round / wrong

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ThomasK, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    What is your word for 'round'? Could you check whether your language associates the concept 'round' with 'wrong'?

    I can give examples in Dutch: 'rond' and especially 'om' (around ?)
    - omkopen : to bribe (to buy around, lit.)
    - een omweg: a detour, a way around, the long way, not the straight way

    - een bocht maken : to make a bend/ a turn (to do something deviating from the right way, I'd think, impredictable - and thus 'prove' your unreliability)
    - hij wringt zich in bochten maybe : to have to perform contortions

    As you see: bends and turns have to do with being round, and contortion implies some turning around. So I am looking for references to the concept, not just to the word only.
  2. arielipi Senior Member

    round is a merely a shape in hebrew עגול agol.
    for "going round" we use ס-ב-ב s-b/v-b/v root.
    i can think of a connection with round and wrong
    הולך סחור סחור
    holech skhor skhor
    going in circles [=doing something in the wrong way]
  3. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Oh yes, for a second I thought circles might be the origine of 'round', but I think '(a)round' just means not straight c.q. no straightforward, not right too perhaps. I suddenly thought of 'beating around the bush', which implies 'not straight' again... But I am also referring to the preposition, as in 'round the table'.
  4. arielipi Senior Member

    Ah precisely put Thomas!
    In hebrew we have a word for walking in a not straight line, which is different than what i gave before.
  5. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    What is that word, A? You're building up tension...
  6. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    I think the adjective you're looking for is crooked rather than round.

    The preposition around does fit most of the meanings you talk about, but the adjective (round) and the preposition are fundamentally different. Going "around" something doesn't necessarily mean going around the entire circumference of something -- it often (perhaps mostly) just means that you went around enough of the circumference to avoid touching it.
  7. arielipi Senior Member

    which is used for anything that is not straight in order (except for sex)
  8. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I agree: (a)round need not the entire circumference, as in round the corner. But I think the examples I have given do show that at least an 'indirectness' is suggested by the use of 'round' . I do agree as well that crooked is the 'straight' (?) antonym of right. But when you look at the bending example, or when thinking of bending the rules, then it is suggested that one relaxes the straight rules, by making them longer.

    But there might be something else involved: 'round' is not so much 'wrong' as distorted.
  9. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    There is a connection between indirectness and going around something, but I can't think of any examples right now where the English adjective round signifies indirectness. Is the Dutch adjective rond ever used this way?

    "roundness" and "distortion" can both be seen as different results of the process of "bending": e.g., both the word curve (from Latin curvus "crooked, bent") and the word circle are thought to go back to the same root *ker- "bend".

    The same root may underlie Slovene krog "circle" and kriv "crooked".
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  10. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Not 'rond' but 'om', as in my examples: omkopen implies paying someone so that he looks in another way (a 90 or 180 degree turn). Adn the English beating around the bush suggests something different but similar: one is not straight, not to the point, but goes around the hot issue.

    I just checked on the etymology because I thought there was a link with ambi/ amfi (maybe Apmoy will come up with something in Greek):
    So the funny thing is here that the meaning 'on both sides' appears to be so important, next to 'round-about'... Maybe there is a link with 'about' too but I cannot see it. And we associate 'om' with 'round' (om de stad, om de tafel - round the town/ table), etc.
  11. arielipi Senior Member

    distorted is so horrid in hebrew, it actually is the same word used for disfiguration: ע-ו-ת '-v't
  12. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    Finnish: Our word for 'round' is pyöreä. 'Around' is ympäri. I can't sense any connection with the idea of being 'wrong'.

    However, the word for 'wrong' is väärä, which also means 'curved, not straight, crooked'. You might find this connection interesting.
  13. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Yes, that is the one. Oh yes, curved, krom in Dutch. Yes, that is another association I had not thought of, and which indeed holds in Dutch too, as in this pun: het recht wordt krom, right [justice] is becoming curved. But I think we are referring to the same conceptual basis.

