Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2009 October 5

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Language desk
< October 4 << Sep | October | Nov >> October 6 >
Welcome to the Wikipedia Language Reference Desk Archives
The page you are currently viewing is an archive page. While you can leave answers for any questions shown below, please ask new questions on one of the current reference desk pages.

October 5[edit]

Help me with this report[edit]

Will someone help me with the sentence structure and mechanics of the following article? Thank you.

Being 6,592,800 square miles, Russia, located in North Eurasia, is the largest country in the world in terms of size; and it is the ninth largest country in the world by population, with 142 million people.
The capital of Russia is Moscow. Russia’s currency is in rubles: 1 Russian ruble = 0.033246 U.S. dollars and 1 U.S. dollar = 30.0788065 Russian rubles . This country has a humid continental climate. It only has two distinct seasons—summer and winter. In the middle of summer, there is only six hours of sunlight during the day. Russians eat foods such as vegetables, cheese, bread, fish, chocolate, berries, and poultry. They also eat crops such as rye, wheat, barley, and millet.
In Russia, many languages are spoken. Russian is the official language, but other languages are spoken such as Ukrainian and Tatar. Just like the many languages of Russia, there are many religions in Russia. The dominant religion of Russia is Russian Orthodoxy. However, Orthodox Christianity is the traditional and largest religion of Russia. Other traditional religions in Russia include Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. Russia shares borders with 14 countries: Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, and Mongolia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Tourist attractions is Russia include the Kremlin, Red Square, Gorky Park, and Moscow.

 Btilm  00:27, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

I would approximate the numbers. In written reports, unless there is a need for extreme precision, you may consider approximating numbers. American currency only goes to one hundredth of a dollar, or in extreme cases one thousandth (gas stations like to price things to the tenths of a cent). You wrote out the value to the millionth for currency. You probably want to stay away from using the "=" symbol in a written report. I would phrase it something like "one U.S. dollar is approximately thirty Russian roubles" (I believe rouble is spelled with an 'o', but check the article to see). You probably only need to go one direction, because if a reader is sufficiently motivated, they could find the inverse exchange rate. I would also work on making the sentences flow better. The capital of Russia has little to do with Russian currency, which in terms has almost nothing to do with seasons. If you organize a report well, that will go miles beyond having good grammatical mechanics. I would consider elaborating on the many good points that you make (for example: what does having two seasons mean for Russians?), looking at comma usage, semicolon usage, and conjunction usage. You may also want to go easy on the lists. Reading a list of fifteen countries (I know you said fourteen) is tedious, and may distract a reader from the report. I hope that I'm not being too nitpicky, and I hope this helps. Falconusp t c 04:42, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Concur with Falconus. No need for the dual currency calculation. If you can expand short sentences which currently sit together as non sequitors you can have separate paragraphs. Now for some real nitpicks. "This country has a humid..." > "The country has a humid...". "There is only six hours" > "There are only six hours'. "Just like the many languages of Russia" > "Just like the number of languages spoken in Russia". "Tourist attractions is Russia" > "Tourist attactions in Russia". Never ask a proofreader to look at your text, we are horrible beasts :D. -- Александр Дмитрий (Alexandr Dmitri) (talk) 05:08, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Hmm. I'd have written "Russia also has many religions", or if you want to relate it to languages, "Just as there are many languages in Russia, there are also many religions". -- JackofOz (talk) 07:12, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
That works for me too Jack. -- Александр Дмитрий (Alexandr Dmitri) (talk) 15:37, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
A factual query:
"In the middle of summer, there is only six hours of sunlight during the day."
Shouldn't that be ". . . in the middle of winter . . ."? (Also, it would be more grammatically correct to say either ". . . there are only six hours . . ." or (something like) ". . . there is only a six hour period . . .") (talk) 19:32, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Tiny copy-editor-like quibbles: (1) Russia isn't miles or square miles, so you might want to change the participle "Being" or other language slightly, for example, "With over 6.5 million square miles of land [if that's the land area], Russia..." or "Spread over 6.5 million square miles, Russia..." or "Having nearly 6.6 million miles of [land?] area, Russia...", (2) North Eurasia sounds like a definitely-bounded place, like South Dakota or North America; but since we talk about Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Eastern Europe and Western Europe, perhaps Northern Eurasia would fit better (counterexamples, however, are South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Southwest Asia; it's your judgement call.) —— Shakescene (talk) 06:45, 6 October 2009 (UTC)
largest in terms of size is a bit pleonastic. Since population can also be considered a kind of size (if I ask "How big is this town?" I expect to be told the population), replace size with area.
This country has a humid continental climate: Since This country is the topic of the whole article, avoid repeating it. The climate is continental and humid.
In the middle of [winter], there is only six hours of sunlight during the day: That varies greatly with latitude.
Russians eat foods .... They also eat crops: They eat both foods and crops? You don't say.
In Russia, many languages are spoken. Russian is the official language, but other languages are spoken such as Ukrainian and Tatar. Yeah, you just said many languages are spoken, so don't tell me again that other languages are spoken. Drop the first sentence entirely.
The dominant religion of Russia is Russian Orthodoxy. However, Orthodox Christianity is the traditional and largest religion of Russia. 'However' should announce a contrast, not a paraphrase. Again, drop the first sentence, and the 'However'.
Tourist attractions is Russia include the Kremlin, Red Square, Gorky Park, and Moscow. Aren't the Kremlin, Red Square and Gorky Park in Moscow?
If you use the full formal name Democratic People's Republic of Korea, you ought to use the full formal names of the other states mentioned. Make it North Korea.
Tamfang (talk) 06:47, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

