Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2011 October 17

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October 17[edit]


I am in the process of writing a short story featuring a character known as "The Pè". However, I do not want to spell the character's name with an accent, as this is unusual in English. I also want to avoid spelling it "Peh", as this could conceivably be pronounced "pay". What other combinations of letters, if any, would lead to the same pronunciation as "Pè"?-- (talk) 00:39, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

If you mean [pɛ], then [ɛ] is what some 20th-century structural linguists called a "checked" vowel (i.e. which does not occur in absolute word-final position in ordinary English vocabulary, according to the rules of English-language phonotactics). All the traditional short vowels -- [æ], [ɛ], [ɪ], [ɒ], [ʌ], [ʊ] -- are checked. When it does occur in a few interjections, English spelling has to resort to clumsy expedients ("yeah", "meh" etc.) AnonMoos (talk) 01:41, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

I had a Hong Kong friend called 'Pei', but she pronounced it as 'poi' (because she was Cantonese). I'd go with using the accent, as it may look strange to English eyes, but at least the name will stand out. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 06:36, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Why The Pè? Names don't usually take the definite article in English. Angr (talk) 06:48, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
It's really more of a title than a name.-- (talk) 10:10, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Is it supposed to be a short wowel, like AnonMoos guesses? A long vowel one like /pɛ:/? I guess even with a long vowel you'd have the same problem, that is, there might be no English ortography that suggests that. – b_jonas 20:39, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

"fall from grace"[edit]

Which one is the Tree of Life,[1] which one is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and what was Eve doing that she couldn't tell who was handing her the apple? (Michelangelo Fall from Grace 1508-1512) Dualus (talk) 03:03, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Is there a French/Latin term (that is somewhat used in an English-speaking context) that literally means a "fall from grace" or fall from one's prime? I thought that was what coup de grâce (and coup means stroke, I know) meant, but that refers to death, and that's not exactly what I'm going for. CL (T · C) — 01:16, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

The more or less literal translation of coup de grâce is "mercy blow"... AnonMoos (talk) 01:32, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm not aware of one. In French this would be something like déchoir de la grâce, but that's not used in English. And coup de grace is not at all similar to this expression. rʨanaɢ (talk) 01:49, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Darn. I always thought there was a term to denote something like a fall from grace, but I guess simply using "fall from grace" is sufficient! Thanks for the help, all. CL (T · C) — 02:37, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Well... there's Persona non grata, though it doesn't mean 'fall from grace' literally. -- Obsidin Soul 02:43, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Our article on divine grace pointed me to Galatians 5:4, which in the King James Version is Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. The same verse in Latin seems to be Evacuati estis a Christo, qui in lege justificamini : a gratia excidistis. I don't really remember my Latin conjugations well enough to be sure what form of what verb that is, but maybe something like excidere a gratia? --Trovatore (talk) 03:03, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
The word excidistis is the second person singular perfect "you have fallen away". μηδείς (talk) 03:17, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Nope, that would be excidisti. excidistis is 2nd person plural :). Pallida [[User

talk:Pallida_Mors| Mors]] 03:59, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

Oops, did I say that? Remembered reading excidisti. Thanks for catching it
"en disgrâce" Dualus (talk) 03:07, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

What specifically do you want to say? The fall of Adam, which in English is the prototypical fall from grace is <<la chute d'Adam>> in French. You could literally say <<la chute de la grâce>>, although that seems a literal and ambiguous translation that doesn't have any support I can find from actual French texts.

Ah, here it is! "Galates 5:4 parallel bible using OST and NIV. Read verse Vous êtes séparés de Christ, vous tous qui vous justifiez par la loi, vous êtes déchus de la grâce." μηδείς (talk) 03:20, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I also imagined the fall of Adam when thinking "fall from grace." I used Google Translate to see what it had to say for that term and it gave me la chute de la grâce, as was said above. An alternate translation was la chute en disgrâce (or would it be en la disgrace? I've never understood the intricacies of definite article usage of Romance languages fully). CL (T · C) — 04:03, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

