Tricky Words in this week's OVI
One word this week is tricky enough for two whole columns, and that is "worth". This has come into the English language from the German "wert", and the idea behind it is the same as "value". But
"worth" cannot simply be substituted for "value" in sentences, and the best thing is to learn some special phrases using "worth". Sometimes it can function as a noun, for example in such
expressions as: "The company's net worth (the sum of its share capital and reserves) was put at $3.4 billion."
More often though it is used as an adjective, but it comes after the noun which it qualifies, e.g. "The crown holds a diamond worth £2 million." Or: "I found out my
collection of Sex Pistols records was worth £2000." Slovak equivalents are based on variations of the expression "mať hodnotu". Useful phrases include: "What's it worth?" (normally: "Akú to má
cenu?" but also as a cynical response to someone's request: "A čo za to?"), and "It must be worth a fortune!" ("Určite to stojí celý majetok.") This is a reprise of my TW column from July 25,
Proved its worth. These are tricky words for different reasons, the first because it changes its meaning slightly in different contexts, and the second because it is used mainly in a collection of
fixed phrases, like idioms or sayings, so the Slovak equivalents are different each time. "Prove" originally meant "try" or "test", like the German "probieren", and a "probe" in English is an
instrument used for investigating and checking ("sonda" in Slovak). The meaning of "prove" like "dokázať" is a more modern development. So the saying: "The exception proves the rule" should really
be translated: "Výnimka skúša pravidlo", i.e. if the rule is strong, it won't be spoilt by the exception. "For what it's worth" I would translate as: "Pokiaľ to má vôbec význam". "It's not worth
it" is either "Nemá to význam" or "Neoplatí sa". And always remember: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." This is a reprise of my TW column from August 5, 2009.