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nyttig idiot

English translation: agent

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
Norwegian term or phrase:nyttig idiot
English translation:agent
Entered by: brigidm
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07:10 Dec 1, 2004
Norwegian to English translations [PRO]
Norwegian term or phrase: nyttig idiot
This idiom is used in all kinds of contexts in Norwegian, but here is the context for which I have to find an equivalent translation: "En ammioniakkopløsning binder seg til CO2'en og fungerer slik sett som en nyttig idiot som tar ut co2'en og går så inn i prosessen igjen". The nearest I have come to is "a useful instrument", not as colourful as the Norwegian, but it serves it purpose. Don't we have a more "standard" phrase like the Norwegians do?
brigidm
Norway
Local time: 19:31
agent
Explanation:
In the context of chemical reactions, I believe the correct term is "agent". The expression "useful idiot", though a perfect match for "nyttig idiot" (by no means a Norwegian coinage) is totally inappropriate here, as pointed out by other answerers. I would have pointed this out, and advised against using it.
Selected response from:

Richard Lawson
Local time: 19:31
Grading comment
Actually this is a serious research report, but occasionally a little gem like this pops up in the text. I think I'll plump for accuracy here rather than trying to find a style equivalent. Thanks, Richad and all!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +4agentRichard Lawson
3 +3useful dummy
Per Bergvall
3 +1faithful dog (in this context)
Christine Andersen
3useful fool
Kathy Saranpa
3acts as a gullible helper
Terence Ajbro


  

Answers


3 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
acts as a gullible helper


Explanation:
Not sure whether there is an exact English equivalent, but this should come close to it.

Terence Ajbro
Sweden
Local time: 19:31
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 49
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16 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
useful fool


Explanation:
I don't think there is an equivalent in English, but if you want to preserve the "color" of the Norwegian, this might work. (I don't think "gullible" works considering the fact that you're talking about a chemical reaction.)

Kathy Saranpa
Finland
Local time: 20:31
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 4
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29 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
faithful dog (in this context)


Explanation:
'Nyttig idiot' or useful idiot exists, of course, in English, (explained in the link below) but the problem is in the polititical and perjorative overtones that have not come over to Norwegian.

Could you perhaps use 'obedient robot' ?

I'm having qualms about calling it a dog - they're not really that stupid (-:


    Reference: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Useful%20idiot
Christine Andersen
Denmark
Local time: 19:31
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 338

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Roald Toskedal
1 hr

neutral  Eivind Lilleskjaeret: uttrykket HAR politiske konnotasjoner i norsk (i Lenins betydning) - prøv f.eks. googling på "nyttige idioter" + klassekamp
1 hr
  -> Så er Pers kommentar endnu vigtigere - på dansk er det nogle gange politisk, men nogle gange, som her, simpelthen et 'tomt metafor'.
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38 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +3
useful dummy


Explanation:
As in 'agent with no own will or intention'. Mind you, to most Norwegians, the use of 'nyttig idiot' in this context looks more contrived than colouful (even the dimmest of idiots are positively Mensa material compared to a splash of ammonia soluution), and you might be better off looking for a more appropriate term.

Per Bergvall
Norway
Local time: 19:31
Native speaker of: Native in NorwegianNorwegian
PRO pts in pair: 2453

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Monica S.
2 mins

agree  ojinaga
9 hrs

agree  Suzanne Blangsted
11 hrs
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +4
agent


Explanation:
In the context of chemical reactions, I believe the correct term is "agent". The expression "useful idiot", though a perfect match for "nyttig idiot" (by no means a Norwegian coinage) is totally inappropriate here, as pointed out by other answerers. I would have pointed this out, and advised against using it.

Richard Lawson
Local time: 19:31
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 1147
Grading comment
Actually this is a serious research report, but occasionally a little gem like this pops up in the text. I think I'll plump for accuracy here rather than trying to find a style equivalent. Thanks, Richad and all!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Vedis Bjørndal: This is the best choice here, I think. I don't know what type of text it is, though. School work?
5 hrs

agree  Per Bergvall: Chemically, you could even get away with catalyst if the agent instigates a reaction - but that's nitpicking. Are you listening, Brigid? Richard's got it right, as may have happened once or thrice in the past.
8 hrs

agree  Tore Bjerkek: Definitely.
9 hrs

agree  Roald Toskedal: Ya, ok, once I read the orig once more and saw the chemical context, I fully agree!
4 days
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