Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2009 April 27

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April 27[edit]

We want wikipedia pages in Bengali[edit]

hi, I know you have wikipedia pages in about 65 languages. I want to know under which conditions or requirements you will make wikipedia pages in Bengali? For your information, more than 180000000 people speaks Bengali, as their first language.

Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:22, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

One of the 265 current Wikipedias is the Bengali wikipedia, which currently has nearly 20 000 articles. Please feel free to improve and extend it! --ColinFine (talk) 08:05, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
See Category:Bengali language and Wikipedia:WikiProject Bangladesh and Wikipedia:Translation.
Category:Wikipedians by language has a link to Category:User bn. -- Wavelength (talk) 14:27, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Fit for neither man nor beast[edit]

What is the origin of the expression "fit for neither man nor beast" (or variations such as "not fit for man nor breast")? I like it; it's funny. Mike R (talk) 14:47, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

One person online claimed that it derives from Jeremiah 51:62, but that passage doesn't include the "fit" part. Mike R (talk) 14:54, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Is The Fatal Glass of Beer the ultimate origin? Mike R (talk) 15:00, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
That film certainly has much to do with the expression's currency (although my father is fond of using the expression, and I'm fairly sure that he's not seen the film). I've always had the impression, however, that Fields was depending on the audience's familiarity with it to make his repetition of it (and the in-his-face results) a source of humor. Deor (talk) 20:55, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Not exactly the expression we're looking for (no "fit"), but this page lists a number of occurrences, dating back to 1600, of an English proverb linking the idea of foul weather and the phrase "for man nor beast." Deor (talk) 12:10, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

Hebrew + English[edit]

In Genesis, when Eve gets created, it says something like, 'and because she is made from man she shall be called woman'. Now, I believe the original Hebrew text used 'ISH' for man and 'ISHA' for woman, so the 'pun' is there. It's just a coincidence that 'woman' contains 'man' in English, so this sort of made sense to me. I wonder how it would be in other languages. I don't have a copy of the Bible in any other language (or even in English), so I can't check this out. Can anyone help? How is this 'pun' translated, or isn't it? Sorry to call it a 'pun'. I mean no offense to true believers. This is purely a linguistic question.--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 15:27, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

The verse you want is Genesis 2:23. Click the link to be taken to a lot of translations in a lot of different languages. Click here to be taken to a different site where you can choose translations from many different languages. —Angr 15:45, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
See also -- Wavelength (talk) 16:12, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
In Esperanto, the word virino ("woman") is derived from the word viro ("man") by adding -in- ("female").
See Esperanto vocabulary#List of lexical suffixes. -- Wavelength (talk) 16:17, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. Actually I just remembered that 'woman' does actually come from a compound of 'wife' + 'man' ('human being', as 'man' referred to both sexes in O.E.).--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 16:25, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
...where (it should be mentioned) wife originally had, like German Weib, nothing to do with marriage. —Tamfang (talk) 00:47, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
Category:Wikipedians by language has a link to Category:User he. -- Wavelength (talk) 16:36, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
How will that help? This isn't a question about Hebrew, but about how a Hebrew play on words has been translated into other languages. —Angr 16:59, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
It seems to me that the Hebrew word for "woman" is derived from the Hebrew word for "man", and that there is not really any pun involved, just as there is no pun involved when one uses the Esperanto words "viro" and "virino", or when one uses the English words "prophet" and "prophetess" (or "baron" and "baroness"), for example. I was hoping that someone fluent in Hebrew would comment on that. -- Wavelength (talk) 18:24, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
As a Hebrew speaker I can tell you that the grammatical relation between ISH ("man" in Hebrew) and ISHA ("woman" in Hebrew) is very similar to the grammatical relation between the English words "prophet" and "prophetess", i.e. the suffix "A" in hebrew, corresponds to the suffix "ess" in English. HOOTmag (talk) 18:58, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Thank you, Angr, that is exactly what the question is about. And thanks for the links.--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 17:20, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Just from glancing over the translations in the few languages I understand, it would seem that most do try to preserve the pun, usually by using a rather unexpected word for "woman"—like virago (with vir for "man") in the Vulgate or Männin (with Mann for "man") in the Luther Bible. Even in French, femme and homme are similar enough in sound that one gets the point. I wonder what's done in languages in which neither an etymological nor a phonetic similarity allows the play on words to be rendered. Deor (talk) 18:03, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
In Latin, the word virãgõ means "heroine, female warrior" and the word virgõ means "maiden, virgin".
-- 18:31, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Why did you ask about the pair: man/woman only? The bible is full of such pairs, e.g. in Genesis 4,1: Eve called her first son: Cain, and the bible bases this name on a phonetic explanation which can be understood by hebrew speakers only, as you can see here.

