Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2013 December 14

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December 14[edit]

Nationality-born vs. country-born[edit]

We often see descriptors like 'French-born', 'American-born', 'German-born' etc. At face value these seem to say the person was born French etc, which is usually taken to mean "a French citizen". That works for lots of examples: Henry Kissinger was indeed a German citizen before becoming an American; Yehudi Menuhin was indeed an American citizen before adopting British citizenship; etc.

However, there's a class of examples where all we can say is that the person was born in France etc, but not that they were ever citizens of that country. I think of the children of diplomats, who are generally citizens of their parents' home country only. I understand John McEnroe was never a German citizen despite being born there, as his father was serving in the US military. And so on.

So, why would we say McEnroe is "German-born"? I don't recall ever seeing "Germany-born" etc but, despite the clunkiness of such an expression, it would be more accurate in such cases. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 02:06, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

"Born in Germany" is sufficient. There doesn't need to be a hyphenated phrase here. Including the spaces, my version is three characters longer and much more natural. German-born means, roughly "A German person at birth", which isn't true in McEnroe's case, he was never a German person. He was born within the boundaries of Germany. At no time did he ever have German nationality or citizenship or anything else. The example you gave is sloppy journalism plain-and-simple. If we must call him anything, "An American born in Germany" is sufficient, natural, accurate, and concise. Who could ask for anything better. --Jayron32 04:08, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
Agree with Jayron. A German-born Irishman is an Irish citizen born of German parents. An Irishman born in Germany is an...Irishman born in Germany. μηδείς (talk) 04:17, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
 ??? A German-born Irishman is an Irish citizen born of German parents. ??? That could mean an Irish citizen born in Uganda to parents who were German citizens. No way would he be described as 'German-born' anything; he'd much more likely be called a 'Ugandan-born Irishman (whose parents were Germans)'. No? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 12:57, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
At best, using "[X-an]-born" to describe anything other than a person born as a citizen of X within the boundaries of X is ambiguous. To avoid ambiguity, the construction should really only be used when the birth took place in X and the baby was originally a citizen of X. Marco polo (talk) 15:14, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
That sounds like a good plan. Dual citizenship and sub-national entities also raise their ugly heads here. Nicole Kidman could reasonably be described as "Hawaiian-born", but she was always an Australian citizen and always an American citizen, but never a Hawaiian citizen (no such thing since statehood). -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 19:08, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
Americans usually just ask people with whom they are beoming familiar what nationality they are (e.g., I am 1/3 black, 1/3 Italian, and 1/3 Korean), and where they were born. Rather straightforward. Of course there's Tina Turner, who's an American-born black Swiss. μηδείς (talk) 18:29, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't know about you, but people don't usually have three parents, Medeis. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 23:13, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
(Yes, I tried to work out what complexities in a family tree could give rise to that fraction, and decided that it was just one of Medeis's jokes. One can approximate it arbitrarily closely, of course, given a long, complex, and unlikely family tree.) The questions are exactly the ones I would ask (and did, only last week). Dbfirs 08:19, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
Maybe Medeis is a chimera. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 08:56, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
The secret is time travel. If you're your own grandparent then that ratio can happen. Katie R (talk) 18:09, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Kudos for relieving your of the burden of doing the work of two words, Katie. May I borrow your sentence as an exemplar of the correct uses of you're and your? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 19:15, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, go ahead and use it however you want. :-) I was amused by it too when I re-read my post. I suppose I should have expected someone else to notice it to, considering that this is the language desk. Katie R (talk) 20:55, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
I am indebted. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 10:57, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Oh no! I just realized that I somehow used "to" above even though I clearly used "too" in the exact same context in the previous sentence. Katie R (talk) 13:41, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Yet more evidence of this sinister plague that is starting to infect even the righteous. Has this desk become the last bastion? Is there an anti-to drug we can take? Is there any "to-where-I-should-have-written-too" insurance on the market yet? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:53, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

etymology of joystick?[edit]