    Curve seems to refer to /kurtos/ in Greek. Wonder if Apmoy has any associations with regard to that or something else !
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  14. Yondlivend Senior Member

    American English
    Well the word twisted can have negative connotations, meaning perverse.

    On the other hand straight can refer to moral correctness. To rectify means to fix something that's wrong. Crooked has already been mentioned.

    If you turn on someone that can mean you betray them.
  15. aruniyan Senior Member

    In Tamil, nothing like round=wrong, but its Short, Narrow, cross = Wrong, Wicked, Defect etc.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014
  16. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    @Y: right, twisted! That reminds me of 'contortion', so connected with turning. And indeed, right and straight refer to moral correctness, and correctness [maybe not the perfect noun for the general sense] in general, I suppose. (I focused on that here)

    @ A: but how about bendng, or curved? Nothing like that? From my Dutch/Germanic perspective I can see the rationale of cross (as in thwart), -- I'd tend to associate narrowness with fear...
  17. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    round is kerek in Hungarian and I cannot remember any association with wrong.
  18. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    But then anything with 'curved' or 'crooked', because those are of course more intrinsically negative than 'round', which may be less general in other languages than our alternative 'om'...
  19. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Where though (on this thread) have we found a link between roundness and negativity, as opposed to crookedness and negativity?

    The only link I see so far is etymological: e.g., the adjective meaning "round" is sometimes used to form a preposition/adverb meaning "around", which then acquires certain semantics (deviation, avoidance) that the adjective didn't have. Or, sometimes, the concept of "bending" gives rise to a word meaning "round" or "circle", and also a word meaning "crooked" (in the negative sense).
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
  20. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Well, 'roundness' might not be the right term, but various 'om-'-compounds in Dutch point towards a negative meaning, but having to do with bending. Ultimately it is about bending indeed, but doesn't bending imply roundness - and/or isn't 'round' some part of the (definition of) bending? So I think there is some basis for my hypothesis, I think. No?
  21. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    I agree that being curved is implied in bending, but not necessarily being round (i.e., circular or spherical).

    Admittedly, it's possible for the word "round" to be synonymous with "curved" (perhaps that's the meaning you have in mind when you write "round"), but I think the meaning "circular" or "spherical" is much more prevalent among English speakers.
  22. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I think I fully understand... I always have some hunch about something, but then it takes time - and intelligent Forero's - to help me pinpoint the issue or reformulate the hypothesis itself.

    In this case I did not, however, wish to refer to 'round' as a word, but round as a quality (a - surface, a - board, ...), not so much as a shape (as in spherical, circular, which would be the opposites of square, I think).
  23. francisgranada Senior Member


    kör - circle
    kerek - round (2D, circular, e.g. table, wheel)
    gömb - sphere
    gömbölyű - round (3D, spherical, e.g. the Earth, ball)

    ív - bow
    ívelt - bent ("smoothly, regulary")
    görbe - curve; curved (not straight, not linear)
    görbült - curved, bent (e.g. a surface)
    hajlott - bent, hooked

    körül - around, circum- (e.g. körülmenni - to go around, körülírni - circumscribere)

    (I don't know if it helps ...)
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2014
  24. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Well, anything is helpful, even when it undermines my wishful thinking... ;-)
    Some in this list seem positive, without a doubt, but then how about the 'bent'/ 'curved' words? Do they sound negative? Can you use them metaphorically/ figuratively? And especially:does 'körül' suggest detours, and (other) negative things? - Quite a complete list at least, it seems to me...
  25. francisgranada Senior Member

    In general, they don't sound negative (at least to me :)). The only word from the list that has/may have a negative sense, is görbe (tortuous, crooked, wry ...). 'Körül' is neutral from this point of view.
  26. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Too bad... ;-)
  27. francisgranada Senior Member

