tackle vs handle again

jiamajia

Senior Member
Mandarin
Sometimes I do hear English channels in China use the term 'tackle the food safety problem'. Is that an idiomatic usage to mean someone adopts absolute or effective measures to handle the problem?

Thank you.
 
  • Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It indeed means that. It also conveys feelings of "immediately and completely".

    I am not 100% sure where the idiom comes from, but in America we have american football in which people "tackle" other players. To do so is to completely take them down, to the ground, ending their attempt to keep going. That is how I've always felt the idiom came into being. But I could be wrong. That is only my take on it.

    There are tackles in other sports but, as far as I know, they don't assume "tackling" in the same way an american football player would.
     

    scrotgrot

    Senior Member
    English - English
    I feel that tackle was probably appropriated into the sporting sense rather than the other way around. Tackle must have been around long before the advent of any modern ball sport - I mean, look at the form of the word, that is one old word.

    Tackle is often preferred because it sounds more aggressive and proactive than handle, which implies the food safety people are sort of dealing with problems on the fly, waiting for the problem to come to them.
     
    Last edited:

    sendintheclowns

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    In America when politicians say they will "tackle" a problem, say "tackle entitlements" it is usually politician-speak for trying to appear effective, while actually doing nothing ;) generally used for particularly difficulty or thorny issues. "Handle" would seem to suggest that someone is actually working on it.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Being British, I would like to think that "tackle" comes from Rugby, where a tackle is the physical action to get the ball and the "handling" is the care taken to prevent the ball escaping, a forward pass or a knock-on.

    Good tackling and handling are essential to possession of the ball which, in its turn, is essential to winning the game.

    (please don't ask about these terms... :) )
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Sometimes I do hear English channels in China use the term 'tackle the food safety problem'. Is that an idiomatic usage to mean someone adopts absolute or effective measures to handle the problem?
    No. To tackle a problem is to attempt to solve it, to start to work at solving it; the attempt may or may not be successful. (If those tackling the problem end up with effective measures, then they have solved it.)
     

    scrotgrot

    Senior Member
    English - English
    In fact, the noun tackle was first attested in American football! Tackle originally meant the tackles of a ship, which are ropes, and to tackle came to have a sense of "entanglement", from which the figurative and sporting sense seem to come.

    It seems odd that a word like tackle should only arise decades after the first records of football (the date given is 1876 for the noun, 1884 for the verb).

    1863 Cambridge Rules said:
    If any player shall run with the ball towards his adversaries' goal, any player on the opposite side shall be at liberty to charge, hold, trip or hack him, or to wrest the ball from him, but no player shall be held and hacked at the same time.
    Charge means shoulder-charge, probably, or maybe a full-body charge.
    Hold is like a wrestling hold.
    Trip is obvious.
    Hacking is kicking someone in the shins - association football (soccer) split off because players wanted to be allowed to do this, and this was the precursor to the whole idea of having the ball at your feet and tackling with the feet.
    To wrest the ball from him is an uncommon tackle in rugby and American football. It would be similar to a rip tackle in basketball (I think that's what it's called: going for the ball and well, trying to wrest it from the player, and it might be a foul).

    Presumably the word tackle came to describe a simultaneous charge-and-hold which came to be done as one movement, deriving from the rope-like entanglement of the arms around the other person's body.
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    No. To tackle a problem is to attempt to solve it, to start to work at solving it; the attempt may or may not be successful. (If those tackling the problem end up with effective measures, then they have solved it.)
    How does that differ from, "If those handling the problem end up with effective measures, then they have solved it."?

    I may be persuaded that tackling indicates the earlier stages and handling the later ones, but this is moot. I would still say it is qualitative of the action.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top