viking478 (viking478) wrote in linguaphiles,

Quick English question

Hi all!

Please, could you enlighten me on what "desk diving scratches" means? As far as I understand these are scratches commonly found on the surface of wrist watches? But I would be thankful for further explanation. Why diving? And what does "desk" refer to?
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  • 22 comments

biascut

September 1 2014, 17:36:05 UTC 2 months ago

I'm not familiar with the phrase, but I'd understand it to mean sticking your hand in your desk drawers (or a desk with a lift up lid) and rummaging to grab something. So your watch is likely to get scratched by pens, staplers, staples, pencil sharpeners, and whatever else is in your desk is likely to have damaged the watch.

viking478

September 1 2014, 17:41:24 UTC 2 months ago

This is very interesting! So it is your hand that actually "dives". Thank you very much! The phrase could possibly be more common in Am.E. But this is just my guess.

makani

September 1 2014, 17:49:36 UTC 2 months ago

I'm a native American English speaker and I can honestly say that I've never run across this phrase. Although I've only ever lived on the East Coast. Could be more common elsewhere.
I second what the above poster said, it probably means scratches your watch face gets while you're rooting around in your desk.

muckefuck

September 1 2014, 17:51:33 UTC 2 months ago

I live in the Midwest and it's new to me as well, but then I don't hang around a lot of people who wear $1000+ watches.

viking478

September 1 2014, 17:53:26 UTC 2 months ago

Thank you!

whswhs

September 1 2014, 18:27:38 UTC 2 months ago

It's not a southern Californian phrase; at least, I worked in an office for nearly 15 years and never heard it.

muckefuck

September 1 2014, 17:49:48 UTC 2 months ago

I'm a fluent native speaker of American English and I've never heard this collocation before. Googling it turns up mostly links to websites where people are discussing their Rolexes.

viking478

September 1 2014, 17:52:31 UTC 2 months ago

That's it, this phrase seems to be used almost exclusively in reference to watches.

greenkrokodilla

September 1 2014, 18:04:58 UTC 2 months ago

Thank God I am not a "fluent North American speaker".
And they have not banned me at Google ;))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

So here we are:
http://www.watchfreeks.com/43-watch-school-101/469-desk-diving.html

viking478

September 1 2014, 18:07:24 UTC 2 months ago

A comprehensive explanation. This is actually what the previous commenters assumed. Thanks a lot!

5x6

September 1 2014, 18:10:57 UTC 2 months ago

There was nothing to assume, the meaning is crystal clear to any English speaker even if a sentence like this had been entirely made up.

viking478

September 1 2014, 18:19:40 UTC 2 months ago

Looks like it is not. See my comment below. Anyway, спасибо за комментарий. :-)

5x6

September 1 2014, 21:12:57 UTC 2 months ago

Nope. It is.

One can invent dozens of folk etymologies, but the meaning of the presented expression was unambiguous. And this link confirms this meaning.

dorsetgirl

September 1 2014, 19:57:21 UTC 2 months ago

I don't agree, and I'm a native speaker. From the explanation given above, it may be reasonably easy to guess that the phrase means to "scratches caused by desk diving", but desk diving itself is not an activity I've ever heard of. And looking at the other comments I'm not the only one.

5x6

September 1 2014, 21:10:04 UTC 2 months ago

That's exactly what I meant. None of us had heard this expression before but none of us hd any doubts about its meaning, given the context of scratched watches.

dorsetgirl

September 1 2014, 21:27:43 UTC 2 months ago

Well, I'm not trying to be awkward here, but it rather depends on what you mean by "meaning". I knew it meant "scratches caused by desk diving", but the phrase "desk diving" was to me completely meaningless. So I had no understanding at all of what "desk diving scratches" were.

In other words, this was a phrase I did not know the meaning of, although I knew the meaning of the constituent words.

Anyway, the whole point is, the OP didn't know what the phrase meant, and asked for help. That's one of the things this community is here for and I don't see any problem with people asking for help and advice, however "obvious" the answers may be to some other people.

5x6

September 2 2014, 21:44:24 UTC 1 month ago

There was absolutely no problem with the OP asking this question. My diatribe referred to this comment: http://linguaphiles.livejournal.com/6040847.html?thread=112573967. I hope you noticed that I did not reply to the OP, but commented in the thread above.

viking478

September 1 2014, 18:18:10 UTC 2 months ago

Oh, actually they give a different etymology. That is, desk diving refers to office workers using watches designed for divers.

5x6

September 1 2014, 21:14:21 UTC 2 months ago

Sure. And the thumb rule is from beating wives with a thumb-thick stick.

muckefuck

September 1 2014, 22:13:45 UTC 2 months ago

What's implausible about the development from a joke about someone's expensive diving watch "only being used for desk diving" to a fixed phrase like "desk diving scratches"? As others have pointed out, "desk diving" isn't a fixed expression in our vocabularies. Can you find any usages outside of the specialised community of wristwatch collectors?

5x6

September 2 2014, 21:39:30 UTC 1 month ago

What's implausible about a rule regarding beating your wife with a stick not thicker than her thumb? After all, that was not a lawless society, was it? The difference is, in this case we know it is not true, and in our case it could be. My point was however that the origin of the expression was immaterial; the meaning was obvious anyway. Let me give you another example: once somebody called, in my presence, a toilet seat cover "ass gasket". I've never heard this expression before but it was quite clear what was meant. This may have come from car mechanics' slang, but what does that change?

lilacsigil

September 2 2014, 06:29:58 UTC 2 months ago

I can see that - expensive watches were often marketed as waterproof to [implausible depths] to have a rugged image of divers wearing them, even though actual divers wear tough, ugly, backlit watches with plastic straps. "Desk diving" then has a bit of scorn in it.