barbershop porter

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entrapta

Senior Member
Italian
Can someone please help me understand what kind of job this is? In this case porter cannot be someone carrying luggage. Maybe a young man learning the job, "apprendista"? It seems a little far-fetched...
 
  • Scopa Nuova

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Ciao entrapta,

    I not sure of this answer but this probably refers to a person in a barbershop who provides a grooming service. That would be shinning you shoes, brushing lint from your clothes, providing you with hand towels, and similar services. This service would be found only in very expensive barbershops.

    SN
     
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    Scopa Nuova

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I could probably translate it as "aiutante", like "helper"... Tha would do I guess. Thank you.

    I don't think helper is the right word because the Barbershop porter is not really "helping" the Barber. Instead he/she is providing extra services not ordinarily provided in a barbershop, but extra services for which only rich people would be willing to pay

    SN:)
     

    Galeotto

    New Member
    English-American
    Let's get real. In the time period when barbershop porters existed, at least in the U.S, (first half of 1900's) barbershop porters were blacks, or as they were then called, Negros. They were not apprentices (at least in white-owned barbershops), and "helpers" is not really right. They took your winter coat or suit jacket and hung it up, and when your haircut was finished, they brushed any hair off your clothing, and helped you back into your jacket or coat, and might also shine your shoes. Now we might call them "flunky's," but that would avoid the primary purpose of the word, which was to indicate that the person was a Negro flunky.
     

    Galeotto

    New Member
    English-American
    I would probably go with the Italian for "negro servant." If there is an Italian idiom equivalent to "step 'n fetch it," that might also work.
     

    Scopa Nuova

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Let's get real. In the time period when barbershop porters existed, at least in the U.S, (first half of 1900's) barbershop porters were blacks, or as they were then called, Negros. They were not apprentices (at least in white-owned barbershops), and "helpers" is not really right. They took your winter coat or suit jacket and hung it up, and when your haircut was finished, they brushed any hair off your clothing, and helped you back into your jacket or coat, and might also shine your shoes. Now we might call them "flunky's," but that would avoid the primary purpose of the word, which was to indicate that the person was a Negro flunky.
    That's exactly the kind of person we're talking about. I don't know how to translate it though.:confused:
    I would probably go with the Italian for "negro servant." If there is an Italian idiom equivalent to "step 'n fetch it," that might also work.

    That was then and this is now. I'm no political correct junky but I think it would be inappropriate to use the English or equivalent Italian expression for "Negro flunky", "negro servant" or ""step'n fetch it". Those sterotypes don't exist any more (at least not in the US) and it would not relate to people in those jobs today. Airports and train stations have porters today that provide a service of carrying luggage. I don't think you would call them servants or other derogatory names.

    Let's keep the Forum on a higher plane.

    SN:(
     

    entrapta

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Sorry my fault I didn't know the term porter had such a negative connotation back in those days; the fact is that the term here refers to a guy working as porter in a barbershop in the 20's so most likely he was some kind of servant (I know nothing about the colour of his skin).
     

    andym

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't think this is an issue of political correctness but of accuracy in translation and basic logic.

    I used to work as a porter in a hotel (in Britain in the 1970s - but the term is still in everyday use). You could argue that I was a 'flunky' but I would not have been happy to have been called a 'flunky' and 'flunky' cannot be used interchangeably with 'porter'. Similarly, even if in 1950s America most 'porters' were 'negroes' it isn't correct to assume that all 'porters' were 'negroes'. If the writer had meant to say someone was a 'flunky', of whatever race, they would have said so - so please find a term that is appropriate to whatever the author is saying. 'A barbershop porter' is a porter working in a barber shop - no more, and no less.
     

    entrapta

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Then meaning what? That's why I started the thread I simply wanted to know if a porter performed menial, simple labour or was an pprentice or I don't know what else.
     

    effeundici

    Senior Member
    Italian - Tuscany
    A me garzone sembra proprio perfetto.

    Il garzone del barbiere cos'altro può essere se non un ragazzetto che fa di tutto a parte che tagliare i capelli?
     

    Scopa Nuova

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I don't think this is an issue of political correctness but of accuracy in translation and basic logic.

    I used to work as a porter in a hotel (in Britain in the 1970s - but the term is still in everyday use). You could argue that I was a 'flunky' but I would not have been happy to have been called a 'flunky' and 'flunky' cannot be used interchangeably with 'porter'. Similarly, even if in 1950s America most 'porters' were 'negroes' it isn't correct to assume that all 'porters' were 'negroes'. If the writer had meant to say someone was a 'flunky', of whatever race, they would have said so - so please find a term that is appropriate to whatever the author is saying. 'A barbershop porter' is a porter working in a barber shop - no more, and no less.

    This is exactly my point. Anybody of any color can be a "flunky". Don't automatically limit it to black (or negro if you prefer) people. If you happen to be referring to a black person use black but don't restrict the definiton of porter to black. It just seemed to me as if the definition was being slanted to black people only. It may have been that most porters in the late 1800s/early 1900s were black but it wasn't because they were inherently flunkies. Only the flunky jobs were available to them. During that same period of time many immigrants to this country, including Italians, Irish, polish, etc, etc. Had to take "flunky" jobs to survive. But you wouldn't call all dishwashers Italians. Just use the language to say exactly what the the facts are. I think that's what this Forum is all about.

    SN:)
     

    andym

    Senior Member
    English - England
    'porter' = job title
    'flunky' = insult

    As I said it's an issue about accuracy of translation. When you're considering which term to use you have to consider the positive, neutral or negative connotations of that term. If the author had meant to say 'flunky' they would have said 'flunky'.
     
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    Scopa Nuova

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    'porter' = job title
    'flunky' = insult

    As I said it's an issue about accuracy of translation. When you're considering which term to use you have to consider the positive, neutral or negative connotations of that term. If the author had meant to say 'flunky' they would have said 'flunky'.

    Amen! Penso che abbiamo combattuta una battaglia persa basta (not sure I got that right. I want to say we have beaten this dead horse enough)

    Pace e gioia siate con voi

    SN:)
     
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