1. mano13 Senior Member

    I was wondering what's the difference between hag and witch.

    Because I was listening tv and there was a moment in the movie where I heard:

    - He's not interested in a witch like me.....
    - Oh you're not a witch, You're a hag...that's worst!

    So, what's the difference??? Parce que je sais que les 2 mots veulent dire "sorcières", mais.....j'ai l'impression qu'il y a une différence et que hag est peut être plus "fort" que witch.....

    Merci d'avance! :D
  2. orlando09 Senior Member

    France, PACA
    English (England)
    In everyday English you say a witch to mean a sorcière. A hag can have connotations of "witch", though it can also mean a kind of malevolent fairy/spirit in folklore. More usually though, it mainly suggests a very ugly old woman - the classic hook-nosed, warty look of the stereotyped witch. So it sounds to me quite insulting to call someone a hag.. There is also the phrase a fag hag (mainly because hag rhymes with 'fag' - a vulgar word for gay), which means a woman who has a lot of gay male friends - which I presume was meant to be a bit insulting originally, but which I have even heard some women use about themselves. I don't know if in context it could be this that is being referred to?
  3. mano13 Senior Member

    Ohhh!! I see!! Your explanation helped me a lot!! thank you so much orlando09!!!!

    Ps: No, hag fag doesn't match the context beacause it's about a "real witch"!!! But thanks to you!! I've just leaned something new!! haha!! :D
  4. SteveD

    SteveD Senior Member

    Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium
    British English
    Just a small correction to make here.
  5. mano13 Senior Member

    Thank you!!! :D
  6. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    It's interesting that in Macbeth, Shakespeare never uses the word witch (oh, no he doesn't - any appearances of the word are in non-Shakespearean scenes!). He does talk about hags, however. It seems that the two words were for him identical in meaning, but that witch was not pronouncable in public.

    In more recent usage they diverged entirely, with hag meaning very ugly old woman as Orlando says, and witch meaning magically gifted woman whether young or old. Unfortunately the combination of the Christian Church and Walt Disney has had a great hand in blurring this distinction and creating a popular impression of the witch which in no way resembles the ones I know.

    There is also the word crone which is similar in meaning to hag. The classic three-witch coven combines the maiden, the mother and the crone, representing the three manifestations of the Goddess.
  7. orlando09 Senior Member

    France, PACA
    English (England)
    That's OK :) That's an interesting point Keith; however I think my comment about how hags are in some traditional uses a kind of malevolent spirit or fairy is true as well though (as in the derivation of the expression to be "hag-ridden"). I wonder now in McBeth if they are not more along those lines more than our usual idea of a witch as a normal woman who happens to practice magic? I'd say it's possible. It would be interesting to see what terminology was used in witch trials of Shakespeare's day - I suspect people would be accused of being "witches", not "hags."
    I agree there is a similarity between our modern idea of what a hag is (ugly old woman) and the "crone," and that modern witches often refer to the crone as the archetype of the old woman, though with a more positive slant than the word has in everyday use (to them it suggests wisdom and maturity). I know of the idea of the triple goddess in contemporary witchcraft (though it is disputed as to whether it is very old or not) but I am not aware of thee-witch covens being especially typical - covens are usually 13, no? It's true there were 3 of them in McBeth though. They bring to mind a bit the three fates from Greek mythology.
    I remembered this from McBeth - what a charmer! "How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags! What is't you do?" [answer - "not much, we were just watching Corrie"]
  8. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    I think the point about witches in covens (fr = assemblée de sorcières, cognate with convent/couvent) is that 13 is the ideal and 3 the minimum. Both Shakespeare and Sir Terry Pratchett agree on three, but then Shakespeare was limited in the number of actors he had at his disposal and Pratchett clearly follows Shakespeare.

    [PS: Can I strongly recommend Patrick Couton's French versions of Pratchett as excellent (award-winning) examples of how to translate puns, allusions and dialect.]

    Let's stop there, this thread is getting off-topic!
  9. halfbeing Senior Member

    English - English
    The word hag is used to translate the Irish and Gaelic word cailleach which appears a lot in folk songs and means an ugly old woman and nothing else. Example:

    She is your granny, she is your granny, she is your granny, the hag with the money.

    The hag would [dance a] set. The hag would [dance a] reel. The hag would set to the bag.
    This second example is obviously nonsense verse, but even so the word witch won't do, nor will old woman.

    Is there a French word that would fit here?
  10. mano13 Senior Member

    I don't know if you were asking a new question or you were just answering to me, but if it's a question I would say "la vieille" but i'm not really sure if it really fit in that context....Maybe wait for someone more advanced to help you!
  11. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    "La vieille dansait un set, la vieille dansait un quadrille, la vieille dansait un set au son de la cornemuse."

    Sounds likely to me.

    Second thoughts:

    "La vieille restait assise, la vieille dansait un quadrille, la vieille restait assise au son de la cornemuse."
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
  12. halfbeing Senior Member

    English - English
    Thanks people :)

    I guess vieille will have to do, but it's not the same thing. My old Irish-English dictionary gives only one translation for cailleach. "Old woman" would be seanbhean. The song about the hag with the money tells of her greedy young suitors. "Old woman" wouldn't have the same impact.

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