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Returns

Mark Twain once said:
„There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”
Brilliant! But how can one express such a simple thing as returns (please always use in plural, so there is more of it) in other languages, for example German or Spanish? Well, let me first look at what my Merriam Webster says a return is (oh! They define it in singular, how disappointing!):

[…] 4a: a quantity of goods, consignment, or cargo coming back in exchange for goods sent out as a mercantile venture b: the value or profit of such a venture c(1): the profit from labor, investment, or business: yield (2) plural: (Ah! Plural at last!) results d: the rate of profit in a process of production per unit of cost.


Small wonder modern capitalism was invented in England, they had in their English language the words needed to express its aim! That is: to get returns on the investment made. There is everything a capitalist needs in a single concept: investment, production, profits. All wrapped up in a simple word. Elegant, these speakers of English, I must admit. Yes, I must also admit the German language knows Profit, probably imported via the French language. And Spanish has beneficios, which is only “gain” or, well, yes, “profits” again. But if you look carefully at the above definition or try to translate Mark Twain’s quote into German or Spanish, you will have to admit that returns is not the same as profit. Profit generates returns, and after they are generated, you can get them. Returns make pocketing the profit morally justifiable. So: Advantage Britain (not to forget the USA). Congratulations!

Kommentare

 
Am 30.03.2014 um 11:51 von kwowadis
I seem to remember friends wishing me "happy returns". I do not think they wished me "high profits": but what did they wish me?


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Am 30.03.2014 um 12:43 von Jordi
They expressed their wish that an anniversary, for instance your birthday, happen many more times. Something like ¨might the day we celebrate today return many times and may you be around to celebrate it too!¨. This is a different return than the one I discussed. Your friends were nice and friendly, is it not great to have such friends?
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Am 09.04.2014 um 07:14 von Thomas H.
Erlös
Ertrag
Nutzen

all fit the word "Returns" and all mean pretty much the same
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Am 09.04.2014 um 07:36 von Jordi
OK, your proposals are similar and they sometimes fit. There could also be ¨Rückflüsse¨, ¨Rendite¨ and ¨Renditeziele¨, depending on the context. Not perfect, but good enough, granted. And now for Spanish.
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