Small vs. big mistake

ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
Do you distinguish between small and big mistakes, the ones with serious repercussions especially, perhaps unforgivable?

In Dutch we mainly have words like
- fout (fault), fairly general,
- vergissing (to be mistaken simply, lit. to guess [gissen] wrongly), and
- for the big mistakes blunder and flater - and kemel as the funniest one, a dialectal word for camel (when someone has made some big mistake, we say that that person has shot a camel, whereas we have none around here (X heeft een kemel geschoten)
- there is also uitschuiver (lit. slide-out, ...), sometimes considered a lapsus linguae, but a big mistake in Flanders, uitglijer in the Netherlands (lit. glide-out)
However, the latter three are big mistakes, yet do not necessarily have big consequences. and a fout can be bad too, yet, again not necessarily with consequences. It seems to me that none of those words necessarily implies heavy consequences as such.
 
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  • Dymn

    Senior Member
    I'm gonna do Spanish:

    General:
    error: mistake, error (the most general translation)
    yerro: same but rare and elevated in style
    fallo: quite general, but especially in machines
    equivocación: nominal form of equivocarse "to be wrong" (from Late Latin aequivocare, "to call the same way")
    equívoco: same but less common
    falta: it can mean "lack", or "foul" (in sports), generally something against the rules (spelling mistake: falta de ortografía)
    metedura de pata: informal, nominal form of meter la pata (lit. "to put in the paw": "to screw it")

    Small mistakes:
    desliz: "slip-up", from deslizar ("to slide"), small mistake
    resbalón: from resbalar ("to slip")
    patinazo: from patinar ("to skate, skid"), these last two are small unconscious mistakes but probably with direr consequences than desliz because they use augmentative suffixes

    Big mistakes:
    cagada: informal/vulgar, nominal form of cagarla (lit. "to shit it": "to screw it")
    craso error: usually standalone, not part of a sentence (or non-verbal sentence), from Latin crassus ("thick, fat")
    error garrafal: "huge mistake", apparently from garrofal, and hence garrofa (Standard algarroba "carob"), but the Portuguese say garrafal (Pt. letras garrafais "big visible letters") comes from garrafa ("bottle" in Pt., Sp. "carafe")

    Other:
    lapsus: small unconscious mistake, especially when speaking/writing
    gazapo: unconscious mistake when speaking/writing, especially a typo (apparently the primary meaning is a young rabbit)
    errata: small mistake in printed press, sometimes there's a fe de erratas section in newspapers for mistakes in previous editions
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Great information, Dym, impressive even. I did not Spanish speakers made so many mistakes! :) Very pleased to notice that you see/ perceive young rabits (gazapo) among the mistakes, where we in Flanders see camels (kemel)...


    Does "big mistake" imply big repercussions as well?
     
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    Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    In French, using @Dymn's great list:

    General:
    error: erreur
    equivocación: malentendu, confusion
    equívoco: équivoque
    falta: faute, manquement
    metedura de pata: faux pas, bourde, bévue


    Small mistakes:
    desliz, resbalón, patinazo: dérapage

    Big mistakes:
    cagada: connerie (vulgar), cagade (Occitan use only)
    craso error: erreur grave/grossière
    error garrafal: erreur fatale


    Others:
    lapsus: lapsus
    gazapo: coquille
    (used only for typographical mistakes)
    errata: erratum (pl. errata) (Latin word used as is)

    And also:
    bêtise(*), sottise (synonyms for erreur, but in rather childish language)
    étourderie (thoughtlessness)
    ânerie (metaphorically: the mistake made by a donkey (âne), supposed to be a stupid animal)

    (*) bêtise also gave their name to French regional sugar candies, the bêtises de Cambrai, since their invention is said to come from a cooking mistake by a 19th century confectioner.
     
