hammer the nerve

English translation: belabor the point

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:hammer the nerve
English translation:belabor the point
Entered by: Michael Barnett

22:45 Nov 17, 2006
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature / Spanish Civil War
English term or phrase: hammer the nerve
I am translating a book about the role of the United States in the Spanish Civil War. This letter was sent to Roosevelt by a pro-Franco American ambassador in Madrid in 1940 (so, just after the end of the war, when repression was at its crudest).

My problem is the expression "to hammer the nerve". I am thinking something in the lines of "I don't want to insist", or "I don't want to be tiresome", but I am not sure. How do you understand it?

CONTEXT:
I am still pursuing this matter and am still unable to confirm these stories [repression of loyalists]. Furthermore that sort of thing would appear to be contrary to all the political ideals and declarations of the present government. I can assure you that no death sentence is carried out without prior reference to the legal advisor of the Caudillo. In the Embassy itself there have been three or four cases of Spanish employees whose relatives were in danger of death sentence. In each of these cases there has been either exoneration or commutation of the death sentence and in the case of the latter, the father of one of the men concerned told me that his son had been adequately defended by a counsel appointed by the Court and that the trial seemed to him eminently fair one.

I have no wish to ***hammer the nerve***, but I think you can be fairly sure that these execution stories are an aftermath of the extensive propaganda carried on up to the time of the fall of the Republican Government.

Thanks!
Maria
Maria Rosich Andreu
Spain
Local time: 16:16
belabor the point
Explanation:
http://www.answers.com/topic/belabor-the-point
Selected response from:

Michael Barnett
Local time: 10:16
Grading comment
thank you!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +4belabor the point
Michael Barnett
5inflict this information into your heads
alen botica
3 +1over emphasize
Jonathan MacKerron
4cause undue pain/distress about a sensitive subject which is worrying you
Anna Maria Augustine at proZ.com (X)
3"beating a horse to death"
Regi2006
3rock the boat
Tegan Raleigh
3provoke a knee-jerk reaction
Ken Cox
3I don't want to be insensitive
Tatiana Nero (X)
3overly rejoice you, make your nerve pounded with (good) news
Erich Ekoputra


  

Answers


6 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
I don't want to be insensitive


Explanation:
or, I don't want to step on anybody's toes

---

I believe it is more about sensitivity of the issue than the writer's insistence.

Tatiana Nero (X)
Local time: 10:16
Native speaker of: Native in RussianRussian
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
cause undue pain/distress about a sensitive subject which is worrying you


Explanation:
Imagine you have a toothache because the nerve is inflamed. Somebody hits it with a hammer or any object or just hits the painful area - then it going to make everything all that much worse.

So basically, he doesn't want to make the whole situation worse or to inflame the situation so he is attempting to reassure the person.

This expression is not in my book of 6000 idioms so I think it is somewhat invented thus open to interpretation, and slightly abstract.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2006-11-18 00:21:19 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The book of idioms gives:
Touch/hit/strike a raw nerve.
To upset someone by mentioning a subject that upsets them.

So perhaps, he means he doesn't want to upset the person.

Anna Maria Augustine at proZ.com (X)
France
Local time: 16:16
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in FrenchFrench
PRO pts in category: 52
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
rock the boat


Explanation:
I've never heard this expression before, and I googled it with 0 results.

Within this context, it seems that it could either mean:
I don't mean to repeat myself ("beat you over the head about it")

or
I don't mean to be controversial ("rock the boat")

My tendency is to go with the second option, because the second part of the sentence begins with "but," indicating to me that the general mood at the White House was to believe that the repression of loyalists was in fact in full force; thus, by "rocking the boat," he is offering an opinion that differs from the prevailing one.

kind of a creative and more emphatic version of "strike a nerve," as Anna Maria suggested.

Tegan Raleigh
United States
Local time: 07:16
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
overly rejoice you, make your nerve pounded with (good) news


Explanation:
My answer is basically contextual. My humble understanding is that the writer tried to calm the recipient of the letter that the situation was not as bad as the recipient might have thought.

All the letter says are positive things:
= no death sentence was carried out w/o reference
= death cases had been exonerated/commutated
= a fair trial with a well-defending lawyer.

In the end, the writer culminated the letter with the most positive thing, i.e. the execution stories were only propaganda. In introducing this great positive, the writer somewhat wanted to be low profile by using "do not wish, but" construction.

"I have NO WISH to hammer the nerve, BUT the stories are only propaganda" seems like to be:

"I do NOT WANT to overly rejoice you, BUT these stories are only propaganda".


Erich Ekoputra
Indonesia
Local time: 21:16
Native speaker of: Native in IndonesianIndonesian
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12 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
over emphasize


Explanation:
is how I read it

Jonathan MacKerron
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 80

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Caryl Swift
10 hrs
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15 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
provoke a knee-jerk reaction


Explanation:
This is a pure guess, but 'hammering the nerve' sounds like a literal description of what a doctor does to check a reflex response (using a small hammer to cause a knee-jerk reflex is the most common example).

'Knee-jerk' is a common term in US political parlance (e.g 'knee-jerk liberal') and usually used a derogatory label to describe someone who (allegedly) always responds to a particular question or issue according to prescribed ideological principles. This is very similar to 'politically correct' in modern language.

IMO this meaning, even in the figurative sense, doesn't quite fit here. Perhaps what the author meant is 'I don't want to try to gloss over the facts with an ideologically based stance, but...

Ken Cox
Local time: 16:16
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 88
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19 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +4
belabor the point


Explanation:
http://www.answers.com/topic/belabor-the-point

Michael Barnett
Local time: 10:16
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 36
Grading comment
thank you!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Caryl Swift
3 hrs
  -> Thank you Caryl!

agree  Kari Foster: I found another supporting example in http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3693/is_200403/a...
10 hrs
  -> Good ref! Thanks Kari!

agree  Melanie Nassar: that's it
14 hrs
  -> Thanks Melanie!

agree  Alfa Trans (X)
1 day 1 hr
  -> Thanks Marju!
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21 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
inflict this information into your heads


Explanation:
For example... the word hammer in www.thefreedictionary means... To force upon by constant repetition: hammered the information into the students' heads

The author wrote an apology, maybe something like - I don't want to deceive you - or inflict an information I came about with...

... but I think you can be fairly sure ...




alen botica
Local time: 16:16
Native speaker of: Native in CroatianCroatian
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1 day 1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
"beating a horse to death"


Explanation:
It's like an exposed nerve in a tooth that you keep probing with your tongue even though it hurts. Similar to "beating a horse to death" IMO.

Regis2006



Regi2006
Indonesia
Local time: 21:16
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in IndonesianIndonesian

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Richard Benham: This is not actually a standard metaphor in English. I think you are thinking of "Flogging a dead horse", which is something different.
12 hrs
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