Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2012 January 22

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January 22[edit]

the 17th century equivalent of 'decor'[edit]

Decor is a 19th Century term; was there some equivalent that was current in English or French in the 1650s? Our interior design article is very heavy on US designers - I was hoping for something earlier, obviously: I suppose 'interior design' must be a very recent phrase - I wonder what term it replaced...

Thanks Adambrowne666 (talk) 00:16, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

Furnishings? Merriam-Webster says "furnishing" was first used in 1594. Dictionary.com gives a date of 1490-1500, from the late Middle English furnisshen. Clarityfiend (talk) 04:25, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
I thought of "furnishing(s)" too, but the OED does not support the suggestion. It gives the word "furnishing" in the sense of "decoration" from 1594 certainly (the word itself is dated from 1496) but its sole example before 1882 is (1594 R. Carew tr. Tasso Godfrey of Bulloigne iii. 118) "Those two, who thus in one conioyned goe, and parrell white, white haue their furnishing" - i.e. it means decoration but not of a room.
"Furniture" in its modern everyday sense, the OED dates from 1573, but of course this is only part of "decor". I haven't found a better answer. --ColinFine (talk) 21:00, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks; it's interesting - maybe, although Louis XIV et al insisted on such rich decor, they didn't have a word for it yet Adambrowne666 (talk) 21:07, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

-- just in case, I'm going to pose this one at Humanities, see if any historians can help. Adambrowne666 (talk) 05:31, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

Italian help[edit]

On http://www.guardiacostiera.it/ I'm trying to find something on the site which explicitly states that the Italian coast guard is responsible for investigating nautical accidents and incidents. Would anyone fluent in Italian mind helping me find such statements? Thank you WhisperToMe (talk) 07:19, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

Under "ORGANIZZAZIONE" it is said that one of the main activitie is: "Polizia marittima (cioè polizia tecnico-amministrativa marittima), comprendente la disciplina della navigazione marittima e la regolamentazione di eventi che si svolgono negli spazi marittimi soggetti alla sovranità nazionale, il controllo del traffico marittimo, la manovra delle navi e la sicurezza nei porti, le inchieste sui sinistri marittimi, il controllo del demanio marittimo, i collaudi e le ispezioni periodiche di depositi costieri e di altri impianti pericolosi."

In particular, "le inchieste sui sinistri marittimi" means investigations of nautical disasters. So yes, one of the main activities is to investigate sea accidents/incidents. --151.41.163.244 (talk) 14:00, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

Thank you very much :) WhisperToMe (talk) 23:24, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

Pwned vs. Iwned[edit]

I read that "Pwned" was made popular by misspelling with a key next to "o." Turns out, "i," "k," and "l" is also next to "o." Therefore, why hasn't "iwned," "kwned," and "lwned" gained currency as opposed to "pwned?" Thanks. --70.179.174.101 (talk) 09:18, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

I can't see how this question could be answered factually, but it seems obvious to me that, firstly and most importantly, "pwned" is funny and the others are not. And that is probably because "P" is next to "O" both on the keyboard and in the alphabet, and it looks like "O" while the others do not. Adam Bishop (talk) 10:53, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
Personally I find that typos with my right hand tend to be the letter to the right of the intended letter (therefore, 'o'>'p'). Conversely, typos with my left hand tend to be to the left (e.g. 'e'>'w'). This is only my experience, but if others are the same then this may explain at least part of it. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 19:24, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
Again, we have an article on Pwn, including a section on the Etymology. It suggests a few other possible reasons for it than it just being the preferred typo. --jjron (talk) 03:55, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
Regarding Adam Bishop's point, Inherently funny word says that K and P are both inherently funny. But as mentioned P is more obviously close to O; kwned would be harder to comprehend. --Colapeninsula (talk) 10:51, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
I think that's meant to be inherently funny at the end of a word. Maybe it would be funnier if it was Denwp? IBE (talk) 11:39, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
I think it looks funny because it looks like Welsh ;) KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 12:21, 23 January 2012 (UTC)

Spelling of Ngũgĩ from Gikuyu[edit]

In reference to a discussion here, I'm curious if anyone familiar with Gikuyu or Kenya, can help us identify if converting instances of "Ngugi" to "Ngũgĩ" would be correct, or if the accent marks are only added in certain instances (when wa follows it?). Essentially while we know the correct spelling of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, would those rules apply more broadly? Any help is appreciated. Shadowjams (talk) 19:44, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

The alphabet of Gikuyu does feature the letters <ũ> and <ĩ>. The corresponding Gikuyu Wikipedia article has the same title exactly: ki:Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. There is a little information regarding the name at the #Biography section too. I'd guess that "Ngugi" could be a simplified Anglicised or Swahilicised spelling of the name. As far as the "wa" is concerned: at least in Swahili, a fellow member of the Bantu language group, "wa" is (one of the forms of) a connector somewhat corresponding to the English possessive "of"; I'd think that it could be the same in Gikuyu, and that it should thus be irrelevant for the diacritics of "Ngũgĩ". That's what I can tell, from the best of my knowledge. --Theurgist (talk) 21:45, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
I just found out that Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o has a son called Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ. Judging from their names, it gets even more plausible that the "wa" should be the same genitive particle that it is in Swahili: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o = "Thiong'o's [son] Ngũgĩ" and Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ = "Ngũgĩ's [son] Mũkoma". But please be aware that even though this makes perfect sense (at least to me), it is still some original research of mine. --Theurgist (talk) 10:08, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
Patronymic prefixes also occur in other Bantu languages. In Zulu it is "ka", e.g. Shaka kaSenzangakhona. Roger (talk) 23:08, 28 January 2012 (UTC)