“I challenge you to a duel!” (June 2013)

I wonder whether the rush we are advocated to within this world came naturally or, on the contrary, as a result of long discussions held by that secret group of powerful people who allegedly rules the world from their offices.

Whatever the truth is, it is unquestionable that rushing, pushing, covering for our basic needs and crazily searching for leisure activities, all these things together, blur our vision of the surroundings, the same way as a car driving fast does not let us see the landscape clearly enough.

Next time you are walking alone at night, heading to your destination, take a look at those giant shoe boxes that accommodate homes, and think that a life is just occurring within each of those blinking lights inside all those tiny windows. It is the life of a person who interacts with other lives. However, from one of those lights to the other there is a huge space of mutual obliviousness.

As development leaps forward, humanity walks backwards. I deeply believe my grandparents would not have been able to fall asleep had they not known who their neighbour was. Imagine a new neighbour coming to the village, getting into the house next to your grandparents’, and not crossing a word with them. Weird. Is it weird now at all? Nowadays, we could be cohabiting with some abuser, heavy drinker, fisher, handcrafter, etc., and we would just not know. But do we really care about it? That is the sickness of our society, for how can an animal close its eyes without making sure the herd is free of danger? Am I being too wary? Who can deny the fact that man is wolf to man –a theory built by the English philosopher Hobbes?

I am not against development; I am in favour of hygiene, health care and knowledge. But let’s not miss the point I am trying to make: beyond the “loss of moral values” old people mumble around all the time, I want to show you how this phenomenon is making our existence more and more complicated.

To begin with, friendship has become a pretty much lax concept where anything may be forgiven. As Jesus said: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:1-7). He also said that God can forgive all our sins. I am not a Christian, but I do have principles as well. I think forgiving our sins is a great idea, but, have you even been asked for forgiveness? We must have witnessed hundreds of small slights and slips that hurt other people since we were little, while those responsible never had to apologise. Why? Because everything is fair these days. That is why your friend may insult you on your back and then come to you with excuses, and they can also vandalise your property by painting a graffiti on the façade. They can even cheat on you, or not let you sleep in peace, or not showing up to a meeting, or countless of other stories that could happen and would unfortunately just remain as such –stories.  However, as these stories accumulate, we are consumed by a growing uneasiness, but we do not know (or prefer to ignore) its cause. Instead, we “forgive” over and over since, as we say to ourselves, those stories are only exceptions to the rule that our friend is such a good person.

This is how we walk our lives, deceiving and cheating, believing that “not taking anything to heart” will allow us to be at peace. I am afraid this is not going to work. The things that really matter are not those that take most of our time and money. The things that truly matter are those that suddenly wake us up in the middle of the day and night. And it is not even those things that matter, but their meaning. Yet, the daily rush makes us bury that feeling deep down in our mind. If we devoted some time to find out the origin of our uneasiness, we could finally fix the problem. Sometimes, it would just take to get rid of a certain person or situation to fix it. Surprising as it may be, you would be able to fully concentrate on the few things that really matter just by deleting those individuals or situations from your list of important things.

It has been a long time since “throwing down the gauntlet” was a trendy topic, a physical action intended to issue a formal challenge to a duel, willing to, at least, risk death for the sake of honour. Now, someone may be slapped across their face and say “thank you” in return.

What does it mean to “throw down the gauntlet”?

Dear grammarians,

In our post today, we chose an opinion piece to describe this phenomenon as widespread as quietened by our conscience. Do you know the origin of the expression “to throw down the gauntlet” (https://www.history.com/news/ask-history/what-does-it-mean-to-throw-down-the-gauntlet)? The word itself comes from the French word “gantelet,” and referred to the heavy, armoured gloves worn by medieval knights. In an age when chivalry and personal honour were paramount, throwing a gauntlet at the feet of an enemy or opponent was considered a grave insult that could only be answered with personal combat, and the offended party was expected to “take up the gauntlet” to acknowledge and accept the challenge.

It is interesting to see how, in the past, grievance and offense could lead to one man challenging another man to duel. You can find more about the history of duelling here (https://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/03/05/man-knowledge-an-affair-of-honor-the-duel/):

“While duelling may seem barbaric to modern men, it was a ritual that made sense in a society in which the preservation of male honour was absolutely paramount. A man’s honour was the most central aspect of his identity, and thus its reputation had to be kept untarnished by any means necessary. Duels, which were sometimes attended by hundreds of people, were a way for men to publicly prove their courage and manliness.”

And what about you, grammarians? What do you think about duelling and today’s attitude towards grievance and offence? Please leave your comments below.

Welcome to Ticket To Translation, BertaGrama Translation’s official blog, where you will find both information about Translation and Interpreting as well as information about the languages we translate for –Chinese, English and Spanish, and also about other aspects related to the culture and peculiarities they are built in. Click here to contact us for any translation information or estimate.

Join our community of Grammarians! Subscribe to our newsletter and receive the latest posts directly into your email inbox.

Subscribe me