Articles on this issue periodically appear in literary essays. There are pros and cons, and the issue lives on, unresolved.
Here's the problem:
Translators of Russian classic novels into English oftentimes resort to using a dated English term to translate a fairly common (or so I'm told) Russian verb that means
sell [noun] and use the proceeds to buy liquor and get hideously drunk once or a number of times.
Do feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I don't mind.
I'm further told that one can "[sell and use the proceeds, etc]" anything one can turn into cash quickly, including, but not limited to, one's estate, honor, faith in humanity, and one's sister's last pair of Parisian silk stockings.
Some translators insist on using the term "drink up."
I distinctly remember reading an article (it could have been a New York Times piece, but don't hold me to it) in which the author complained that, try as he might, he couldn't picture a man "drinking up his sister's stockings." Well, neither can I.
Here's what the OED has to say about the term so many translators resort to at the risk of being ridiculed:
to spend or waste (money) on liquor.
One commentator notes (indignantly, I would imagine):
It’s perfectly good English. There’s no need to replace it with a wordy explanation.
I (and a bunch of other people) beg to differ. To me, "drink up" means "finish the damn drink already, you stupid twit, we're about to miss the opening."
You can, if you like, read this lengthy and not very entertaining blog post on the subject; there are dozens of others, including a couple of racy pieces from the New York Jumping Times, or whatever. Most of them contain a lot of posturing and caustic asides, but not much else.
My question is ... is there a word or short phrase in English that would convey the meaning (as described above) without making the reader blink, raise his eyebrows and go, "Huh?"