Courting opprobrium

Pietruzzo

Senior Member
Italian
I'm rather puzzled by this phrase (the part in bold in the following text) I've bumped into reading a recent thread.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s increasing international isolation—and the threat of courting opprobrium from the West—are making it more difficult for countries to do business with Russia.

My attempt (which is basically a wild guess):
"Il pericolo di andare incontro all'esecrazione dell'occidente"
 
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  • rrose17

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Courting opprobrium, to me, basically means looking for trouble, but is very strange in this context. It seems such an erudite and elegant term to put on Putin’s actions. To court something/someone can mean romantically, of course, but here means actively looking for negative reaction. Again, odd use of the term, in my opinion, as if the risk he runs is that the rest of the world is going to make disparaging remarks and toothless condemnations at the U.N.
     

    HalfTaff

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Courting opprobrium, to me, basically means looking for trouble, but is very strange in this context.
    I agree with this. The normal expression is to risk opprobrium - it doesn't make sense to threaten being disapproved of. "Il pericolo" seems right to me.
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Courting opprobrium, to me, basically means looking for trouble, but is very strange in this context. It seems such an erudite and elegant term to put on Putin’s actions. To court something/someone can mean romantically, of course, but here means actively looking for negative reaction. Again, odd use of the term, in my opinion, as if the risk he runs is that the rest of the world is going to make disparaging remarks and toothless condemnations at the U.N.
    It took me more than one read to see it, but I think the author means that countries that want to do business with Russia--e.g., think India and China--are the ones "courting opprobrium from the West." If they were to do business with Russia at this point, they'd just be asking for condemnation from NATO countries and their allies.
     

    Pietruzzo

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you all. On the basis of what you have said, I understand my translation in #1 was basically right, as long as you consider it from the point a view of "countries that want to do business with Russia".
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Does "andare incontro" imply deliberately seeking something out? That was the only thing puzzling me in your translation: I didn't know the exact nuance of andare incontro a [qualcosa]. "Courting" danger (or "opprobrium," in this instance) is stronger than simply risking it.
     

    MintSyrop

    Member
    Italian
    Ciao, credo che qui threat significhi rischio, non tanto una minaccia esplicita fatta da qualcuno in particolare. Direi quindi "il rischio di attirarsi la riprovazione dell'Occidente".
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Ciao, credo che qui threat significhi rischio, non tanto una minaccia esplicita fatta da qualcuno in particolare. Direi quindi "il rischio di attirarsi la riprovazione dell'Occidente".
    I agree that it's not an explicit threat made by a particular individual or country, but "threat" fits this context because it's stronger and more definite than "risk." "Risk" implies there's the possibility of something happening; there can be slight risks, strong risks, and everything in between. In this case, though, it's absolutely certain that if a country does business with Russia, they will be condemned by the West, so it's essentially a threat: don't do business with Russia, because if you do, you're just asking for condemnation (complete with all the practical drawbacks that may come with it).
     

    lövastrell

    Senior Member
    Italiano, Italia
    "Risk" implies there's the possibility of something happening; there can be slight risks, strong risks, and everything in between. In this case, though, it's absolutely certain that if a country does business with Russia, they will be condemned by the West, so it's essentially a threat
    Questo è interessante, artichoke. Per come la comprendo io, l'esistenza di una minaccia non implica la certezza assoluta della conseguenza minacciata, perché dipende dalla capacità del minacciante di portare a esecuzione quel che minaccia, e non solo dalla sua volontà. Questa è una caratteristica che la minaccia condivide col mero rischio. Quindi stai dicendo che per "threat" non è così?

    Quanto alla traduzione, se (dico se!) non sono state fatte minacce esplicite, anch'io tradurrei "rischio", come MintSyrup o, forse meglio, "pericolo" o "concreto pericolo". Altrimenti si rischia di generare ambiguità, inducendo il lettore a credere che le minacce siano state esplicite. L'uso di "minaccia" nel senso generico di "pericolo" esiste in italiano, ma è un uso per estensione.

