Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2012 November 17

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November 17[edit]

in what language does dx stand for /ʒ/ (zh)[edit]

I've seen someone romanize Russian "тоже" as "todxe". What is the person's most likely first language? Asmrulz (talk) 00:00, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

As a pure guess, it could be Galician, which seems to have the spelling "x" for IPA [ʃ] and no standard spelling for IPA [ʒ]... AnonMoos (talk) 00:33, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
List of Latin-script digraphs says dx is used in the orthographies of some Zapotecan languages for a voiced postalveolar fricative /ʒ/. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 00:56, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Which begs the question: Why would a native speaker of a language indigenous to Central Mexico want to transcribe Modern Russian? My guess would be a speaker of a language that uses 'x' in its normal romanization to signify 'sh', then with the 'd' added before it, to signify 'zh' (and not English 'j' as may be expected) in a language that does not have this sound, such as Chinese. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 04:44, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

Thanks! Interesting... Asmrulz (talk) 02:47, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

I was about to say Albanian, but no: if I remember right, Albanian 'x'=/dz/ and 'xh'=/dʒ/. (I mention it in case someone else had the same mental itch.) —Tamfang (talk) 09:58, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
I was going to mention Albanian, too, but Albanian has 'zh' for /ʒ/. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 12:08, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
I once had an Albanian surnamed client. Upon seeing her page with the name Hoxhaj after she gave me her account number, asked "What can I do for you, Ms. Hodge Eye?" There was 5 seconds of silence, then she said, "Oh, yeah, you Albanian? We just pronounce it Hock's Hodge nowadays." μηδείς (talk) 17:17, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
There are many cases in which the BBC journalists, who have been sent to foreign countries to report on various developments there, pronounce the names wrong. 'Kim Jong Il' becomes /kimʒongil/ (instead of pronouncing it the way it's bloody written!), because, yeah, it's foreign, so it must sound like French. There have been times when you have two different journalists and a newsreader, with three different pronunciations of a foreign name. Certainly makes me feel like they are experts on the topic they are reporting on. Mind you, when they have other things to fill their lives with, I suppose it might be hard to concentrate on actual work. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 19:01, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
That's called hyperforeignism and it's certainly not limited to the Brits--although Kim Zhong Il is new to me. Coup de gras and "Tazh Mahal" are very common in the US. μηδείς (talk) 19:50, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Funny how people argue about how to correctly and authentically pronounce the Taj of Taj Mahal (see also Talk:Taj Mahal/Archive 4#Pronunciation), but almost 100% of anglophones get the Mahal wrong. And that included me till I went there and heard how the locals say it. However, /məˈhɑːl/ is so thoroughly embedded in our brains that nothing would ever shift it, and I would never even try. But it's sometimes well to be aware that while we're busy fighting the battle, the war has already been lost. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 20:18, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
I've occasionally offended people by pronouncing their name according to the spelling conventions of what appears to be the language of origin ... —Tamfang (talk) 09:50, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
Hehe, Ms. Hoxhaj wasn't offended, just momentarily confused. But I had another client, a Mrs. Kadlaczek from Buffalo, whom I addressed as "Mrs. Kad-la-check" according to Polish convention. She got very nasty, and with a very strong northern cities vowel shift, said (as if I should have known), "It's Cadillac! Ca-dil-lac!" (Her account was suspended for non-payment.) I also had a Mr. Lifshitz from Manhattan whom I naturally called "Mr. Liff-shits". (I think it comes from Leipzig.) He got very nasty as well, and insisted the name was "Lifts it". He had just called to complain how terrible our service was without offering any specific concrete complaint. I noted each of their accounts "DANGER!!! - CSR mispronounces own last name as...." μηδείς (talk) 18:28, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
My own family name gets frequently mispronounced. It's a rare name (only my family has it, due to a spelling mistake when we immigrated to England from Ireland in the 19th Century), but it's not difficult to pronounce - simply because it is pronounced as it is written. My maths teacher in school when I was 14 always called me 'Gavin' despite my repeated attempts to teach her how to read (I was happy to receive a week's suspension from school for asking her politely if she was dyslexic). My sister-in-law got called Mrs. Giovanni at a hospital when she went for a routine ultra-sound scan (she doesn't look Italian, and Giovanni is not a family name). When I am on the phone, I have to spell out my name every single time, then pronounce it again, and they still get it wrong. Still, it works in my favour, when I get unsolicited phone calls from [blah-dee-blah] company, asking to speak to Mr. Jivann or whatever, because I can, in all honesty, say they have the wrong number. When my poor Japanese ex-wife married me, she changed her name to mine, and she had a hell of a time getting people to properly pronounce her new name, because she worked for NTT and had to make phone calls to customers all the time. She said she sometimes spent about 50% of the phone call explaining the spelling and pronunciation of her name after she had introduced herself (Japanese has no 'v'). KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 02:06, 19 November 2012 (UTC)
The owners of these unintuitively-pronounced foreign names ought to be fully aware that every new person they come across is gonna get it wrong, and should cut service providers some slack. There's a politician down here called Annastacia Palaszczuk. You'd probably think the last syllable was like -shook or -chuck or something vaguely related to that. But NOOO. It's -shay. Palla-shay. You work it out, I can't. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 18:42, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
Hehe. I have blood relatives with a version of that name who don't go by, but do get called "Pile o' shit", LOL. μηδείς (talk) 00:27, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