Bbiblical book abbreviations in northern European languages[edit]

I have a bible verse given as "1 C_ss 5:21". At least, that's what I can make out. The language should be Norwegian or Danish. I just can't figure out what book that would be - I tried looking up the names of the books in those languages (and Swedish), but none of them seemed to fit. Any ideas? (talk) 03:24, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Maybe First Corinthians? If it's Norwegian or Danish, none of the books would start with C, so maybe in this particular citation they are using a Latin or Latinish title. Adam Bishop (talk) 04:13, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
¶ Chapter 5 of Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, unfortunately, has only 13 verses. It could refer to the First Book of Chronicles, although 1 Chron. 5:21 is a bit unpromising in the Authorised King James Version of 1611:

And they took away their cattle;of their camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand, and of men an hundred thousand.

But my completely-mistaken looking-up of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, chapter 5, 21st and last verse, yields much more promising a text:

That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

If you have the text you could try entering it in the search box, together with the hypothesised language, at Zondervan's "Bible Gateway" ( ) You could also try experimenting with just 5:21 as a search term in "Passage Lookup" to see what might conceivably match. —— Shakescene (talk) 04:39, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Unfortunately, I can't read the text - if it were in English I might be able to guess at it, but since I can't even really tell what language it is, I can't even do that. (talk) 05:11, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
And looking at it again, I think there are about nine words. The first looks like it's five letters and starts with H. The second and third might be "trafast som" and the last two might be "gio(umlaut)re det". (talk) 05:14, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
There are plenty of people here who know Nordic languages, but I'm not one of them. One of the things I suggested above, however, might work for you: Enter as much of the fragment as you can into the Search Box at the top of Bible Gateway, and then use the "Change" button to try different languages, which are listed alphabetically, and then by version (if more than one, as in English). The Search Box has many functions, but a principal one is for people looking up single words like "Faith" or short phrases such as "wages of sin" for the purposes of location and comparison; however this structure should also lend itself well to what you're trying to make out.—— Shakescene (talk) 05:23, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't mean to single you out - I was just adding more information. Just noting now that I've just finished running through that in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish and did not find anything. Thanks for the idea, though, I hadn't thought of that. Should have read your first message more carefully. (talk) 05:39, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Sorry that didn't work out; just an idea. (And no offense taken.) I guess we'll just have to wait for someone who is familiar with the relevant languages and literature for whatever period you're studying. Of course, the text could be a non-biblical text such as a code of laws. And just to complicate things, the text could come from the Apocrypha, which I just found out Bible Gateway won't search for unless you click the link at this line "Bibles containing Deuterocanonical books have been excluded (include)". This might not help with versions which never translated the Apocrypha. A more-difficult problem is that many common words are skipped in the search, and if the ones you can make out are common in the source language, the kind of search I suggested might not have worked anyway. But again, only a student or speaker of the language could really tell how common the word is. —— Shakescene (talk) 06:38, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

