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February 20[edit]


In everyday talk, the word "again" rhymes with "hen". But in song lyrics it is sometimes positioned as if it rhymed with "cane". Why?? Georgia guy (talk) 15:42, 20 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It had a diphtong in Middle English, as the spelling indicates, and can apparently still have it dialectally. Then, there's also the concept of slant rhyme. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 16:09, 20 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In my speech, "again" rhymes with "begin". Anyway, see also eye rhyme -- in the 19th-century it was semi-notorious that poets sometimes pretended that "wind" had a long vowel, and allowed a few other words to be deformed similarly, when convenient for the rhyme schemes of their poems. AnonMoos (talk) 17:02, 20 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Does again not rhyme with cane? Dja1979 (talk) 18:36, 20 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
From what I can see, the /eɪ/-variant of 'again' is found in regional British, but it is not a variant common in either Received Pronunciation, General American or Mid-Atlantic. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 19:42, 20 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Here is an interesting discussion at Stack Exchange, with examples of the cane-rhyming pronunciation cited from sources ranging from Shakespeare to FDR to the Dictionary of American Regional English. I'm too lazy right now to pull out my OED to see what it has to say, but many online dictionaries, as here and here, give both pronunciations (with American ones including AnonMoos's pronunciation as well). "Now, once again, where does it rain?" Deor (talk) 19:05, 20 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The OED online gives both pronunciations for UK, and only /əˈɡɛn/ for US.
Eric Bogle, in No Man's Land (Eric Bogle song) sings "again and again and again and again" to rhyme with "vain" - and to my taste, it would sound much weaker without the diphthong. ColinFine (talk) 12:09, 21 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A couple of examples I can think of where it rhymes with "cane". One is the way Rex Harrison says it in "My Fair Lady". More recently is the way Adele sings it in "Skyfall", which is funny considering it's apparently intended to rhyme with "end", "ten" and "then". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:22, 20 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think that in the lyrics of My Fair Lady it is meant to rhyme with "rain" ("Now, once again, / where does it rain?").  --Lambiam 11:31, 21 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In my London accented English, I seem to use both pronunciations; it rhymes with "rain" when given special emphasis; such as "Oh no, not again!" Also if I were trying to enunciate clearly in public speaking, a reading of Philippians 4:4 springs to mind. Alansplodge (talk) 12:25, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

CIS / Tayma stone[edit]

1. What's the best scan or most usable form to use the CIS in? 2. Is there an error in the scan's construction here? I think the proper pg 113 might be missing because the intro and inscription number to the Tema stone aren't visible. One source has it listed as CIS number 113, which seems like it's not right. 3. Does anyone have a good recent transcription? The Louvre's repeats errors from a century ago. 4. How about a photo high quality enough to be legible? It's on permanent display to the public, I think, so there may be some. Temerarius (talk) 16:40, 20 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply] CIS on Tema stones Temerarius (talk) 18:49, 20 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Four questions[edit]

  1. Are there any words in English with three or more syllables that do not contain any schwas?
  2. Does English use schwa more than Dutch and German?
  3. Are there any words in English where suffix -ia is pronounced /ɪæ/, and are there any words where letter A stands for /æ/ sound when it forms a syllable of its own?
  4. Is there any Romance language with /æ/ phoneme?

--40bus (talk) 21:25, 20 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

4. According to near-open front unrounded vowel, Valencian (if considered another language than Catalan). In others, there seem to be complementary dstribution with /ɛ/. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 23:50, 20 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In English, [æ] is a "checked" vowel (see Checked and free vowels) so it can't ordinarily end a syllable. The rule is relaxed in interjections such as "Yeah" and "Baaaah" (bleating of a sheep). "Babysitting" is a four-syllable word without any schwas... AnonMoos (talk) 00:15, 21 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
While there are a lot of examples of schwa-free multisyllabic words, my favorite one so far is the somewhat-meta multisyllabic. GalacticShoe (talk) 00:23, 21 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What version of English are you referencing? Because Meriam Webster shows two schwas in the pronunciation of multisyllabic. --User:Khajidha (talk) (contributions) 15:44, 21 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm going off of wikt:multi-#English and wikt:syllabic#English. GalacticShoe (talk) 17:24, 21 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
2:I haven't got a number, but English reduces its unstressed vowels a lot more than Dutch or German. On the other hand, Dutch and German have some common suffixes and prefixes with a schwa (ge-, -en), which have been mostly dropped in English. I just checked a single paragraph of Dutch fiction: 44 schwas in 121 words of prose, assuming it isn't dropped from the -en suffix. It's often dropped in eastern Dutch dialects. PiusImpavidus (talk) 10:30, 21 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Someone compiled a list of phonemic frequencies of various languages, including among them American English and German. The schwa frequency is 22.98% and 5.17% respectively. Unfortunately, no Dutch. GalacticShoe (talk) 17:29, 21 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The above mentioned paragraph of Dutch prose has 486 phonemes. PiusImpavidus (talk) 00:04, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Although a relatively small sample size, at a roughly 9% schwa count it's still significantly smaller than English's 23%. Also if you manually counted up all of those 486 phonemes, thank you for your work and also my sincerest apologies for making you do this by not finding a Dutch source. GalacticShoe (talk) 01:41, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This tool gives some assistance, but produces so many 🤔s (on purpose? zo = /zoː/ is unambiguous) that schwa–non-schwa counting is still tedious.  --Lambiam 14:46, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I counted them manually, but Dutch has a fairly shallow orthography, so that wasn't too hard. It took a few minutes. PiusImpavidus (talk) 13:29, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

February 21[edit]

Muhammad Ali's name[edit]

