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cappabar/capabarre/capperbar
Posted: 19 June 2007 10:00 AM   [ Ignore ]
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This thread from Pepys Diary brought to light a word (apparently predominantly in nautical use) for ‘misappropriation of government property’ variously spelled cappabar, capabarre, and capperbar (and presumably other ways as well).  Neither Webster’s Third nor the OED has it; The Sailor’s Word-Book (Admiral W.H. Smyth, 1867) has “CAPABARRE. An old term for misappropriating government stores. (See Marryat’s Novels.).” Any ideas?

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Posted: 19 June 2007 04:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Looks like German “kaperbar”, apparently = “seizable”, from “kapern” = “capture/seize [a ship]”. I find German “kaperbar” on the Web in spaceship game contexts, but it looks appropriate.

I suppose more likely it’s adopted from Dutch, but I can’t find the exact corresponding word. Maybe one of those familiar with Dutch can find it. Dutch “kapen” = “capture"/"pilfer" (says the book), “kaper” = “privateer”.

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Posted: 19 June 2007 08:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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No elucidation, lh, I’m afraid (DW seems to have made a good start on that), but the word --- variously spelt, as in your query --- occurs a number of times in the Aubrey/Maturin nautical novels of Patrick O’Brian (who may very well have got it from Marryat, one of his acknowledged sources). As O’Brian describes it, it seems to have been regarded in the RN as a part of the perks of bosuns, pursers, etc. and not severely repressed if carried out in moderation.

Ed.:  Expanding on the preceding post: the Yiddish verb “khappen” or “khapn” ( not found in Leo Rosten’s “The Joy of Yiddish”, 1st ed.) means “to catch, snag, grab, seize, capture, intercept, etc.” (see link below). I’m not suggesting a Yiddish origin for capperbar, merely pointing out a similarity to the German and Dutch words mentioned above.

http://www.yiddishdictionaryonline.com/

[ Edited: 19 June 2007 09:45 PM by lionello ]
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Posted: 20 June 2007 03:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Excellent suggestion, DW!  Perhaps one of our Dutch contributers can say whether kape(r)baar is a plausible word.

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Posted: 20 June 2007 04:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Good point indeed, DW. Actually, when I read the OP I thought “it’s a CANOE, it’s obscure so it’s probably Dutch”. I thought about it for a while but couldn’t make heads or tails of it. So you’re ahead of me.

However, I still don’t think it’s of Dutch origin. The way the word would be formed is not consistent with Dutch grammar. The verb is ‘kapen’, the derived noun is ‘kaper’. If the word is supposed to express ‘worthy of being stolen’ you would expect ‘kaapbaar’. (eten > eetbaar, horen > hoorbaar, etc.). The origin of the English word would indicate an original ‘kaperbaar’ from a verb ‘kaperen’, derived from the noun ‘kaper’. That is highly unlikely since there already was a verb ‘kapen’.

OTOH, German borrowed not the verb, but the noun ‘kaper’ which they turned into a verb ‘kapern’. WNT points out that for a short while (around 1914) the German verb was used in Dutch publications and adds that such a thing is a “rude and unforgivable Germanism” (tells you something about the mentality of the editors in those days).

So if you are on the right track, I’d say that the German approach is the most promising.

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Posted: 20 June 2007 05:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Nobody likes a showoff, Dutchtoo.

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Posted: 20 June 2007 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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And I was constraining myself, Thews!

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Posted: 20 June 2007 06:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thanks, Dutchtoo.  Looks like German is the probable source.

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Posted: 20 June 2007 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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People with big muscles are always flexing them!

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Posted: 20 June 2007 02:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Since Aubrey/Maturin has been mentioned, I wonder if anyone could enlighten me on the accepted pronunciation of Maturin. I find it hard to get into a story when I don’t know how to pronounce a character’s name, so I had to settle on one myself: [MAY-chur-in]. But if I were ever to talk about the character, I would have to hesitate and wonder how stupid I was about to sound. Anyone?

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Posted: 21 June 2007 03:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I found the word “kapare” meaning privateer in a Swedish online dictionary from what appears to be 1851, if that helps.

edit: the link won’t work.  You just have to trust me.

[ Edited: 21 June 2007 03:20 AM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 21 June 2007 03:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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That (and the verb ‘kapa’) is borrowed from Dutch as well (says WNT). Just FTR, not trying to “depreciate” your contribution, of course.

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Posted: 21 June 2007 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Yours are impressive contributions, Dutchtoo.

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Posted: 21 June 2007 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I wonder if anyone could enlighten me on the accepted pronunciation of Maturin.

It’s MAT-your-in.  You can, of course, collapse the -ty- into -ch-, which is perfectly normal English phonological alteration, but the first syllable is definitely mat, not mate.

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Posted: 21 June 2007 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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It may not be the same thing, but there’s an OED entry on cap-bar, capbarre:

Sc. Obs.

= Capstan bar.

c1550 Aberd. Regist. (Jam.) Serving of schippis with cap-barres.

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Posted: 21 June 2007 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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It’s MAT-your-in

Is the accentuation the same in Catalan? and in Spanish?

and since we’re on the subject: how about the accentuation of Domanova, which is the second part of Stephen Maturin’s surname?

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