As a Hebrew speaker, let me show you something which may interest you, as a Japanese speaker, and which relates to your original question regarding the hebrew word (Ish) for "man":

There is a famous brief joke in Hebrew, which goes like this:
  • "What's the japanese word for 'driver'? ISHIMOTO...".
At this stage, every Hebrew speaker is supposed to laugh: the word ISHIMOTO sounds japanese (in Hebrew speakers' ears), and it's literally translated (from Hebrew) as: "man with car" (ISH IM OTO).

HOOTmag (talk) 18:35, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Ha! Nice joke. It is, in fact, a common Japanese surname. And thanks for your answers, everyone, this is an interesting thread.--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 19:08, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Does the surname ISHIMOTO mean anything in Japanese? HOOTmag (talk) 19:22, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
It would be 石本  or 石元, and I am sure your knowledge of Chinese would be able to work out the meaning, but basically, both oof them mean the same: 'origin of the stone', but, of course, names are not meant to have literal translations, even though the owner of Bridgestone thought it would be nice to have a translation of his name for his company (even though the translation is backwards, because it would have been 'Stonebridge', as his name is 石橋).--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 21:00, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
  • As opposed to what you've claimed, I've no knowledge of Chinese.
  • How about translating 石本 as: Stone Book, i.e. book made of stone? I've no knowledge in Japanese, and if you say that both 石本 and 石元 would mean 'origin of the stone' (if these surnames had meanings at all) then I accept your testimony of course, but why not simply "Stone Book"?
  • I think that the owner of Bridgestone may have wanted a name ending with a european suffix of surnames. The suffix "stone" (as well as "Stein" in German, etc.) is very popular in european surnames, whereas the word "bridge" doesn't tend to end surnames (although it does tend to end names of towns, and it also ends the name of the well-known Britain university of Cambridge). HOOTmag (talk) 07:41, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
本 does mean 'book' in Japanese, but only when pronounced 'hon'. When pronounced 'moto' it means origin or root. The character is actually a drawing of a tree with a small line at the bottom to point out the roots.--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 11:27, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Thank you. HOOTmag (talk) 16:38, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
For more information on names in the Bible and what they mean, see List of Biblical names.
For background information about the names of eleven of Jacob's twelve sons, see (verses 32 to 35) and (verses 6, 8, 11, 13, 18, 20, 23, and 24).
There is a selection of Hebrew versions included at and, where clicking on the name of a version will show the entire chapter in that version. -- Wavelength (talk) 21:06, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Actually, historically the words "ish" and "isha" come from different roots, surprisingly. Compare them to cognates in Arabic - naas='person' and untha='woman'. Mo-Al (talk) 00:10, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
I can't believe that 'ish' and 'isha' come from different roots, considering one looks strikingly like it is just the feminine ending added to the other. If you can provide some sources for this, I would appreciate it. If they are, however, from different roots, that would be very interesting.--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 02:29, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
naas and untha don't look at all like ish/isha, and isha is transparently "man+FEMININE.SUFFIX", so I'm extremely dubious about that claim as well --Miskwito (talk) 03:23, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Superficial appearances can be very deceptive in historical linguistics, and unrelated words can be made to look more similar to each other over time. And in fact, the Hebrew words for "man" and "woman" aren't quite as similar to each other as were making them out to be. It's convenient to transcribe them "ish" and "isha", but in fact "man" is /ʔiːʃ/ with a long vowel and a short consonant, and "woman" is /ʔiʃʃaː/ with a short vowel and a long consonant. (I'm talking about Classical Tiberian pronunciation, of course, not Modern Israeli Hebrew.) Mo-Al's claim is supported by the Brown Driver Briggs dictionary, which derives ishshah from the Proto-Semitic root *ʔ-n-θ ("soft, delicate") (whence also Arabic untha), but ish from the Semitic root *ʔ-n-ʃ ("human") (whence Arabic naas). Proto-Semitic *θ and *ʃ merged as /ʃ/ in Hebrew, thus bringing the two words closer together. And finally, folk etymology may have played some role in the phonetic shape of the words, making them look even more like each other. But the account in Genesis is definitely folk etymology. —Angr 05:59, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
That view about etymological unrelatedness is also stated at Balashon - Hebrew Language Detective: ish and isha. Incidentally, I consulted a bidirectional paper dictionary of Hebrew and English, and the word Balashon appears to have been coined as a cross between a Hebrew word balashi meaning "detective" and a Hebrew word balshan meaning "linguist". -- Wavelength (talk) 06:42, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