In Muhammad Ali's name, is "Ali" considered a surname? Or is there a different term for it? 2600:1008:B046:1056:B038:B435:B0B:1D6B (talk) 01:00, 21 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Teller officially changed his conventional name (given name, middle name, surname) to the mononym Teller. I don't know in which US State, but I guess each State accepts any names that are officially established in some other State. "Teller" remained his surname; his passport reportedly has NFN for the first-name field, which stands for "No First Name".[1] In my understanding, it has become a practical impossibility to live in the US without a surname. Since Muhammad Ali's brother legally changed his name to Rahaman Ali and Muhammad Ali himself has children named Muhammad Ali, Jr., Laila Ali and Hana Ali, I guess "Ali" is considered their surname.  --Lambiam 11:09, 21 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
For many of the people on the Muhammad Ali (disambiguation) page, "Muhammad" is of course in honor of the prophet of Islam, while "Ali" is in tribute to Ali ibn Abi Talib. I don't know if that's what motivated the boxer... AnonMoos (talk) 14:39, 21 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As he converted to Islam, I find it likely. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 21:12, 21 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
He changed his name as he converted to the Nation of Islam. The theology of the Nation of Islam, which holds that there has been a succession of mortal Allahs, the latest of which was Wallace Fard Muhammad, is utter heresy in the eyes of Muslims. In the Islamic conception of God, Allah is eternal, unique and inherently one.  --Lambiam 14:23, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

February 22[edit]

Daisy wheel[edit]

I've been reading Typewriter and its link Daisy wheel printing. There seems no consistency about usage of "Daisy wheel", "Daisywheel" and "Daisy-wheel". Which is best English and should I edit the articles to use just one form? -- SGBailey (talk)

As far as I can tell, 'daisywheel' only occurs in the article once, as the title of an article in a linked reference (which itself also uses 'Daisywheel'). Since that is what that reference uses, you should not alter that particular instance.
In general usage, I (as a professionally trained BrE editor) would prefer 'a daisy wheel' and 'a daisy-wheel printer', but it might be that 'Daisy-wheel' was a proprietary spelling used by one or more companies (as might the other variations). Really, you should check the instances of each spelling in the article and whether they specifically relate to such proprietary spellings. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 19:15, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's a general ambiguity of the English spelling of compound forms, and doesn't only affect this one word. The greatest stress being on the first stem of a compound is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for the compound to be written solidly (without an internal space or hyphen). So "typewriter" can be written solidly, but "chicken dinner" (with greatest stress on the second stem) cannot be. I would pronounce the word "daisywheel"/"daisy-wheel" with the greatest stress on the first stem, which would tend to disfavor the two-word form "daisy wheel", but I don't know if I heard that pronunciation, or just assumed it from seeing it written... AnonMoos (talk) 20:08, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Interestingly enough, Wiktionary prefers daisywheel, although this may be an overarching stylistic decision on the part of Wiktionary itself rather than something specific to this one word. GalacticShoe (talk) 20:38, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also Collins and Cambridge dictionaries. Alansplodge (talk) 12:20, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wiktionary is purely descriptive, so preferences are not based on stylistic considerations. The choices seem to be somewhat random:
business man  is an alternative spelling of businessman;
coalmine  is an alternative spelling of coal mine;
loan word  is an alternative spelling of loanword;
shishkebab  is an alternative spelling of shish kebab.
If based on anything, relative frequency would be the criterion.  --Lambiam 14:19, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Forgot to mention this, but Google Ngram Viewer has daisy wheel as essentially having always been most popular, with daisywheel and daisy-wheel trading popularity places in the mid-90s. GalacticShoe (talk) 03:25, 28 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

ADA accessible[edit]

It isn't clear if a hyphen is needed in American English for the term "ADA accessible". From what I can tell, many sources in the U.S., particularly signage, do not use the hyphen, for example, "the path is ADA accessible". Should the hyphen be added anyway in a Wikipedia article about such a path or trail? Viriditas (talk) 20:20, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

 Courtesy link: Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
@Viriditas (Non-US English speaker): "ADA accessible", with or without a hyphen, needs explanation to other English speakers. Expanding ADA to its full form would give "Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 accessible", which doesn't make much sense. Another short term might be more in keeping with WP:COMMONALITY; if needed an article can include a technical description explaining what it means with reference to a specific jurisdiction's requirements. (For example, in the UK, the term "accessible" tends to be used on its own (for example, "accessible route"); were an explanation to be needed for this particular use, something along the lines of "conforming to the Equality Act 2010" might be used.) Bazza (talk) 20:33, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you. Perhaps the problem is with my question. On Wikipedia, when we say something is ADA accessible, should we use a hyphen? The literature in the U.S. does not rely on the hyphen as much (I can't tell if it is 50/50 or less than that). My understanding is that Commonwealth countries are more likely to use it. Is my understanding correct? Viriditas (talk) 20:42, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Viriditas: I can't answer your specific question because in my country the term "ADA accessible" is not used, and the concept of an act being accessible is strange, as I said previously. MOS:HYPHEN gives some guidance for when hyphens may be used on Wikipedia, as does MOS:ENDASH. There's a suggestion (in section 3 of HYPHEN) that "ADA-accessible" could be correct as a compound modifier. I would expect to see it expanded (e.g. "conformant with accessibility requirements in the ADA", or "ADA-conformant"), or at least linked (ADA-accessible, on its first use in an article. Bazza (talk) 21:06, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would say that when it's used as an attribute, as in "an ADA-accessible entryway", it would require a hyphen, but as a predicate, as in "This entryway is ADA accessible" it might not... AnonMoos (talk) 21:02, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Is it my imagination, or is American English trending towards the omission of hyphens within the last two decades or so? I rarely see them used. Viriditas (talk) 21:16, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The trend may have started earlier, as more and more publicly available writing is not generated by professional writers and also not subjected to any form of editorial control. But a quick Google search did not seem to support my suspicion. It turned up 73 occurrences of "ADA compliant np" versus 25 occurrences of "ADA-compliant np". Restricting the search to the 20th century, I found 29 occurrences of "ADA compliant np" versus merely 5 occurrences of "ADA-compliant np". So the relative contribution of hyphen-compliant compound adjectives seems to have gone up from 15% to 30%. The samples are too small, though, and Google search is too unreliable, to attach significance to this result.  --Lambiam 23:17, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Complex onsets[edit]

