I have to make a comment on this old entry because it exemplifies an English language subtlety that often appears difficult for native German speakers to grapple with, since German is not so chock-full of two distinct cultural variations for words as is English. See asterisk*
I don't know who ever put imbibed from one's infancy
as a usable figurative
translation for the expression schon mit der Muttermilch aufgesogen.
Although some famous author like James Joyce might have written such an expression in a novel as tongue-in-cheek elevated style, it's not a typical expression you'd hear your mother, father or a friend use.
If you look closely at the wording of the given literal English translation, you can see that it isn't even constructed with the down-home, earthy kind of words that common people who often had less than a fourth grade education would even understand. In both English and German such countless and vivid "earthy" expressions almost inevitably are quite ancient and were coined by common folk.
The German expression is true-to-rule constructed the way any farmer or his child would speak. d.h. der Ausdruck ist ganz schön anschaulich und bodenständig.
Both the words imbibe
are among the class of Latin-based "equivalent" words that English-speakers don't typically learn until later in life, if at all. English-speaking children tend to be taught such basic concepts' Germanic equivalents first, which inevitably sound more down-to-earth and less erudite than their Latin- or French-based equivalents.
The English equivalent expression uses wean
(abstillen) to evoke the same very days of one's life:
So a partial translation becomes:"...As I suddenly saw this fantastic woman before me in person and she sang all these songs that I'd literally been weaned on, I was completely overcome."
Ask a man if he knows hillbilly music and he might answer:"Holy Hell, do I know it? I was weaned on it!"
If he even knew the the words to form the following sentence, the guy sitting on the next bar stool might just turn and punch him in the face for acting like such a smart-ass:
"Sacred Inferno, do I know it? I imbibed it as an infant!"
Why this strong duality in English?
A large portion of English's Latin-based vocabulary found its way into spoken and particularly written
English during a period in history when French was spoken in the British court. Anglo-Norman was to a large extent the spoken language of the higher social strata in medieval England, so legal, theoretical, monetary, religious and other mental conceptual terms, often beyond the ken of the illiterate common peasant became the more erudite or "upper class" way of saying things.
A good rule of thumb:
If you are faced with a decision between two English word choices wherein one looks Germanic and the other looks French or Latin, choose the Germanic one to sound more like an everyday person or a friend. Choose the French or Latin-looking word to sound more authoritative, slightly superior or formal, a bit like an advertiser, an educator, a doctor, a stiff corporate person ... in other words, if you want to intimidate your listener or reader just a little bit and "keep them in their place"... or at a slight distance.
*Several examples of concepts in English with both Germanic and Latin-based equivalents. Over time these have gained nuances, often with the L. version in some way appearing stronger or more imbued with some conceptual value beyond the mere physical:
motherly - maternal
shining - brilliant
lucky - fortuitous
hard working - industrious
lively - animated
speech - locution
wording - verbiage
crack - fissure
to last - to endure
to drink - to imbibe
upkeep - maintenance
...etc etc ad nauseam
In certain cases, the Germanic forms of words can even come across uncomfortably graphic nowadays. For instance, the baby suckles on its mother's teat
is perfectly correct, but one would most likely hear in today's common speech that the baby nurses on its mother's breast.
Ironically, even the old word suckle was a euphemistic attempt to avoid saying the baby sucks on its mother's breast, which is also perfectly correct English. –in common street language since time began.
English tends to be a a lot more prudish that German. When the vacuum cleaner first became a household appliance, German marketing had no problem calling the device exactly what it is: a dust sucker. In Victorian England and America, that sounded just impossibly vulgar (Prudes always only see that which they're prudish about, right?), so marketers had to resort to a "safe and scientific" Latin word to name the new gadget a vacuum cleaner or a hoover –from the brand name Hoover– in GB.