Google patent loss: no guilt
Posted May 11, 2011 16:34 UTC (Wed) by giraffedata
In reply to: Google patent loss: no guilt
Parent article: A victory for the trolls
Amazingly, in German the same word is used for "being guilty" and "owing something".
Yes, that's pretty amazing. What is the word?
English "guilt" comes from the Old English "gylt", meaning crime. Old English is related closely enough to German that I would expect there to be a similar word in German.
In decades of living in the US, I have never heard "guilty" used to refer to owing money except in the case where the debt was decided by a court, and then it's obviously due to confusion with criminal trials where losing the case = being guilty.
Or if there's some reason it's wrong to be in debt, like when someone says, "I feel guilty because I used my credit card to buy a new TV after I promised my wife we would stop spending more than we earn."
"Debt to society" is a strange metaphor that's supposed to explain how someone can redeem his guilt by suffering a punishment, but I don't think anybody really thinks of being guilty of a crime as a debt. It's not like the judge says, "I find that you owe us 3 years in jail" or that people think it's acceptable to rob a liquor store as long as you give the money back and do the time in jail.
to post comments)