Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2009 July 3

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July 3[edit]

Two-letter abbreviations required[edit]

Hello, I need a 2 letter abbrieviation of these languages, in that language - for instance I know German will be DE, and Spanish will be ES, but trying to find out what Hungarian will be (Is it WE?) is surprisingly difficult, for instance. Any help appreciated, thanks. 82.111.24.28 (talk) 09:10, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Language Abbrev.
Bulgarian bg
Czech cs
Danish da
English en
Estonian et
Finnish fi
French fr
German de
Greek el
Hungarian hu
Icelandic is
Italian it
Latvian lv
Lithuanian lt
Norwegian no
Polish pl
Portuguese pt
Romanian ro
Slovakian sk
Slovenian sl
Spanish es
Swedish sv

See ISO 639, Special:Sitematrix, etc. — CharlotteWebb 09:37, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

More helpful for this purpose than ISO 639 is List of ISO 639-1 codes. Just search for the name of the language you want and you'll find both its two-letter and its three-letter ISO 639 code. (Languages that have no two-letter code are not included in this list, though.) +Angr 10:13, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Thanks, chaps 82.111.24.28 (talk) 12:04, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

March Hare ("Haigha")[edit]

In our March Hare article, it states '"Haigha" (which Carroll tells us is pronounced to rhyme with "mayor")'. Does anyone know the actual pronunciation of its name? Is it supposed to be "hare"? --Wirbelwindヴィルヴェルヴィント (talk) 16:00, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Actually Carroll tells us only that the King pronounces it to rhyme with mayor, but since it is the name of Carroll's character, only Carroll can tell us how to pronounce it and he gives us no other instruction. Fouracross (talk) 16:14, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
Given that the origin of the name is supposed to be the phrase "mad as a March hare", it's reasonably safe to assume it's pronounced the same as "hare". — Emil J. 16:37, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

In England, in my experience (and I may be wildly over-generalising), 'hare' normally rhymes with 'mayor', which is generally pronounced identically to 'mare'. Mikenorton (talk) 17:59, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Using "mare" rather than the possibly two-syllabled "mayor" would have been a better choice by Carroll in that case. The answer to the question though, is we that don't know, and unless somebody uncovers some document in which Carroll describes the pronunciation in more detail we never will. Fouracross (talk) 18:13, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
So hypothetically, if I were to name my new kitten Haigha, should I just pronounce it like I see it? I know it's technically however I want to pronounce it, just trying to get a good idea of what to do in this case. The kitten thing is really the reason I'm asking. And thanks for the responses so far. --Wirbelwindヴィルヴェルヴィント (talk) 19:10, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

It was really just a little spelling-joke on Carroll's part -- he reintroduced the characters of the March Hare and Mad Hatter from Wonderland into Looking-Glass, but gave their names the pseudo-"Anglo-Saxon" spellings Haigha and Hatta. -- AnonMoos (talk) 19:51, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

'Mayor' is monosyllabic in my idiolect, and I think in most English accents: I dare say it was so for Lewis Carroll. --ColinFine (talk) 00:00, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
For me it's bisyllabic and not a homophone of mare. And the spelling Haigha looks like it was intended to be read bisyllabically as "hay-a". +Angr 05:16, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

The first 'Hall of Fame'[edit]

Does anyone know which was the first 'Hall of Fame' and when this phrase was first coined? I'm aware of many sporting & musical halls of fame, but cannot find out where this term was used first. Lisztian (talk) 17:10, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Baseball's hall of fame started in 1936 so before then. Rmhermen (talk) 17:27, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
See the end of the entry here. Slightly non-committal, but gives you a date of 1901. Fouracross (talk) 18:02, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict) The first use attested in the OED is in 1901: "The Columbia College ‘Hall of Fame’ includes various more or less useful Americans and excludes Edgar Allan Poe." Algebraist 18:03, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Thanks a lot for that! Lisztian (talk) 18:30, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

