Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2009 March 15

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March 15[edit]

Elie Wiesel[edit]

How should I pronounce his surname? At first glance it looks orthographically German, in which case I imagine it would be /"vi:zl=/, but it seems that I more often hear something like /wI"zEl/ or /vI"zEl/. --Lazar Taxon (talk) 04:27, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Probably some Romanian influence, as further interpreted into English. The article says wɪˈzɛl... AnonMoos (talk) 05:06, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
I've most often heard it pronounced like the animal IPA: [ˈviːzl̩] The "ɛ" in our article is very short and usually gets swallowed in most regional accents. Pronunciation does depend a lot on location in Germany. If her family hails from Bavaria they are likely pronounce both the animal and the name differently. (w instead of v would indicate that her family is using an anglisized pronunciation) (talk) 12:49, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
He's male, by the way... AnonMoos (talk) 13:14, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Our article on Sighet states that some 80% of the township were Hungarian speakers (census 1910), 9% Rumanian and 6% German. Some 40% of the population were Jewish, belonging to either the Hungarian or German language group. The article on Elie (Elisha / Elizer) Wiesel mentions his father having been of Hungarian descent. As EW used Yiddish, both as a journalist and a writer, it may be assumed that this was the lingua franca in his shtetl. It seems unlikely that the last vowel is anything more than a schwa. Ooops: This [1] has a clearly pronounced (and stressed) -el at the end in the top example and a schwa at the bottom. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 15:17, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

The numbers two and eleven as numerals in Chinese script[edit]

Can a user please let me know how to write the numbers two and eleven as numerals in Chinese script. In other words the equivalent of we would write as 2 and 11. Thank you. Simonschaim (talk) 14:13, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Our article Chinese numerals is excellent; I'm sure you can find the answer in it.--K.C. Tang (talk) 14:30, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Thank you. Were both the "financial" and "normal" systems in use in 1850? Thank you. Simonschaim (talk) 14:49, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

If you mean the year 1850, you write 1850 or 一八五零; if you want to write a check to pay someone $1,850, you use the "financial" system. Hope it helps.--K.C. Tang (talk) 15:13, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
I think it's usually written 一八五〇. Or 千八百五十 or 千八百五. Oda Mari (talk) 15:50, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
You mean the year? Yes, some publishers prefer 〇 to 零, a matter of house style. 千八百五十 or 千八百五 are used in Classical Chinese, not in contemporary Chinese.--K.C. Tang (talk) 16:36, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

First of all thank you. My question is how in the year 1850 would one have written the numerals 2 and 11 in Chinese script? Thank you. Simonschaim (talk) 16:54, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Oops, sorry for my poor understanding. Yes, the "financial" and "normal" systems were both in use in 1850, as they are today. You would've seen them written as 二 and 十一 respectively in non-financial contexts.--K.C. Tang (talk) 17:10, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Thank you. Simonschaim (talk) 17:37, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Happy coincidence[edit]

I can't quite think of the whimsical word for a happy coincidence, especially in science, such as the (possibly fictional) discovery of penicillin. A slice of moldy bread goes to the first person to answer correctly. :-) StuRat (talk) 15:06, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Are you looking for the word serendipity? [I decline the prize.] -- Wavelength (talk) 15:09, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Yep, that's it. Thanks, I'll give your prize to the birds (then feed the dead birds to the neighbor's cat). StuRat (talk) 16:30, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Actually, serendipity, according to Merriam Websters is: "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for" so it's not exactly a happy coincidence.

Reverse dictionary ?[edit]

Is there any online site where I can type in a definition and the computer will spit out the matching word ? For example, if I typed in "of or pertaining to horses", it would give me "equine". StuRat (talk) 16:47, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

A good thesaurus can actually perform this function (my Concise Roget's gives "serendipity" under the entry "discovery", and "equine" under "horse"). The problem is there's no free on-line comprehensive thesaurus available ...--K.C. Tang (talk) 17:04, 15 March 2009 (UTC)17:03, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
The Bartleby Thesaurus is OK; not sure how good its search function is... AnonMoos (talk) 17:13, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
There is also --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 17:27, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
WordWeb is a free and fairly comprehensive dictionary/thesaurus (and more) based on the Princeton's WordNet database. Equendil Talk 18:25, 15 March 2009 (UTC) -- Wavelength (talk) 19:42, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
For the DRAE, I sometimes use this method: I google words of the definition with the added search string (site hosting the dictionary). It usually works. Pallida  Mors 21:50, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Word choice[edit]