There's a clue in the first number, the "1". Presumably, you're looking for a book that has more than one "volume" in the canon. I can think of Kings and Samuel from the Old Testament. Chronicles does not. So, is "Kings" spelled with an initial C in any Nordic languages? Unsure about New Testament having books of more than one volume, but it may also be worth considering the various versions of the Apocrypha. For example, I'm fairly sure there's more than one volume of the book of Maccabees. But my bet is it's Kings. Or not a Biblical reference at all. In my edition, 1 Kings 5:21 is about Hiram of Tyre, rejoicing over a message from King Solomon, asking for cedar trees for the construction of the Temple of Solomon, the same trees that today make a key part of the [Flag of Lebanon]] (where Tyre once stood). A message of international cooperation and partnership that seems sadly more modern than the world we live in. --Dweller (talk) 06:35, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

¶ Not to quibble or carp, but almost all English versions of the Bible have two Books of Chronicles. 1 Chron 5:21 has the passage I cited above. 2 Chron 5 has only 14 verses. The Books with more than one volume in my 1973 New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha (Revised Standard Version) are (alphabetically by testament):

My Roman Catholic Jerusalem Bible and New American Bible do not differ in this respect, from the Protestant ones, except in incorporating the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books within the Old Testament. Some Orthodox churches, I understand, recognize a third and fourth book of Maccabees, but that's not relevant here. —— Shakescene (talk) 07:16, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

If the reference you've got is hand written or badly printed, it could be 1 Thess 5:21, which in the Authorised Version is "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." Sounds like it could be the one! --TammyMoet (talk) 07:46, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

<-- The second and third might be "trafast som" and the last two might be "gio(umlaut)re det".
It is probably "trofast som" (faithful like/as ...) and "gjøre det" (do it). Can you make out any more words? decltype (talk) 08:02, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

 Done This has to be it: 1 Tess 5:24: Han er trofast som har kalt eder; han skal og gjøre det.. decltype (talk) 08:08, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
  • 1st Thessalonians 5:24 in the Authorised Version reads: "Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it]." —— Shakescene (talk) 10:06, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
The subsidiary question is which language the original poster has it in. In modern usage the letterform is ø in Danish or Norwegian but ö in Swedish. However, maybe this is not in modern language. I don't know enough about any of the languages to really tell them apart. --Anonymous, 09:02 UTC, October 5, 2009.
I'm fairly certain that the "j" rules out Swedish (it should be "göra", at least in contemporary Swedish). Depending on the font, ø may be written something like ò. decltype (talk) 10:12, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Oh, and I see now that the "j" actually rules out Danish too ("Trofast er han, som kaldte eder, han skal også gøre det." So I think it has to be Norwegian. decltype (talk) 11:03, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't rule out Swedish in itself. "g[i/j]ör[e/a]" would have been acceptable spelling in 18th century (or earlier) Swedish, and the 1703 version was the standard in Sweden until the 1917 translation. But the 1703 version uses 'fullbordar', a different verb entirely: "Han är trofast, som eder kallat hafver; den det ock väl fullbordar.". --Pykk (talk) 21:16, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Excellent detective work, Decltype and TammyMoet. If I still made Ref Desk awards, this would be an excellent addition to the list. --Dweller (talk) 09:51, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Don't forget Shakescene, who suggested the Bible website. I just plugged the (correctly spelled) words into it. decltype (talk) 10:12, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
That's extremely gratifying to know. Some glitch is preventing me from getting anything from Bible Gateway searches at the moment, and the original enquirer had no luck, either, so it's nice to know it helped someone. Which language (or bible version) worked? —— Shakescene (talk) 10:19, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
I used this query[1] (a Norwegian 1930 translation). I noticed hit #4 was a match in that the passage also begins with a capital "H" and "1 Tessalonikerne" is plausibly shortened to "1 Tss". decltype (talk) 11:00, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Wow, you guys are all awesome! Thank you so much! Sorry I couldn't give more information, but I guess it served to make you more epic. (The quote, by the way, was from a photograph of a gravestone stone carved around 1900-ish). (talk) 13:34, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Also, btw, Scandinavian bibles were printed using the Schwabacher type until well into the 19th century. (or as they called it: svaback) It's a difficult font to read for those not accustomed, and as you can see: the capital 'T' and capital 'C' aren't unsimilar. --Pykk (talk) 21:21, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Non-biblical hypotheses[edit]