The House of Fame is considerably older though meltBanana 16:43, 4 July 2009 (UTC)

I'm afraid the OED dropped the ball on this one. The original hall of fame in the United States is the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, completed in 1900. The term is a calque of German Ruhmeshalle, and the Ruhmeshalle München, or Bavarian Hall of Fame, was established in 1853. The Walhalla Ruhmes- und Ehrenhalle is older still, dating to 1842. Any of these three could make a fair claim to being the original hall of fame. However, there were earlier poetical uses of "hall of fame" in English, going back at least to 1792, when Alexander Thomson used the term in a panegyric to the Scottish poet Dunbar. John M Baker (talk) 01:57, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

I can't resist mentioning that there's a firefighting museum in Phoenix, AZ called the "Hall of Flame" Bunthorne (talk) 03:52, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

According to the Simple English Wikipedia, it's the Forum of Augustus. It was inaugurated in 2 BC, a few years before the Baseball Hall of Fame, and contained "108 portrait statues with inscriptions of each individual’s achievements". Sounds like a hall of fame to me. Of course, there were probably analogous establishments long before that. Many cultures have a tradition of commemorating memorable dead guys in special buildings. Consider the joss house. LANTZYTALK 00:27, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

This work of 1786 [1] mentions that the skeleton of James Doig "stands as a skeleton in the Surgeons Hall of Fame". Warofdreams talk 20:54, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Supposed to rain, etc[edit]

Normally, when we say someone "is supposed to <do X>", we mean that there's a requirement or duty that they do it. It's often used in the past tense: "I'm not happy, Tommy, because you were supposed to clean up your room but all you've done is lie around reading comics".

When talking about the weather, people say "It's supposed to be hot today", or "It was supposed to be fine for their wedding, but it poured down". I understand that words can have different meanings in different contexts. In this case, "supposed" is more like "believed or expected". But when referring to past events, it's often said with a voice tone that suggests it was promised by the Weather Bureau, and the speaker is disappointed in not getting the weather they expected, which gets us back to the duty/requirement meaning. Is this because people believe official weather predictions blindly? Why would they do that, and not make contingency plans, knowing that, while they're generally accurate, there's no guarantee they'll be accurate on any given day and there's not a track record of 100% accuracy with weather predictions? Is it because weather presenters only say what happened today and what's expected to happen tomorrow, but virtually never acknowledge any inaccurate predictions they made yesterday? -- JackofOz (talk) 23:49, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

