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CATCH-22

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CATCH-22

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Dec 11, 2005 12:29 am

• Catch-22 •

Pronunciation: kæch-twe-ny-tuHear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A no-win situation for which the only solution is following a rule that is blocked by another rule. 2. A paradoxical situation in which you cannot obtain A without B but B requires A (the chicken or the egg problem).

Notes: In its original usage (see Word History), Catch-22 was a trap preventing soldiers from leaving the army. Insanity is sufficient reason for discharge; however, to ask for such a discharge proved your sanity since only a sane person would want to leave military service. You can pluralize this noun, Catch-22s, but that is all the change it can endure.

In Play: Here is a contemporary Catch-22 you might have encountered yourself: "I tried to get the utilities turned on at the house we had just moved into. The utility companies told me that they had to see a bank statement as proof of my ability to pay. The bank told me that, in order to open a new account, I must present them with utility bills as proof of my address. There I was, standing in the middle of a Catch-22." Job hunting is often deterred by a common Catch-22: no job without experience, no experience without a job.

Word History: Today's Good Word originated in the antiwar novel, Catch 22 (1961) by the US author Joseph Heller (1923-1999). The English words catch and capture, believe it or not, come from the same word. Catch came from Old North French cachier, inherited from Latin captare "to grasp, seize". Capture came from the French modification of Latin captura "catching of animals", a noun based on the same Latin verb, captare.
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Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:18 am

A great novel - I remember nearly splitting my sides reading it when it first appeared. But as good as Heller's novel is, it pales before its predecessor of four decades - Jaroslav Hašek's Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války. The English-language translations I've seen have not, alas, done the novel full justice, but according to the Wikipedia article to which a link is provided above, the most recent effort is better. The Swedish and German translations are good. Read it !...

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Postby Brazilian dude » Sun Dec 11, 2005 10:10 am

A catch-22 is, as we commonly say in my neck of the woods, Se ficar, o bicho come. Se correr, o bicho pega.

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Postby frank » Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:57 pm

M. Henri Day wrote:A great novel - I remember nearly splitting my sides reading it when it first appeared. But as good as Heller's novel is, it pales before its predecessor of four decades - Jaroslav Hašek's Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války.


It's been a long time that i read that one. Ah, where is the time.
What surprises me a bit is that the name seems to be pronounced as [shvāke] (?)

But i can't imagine Jaroslav Hašek's Svejk without Josef Lada's drawings.

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(more here.)
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Postby M. Henri Day » Mon Dec 12, 2005 8:47 am

frank wrote:...
What surprises me a bit is that the name seems to be pronounced as [shvāke] (?)


Frank, that's because his name is not written «Svejk» but rather «Švejk». My favourite book....

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Postby frank » Mon Dec 12, 2005 6:14 pm

M. Henri Day wrote:
frank wrote:...
What surprises me a bit is that the name seems to be pronounced as [shvāke] (?)

Frank, that's because his name is not written «Svejk» but rather «Švejk». My favourite book....


Oh, what surprised me is not the s with, erm, hasek, but the vowel sound...

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Postby M. Henri Day » Tue Dec 13, 2005 7:24 am

Haček («ˇ» ; Czech «little hook») - it can be written as follows : &# 711 ; (eliminate the spaces before and after the three numbers). There is an English term, «caron», but it would be a lie to say that it is in common use....

As regards the vowel, «ej» or «ei» represents the dipthong «a» in Czech, just as in Swedish (not «i», as in German)....

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