Are there any words in English which have complex onsets of type plosive+plosive, plosive+fricative or plosive+nasal? Such as /kt/, /tn/, /ps/ or /ks/?--40bus (talk) 22:01, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Where a plosive before an ⟨n⟩ is pronounced, as in the names Cnut and Knuth, a schwa gets inserted, so I guess that English phonotactics does not allow this, as is confirmed by the list of possible onsets in that section.  --Lambiam 23:33, 22 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It gets close when there is an initial unstressed syllable, as in catenary, connection, percentage or Cassandra. In casual speech, the schwa can be absent, with nothing voiced until the second consonant or syllable. -- Verbarson  talkedits 12:04, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Are there any words in English with onsets /ks/ or /ps/? These two clusters are easy to pronounce. And why English does not pronounce K in e.g. knife unlike every other Germanic language? --40bus (talk) 12:08, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
They're easy once you know how. I had a friend in grad school by the name of Xenia. Most people pronounced her name with three syllables, /kəˈsɛn.jə/. It irritated me (don't know about her) because it really didn't seem that hard to me to say /ˈksɛn.jə/, but on reflection I had sort of practiced these clusters at some point in the past, and Americans who hadn't seemed unable to pronounce it. --Trovatore (talk) 20:56, 23 February 2024 (UTC) Reply[reply]
See Silent k and g and Apheresis (linguistics). Alansplodge (talk) 12:14, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Pssst! -- Verbarson  talkedits 12:50, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And there any words in English which have affricates or /h/ in complex onsets? --40bus (talk) 14:11, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

February 23[edit]

Historical Ethnic -ess words?[edit]

What are other (Historical!) Ethnic/National/Religious female descriptors other than Jewess and Negress? Naraht (talk) 00:20, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Priestess. Mayoress. Poetess. Actress. (But I digress.) -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 02:05, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Waitress. Stewardess. Princess. Duchess. Countess. Heiress. Hostess. Some of these are listed in Wiktionary.[2]Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:14, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not Ethnic/National/Religious. HiLo48 (talk) 04:34, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Crikey! ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:12, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not sure that "-ess" was ever too commonly used for nationality words. The main feminine suffix for this purpose is "-woman", as in "Englishwoman", and some others listed at List of adjectival and demonymic forms for countries and nations (none there have "-ess"). I searched for a few hypothetical "-ess" suffixed forms of nationality words ending with "-an", but there wasn't much (almost all hits were intended to be the word with "-ness" suffix). Not as relevant to your question, but the peak use of "-ess" was in "maness", an archaic word meaning "woman" found in the OED. Amusing in English, but not quite as amusing when Patrino, or translated literally "father-ess" is the basic word for "mother" in Esperanto (which is more sexist than any natural language there). AnonMoos (talk)
P.S. Poet and writer Robert Graves included a little essay on the "-ess" suffix in his 1951 book "Occupation: Writer", and he was overall pretty negative about it (and highly negative about "negress"), even though this was of course before 1960s radicalism and second-wave feminism, when few were concerned with sexism in language... AnonMoos (talk) 06:49, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Abbess, prioress and deaconess, if that's what you mean by Religious? -- Verbarson  talkedits 11:46, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also anchoress. Alansplodge (talk) 12:10, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And beyond the Christian religion there is druidess and even goddess. Demon has one reference to a demoness. -- Verbarson  talkedits 12:46, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ethnic also mulattress. Religious also druidess and prophetess.  --Lambiam 14:03, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Martyress" appears in Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary. 2A00:23D0:495:D001:E41A:A7DA:5CBA:89C1 (talk) 17:42, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
SOED lists sextoness and vergeress (but not churchwardeness!). -- Verbarson  talkedits 19:00, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Moabitess. --Amble (talk) 19:51, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nice! First answer directly responsive to the original question. I can't think of any others myself (and would not have thought of Moabitess). --Trovatore (talk) 20:37, 23 February 2024 (UTC) Oh, not quite first; I guess Lambiam's answer counts. --Trovatore (talk) 20:40, 23 February 2024 (UTC) Reply[reply]
I found some ghits for "Canaanitess" as well. I suppose old Bible translations might provide more examples. — Kpalion(talk) 12:13, 26 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wiktionary lists Israelitess, Spaniardess and Swissess, I see. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 13:02, 26 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not an -ess, because it's not an English term, but in Arabic a female Muslim is a Muslima or Muslimah. Iapetus (talk) 11:29, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Would the same suffix be used for other world religions, such as Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus? 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 12:45, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Vowel usage[edit]

Why do Italian, Romanian and Portuguese use ⟨i⟩ instead of ⟨y⟩ for /j/ sound at the beginning of word? --40bus (talk) 18:41, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No idea "why" — you might as well as "why" English uses <y> (not too many other languages do, I think). But in any case <y> is not part of the 21-letter "standard" Italian alphabet at all. By the way, neither is <j>, but sometimes <j> is substituted for <i> in this role anyway. There's a very nice (if slightly depressing) story called Lo jettatore which I would like to read again if I could find it. Searching turns up a book by Sergio Benvenuto but it looks like non-fiction. --Trovatore (talk) 20:46, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Trovatore -- Infamous science-fiction author John Norman wrote an English-language story titled "Il Jettatore", but I doubt that's what you have in mind... AnonMoos (talk) 23:38, 23 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Huh. Might be interesting. Did he really call it "*Il jettatore"? That's kind of nails-on-chalkboard.
Anyway I asked a question at the equivalent of the refdesk and they found it for me. I had the title wrong. It's La patente, by Pirandello. --Trovatore (talk) 00:07, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I suppose you gave them more to go on than that it was a nice yet slightly depressing story.  --Lambiam 07:17, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There's a famous short story called "Jettatura" by Théophile Gautier; it's written in French but with the title in Italian. That may be the one you remember. Xuxl (talk) 15:04, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In Neapolitan words may be spelled with a ⟨j⟩: janco, jonta, jugo.  --Lambiam 07:24, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, while the Italian alphabet sensu stricto has only 21 letters, leaving out j, k, w, x, y, you can find all five of the missing ones reasonably frequently in written Italian. They tend to be in things like loanwords and foreign names. The j in particular sometimes substitutes the semivocalic i or the gli trigraph (e.g. zabajone as an alternative spelling of zabaglione). --Trovatore (talk) 18:57, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