This site says the name is attributed to a Mr. Joyce but that the real source is probably related to joy ride and not to the later allusion to a penis. Are there any good sources for an actual derivation? Thanks. (PS, this "arises" because I am trying to sell my dad's Atari 2600 on eBay.] μηδείς (talk) 04:13, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

The page you've linked to relies mainly on Michael Quinion's discussion of the term; if you would like to see his remarks in full, they can be found here. The "actual derivation" of such terms is usually quite difficult to pin down, since the all we have to go on is written sources that (1) may significantly postdate the terms' original use in speech and (2) may provide little or no indication of the circumstances of their coinage. I trust Mr. Quinion enough to assume that his analysis takes into account both the available evidence and the results of previous investigations, so you're unlikely to find a "good source" beyond what he offers. Deor (talk) 08:46, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
I agree -- there are many suggestions and no really good sources. If you want another suggestion (with as little evidence to support it as has the putative Mr Joyce), then perhaps the fact that the stick was mounted in the floor joist of the plane might have given rise to the term. The expression "joy-ride" was popular at the time, so simple "joy" + "stick" seems more likely than "joist". The first written usage of the term seems to have been in Robert Loraine's diary of 1909, but it was presumably a colloquial term somewhat earlier. Dbfirs 09:11, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

Ufology excerpt in Romanian[edit]

Could someone translate the following Romanian into English for me? (talk) 20:30, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

Locuitori dintr-o dimensiune subtila ai planetei Xer din constelatia Orion. Se aseamana foarte mult cu copacii din padurile de pe Pamant. Sunt de culoare galben-aurii, si au inaltime de 3-4 m. Sunt fiinte vii, rationale, iar durata lor de viata este e aproximativ 200 de ani terestrii.

Se inmultesc foarte ciudat. Un xer adult se indoaie de la mijlocpe langa jumatateea inferioara a trupului sau si se uneste cu cealalta jumatate pana cand devine o sfera. Dupa ce moleculele lui sau aranjat in asa fel incat a devenit o sfera, incepe sa se rostogoleasca pana intalneste alte sfere asemanatoare si vor forma impreuna o masa de aemenea corpuri, aflate pe orizontala, pe sol. Din mijlocul aceste mase, pe suprafata ei exterioara este expulzata o excrescenta sferica, viitoarea progenitura. Vezi: Lumi extraterestre – Planeta XER Personalitati – Melfior Ra (medium de contact)

Se pronunta xpotaz. Sunt oameni si mai ales copii care afirma ca au vazut sau ca au avut vise in sau care erau luati in locuri indepartate de catre elfi… oameni micuti cu urechi ascutite, ochii ca doua margele si piele zbarcita. Cei care au fost vizitati de catre xpotz au implanturi de tip cristalin de aproximativ 9 cm in zona spatelui sau a gatului si sufera de dureri de cap.

The text seems to originate at this blog Googling a portion of the text you will find that page and google offers to machine-translate it. It is obvious from inspection it is about some golden-yellow people from the planet Xer who are 3-4 meters tall. μηδείς (talk) 01:50, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
Inhabitants of a subtle dimension of planet Xer in the Orion constellation. They are very similar to the trees in Earth's forests. They are golden-yellow and 3-4m tall. They are live, rational beings, and their lifespan is of approximately 200 Earth-years.
They reproduce in a very odd manner. An adult xer bends from the middle alongside the inferior half of his body and unites with the other half until he becomes a sphere. After his molecules have arranged themselves so that he has become a sphere, he starts to roll until the meets similar spheres, and together they form a mass of such bodies, arranged horizontally on the ground. From the middle of this mass, on its outer surface, a spherical outgrowth emerges, and this is the future offspring.
See: Alien worlds - planet Xer
Personalities - Melfior Ra (contact medium)
It is pronounced xpotaz. There are people and most of all children who claim that they have seen or that they dreamt of being taken to far-off places by elves... tiny people with pointed ears, eyes like two beads and wrinkly skin. Those who have been visited by the xpotz have crystalline implants of approximately 9cm in the back or neck area and they suffer from headaches. (talk) 10:51, 15 December 2013 (UTC)