Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2012 December 20

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December 20[edit]


How would you translate this the Finnish word "Riistomaasiirtäjä" into English. (fwiw, it's the title of a song from Alamaailman Vasarat's album Valta). ---Sluzzelin talk 04:03, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

According to several internet sources, including this blog, it means "“Hammers of the Underworld”. Hopefully, one of our Finnish-speaking editors will confirm this. Sorry, that's the name of the band. Alansplodge (talk) 13:10, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
I've amended my ambiguous wording. ---Sluzzelin talk 13:50, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks but it was more a case of me not reading the sources properly. Anyhow, User:JIP is Finnish and a regular editor here; if nobody posts an answer soon, you could try copying your question onto his talk page. Alansplodge (talk) 16:21, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Looks like "Christmas bearer" at google trans. μηδείς (talk) 18:33, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
That's a hilariously novel translation, and I'd be interested to hear how Google got to 'Christmas' from 'riistomaa' (which I read as "colony"). I have my own non-native-speaker interpretation of the entire word but I'll wait to see if JIP responds first before opining. Regards, Orange Suede Sofa (talk) 21:04, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
I only got that after segmenting the word, and GT will give bad translations if a nonsense word matches various hits in searches according to whatever their algorithm is. I also got translations with colony as a part, but none of them were full translations. It is the Finns' fault for having so many suffixes. μηδείς (talk) 22:17, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
One native speaker here. Riistomaasiirtäjä is probably a pun on siirtomaariistäjä = "colony exploiter", which becomes the former by swapping the places of the R's and S's. Thus, riistomaasiirtäjä is a made-up word with no easy translation at all. As a (non-sense) compound, it consists of riisto = exploitation; maa = land and siirtäjä = mover, someone or something that moves / transfers / etc.. Hope this helps :) --hydrox (talk) 03:55, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
Thank you so much, hydrox! I didn't expect an anagram at all. Though I did happen to see that "siirto" is featured as an anagram of "riisto" while unsuccessfully trying to fit things together at wiktionary and other online dictionaries. Your explanation was more than helpful. ---Sluzzelin talk 07:20, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
Nice to hear it was helpful. But I just realized there's a further (second) pun in the word. To combine maa and siirtää is used in maansiirtokone, a (technical) term for earthmover. In this light, the word maybe evokes an image of an excavator that is specifically designed to excavate exploited land.. perhaps an "exploicavator"? --hydrox (talk) 08:03, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

China–North Korea border[edit]

How do you say China–North Korea border in Mandarin Chinese? I want to start a stub on this topic on the Chinese Wikipedia Thanks WhisperToMe (talk) 17:36, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

I think if you have to ask that question, you should not be creating stubs in that language. My Chinese is just good enough that I think I know the answer to your question. However, I would not dare to author an article in the Chinese Wikipedia, and I don't think that you should either. Marco polo (talk) 20:18, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
I created a few stubs for topics on Arabic Wikipedia that I thought it was rather pathetic there was no article for (such as "Flag of Syria"), but more in the spirit of adventure than anything. Most of them are now vastly expanded beyond where I was able to leave them, which is of course what should happen. I stopped partly because the exoticism wore off, and partly because I realized that there was murky politics on the Arabic Wikipedia which my language skills were incompetent to understand... AnonMoos (talk) 21:19, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Marco polo, I already have authored articles in the Chinese Wikipedia (see zh:Special:Contributions/WhisperToMe). Several (such as those for Andrew Lih and Vienna Hotels) have even survived AFD there WhisperToMe (talk) 21:21, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Not sure that's a very high standard to aim at (all my stubs for Arabic Wikipedia have survived, as far as I know, though one image I uploaded before there was an article to put it in got deleted...). I never tried to write anything that I would have had to ask other people to translate (though one frustration was that I could never find an Arabic equivalent for "Naval jack" in any dictionary). -- AnonMoos (talk) 22:39, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
The remaining ones never went to AFD; they survived too. Anyway, I am just trying to make a stub, not a featured article. All I need to know for now is the name (or I could just see if the Chinese Wikipedia has an article on an equivalent topic and try to plug in "China" and "North Korea") WhisperToMe (talk) 00:20, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
The U.S. Mexico border on ZH is at 美墨边境 (first is US, second is Mexico) so I'm assuming 中朝边境 (first is China, second is Korea) would be the term. Am I right? WhisperToMe (talk) 00:22, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that is the usual term used in China. The corresponding term used in Chinese by North Korea is 朝中边境: the general rule is to put one's own side (or friendly side) first in such compounds. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 01:49, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
I should add that 边境 means the "border territory" or "border lands", so is appropriate in the context of "I took a trip to visit the Sino-(North) Korean border". By contrast, if you are talking about the abstract border line, the term is 边界. So "Sino-(North) Korean border dispute" would be "中朝边界纠纷". --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 01:52, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
The stub has been started at zh:中朝边境 - I studied the US-Mexico one to get the ways of correctly saying things WhisperToMe (talk) 02:53, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
Anyway, all of you, thank you for your help :) WhisperToMe (talk) 04:14, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

