Odd changes to English definitions of words

It's clear that there's a lot of cleaning up going on, and usually that's a good thing. But lately while watering a few words that were learned several months ago, I've had a few occasiona where the definition seems to have altered so much that it gave me pause for thought, or even tripped me up. In general, this is just something we need to live with, because of the way the wiki works.

But there have been a few that seemed to be misleading. Up to now I've just shrugged and accepted it - what do I know about the nuances of Spanish?

But from now on I'm going to try and take the time to check them out.

Here's one that doesn't seem right.

viejo - now translates as - old (sense of degradation)

Is this reasonable? If I want to say that a relative is now old, should I use the word antiguo? If I say someone is viejo am I implying that they are a crone or a degenerate?

If so, what about el viejo and la vieja?

Posted by revans 5/8/12, last update 5/8/12 (1 year ago)
  • Hi Revans,hope this clears up this one for you.

    You shouldn't use "antiguo" to describe a person, it is instead used to describe objects or a long gone era, you can relate it with the word "antique" if that helps you. so you would, for example, say "ese reloj es muy antiguo" for "that watch is really old".

    Viejo/Vieja can be sort of tricky because it does not necessarily imply a sense of degradation, as its general sense is neutral, but sometimes it is indeed used in a demeaning sense, so it would really depend on the context. In the diminutive form it is certainly endearing, so you could say "esa viejita vende café" for "that old lady sells cofee".

    In your exaple of "a relative is now old" you could use "mi pariente ya es viejo" or you could use the synonym "anciano/a" which is exclusively used to describe people.

    Posted by oliviaz Staff   5/8/12 (1 year ago)
  • @oliviaz - should we change the definition on viejo to remove the "sense of degradation" in the definition? Is there a better succinct disambiguating phrase we could use do you think?

    Thanks

    Ben

    Posted by BenWhately Staff   5/8/12 (1 year ago)
  • Revans the proper term you are looking for to refer to an older relative is 'mayor'. It's respectful and means older, elderly.

    Posted by sfrenchie 5/8/12 (1 year ago)
  • I modified the entry, replacing the sense of degradation by the word 'aged' which I believe that is what the editor meant. I also let them know to make an history entry so we know who edited and could contact them for info. My research shows nowhere a sense of degradation. Please read my comment in the entry.

    Posted by sfrenchie 5/8/12 (1 year ago)
  • Sfrenchie you're spot on. I think the phrase "el viejo es mi abuelo" doesn't bear a sense of degradation. In my experience that sense of degradation becomes attached to the word when used in conjunction with certain adjectives, say "el viejo pelado" which would translate to something like "cheeky man, or "vieja grosera" for "rude woman". So the phrase "el viejo es mi abuelo" is just descriptive and not demeaning.

    On another note, is there an entry for "viejo" as an adjective rather than a noun? I couldn't locate any.

    Posted by oliviaz Staff   5/8/12 (1 year ago)
  • Thank you. Yes I actually corrected the entry: http://www.memrise.com/item/1466075/viejo-old-sense-of-degradation/

    Posted by sfrenchie 5/8/12 (1 year ago)
  • Thanks, oliviaz / ben / sfrenchie!

    The reference to degradation was puzzling.

    i guess really the connotations of viejo are much like those of "old" in English. You can use it insultingly - "you old fool" - or neutrally - "I am getting old" - or even affectionately - "old man" used to be a term of friendship.

    Interestingly "young" can be used in much the same ways. (Except the neutral example would violate entropy or at any rate isn't achievable in the current state of medical science)

    Posted by revans 5/8/12 (1 year ago)

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