It just struck me that 1 C could stand for First Chapter (or Capitulo/Capitulum in Latin if I remember correctly) and ss could stand for sections (or their Latin equivalent). Or perhaps they're abbreviations for steps or ingredients in a prescription. —— Shakescene (talk) 07:32, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

IPA mouth shapes[edit]

I am a teacher of English at a high school in Japan. One of my students says he wants an IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) chart showing the individual mouth shapes for each letter. I've searched the Internet as well as I can, but have not found anything. Is there a site offering this information somewhere, or at the worst is there a book which contains it? Thank you for your help. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:27, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

That's a praiseworthy request. My simple answer is that I don't know the answer. However, you may be interested to note that Peter Ladefoged's introductory book Vowels and Consonants doesn't provide such diagrams despite showing (as well as describing) much else (notably, highly "explicit" photographs, sure to score a high "Ewww!" rating among schoolboys). Surely he considered showing such diagrams; I'd guess wildly that he concluded that there was a good reason for not providing them. And now, somebody who unlike me is a phonetician may like to give an informed answer. -- Hoary (talk) 05:02, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
One of my colleagues asked for more information on the descriptions of sounds, and we initially got a table with terms such as "dental fricative" which of course as complete neophites presented with technical 'jargon' made us laugh and search for some of the more seemingly obscure and complicated explanations. Later she came back with an illstration of a cross section of the head. The problem with showing mouth shapes (unless the photo actually does into the mouth) is that in some languages (in my case we are learning Moroccan Arabic) it does not take into account other factors: the position and movement of the tongue (d, emphatic d, t and emphatic t), and the airflow used to differentiate sounds, for example where the run-of-the-mill 's' gives the same facial expression as the emphatic 's' the face stays precisely the same, and I can't see a photo taking that into account. Finally, but not least, some vowels can be a combination of facial expressions (notably dipthongs), difficult to portray by still photographs. But that said, anecdotal evidence from a fellow Russian-speaker who was learning French: to eliminate as best as possible her accent, she was forced to look at herself in the mirror whilst forming sounds, so maybe there's more merit in it that I give justice. -- Александр Дмитрий (Alexandr Dmitri) (talk) 05:32, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

How to write IPA by hand.[edit]

Is there a resource (preferably online, although a book that is likely to be in the library of a small liberal arts college with a linguistics department but no grad school will do also) that gives the way people usually write the different not-in-the-English-alphabet IPA characters and symbols by hand? I've found a webpage [2] giving æ, ð, ə, ɪ, θ, and ŋ, but I'd like to know how others are usually written. I'm most interested in ː, ɑ, a, ɹ, ɚ, and ɝ. Also, is phi always written ϕ as opposed to φ? Thanks! Foxjwill (talk) 18:17, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

