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Whitewashing

Whitewashing once meant:
 
painting a wall with a white paint made of slaked lime and chalk, which reacted after applying to the wall with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to form calcium carbonate in the form of calcite. Calcite has a beautiful white colour and is very resistant to weathering after hardening, a chemical process called curing.

In this sense the term was first used in 1591, according to my Merriam-Webster. And that is easy to translate into Spanish as encalar or into German as kalken.

But the other, more relevant meaning in modern times refers to the practice of
 
a: to gloss over or coverup (as vices or scandals);
b: to exonerate by means of a perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data (again according to Merriam-Webster). 

This is related to the German concept of Persilschein, but not an exact match. I would say that a Persilschein can be granted after an exercise in whitewashing or as a result thereof, but causation does not mean identity.

In the case of the Spanish language the problem is even more protracted, as Spanish doesn’t even know the concept of Persilschein, let alone whitewashing in the meaning we are discussing. The same is true for the related concept of greenwashing, which could be defined as a variety of whitewashing that strives to give green credentials where none are due. Spanish doesn’t know this concept either. Just like spin-doctoring it seems to be a concept difficult to grasp in Spanish, which is quite astonishing, given the chutzpah and the nonchalance with which it is actually done. Why might this be? Or is it just a figment of my imagination?

Kommentare

 
Am 28.02.2014 um 09:04 von Fernando Gonzalez
Una palabra que me gusta mucho es "enjalbegar". No se conoce apenas en nuestro entorno urbano, pero de Despeñaperros para abajo es muy corriente.

enjalbegar.
(Del lat. vulg. *exalbicāre, blanquear).
1. tr. Blanquear las paredes con cal, yeso o tierra blanca.
2. tr. coloq. maquillar (‖ aplicar cosméticos al rostro). U. t. c. prnl.

Ejemplo: "No puedo ir contigo a la era a jugar a la labega, porque esta tarde me toca enjalbegar toa la paer de mi casa."
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untrans.eu
Am 28.02.2014 um 10:59 von Jordi
¡Hola Fernando, me alegra verte por aquí! ¡Bienvenido!

Efectivamente, una palabra preciosa, a ver si logro utilizarla. Pero, ¿se puede utilizar en le sentido figurado que menciono, o sea, para pretender que alguien es un santo, aunque haya robado más que el tesorero de un partido que ha promovido una guerra ilegal, pongo por ejemplo? ¿Podríamos enjalbegar a alguien de tal manera que éste quedase presentable en sociedad después? ¿O no sería tal vez preferible coger directamente brea y plumas?

Ahí lo dejo, que ahora tengo que ir a investigar lo que significa eso de jugar a la labega.
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Am 02.04.2014 um 04:17 von Joe
ich würde es mit schönfärben, schönreden, übertünchen versuchen zu übersetzen. Reinwaschen ist auch ein Verb was genutzt werden könnte, das wäre immerhin verwandt. Allerdings ist dort die Konnotation nicht sofort klar.

Das Wort Whitewashing selbst ist mir Deutschen so noch nicht begegnet, interessanterweise werden die analog gebildeten Kofferwörter Green- und Pinkwashing ganz gerne genutzt.
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