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Thread poster: Nesrin
Off topic: A word for "bully" in your language (or a language you know)

Nesrin  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:42
English to Arabic
+ ...
Mar 28, 2012

Anyone who speaks English knows what a bully is, whether a playground bully or a boss who's being a bully to his employees etc. But anyway the dictionary defines a bully as "a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people."

I was just discussing this word with my sister who's writing a book in Arabic for kids about dealing with bullies. And we were perplexed by the fact that there is no established term for "bully" in Arabic. There are a few words, such as "baltagi" (a word that became world-famous during the revolution, used mainly for hired thugs), "futuwwa" (a word with a lot of historical connotations, which went from meaning "chivalrous" to a thug who blackmails the neighbourhood in exchange for protection), and "shodali", an Egyptian colloquial word meaning a rowdy or a ruffian, a rough, tough person. As for the dictionaries, they suggest a bunch of completely unused/unusable words*.

I then tried to think of what the German word could be (being educated in German schools, and certainly having come across little bullies in school). I couldn't - so I consulted dict.cc and found words like Raufbold, Tyrann, Rabauke, Schulhofschlaeger, Fiesling, brutaler Mensch, Schlaegertyp. None of which we would have ever used in school to describe a bully schoolmate (maybe Fiesling, but that's more like an annoying, mean person I think). Usually we'd just describe them as being "gemein", which is just an adjective meaning "mean".

In Arabic also the schoolmates might describe him/her in long sentences as "a child who annoys other children" or "a child who makes trouble", without actually labeling the child with one categorical term.

This led me also to think that the fact that the word exists in English to describe the concept might have led to it becoming a phenomenon, being discussed, literature written about it, psychologists discussing it, and solutions sought for it. Can that be? Can a word "create" a phenomenon? And could the creation of such a category contribute to a solution? Or can it conversely stigmatise a child for life?? Or is the concept of a bully perhaps more prevalent in Anglo-American cultures (I know, that's probably as preposterous as it sounds), that there was a need to create a word for it?

Am I maybe on a completely wrong track, and there's a gazillion languages out there that have an exact equivalent for "bully"... What's the word for bully in your language, or a language you know?

* if you speak Arabic and you're interested to know what Arabic>English dictionaries suggest for "bully", see this and have a laugh:
Al-Mawrid suggests: متنمر، مستأسد
Al-Mughni suggests: متغمشر، متصول، متعرم (وهو الذي يتقاوى على ضعاف الناس)


[Bearbeitet am 2012-03-28 16:57 GMT]


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:42
English to Dutch
+ ...
Dutch Mar 28, 2012

Such a word certainly exists in Dutch: pestkop.
Only you cannot use it for a bullying boss, just for children and perhaps colleagues.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:42
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Spanish (Spain) Mar 28, 2012

"abusón". Comes from verb "abusar", one of its meanings being "to abuse".

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Nesrin  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:42
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks so far Mar 28, 2012


As I said, I may be on a completely wrong track.
I'm especially interested to know if you feel the word for bully in your language is a kind of natural equivalent for "bully", and is actually used by real-life schoolkids in similar situations.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:42
Member (2011)
Hebrew to English
Lack of one-word equivalent doesn't entail a lack of concept Mar 28, 2012


Nesrin wrote:
This led me also to think that the fact that the word exists in English to describe the concept might have led to it becoming a phenomenon, being discussed, literature written about it, psychologists discussing it, and solutions sought for it. Can that be? Can a word "create" a phenomenon? And could the creation of such a category contribute to a solution? Or can it conversely stigmatise a child for life?? Or is the concept of a bully perhaps more prevalent in Anglo-American cultures (I know, that's probably as preposterous as it sounds), that there was a need to create a word for it?


I think that's adopting a rather "strong" view of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. I think the concept exists the world over, it certainly isn't unique or limited to Anglo-Saxon culture(s). The fact that English has a word for it may only hint that, as a culture, we are more preoccupied with the phenomenon than others, nothing more. Conversely, the lack of a one-word equivalent in other languages isn't necessarily a sign of a lack of the concept or a lack of concern for the phenomenon itself.

It's also worth noting the etymology of the word "bully", it originally meant something quite different in English:
"bully (n.)
1530s, originally "sweetheart," applied to either sex, from Du. boel "lover, brother," probably dim. of M.H.G. buole "brother," of uncertain origin (cf. Ger. buhle "lover"). Meaning deteriorated 17c. through "fine fellow," "blusterer," to "harasser of the weak" (1680s, from bully-ruffian, 1650s). Perhaps this was by influence of bull (n.1), but a connecting sense between "lover" and "ruffian" may be in "protector of a prostitute," which was one sense of bully (though not specifically attested until 1706). The verb is first attested 1710. The expression meaning "worthy, jolly, admirable" (esp. in 1864 U.S. slang bully for you!) is first attested 1680s, and preserves an earlier, positive sense of the word."
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=bully&searchmode=none

In Hebrew you have the word בריון but this can also be translated as "thug, hooligan, ruffian", it isn't as specific as "bully". Also there isn't really a verb "to bully" as such (no verb sharing the same root as the noun), you have to say something like להציק to harrass/annoy (lacks the sinister overtones of the English) or להפחיד/לאיים to intimidate....although both are pretty synonymous with "to bully" really.

[Edited at 2012-03-28 17:41 GMT]


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neilmac
Spain
Local time: 16:42
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
In Spain Mar 28, 2012

In formal language, the terms acosador (literally, a harasser) or abusador (abuser) are used.

Informally, they tend to use "matón" which is literally "killer" or "deadly", but it is also used for any henchman or "heavy" type. Here's an example in this snippet from a review of Adrian Mole: "Al principio de The Secret Diary..., la vida de Adrian es un desastre: extorsionado en el colegio por el matón de turno..."