If you have a linguistics department, can't you ask one of the professors? rʨanaɢ talk/contribs 19:01, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
I think we have a page on IPA. Either that or one of the internal links should lave something like that. Intelligentsiumreview 20:16, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
American Pronunciation by John Samuel Kenyon (Ann Arbor, 1951) has a chart illustrating some handwritten IPA characters, but it's not complete either. It only gives the symbol used in that book. +Angr 22:22, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
you shouldn't worry about stroke order so much :P -- (talk) 08:23, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

Ordinary words suddenly become strange and unfamiliar?[edit]

Is there a term for that thing where an ordinary, familiar word suddenly (but temporarily) becomes strange and unfamiliar? Does it happen to everyone? — Matt Crypto 21:58, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Yes, there's a term, which I forgot - unfortunately. HOOTmag (talk) 22:00, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Semantic satiation. Karenjc 22:23, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
And see also jamais vu for the non-linguistic, more generic, equivalent. And, yes, it happens to everyone. Matt Deres (talk) 02:36, 6 October 2009 (UTC)
Is there a term for reference desk questions that are strangely familiar?--Shantavira|feed me 07:38, 6 October 2009 (UTC)
Is there a term for reference desk questions that are strangely familiar? Vranak (talk) 18:39, 6 October 2009 (UTC)
I did search, honest! — Matt Crypto 20:58, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

Looking for a language with the following two attributes:[edit]

  • A distinction between "I" and "Me".
  • A distinction between "I" (masculine) and "I" (feminine).

P.S. Explanation for my request: If the first pronoun in my question had been replaced by the third pronoun, it would have been very easy to find a lot of suitable languages (e.g. the Indo-European languages, most of the Afro-Asiatic languages, etc.). If the first pronoun in my question had been replaced by both the second pronoun and the third pronoun, it would still have been very easy to find many suitable languages (e.g. most of the Afro-Asiatic languages). If one had omitted the first condition (of distinguishing between "I" and "Me"), it would still have been very easy to find some suitable languages (e.g. the languages of South East Asia: Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, etc.).

HOOTmag (talk) 22:13, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Slovenian? Wrad (talk) 23:03, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
No, Slovenian has only one word for both "I" (masculine) and "I" (feminine): Jaz. HOOTmag (talk) 23:19, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
According to this site, "In the Akael dialect, gendered forms of the first-person pronouns are sometimes used when the speaker's sex is especially relevant," and "Reflexive pronouns are formed by taking the ordinary pronoun and prefixing suul- to them, thus:

suulo, to myself,

suulikii, to themselves, etc." The Akael dialect is, however, "the language spoken by the Thauliralau. The Thauliralau live in a world very different from our own, which my brother (Brian Henry) and I have been designing for some years." So if you include fictional languages created in the mid- nineties, yes. Some jerk on the Internet (talk) 23:46, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

As I've already mentioned, I'm looking for a language which also makes a distinction between "I" and "Me", whereas the author you've cited hasn't indicated whether the fictional language they describe really makes the distinction mentioned above. Anyways, as I've already pointed out in my P.S. remark (written in small letters), there are some - well-known - real (non-fictional) languages, which distinguish between "I" (masculine) and "I" (feminine), however they don't distinguish between "I" and "Me". HOOTmag (talk) 08:49, 6 October 2009 (UTC)
As for your second request, modern Japanese at least in daily conversation is a suitable example. Most Japanese men would address themselves as "boku", "ore", or occasionally "watashi" but Japanese women would never use the former two, and often pronounce the last one slightly differently - rendering it as "atashi" by dropping the W sound. Sorry, I'm at work right now and can't provide you with the actual kana for all of those as this workstation doesn't have JPN language support. (talk) 07:46, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
And I... obviously didn't read all of your fine print! doh. (talk) 07:50, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
So read it and realize that I've already referred to Japanese, which unfortunately doesn't fulfil my two requirements... HOOTmag (talk) 10:21, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
That's what the "doh" meant, Captain Charming - as in: sorry, my mistake. (talk) 00:56, 10 October 2009 (UTC)
doh, I... obviously didn't read your "doh". HOOTmag (talk) 18:28, 10 October 2009 (UTC)