"blasted" and "muck"

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dichelson

Senior Member
Italy/Italian
Hello: I have the following text: "Once Steve had pressed on past Potter's Mine and challenged the rutted, potholed dirt road that wound further around Saddlehorse, he finally did come to another mining effort, this one the least impressive he'd seen thus far. The road emptied into a man-made shoulder of broken, blasted rubble, the 'muck' and waste from Jules Cryor's little mine"

Does here "blasted" mean "disrupted by explosions"? Plus, I'm wondering why "muck" is in quotes. Does the fact that it comes from such a little mine make it just a little of a muck? Thank you
 
  • Cathy Rose

    Senior Member
    United States English
    You are correct about the use of "blasted." "Muck" usually refers to something gooey. In AE, we even use it as a verb, as in, "I had to muck out my horse's stall today." That means, as you might guess, that I had to remove the muck (horse waste and dirty straw) from the stall. Peretti may have put the word 'muck' in quotes because, technically, the substance did not qualify as actual muck.
     

    dichelson

    Senior Member
    Italy/Italian
    Yes, muck is in quotation marks, puzzingly enough... Other than the meaning you indicated above, dictionary.com gives the following definition of muck:

    "(esp. in mining) earth, rock, or other useless matter to be removed in order to get out the mineral or other substances sought."
     

    dichelson

    Senior Member
    Italy/Italian
    The author and the characters are from the US. The book was written in the 90s I think, anyhow it's pretty recent and refers to recent events.
     

    Cathy Rose

    Senior Member
    United States English
    Yes, muck is in quotation marks, puzzingly enough... Other than the meaning you indicated above, dictionary.com gives the following definition of muck:

    "(esp. in mining) earth, rock, or other useless matter to be removed in order to get out the mineral or other substances sought."
    If that is the case, then it shouldn't have been in quotes, should it? I never heard the official definition. We always used it in the horse country where I grew up to refer to unpleasant, gooey matter that had to be cleaned up. Have you ever heard the expression, "through the muck and the mire?" It's fairly common, and I always thought it referred to icky stuff (that's a technical term for gooey). :)
     

    Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    It sounds like the word 'muck' is in gratuitous scare quotes because it's not very accurate/specific. Honestly though, it mainly sounds like this author is a rather bad writer.

    Edited to add: And if people are wondering about the context, googling the names of the characters mentioned in the quotes posted so far reveals that it's The Oath by Frank E. Peretti, a Christian horror novel from 1995.
     

    Cathy Rose

    Senior Member
    United States English
    Yes, Franzi, most of us here at the forum have been helping Dichelson to translate the novel into Italian. We aren't here to pass judgement on writers or the way in which people choose to spend their leisure time; we simply do our best to answer reasonable questions that do not violate any copyright or other laws.
     

    Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    I apologize. What I meant was that it's entirely possible that the scare quotes are a part of the author's personal style and have no specific external motivation.
     

    Meridon

    Member
    UK English
    muck in BE could mean waste material, discarded material, so it could cover mining waste or horse waste (as an ex horse person I often used to 'muck out' stables), but it does tend to mean something messy- so in the term mentioned it could describe a mix of stone rubble, clays, muds and other detritus from the mining activity ( which then could cover all sort of waste)
     

    dichelson

    Senior Member
    Italy/Italian
    Just a clarification. I wasn't offended at all! :) My "never say that" was ironic, because Peretti is a famous writer, so in principle everybody should like him. If you think my troubles can come from his not being a good writer, not from my poor knowledge of English, I cannot but be glad of that!

    Thank you everybody!
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    "Muck" is a fairly common term among miners, at least among the gold miners that still work small claims in the American West, but in general use is certainly not limited to mining rubble.
     

    dichelson

    Senior Member
    Italy/Italian
    Has it got any lofty connotation (like dust from gold mines or anything)? If this is the case, that could explain the quotes, because Cryor's mine is just a crappy mine.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Has it got any lofty connotation (like dust from gold mines or anything)? If this is the case, that could explain the quotes, because Cryor's mine is just a crappy mine.[/quote
    ]
    Among my mining acquaintances with their dinky little hobby mines, that would fit right in. I suspect the quotes are because it seems to be borderline jargon in this context. "Mucking out" means to clear out rubble and by extension, junk.

    For example, I wouldn't use "muck" in anything formal, if only because it rhymes with some crude terms.

    On the other hand, there's a product called "Muck Boots" that are a really useful form of footware for when things get wet and sloppy.
     

    Cathy Rose

    Senior Member
    United States English
    I own a pair of "muck boots!" I love them. I still wonder why Peretti chose to put the word in quotes. I originally thought it was because he was misrepresenting the word, but his use is correct and mine is the technically usage. I find it interesting.
     

    abeille

    Member
    English Canada
    I don't know if anyone will still be interested in this topic, but I was very interested to read this thread in the course of researching for a revision I was doing. Here in my part of Northern Ontario, Canada, a lot of mining goes on, and the term used for the crushed ore that is brought up out of the ground to be refined into metal is "muck". Everyone calls it that; the miners talk about how much muck they moved on their shift -- even their children know what it is. I was amused to receive a call from a company which had sold a piece of mining equipment to a company in France; they wouldn't come right out and admit it,but I'm sure they got the operator's manual translated by a computer. They sent it to France and got an angry call back from the buyers who were offended by the use of the word "fumier" (to translate "muck"). That wasn't the only mistake; there were many others that were so outrageous they were funny, except to the business people involved. I got the job of revising it, the way it should have been done in the first place.
    My guess as to why Peretti put the word "muck" in quotation marks is that it is jargon specific to the field he was describing, and he didn't expect his readers to be familiar with it in that context.
    As always, WordReference forums never cease to delight me. It's great to read the output of smart people. Thanks.
     
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