Other Chinese users have expanded the article. It happened in the manner AnonMoos described. One user gave me a barnstar for starting the article; I think the userbase appreciated having somebody an article on such a crucial subject. WhisperToMe (talk) 07:19, 24 December 2012 (UTC)


In Australia national cricket team, someone just changed a team's position in a tournament from "Second Place" to "Runners-Up". I have no great issue with the change. Both term are common enough in my experience, and the meaning is clear. The change is also consistent with the rest of the table. But it got me thinking. Where did the term "Runners-Up" come from? When looked at beyond its common usage, it seems a pretty weird construction. (And does Wikipedia have a general policy on the use of "Runners-Up" vs "Second Place"?) HiLo48 (talk) 17:54, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Presumably someone who "runs up" when the winner is already at the finish line. AnonMoos (talk) 17:59, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
  • It's the head noun that is pluralized here, not up which is a proposition. This is no different from attorneys general or princes in waiting. There may be a term for it which someone else can provide. μηδείς (talk) 18:30, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Post-positive preposition? Attorneys-general and princes in waiting feature post-positive adjectives. — Cheers, JackLee talk 08:01, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, I understand that, but how does "runners-up" come to mean second place? HiLo48 (talk) 20:15, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Great question, the phrase has always seemed transparent to me. But it's not, is it? μηδείς (talk) 23:46, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Nobody likes to be second best! Alansplodge (talk) 20:26, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Remember, second place is just the biggest loser! --Jayron32 23:14, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Sorry; a bit more helpfully; From the OED: "1890 A. R. STARR in Upland Shooting 471 The dog last running with the winner is called the runner up, because he ran through the races up to the last race without being defeated once." and Earliest reference is 1842. The origin of the word is from dog racing (coursing). It refers to the dog who takes the second prize, losing only the final course to the winner. Finally, 1842, originally in dog racing; see runner + up. General sense is from 1885. Alansplodge (talk) 20:31, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
It may be a subset of "also-rans". Maybe in general that's anyone other than a place-getter; but in a two-horse race like cricket, the runner-up, second-place-getter and sole also-ran are all the same team. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 04:35, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
The usage in the article I named, Australia national cricket team, is for when Australia participated in a multi-team tournament, like the World Cup, so it does mean second place out of more than two. HiLo48 (talk) 04:56, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

Don't let's go[edit]

Years ago I read Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight and I've always been curious about "don't let's go". Is that a Rhodesian/South African English thing? I seem to remember seeing that construction once before in some Commonwealth-originated text but a brief look through Google only points me back to the title of this book, and that sentence is not actually mentioned in the book itself as far as I can remember. Has anyone else ever heard (or better yet, used) this construction? Regards, Orange Suede Sofa (talk) 23:00, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Not sure about that. The American band They Might Be Giants have a song titled "Don't Let's Start", so there's some evidence that the "Don't let's..." construction is not peculiar to Southern African English. Noel Coward had a song titled "Don't Let's Be Beastly to the Germans", so it's a known construction in at least three varieties of English (American, British, and Southern African). --Jayron32 23:27, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Of course! Who could have believed for all the world that I had forgotten "Don't Let's Start"? Thanks— Orange Suede Sofa (talk) 03:15, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
  • "Let's not go (there, etc.)" is more common in Ameicran English. But there is no problem with or foreignness at all to the 4 million hitted "do not let us forget"... μηδείς (talk) 23:44, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Speaking of that, I also realized that the uncontracted forms have different connotations for me. "Do not let us go" feels more imperative than "let us not go", whereas the contracted forms seem much closer to each other. Regards, Orange Suede Sofa (talk) 03:15, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
"Do not let us go" is a perfectly ordinary sentence in the meanings "Do not allow us to leave" or "Do not relax your hold on us" (which would be contracted "Don't let us go")... AnonMoos (talk) 10:48, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
It's an equivalent of 'let's not', but mainly in British English [1]. I hear it occasionally and have probably used it myself once or twice. Mikenorton (talk) 23:47, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
And then there's the harder-to-justify-grammatically Let's Don't Call It a Night. Duoduoduo (talk) 16:09, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Ernest Hemingway uses that phrase several times in The Sun Also Rises, e.g. '“Don't let's go there,” Brett said. “I don't want staring at just now.”' SemanticMantis (talk) 21:35, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
The construction isn't used in my (northern) dialect of British English, and I recall finding it odd when I first read it in Hemingway. We would say "let's not go" for the equivalent meaning. Dbfirs 20:38, 22 December 2012 (UTC)