I am not a native speaker of French or Latin. The verb choir is the expected development from the Latin cadere (to fall)) just as the French voir (to see) comes from the Latin videre. But in all my study of French I have never come across it. My intuition from Spanish is that caer en desgracia without the article is fine. But I am much more likely to trust the text, which in French uses the article. The problem arises if you want to use the noun phrase, la déchute de la grâce, rather than the participial phrase, être déchu de la grâce or your own la chute en disgrâce. I would either stick with the text or ask an educated native speaker. I am sure all three will be understood. But which option will feel natural or acceptable rather than archaic or forced I don't know. μηδείς (talk) 05:02, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
"Déchéance" (no need to spell out "grace") precisely translates "fall from grace". Itsmejudith (talk) 09:50, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Interesting, a doublet for decadence then. μηδείς (talk) 12:04, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
I would translate "To fall from grace" as "tomber en disgrâce" ou "déchoir" and "the fall from grace" as "la déchéance". Pleclown (talk) 12:12, 18 October 2011 (UTC) btw, la déchute is not a french word :)
Détournement? Bus stop (talk) 12:45, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

Japanese reading question[edit]

There is a character from Oishinbo called...

  • 花見小路辰之丈

How is the whole name read? I think I got the last name, but can't make out the first Thanks WhisperToMe (talk) 02:34, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Hanamikōji Tatsunojō. Oda Mari (talk) 06:05, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Thank you :) WhisperToMe (talk) 13:01, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

to wear off on sb.[edit]

is there actually such a phrase? the thing is, I needed to express the idea that a habit wore off on some person (due to exposure to people who had the same habit). I tried to look up "to wear off on s.b." but in all dictionaries I looked in I found only "to wear off" in the sense of diminishing in effect or deteriorating mechanically. But I found "to rub off on s.b.", so, naturally, I thought that maybe I had confused "wear" and "rub", but I definitely remembered there being such a phrase and, in addition I've "wore%20off%20on%20him" found numerous instances where "to wear off on sb" is used by native speakers in what seems exactly that sense. So, is there actually such a phrase with the meaning as above (and is it correct usage)? Уга-уга12 (talk) 12:53, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Without knowing what "sb" means, as a native British English speaker, I can confirm that we use the phrase "worn off on" in informal usage, and usually in the past tense. However, we use it in the sense that we used to like something but we don't now. The analogy is regarding a shine which has worn off and dulled due to over-polishing or age. The phrase you're looking for is indeed "to rub off". --TammyMoet (talk) 13:44, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
As a native speaker of American English, I can confirm that TammyMoet's comments are equally valid for American English. (By "sb", the OP means somebody.) Marco polo (talk) 14:33, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

I am used to hearing "rubbed off on somebody" not "wore off".μηδείς (talk) 18:30, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

I'm a native British English speaker who recognises "worn off" ("The excitement has worn off"), "gone off" ("I've gone off avocados") and "rubbed off on" ("His cynicism has rubbed off on me"), but does not ever recall having encountered "worn off on". --ColinFine (talk) 23:52, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, sounds like a mixed metaphor. Definitions for "rub off on" in the sense of influence abound on the interweb.μηδείς (talk) 02:27, 18 October 2011 (UTC)


language is the only form of communication . how far do you agree ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by HuEy YiN (talkcontribs) 12:57, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Welcome to Wikipedia. Your question appears to be a homework question. I apologize if this is a misinterpretation, but it is our policy here not to do people's homework for them, but to merely aid them in doing it themselves. Letting someone else do your homework does not help you learn nearly as much as doing it yourself. Please attempt to solve the problem or answer the question yourself first. If you need help with a specific part of your homework, feel free to tell us where you are stuck and ask for help. If you need help grasping the concept of a problem, by all means let us know. --Jayron32 12:59, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
And even if it is not a homework question, we do not here agree or disagree with your statements, that would be a debate. we are here to give references to people who need it. --Lgriot (talk)
Thumbs down red.svgBaseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:15, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

These homework/test/exam questions are silly. They ask if you agree, so you tell them 'no', and get marked down. Seriously. They ask for an opinion, so you tell them your opinion, and you lose marks for doing exactly as the question asked. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 22:35, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

KageTora: always read the question carefully! It's not asking whether you agree or not, but how much. Working worker ant (talk) 23:58, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Fair enough. So you tell them how far you agree, then get marked down for a difference of opinion, even thought the question clearly asks how far you agree. Silly. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 01:38, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
You seem to be complaining about the marking scheme of some school or whatever rather then the question. From my experience any question where you are asked your opinion they don't mark you down because you didn't agree with their opinion, they don't care provided you are able to justify your opinion with reason. To be clear, if you answered 'yes' or 'no', you likely would have received zero or only a tiny percentage of the mark even in a question which asked "Do you agree?" rather then "How far do you agree?" but not because you didn't agree with them but because as I said you need to justify your answer. A complete answer where you say 'yes' or where you say 'no' can usually earn full marks. Of course there are cases when you feel that your opinion is well supported by your answer but they do not, but that's life and not unique to such questions anyway. Nil Einne (talk) 04:46, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree as far as Cambridge. --Lgriot (talk) 08:23, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
The Ref Desk isn't about our (random people on the Internet) opinions. You can always check out the language and communication pages. The answer comes down to what you mean by both words. Body language, for example, communicates, but is it "language"? Etc. Pfly (talk) 15:21, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