The article says that the Hebrew word for "man" is derived from the Hebrew word for "strength", whereas the Hebrew word for "woman" is derived from the Hebrew word for "weakness". Is it possible that the Hebrew word for "strength" and the Hebrew word for "weakness" are "etymological siblings", both being derived from one and the same "etymological parent", with the Hebrew word for "man" and the Hebrew word for "woman" being "etymological cousins"? -- Wavelength (talk) 04:12, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I am convinced, yet shocked to hear that. Thanks!--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 11:57, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Dammit, and I even completely forgot about "male"/"female" being false cognates, too... --Miskwito (talk) 15:22, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Having said that, 'man' and 'woman' in Ancient Egyptian are transliterated 's' and 'st' respectively. If anyone can get the Coptic versions for me, we can have more of a view of the original pronunciation. It still seems like 'man+FEMININE SUFFIX' to me.--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 14:58, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Maybe in Egyptian it was; Egyptian is related to the Semitic languages, but it isn't one. —Angr 15:14, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
[ec] Just a quick note: it seems that in Coptic the feminine form s.t got merged with hm.t to form C2IME (shime), i.e. preserving only the s with no trace of the original vowel, so that may not be of much help anyway. Iblardi (talk) 15:17, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
[edit conflict] Well, -t is the feminine suffix in Ancient Egyptian; but what's the source for s and s.t meaning "man" and "woman"? As far as I know the normal term for "man" in Ancient Egyptian was rmt -- however, in Old Egyptian, "he" was swt, and "she" was stt. (My source, incidentally, is Antonio Loprieno's Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction) --Miskwito (talk) 15:22, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
I'm using Sir Alan Gardiner's 'Egyptian Grammar'.--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 16:48, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Thanks to KageTora's investigation, we can have now a new interpretation for the verse in Genesis. Adam says:
"I named her ISHA because she is made of a person named ISH".
What does Adam mean? He means that before he gave us his explanation, we couldn't know whether he'd used the root having the third Proto-semitic consonant *θ (which merged in Hebrew as SH) and then added the feminine suffix A, as it is in other semitic languages (e.g. in Arabic and Aramaic), or used the root having the third Proto-semitic consonant *SH, and then added the feminine suffix A (which is a legitimate grammatical option too, although no other semitic language uses this legitimate option). So Adams reveals:
"I named her ISHA because she is made of a person named ISH, i.e. I used the root having the third Proto-semitic consonant *SH, and then I added the feminine suffix A, which is a legitimate grammatical option, although no other semitic language uses this legitimate option".
What do you think about this new interpretation for the verse in Genesis? HOOTmag (talk) 16:38, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Out of curiosity, I've checked traditional Serbian and Croatian versions, which, as other Slavic languages, have different words for man (čověk/muž) and woman (žena). The former tries to translate the wordplay with (non-existing word) "čovečica", while the latter uses (correct) "žena", but loses the pun, obviously. No such user (talk) 15:13, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Welsh uses gŵr for man and gwraig for woman, which I think is another coincidence, but I'd have to double-check the etymology of gwraig to be sure. (Another Welsh word for woman is dynes, which really does just mean "human-ess".) —Angr 15:17, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
In Czech, every translator seems to solve the problem differently. They generally preserve the pun, but at the expense of making the whole verse quite nonsensical. The traditional Bible kralická translates isha as mužatka, which actually means something like "a women which behaves and looks like a man" :) The Ecumenical Bible translates it as mužena, which is a pure neologism based on the words muž (man) and žena (woman). The Bible21 translation uses manželka (wife), and accordingly translates ish as manžel (husband) in the same verse. — Emil J. 16:58, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
If the Bible kralická was translated from the Vulgate, muž/mužatka would correspond almost exactly to vir/virago in the Latin. Deor (talk) 17:35, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
It wasn't. It was translated from the original Hebrew and Greek. — Emil J. 17:42, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Undoubtedly, the Bible21 supplies the best translation and accords with the Hebrew source, since the original Hebrew word ISH means both man and husband (see e.g. Genesis 29 32), whereas the original Hebrew word ISHA means both woman and wife (see e.g. Genesis 3 20).
By the way, also Modern Hebrew retains both meanings of ISHA, while not having any other word for wife (the same is in ancient Hebrew), while the word ISH is used in Modern Hebrew mainly for man (its meaning of husband being used in modern Hebrew literature, yet not in colloquial Modern Hebrew). HOOTmag (talk) 18:56, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
FWIW, most Spanish versions seem to either ignore the pun (i.e., using mujer and hombre); add a footnote explaining that a pun exists in the Hebrew (while still using mujer and hombre in the translation); or using varona and varón (the former the feminine form of the latter, which is another word for "man" or "boy") --Miskwito (talk) 17:17, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
This thread inspired me to look at Ælfric's Old English version, and I'm afraid that he completely blows it when it comes to the play on words. Even though he had used "wifmen" (sic) for "woman" in the preceding verse and had the word mann available to him, he renders the passage in question "beo heo geciged fæmne ['woman'], for ðan ðe heo is of hyre were ['man'] genumen"—presumably because mann is gender neutral and he felt it important to emphasize Adam's maleness by using wer. Deor (talk) 17:35, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

