Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2007 January 29

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January 29[edit]

Phrase Origin[edit]

Where might I find information on the origin of the phrase "flub the dub"?

Mlf24 01:58, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

There is brief mention in John Lancaster Riordan's "American Naval 'Slanguage' in the Pacific in 1945" from the California Folklore Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Oct., 1946). One mention—on page 380—states:

[…] anyone who is on the ball, is alert, alive, thinking clearly, and performing efficiently. The diametric opposite of this is to drop the ball, or the more popular flub the dub25

And the footnote for 25 reads:

Etymology dubious. This rhyming expression seems to suggest that a person "dubs" a shot or catch.

Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 09:01, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

"Former Greats"[edit]

I've always wondered what sports writers (and they seem to be the main culprits) mean when they refer to somebody who's no longer in the spotlight as "a former great". If it was just as simple as "retired from sport", that might make some sort of weird sense, but they use it selectively. I don't expect to ever hear Muhammad Ali or Andre Agassi referred to as "a former great", but many others who didn't achieve as much fame as they did, but were still considered great in their time, are often tarred with this epithet. What do they mean? Are they saying that their achievements are no longer worthy of respect, and if so, why not? JackofOz 07:12, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

I know what you mean - a quick google search of the BBC website, for example, turned up a couple of examples here and here. But I don't agree that Ali or Agassi, for example, would never be referred to in this way. Why wouldn't you expect to hear the phrase applied to them? --Richardrj talk email 10:41, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
I don't think there's a standardized meaning for the term. I've heard Ali referred to as a "former great" on many occasions. And Agassi...after a quick Google search, it appears that many writers consider him a mediocre player at best whose fame arose from his image and his relationships, not his play. (I'm not saying I agree, by the way: I don't know enough about tennis to care, let alone make a judgment for myself.) --Charlene 14:42, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
I expect it is mainly journalistic short form without going into much detail. If it is used with more intended meaning I would assume it meant "once good, but embarrassing themselves by not quitting when they were at their peak" or that the sport has moved on so far that even at their peak they would not greatly challenge the current champions. IM(NS)HO meltBanana 15:01, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
I stand corrected about Ali not being called a former great. But if you asked those journalists whether Ali belongs in a list of great boxers, I bet they'd all say "yes, undoubtedly". Therefore, he remains great despite the label "former great". I guess it's just me trying to expect commentators to say what they really mean, and vice-versa. I'm easily confused, as you can probably tell. JackofOz 03:25, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

language translations[edit]

can you please translate the phrase " i love you " in russian, chinese, spanish, japanese, latin and german respectively? Thank you so much... —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Never17fade (talkcontribs) 08:12, 29 January 2007 (UTC).

  • Russian: Я люблю тебя
  • Chinese:
  • Spanish: Te quiero or Te amo [I've never known if there's a difference between them]
Based on this machine translation, I believe "te quiero" is "I want you". −
Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 09:11, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
I wouldn't trust machine translation too much. In fact, the correct answer is that "Te quiero" can mean both "I love you" and "I want you" - which one to choose is context dependant. TERdON 18:09, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Japanese:
  • Latin: could also be "Te amo", or "Amo te"; no idea if this actually attested anywhere in the literature
  • German: Ich liebe dich.

Angr 08:59, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

  • Chinese: 我愛你
  • Japanese: 愛してる ((edit conflict) Actually, I guess it's more 愛する, or possibly even 大好き)

--Wirbelwindヴィルヴェルヴィント (talk) 09:12, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Simplified Chinese − 我爱你
Traditional Chinese − 我愛你
Japanese − 私は愛する
But don't take my word on it! (I used this) − Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 09:15, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Japanese - 貴方のことを愛しているCCLemon-ここは寒いぜ! 09:26, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

"Te quiero" is roughly "I like you" and "te amo" "I love you" if I'm not mistaken. "amo" is stronger. Transliterations follow. Russian Я люблю тебя = "Ya lyoblyo tebya", Simplified Chinese 我爱你 and Traditional Chinese 我愛你 = both "Wo ai ni" (I've forgotten the tones, but for such a common phrase, it wouldn't probably matter...) Japanese 私は愛する = "Watashi wa ai-suru" = (roughly) "I love you", 愛する = ai-suru "(I) love (you)", 愛してる "(I) am loving (you)", 大好き = "daisuki" = "(I) really like (you)" (perhaps the most natural choice), 貴方のことを愛している = "anata no koto wo ai-shite-iru" = "(I) am loving the thing about you" (Personally, I think this last sentence seems a little strained...) Hope my additions help. As a footnote, I think there are lists on the Internet with "I love you" in more than hundreds of languages with variant alternatives. Try googling it. 惑乱 分からん 11:20, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Wǒ aì ní. In Cantonese, that's "Ngo5 oi3 nei5". 你 is the informal you.--Fitzwilliam 15:50, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
I think the formal you is "nín", but I don't know the character. 惑乱 分からん 17:41, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
The "nin" is a "ni" with a heart under it, or 您. --Wirbelwindヴィルヴェルヴィント (talk) 22:23, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
As I read above, I must now correct myself, admitting that "Te quiero" would mean "I want you" rather than "I like you". Sorry. 惑乱 分からん 22:29, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Also, note that both you's are pronounced as the same in Cantonese. So, native speakers often don't distinguish both you's. Informal you is often used in ads (to sound casual to viewers) and even to someone unfamiliar to the speaker. On the contrary, Mandarin (and German) speakers mostly distinguish this.--Fitzwilliam 14:12, 30 January 2007 (UTC)
As the subject has been brought up, see T-V distinction. 惑乱 分からん 16:13, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

