Fwd: question

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Feb 5 00:44:42 UTC 2005

>forwarded from the Yale Rabbi via a colleague,.  Anyone know?
>The Rabbi, Jim Ponet, asks:
>... explain if you will the structure "Not to worry."  Does it emulate
>anything Yiddish.  Then there's "to kill for,"  "to die for."

I don't know anything about Yiddish. But Yiddish is German, right? Hmmm,
but I don't know much about German either. Here's my naive notion anyway.

In German, IIRC, there is a conventional construction "[sein] zu [verb]" =
"be [verb]able" or so: e.g., "es ist zu fassen/glauben" (word-by-word
gloss: "it is to believe") means "it is believable" or "one might believe it".

Then presumably by analogy "it is to die for" = "one might die for it", "it
is to laugh" = "it is laughable", etc.

"Not to worry" might arise analogously, e.g., from something like "es ist
nicht zu bef├╝rchten" (gloss: "it is not to fear") = "it is not something to
fear", with the verb glossed as "worry [about]" instead of "fear" or with
the initial translation "not to fear" (which I have seen occasionally in
the same sense IIRC).

[Alternatively "not to worry" could be a contraction of something within
English like "I implore you not to worry".]

German scholars, please correct me if necessary.

-- Doug Wilson

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