Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2010 June 26

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June 26[edit]

classical lanquages[edit]

What are the classical lanquages in the world? how many are they? What is the criteria? thank you124.43.25.100 (talk) 03:40, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

Classical language should be helpful. Maybe also sacred language and literary language. Adam Bishop (talk) 04:20, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
Could I respectfully point out that 'criteria' is plural and 'criterion' is singular. Peace. Caesar's Daddy (talk) 06:44, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

Proverbial translation[edit]

I was trying to translate this proverbial statement into Japanese, but it has a more complex make-up than I'm used to working with (I'm barely learning the language), so I was wondering if someone can help. The statement is: "A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed, it feels an impulsion . . . this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons." Filosojia X Non(Philosophia X Known) 06:25, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

Well, see register (linguistics)--we need to know what register you're translating it into. Is it for a formal setting? A homework assignment? How will you be evaluated? The reason I ask is that if it's only for a homework assignment...or for an informal setting such as trying to speak in Japanese to your Japanese significant other's non-English speaking relatives...then I suggest breaking up the statements into short, easy to translate clauses.
Moreover, is the English word "that" implicit in the ellipsis above?--达伟 (talk) 21:44, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
[Note to Dawei, not to the OP]: To be perfectly honest, I don't think it's necessary in this case to know what the register is - it's implicit in the original English, as far as I'm concerned. Common sense would dictate that this kind of 'proverbial statement', as the OP calls it, would be used in a formal or semi-formal setting, and not, for example, when ordering a burger and fries at MacDonalds or having a friendly chat to your in-laws. Even if it were used in the latter case, it would still be said in the same way. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 17:53, 29 June 2010 (UTC)


How is Verdun pronounced in (American) English? Is it Ver-doon or Ver-duhn? Dismas|(talk) 17:17, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

-Dun, rhymes with "-sun." --- OtherDave (talk) 17:55, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks! Dismas|(talk) 01:44, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
French speakers (who never pronounce anything properly) would also not pronounce the final "n" but hint at it in a nasal sort of a way. A linguist might be able to tell you the correct name for this. Most people in the UK would make an attempt to imitate this with varying degrees of success. Alansplodge (talk) 16:41, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
In French it's [vɛʁdœ̃], but in most dialects /œ̃/ merged with /ɛ̃/. English /ʌ/ as in "sun" does not have the quality of either of these vowels, nor is it the closest approximation (/ɛŋ/ as in "strength" would do better). The OP asked for English pronunciation however, not French.—Emil J. 17:54, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
I would argue that American English rarely seems to use true /ʌ/ for stressed vowel positions and instead uses a mildly-tensed /ə/ central vowel. British English, or whatever dialects still use /ʌ/, would probably be wiser to use stressed /ə/ in this case, else sound like W Bush with his /ɑɪj.ræɛːk/ (Ay-raaak with extra-Texan) for Iraq. SamuelRiv (talk) 05:47, 3 July 2010 (UTC)

Chinese word Gui (歸)[edit]

Gui (歸) apparently has two distinct meanings: 1) Return 2) One article says this:

In Chinese, the word gui (return) means more than a reverse movement. It also implies a reconversion of allegiance and renewed pledge of obedience, specifically to those who had previously deviated from the norm, but then came back to comply. For example, the words guihua (return and absorb) and guishun (return and obey) were used to describe the incorporation of ethnic minorities or rebels by the authorities.

So it seems like a euphemism for 'submission'. Does anyone have access to a scholarly Chinese dictionary that explains the second meaning and provides sources? The one dictionary I have just says 'return'. I found this entry about Old Chinese on google books, but the description is very brief and didn't mention anything about the minorities. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 19:57, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

I don't have time to read thru the 文言文 here, but the Kangxi dictionary has an entry for gui...going from right to left, it's the 7th character entry on the page (it's the second character in the second row going from right to left) appears it lists the character in two forms folllowed by a definition but I don't have time to figure it out: --达伟 (talk) 21:48, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
That doesn't sound like a "distinct" meaning to me, just an extra connotation added to the basic meaning. I'm not sure if it has that connotation when used alone (as opposed to as part of compound words that carry that connotation...and not all of them do, for instance, in addition to your examples, Chinese people who study/work abroad and then come home are sometimes jokingly called 海归, which is homophonous with 海龟 "sea turtle). rʨanaɢ (talk) 01:31, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
For the sake of splitting hairs, perhaps, what the Ghostexorcist describes could probably be called different "senses" of the word in lexicography--they needn't be black-or-white absolute dichotomies, but are still potentially different uses of the word. Either way, the question is when is the "return to obedience" or "return to subimssion" connotation present, and when is there merely a concept for physical return (e.g. 海归)? To add to the debate, Ghostexorcist, you may or may not realize that gui also has another conotation, that of "belonging," for instance in the terms 归属/归属感. At the same time--I'm just speculating--it may be the case that the obedience/submission connotation is present NOT because of the gui itself, but only because of the addition of a new element as above (the 化 in 归化 or the 顺 in 归顺).--达伟 (talk) 09:24, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
The reason I asked is because I am writing a book review for a Chinese history forum newsletter. The book is about the Kaifeng Jews of China. The stone inscription erected by them in 1489 CE states: 進貢西洋布於宋, 帝曰: 歸我中夏,遵守祖風。The author of the book I am reviewing believes the Jews originally settled in Han China and were later driven out by the anti-foreign sentiment in the late Tang. They only returned when the second Song emperor invited foreign scholars to China. However, the vast majority of researchers (past and present) favor a Song Dynasty entry. (Yes, I know about the existence of Jews in Tang China; they are believed to be different from the Kaifeng variety.) Albert Dien of Stanford University said “gui in that context does not mean return, but rather to have come to one's proper place, as subservient to the state. The word was often used in seals given to various minority peoples on the borders meaning they were now loyal." --Ghostexorcist (talk) 23:48, 27 June 2010 (UTC)