mean...

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by Leon_Izquierdo, Jul 16, 2018.

  1. Leon_Izquierdo

    Leon_Izquierdo Moderator

    Buenos Aires (Argentina)
    Español Rioplatense
    Hello, good evening.
    I was just listening to the famous song "Victoria" by The Kinks, which describes in such a brilliant way how life was in the Victorian era.
    It begins saying: "Long ago life was clean / Sex was bad and obscene / And the rich were so mean / Stately homes for the Lords... etc.".
    The adjective "mean", as we all know, has a lot of (quite) different meanings. My doubt is: were those rich ones mezquinos, tacaños? Or maybe they were (in ironical terms, of course) simples, sencillos? I don't think it should be understood as crueles or something like that.
    I'd really like to know what you think about it.
    Thanks a lot!

    León
     
  2. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    San Francisco
    American English
    I think it is used in its meaning of "stingy." I believe it still has that meaning in BrEn,* while in
    AmEn that meaning has almost completely died out.

    * There was a Beatles song titled Mean Mr Mustard, and although it meant "stingy" or "miserly," many American listeners thought it meant "cruel."
     
  3. Leon_Izquierdo

    Leon_Izquierdo Moderator

    Buenos Aires (Argentina)
    Español Rioplatense
    Thank you very much, gengo.
    Yeah, I was (almost) sure that "crueles", here, was a bad translation.
     

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