    :) There is félre and mellé (aside, apart ...) that "suggest detours, and (other) negative things", but these words have nothing to do with "round".
  28. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek the adj. we use is «στρεβλός, -ή, -ό» [stre'vlos] (masc.), [stre'vli] (fem.), [stre'vlo] (neut.) < Classical adj. «στρεβλός, -ὴ, -όν» strĕblós (masc.), strĕblḕ (fem.), strĕblón (neut.) --> crooked, twisted, reminiscent of the Classical v. «στρέφω» strépʰō --> to twist, turn (with obscure etymology, the variation «φ/β» suggests a pre-Greek root).
    From «στρέφω» strépʰō > «στρόβιλος» stróbīlŏs (masc.) --> swirl, «στροφὴ» strŏpʰḕ (fem.) --> turning around, «στρόφιον» strópʰīŏn (neut.) --> breast-band, head-band (with o-grade); «στρέφω» strépʰō in MG has produced with vowel gradation the v. «στρίβω» ['strivo] (with the same meaning), the neuter noun «στρίφωμα» ['strifoma] --> rolled hem etc
  29. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks, both of you. The twisting has appeared before (contorsion, I believe), which I associate with roundness, but maybe the main aspect will turn out to be the deviation from some kind of straight path, be it by bending, by contorting (?), by setting aside, apart, etc. We also have the prefix 'af-', which means 'off', or away, and which suggests some kind of deviation, I guess. Yet, I had thought this 'om' in dutch turned up too often to be a coincidence. I do realize now that 'om' implies indirectness as well...
  30. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Like many other languages, in Chinese, "right/wrong" are rather bound to the concepts of "straight/crooked".
  31. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    But not the idea of bending/ curving rules then, or for example bypassing them by walking around? Maybe 'straight' is also a synonym of 'direct', and detours are indirect. So right now, I'd think of an opposition like straight/ crooked indeed, but also direct/ indirect (c.q. round, e.g.), as a variant of the same idea. We even have a synonym of 'false', verkeerd, which means: turned around.
  32. francisgranada Senior Member

    A propos, the following Hungarian verb comes to my mind: kertelni (to tergiversate, not to tell the truth etc.).
    Etymologically it comes from the same root as kerülni (to pass round, get around ...) and kerek (round).
  33. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    The v. is «διαστρεβλώνω» [ði.astre'vlono] < Classical v. «διαστρεβλόω/διαστρεβλῶ» dĭăstrĕblóō (uncontracted)/ dĭăstrĕblô (contracted) --> lit. to twist, strain tight, metaph. to bend/curve rules, pervert/distort words.
    The noun is «διαστρέβλωση» [ði.a'strevlosi] (fem.).
  34. 123xyz

    123xyz Senior Member

    Skopje, Macedonia
    In Macedonian, the most common words for round are "округол" and "тркалезен". The first is derived from the word for "circle", "круг", and the latter from the word for "wheel", "тркало". There is also a less common word, "обол", though its meaning is closer to "curved". There is also a passive participle adjective with the same root, "заоблен", meaning "round" or "curved". None of these words bear any relation to anything wrong or unacceptable, as far as I can perceive.

    Whereas the notion of "round" doesn't imply anything such, the subsequently suggested concept of "curved" is indeed (indirectly) connected with wrongness. The word "крив", meaning "curved", "tilted", or "crooked", also means "guilty". Also, looking at someone "криво" means to give a disapproving look, and the verb "скриви" means to wrong some. However, no derivatives of this root actually mean "improper" or "incorrect", as far as I have observed. Either way, it evidently bears negative connotations.

    As for the word "around", i.e. "околу", I don't think it bears any negative connotations either. To do something "од околу" means to do something indirectly - it is most commonly used in relation to prevarication in speech, i.e. beating about the bush. However, I would hardly designate this as a negative connotation.