If some people have irrational attitudes about weather forecasts, I think that's beyond the scope of the Reference Desk.
But when you say that something is "supposed to" be true, you're not saying that someone promised it would be: only that it will be true if people do what's expected of them. What's expected of weather forecasters is correct predictions. We know we won't always get them, but we expect them. Similarly, if you're dirving along and approaching a green traffic light, there isn't supposed to be any cross traffic -- but sometimes a car on the cross street has a brake failure and runs the light. What's expected of the other cars is that they will stop, but they might not. --Anonymous, 00:32 UTC, July 4, 2009.
Jack has proven by many previous posts to be a brilliant mind and therefore I interpret his question as being of linguistic nature, not of a nature of trying to understand the obvious, which is that people are irrational, and which he knows very well.
So I'll try to refocus: "I am supposed to stop here, but I won't", means I had promissed, or agreed, or the law says, that I would go no further, but I decide to break the agreement/rule/promise/common understanding.
"It was supposed to rain today, but it doesn't" means that someone had studied the weather and promised us some rain, but the rain didn't come. There are 2 aspects to that: first, the rain is personalised, that is it can decide to come, or not, like an individual. Language does that all the time, it is interesting, most of the time we don't even pay attention to it.
Second, there seems to be the funny assumption by the language that the the weather guys told the rain to come, so that it would know it should be here. Just like when someone write a law that says that I should not cross this line, but I don't stop, there is the assumption that I have been told in the statement "you were supposed to stop here". Or at least an assumption that I have read the law. The English language, in this construction, seems to assume that the rain watches the weather channel, just like the law makers assume that I actaully will read what they write. --Lgriot (talk) 09:57, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
‘It is supposed’ often carries the meaning ‘There is a supposition that’. Ian Spackman (talk) 10:04, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
By the way it seems that there is a 2 way relationship here: first the mind sculpts the language and creates these expressions, giving the rain a personality and therefore some duty and expectations, and second, the language sculpts the mind in the sense that people actually get disappointed when the rain does not behave as it was supposed to, which is like if they actually expected it to be a person, simply because the language has expressions that make use of it like a person. --Lgriot (talk) 10:11, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
If Jack would rephrase his "requirement or duty" into there's "an expectation" then there's not going to be a be a conflict. Tommy was expected to clean his room and "it" was expected to rain. I suppose it will work because it's supposed to work. 71.236.26.74 (talk) 18:07, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
"Expect" can have two meanings, too. "My uncle is coming to visit me today. I expect he'll be here around lunchtime" - that means I've been given to understand he'll be here around that time, but he's not in some sort of trouble if he doesn't arrive till dinner time. "I expect you to do all your homework" - that's a requirement, and you will be in trouble if you don't do it. When people talk about the weather and use "supposed", they're really using the first meaning of "expect", but acting as if they meant the second meaning. -- JackofOz (talk) 22:50, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
To suppose something means to assume it or believe it's likely. It seems like the expression "it is supposed to rain" follows that meaning pretty closely, as in "someone supposes it will rain." The case of "I was supposed to clean my room" seems more idiomatic. What's being said is not that someone assumed I had cleaned my room. Rckrone (talk) 04:00, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm a little late to the party here, but my usage is similar to Rckrone, but with some kind of a "tense mismatch" or "person shift" -- not sure how else to describe it -- and I always like assume as the best synonym. Thus, to me, "I was supposed to clean my room" means that at some point previously, it was assumed that you would clean your room. Thus, assume is still a valid synonym.
In the case of "you were supposed to stop here", it is still valid to say assumed, as long as it can be applied to "who is doing the assuming" -- i.e., other drivers. Others will assume you will stop at a stop sign, and even if you do not, you are still "supposed" or "assumed" to.
Thus, IMHO the usage is less idiomatic than it might seem at first. Remember, this opinion is worth what you paid for it. --DaHorsesMouth (talk) 19:30, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
Applying that to past tense, "You were supposed to stop here/clean your room" would only be said if you did not in fact stop or clean your room. It's said in order to criticise or berate you for failing to do what you were required to do. And people use exactly the same form of words when the predicted fine weather/rain fails to materialise, and with the same tinge of disappointment/anger in their voice. No? -- JackofOz (talk) 21:32, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
Jack, you're making me think way too hard for a weekend :-)
"You were supposed to stop here/clean your room" would only be said if you did not in fact stop or clean your room. True; I've never met anyone who said "I assumed you would do X" when you actually did do X!
It's said in order to criticise or berate you for failing to do what you were required to do. Not always; but it's certainly a question of degree. I'd argue that your statement is stronger than my typical usage; it's nearly as frequently used as an observation, with little or no judgement. X was supposed to happen, expected to happen, assumed it would happen . . . but for some reason it didn't.
The same form of words for the weather ... No? Words, yes, but attitude, not necessarily. Consider an opposite weather case, "It was supposed to rain cats and dogs overnight, but it didn't, so we *can* have the party outdoors today" -- no disappointment there! Whether the expected outcome was positive or negative, and hence its non-occurrence is negative or positive, I'd generally use the same words.
And: in no case would I have used the phrase when the incomplete event was originally required or a duty. How's that grab you? --DaHorsesMouth (talk) 23:06, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
Quite well, really. Your second last point was a perspective I hadn't considered, so thanks. -- JackofOz (talk) 21:12, 7 July 2009 (UTC)