    Per "courting", suggerisco "provocare", che è più forte di "andare incontro", perché è volontario, e contiene il senso di sfida indicato da Mary.
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Questo è interessante, artichoke. Per come la comprendo io, l'esistenza di una minaccia non implica la certezza assoluta della conseguenza minacciata, perché dipende dalla capacità del minacciante di portare a esecuzione quel che minaccia, e non solo dalla sua volontà. Questa è una caratteristica che la minaccia condivide col mero rischio. Quindi stai dicendo che per "threat" non è così?

    Hmmm. No, it's true that a "threat" is not always carried out. But as you say, the matter of whether a threat is carried out has much to do with whether the person making the threat has the ability, not just the desire, to follow through with it. (It also depends on things like whether it's in the interests of the threatener to actually do the thing threatened.) In this case, there's no question whatsoever that the West both can and will condemn a country that does business with Russia; whether this condemnation would also result in concrete consequences (e.g., sanctions) is not at all certain, but that's not part of this particular statement. It's simply "the threat of opprobrium."

    So while in other contexts "risk" and "threat" may be interchangeable, it seems to me that in this case, "threat" implies "the West will condemn them," whereas "risk" would imply "the West might condemn them," which would be an understatement.
     

    MintSyrop

    Member
    Italian
    You are indeed right as far as the English sentence goes, theartichoke, and I doubt anyone would disagree. What lövastrell means however is that the word minaccia isn't quite as versatile as the word threat is (and I agree). In this specific context, "la minaccia di attirarsi riprovazione dall'Occidente" doesn't really sound all that natural. Try as I might, the best I can come up with is something along the lines of "il rischio concreto", i.e. clarifying that it isn't just some vague risk but a likely outcome.
     
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    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    You are indeed right as far as the English sentence goes, theartichoke, and I doubt anyone would disagree. What lövastrell means however is that the word minaccia isn't quite as versatile as the word threat is (and I agree). In this specific context, "la minaccia di attirarsi riprovazione dall'Occidente" doesn't really sound all that natural. Try as I might, the best I can come up with is something along the lines of "il rischio concreto", i.e. clarifying that it isn't just some vague risk but a likely outcome.
    I didn't misunderstand lövastrell; I was simply answering a question about the English "threat": Quindi stai dicendo che per "threat" non è così? I never said, and certainly didn't mean to imply, that "threat" here should be translated with minaccia. The best translation, as always, is to be determined by the native speakers.
     

    MintSyrop

    Member
    Italian
    I must have read the exchange too distractedly then, because I missed that question entirely. I hope I didn't come across as confrontational earlier which I definitely wasn't trying to be. We are all here to learn after all.
     

    Pietruzzo

    Senior Member
    Italian
    It's simply "the threat of opprobrium."
    That would make a lot of sense to me but the original phrase is "the threat of courting opprobrium", which strikes me as a sort of dangled gerund, since the "West" is threatening (what?) but the other countries are "courting opprobrium" . But maybe I'm missing something.
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    That would make a lot of sense to me but the original phrase is "the threat of courting opprobrium", which strikes me as a sort of dangled gerund, since the "West" is threatening (what?) but the other countries are "courting opprobrium" . But maybe I'm missing something.

    I was thinking myself that "the threat of courting opprobrium" is redundant. It would be clearer if you took out "courting," which I suppose is what I unintentionally revised it to say. Grammatically speaking, "threat" does seem to be used as a synonym for "risk" or "danger": "the threat [from the West, that they would be] courting the West's opprobrium." It's kind of like the phrase "the threat of rain," meaning "the threat [from the clouds, that there will be] rain."

    Though I suppose you could reply that "the threat of rain" is parallel to "the threat of opprobrium" and not to "the threat of courting opprobrium." And at this point I fear I've overthought it so far that I'm not sure whether it's grammatically correct or not!:)
     

    rrose17

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    I still think “courting opprobrium” to be over the top here and it could rewritten to something simpler and less la-di-dah like “(dare) the risk of antagonizing the west”.
     
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