February 24[edit]


Moses urged them to "don their linked war-coats." It is from an Old English book. What does 'linked' mean in this context? Thanks in advance. Omidinist (talk) 11:48, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's from a translation by Stopford A. Brooke of Exodus (poem), see here. "linked war-coats" means coats of chain-mail.

With the blare of brass at the break of day
All the folk to gather and the frack to rouse,
Don their linkèd war-coats, dream of noble deeds,
Bear their blickering armour, with their banners call
Nearer to the strand the squadrons! Swiftly then the watchmen
Now bethought them of the war-cry. Hastened was the host!
At the sound of shawms, on the sloping hills,
Struck their tents the sailors.

DuncanHill (talk) 12:04, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's it. Many thanks DuncanHill. Omidinist (talk) 12:16, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My pleasure - I enjoyed looking that up. The phrase "don their linkèd war-coats" rang a bell. I must have read that 40-odd years ago, and never again since - but I remembered the meaning, and that it was a translation of one of those Anglo-Saxon versions of something either Classical or Biblical. After that google was a doddle! But as I say, a great pleasure to revisit the poem. DuncanHill (talk) 21:55, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

French words[edit]

If a word moins is pronounced /mwɛ̃/, how would a word pronounced as /moins/ be spelled? The closest example which I have found is nonsense world moïnesse, but it would be pronounced as /mɔinɛs/, so that the first e would be pronounced. If word chante is pronounced as /ʃɑ̃t/, then chanete would be pronounced as /ʃant/. --40bus (talk) 21:49, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I assume moïnsse or moïnce would be enough, given ïn is not a known digraph for a nasal vowel. Nardog (talk) 22:00, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
An IPA translator gives the word moïnsse as /mɔˈɛ̃s/. And I didn't know that ⟨ss⟩ and be used also next to another consonant. --40bus (talk) 22:09, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You could try doubling the "n" -- moïnnce -- though I don't think this would absolutely guarantee the intended pronunciation. AnonMoos (talk) 23:13, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A final /-ins/ (and anything in /-nC/, where /C/ is any consonant) occurs only in non-assimilated loanwords and foreign names. Then, it's normal that they should lack a native and natural way to spell it. --Theurgist (talk) 15:33, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also, French seems to lack a native /ɔɪ/ diphthong, anyway. /Vj/ is possible for stops, I guess. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 11:59, 26 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In South of France "moins" is pronounced by some people: \mwɛ̃s\. One can invent a French word and then try to pronounce it. Everyone knows that French is not spoken as it is written. I never read/heard the world "moïnesse". If I find it, for me there is a typo for "moinesse" (=female monk, old world, now "moniale") which I - French native speaker, Parisian - pronounce \mwa.nɛs\. About the non existent word "chanete", if I have to pronounce it I would say /ʃa.nɛt/ or /ʃa.nɛte/ or /ʃa.nete/, but for me an accent is missing or a double "t". – AldoSyrt (talk) 17:35, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Say, speak, talk, tell[edit]

Say, speak, talk, tell: Native speakers have no difficulty in choosing which verb to use in which context, and know that they are not generally interchangeable, but newbies to the language often struggle. Prima facie evidence is many of the questions we get on this ref desk.

Is there a handy guide that illuminates the differences and provides comfort for the afflicted? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 22:17, 24 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A search for say vs. speak vs. tell vs. talk is fruitful. --jpgordon𝄢𝄆𝄐𝄇 01:10, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

February 25[edit]

First names that are in the Bible[edit]

