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¿honor among thieves? 
Posted: 04 September 2009 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Does anyone know the origin of the phrase: “honor among thieves” -?¿- I’m trying to find the language from which it originated and what the translation is in that language.

-OR-

What would the latin translation be??

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Posted: 04 September 2009 05:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs says the concept is found in c 1622–3 Soddered Citizen (1936) l. 305 Theeues haue betweene themselues, a truth, And faith, which they keepe firme, by which They doe subsis.

The phrase approaches its modern form in

1802 J. Bentham Works (1843) IV. 225 A sort of honour may be found (according to a proverbial saying) even among thieves.

and is in the familiar form, with an addendum, in

1823 J. Bee Dict. Turf 98 ‘There is honour among thieves, but none among gamblers,’ is very well antithetically spoken, but not true in fact.

Based on this, it appears to have originated in English.

[ Edited: 04 September 2009 05:29 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 05 September 2009 06:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Based on this, it appears to have originated in English.

I’m not sure how you derive that conclusion, unless you know that the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs systematically mentions equivalents in other languages—and even if they do, they might not be aware of an earlier version in another language.

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Posted: 05 September 2009 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The ODP does routinely cite possible Latin and French origins for proverbs, and occasionally German ones, e.g. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”. (I would doubt that many English proverbs derive from any other language.) So I, like Dr Techie, presume that if it doesn’t cite any for this one, it isn’t because the boys and girls at the OUP didn’t consider the possibility, but that they couldn’t find one.

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Posted: 05 September 2009 09:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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(I would doubt that many English proverbs derive from any other language.)

Interesting opinion.

In light of the recent idiom thread, I would agree that many proverbs might not gain a foothold anywhere but the language of origin.

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Posted: 22 February 2010 04:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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thaNks, good point Shloff.

The oldest origin i can is in written in old english (or British spelling). Through the history channel i gathered it derives from the idea of “pirates code.” so i thought perhaps it came from one of the maritime powers of the early 1500’s so i narrowed it down to English/ French/ Spanish/ Portuguese - but i have south american friends and a friend from france and the say that phase isn’t said in their languages. so that leaves English or Portuguese… i’m leaning towards English, but i would be satisfied until i disprove Portuguese.

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Posted: 23 February 2010 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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A) Don’t trust anything you hear on the History Channel. While some of the material they show is well researched, they have an awful lot of airtime to fill and they do so with a lot of inaccurate schlock.

B) Asking friends from other countries if they are familiar with such sayings isn’t a valid way to go about it. It isn’t a bad first step to help orient you where to look, but it’s not conclusive. Proverbs fall out of use and one known centuries ago may not be in use today, or your friends may simply not be familiar with the proverb in question—hardly a week goes by that I don’t discover a saying in English that I haven’t heard before.

C) If you’ve found an old citation, it would be helpful to post it here. (See Dr. Techie’s response as an example.)

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Posted: 23 February 2010 08:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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written in old english (or British spelling).

Ummm.  I gather you’re not using “Old English” in the technical meaning (the language of Beowulf, the form of English spoken before the 12th century).  That’s quite a bit different from even archaic modern English, or “British spelling”.  The word honor didn’t enter English (from French) until the Middle English period; if there was an equivalent proverb in OE, it was expressed with a different word.

I should note that the OED, citing from an individual work rather than a collection, puts the Bentham quote back to 1791 (and of course, Bentham describes it as a proverbial saying, even at that time.)

[ Edited: 23 February 2010 08:39 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 23 February 2010 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Also of noten give the multilingual aspect of the question, the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs also cites Motteux’s 1703 translation of Don Quixote, Chapter LX: “The old proverb still holds good, Thieves are never rogues among themselves.”

The proverb is quoted by Sancho who has just witnessed a fair distribution of booty among a group of bandits.

Anyone have Cervantes’s original Spanish version of the line?

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Posted: 23 February 2010 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I don’t, and couldn’t read it if I had, but I note that (according to Wikipedia) the Motteux translation is considered a very poor one.  The better-regarded Ormsby has the passage thus:

Upon this Sancho remarked, “From what I have seen here, justice is such a
good thing that there is no doing without it, even among the thieves
themselves.”

Note “justice” rather than “honor”, and no mention of a proverb; it is simply presented as Sancho’s observation.

FWIW.

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Posted: 23 February 2010 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Still, even if there is no strong Spanish connection, it’s an interesting English citation from a famous and oft-quoted work that mentions an “old proverb.”

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Posted: 23 February 2010 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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That’s an interesting question - how likely is it that proverbs will be translated from one language into another?  It strikes me that one should distinguish between various types of sayings, which have become (in English, at any rate) proverbial:

Quotations from the Bible, for instance, may quite probably be current in several European languages: “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 - KJV), or “Pride goeth before a fall” (shortened from Proverbs 16:18). The same might be true of quotations from Latin or Greek writers, which have been much translated: “one swallow does not make a summer”, which I understand we owe to Aristotle.

True folk-sayings, on the other hand, are less likely, i think, to be translated into other languages. Nevertheless, I can think of one or two folk-sayings in English which have parallels in Spanish (the only other European language i speak):

“It’s an ill wind which blows nobody any good”
“No hay bien que por mal no venga” ("there is nothing good which does not come through something ill")

“Out of sight - out of mind”
“Ojo que no ve - corazón que no siente” ("What the eye does not see - the heart does not feel")

Perhaps because these sayings are such truisms, we may find them originating independently in more than one language.

Does anyone know an equivalent, in another language. of sayings such as “too many cooks spoil the broth” or “sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”?

Should i have posted this in a new thread?

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Posted: 23 February 2010 04:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Trop de cuisiniers gâtent la sauce seems to be the French equivalent of too many cooks, etc.

And checking this French proverb site one finds a veritable host of near parallels.

A few examples:

To have one’s cake and eat it - avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre (to have the butter and the money for it)

The biter bit - c’est l’arroseur arrosé (it’s the waterer being soaked)

Empty vessels make the most noise - ce sont les tonneaux vides qui font le plus de bruit (empty barrels make the most noise)

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Posted: 23 February 2010 09:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Empty vessels make the most noise - ce sont les tonneaux vides qui font le plus de bruit (empty barrels make the most noise)

Hebrew sages had a saying, some 2000 years ago (in Aramaic): istra be-lagina kish-kish karya - “one stater (a coin) in a jar makes a lot of clatter” - which is still in use here today.

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Posted: 19 October 2010 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Dr. Techie - 23 February 2010 09:30 AM

I don’t, and couldn’t read it if I had, but I note that (according to Wikipedia) the Motteux translation is considered a very poor one.  The better-regarded Ormsby has the passage thus:

Upon this Sancho remarked, “From what I have seen here, justice is such a
good thing that there is no doing without it, even among the thieves
themselves.”

Note “justice” rather than “honor”, and no mention of a proverb; it is simply presented as Sancho’s observation.

FWIW.

The first English translation, that of Thomas Shelton , 1611, also uses the word justice and again no mention of a proverb.

To which said Sancho, ‘By what I have here seen, justice is so good that it is fit and necessary even amongst thieves themselves.

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Posted: 19 October 2010 08:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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So what does “soddered” mean?

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