Stealing and borrowing

If a friend borrows something from you and never gives it back, does it count as stealing? This was the start of our discussion last Monday. Well, we thought, you can get around this problem if you always set a deadline for your friend to give it back. If they don’t give it back by the deadline then it’s stolen. But maybe it’s not quite so easy as that.

“Never a borrower nor a lender be, and that way you’ll never lose a friend,” we said. Around the table, some people said that they’d had problems with friendship after lending something, especially money. Other people said that we ought basically just to chill out and not get so worked up about lending things. It was a good point: but the trouble seemed to be that so long as you are firm in your friendship, you can borrow lend and give to your heart’s content. But if something happens which casts a shadow on that friendship, then suddenly all those things borrowed become a mighty weight which can destroy the friendship itself.

We thought about the different sayings to do with borrowing and lending. The older generations seemed to know more of these sorts of sayings. We wondered whether this meant that feelings about lending had changed. Was  it more acceptable to borrow money today than in the past?

There used to be a stigma attached to it; these days banks are desperate to give out loans (that’s how a bank makes money). If you wanted a loan in the 50s or 60s you used a pawn shop: you brought something down to the shop and they gave you a loan off the value of it. If you didn’t pay back the loan in time you lost the thing (the tea set, or whatever you’d brought to the shop). Another way of getting a loan was to borrow the money off the price of the insurance policy you took out – farmers did this with tractors, or you might do it with an expeisive thing like a motorbike.

Then we thought about the sayings that we use in ordinary speech, and we had a feeling that there were fewer sayings around these days than in the past – or was this just a reflection of the different ages of the people in our group? We weren’t sure. Could it be that English is beocme a blander language as it becomes more widespread? It’s tricky. These sayings add colour to language -‘ chalk one and go on’, ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’, or (from Turkey): ‘For a man with syrup in his veins, the flies will come form Baghdad’ (meaning – everyone sponges off a rich man). But they can also be difficult to understand unless you are part of the group which says them regulalry.

We decided to look at things to do with language in the future.

Also in this session we tried to use a method of holding the conversation though repeating what the person before had said and then linking what we thought, to them. But it didn’t work so well – but we might try other methods (or maybe the same one again) in the future.

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About B.B.

I'm based in York.
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