Why are some Bible names rarer as Gentile Anglophone first names than it seems like they should be? Lots of (Davids, Daves, Davies), much fewer Solomons; lots of (Daniels, Dans, Dannies), fewer (Zekes, Ezekiels); lots of Jonahs, much fewer of the rarest minor prophet; lots of (Tims, Timmies, Timothies), much fewer Tituses. Then there's some that were way less old-fashioned in the 19th century like Jebediah or Ichabod. Why are they old-timey but not John or Andrew? (Some of these aren't even well-known Bible characters. Maybe Ichabod was popularized by that NYC suburb headless ghost though?) Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 01:40, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Some are kind of disguised (James from Jacob etc). From the seventeenth century through the 19th century, some versions of English-speaking Protestantism promoted intensive Bible-reading, just as much of the Old Testament as of the New Testament. That was the context in which the title character in Silas Marner named the little girl "Hephzibah" (after his sister). Since the 1920s, while many Christians are still certainly devout, I don't think that people who are highly-familiar with the text of the Bible from long reading of all parts of it are as culturally influential as they were during the 19th century... AnonMoos (talk) 02:59, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Names of Christian saints (several Saint Johns, Saint Andrew, Saint Timothy, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, ...) named in the New Testament get a leg up, being popular also among Catholics, unlike many Old Testament names that were familiar to Bible-reading Protestants but not so much to Catholics. David is very prominent in the Bible, not only as the legendary king of Israel and the spunky hero kid who slew Goliath, but also by Jesus being said to be of the House of David. During the period when it was a tradition to name children after grandparents or other family members of older generations, the relative frequencies of these names were subject to random drift, so it is hard to attach significance to the ranking of the less common ones.  --Lambiam 05:19, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There are cycles in popularity as well. Seth and Caleb became popular again in the U.S. in the last three decades, after almost disappearing for most of the 20th century. Abraham used to be quite common but is now rare. And as mentioned above, there is a big difference between Catholics and others, as Catholics tended to prefer naming their children after saints, which excludes a lot of Old Testament names, which were in turn associated with either protestants or Jews. Xuxl (talk) 14:17, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
One fun one is the popularity of "Joshua". Until the late 1960s it was uncommon. 138 per million; rank 763. Then in the 70s and 80s it takes off; over 10,000 per million, rank 7. I found it personally annoying that my unusual name became commonplace. --jpgordon𝄢𝄆𝄐𝄇 14:55, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I noticed that, Abraham is possibly my country's best and most popular leader (born 1809 elected 1860) but sounds old-timey or Jewish now. Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 15:31, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
On the other hand, Abraham appears to be more common now than ever before, according to tools such as this which use Social Security data. --jpgordon𝄢𝄆𝄐𝄇 15:39, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I guess the parents who want few schoolmates to share the name just jump on ones that get too rare (or invent a new one or spelling like Boston or Flyrence). If the other parent wants a traditional name or major Bible or Quran character then Abraham still works. And sometimes a name becomes super-popular for awhile like Michael/Mike. Maybe cause Jordan, Tyson and Michael Jackson? But not Elvis or Ringo. Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 16:10, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It appears that Michael was already near peak in 1970 when the Jackson 5 just started getting popular when Jordan was six and Tyson was three. Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 16:27, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I know a 13 year-old called Micah, and there are a fair number of kids called Eli and Isaac now in England, that would have been unheard of a couple of decades ago (I suspect some US influence here). Meanwhile, some New Testament names like John, Mark and Paul have gone out of fashion. John used to be the most common boys' name in England, but allegedly fell out of favour after John Major's premiership. Alansplodge (talk) 18:51, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The 2004-19 New York football thrower was Eli & the 2006-8 NY basketball coach was Isaiah. The biggest star of NYC baseball and football right now are both Aarons. Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 19:31, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
However, I don't see Jehoshaphat making a comeback anytime soon, no matter how hard he jumps. Clarityfiend (talk) 23:43, 26 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Lots of cool unwieldy names in there that'll probably never get big. Like Mahershalalhashbaz and Nebuchadnezzar. Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 15:02, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You just need to be patient, like Job. Martinevans123 (talk) 15:12, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
One fun one is the popularity of "Joshua". Until the late 1960s it was uncommon. 138 per million; rank 763. Then in the 70s and 80s it takes off; over 10,000 per million, rank 7. I found it personally annoying that my unusual name became commonplace. --jpgordon𝄢𝄆𝄐𝄇 14:55, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I noticed that, Abraham is possibly my country's best and most popular leader (born 1809 elected 1860) but sounds old-timey or Jewish now. Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 15:31, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
On the other hand, Abraham appears to be more common now than ever before, according to tools such as this which use Social Security data. --jpgordon𝄢𝄆𝄐𝄇 15:39, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I guess the parents who want few schoolmates to share the name just jump on ones that get too rare (or invent a new one or spelling like Boston or Flyrence). If the other parent wants a traditional name or major Bible or Quran character then Abraham still works. And sometimes a name becomes super-popular for awhile like Michael/Mike. Maybe cause Jordan, Tyson and Michael Jackson? But not Elvis or Ringo. Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 16:10, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It appears that Michael was already near peak in 1970 when the Jackson 5 just started getting popular when Jordan was six and Tyson was three. Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 16:27, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I know a 13 year-old called Micah, and there are a fair number of kids called Eli and Isaac now in England, that would have been unheard of a couple of decades ago (I suspect some US influence here). Meanwhile, some New Testament names like John, Mark and Paul have gone out of fashion. John used to be the most common boys' name in England, but allegedly fell out of favour after John Major's premiership. Alansplodge (talk) 18:51, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The 2004-19 New York football thrower was Eli & the 2006-8 NY basketball coach was Isaiah. The biggest star of NYC baseball and football right now are both Aarons. Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 19:31, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
However, I don't see Jehoshaphat making a comeback anytime soon, no matter how hard he jumps. Clarityfiend (talk) 23:43, 26 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Lots of cool unwieldy names in there that'll probably never get big. Like Mahershalalhashbaz and Nebuchadnezzar. Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 15:02, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I remember my surprise when I learned that Azor is a biblical name. In my native Polish, it is a common name for a dog. — Kpalion(talk) 11:10, 29 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Is there an echo in here? Clarityfiend (talk) 11:22, 1 March 2024 (UTC) Reply[reply]

I will try to say something new. Emma was my maternal grandmother's given name. She was born in Idaho in 1901. When she died in 1974, Emma was considered quaint, rare and old fashioned. Then things changed. In the 21st century, it is consistently a top five name for girls in the US. Cullen328 (talk) 01:31, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Polish sentence[edit]

This sentence (without the Polish diacritics...) talking about an election result: "Natomiast jedyny kandydat Komitet skupil okolo swej listy 359 glosow." ... I'm struggling with the word "around". Does it imply the list got approximately 359 votes? Or that the candidate gathered precisely 359 votes around his list? -- Soman (talk) 11:01, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I thinks it's the latter; the first meaning would need to be written "okolo 359 glosow" (note that I don't speak Polish, but that's how it would work out in Russian). Xuxl (talk) 14:19, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The definitions on Wiktionary of około seem to imply a sense of inexactitude.  --Lambiam 20:18, 25 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Xuxl is correct, it's the latter meaning: the candidate gathered an exact number of 359 votes around his list. — Kpalion(talk) 11:59, 26 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Many thanks! --Soman (talk) 10:21, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

February 26[edit]

English numbers[edit]