Globally, 'zh' is not a super-common consonant. Languages exist that have 'j' but no 'zh', Italian being one example. One who is not natively familiar with such sounds might not readily know how to write them down, or might indeed mix them up. Unless you're used to Zapotecan orthographies, the <dx> spelling does imply that it might begin as a [d] in a way like the English 'j' [dʒ] does. Some orthographies assign the letter <x> for 'sh', and placing a <d> in front of what signifies 'sh' to signify 'j' makes good sense - for example German does exactly that. --Theurgist (talk) 04:38, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

This is exactly the reason I put forward Chinese, as in Mandarin, the sound 'sh' is signified by 'x' in pinyin (not exactly the same sound, but very much close to it). Putting 'd' before it could signify voicing (of course, this sound does not exist in Mandarin, so this would just be a pinyin version of languages which have the sound). KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 12:39, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
When I tried to read "dxi" by combining the usual pinyin "d" and "x" I get something like the pinyin "zi", like an elongation of the "ds" in "hands". I don't think "x" is close enough to "sh" to get "dg" out of "dx". --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 17:18, 19 November 2012 (UTC)
What I thought of was Esperanto, where digraphs ending in 'x' are common (particularly online) alternatives for accented letters. However, in this convention /ʒ/ is written 'jx', not 'dx'. --ColinFine (talk) 17:57, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

You might check out Informal romanizations of Russian, often used in texting. For ж it doesn't list dx (and I've never seen that either), but it does list zh, g, *, j, and }I{. Lesgles (talk) 20:18, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

Etymology of Karkadeh or Hibiscus sabdariffa[edit]

1) What is the etymology of the Arabic word "karkadeh" (كركديه)?
2) What is the etymology of the Ancient Greek word "hibiskos" (ἱβίσκος)?
3) What does "sabdariffa" mean or where did it come from? I've found out an interesting thing that this word exists nearly only in the botanical name of this species. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Любослов Езыкин (talkcontribs) 02:21, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