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    Let me follow on @Dymn's footsteps too:

    General:
    error: «Λάθος» [ˈla.θɔs] (neut.) < Classical neuter noun «λάθος» lắtʰŏs, a deverbative noun, from the verb «λανθάνω» lăntʰắnō
    yerro: «Ατόπημα» [aˈtɔ.pi.ma] (neut.) < Classical neuter noun «ἀτόπημα» ătópēmă --> offence, absurdity < compound: «ἀ-» ă- (alpha privatum) + Classical masc. noun «τόπος» tópŏs; «ατόπημα» in MoGr is equivalent with «λάθος», only learned (and rarer)
    fallo: «Σφάλμα» [ˈsfal.ma] (neut.) < Classical deverbative neuter noun «σφάλμα» spʰắlmă, from the verb «σφάλλω» spʰắllō
    equivocación: «Ψεγάδι» [p͡seˈɣa.ði] (neut.) < ByzGr neut. diminutive «ψεγάδι(ο)ν» psegádi(o)n < Classical masc. noun «ψόγος» psógŏs and «ψέγος» pségŏs, a deverbative from the verb «ψέγω» pségō --> to blame, chide (of unknown etymology); sometimes on formal occassions, «ψόγος» is preferred than «ψεγάδι»
    falta: «Πταίσμα» [ˈptez.ma] (neut.) < Classical deverbative neuter noun «πταῖσμα» ptaî̯smă --> lit. stumble, push, nudge, metaph. err, fault < Classical verb «πταίω» ptaí̯ō --> lit. to stumble, crash into, nudge, metaph. to err, have bad luck (possibly from PIE *pi(e)h₂-u-/*pi(e)h₂-ie-/*pi(e)h₂-o- to strike cf Lat. pavīre, Lith. pjáustyti, to cut); in legal terminology, the non-indictable offence is called «πταίσμα» [ˈpte.zma] (neut.) --> minor wrongdoing, misdemeanor
    metedura de pata:
    «Σκάτωμα» [ˈska.tɔ.ma] (neut.) :warning:, verb «σκατώνω» [skaˈtɔ.no] :warning: --> lit. to make shit (to f*ck up) < ΜοGr neuter noun «σκατά» [skaˈta] (nom. pl.) :warning: --> sh*t, excrement < Classical 3rd declension neuter noun «σκῶρ» skôr (nom. sing.), «σκάτος» skắtŏs (gen. sing.)

    Small mistakes:
    desliz: «Παράπτωμα» [paˈɾa.ptɔ.ma] (neut.) < ΒyzGr neuter noun «παράπτωμα» paráptōma, a deverbative from the Classical verb «παραπίπτω» părăpíptō --> lit. to fall, fall beside, metaph. to go astray, be mislaid, lost < compound: Classical prefix and preposition «παρά» părắ + Classical neuter noun «πτῶμα» ptômă
    resbalón: «Ολίσθημα» [ɔˈli.sθi.ma] (neut.) --> slip, slide, a deverbative noun from the verb «ολισθαίνω» [ɔ.liˈsθe.nɔ] --> to slip, slide, drift, lapse < Classical v. «ὀλισθάνω/ὀλισθαίνω» ŏlĭstʰắnō and (var.) ŏlĭstʰaí̯nō --> to slip, slide, glide (PIE *h₃lidʰ-/*h₃slidʰ- to glide cf Skt. स्रेधति (sredhati), to fail, blunder, Proto-Germanic *slīdaną > Eng. slide; Proto-Slavic *slědъ > Rus. след, track, Cz. sled)
    patinazo: «Γκάφα» [ˈga.fa] (fem.) <Fr. gaffe

    Big mistakes:
    cagada: «Μαντάρα» [manˈda.ɾa] (fem.) and [maˈda.ɾa] (fem.) < ByzGr fem. noun «μαδάρα» madára --> mountainous bald and barren area, a deverbative noun from the Classical v. «μαδάω/μαδῶ» mădắō (uncontracted)/mădô (contracted) --> to drip, melt, fall out (of hair) (PIE *meh₂d- to be moist cf Skt. मथर (mathara), to be intoxicated, Lat. madēre)
    craso error/error garrafal: «Μέγα/μεγάλο λάθος» [ˈme.ɣa ˈla.θɔs] or [meˈɣa.lɔ ˈla.θɔs] (both neut.) --> huge/big mistake
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    You know, what i am wondering about is: does it not have to do with animals' quirky behaviour? I mean: we often make mistakes without realizing it: it is as if we suddenly realize an animal has turned up inexpectely and/or we have not recognized it...
     

