Senior Member

In the book "Parrot and Olivier in America" (Peter Carey) the word "stasis" is used in the following conversation between Mr. Duponceau and Parrot:

"What do you want now?" our host inquired.
"To be still," he [Parrot] said, and smiled.
Duponceau nodded, and ran his hand through his long unruly hair. "Stasis," said he.
John Larrit [Parrot] did not seem to understand the word. "Not the road," he said. "Not the sea."

Context: Parrot relates Mr. Duponceau his turbulent life which he has spent on the way (he lived in England, Australia, France, now he is in America). He doesn't want to travel any more. He longs for his own home. I need to translate the word "stasis" into my language. When I translate it with the word that I find in dictionaries, it sounds to me rather like a medical term. That's why I would like to ask you if there is a similar (medical) connotation in English. I know that the word is of a Greek origin. Does it sound like a Greek/foreign word in English? Is it a usual or rather unusual word used in such a conversation? By the way, Mr. Duponceau (his name makes it clear) is not a native speaker, he is French.

Many thanks for your help.
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Stasis is not a word that will appear in routine everyday conversation.

    It has pathological and psychological meanings.
    More generally, from the OED:
    Inactivity; stagnation; a state of motionless or unchanging equilibrium.

    It is a fairly high-register word, but it would not necessarily carry a medical connotation.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    It comes unchanged from the Greek, and certainly, as Panjandrum says, is not part of ordinary conversation and is normally used in technical senses in various sciences. Since it's basically an imported foreign word used in both English and French (since the French-speaking character is familiar with it), you might look into whether it is perhaps already known in Czech in these scientific ways and perhaps can be used without change in your translation.
    < Previous | Next >