workers need more graft

Status
Not open for further replies.
As as North American I was surprised by this. Any AE speakers ever seen it, meaning 'hard work'?

How do British people tell when it mean corruption?

Liz Truss, now the Tory leadership frontrunner, launched an astonishing broadside against British workers, saying they needed “more graft” and suggesting they lacked the “skill and application” of foreign rivals, the Guardian can reveal. {Guardian}

How can British people tell, e.g. in the following.
https://www.crick.ac.uk › whats-on › exhibitions › craft...


Craft & Graft closed on 08 February 2020. ... Discover the craft and graft of the people behind the science.
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    How do British people tell when it mean corruption?
    When does it ever mean corruption? I don't think I have come across this use. In BrE, "Graft" means hard work.

    I see OED says "colloquial (originally U.S.)." There is a 1970 quote from the Daily Telegraph (a British newspaper), where it was used alongside "corruption", and there is an earlier quote by CS Lewis with a similar pairing (this, of course, makes the meaning more or less apparent), but most of the other British quotes have to explain the meaning to their readers. For example:
    1909 Westm. Gaz. 13 Oct. 5/4 Showing how Tammany robs the city, bribes the judges, protects criminals, and generally carries on the game of graft, an Americanism for bribery, corruption, and illicit commission.​
     
    When does it ever mean corruption? I don't think I have come across this use. In BrE, "Graft" means hard work.

    I see OED says "colloquial (originally U.S.)." There is a 1970 quote from the Daily Telegraph (a British newspaper), where it was used alongside "corruption", and there is an earlier quote by CS Lewis with a similar pairing (this, of course, makes the meaning more or less apparent), but most of the other British quotes have to explain the meaning to their readers. For example:
    1909 Westm. Gaz. 13 Oct. 5/4 Showing how Tammany robs the city, bribes the judges, protects criminals, and generally carries on the game of graft, an Americanism for bribery, corruption, and illicit commission.​

    That is very odd. So this sort of example is uncommon in the UK:

    Property database delay frustrates China's anti-graft drive​

    https://www.reuters.com › article



    Oct 2, 2013 — ... amid resistance from local governments that illustrates the difficulty Beijing faces in driving through reforms to tackle widespread graft.
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    So this sort of example is uncommon in the UK:

    Property database delay frustrates China's anti-graft drive


    Non-existent, I'd say.

    I had no idea that 'graft' could mean corruption. I was only aware of the literal meanings (in horticulture/surgery etc) and the colloquial meaning of 'hard work'. A headline like that would not be understood outside the US and Canada, I suspect.
     
    Last edited:
    Non-existent, I'd say.

    I had no idea that 'graft' could mean corruption. I was only aware of the literal meanings (in horticulture/surgery etc) and the colloquial meaning of 'hard work'. A headline like that would not be understood outside the US and Canada, I suspect.

    You omit stating that it's a Reuters minor headline or article title that certainly appeared in the UK! (Apparently unnoticed!)

    Examples:

    Romanian parliament lifts ex-deputy PM's immunity ... - Reuters

    https://www.reuters.com › article › uk-romania-corrupti...

    Feb 3, 2016 — BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania's Senate voted on Wednesday to lift the immunity ... that has exposed widespread graft and angered Romanians.

    ==============

    Malawi president challenges corruption watchdog | Reuters

    https://www.reuters.com › article › idUSL25809895

    Oct 25, 2007 — TI identified Malawi as a nation with widespread graft in its latest corruption perceptions report, saying its ranking had slipped.
    =====

    Italy hit by new public contracts corruption scandal | Reuters

    https://www.reuters.com › article

    Mar 16, 2015 — FLORENCE/ROME, Italy (Reuters) - Italian police arrested four ... in the latest probe into the kind of widespread graft that Italy has long ...
     
    Last edited:

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    Property database delay frustrates China's anti-graft drive

    That page has a very American 'feel' to it . It is written by an American journalist in American English (program, favor etc); it uses US date conventions and gives currency conversion only into US dollars! Reuters may be British, but the article is clearly not written for a British audience.
     
    Last edited:

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Another sentence from one of the Reuters articles: Romania is seen as one of the European Union’s most corrupt states and its judiciary is under special EU scrutiny, though its prosecutors have won praise from the EU executive for stepped-up efforts to punish graft and abuses of power.

    This would make no sense whatsoever to a British reader.
     
    Another sentence from one of the Reuters articles: Romania is seen as one of the European Union’s most corrupt states and its judiciary is under special EU scrutiny, though its prosecutors have won praise from the EU executive for stepped-up efforts to punish graft and abuses of power.

    This would make no sense whatsoever to a British reader.

    That is truly puzzling. Here's from today's Daily Mail, UK (fire at Brazil's national museum):

    Today angry protesters gathered outside the entrance to the elegant park that houses the 200-year-old building and clashed with police officers in riot gear who shot tear gas into the crowd.

    Eventually, the police opened entry to the park as the crowd grew as the day progressed.

