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  • I don't think it's disappointing, madmouth. This is a great page. I learned a lot from it (as from your other posts).

    I like the phrase "world-piercer," esp. as in the usage familiar to you, it doesn't refer only to the "great men" of history but to ordinary people as well. That's a pretty interesting usage.

    I hope you don't feel like you can't post things like this in the future. The more conversation, the better.

    May 1, 2009

  • It's not loaded, hence the rescindment. I loaded it myself (I didn't know the colloquial meaning doesn't match the root meanings). When my father said, "those probisvijeti in the American wild", he was--as it turns out--just making an offhand comment about how he doesn't like Americans, but it captured my imagination; the piercers of the world! now we have to search for an equivalent to my imagined meaning of 'probisvijet'. How disappointing that it's a mere insult.

    May 1, 2009

  • An online dictionary really gives the English equivalent as spiv, a word I'm quite certain I've only heard of from the one comment on Wordie. Apparently Croatian lexicographers are well read.

    May 1, 2009

  • Me too. Madmouth, you might find this list interesting.

    It's also interesting how a term originally meaning simply "bad seed" can become so fraught with culture-specific meaning.

    And I would just like to add that early European-Americans were not considered Americans, by themselves or by others. They were considered Englishmen.

    April 30, 2009

  • Gosh. Well, it's been an interesting discussion. I don't have a stake in it but I've been absorbed by the search for meaning.

    April 30, 2009

  • here's where I eat crow.
    upon closer investigation, I discovered the word means bad seed; was I ever putting a fancy blanket on my dad's Yugobigotry™! hearing it used in a phrase, I extrapolated a grandiose definition from the root meanings and my own thoughts on the early American myth. *shame*

    your rigorous and productive commentary, seanahan, has inspired me to Rescinded Notables

    April 30, 2009

  • Simultaneous admiration and contempt toward the American myth and the American ubermensch is very common outside America (even within next-door Canada).

    The component of contempt isn't specifically for genocide against the natives, but toward that take-whatcha-can, hoist by your own petard, finders-keepers losers-weepers attitude that forms the masculine ideal, that is indispensable to the 'conquest' of the American wilderness and eventually the globe. The attitude, you might say, that excused the genocide at the time.

    I believe that my father's association of the probisvijet with the early American ideal is a backformation from the modern American powerhouse and its ubiquitous winner-loser discursive binary.

    One of the online Crotian dictionaries gives the English equivalent as spiv, which isn't quite right, but brings home a shade to the meaning that I forgot to mention. That is to say, America is not thought by Yugos to have built up its power honestly. To make a sweeping conclusion--you can see here how being colonized for centuries colours the Balkan ethos--winning is a form of thieving. There's something contemptible about all 'winners'.

    April 30, 2009

  • I suppose there is some sort of cultural gap then, as I really don't understand the history leading you to this. Is it the atrocities committed against the indigenous peoples? It's a very odd construction, simultaneous admiration and contempt, and I'm interested to know how such a term develops.

    April 30, 2009

  • Not at all, not least because Biblical figures aren't as much a part of Balkan discourse as America. We may not know the names of these individuals, but the figure springs to mind immediately; it's the fountainhead of American mythology. Besides, settling a geographically (and otherwise) forbidding land is 'piercing the world' in essence.

    April 29, 2009

  • My point was, Jacob is a much better example than generic American settlers, none of whom are my ancestors. I know have a good idea of what this term means.

    April 29, 2009

  • 'Probisvijet' is an archetype (ie. not a biographical description of the men of American history). I didn't, moreoever, define it as "a person who does bad things". It's a complex term.
    Think of Jacob, who usurped his brother's birthright, who had the chutzpah to wrestle down an angel. Energy, ambition and greatness on one hand; cruelty, arrogance and egotism on the other. It's a term that encapsulates a certain masculinity which is good and bad at the same time. Nobody's insulting your grandpappy; it's a larger concept than that.

    April 28, 2009

  • Which settlers in particular? Certainly some of the early Americans did bad things, but many of them were good people trying to make a better life for themselves.

    April 28, 2009

  • Very cool.

    April 27, 2009

  • Americans. My father talks often about the foundation of USA, calling the early settlers 'probisvijeti'.

    April 27, 2009

  • What are some typical examples of people of whom this word is used to describe? Genghis Khan?

    April 27, 2009

  • lit. "world-piercer" ("probiti"=to pierce; "svijet"=world"), meaning "American jerk", with a note of admiration. The kind of man who carves his name into history, of whom nobody can speak without mixed admiration and contempt. The word contains praise and insult at the same time.

    The grammatical structure of this compound noun is identical to lickspigot or quakebuttock.

    April 27, 2009