Advice for horny credit card phishers: mind your language!

grapeGrape condom-carrying hacker lured from Romania by US agents. When he walked off the plane he had a gold necklace for “Sarah”. Little did he know he was meeting Matt.

This fascinating story (from Bloomberg, and published by The Sydney Morning Herald, whose headline and “click bait” summary are reproduced above) reveals how hackers and credit card scam operators work – and how one simple mistake can cause it all to go wrong.

grapes-159820_640It’s also a warning that, if you are having an online flirtation, the woman you think you might be flirting with could turn out to be a man, or vice versa! And you do have to ask whether a man who carries not one box but six – yes, six boxes! – of grape-flavoured condoms around with him is slightly delusional. Talk about walking off a plane and expecting to get really lucky! And why grapes?

You can read the story in full here but what really caught my eye for language purposes was this (O’Neill is the sleuth trying to catch the scammer):

beetle

Sure enough, that word can be found easily online

carabus

Feldmaikäfer_(Melolontha_melolontha)_w_3My mid-sized English-Romanian dictionary says gândac is a beetle or bug, and cărăbus is a cockchafer. I didn’t think I had heard of the word “cockchafer” before (sounds painful to me!). However, while investigating, I noticed Wikipedia points out they have featured quite strongly in literature, including one of my favourite novels: In The Siege of Krishnapur (1973.) by J.G. Farrell, the character Lucy rips off her clothes and faints upon being covered in a swarm of cockchafers.” 

person-145155_640I do remember the scene in the book – which won Farrell the Booker Prize – because after Lucy faints, the gallant chaps who are with her and who are virgins and have never even seen pubic hair (at least, not on a woman, the only naked female bodies they had seen were pubic hairless classical statues and suchlike) start scraping the cockchafers off her body, with cardboard or something, and mistake her pubic hair for insects! No matter how much they scrape around her nether regions, the black patch won’t go away. The cockchafer pictured is from Wikipedia but maybe the ones in India are more pubic.

Now if that silly Romanian hacker with a fondness for grapes had been following my blog he might have thought to use his code words in another language to disguise his nationality.

If he had used the Portuguese word for beetle, um besouro, the US Secret Service might be on a wild goose chase for for him in Brazil or Portugal or in parts of Africa. Or he could have used the Spanish escarabajo, the French scarabée or coléoptère, or the Italian coleottero, scarabeo or even that great word scarafaggio (cockroach).  (When looking up these words, you have to be careful as beetle has two meanings in English, a type of insect and a kind of mallet or sledgehammer.)

Incidentally, the words for condom, flavour and grape, respectively, in My Five Romance languages are

  • Portuguese:  preservativo/camisinha;   sabor/gosto;       uva
  • Spanish:       preservativo/condón;        sabor/gusto;     uva
  • Italian:          preservativo;                  sapore/gusto;    acino/uva
  • French:        préservatif;                      saveur/goût;        raisin
  • Romanian:   prezervativ;                      aromă/gust;      struguri *

PRESERVATIVO-STUDEX-AROMA-UVA-03-4 (2)I notice, however, that the Portuguese preservativo pictured right uses the words “aroma de uva” on its packaging, the idea being, I guess, that the Portuguese-speaking people of the world are more likely to sniff these things than taste them.

 

 

 

uvas (2)In contrast, the packaging on the Spanish one uses both words sabor and aroma!  :D

 

Research into the French, Italian and Romanian versions of the products got too hard haha. What started out as a simple look at the words for “beetle” has morphed into something far more complicated. Along the way I have discovered that you can get garlic-flavoured condoms and cheese ones too. So what are you – sweet or savoury?

 

* It is interesting that the Romanian word for grapes, struguri, is so different from the others, and that the French one is too. Here is an explanation I found on Wiktionary.

 Etymology

Singularized plural of strug (Basarabia), from Greek τρύγος (trýgos), τρυγή (trygí) ‘vine harvest’. Replaced Old Romanian auă, from Latin uva.

The French word raisin is derived from the Latin word racemus, meaning a cluster of grapes, whereas uva comes from the Latin word uva, meaning grape.

 

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