1. englishman Senior Member

    English England
    This is a whinge. According to my big, thick French dictionary, "tergiverser" means "to prevaricate".

    This drives me crazy, as the compilers have committed one of the most common errors in English: they've confused "prevaricate" with "procrastinate", and the two words are quite distinct.

    Am I ludicrously old-fashioned in expecting a dictionary compiler to bother to check the words it translates ? I'm now left wondering how many other egregrious errors I'm *not* aware of.
  2. Lezert

    Lezert Senior Member

    french, France
    dans ces cas là, on ne tergiverse pas, on jette le dictionnaire par la fenêtre.

    je ne suis pas compétent pour l'anglais, mais voici la définition ATILF de tergiverser
    Retarder le moment, éluder la difficulté d'aboutir à une décision, à une réponse, à un engagement précis
  3. englishman Senior Member

    English England
    Oui, c'est exact. "prevaricate" a le sens de "mentir"
  4. edwingill Senior Member

    England English
    I think that tergiverser has many meanings,it can mean user de faux-fuyants. I think this would be equivalent to equivocate . We also have a word tergiversate, which OED defines as equivocate
  5. zam

    zam Senior Member

    England -french (mother tongue) & english
    Benjy, 'tergiverser' peut se traduire de 3 ou 4 façons.

    a) 'To dither', bien sûr. Bien que le dictionnaire parle souvent de 'act nervously', ce terme est cependant utiliser en anglais de tous les jours comme 'hésiter sans cesse', sans forcèment afficher une grande nervosité. Mes enfants me disent souvent que 'I dither all the time' quand je n'arrive pas à me décider sur quelque chose (achat par exemple) d'important.

    b) 'to hum and haw', aussi très utilisé

    c) to dither and dally

    J'ajoute que 'to prevaricate' peut avoir le sens de 'tergiverser' (gagner du temps) dans certains contextes.

  6. Lezert

    Lezert Senior Member

    french, France
    "prevariquer" et "to prevaricate" , encore un faux ami
    ( il y a aussi ratiociner , pour s'amuser....)
  7. englishman Senior Member

    English England
    Oh no, please, not again. This is simply *plain wrong* - prevaricate *never* means anything like what is written above. It is really very simple:

    prevaricate="to lie, to attempt to mislead"
    procrastinate="to dither, to delay, to fail to come to a decision"

    Google, or a good English dictionary, is your friend.
  8. tamanoir

    tamanoir Senior Member

    Paris IVème
    French France
    So strange to read English speaking folks differing so widely from what is reported in most english dictionaries :

    Exemple from Chambers 21st Century Dictionary :

    prevaricate verb (prevaricated, prevaricating) intrans to avoid stating the truth or coming directly to the point; to behave or speak evasively. prevarication noun. prevaricator noun.
    ETYMOLOGY: 17c: from Latin
    praevaricari, praevaricatus to walk with splayed legs, from varus bent.
    prevaricate, procrastinate
    Both words are to do with failure to deal with a matter or to answer a question immediately or promptly, and they are sometimes confused.
    If you prevaricate, you respond to a question but avoid a direct or truthful answer, and you are therefore not being totally honest.
    If you procrastinate, you don't deal with the matter at all but put it off to some later time.

    Another exemple from Collins Cobuild Engllish Dictionary for Advanced Learners
    prevaricate : if you prevaricate, you avoid giving a direct answer or making a firm decision. British ministers continue to prevaricate.

    My guess is that this last sentence may explain the confusion between the official meaning and what it really means in the UK...
  9. zam

    zam Senior Member

    England -french (mother tongue) & english
    1) Never ? I wouldn't be so categorical englishman. It is true that in the vast majority of cases, it clearly means, in effect, 'to lie' or 'to speak or act evasively so as to hide the truth', I am not disputing that.
    What I am saying is simply that, in some contexts -as I wrote in my post#5, 'prevaricate' can mean what is explained in the Penguin's usage notes (dither or to be evasive/also: equivocate/beat about the bush/etc.) and thus could be translated as 'tergiverser', particularly when used in relation to politicians !
    This is confirmed by the dictionaries below.

    2) There is no need to be sarcastic.

  10. englishman Senior Member

    English England
    1. Yes, never. And I think I would be so categorical. However, I will concede *very* slightly on this point: the meaning of "prevaricate" is now sufficiently misunderstood that we are witnessing a shift in its meaning, from what it was, say, 40 years ago. This new, incorrect meaning is beginning to become common currency, and repeated in online dictionaries, and so on, and may in time become accepted.

    2. I guess you're referring to my comment about Google "being your friend" - I wasn't being sarcastic here. That is a fairly modern idiom that means, roughly "if you want all the details, use Google". I don't think it's ever really used in a sarcastic sense. In fact, it's slightly self-deprecating, the implication being that the writer is too lazy to find the details himself.
  11. zam

    zam Senior Member

    England -french (mother tongue) & english
    1) Well, that was my point precisely (please re-read my posts 5 and 9). It has more than one meaning, the net is full of examples that back up what I'm saying. It does not ALWAYS mean plainly 'to lie'. It can mean 'to beat about the bush'/'to equivocate'.
    It might be 'incorrect' usage as you say, but the reality is that, in common parlance, this meaning exists and must not be overlooked.

    2. Please, use an emoticon next time, so I don't misunderstand your comment or intentions :)

Share This Page