Source of "Maunt" used for "Nun" in Gregory Maguire's Wicked[edit]

In Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (and its sequels), Gregory Maguire uses the term "maunt" in place of "nun" (and "mauntery" in place of "nunnery"). Is he borrowing the term from LFB or does it have a different origin? -- (talk) 13:58, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Just maybe; from the Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language by John Jamieson, Edinburgh 1818. "Mant, Maunt, v. n. (3) Denoting the indistinct mumbling of the Romish litany" Alansplodge (talk) 21:46, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
It's been a while, but I don't remember it from Baum's books either. I'm guessing it's Maguire's invention. Lesgles (talk) 18:14, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

Icelandic pronunciation question[edit]

Any Icelandic experts here? Is the pronunciation given at Keflavík correct? The chart at Icelandic orthography suggests it should be [ˈcʰɛplɑˌviːk] rather than [ˈkʰɛplɑˌviːk]. We even have a sound file of it here, but unfortunately I don't have speakers on my computer. Pais (talk) 16:05, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't have IPA font on my android. I had a friend from Keflavik, and she pronounced it as 'Kehh-pla-veek'. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 16:23, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
But definitely "keh" and not "kyeh"? The Icelandic orthography page implies k is always palatalized before e, but maybe this is an exception. Pais (talk) 16:36, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't have any expertise here, but I suspect that there is a typo in Icelandic orthography. The list of vowels before which /k/ is palatalized includes 'e' but not 'é', whereas I would think that palatalization would be much more likely before 'é' based on how that vowel is described in the same article. It would be good if someone who knows comes along, but a short /ɛ/ is not the sort of vowel that usually induces palatalization. Marco polo (talk) 17:49, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
It doesn't sound palatalized in the audio file. Angr (talk) 18:18, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

See the German interwiki article, de:Isländische Aussprache, and see also the IPA at de:Keflavík. I've been noticing, over the years of my browsing across various Wikipedias, that our German-speaking friends have particularly good content on topics concerning Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and insular Scandinavian languages. The table at the German article suggests ['cʰɛplaviːkʰ] or ['cʰɛʰplaviːkʰ], depending on whether the /p/ is pre-aspirated or not. The initial sound, whether palatal /cʰ/ or palatovelar /kʰ/, is surely aspirated, because in Icelandic, not unlike in Danish and Chinese, plosives are distinguished as aspirated and unaspirated and not as voiced and voiceless.

Here is how Bruno Kress describes Icelandic palatal consonants in his Isländische Grammatik (1982), p. 24.


Palatale Konsonanter

§ 33. k, g werden vor den palatalen Vokalen í, ý, i, y, e und den Diphthongen ei, ey und æ mit einem besonderen Laut gesprochen. Der Mundverschluß wird mit dem Zungenrücken gegen die höchste Stelle des Gaumens gebildet, weiter nach vorn als bei gewöhnlichem k und g. Dadurch erhält dieser k- und g-Laut einen j-haltigen Charakter, den man bei der Explosion des Lautes am deutlichsten hört. Man glaubt, ein gewöhnliches g + j zu hören. In Wirklichkeit aber sind diese isländischen Laute nicht zusammengesetzt. Umschreibung: [kj], [gj].

[kj] ist palatale aspirierte Tenuis, [gj] ist palatale stimmlose Media und stellt sich als vierte zu den anderen stimmlosen Medien [b], [d], [g].