There are whole websites devoted to this very issue:

etc. etc. etc. AnonMoos 15:55, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

we should have pointed this out before the avalanche of answers took place... (wry smile). No question attracts as many answers as this type of "I love you in xx langauges" question. How vain we are.--K.C. Tang 08:38, 30 January 2007 (UTC)
I thought so. I recall I've seen web pages. Thanks for sharing! 惑乱 分からん 17:41, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Not surprisingly, there are also some translations in wiktionary: wikt:I love you. – b_jonas 13:56, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

Malay/Hokkien suffix in kopi-o[edit]

Can anyone tell me the origin of the -o suffix in the Malay or Hokkien phrase kopi-o, meaning coffee served with sugar but without milk (as it appears in the Wikipedia articles Singlish vocabulary and Cuisine of Singapore). I generally order kopi-o kosong, and am intrigued whether a Hokkien word is used to mean 'without milk' while a Malay word (kosong, 'empty') is used to mean 'without sugar'. It would be good to have responses that to both the linguistic and cultural background if possible. — Gareth Hughes 11:59, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

In Minnan, black (黑 - Mandarin pinyin:hēi) is pronounced /ɔ55/ (peh-oe-ji: o·). According the one source I found (here) this is the origin of kopi-o. The Minnan word for coffee is /ka55pi55/, so the whole thing - kopi-o makes sense as a Malay approximation of the Minnan word for "black coffee". I gather that the Malay word kosong means roughly the same as the English word plain when used to refer to food or drink and is used in that sense for things other than coffee. So, the whole structure makes sense that way. --Diderot 14:02, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for the answer and the link. That's just what I was looking for. — Gareth Hughes 16:59, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

English phonotactics examples[edit]

Hi, I asked this quetsion at Talk:Phonotactics but I thought I'd ask anyway. The phonotactics article says that English words can start with /spw/, /stw/, and /skl/. I'm doubtful about that, because I can't think of any examples.

I can think of spring, spew, string, stew, scream, skewer, squeak, and splash, but I can't think of any words starting with spw, stw, or skl. Do they exist? Thank you. :) --Kjoonlee 14:13, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

I am doubtful about /stw/. I don't think that /r/ is preceded by a 'w' glide when it immediately follows a stop such as /k/ or /t/, so "string" would not be an example of /stw/ (unless you are Elmer J. Fudd). However, "squeak", "squishy", and "squirrel" are all examples of /skw/, and "sclerosis" is an example of /skl/. Marco polo 14:37, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Kjoonlee didn't call /skw/ into question, though, but /spw/. I can't think of any words with /spw/ either; even /pw/ is extremely rare: pueblo is the only word I can think of that starts with /pw/ that's commonly used in English. /skl/ is also really rare; besides sclerosis all I can think of is the Jewish surname Sklar. —Angr 15:06, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
and sclerotic, which is from the same root. Logically, the article doesn't state that /spw/, /stw/, /skl/ are allowed; it states limitations on allowed syllable clusters in the onset, not that all the constructible clusters actually occur. Tendentious, I know; it could do with improving. –EdC 16:20, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
One question to ask is can you make a product name with those clusters without it sounding strange or foreign: spwang (fabric softener) and stwuck (leaf blower) sound like Elmer Fudd saying "sprang" and "struck, and skleem (vegetable oil) sounds like someone with a Japanese accent saying "scream." Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 23:33, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Dunno, I kind of disagree. First of all, it would never be spelled with a "k" (so "scleam", which sounds and looks pretty English-ish to me). "spwat", "spwurl", "stweelie", "sclam", "sclarm". They all sound silly but I would instantly assume they were English words if I were ever to come across them in an old book.  freshofftheufoΓΛĿЌ  03:28, 30 January 2007 (UTC)
I think the examples are given in IPA, where k always has the sound as c in cat, regardless of which letter(s) it's spelled with, i.e. English k or c, Italian c or ch etc... 惑乱 分からん 11:15, 30 January 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I might have misunderstood. Anyway, I'd guess a k spelling would be acceptable for a brand name... 惑乱 分からん 16:16, 30 January 2007 (UTC)
If you had written your example as /skleem/ I wouldn't have sclarmed at you about the "k" : ).  freshofftheufoΓΛĿЌ  06:28, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Thank you to everyone who contributed. :) The article has been fixed and the bit in question has been properly sourced. :D --Kjoonlee 14:13, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

Just can't resist adding that puerile also starts with /pw/, obviously not /spw/. mnewmanqc 20:10, 30 January 2007 (UTC)
I have learnt that puerile starts with /pj/. Is /pw/ Texan or something? 惑乱 分からん 23:47, 30 January 2007 (UTC)
Indeed. Puerile starts with /pj/, not /pw/. And I'm from Texas. —Angr 20:23, 31 January 2007 (UTC)


Hi A friend of mine uses the surname Rogers when he works outside of Ireland but he's told me that his real surname is the Irish equivalent of the English surname Rogers, please could you tell me what the equivalent is? Thank you, Kathie81.41.72.44 16:21, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

I think he was pulling your leg. The surname Rogers derives from the first name Roger, which came to English through French and is ultimately of Germanic origin. There isn't an Irish equivalent. —Angr 16:39, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
According to this source, the name Rogers may be an anglicized version of O'Ruadhraigh. Marco polo 16:48, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Just as Londres is not a French equivalent to London, but just a francisation. -- DLL .. T 18:52, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, I forgot about the possibility of Irish names being replaced by etymologically unrelated English names. This source confirms roughly what Marco polo said, but gives Mac Ruaidhrí as the Irish original. A spelling variation of that would is Mac Ruairí, and the last name Ó Ruai(dh)rí also exists, so I guess it could be any of these. —Angr 18:58, 29 January 2007 (UTC)