Why does English, unlike German and Dutch, place units before tens in compound numbers? --40bus (talk) 20:48, 26 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It didn't in Old English, see Old English/Numbers. I found this (access to the full article through the Wikipedia Library):
From unit-and-ten to ten-before-unit order in the history of English numerals
Alansplodge (talk) 21:20, 26 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Are you talking about poetic uses such as "Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie"? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:46, 26 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I remember people forty years ago who would normally say "five-and-twenty to ten" for times. They may still be alive. ColinFine (talk) 11:54, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
English four+teen, German vier+zehn, Dutch veer+tien: unit count takes the first position in all. But English twenty+four, German vier+und+zwanzig, Dutch vier+en+twintig: in the English numeral the units are placed in last position, not "before tens" as you wrote. The switch from the Old English "Germanic" order to the current one may have been influenced by (Anglo Norman) French, which has that order for the numerals from 17 onwards (with some irregularities, such as sixante quatorse for 74 [3]).  --Lambiam 22:30, 26 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Lambiam: Standard spelling is "soixante-quatorze". All French number words from 71 to 79 and 91 to 99 use "-teen" analogous forms... AnonMoos (talk) 03:57, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Anglo-Norman did not have a standard spelling.  --Lambiam 11:44, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Didn't notice that distinction, but it's still the modern French standard spelling which many millions use every day (unlike medieval Anglo-Norman French). AnonMoos (talk) 23:11, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To be honest, French numbers are a unique kind of weird above 69. I wouldn't give them much notice. Pablothepenguin (talk) 12:32, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not all French speakers have such weird numbers. I remember seeing a documentary on Belgian television about events in the 1990s, where they simply said nonante-sept instead of quatre-vingt-dix-sept. PiusImpavidus (talk) 13:45, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
IIRC, in France Septante is used for the Septuagint, but not generally for the number. As PiusImpavidus alludes to, the continuation of the Latin decades is rather a Belgian and Swiss thing. Double sharp (talk) 13:50, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In an early Asterix there is a walk-on by "le druide belge Septantesix", a gag that I did not get for many years! —Tamfang (talk) 00:38, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The reason I mentioned French is because of its influence on the evolution of English. Old English only had the order fēoƿer and tƿēntiġ. The other order makes its first appearance in Middle English. The question was why English has this order, so the French order is potentially relevant.  --Lambiam 20:46, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There's a German association that wants to change the German order to be like English: de:Zwanzigeins (the name is probably self-explanatory).
Double_sharp -- That would certainly give a different rhythm to "Neunundneunzig Luftballons". -- AnonMoos (talk) 23:11, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
According to this source, in Czech both orders are possible, but looking at Czech Wikipedia suggests that tens-before-ones (like English) is more common. Double sharp (talk) 14:01, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Omniglot also indicates both orders as possible in Kashubian. Double sharp (talk) 13:37, 29 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
When I started working in Norway in 1982 both systems were in regular use, with a slight preference for the old form, e.g. fem og tuve (five and twenty) for 25. this research shows that 15 years later not a lot had changed. I was working in Bergen, where there were a good sprinkling of nynorsk speakers and quite a few Bergensers with their own dialect. I've not lived there since 2010 so I don't know if things have changed by now. Mikenorton (talk) 18:18, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

February 27[edit]

What language is this?[edit]

Hi everyone,

I was driven around by a taxi driver a few months back, and he taught me how to say "thank you" in his native language.

Here are some things I know about this language:

  • It is probably from Central Asia, the Caucasus, or the Middle East, given the man's physical appearance (light-skinned).
  • It sounded most like an Iranian language, but I couldn't be sure. It was probably not Turkic, and definitely not Arabic.
  • There was a distinct 'Ayn sound in some of the words.

The phrase for "thank you" sounded like the following:

Yırd El-Âwê.

However, this is the best I could remember from memory, so the actual phrasing might be a bit different. I am good at languages and linguistics but my memory of unfamiliar foreign language phrases is not perfect. It could have been between three and five syllables. (talk) 18:14, 27 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Just to see what happened, I pasted the above transcription into Google Translate. It guessed that the language was "Kurdish (Kurmanji)", but it just repeated the words on the English side, as usual when it can't translate something. And when I then asked it to translate "Thank you" from English into that language, it said "Spas dikim." So I don't think I believe that language identification. -- (talk) 12:26, 28 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Consider the possibility that the phrase does not mean "Thank you" but rather something mildly obscene or in some other way humorous. Playing such jokes on foreigners has a long history worldwide. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 13:26, 28 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The articles Voiced pharyngeal fricative and Voiceless pharyngeal fricative list about twenty languages, each. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 19:37, 28 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Perusing the translations given for thank you in Wiktionary, the best match seems to be from a variety of Arabic, see يعطيك العافية (pronounced /yiʕ.tˤiːk al.ʕaːf.ja/). (talk) 11:15, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't understand the transcription of Gulf Arabic. It doesn't seem to be IPA. What would 3 signify? 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 14:46, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
AnonMoos replied on my talk page. It's apparently Arabic chat alphabet (which however seems to be too informal and non-standardized to really be used on Wiktionary). 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 22:47, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

February 28[edit]

Cyrillic inscription[edit]

In the music video for Kosheen - Catch a Cyrillic inscription appears on the wall poster seemingly reading ОКТАР ВЕЛИКО ПАТУ! Google Translate suggests it's Serbian and should be октобар велико пату meaning "October, the great day!" (apparently referencing October Revolution, judging by the image of the Aurora cruiser below). What language this actually is and is it an accidental gross typo or macaronic? Brandmeistertalk 22:38, 28 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think the first word on the poster is ОКТЯР, which doesn't help much. Perhaps some letters are missing from the beginning of the word, but I can't find a word that rhymes with октяр. The word велико can be standard Russian  --Lambiam 12:43, 29 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As a native Russian speaker, I can say 100% this isn't Russian. Just like GTranslate, I thought of Serbian, but there's an odd thing: Google translates allegedly Serbian октобар велико пату as "October is a big day", but "day" in Serbian is дан, so I can't make heads or tails of this. Could be an attempt to emulate Russian by non-native speakers with the meaning of "October is a great date/month". Brandmeistertalk 13:02, 29 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Could it be possible that someone has mistranscribed ДАТУ as ПАТУ when creating the poster? If they've rendered ОКТЯБРЬ as ОКТЯР, I suppose anything's fair game. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 22:39, 29 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yeah, looks like that... Brandmeistertalk 08:44, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We still need to understand why the accusative case of дата is used. "ОТПРАЗДНУЙТЕ ОКТЯБРЬ, ВЕЛИКО ДАТУ!"?  --Lambiam 14:41, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The only answer for me is that it's an imitation of Russian for some reason. At 1:00 the inscription is seen in full, so yeah, ПАТУ is likely ДАТУ - something like "[celebrate] the great date of October" ("October" is often used metonymically in Russian to refer to October Revolution). Brandmeistertalk 15:55, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's not Serbian, and it's not Bulgarian, for that matter (and none of the related Slavic languages, as far as I can tell). As you supposed, the mist likely answer is that it's a near-gibberish imitation of Russian. No such user (talk) 12:59, 4 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