Is there any difference between the word inter and the word bury? Do they essentially mean the very same thing … or is there any shade of difference in selecting one word over the other? Thanks. (Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 18:23, 15 March 2009 (UTC))

One source defines inter as To place in a grave or tomb; bury whereas bury is to put in the ground and cover with earth so it's covering up part that perhaps makes the slight difference. But many places list them as synonyms. - Jarry1250 (t, c) 18:43, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
I see one as a "subset" of the other, which makes them synonyms only in one direction. (Is that possible?) Bury is more generic than inter. Dogs bury bones, not inter them. Does that help? --DaHorsesMouth (talk) 19:29, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
I am referring to the specific act of what happens to a dead human corpse after the funeral (... as opposed to buried treasure or dog buries bone scenarios). Are the words "inter" and "bury" completely interchangeable? Thanks. (Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 20:26, 15 March 2009 (UTC))
No, inter is used mostly for human beings, while bury can be used for all sorts of items, as DaHorsesMouth pointed out. Also, it's a fancier, more respectful word than bury. I'm sure morticians use it a lot when they present you with their bills. Clarityfiend (talk) 20:33, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
It's fancier, and could even border on euphemistic. People in the street refer to "burials", not "interments", and they're not being disrespectful. It's more a question of register. Passengers "get off" a bus, but signs advise them to be cautious when "alighting". You'll see "purchase" used instead of the more normal "buy". That sort of thing. -- JackofOz (talk) 21:08, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
"Inter" also seems to be used historically fairly often. One can avoid some unnecessary confusion that way. "His grandfather, a miner, was buried in New South Wales," for instance, could suggest either a pleasant funeral plot or a local tragedy. --Fullobeans (talk) 08:03, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
Not at all at all, Mr/Ms O'Beans (and cheers for St Paddy's day tomorrow, before I forget). In the absence of any explicit mention of a mining tragedy, that sentence would not be taken as such, but simply as the (fairly vague) location of his grave. It's a sentence that needs more information in any event, to make it comprehensible. If he died in some place outside NSW, that would be mentioned first, and then it's clear we're talking about a post-mortem journey for the burial. If he died in NSW, it would be "His grandfather ... died and was buried in NSW". A tragedy would be couched in terms such as "... died (buried alive) in an horrific mining tragedy in NSW". -- JackofOz (talk) 08:20, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
Oh fine, perhaps I'm overreaching. But I am quite sure I've encountered ambiguous uses of the word "buried," probably on horribly written websites with lots of blinking GIFs. So I'll stand by my statement and say that, in the context of dismal prose (or newspaper headlines), "miner buried in NSW" could be read two ways. Happy St. Pat's back to you, by the way! Or, as it's known in these parts, Tomorrow-I-Can-Once-More-Ride-Public-Transportation-Without-Fear-of-Getting-Puked-On Day: a cause for riotous celebration if ever there was one. --Fullobeans (talk) 09:10, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
Many books have been written about the funny meanings newspaper headlines can have when taken out their context. Headlines have to be read in their context to give them full meaning. As for the language used on websites - don't get me started. -- JackofOz (talk) 19:46, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
"bury" is more general. You can ask to be "buried at sea" in which case the body would not be interred. (talk) 15:35, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
That's right. This may be etymologically dubious, but "inter" seems to be related to "terra", and there's not much terra at sea (apart from "terror on the high seas"). -- JackofOz (talk) 19:04, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
And wouldn't you know it - here we have reference to Reuben Adams, Alonzo Crowell and Charlotte Mayhew all being "interred at sea". A slightly inappropriate use of the term, imo. -- JackofOz (talk) 19:46, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
I find it interesting that when they put you in, you're interred (from terra), but when they take you out again, you're exhumed (from humus). —Angr 07:09, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
Heh. Please don't let me deter you from making other interesting observations.  :) -- JackofOz (talk) 07:37, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

Prescription drugs[edit]

