So I saw my shrink yesterday. As I believe I have mentoned, she was born and raised in France and immigrated to the US of A in the mid 50’s from North Africa. She still has a strong French accent. She has an excellent command of the English, though American slang is not her forte.
I told her I had written a song about my father kicking my mother when she fell on the floor. I quoted myself:
The old lady fell flat on her back on the floor
The old man couldn’t pick her up no more
She lay there rolling round in her flab
When he walked by his leg she did grab
OOOO what I irony is this
60 plus years of wedded bliss
Old man don’t you think probably it ain’t right
To be a kicking at your old fat wife
When she’s Down.
My shrink said, “That sounds sinister.”
This is not the first time she has used “sinister” in this way, and over time we have had some problems communicating when a word in English and in French overlap in sound and spelling but have slightly different inflections meaning wise.
The song might be dark, grim or bleak, as I far as I am concerned, but not sinister.
But in French sinister (sinistre) means: grim, deadly boring. OK, I can go with grim.
But in English sinister means:
· Suggesting or threatening evil: a sinister smile.
· Presaging trouble; ominous: sinister storm clouds.
I don’t think the song suggests or threatens evil. So in French the song is sinister, but in English it isn’t.
Both the French and the English come directly from the Latin. In Latin sinister -tra –trum means: wrong, perverse; unfavorable, adverse.
So maybe in Latin the song is sinister too since it’s a little perverse.
Sinister, in Latin, also means “on the left hand.” So left handed people are sinister or at least maybe that’s where we get the idea that left handed people are a little whacky.
I have noted that there are a heck of a lot of left handed actors, more than the norm in the general population.
Come to think of it, I don’t think the song is sinister at all. I think it’s funny. That could make me a bit sinister I suppose.