Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2010 August 16

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August 16[edit]

Fraudsters in American English?[edit]

I'm after a (formal) word that describes someone who commits fraud in American English (or in World English). According to Oxford Dictionaries, fraudster is used in British English. I looked at deceiver, impostor, masquerader and scammer (informal). Any ideas? Thanks  Davtra  (talk) 08:31, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

charlatan, swindler, con artist come to mind. Someone or something that is a fraud is a "humbug", though that doesn't sound terribly formal. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 08:41, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
What about defrauder? That's what I think is used for specific instances or allegations, e.g. at trial or in a newspaper report. For hypothetical example, "She struck back at her defrauder"; "He was a notorious defrauder of trusting women." However, the term might be used less without a specific victim or context; I don't think I've seen phrases like "She was a professional defrauder", or "Current law protects defrauders."
¶ Generally, the grammar of to defraud is to defraud [someone] of [something] or (passive voice) to be defrauded by [someone] [of something]. In other words the fraud is committed on someone (rather than something), who in the active voice becomes grammatically the direct object (accusative case) and not the indirect object (dative). What the victim is deprived of becomes the object of the preposition "of".—— Shakescene (talk) 09:13, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
How about grifter? It's a bit more specific than just any kind of fraud, though. Matt Deres (talk) 16:22, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
Fraudster is perfectly good American English and is the term that would be used in a formal context. John M Baker (talk) 17:38, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
Actually, I think "fraudster" is more of a journalistic jargon-word, rather than either a technical legal term, or a common ordinary everyday word... AnonMoos (talk) 18:19, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
Sounds like a variant on "gangster", with the assumption that a "fraudster" doesn't murder you, he just robs you blind. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:57, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
"Confidence man" is formal, and I believe "swindler" is also formally acceptable. Of course these are specific types of fraud -- an embezzler also commits fraud, but a different type. Looie496 (talk) 20:05, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
To me, fraudster is an acceptable word in American English, but it is not in a very formal register. Maybe semi-formal. You might see it in a tabloid newspaper or hear it in conversation, but I think not in one of the more prestigious newspapers. I agree that the formal term would be defrauder. Marco polo (talk) 01:30, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
Fraudster has moved into a more formal register in American English in the past decade. It is now seen frequently in legal opinions and in Securities and Exchange Commission statements. John M Baker (talk) 02:57, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

French uvular 'R'[edit]

When pronouncing the French uvular 'R' (ʁ in the IPA), is the uvula and back of throat supposed to vibrate audibly? (talk) 18:07, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

No. The tongue and the uvula are the articulators of this sound; the back of the throat has no active role. To be clear, to uvula comes forward (pointing towards outside your mouth) and rests on the tongue. As for the exact articulation, it depends on what you mean by [ʁ], which can symbolize either a uvular fricative (voiced or voiceless, I suppose) or a uvular approximant (which, unfortunately, is just a redirect to the fricative article, even though they are different sounds, but similar), which are both acceptable realization of the French <r>. Those aren't the only realization of French's <r> either; check out note 2 of the French phonology article for all the variations. I'd say the uvular approximant is the most common articulation, with the uvular trill with a good amount of popularity in the French classroom since it's part of the Parisian dialect. Have a look at those articles, and if you're still unsure of any certain articulation, feel free to ask.--el Aprel (facta-facienda) 03:36, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
The popular uvular fricative/approximant version is articulated as follows: the uvula rests on the tongue as a stream of air is expelled from the lungs. For the fricative, the tongue pushes the uvula close enough to the top of the mouth to block enough of the airstream to cause friction against the uvula, causing it to vibrate. The approximant variety is similar, except the vocal cords must be pulled together to cause vibration (voicing, you're doing it right if you put your hand on your voice box and feel vibrations), and while the tongue pushes the uvula to the top of the back of the mouth (velum), it's not pushing hard enough to cause much audible friction, differing from the fricative. I suppose both the voiced and voiceless fricative variants may be attested in French (though our articles are ambiguous on this), which would mean in the first articulation given, the vocal cords may be pulled together to vibrate or held apart to let the airstream pass through unagitated.--el Aprel (facta-facienda) 03:49, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Avatar Chinese characters meaning[edit]

