I translated a sentence to English:

"They were speaking to each other halfcircular words at the semiround table."

In original language, this sentence is:

"Разговаривали друг с другом за полукруглым столом полушарной лексикой"

I thought a half-circular word is a word that was said as hint, just in general, like beating around the bush, nothing concrete.

I want to understand how people could perceive it. What picture could people see when reading the sentence?

  • We probably wouldn't use half-circular. When talking about someone's speech, the use of the word 'half' would suggest they do not mean anything or haven't been thought through, like the phrase 'half-baked'. I can see there's supposed to be a pun but it's not clear. What is it in the original language? – TCassa Mar 30 '17 at 8:31
  • But if it's some kind of a literary work filled with humor, I wouldn't mind reading or seeing "semi-circular". But, yes, I agree that using the idiom would sound better. I find using 'half-circular' funny and creative (if that's the author's intent). – shin Mar 30 '17 at 8:42
  • @Natalia, my comments are merely personal opinions. And btw, I think we should copy-paste your comments to the original post in order to add details to it. I did the edits to provide you an idea of the structure, but please feel free to edit further, as needed. :) – shin Mar 30 '17 at 8:50
  • What does "полушарная" mean in Russian? – Victor B. Mar 30 '17 at 9:01
  • @shin, my sister and I write illustrated stories (rather pan-stories) in the Russian, and I wanted to translate them into English. – Natalia Chernyavskaya Mar 30 '17 at 9:05

"Circular Reasoning" is a form of faulty reasoning, so "half-circular words" suggests to me that the words are being used to sort of make circular (faulty/deceptive) arguments. And yes, it is amusing/funny that the abstract nature of the words would match the shape of the table.

Also suggested are: to talk "in circles", "circuitously" or to "beat around the bush" which all have similar meanings -- to talk in an indirect, unproductive and possibly deceptive manner.

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The word you're looking for might be elliptical. It means something like "deliberately obscure" or "intentionally vague" or "cryptic", but it also means "shaped like an ellipse (an oval)"!

So it might be a neat play on words to say "They spoke elliptically at a half-round table", because it makes a punning reference both to how they were speaking and the shape they were in.

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I think it is saying that they were speaking in half-truths. These are often used to deceive others for personal benefit.

I don't know how this is related to "half-circular words", but the "round" table referred to in the King Arthur legend implied fairness and equality of all participants.

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The expression circular talk is occasionally used, however the meaning is not specific. Some people think that it means a conversation that doesn't go anywhere, or is very indirect: others that it's like circular reasoning: see Stew's answer.

If you were prepeared to change the shape of the table, it would read nicely as

Their words were circular talk at a round table.

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