    The rising tensions reflect anger over the destruction of the much-loved yet dilapidated museum, which suffered from declining federal funding. The fire stirred emotions in Brazil, whose angry electorate is reeling from a frail economy, widespread graft and rising violence ahead of an unpredictable presidential election in October.
    Brazil National Museum fire: 200 years and 20 million pieces GONE
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    graft | Search Online Etymology Dictionary

    This says that the American English meaning of "corruption" started in 1865. But it only means "illegal money; bribery". It doesn't mean other kinds of corruption.

    graft - WordReference.com Dictionary of English

    The AE part lists this "bribery" meaning. The Collins (BE) part lists this meaning too, in addition to the "work" meaning. I checked collinsdictionary.co, and it is there too (see below). This is puzzling, since several UK members said above that they don't recognize this meaning.

    smaller.png
     

    Attachments

    • graft.png
      graft.png
      65.3 KB · Views: 8

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Any article where it was used to mean hard work would make no sense to an AE speaker.

    And apparently an article where it was used to mean corruption would make no sense to a BE speaker.

    It's kind of a rare event that the same word is so completely unknown in both directions. Usually there is some overlap. At least one way, if not the other.

    "Politician praised for graft" would be a real puzzler. (I realize that might not be idiomatic there either but not for the same reason.)
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    Any article where it was used to mean hard work would make no sense to an AE speaker.

    And apparently an article where it was used to mean corruption would make no sense to a BE speaker.

    It's kind of a rare event that the same word is so completely unknown in both directions. Usually there is some overlap. At least one way, if not the other.

    "Politician praised for graft" would be a real puzzler. (I realize that might not be idiomatic there either but not for the same reason.)
    That might not be very idiomatic, but if I read that politicians had undertaken to eliminate graft from politics, I'd be liable to take it at face value 😋
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I suppose that I am familiar with graft = corruption because I've had a more than average exposure to American English after living in NYC for ten years, reading the New York Times every day as well as various magazines, and having an interest in American history and politics.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I'm a little surprised that so many of our British contributors don't know the AE meaning of corruption. I can only suppose that my (very low) consumption of American crime fiction has introduced me to the word.

    But I'm not at all surprised to find Americanisms coming from Reuters and not being corrected before publication in Britain. BBC Radio 4 commonly talks about rocks being thrown at trucks by insurgents (i.e. stones thrown at lorries by rebels). They even once carried a news item on aluminum (aluminium) which took an hour or two to correct.
     
    Last edited:

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I also am aware of "graft" meaning corruption, but it's not a meaning I expect to see in UK-based media and it is not something I would say. For me "graft" can refer to work (usually as "hard graft", as Loob), but I am more used to "graft" being used in relation to horticulture and plastic surgery. I'm a bit surprised by Liz Truss saying "more graft" as she did not mean "more work" she meant "more productive and effective work". But then, I'm surprised by a lot that she says, particularly when it's about economic theory.
     

    mr cat

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Like Hermione, I'm familiar with the American "bribery and corruption" meaning, but I wouldn't use  graft that way myself. In fact, I'm not sure I ever use it as a stand-alone term: I might, however, talk of hard graft.
    It's used a lot to mean simply work (at least in my circles).
    Off to graft today...
    Quick break from graft...
    I had to buy some recently for graft...
     
    I was aware that “graft” means corruption in the Subcontinent (India and her neighbours). I was not aware that it is used in this sense in, or of, other parts of the world too.

    It certainly is used on this Canadian subcontinent. From a review in a Canadian paper of a Canadian novel [Love Enough], referring to June, a character in the novel]:

    Poor June. Her mother tried to put the best face on things while her alcoholic father, on his death bed, gave June a lengthy set of notes “detailing accusations of undermined democracy, government collusion with oil companies and widespread graft. He said these mechanisms owed him for the wastage of his life.”
    Philip Marchand: What about love?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's used a lot to mean simply work (at least in my circles).
    Off to graft today...
    Quick break from graft...
    I had to buy some recently for graft...
    Which part of England are you from, mr cat? (I'm originally from the south-west, and those wouldn't work for me:(.)
     

    mr cat

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Which part of England are you from, mr cat? (I'm originally from the south-west, and those wouldn't work for me:(.)
    The north-east. It could be regional and I think it's something that's grown in usage fairly recently but certainly common enough up here and I suspect widespread among people who do any type of physical work.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It would just be odd. You might guess it was a person's name, but the slogan wouldn't register. It would be so out of context for politics that it wouldn't even connect with that.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Whatever you need at your place of graft. ;)
    Oh, I thought it must be some idiom such that other speakers of your dialect :) would automatically know what "buy some" meant. I wouldn't say "I need to buy some for work." with no context.
     
