Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2013 June 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Language desk
< May 31 << May | June | Jul >> June 2 >
Welcome to the Wikipedia Language Reference Desk Archives
The page you are currently viewing is an archive page. While you can leave answers for any questions shown below, please ask new questions on one of the current reference desk pages.

June 1[edit]

What does "to rocket" a cigarette a mean?[edit]

Sun Hits the Sky by Supergrass contains the lines

Life is a cigarette,
you smoke to the end,
But if you rocket the middle bit,
Then you burn all your friends,

What does "to rocket" mean in this context? Thank you in advance. (talk) 10:39, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

It's drugs slang. "Rocket" can refer to one of several ways of constructing a rolled cigarette (with or without extras) that burns fast and hot when smoked. Try googling "rocket joint" for further information. - Karenjc 15:42, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

I seed it[edit]

Is there any possible way to translate "I seed it" into French while preserving the impression that it is a childish grammatical error for "I saw it"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:13, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

Just suggestions: « j'ai le voiré » or « j'ai le vu » (less incorrect).--Lüboslóv Yęzýkin (talk) 15:53, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
You might also have use for the substandard subjunctive of voir, often used by children: [vwaj] ("il faut que je voille"). Lesgles (talk) 21:34, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
The suggestions above take it only as an error for "I saw it", but the way I read your question you wanted it to mean "seed" in the sense of "sow" or "initiate" as well. If so, there is probably not: puns are notoriously difficult to translate. --ColinFine (talk) 23:25, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, my question may have been unclear. I am not looking for an additional meaning of "sow" or "initiate" (as you say, that would be very unlikely to be possible). I am simply looking for a meaning "I saw" with bad grammar analogous to English "I seed". (talk) 20:41, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

"Phonemic" versus "Phonetic" transcriptions[edit]

Hello all,
In the Swedish phonology article, there is a section that contrasts a "phonemic" transcription with a "phonetic" transcription. I grok IPA, and it would seem to me that both would sound exactly the same if they were spoken. What's the difference, and why is it important?
Peter aka "annoying Wikipedia:Reference desk/Language dilettante" aka --Shirt58 (talk) 12:12, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

See phoneme. A phoneme is the smallest, abstract unit of sound that is used to systematically distinguish between words in a given language. Hence, a phonemic transcription will reduce the detail of how each sound is produced to just those distinctive units, whereas a phonetic transcription can include much more fine-grained detail. For instance, in English, the sound "t" will typically sound slightly differently when it's at the beginning of a word and in front of a vowel (e.g. "tin"), than when it occurs in the cluster "st" (e.g. "stick") – in the former case it is aspirated but not in the latter. A phonemic transcription will ignore this difference and only transcribe a single unit /t/ in both cases, because functionally there is no systematic meaning-distinguishing contrast between the two realizations, while a phonetic transcription may render the aspirated version as [tʰ]. Fut.Perf. 13:47, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
To add to Future Perfect's good explanation: the reason it is important is that speakers of different languages divide the phonetic space up into phonemes differently. Those two phones [t] and [tʰ] are not distinguished in English (and most English speakers are unaware that they are different), but are regarded as quite different sounds in most Indian languages. Conversely, some languages do not make a distinction between [t] and [d], so for those languages both would be realisations of a single phoneme /t/ or /d/. --ColinFine (talk) 23:32, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanation, Fut.Perf. and Colin. Back in the days when I could speak Japanese, I wasn't much good at proper "rendaku" sort of lenition. Worked hard to reduce the aspiration ubiquitous to English language consonants, but with very little success. When I was an AET, the Junior High School kids had a lot of fun asking me to say "kappa-maki" (cucumber sushi roll). Valiantly tried to avoid /pʰ/ but most often ended up voicing the consonant, ignoring the glottal stop, and saying "kaba-maki" (hippopotamus sushi roll) Face-smile.svg.--Shirt58 (talk) 10:52, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

Grammar check requested[edit]

I was reading our article on the The Terminal and the second sentence in the lede seems to be grammatically incorrect:

"It is about a man, knowing very few English words, is trapped in a terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport when he is denied entry into the United States and at the same time cannot return to his native country, the fictitious Krakozhia, due to a revolution."

So, I added the word "who":[1]

"It is about a man, knowing very few English words, who is trapped in a terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport when he is denied entry into the United States and at the same time cannot return to his native country, the fictitious Krakozhia, due to a revolution."

But it still sounds funny to my ears. Can someone with a better grasp of grammar take a look at this sentence and make sure that it's grammatically correct? Thanks. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 14:54, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

It is currently grammatically correct, but poorly written. It should be split into separate phrases or sentences. One of thousands of options is: "It is about a man, knowing very few English words, who is trapped in a terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. He is denied entry into the United States, yet, at the same time, he cannot return to his native country (the fictitious Krakozhia) due to a revolution." μηδείς (talk) 16:31, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
Agree with Medeis's suggestions, except that I would move the 'who' thus: "It is about a man who, knowing very few English words, is trapped...". - Cucumber Mike (talk) 19:10, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
That's not right. That implies his linguistic shortcoming is the reason for his dilemma. Clarityfiend (talk) 21:24, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
You're right, sorry. I should have read the plot more thoroughly. Maybe "The film is about a man with limited English who..."? - Cucumber Mike (talk) 22:09, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
It's all cool, Cucumber. Clarityfiend (talk) 01:48, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
The Plot also needs work. There's a serious disconnect between the first 2 sentences:
  • Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) arrives at New York, but finds that his passport is suddenly not valid, so he is not allowed to enter the United States.
  • One day, Dixon pulls Amelia aside to his office and questions whether she really knows Viktor or whether she knows what's in his Planters can. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 19:22, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
I'll give the wayward synopsis a sound thrashing. Clarityfiend (talk) 21:26, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
Turns out some anonymous editor made wholesale ill-advised deletions today. Clarityfiend (talk) 22:21, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
You do realize that the entire plot section is completely unsourced and almost certainly purely OR? Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 00:40, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
Curses. I've been unmasked as a fiendish plotter from way back. Clarityfiend (talk) 01:48, 2 June 2013 (UTC)