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Hornet's Nest

Hornet's Nest

Postby Slava » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:12 pm

This has both literal and idiomatic meanings, both of which I suspect we all know. However, I was recently reminded that in Russian, the same idiom is rendered as wasp's nest. Do other languages anyone knows have other ways of conveying the same meaning?
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Re: Hornet's Nest

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:27 pm

Not sure I can distinguish between a hornet and a wasp. Beehive is usually more positive, if you consider activity positive, but I wonder whether I've heard something like landing in a beehive of trouble? What's the buzz here, gang?
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Re: Hornet's Nest

Postby Slava » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:37 pm

Good thought on the beehive idea. As they say, buzzing with energy, or simply abuzz.

As to hornet v. wasp, I couldn't tell you, either. There are two words for them in both English and Russian, so there must be some kind of difference. My simple idea is that a hornet is bigger than a wasp, but what do I know of entomology?
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Re: Hornet's Nest

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:25 pm

Finally driven to that omnivorous, if not omnicient, source, Wikipedia. Apparently, the hornet is primarily a European insect of a separate genus and larger than wasps. Yellow jackets, which are common around here, are somehow related, tho still wasps.
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Re: Hornet's Nest

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:50 pm

I have known the word 'hornet' since early childhood. However, we never called any insect a hornet. We call some insects wasps. The only hornet I ever knew was The Green Hornet of radio and movie fame. 'The Green Hornet Strikes again!"

I have read, but never heard, a hornet’s nest used by someone to describe a difficult problem that is liable to cause damage and must be approached with caution.

As for wasps: Many things in Texas have thorns, horns, tusks, or fangs. They bite suck or sting. We have so many wasps of various kinds that they might be called ubiquitous. I have observed all these flora and fauna; and have had close encounters of the first kind with quite a few. I have few talents but some very good genes. They make most intrusions by plants and animals on my body trivial. Some never bother to intrude. I am careful not to be gored by a giant feral hog. That would hurt.

Here is a little bit of doggerel. It is in couplets and the sequence doesn't seem to matter. I don’t know who wrote it. I cobbled several versions together to get what I wanted. I think a few lines are repeated. Enjoy.

HELL IN TEXAS
The devil, we're told, in hell was chained,
And a thousand years he there remained,
And he never complained, nor did he groan,
But determined to start a hell of his own
Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being chained to a prison pen.
So he asked the Lord if He had on hand
Anything left when He made the land.
The Lord said, "Yes, I had plenty on hand,
But I left it down on the Rio Grande.
The fact is old boy, the stuff is so poor,
I don't think you could use it in hell any more."
But the devil went down to look at the truck,
And said if it came as a gift, he was stuck;
But after examining it careful and well
He concluded the place was too dry for hell.
So in order to get it off of His hands
God promised the devil to water the lands.
For he had some water, or rather some dregs,
A regular cathartic that smelt like bad eggs.
Hence the deal was closed and the deed was given,
And the Lord went back to His place in Heaven.
and the devil said, "I have all that is needed
To make a good hell," and thus he succeeded.
He scattered tarantulas over the roads,
Put thorns on the cactus and horns on the toads,
He sprinkled the sand with millions of ants
So the man who sits down must wear soles on his pants.
He lengthened the horns of the Texas steer,
And added an inch to the jack rabbit’s ear;
He hung thorns and brambles on all of the trees,
And he mixed the sand with chiggers and fleas,
He scattered tarantulas all over the roads,
Put thorns on the cacti and horns on the toads;
He lengthened the horns of the Texas steers
And put an addition on jack rabbits' ears.
The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings,
The mosquito delights you by buzzing his wings.
The heat in the summer’s a hundred and ten,
Too hot for the Devil and too hot for men;
And all who remain in that climate soon bear
Cuts, bites, and stings, from their feet to their hair.
He quickened the buck of the bronco steed,
And poisoned the feet of the centipede;
He put mouths full of teeth in all of the lakes,
And under the rocks he put rattlesnakes.
The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings,
The mosquito delights you by buzzing his wings.
The sand burrs prevail, so do the ants,
And those that sit down need half soles on their pants.
The devil then said that throughout the land
He'd manage to keep up the devil's own brand,
And all would be mavericks unless they bore
The marks of scratches and bites by the score.
The heat in the summer is a hundred and ten,
Too hot for the devil and too hot for men.
The wild boar roams through the black chaparral,
It's a hell of a place he has for a hell;
The red pepper grows by the bank of the brook,
The Mexicans use it in all that they cook.
Just dine with a Mexican and then you will shout,
"I've hell on the inside as well as without."
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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