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convert to custody

English translation: change to permanent detention

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10:24 Jul 1, 2004
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Government / Politics / law/secret service/bureaucracy
English term or phrase: convert to custody
"to convert to His Majesty's Permanent Custody"

term coined by the British secret service in the closing months of WWII,
in other words assasination :)

(source: interview with a former hunter team member; it's mission -- to avenge Nazi atrocities against British personnel and secret agents)

I am asking what are the associations of a "native speaker"? The use of "convert" -- rather "become" or imperative "change"? And "custody" -- more that of "care" or of "detention"? Or quite different?
Wit
Local time: 22:49
English translation:change to permanent detention
Explanation:
Convert would be actively changing or transforming rather than the more passive *become*.

Custody I would understand as detention, and not voluntary. The phrase "taken in(to) custody" means arrested. It is true that parents may have custody over children, but that is a different usage and still denotes a relationship of power or authority.

I am a native speaker - US variety.
Selected response from:

Melanie Nassar
United States
Local time: 23:49
Grading comment
Graded automatically based on peer agreement.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +2change to permanent detention
Melanie Nassar
4change of status
R. A. Stegemann
3His Majesty is not necessarily King George VI, but possibly another "Majesty" too
DGK T-I


Discussion entries: 2





  

Answers


45 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
change to permanent detention


Explanation:
Convert would be actively changing or transforming rather than the more passive *become*.

Custody I would understand as detention, and not voluntary. The phrase "taken in(to) custody" means arrested. It is true that parents may have custody over children, but that is a different usage and still denotes a relationship of power or authority.

I am a native speaker - US variety.

Melanie Nassar
United States
Local time: 23:49
Works in field
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 16
Grading comment
Graded automatically based on peer agreement.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  mportal: yes, but as the asker says, it is a euphemism here. If they are assassinated the person is, of course, dead. Hence 'permanent', and the 'custody' is, in a sense, a (perhaps rather tasteless) joke, meaning, as armaat says, 'detention'
8 hrs

agree  xxxAlfa Trans
4 days
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
change of status


Explanation:
In a non-religious, more general sense does the word convert not imply change from one status to another?

R. A. Stegemann
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 05:49
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8
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1 day1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
His Majesty is not necessarily King George VI, but possibly another "Majesty" too


Explanation:
(...in a rather dry dark quasi-legalese joke)

His Satanic Majesty is an old humorous / literary name for the Devil or the King of Hell (it seems some people may use the phrase more seriously, but I'm not referring to that).

I don't know the story the asker is referring to,
but if the asker is right that the aim was definitely assassination then it seems quite possibly to mean:
"to change/transform [persons] so that they are detained by the Devil in his kingdom - permanently."

It seems to be a dark quasi-legalese joke because it plays on many traditional British legal expressions such as "sentenced to be detained at His [Britannic] Majesty's pleasure" (which of course means something different to the way it sounds to people who aren't used to it). The logic might partly be that it was planned for representatives to detain (take into custody) the people involved first, and then it would be made 'permanent' in this particular way, immediately after - not a normal legal procedure - although there might have been no detention by (His Britannic Majesty's)representatives at all (but permanent custody of the other 'Majesty'). Or a mixture of the two.

From
a memory of James Edward Dillon
of life as a child during the Second World War
(remember it is an unsophisticated "child's eye view")

"Churchill said....., "If Hitler invaded Hell I would at least make a favourable reference to His Satanic Majesty in the House of Commons". "

BBC War for a junior 1939-1945
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A1947369

There seems no doubt that 'convert' here is changing/transforming [something]
as in converting one judicial sentence to another (although this isn't a judicial sentence, and presumably it is someone not something, from the small fragment that the asker gives us),
as in: www.fco.gov.uk/Files/kfile/CM5752.PDF
(or)
http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=cache:i-LgGGFRwLsJ:www.fco....

www.fco.gov.uk/Files/kfile/5944.pdf
(or)
http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=cache:I_n2QrOITskJ:www.fco....

or from the legal expression "converting" money to other purposes as in embezzlement where money that is supposed to be used for one purpose is illegally used for another.

As in an old House of Lords Law report (although it's common)
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=13895

Speculating - if the people who coined the last expression (converting funds / money to another purpose) in mind, they might themselves have been alluding to an element of illegality or irregularity in the actions, while they believed it was justified in the circumstances.

Also no doubt that 'custody' is held in detention (also in the old House of Lords law report, and a common term), and that it's all a euphenism (if the asker is right that assassination was the aim).

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Note added at 1 day 1 hr 51 mins (2004-07-02 12:15:37 GMT)
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typo. \'...Speculating - if the people who coined the phrase had the last legal expression (converting funds / money to another purpose) in mind, they might themselves have been alluding to an element of illegality or irregularity in the actions, while they believed it was justified in the circumstances\'


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Note added at 1 day 8 hrs 41 mins (2004-07-02 19:06:19 GMT)
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There is a different possibility that might account for it - that the phrase comes from the custom that (until the effective abolition of the death penalty in Britain) after execution prisoners were buried within the prison boundaries. It is just possible that permanent custody was meant in that way, in the context of criminals sentenced to death because the custody was in truth permanent - the prisoner did not leave His Majesty\'s custody even after death. The coiners of the phrase may just have had this in mind, even though the situation isn\'t exactly the same.

burial
http://www.staffspasttrack.org.uk/exhibit/palmer/the hanging...
http://www.richard.clark32.btinternet.co.uk/durham.html

Not a very cheerful answer ~

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Note added at 1 day 8 hrs 43 mins (2004-07-02 19:08:26 GMT)
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While this second possibility makes sense, I haven\'t ever met the phrase used that way, so can\'t be certain that that was the way that the coiners of the phrase were thinking.

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Note added at 1 day 8 hrs 55 mins (2004-07-02 19:19:44 GMT)
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(burial within the precincts of the gaol was part of the sentence)

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Note added at 1 day 8 hrs 57 mins (2004-07-02 19:22:05 GMT)
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(in the Durham reference above)

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Note added at 1 day 12 hrs 14 mins (2004-07-02 22:39:28 GMT)
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after asker\'s added note:
it certainly is now clear that individuals involved were taken into custody first (detained) and that it was made \"permanent\" shortly after. The Majesties being both or just King George (impossible to be certain), and convert in the legal sense change/transform (as of a sentence, although this isn\'t a sentence).

background on Peter Mason
http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=cache:pW_l6ezz-pUJ:www.muse...



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Note added at 1 day 12 hrs 18 mins (2004-07-02 22:42:52 GMT)
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The phrase wouldn\'t be out of place in the works of Ian Fleming.

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Note added at 2 days 1 hr 30 mins (2004-07-03 11:55:13 GMT)
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(could be the second idea about \'convert\' too, carrying a whiff of irregularity - impossible to be sure)

DGK T-I
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:49
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