Catapult or slingshot? (AmE)

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Fresie

Member
Russian, English
Hi guys,

Please help! :)

I'm translating a novel set in a fantasy world. The main character uses a small hand-held weapon which I personally know as a catapult (a makeshift weapon used mainly by little boys, see picture here) Two problems: firstly, I get the impression that in American English, it's apparently known as a slingshot. Secondly, the book being a fantasy novel, it also has large siege catapults which might lead to some confusion.

So which word do you think I should use for the little hand-held weapon? Is it a slingshot or a catapult? I'm completely lost! What do you think?
 
  • waltern

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I get the impression that in American English, it's apparently known as a slingshot.
    Yes it is - it sounds like you simply need to decide if you want to use the American English or the British English term (what would you do for other words, like truck/lorry, sweater/jumper, etc.?)
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    Yes, for this Yank a "slingshot" is a small (but not necesssary 'makeshift') toy/weapon used mainly by children, primarily boys; but it can be used for hunting small game, such as birds. And yes, as waltern says, the choice of vocabulary depends on your target readership.
     

    Fresie

    Member
    Russian, English
    Thank you very much, waltern and ain'ttranslationfun! Yes, the book's main audience are American. This wretched catapult/slingshot plays an important role in the story and I'd hate to get it wrong. For me, a slingshot is what David used to kill Goliath with. So I really don't know... :)
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    David used a sling (BE) also sometimes called a slingshot (BE) I'm not ure what that is in AE:) but it's not the item you need to translate.
    a simple weapon consisting of a loop of leather, etc, in which a stone is whirled and then let fly
    But a catalpult (BE) is a slingshot (AE)
     
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    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    Again, if it's an AE audience, go with 'slingshot'. (Note that the weapon David used to kill Goliath in the Old Testament is often referred to as a 'sling'.)
     

    Fresie

    Member
    Russian, English
    Thank you very much, waltern, ain'ttranslationfun and JulianStuart! I feel much better now! Okay, so it's slingshot, then. :)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    This type of slingshot is referred to as a "wrist rocket" after the original design. Though it still falls under the heading of "slingshot" it is illegal in many jurisdictions because of the high velocity the ammunition is able to travel.

    My religious school teacher referred to David's weapon as a slingshot. Not that it has any significance but the number of hits on Google for either are almost identical. But I've been lead astray by that data in the past so I would not hold much store on that point.

     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    In AE the first picture is definitely a "slingshot" and the second a "catapult". But the distinction is not size: it is the method used to launch a stone. A slingshot user pulls back an elastic, and the released elastic launches the stone. A catapult user winds up a spring, and the released spring jerks an arm up, launching the stone(s) held in the cup of the arm. For the spring to be effective, one end must be against the ground and the other against the arm.

    A "sling" uses another method. A sling is a single long piece of woven fabric. The user hold both ends, and places a stone in the loop in the middle. The sling is spun around for speed, then released by letting go of one end. In ancient times, slings were the ranged weapons of armies. In trained hands, they were as effective as arrows or spears.
    Ancient-Weapons-The-Sling-3.jpg
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    There was also a trebuchet, which used a counter-balance to launch the projectiles.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    A catapult user winds up a spring, and the released spring jerks an arm up, launching the stone(s) held in the cup of the arm. For the spring to be effective, one end must be against the ground and the other against the arm.View attachment 20527
    The catapults I'm familiar with are torsion-powered, like this:



    The end result is the same, though.... :D

    Here's one in action:

     
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