Kína [kji:na] 'China'
kýmni [kjimnɪ] 'Humor'
kind [kjɪnd] 'Schaf'
kyrr [kjɪr:] 'ruhig'
keila [kjei:la] 'Kegel'
keyra [kjei:ra] 'treiben'
keðja [kjɛðja] 'Kette'
kæra [kjai:ra] 'klagen'

gína [gji:na] 'klaffen'
gýgur [gji:qʏr] [sic] 'Trollweib'
gildi [gjɪldɪ] 'Gültigkeit'
gyðja [gjɪðja] 'Göttin'
geisli [gjeislɪ] 'Strahl'
geyma [gjei:ma] 'aufbewahren'
gera [gjɛ:ra] 'machen'
gæra [gjai:ra] 'Schafsfell'

Anm. Vor anderen Vokalen findet sich ebenfalls palatales [kj] oder [gj]. Die Laute werden dann kj bzw. gj geschrieben.

kjáni [kjau:nɪ] 'Dummkopf'
kjósa [kjou:sa] 'wählen'

gjald [gjald] 'Gebühr'
gjöra [gjɔ̈:ra] 'machen'

§ 34. hj. [...] Anm. Nach der geltenden Rechtschreibung wird die Lautverbindung [xjɛ] mit hé- wiedergegeben statt mit hje-: hérað [xjɛ:rað] 'Bezirk' (veraltet: hjerað).

§ 35. ng. Die Verbindungen ngi, ngj enthalten palatales g [gj], vgl. § 33. [...]

§ 36. sj. [...]

In short, Kress describes the characteristics of Icelandic palatal consonants, and both the description and the adduced examples imply that k is indeed palatalised before e but not before é, and that's what the German Wikipedia article says, too. I suspect the reason could be that Icelandic orthographical rules may actually require *ké- to be spelt kje-, see the note at § 34.

Sorry for the too much German text. I will clarify anything if anyone requests it, even though I'm a native speaker of neither German nor English. --Theurgist (talk) 23:54, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Great new word[edit]

In preparation for a visit, I recently asked a German friend, "Is there anything you don't eat". Her response was, "No, there is nothing I disrelish."

Funny, that:

  • I know EXACTLY what she means;
  • I cannot think of a "proper" one-word replacement in English;
  • And I can't figure out what German word she might have been trying to translate!

Any suggestions? (Her word OUGHT to exist in English, don't you think?)

--DaHorsesMouth (talk) 19:43, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

"Disrelish" is a perfectly cromulent word, not something made up. It means "dislike". The Random House dictionary shows its origin around 1540. A replacement may be "loathe".
I've seen many instances of verbs prepended with "dis-" or "mis-" that aren't part of Standard English but which are nevertheless easily understood and obvious. George W Bush was known for "misunderestimate" for example (although the meaning of that when devoid of context isn't obvious). ~Amatulić (talk) 19:55, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Loathe is good; it's stronger than "mere dislike" to me. Perhaps my initial interpretation is misguided -- I've taken it to mean "things I seriously prefer to avoid", but not necessarily refuse to eat.
Do you think there is a perfectly good German word that she was attempting to translate from?
--DaHorsesMouth (talk) 20:04, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Eschew has a related meaning to disrelish. Bus stop (talk) 20:20, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't think there is a good German verb she was translating from. German doesn't even really have a word for dislike, at least not a common one. In everyday colloquial German you would just say "There's nothing I don't like" (Es gibt nichts, was ich nicht mag) or "There's nothing I don't enjoy eating" (Es gibt nichts, was ich nicht gern esse). I suspect your friend had learned the English word - perhaps relatively recently - and was enjoying trying it out. Angr (talk) 22:59, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

See productivity (linguistics). The meaning is evident from the roots, so making it up from scratch is acceptable. μηδείς (talk) 23:03, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

It's a nonce word... AnonMoos (talk) 00:33, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
The examples at nonce word imply surrealism. The construction is, however, transparent, and not bizarre. That implies that linguistic productivity and not nonce word or hapax legomena applies. μηδείς (talk) 03:26, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
To negate German verbs by ver- (translate dis-) is sometimes possible. Perhaps she thought schmecken -> taste -> distaste -> disrelish, or relish -> disrelish. --Pp.paul.4 (talk) 08:16, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
... or possibly she has read Shakespeare's "Othello", or Milton, or George Washington's letters, or Robert Louis Stephenson's famous novel "Kidnapped", in each of which the word can be found. Dbfirs 09:50, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Maybe it wasn't obscure enuf for Mrs Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words, because she doesn't list it. She does, however, have: discerptible, discubation, disembogue, disgregate, dislimn, disomus, dispope, dissentaneous, dissilient, distrain and others. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 10:02, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Off on a tangent a bit, but I've actually grown rather fond of irregardless. (Link included for them what speak proper and haven't never heard of it.)--Shirt58 (talk) 10:18, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
That word would mean "not without regard". Or do I overexaggerate? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:16, 19 October 2011 (UTC)