Like many plant names in Greek, hibiscus will undoubtedly come from a Pre-Greek substrate language. μηδείς (talk) 03:44, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
I haven't been able to find crap available on line, but this link citing Beekes' Etymological Dictionary notes -σκ- as a typical pre-Greek sequence. μηδείς (talk) 04:33, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Then you haven't been looking very hard. There's lots of crap available online. :) -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 04:49, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Geez-a-loo, even Jack's jokes are surly. Snow (talk) 07:33, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
You must have missed the twinkle in my eye and the smile on my face as I typed it. Fixed. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 07:50, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Was obvious to me. μηδείς (talk) 17:23, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
My comment was also intended to come across as good-natured rather than genuinely critical. Guess I should have included a smilie or exclamation point too! ;) Snow (talk) 05:34, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
All cool now. Thanks. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 06:55, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
All I can gather from here and here is that it comes from karkade or carcade (کرکدی) which is the name of the plant. --Omidinist (talk) 07:40, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
According to Liddell-Scott, "hibiscus" is from Latin (it is "althaia" in Greek). But neither Liddell-Scott nor Lewis-Short have any etymological info on it. Adam Bishop (talk) 13:30, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Even then that won't be from PIE, and Althaia doesn't sound PIE either.
This text gives a reference for "sabdariffa" dating back to 1811: however I can't see an etymology there. I have to say thank you for introducing me to a very interesting plant though! --TammyMoet (talk) 17:22, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
For ibiskos, both Chantraine and Frisk give a probable derivation from Latin, and the Latin from Celtic. Frisk cites Walde-Hofmann (the earlier Latin etymological dictionary) which speculates that Virgil may have included the word as a Gallicism used in the Po Valley region. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 20:31, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Can you cite the posited forms, and does either actually derive the Celtic word from a PIE root? μηδείς (talk) 21:19, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Frisk and Chantraine give no Celtic forms. Walde-Hoffman speaks of -isco- as a Celtic conglutinate of suffices, and refers to Johann Zwicker's dissertation, "De vocabulis et rebus Gallicis sive transpadanis apud Vergilium" (1905). For the Zwicker at Google Books, all I can see is the first line of the entry for "hibiscus", p. 38, which says that it seems to be a word from Gallia Transpadana. My library does not have the Zwicker, and I don't think I'll do an inter-library loan for it. I would think German works from 1905 would be in the public domain, so it's too bad that Google Books does not offer the full view of their scans. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 22:46, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. Yes, -isk- is obviously a common PIE suffix found in Germanic, Latin and Greek as well. But what then is the root? If there were one, even a speculated root, a search for it would certainly come up on the internet. But that doesn't seem to be the case. μηδείς (talk) 00:42, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
This may be a totally worthless observation but I'll make it anyway. Ивисcкий/-aя/-oe (Ivissky/-aya/-oye) is the Russian adjective denoting things pertaining to the Spanish island of Ibiza, which is in the Mediterranean and had plenty of Greek and Phoenician contact. See this for an example of the use of the word. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 06:55, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
It points out that the -isk- suffix is alive and well in Slavic. That Ibiza article says the name of the isle comes from Phoenician Ibosim. μηδείς (talk) 20:21, 18 November 2012 (UTC)


Is there any user currently here or on Wikipedia that can understand Hawaiian? If not is there a way to check the activeness of users on the Hawaiian Wiikipedia to see if there is a user that can help me translate this:

"‘O Samuel Kipi kekahi kanaka a‘u e imi ana i kēia manawa. Ua kapa ‘ia aku i ka puke ‘o Dismembering Lāhui ,‘o S. Kipi ka luna maka‘āinana wale nō, akā, he kia‘āina nō ho‘i ‘o ia no Waimea, Hawai‘i a he kanaka na‘auao nō. Hala ihola ‘o ia i ka makahiki 1879 ua kanalima kūmākolu makahiki ona."?

The simpelest way would be to go to here and ask one of the people in one of the higher categories directly. -- (talk) 09:14, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

There is reason to believe that the three in Category:User haw-N do not speak Hawaian at all (one is the template, the second collects templates and the third has 12 mother tongues). --Pp.paul.4 (talk) 13:50, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
In any case, the purpose of those "Babelbox" categories is actually to say "If you have a question for me, you can ask it in language X", not necessarily "I am willing to answer questions about language X"... AnonMoos (talk) 14:31, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

How about my last question? How do I check the activeness of users on the Hawaiian Wiikipedia?--KAVEBEAR (talk) 18:32, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

The list of recent changes to that wiki is available at haw:Special:RecentChanges. You can customize the list so it shows more edits made over the course of more days, but even then you'll see that the activeness is very low, and consists mainly of minor edits made by bots and by users having no particular involvement with Hawaii or the Hawaiian Wikipedia. --Theurgist (talk) 05:04, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
Here is the list of active human users; it seems that none of them speak Hawaiian. This often happens with the smaller Wikipedias, unfortunately. Lesgles (talk) 19:50, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

Pronouncing Heyde[edit]

Can anyone out there (preferably someone called Heyde) tell me how the name "Heyde" is properly pronounced? Thanks — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:58, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

Different people with the name "Heyde" might pronounce the name differently, depending on (among other things) which language they speak. Is there any particular person named "Heyde" you're thinking about? If not, then which language are we talking about? German, Dutch, English? Gabbe (talk) 12:49, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
The surname is pronounced German pronunciation: [ˈhaɪdə]. Matches except for the ending About this sound Jörg Haider . --Pp.paul.4 (talk) 13:39, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for getting back - am looking for it as an American or Brit would prounounce it, thanks!