I just checked the Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, and Welsh gwraig is indeed unrelated to gŵr, so Welsh is in the position of being able to copy the pun very closely - also using a word that sounds similar but is etymologically unrelated. —Angr 18:12, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

Compound words in UK English and US English[edit]

Is "assume goodfaith" (as opposed to "assume good faith") proper in US English? Is it proper in UK english? Is such more likely to be used by a Yank, or by a Brit? This article and this article suggest that compounding words is more likely in US English, but my experience is that I see a lot more words compounded by UK English speakers than by US. Mike R (talk) 15:43, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

No, not proper. After you get a hundred million people using the word 'goodfaith' then it will be proper. Tempshill (talk) 15:50, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
"Goodfaith" wouldn't be a valid compound word in either US or UK English. Or, I think, in any Germanic language. Adjectives don't typically get included in compounds. --Pykk (talk) 15:51, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Well, goodwill is usually written together, and "good faith" is a close synonym of goodwill, so I can see why people might adapt it orthographically. —Angr 16:08, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
(ec)The only reasonably common one I can think of offhand is "goodwife". I've also come across "goodself/goodselves" in instances of very old-fashioned and pompous business writing ("With reference to the order placed on 20th ult. by your goodselves") Tonywalton Talk 16:14, 27 April 2009 (UTC) following edit conflictOh, and "goodwill", of course. Tonywalton Talk
I'm sure "goodfaith" is a legitimate Newspeak word. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 23:53, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
To reinforce Tempshill's answer, goodfaith is not standard English on either side of the Atlantic. The correct form is good faith. Marco polo (talk) 18:55, 28 April 2009 (UTC)