This is a question of semantics and not a question for medical advice. Oftentimes, when a doctor is placing a patient on a new drug, the doctor will start out at a low dose and will slowly keep increasing the dose until the doctor "hits" the correct and appropriate (final) dose for maintenance. So, as an example, you start out at 100 mg, then up to 110 mg, then up to 120 mg, then up to 130 mg, and so forth. At 180 mg, the doctor determines that that is the ideal dosage ... so the patient stays at 180 mg of the drug. That description is what I know to be the case. Now, when reading the prescription literature, it says this (exact words, quoted, the bold-face was added in by me): "Treatment is usually started with lower doses that are increased a little at a time to prevent side effects. For adults and children over the age of 12, therapy is usually initiated at the anticipated full replacement dose. The dosage is adjusted by 12.5 to 25 mg increments." (end-quote) What on earth does that bold-face sentence mean? Thanks. (Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 18:26, 15 March 2009 (UTC))

It does seem puzzling. This might be putting it in better language. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 19:11, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
This is just a guess, but it may refer to treatments like hormone replacement therapy. The difference in terminology might indicate that the substances are administered to achieve a desired result, not to treat a condition. Or it might indicate that the substances are already present in the human body, but their levels are being adjusted. Again, I'm just speculating. --Fullobeans (talk) 21:18, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. Yes, but I am just trying to understand what the brochure is trying to communicate to the reader. The pamphlet says: (Sentence A) "Treatment is usually started with lower doses that are increased a little at a time to prevent side effects. (Sentence B) For adults and children over the age of 12, therapy is usually initiated at the anticipated full replacement dose. (Sentence C) The dosage is adjusted by 12.5 to 25 mg increments." Now, let us refer to my above hypothetical example ... where the doctor starts at 100 mg and works up to the ideal level of 180 mg. To me, sentence A says: We start at 100 mg and work our way little by little up until we get to the full 180 mg. Sentence C says the same thing, but with specified increments. But, to me, Sentence B says: Right off the bat, we start at the 180 mg. So, am I reading things correctly? And, is not Sentence B a contradiction of Sentences A/C? Thanks. (Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 22:16, 15 March 2009 (UTC))

My interpretation of sentence B is that "therapy" (i.e., the desired result of the treatment--lower cholesterol, increased RBC, whatever) initiates (i.e. "starts") once the expected full dosage is reached. Put another way: "We're going to slowly increase the dosage to help reduce side effects. Once we get to the expected full dosage, the expected results of using this drug should begin." So effectively, while you're getting the lower dosages, the drug really isn't doing anything for you, because the dosage isn't high enough (your cholesterol is still 300)...but your cholesterol should start to come down once we get to the dosage your doctor wants. IF that's the correct interpretation, then B does not contradict A or C. Brewfangrb (talk) 22:39, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

You seem to assume that therapy is identical to the application of some medication X. This need not be the case, indeed, medication is not a treatment per se. It is possible that medication is administered (at the increasing levels indicated) until some metric of analysing blood / liver functions / hormone levels (or whatever) shows the improvement aimed for. At this point some - unspecified - therapy is initiated to aid the patient in maintaining some functionality Y without the continuing application of drugs. As does F.0´Beans above, I am speculating. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 22:47, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Interesting. I indeed had not thought of that. I think of a very good example: Drug is administered to increase red blood cell count so a cancer patient can start or resume chemotherapy. Good answer.Brewfangrb (talk) 22:59, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Hmmmmm. I see what you are saying. I was assuming (from my second post above) the following: in Sentence A, the word "treatment" means "these prescription drug pills" ... and in Sentence B, the word "therapy" also means "these prescription drug pills". Is that not a correct assumption? I still think so, and I am not 100% convinced of what Brewfangrb and Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM say ... due to the following. First, if we read Sentence B the way that you guys suggest ... why would Sentence C follow Sentence B? That seems odd. Second, all of these sentences / statements are coming directly from the prescription drug company's information packet for the patient / consumer. Thus, the pamphlet must only be referring to the drug/pill itself (i.e., their product) ... and not some other external therapy (over which they have no control and can make no claims). No? That is ... in a pamphlet about some cancer prescription pill, that drug company cannot be making claims about some other matter external to the pill (i.e., chemotherapy). No? (Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 00:42, 16 March 2009 (UTC))

