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Posted by TheFallen on November 25, 2002

In Reply to: Journeyman posted by [email protected] on November 24, 2002

: : : I am a translator and I would like to know what is a "journeyman coach" in professional football. I found two entries in the dictionaries. One says he would be working for someone else and the second says that he would not be a very good coach. The sentence in the book is: "He was the late Pete McCulley, a journeyman coach in professional football."

: : : My question is urgent because I have to hand in my translation tomorrow.

: : : Thank you

: : : Claudia

: :
: : These days, to describe someone as a journeyman tends to mean that they are someone who is good enough to do a temporary job when there's an urgent vacancy, but doesn't have sufficient qualifications or skills to be hired permanently - so he is continually moving from one post to another. It's not exactly pejorative, but it's not a compliment either.

: : The reason for your confusion probably comes from the original meaning of journeyman, where it meant someone who'd gone through an apprenticeship and was qualified to do a day's work. This from the American Heritage Dictionary:

: : Journeyman
: : NOUN: 1. One who has fully served an apprenticeship in a trade or craft and is a qualified worker in another's employ. 2. An experienced and competent but undistinguished worker.
: : ETYMOLOGY: Middle English journeiman : journei, a day's work.

: : Meaning 2 is the prevalent one these days, and you can see how the "temporariness" implied in the term came about.

: Of course, all of this comes from the French for 'day' - 'jour'. From this we get not only 'journeyman', but 'journal' - a publication originally on a daily basis. Also 'journey' - a trip which could be made in a day.

This is taking nit-picking almost too far, but actually the French word in question regarding journeyman is journée, and not jour. Both mean day of course, but the -ée suffix indicates the whole period of a day - the duration of a day, if you like, and hence a whole day's labour - whereas jour is far more generalised. To quote a more relevant example, the French for good evening is bonsoir, whereas those attempting a little snobbery might invite you to a soirée, a small party that lasts an entire evening (but never into the night - that'd just be oh so gauche ;)