    As for the notion of "around" expressed in verbal prefixes, the prefix "об-" (or "о-", in most environments) fulfills this function. However, the meanings of the words that it derives are so varied that nothing much can be inferred as to its function in forming them. I don't think it makes any sense to strictly analyse the meaning of a prefix based on the meanings of the words it helps derive or vice versa - the original meaning of the prefix may be reflected to a certain extent in certain derived forms but many prefixes (and other types of affixes for that matter) produce such varied meanings, in particular meanings unrelated to the meaning of the prefix or the root word itself. This doesn't hold true of affixes such as those expressing negation, but it does for affixes with a spatial meaning (such as "de-", "in-", "sub-", etc... in English, i.e. in English loanwords derived Latin). Therefore, I wouldn't ascribe any connotation to "об-" or any similar prefix. To present this argument with examples, in Macedonian we have "об-" in the words "опкружи", "обдари" and "оптужи", meaning "to surround", "to endow/gift/bestow" and "to accuse/charge" (these are approximate and rough translations). Thus, we have a neutral, a positive, and a negative connotation. If we judge the prefix "об-" and its connotations based on these three words or any other such words, we would obviously come to erroneous conclusions. Therefore, in relation to the original provided example with "omkopen", I don't really believe that "om-" has any inherent negative association with wrongness or anything such. The verb "omkopen" is a product of two separate morphemes, but its negative meaning is an emergent property, not directly derived from the meanings of its components. There is also a verb "omhelzen", with the prefix "om-", and I think we can agree that hugging is something positive. Also, I don't understand the purpose with the example "omweg". If it means "way around", I don't see the negative connotations and either way, "omweg" actually directly reflects the meanings of its two component morphemes.

    In conclusion, I think it's important that we highlight the connection between "crooked" and "wrong". Indeed, "crookedness" is related to "roundness" as well, so connections may be found there too. However, I don't agree with the analyses of the verbal prefixes or the supposedly negative connotations of certain seemingly neutral expressions, such as "omweg".
  35. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks for these well-founded considerations. I need to check on the precise visual form of 'crookedness' because I associate it with cracking, breaking, edgy, which is probably not correct.

    Now, I am only trying to explore meanings and connotations of words and prefixes, firstly from a didactic point of view: knowledge of the meanings helps to decipher new words. But I quite agree that words and prefixes have often passed through many stages of semantic evolutions, even quite unpredictable, or hardly. But I think my hypotheses are useful as rules of thumb, not more. In my Dutch classes I can really help students learn and remember words by referring to these prefixes. But you are quite right: a lof of them have very different meanings, even opposite - and one must be cautious. (Just recently I noticed that 'ver-horen' can both mean 'interrogate' [a suspect] or 'hear' [someone's prayer, like exaucer in French], but there is some method in this madness: ver- can express a perfective aspect, and that perfective aspect may turn out to be neg.; so one must be quite cautious, but knowledge of that can still help.)

    I do know there must be something special about detour, omweg: with us it is 'felt' as simply negative, too long a way, not the straight way, but i have noticed before that 'detour' does not have these negative connotations in some languages, whereas I don't quite understand why.