    Shadiac

    Senior Member
    Russian - Moscow
    It's in the same vein as the other thread, I presume...

    Russian:
    error/fault - ошибка [ɐˈʂɨpkə] (all senses)
    to err/to be mistaken - ошибиться [ɐʂɨˈbʲit͡sːə]
    to misstep - оступиться [ɐstʊˈpʲit͡sːə] (all senses)
    doozy (as in gaffe in French) - осечка [ɐˈsʲet͡ɕkə] (literally: a misfire, i.e. foul gun shot)
    to make a doozy - совершить осечку, осечься (not sure the last one is used, though)

    All of the above is formal. Not sure of which words are used in slang exactly, but I know they do exist and some colloquial expressions are way funnier than "to shoot a camel", I just don't remember them like that.
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    I mean: we often make mistakes without realizing it: it is as if we suddenly realize an animal has turned up inexpectely and/or we have not recognized it...
    I've thought the same thing, the animal suddenly showing up in the middle of the way. By the way the Portuguese call a typo gralha, so a "jay bird", another one for our animal metaphor collection.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Good heavens, another animal, and another one that might turn up suddenly... That is not the way the Belgian jaybirds, behave, but fun to read mistakes may be called "jaybirds" as well...
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    gazapo: unconscious mistake when speaking/writing, especially a typo (apparently the primary meaning is a young rabbit)
    I was wondering, Dymn: can you make "young rabbits" or only discover them? We "shoot camels" when we make the error ourselves and we discover them while reading or listening. And how about the Portuguese gralhas? I suppose you can only discover them, or ...?
     
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    Włoskipolak 72

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Polish

    error, mistake = błąd [bwɔ̃nt] , pomyłka [pɔ̃ˈmɨwka] , omyłka. (general translation)

    fault = wada , usterka , defekt. (technical terms)

    lack = brak , niedostatek

    faux pas (misstep) = gafa , potknięcie , nietakt

    slip-up = lapsus , potknięcie

    gaffe = gafa , uchybienie towarzyskie

    misunderstanding = nieporozumienie

    blunder = gafa , wpadka , nietakt

    connerie = bzdura , nonsens
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks a lot, W72! Now, if you are able to, have the time, is there a possibility of explaining some of the roots of these words?

    I just tried something using DeepL: see green
    Polish

    error, mistake = błąd [bwɔ̃nt] , pomyłka [pɔ̃ˈmɨwka] , omyłka. (general translation) -

    fault = wada , usterka , defekt. (technical terms) - how about wadliwy? related with wada

    l
    ack = brak , niedostatek - the latter: scarcity more specifically, non-affluence/wealth?

    faux pas (misstep) = gafa , potknięcie , nietakt /// blunder, stumble, un-tact?

    slip-up = lapsus , potknięcie / stumble

    gaffe = gafa , uchybienie towarzyskie (DeepL could not help here, or only: social misbehaviour, it translated)

    misunderstanding = nieporozumienie (dis-cord?)

    blunder = gafa , wpadka (slip?) , nietakt

    connerie = bzdura , nonsens (bzd : onzin as such?)
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I was wondering, Dymn: can you make "young rabbits" or only discover them? We "shoot camels" when we make the error ourselves and we discover them while reading or listening. And how about the Portuguese gralhas? I suppose you can only discover them, or ...?
    I now noticed that Grammar software "catches errors" - because they are camels, young rabbits, jay-birds? ;-)
     
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