Tricky Words in this week's OVI
Plastic. A typical example of a tricky word, where the meaning of the Slovak form ‚plastika' remains closer to the original Greek: something molded, sculpted, formed or shaped in three dimensions,
i.e. a sculpture, while the Engish form has developed a new meaning as an adjective: made from synthetic, organic and polymeric material, replacing metal, glass, ceramics, wood or paper, with
chemical names like polythene, polyethylene or polyvinylchloride, and trade names such as nylon, vinyl or PET.
Just to be a bit confusing of course, the original meaning is still used in English as well, when we talk about "plastic surgery" (sculpting human flesh) or 'plastic explosive' (the kind which can
be molded by hand), but normally it means synthetic, artificial material (umelá hmota) as in plastic bag, plastic bullet, or Plastic People of the Universe.
I've been asked if there's any equivalent of ‚domček na stračej nôžke' in English folk tales or children's stories, but I can't think of any witch's house "on a magpie's foot". The typical place
for a witch to live is in a gingerbread cottage (perníková chalupka) - and this is where it gets interesting. English children know the story of Hansel and Gretel, keeping the original German
familiar names rather than the English equivalents Jack and Meg (or Maggie), which are short for John and Margaret. This takes us back to ‚straka', which is 'magpie' in English, Mag being the
familiar form of a typical English woman's name, and 'pie' indicating a black and white, woodpecker-like bird. It also takes us to ‚kavka', which is 'jackdaw' in English, Jack being the familiar
form of a typical English man's name, and 'daw' indicating a black, crow-like bird. Magpies are well-known for stealing jewellery, while jackdaws strut around going "kak kak kak".