Pub/club bouncers are also sometimes called matones or "gorilas" which is also applied to people who offer to look after your car when it's parked for a small sum (this usually just means that they themselves won't slash your tyres or whatever).


PS: As Tomás notes above, "abusón" is also a common Spanish term for a bully.

[Edited at 2012-03-28 17:28 GMT]


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neilmac
Spain
Local time: 16:42
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mea culpa Mar 28, 2012


Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

"abusón". Comes from verb "abusar", one of its meanings being "to abuse".


Es verdad, se me habia olvidado del "abusón" ...


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Lisa Simpson, MCIL MITI  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:42
Member (2010)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
I'd noticed it too Mar 28, 2012

I had the same discussion with a friend not so long ago. I can't think of a direct translation in any of the languages I know that adequately covers everything that the word 'bully' does. The other word we couldn't find a translation for in any languages we knew was 'child-friendly'. Is this term only actually needed in Anglo-Saxon countries where children aren't necessarily welcomed everywhere - sorry, slightly O/T, but who knows, the two may even be connected

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neilmac
Spain
Local time: 16:42
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Didn't realise it was American Mar 28, 2012

[quote]Ty Kendall wrote:

(esp. in 1864 U.S. slang bully for you!) ...quote]

"Bully for you" has always sounded very "English" to me, as opposed to regional or US usage.
Don't they shout "bully up!" when kicking off hockey matches? I wonder where that came from...


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:42
Member
Italian to English
Bullo (Italian) Mar 28, 2012

According to the De Mauro and Zanichelli dictionaries, Italian has been using "bullo" (there are many other terms) since around 1547/8. Both "bully" and "bullo" probably derive from the same Germanic root meaning "lover" or "intimate friend". Nowadays "bullo" or its diminutive "bulletto" (documented from 1955) tend to refer to playground "hoodlums".

"Bullismo", the phenomenon of bullying particularly at school, is also recent. The two dictionaries date it from 1957/8.


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Melanie Meyer  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:42
Member (2010)
English to German
+ ...
No noun but... Mar 28, 2012

the verb 'schikanieren' (to bully/harass/mob) comes to my mind when I think of a German word for bully. You're right, there seems to be no noun in German that comes close to the full meaning of bully.

You would probably have to say "ein Schüler, der andere Kinder schikaniert" oder "ein Chef, der seine Mitarbeiter schikaniert". Or, as you already suggested, use the adjectives "gemein" or "fies".


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:42
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
-friendly Mar 28, 2012


Ty Kendall wrote:
I think that's adopting a rather "strong" view of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. I think the concept exists the world over, it certainly isn't unique or limited to Anglo-Saxon culture(s). The fact that English has a word for it may only hint that, as a culture, we are more preoccupied with the phenomenon than others, nothing more. Conversely, the lack of a one-word equivalent in other languages isn't necessarily a sign of a lack of the concept or a lack of concern for the phenomenon itself.


I agree, Ty, it is a bit of an extreme statement. Like you said, it could reflect an increased preoccupation with an issue. Or the fact that circumstances have driven a culture to look at an issue from a specific angle - for example, as pointed out by Lisa below, with words like "child-friendly"...
All those "-friendly" words are a known nightmare for the >Arabic translator by the way! The concept that a "thing" can be "friendly", not necessarily directly beneficial, to another "thing" or people, is very hard to express in equally concise terms.


Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:
The other word we couldn't find a translation for in any languages we knew was 'child-friendly'. Is this term only actually needed in Anglo-Saxon countries where children aren't necessarily welcomed everywhere - sorry, slightly O/T, but who knows, the two may even be connected


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:42
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Drifting further off-topic: bullies and "popular" girls in US TV culture Mar 28, 2012

Sorry to be drifting away from the linguistic to the cultural side.
To remain on the topic of the existence of a fixed "concept" leading to it being more closely studied and then becoming a phenomenon... my sister was remarking that she read that in the US, the problem of bullying had improved a bit a few years ago, after a lot of awareness-raising efforts, but then started deteriorating again and is now as bad as it used to be, in spite of the continuous awareness campaigns.

I remembered another thing she'd observed before - that only very recently, kids in Egypt (where she lives) started following all the US TV shows for kids/teens, taking place in US high schools, where there's always the figure of the so-called "popular" girls, who are really anything but "popular", they're self-centred, flashy girls who are usually quite horrid to others. She said that no matter how horrid they're shown to be on those shows, they have still become a new kind of role-model which real-life girls look up to and imitate - setting a trend for behaviour that just hadn't existed before in Egyptian schools!

This was just observed in her own daughter's school, so hardly a scientific-sociological observation. But, you know, worth thinking about. By trying to deal with some issues in the media, like e.g. bullying , occasionally the problem can be glamourised in a way that ends up perpetuating it.

Rambling done

[Bearbeitet am 2012-03-28 18:24 GMT]


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dkalinic
Local time: 16:42
Croatian to German
+ ...
In Croatian... Mar 28, 2012

we say "nasilnik". It's "ustrahovalec" or "nasilnež" in Slovenian.

Regards,
Davor


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:42
Member
English to French
Can't think of one in French specifically relating to school Mar 28, 2012

except periphrases like "celui qui joue les durs à la récré" or "terroriste en culottes courtes".
But there's one colloquial expression that springs to mind for their victims, ie those who are the toy of choice for bullies: "tête de turc", literally Turk head.
To me it doesn't imply that the French are culturally more concerned by victims!


Melanie Meyer wrote:
the verb 'schikanieren' (to bully/harass/mob) comes to my mind when I think of a German word for bully
...

Funny. The verb chicaner in French means arguing/verbally fighting over details.

Philippe


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A word for "bully" in your language (or a language you know)






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