February 29[edit]


"He was at his best when the going was good" is listed in Paraprosdokian#Examples. How is this a paraprosdokian? What are the expected and reinterpreted meanings of the first part? Nardog (talk) 11:25, 29 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The more likely second-half would be something like "when the going was bad" or "when things were tough." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:43, 29 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
'He was at his best' implies some outstanding quality of effort or achievement; 'when the going was good' is when everybody should do their best, implying he was nothing special after all? It does seem a weak example. -- Verbarson  talkedits 11:48, 29 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The expected phrase might be; "He was at his best when the going was tough" (or "rough", or "hardest"), some random examples in print are like this (of JFK), or this (of Ernest Shackleton), or this (of Boris Yeltsin), or this (of Fernie Flaman), or this (of James B. Craig). So to say "when the going was good" instead would surprise most readers (but not the OP obviously), and is implying that he was useless in difficult situations. Alansplodge (talk) 12:49, 29 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Another example is found in the film Starman, when Jeff Bridges's alien says, "Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst." Deor (talk) 14:49, 29 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
See also, in a similar vein, When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Alansplodge (talk) 22:34, 29 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I get that's the joke. I was wondering if there was an alternative interpretation because, if that's the joke, there's no reinterpretation of "He was at his best" that occurs, and only the expectation for the second part is subverted (whereas in "I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it", one is forced to reconsider the interpretation of the present perfect). It's not a paraprosdokian then, as I suspected. Nardog (talk) 00:17, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Up until the poison in the tail, the audience will interpret the first part as eulogistic. The final word forces a reappraisal, which, one might argue, is an illocutionary reinterpretation.  --Lambiam 01:29, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

March 1[edit]


Hello, while transcribing on wikisource, more precisely on that page for context, I found the word "kahulla". ("kahullas", but I think that is a plural.)

I could not find any mention of that word anywhere.

The book is from 1850, so it might be an archaic form.

Does anyone know what that means?

(I do not know if this is where I should be asking that, sorry if it isn't.) Alien333 (talk) 08:40, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Just to provide a little more context, the author is Frances Sargent Osgood. The poem and the word make me think of Hawaii, but I don't see a connection in her article and that feeling may be completely wrong. --Wrongfilter (talk) 08:52, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In this edition, it is spelled "Kahullah's", the genitive of a name, which makes more grammatical sense than the adjective form in the edition on wikisource. --Wrongfilter (talk) 08:56, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It sounds like an Arabic (Muslim) given name, such as Abdullah, Bahaullah and Najibullah, but several common nouns also end in -ullah, meaning "of God". I do not find uses of the word as a given name other than perhaps in the poem. To me, the interpretation as the genitive of a name does not make sense in the context; if we interpret "Kahullah's deck" as a noun phrase, then where is the verb? The word "bright"? The poet is American, but the use of the word as a verb is British. Will the deceased girl's hair brighten the deck of Kahullah? What does that mean? I find a poetic subject–object inversion, helping to maintain the rhyme, more plausible: bright kahullahs, whatever these may be – presumably something specific to the yonder spirit world – will deck (cover or decorate) the girl's hair. If the rendering "kahullahs" was a typographical error in the 1846 edition[4] of Osgood's poems, it was not corrected in the 1848 edition.[5]  --Lambiam 13:11, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, the possible inversion now I see and do agree that is is more plausible. In both interpretations the comma after "stream" seems out of place, doesn't it? Or does it help to identify the hair's stream as the object rather than thhe subject of the phrase? --Wrongfilter (talk) 13:31, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Running "kahullah" through google translate (using detect language) gives "his shoulders"(Arabic). Gender aside, it would fit the context. Shall bright(bare) kahullahs(shoulders) deck. (talk) 13:33, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The deceased person is feminine, so we'd need something meaning "her shoulders".  --Lambiam 14:15, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Since, in the next lines, the poet envisions wreaths of rainbow shells around the little girl's arms and neck, it is semantically more likely that bright somethings (perhaps some kind of flowers?) enliven her dark hair. Spirit-fruit, kahullahs and wreaths of rainbow shells are said to constitute "fragrant bowers" amid which the child's spirit can play on.  --Lambiam 14:23, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The little girl whose burial inspired the flow of Osgood's poetic vein (see the epigraph of the poem[6]) was Tamahoogah, a minor character in a story entitled "William Burton, the boy who would be a sailor" by L. Maria Child, published in her collection of children's stories Flowers for Children, Part III (1844).[7] The setting is an island "in about the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and a few degrees north of the equator". This makes any connection to Arabic less likely.  --Lambiam 14:04, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Great find! The islands are identified as the "Mulgrave Group", i.e. Mili Atoll and Knox Atoll in the Marshall Islands, which would make the word Micronesian. I haven't found the word in the "William Burton" story yet, but wouldn't be surprised if it was lurking in there somewhere. --Wrongfilter (talk) 16:26, 1 March 2024 (UTC) Nope, looks like it is not. --Wrongfilter (talk) 16:38, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Voyages of Captain Cook mentions that Tongans wore "necklaces, made of the fruit of the pandanus, and various sweet-smelling flowers, which go under the general name of kahulla". Perhaps Osgood, who's referring to hair ornaments rather than necklaces (those are in the next lines), is making a distinction between adornments of vegetable origin in the hair and ones of conchological origin on the neck and arms. Deor (talk) 02:51, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This answers the question. I don't think we need to pay much weight to putative distinctions made by the poet, but can interpret her use as meaning a wreath or garland of fruit and sweet-smelling flowers, regardless of which part of the body it adornes. After all, her use of the term also ignores that Tongan is part of the group of Polynesian languages while the Marshallese language that would have been spoken on Child's Mulgrave Islands, some 1,000 miles apart from Tonga, belongs to the Micronesian languages. Consider that Hawaiʻian is also a Polynesian language, closely related to Tongan, yet has a different term: lei. So it is somewhat unlikely that Tongan and Marshallese, not that closely related, would have the same word for such wreaths.  --Lambiam 11:58, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks to you all!
I am amazed by what you reference desk wizards can find on such an obscure thing in less than two days. Alien333 (talk) 13:20, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Update: I was going to add it to wiktionary, and then noticed on some Tongan pages mention of the Churchward english-tongan dictionary, which is available for borrow on IA (tongandictionary0000chur). It mentions, on page 242, "kahoa", but not "kahulla". kahoa is said to mean necklace or garland. As it seems to be the same word, I am wondering, did Cook and Osgood get the spelling wrong, or did the word just change over time? (the Churchward dictionary is from 1959) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Alien333 (talkcontribs) 20:05, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have a suspicion that when Cook reached Tonga, the Tongans did not have a spelling for their language. Note that the first written record of the name of Hawaiʻi, by Cook's second lieutenant James King, was spelled "Owhyhee".[8]  --Lambiam 23:34, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Tocharian /n/[edit]