    You sound surprised!:D:D

    It is always a surprise when, in the 'common language', on the two sides of the Atlantic, the meanings of words and phrase are completely disparate, as in the well-known example of the young English woman who says to her American date, "Knock me up in the morning." In the case of 'graft,' I had simply never heard of the 'work' sense till I read about Liz Truss. Further an inference as to its meaning was not simple; sometimes it's straightforward, when a phrase is not common in one area--e.g. the British phrase, "Ring me up," is quite obvious, though not common, in my experience, in AE, North America.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    I suppose that I am familiar with graft = corruption because I've had a more than average exposure to American English after living in NYC for ten years, reading the New York Times every day as well as various magazines, and having an interest in American history and politics.
    I seem to be more familiar than most with British English, but I've never seen/heard "graft" used to mean "hard work". (Or if I did, I mistakenly took it for the American meaning.)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    It doesn't mean "hard work". It means "work". That's why there is a common collocation "hard graft". We don't say "hard hard work".
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Actually, the OEDs examples of graft meaning "especially hard work" appear to all be "hard graft". And the examples from other dictionaries that it quotes say it means "work". These are all the citations:
    1853 J. Rochfort Adventures Surveyor v. 47 I could make more money by ‘hard graft’, as they call labour in the colonies.
    1890 J. D. Robertson Gloss. Words County of Gloucester Graft, work.
    1890 Argus (Melbourne) 16 Aug. 13/1 It is when hard graft has to be done..that they're troubled a bit.
    1891 S. O. Addy Suppl. Gloss. Words Sheffield Graft, work. ‘Well, I've got some graft to do now’.
    1933 Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Nov. 20/3 Another three miles' tramping, and four hours' hard graft.
    1968 Times 27 June 25/1 This view is that salvation..is to be won by long, hard graft by industrial management.
    1971 Observer 14 Mar. 7/7 They're too busy turning down 14 per cent pay offers to fuss about the three-quarters of a million out of graft.
    If you were to read the 21 examples offered by lexico.com, you would see that they are all "hard graft" except one that, oddly, says "A lot of graft and hard work"
    I had a look in the British National Corpus (BNC). I can pick out 34 "hard graft", but it would be quite a task to identify any that use "graft" to mean "hard work" because even finding nouns only returns many examples of use that have nothing to do with work.

    You also misrepresent Collins, which says:
    work (esp in the phrase hard graft)
    Which is exactly as I understand it.

    Chambers provides no examples. Cambridge provides one.
    work:
    I've never been afraid of hard graft.

    Endorsed by several other British speakers.
    Actually endorsed by Uncle Jack, Wordy, heypresto and london calling. Those who have declared for just "work" are Hermione, mr cat and me. I don't think four means several, and 4-3 is hardly a meaningful survey result, especially when the evidence from dictionary citations and the BNC supports the "work" meaning if not used in the form "hard graft".

    EDIT and PaulQ's thumb, so that's now 4-all.
    _____________________________________
    As it happens, the word "graft" for me implies that the work might be tedious and demanding, but not, of itself, hard. This one in the BNC from Gardeners' World has the merit of also being a pun.
    Apple appeal Graham Rice takes the graft out of choosing apple rootstocks and varieties as he visits a specialist fruit tree nursery.
    I don't think selecting rootstocks could be described as hard work.

    There will, of course, be differences in usage between native speakers.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I'm originally from the East Midlands of the UK, and spent some time in East Yorkshire. I heard graft in both places in the sense of work (noun and verb).

    I understand graft in "graft and corruption" in the US sense but would only use it as a set phrase.

    I've never found the word ambiguous - the context always clears it up.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I am not sure how useful this reminiscence is, but I don’t think I was familiar with either of these senses of “graft” when I was growing up in Yorkshire. I think I leaned the word when I moved away in the early 80s; and I can only hear the word in my mind with a south-east-England pronounciation of the a (which is completely different from a northern England prnunciation).
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    It doesn't mean "hard work". It means "work". That's why there is a common collocation "hard graft". We don't say "hard hard work".
    My mistake. :oops: But my point remains: I've never seen/heard "graft" used to mean "work". (Or if I did, I mistakenly took it for the American meaning.)
     

    Mrs JJJ

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (British)
    I think that in British English, the expression "hard graft" is much more common than "graft" on its own. Therefore the meaning of the word on its own doesn't seem to me terribly important.

    I also think that Liz Truss (or probably her speechwriters) may well have used the word on its own intentionally. Because she knew it would surprise those more familiar with the AE "scam" meaning and hoped that it would therefore gain more publicity for her remarks. Which, I gather, it has done.

    It is a ploy which the present incumbent of the office she seeks has long used extremely successfully. Throw in an unusual word or phrase, and it will immediately be seized upon by the media and quoted, because many people will never hitherto have encountered it. 😉
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Liz Truss is doing what politicians do - trying to appeal to 'the people'. I'm sure "graft" meaning "work" isn't part of her usual vocabulary and in fact saying that people "need more graft" doesn't make much sense in the context she seems to be talking about.
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ...
    Because she knew it would surprise those more familiar with the AE "scam" meaning and hoped that it would therefore gain more publicity for her remarks. Which, I gather, it has done.
    ...
    I don't think she's that subtle. Have you heard her speak?
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    I've heard "hard graft" as an expression meaning "hard work" and so it follows that "graft" on its own would mean "work", not that I've ever come across it on its own before.

    Until this thread, I was completely unaware that "graft" meant corruption in AE.
     
    Status
    Not open for further replies.
    Top