    There is another point of interest here for me: Lakoff/ Johnson referred to the metaphorical meanings of for instance up/ down, etc., and I like investigating other 'universalisms'. Here I thought there might be kind-of a universalism as well, but I had to review my hypothesis...
  36. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    If I may add, in Greek the adj. round is «στρογγυλός, -λή, -λό» [stroɲɟi'los] (masc.), [stroɲɟi'li] (fem.), [stroɲɟi'lo] (neut.) < Classical adj. «στρογγύλος, -λη, -λον» strŏngúlŏs (masc.), strŏngúlē (fem.), strŏngúlŏn (neut.) --> round (with unknown etymology).
    Spherical is «σφαιρικός, -κή, -κό» [sferi'kos] (masc.), [sferi'ci] (fem.), [sferi'ko] (neut.) < Classical adj. «σφαιρικός, -κὴ, -κόν» spʰairīkós (masc.), spʰairīkḕ (fem.), spʰairīkón (neut.) --> spherical, globular < Classical fem. noun «σφαῖρα» spʰaîră --> sphere, globe (with unknown etymology).
    Circular is «κυκλικός, -κή, -κό» [cikli'kos] (masc.), [cikli'ci] (fem.), [cikli'ko] (neut.) < Classical adj. «κυκλικός, -κὴ, -κόν» kŭklīkós (masc.), kŭklīkḕ (fem.), kŭklīkón (neut.) --> circular, pertaining to circle < Classical masc. noun «κύκλος» kúklŏs --> circle (PIE *kʷé-kʷlo-, old name of the "wheel" preserved in many IE languages cf Skt. चक्र (cakrá), wheel; Lat. colus, distaff, spun thread; Proto-Germanic *hwehwlą > Ger. Wiel, Dt. wiel, Eng. wheel, Nor./Dan./Swe. hjul, Isl./Far. hjól; Proto-Slavic *kolo > Rus./Ukr. колесо, Cz/Slov./Svk kolo, Pol. koło, OCS коло > Bul. колело, BCS коло/kolo; Lith. kaklas, neck; Ltv. kakls, neck).
    Thus, «στρεβλός» ≠ «στρογγυλός» ≠ «σφαιρικός» ≠ «κυκλικός». Only «στρεβλός» carries with it a negative connotation.

    Bonus: Bending of Spacetime (in physics) = «Στρέβλωση του χωροχρόνου» ['strevlosi tu xoro'xronu]
  37. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Well, I certainly must admit that neither cyclus, cirkel nor sferisch have any other than descriptive meanings in Dutch. My hypothesis was way too broad, for sure... But that is my tactics: suggesting a broad hypothesis so that at least something may remain and/ or that everyone examines all options... ;-)
  38. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I suppose I should have referred to curving, bending, twisting, mainly, i.e., some form of manipulation of what was straight/..., though of course flexibility might be considered some form of bending too, I guess...
  39. 810senior

    810senior Senior Member

    In Japanese, I can't somehow correspond an equivalent to the round with the wrong...

    round: mawar-i(surroundings, circumference) stemming from verb mawar-u(to turn around, spin, revolve) and causative from mawas-u(turn or push something round, give something a spin).

    too-mawa-shi-ni i-u: lit. to say in a faraway round. meaning to beat around the bush.
    too-:far, faraway c.f. too-i(adj. distant, far) too-ku(adv. far; n. a distant place)
    mawa-shi:noun form of mawas-u
    ni:makes a adverbial phrase
    i-u:to say, to tell
  40. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Well, indeed, this is like going around the truth, not straight to it. But my hypothesis should have been that bending rather than round could be the necessary focus. Straight/ right are often linked with truth, as you can see here (though I should have focused more on the concept of 'straightness'...
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
  41. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Two years later I think of Italian: giro can have some negative meanings, I thought, like prendere in giro, pulling someone's leg, but I cannot find more... Anyone?
  42. Dymn Senior Member

    Catalan, Catalonia
    I think Spanish speakers would rather associate "round" with "right", since redondo sometimes means "perfect".

    For example:
    Hoy ha sido un día redondo "Today has been a perfect day"
  43. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Really??? I do know that iets afronden (to finish something) does not sound bad either. I did not wish to suggest that round can only mean negative things, but I wondered about whether it did so in other languages and why, if a reason can be found.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
  44. Dymn Senior Member

    Catalan, Catalonia
    Well, I think that if you ask for the associations different languages make between "round" and "wrong", my post is relevant since it concerns the opposite (not exactly but close). Afronden maybe doesn't have any connotations at all, but as I said redondo has positive connotations.

    But anyway, going strictly to the point of the thread, no, I can't find any relationship between "round" and "wrong" neither in Catalan nor in Spanish.
  45. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    No misunderstandings: I did consider your post relevant! I was trying to suggest what the object of my question initially was. I welcome your contribution very much: it opens my wish-ful mind! ;-)

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