"call a spade a spade"

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Tue Jun 17 23:57:07 UTC 2008

    Maybe someone already mentioned this earlier in the thread, but Merkel (who, I believe, speaks little or no English) did not use the phrase "call a spade a spade."  I saw her speak on a German news program, and the expression she used in German was "um den heißen Brei herumreden," i.e., when she was of a different opinion than our president, she was very straightforward in telling him so.  The German expression literally means "to talk around the hot porridge," and Merkel said this is something she did *not* do.

    The German idiom is usually translated as "to beat around the bush."  Maybe since our president's name is "Bush," the translator tried to avoid this by writing instead "call a spade a spade."

Gerald Cohen


From: American Dialect Society on behalf of James Smith
Sent: Tue 6/17/2008 4:17 PM
Subject: Re: "call a spade a spade"

Or, is this phrase still used in European English in its original sense, with no racial meaning?

James D. SMITH                 |If history teaches anything
South SLC, UT                  |it is that we will be sued
jsmithjamessmith at yahoo.com     |whether we act quickly and decisively
                               |or slowly and cautiously.

--- On Mon, 6/16/08, Paul <paulzjoh at MTNHOME.COM> wrote:


> > The Same Dowd piece, datelined Paris, also included
> this:
> >
> >
> >> 'Angela Merkel dodged when asked at a press
> conference whether she would miss W., but said she liked
> being able to "call a spade a spade with
> him."'
> >>
> >
> >
> >> Twas that a fox paw, an indication of a lack of
> familiarity with American vernacular, or merely a
> hopefully-NOT noteworthy phrase?
> >>

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