Help translating a page[edit]

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I'm currently translating this stub from the Japanese Wikipedia. My draft is here. Can someone translate for me the biography section? (including reference templates) Google Translate is very ineffective. Narutolovehinata5 tccsdnew 12:07, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

I'll do it, but I won't have time until Thursday. Send me a message on Wednesday to remind me. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 05:33, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
It's only one paragraph, so translating it will be quick. Thanks. Narutolovehinata5 tccsdnew 06:36, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
I've just done it for you. Best — Mr. Stradivarius (have a chat) 14:06, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

Pronouncing "death" as [dæθ] by Americans.[edit]

Is it just me who doesn't hear well? i.e. the British /e/ is usually pronounced [ɛ] my many Americans, so maybe I hear them say [dæθ] although they intend to say [dɛθ]? or they really say [dæθ]? I couldn't decide. HOOTmag (talk) 16:20, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

Americans from where? There's a huge variation in vowels regionally. My dialect has two distinct /æ/ vowels and neither is found in death. It is certainly not a national characteristic. You'll need to give a region or name a person. μηδείς (talk) 17:09, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
I've heard this many times, mainly in the media, but unfortunately I can't remember where. Btw, what do you mean by "two distinct /æ/ vowels" in your dialect? Could you add more details please? I know that Californians tend to pronounce it as a diphthong, while most of the other American dialects tend to pronounce it as a monophthong. HOOTmag (talk) 17:55, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
See Æ-tensing, although I strongly disagree with the specific analysis given there. (You will hear a diphthong for the tensed /æ/ in certain speakers, and raising in some, but /eə/ is far from the most common realization in speakers who have this split.) In my speech the tense vowels of mad, bad, and glad do not rhyme with the lax vowel of sad (or lax or "that" or "matter" for that matter). I distinguish the lax "I can cook" from the tense "I can vegetables" and the lax "I have the amount" form the tense "I halve the amount." The lax pronunciation matches that heard in RP. The tense is almost as different from the lax in quality as ''seat is from sit or gate from get. (I haven't been able to find an example on you tube, or a sound file, unfortunately.) BTW, where are you from, Hoot? μηδείς (talk) 19:29, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
This pronunciation is not out the realm of possibility. I may have heard it in East Texas. It must be accompanied by a sharp twang with a quickly falling intonation. (talk) 21:19, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
I (native speaker of American English who has been to most of the 50 states and lived on both coasts and in between) may have heard that pronunciation once or twice, but it is idiosyncratic in most places and not widespread. The one region where I might not be surprised to hear it would be the Philadelphia area, especially South Jersey. Patti Smith's pronunciation of Frederick in "Frederick" showcases that regional pronunciation. Marco polo (talk) 22:50, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Wow, yeah, she certainly does say Fraderick. But her vowels sound quite strange, very exaggereated. She says /lav/ and /dav/ for love and dove. She does front her long o's but that is typical of most midlands accents. And she does say death and breath, but they don't sound like brath and dath. Given I attended grades 1-12 within 10 minutes of where she lived in SJ, I can definitely tell you that dath is not a normal pronunciation from the area--where even "catch" is pronounced "ketch"--not the other way around. μηδείς (talk) 23:26, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

Linguistic features of an encyclopaedia entry[edit]

Hi! I think that's more a linguistics question rather than a purely language one... I'm looking for a text about the linguistic features of English language encyclopaedias. I can't seem to find anything. Could someone help me (even naming some keywords to help my search would be great!) -- (talk) 19:45, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

What do you mean by "linguistic features". Do you mean writing style? --Jayron32 19:48, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes. Writing style, how information is structured, syntax, definition types, title choice, data selection... basically a study from a linguistic point of view of the language of encyclopedias like the Britannica. -- (talk) 20:20, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, Wikipedia has a Manual of Style which explains how all of those work at Wikipedia, which is kinda like an encyclopedia. --Jayron32 01:47, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
I was more looking for publications... I'm doing a translation thesis on wikipedia so I need to compare it to other encyclopedias. I found something in a linguistics textbook in my mother language but that applies of course for encyclopedias in my mother language... -- (talk) 11:58, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
Can you let us know what your textbook says in essence? Other than formal good writing tending towards a conservative style (avoiding neologisms, and recent changes in usage) I cannot imagine what you are looking for. As for wikipedia, it is quite bizarre and idiosyncratic and ideology driven: capitalisation rules foreign to any native form of English; insistence on metrics because it is world majority, but insistence on the spelling centimetre, which is the minority native and world spelling; a tendency of editors to remove proper usages of the sequence of tenses and the subjunctive and any writing above a 10 year-old level when they find it; the tendency of editors to begin an article, not with a definition of the subject itself, but with a tautology, or a definition of the title of the article, and so on.
To make up two fictional examples of typical tiles: "The Mammals (Mammalia) are members of the Mammaliaformes" or "The War of 1812 refer to the events that included and resulted from a military conflict that began when war was declared in 1812."
As for the subjunctive and sequence of tenses, [something like]:

Pluto, which had been identified as a planet when it was discovered in 1930, and would retain that title until it was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006, might never have been called a planet had astronomers known of the other objects like it in the Kuiper Belt

will invariably be 'corrected' to

Pluto was identified as a planet when it was discovered in 1930. It retained that title until it was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006. It would never of been called a planet if astronomers would of known of the other objects like it in the Kuiper Belt.

so that any writing expressing a series of connected thoughts and a paragraph or essay-level or style of composition will be reduced to what might as well be a list of unconnected single utterances. μηδείς (talk) 19:18, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
Hmm. I sense an implicit criticism of the prose produced by the joint effort of many wikipedians in the preceding paragraph. Instead of comparing your own versions of bad and good prose, why not correct, or if there is disagreement, discuss on the talk page, the problems with the lede of the Pluto article, which currently ( reads:
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System (after Eris) and the tenth-most massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun. Originally classified as the ninth planet from the Sun, Pluto was recategorized as a dwarf planet and plutoid owing to the discovery that it is only one of several large bodies within the Kuiper belt.? --NorwegianBlue talk 21:29, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
You've missed my point entirely. That was an entirely fictional example to illustrate how good prose is continuously 'corrected' to bad prose, not a criticism of that article (which I did not even look at) or your work on it. I have seen editors replace the subjunctive with the barbarous "would of...would of" construction and replace the proper use of the sequence of tenses with a stilted repetition of the simple past over and over again over and over again. I certainly don't mind that people compose new additions badly or with simple prose--what is problematic is that they wrongly correct good prose they are unfamiliar with to bad prose. For example, this change of "would see" to "saw", which I reverted [1]. μηδείς (talk) 21:47, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
What you're describing is the nature of Wikipedia. If there were no need to ever edit articles to correct language or facts, there would be no facility to do so. Because we invite literally everyone on the planet to get involved, we also invite every possible personal relationship with the language. These are two sides of the same coin. The idea is to find the best way of painting the pictures we want to paint, using the raw materials contributed by many people in each case. Limit the project only to those people who satisfy some arbitrary standard of English expression, and you've lost the whole point, and the whole plot, of Wikipedia. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 22:08, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
My description was descriptive, Jack, I didn't expect the issue to change or anyone here to do anything about it. But it is an accurate description of some of the typical rhetorical or stylistic problems of Wikipedia that you certainly don't run into with professionally edited work. I am almost tempted to go on a linguistic terrorist rampage and remove every instance of the subjunctive and pluperfect I come acrost. μηδείς (talk) 23:22, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
While you're at it, you can remove all instances of "acrost". There are 2 on this page alone. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 01:28, 19 November 2012 (UTC)
Not til you give me a good reason. The sentence I am almost tempted to go on a linguistic terrorist rampage and remove every instance of the subjunctive and pluperfect I come. would look awful funny. μηδείς (talk) 04:02, 19 November 2012 (UTC)"
@medeis: I was looking for an applied linguistics textbook about the structures of specialized language. I am a translation BA, so we're taught the features of domain-specific language (e.g. medical, scientific language) to be able to reproduce the features of the target language specialist texts when translating. My textbook compares and contrasts a dictionary entry with a encyclopedia entry, explains how these entries are put together (the selection of data, the type of definition used in the introduction, the predictable grammar structures vs the use of specialized lexicon) etc. I'm not looking for something extremely detailed, just something I can read and use a source that I can cite throughout the paper (something that Wikipedians should be familiar with, I think). :) Judging by the scarcity of the information I could find both in English and Italian I suppose that's not a very popular topic in the applied linguistics field. Maybe I am being to thorough, I just thought I'd give it a try :) (talk) 22:26, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
Oh, thanks, that's very interesting, I would never even have imagined there would be such a subfield, although I could imagine a native language text such as the aforementioned style manuals or an analysis of style manuals. μηδείς (talk) 23:22, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
You might find some relevant help via
Wavelength (talk) 23:54, 18 November 2012 (UTC)