What does the chinese characters above the title means in Avatar: The Last Airbender title card. --Tyw7  (☎ Contact me! • Contributions)   Changing the world one edit at a time! 21:53, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

I can't answer with the meaning - but I will give the four characters here for the convenience of the next person who can answer: 降世神通 --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 01:54, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
It essentially means "divine medium who has descended upon the [mortal] world", ie, "Avatar". (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 02:19, 17 August 2010 (UTC).
So this isn't a Japanese phrase? It doesn't really have a Chinese sort of syntax to it. Steewi (talk) 05:11, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

French meaning[edit]

I have an assignment with the instructions "Choisissez un des proverbes et illustrez-le a l'aide d'une histoire." My question is: Are they asking me to write a story about one of the proverbs, or do they mean to draw (illustrate) it? Thanks for help (talk) 22:14, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

I think you mean 'à l'aide'. Illustrez in this context would be like illustrate, definition 2. They are asking you to write a story. (talk) 22:46, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I meant "à l'aide", but on the computer I'm currently on doesn't provide easy access to charmap or the like. Thanks, though! Now I just need to come up with a story. (talk) 23:26, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
For your future future reference, 68.197, there's a fairly comprehensive set of accented letters below the edit box (where you originally typed your question) - choose 'Latin' from the dropdown menu (where 'insert' may be visible) and then highlight and click into your text as required. (talk) 16:56, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Come off it![edit]

when we say that, Come off what, exactly?--MasterOfTools (talk) 22:58, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

Haven't been able to find much other than that it's been used since the nineteenth century. Vimescarrot (talk) 01:37, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
That site locks you up for awhile, probably to generate popups or plant spyware or something. "Come off it" or "come off" might be short for "come off your 'high horse'." Ironically, "come on!" is often used much the same way. "Come off" is also used to mean "to present oneself", perhaps unwittingly, like "He comes off as an expert." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 04:44, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
Really? Does it affect anyone else like that? I never had problems with it... Vimescarrot (talk) 12:00, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
One of these days, I need to upgrade from my TRS-80. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:28, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
In Australia, the usual variant is "Come off the grass". I've never been quite sure what that referred to, but that doesn't stop me from saying it frequently. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 09:57, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
That variation suggests that someone has wandered off from the "straight and narrow", i.e. the sidewalk. In the broadest sense, "come off the grass" or "come off your high horse" would both mean "get back to reality", or "get real!" ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:07, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
Makes sense. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 21:34, 18 August 2010 (UTC)


This discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.


How can I say 'Fuck off' in Welsh please?--FarTraveller (talk) 23:06, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

Cachau bant! schyler (talk) 00:12, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Old saying[edit]

I heard this saying: 'Hell hath no fury like a woman spermed'. i thought they like it now and againn, so what it mean please?--FarTraveller (talk) 23:31, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

It's Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned schyler (talk) 00:05, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Sperm Whale[edit]

Should it not have been nemed a semen whale? I mean what color is sperm?--FarTraveller (talk) 23:34, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

See this schyler (talk) 00:02, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
See also Spermaceti, which says the substance was originally mistaken for the whale's sperm, which it ain't. And FYI, the terms "sperm" and "semen" both mean exactly the same thing, namely "seed". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 04:39, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
You want to know what colour sperm is? I'm tempted to say that if one were a wanker, one could easily engage in some original research. The question is, is one? -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 08:19, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
That was an odd question to ask, wasn't it? There is no limit to the number of light, yet current, jokes that could be made on that topic. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 09:40, 17 August 2010 (UTC)