I still feel my original post is an accurate assessment of the verbiage in the pamphlet. That the "desired" level up to which the doctor is increasing the dosage is the level at which the drug becomes effective. It would be unusual for the drug maker to refer to an external treatment over which they have no control. But, I admitted that I had not thought of Cocktoo.ergo.ZooM's perspective--it's possible. Aricept is one drug that is designed to increase red blood count specifically so cancer patients can receive chemotherapy. The maker of Aricept may or may not make chemo drugs, but the drug is "marketed" to cancer patients with anemia. I hope I don't appear to be trying to make an argument for both sides...Brewfangrb (talk) 07:37, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
Do we know that "treatment" and "therapy" are the same thing, though? This is the same thing I was getting at in my previous response, which may or may not have been clear, so I apologize if I'm repeating myself. But the same drug could be used for different purposes. For instance, I have a friend who's participating in a study to help him quit smoking. He's given a daily dose of a common blood pressure medication which was found to have the unexpected side effect of reducing nicotine cravings. Now, I could be wrong, but I believe that's called "drug therapy," not "treatment," because it's not treating a specific medical condition. If, however, I were prescribed that same drug to help my hypertension, that might be called "treatment." If I continued taking that medication after my blood pressure dropped to a healthy level, as a preventative measure, that would then be called "therapy." Since treatment (according to my BS theory) aims to help the body surmount an obstacle, it may require sizable doses of medication, which are best worked up to gradually. Since therapy (maybe?) aims to treat symptoms or prevent recurrence of illness, the doses are lower, and a full dose can be safely administered immediately to most adults, though it may have to be tweaked to obtain the desired results (in 12.5 to 25 mg increments). That's just a thought; Brewfangrb's response also makes sense to me. --Fullobeans (talk) 07:54, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the input. Yes, but ... let's not forget the context here. These are 3 statements / sentences that are printed one right after another on a drug company's prescription information pamphlet for a patient. It would be assumed that the patient is taking this drug for one condition ... not that the patient is taking this drug as treatment for one condition and the same exact drug as therapy for another condition. Right? (Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 15:19, 16 March 2009 (UTC))
Not necessarily. I doubt the company prints up two different brochures, one for therapeutic applications and one for treatment applications, especially since the difference between the two approaches can be summarized (though confusingly) in three sentences. The pharmaceutical company has no way of knowing what your specific condition is or how much of their medication you've been prescribed, but they do know that it's probably been prescribed to you according to one of two methods: the "treatment" method, which typically involves increasing doses, or the "therapy" method, which typically involves a steady dose. They can't really say much more than that on this topic, since the quantities and methods by which their drug is administered is at your doctor's discretion, not theirs. It's important for them to note that the difference exists, though, so you don't freak out about how you're on a huge dose while your sister's on a tiny dose, or how a tiny dose worked for her but you're inexplicably getting more and more of this stuff pumped into your system, etc. Or, according to Brewfangrb's theory, it's important for them to inform you that you're probably on a gradually increasing dose, so you shouldn't freak out if you don't see results right away. Either way, the therapy/treatment statement is probably intended to reduce the number of calls to the customer service department.--Fullobeans (talk) 21:02, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

Interrobangs and Spanish[edit]

In Spanish, do they use inverted interrobangs at the beginning of an exclaimed question? Yakeyglee (talk) 21:20, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

I'm not aware of that use, in spite of what this article mantains. The mentioned article even speaks of the gnaborretni.
In Spanish, it is customary (both in formal and informal backgrounds) to punctuate exclaimed questions with a combination of marks, such as in:
  • ¿Cómo has podido hacer eso! (simple)
  • ¿¡Qué estás haciendo!? (double)

Pallida  Mors 22:03, 15 March 2009 (UTC)


How do you say "I love Istanbul" in Turkish? (talk) 21:25, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Category:Wikipedians by language has a link to Category:User tr. -- Wavelength (talk) 06:11, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
İstanbul seviyorum. Pronounced "Ee-stan-bool say-vee-yo-room" (someone else can put it in IPA). I share the sentiment --Xuxl (talk) 21:20, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
My best effort: /isˈtanbuɫ sevijoɾum/ (talk) 00:23, 18 March 2009 (UTC)