From an uncited part of Tocharian languages:

/n/ is transcribed by two different letters in the Tocharian alphabet depending on position. Based on the corresponding letters in Sanskrit, these are transcribed (word-finally, including before certain clitics) and n (elsewhere), but represents /n/, not /m/.

Since the sound's position determines what letter is used, why are these two glyphs considered different letters, rather than one being seen as a variant of each other? Hebrew's sofit forms, and final forms of "S" (ſ rather than s) and "Σ" (ς rather than σ), are considered variants rather than separate letters, and when Tocharian was discovered, it didn't have any living speakers to argue for them to be considered separate letters. Tocharian script#Table of Tocharian letters doesn't answer my question, since every consonant letter appears to represent a different sound. Nyttend (talk) 22:17, 1 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't know anything about Tocharian script specifically, but generally in Indic alphabets Anusvara is a diacritic indicating nasalization, which would be hard to visually unify with the ordinary alphabet letter which writes [n] or [na]... AnonMoos (talk) 01:58, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

March 2[edit]

What word is Eeyore misremembering?[edit]

In chapter five of A. A. Milne's The House at Pooh Corner, Eeyore says that Christopher Robin "instigorates Knowledge". It's made clear that he is misremembering a term used by Christopher Robin, but what is that term? My best guesses are "instigates" and "invigorates", but both would seem very unusual.

Here is some context: "What does Christopher Robin do in the mornings? He learns. He becomes Educated. He instigorates—I think that is the word he mentioned, but I may be referring to something else—he instigorates Knowledge. In my small way I also, if I have the word right, am—am doing what he does. That, for instance, is——" Quickener (talk) 06:45, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Perhaps "investigates"? Eeyore's memory can have been befuddled by contamination with "instigates" and "invigorates", which, although presumably unfamiliar to Eeyore and unlikely to have been used by Christopher Robin, are words he may have overheard being spoken by grown-ups.  --Lambiam 11:23, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Looking up Wiktionary, some other guesses might be "instills" or "inculcates". I have a hunch that the prefix in- would indicate a meaning of Christopher Robin absorbing knowledge in some way. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 14:02, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Instills" doesn't make much sense, and I highly doubt Milne would have used such an obscure word as "inculcates" in a children's book. "Investigates" would have been the first thing that came to my mind as well. Clarityfiend (talk) 16:18, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is also the possibility that Eeyore has remembered correctly, and that it is Christopher Robin who has mistakenly malaproped a mangled portmanteau. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 18:35, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Clearly a potentially useful word, and though its exact meaning is currently unclear, more frequent use would probably result in a consensus arising. We should strive to use it at every possible opportunity, and thus ensure its future encromulation. AndyTheGrump (talk) 18:46, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I propose the meaning "to instigate an invigorating investigation".  --Lambiam 11:05, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Another questions[edit]

  1. Why does Modern English not use eth and thorn anymore, unlike Icelandic? Is there any West Germanic language that still uses them?
  2. Are there any words in English where letter X is pronounced as /ks/ in start of word?
  3. Are there any words in English which have affricates or /h/ in complex onsets? Would a word like /d͡ʒnɪt/ be possible?
  4. Are there any languages that allow central approximants as first consonant of complex onset?
  5. Are there any dialects of French that lack nasal vowels or front rounded vowels?
  6. Is there any dialect of Spanish where j / soft g is a coronal sound, not guttural? Is there any variety where it is pronounced /ʒ/?
  7. Why are words psychology and conjunction not pronounced as /psaɪ̯kologi/ and /konjunkʃon/? Why English does not pronounce -logy with hard G?
  8. Are there any words in English which have two identical full vowels separated by consonant?

--40bus (talk) 21:14, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Question 1[edit]

Re 1: I first want to know why the Northwest Germanic languages stopped using Old Fuþark. ᚺᚹᛁ ᛟ ᚺᚹᛁ?  --Lambiam 21:54, 2 March 2024
40bus -- English still does occasionally use a degenerate form of "thorn": the "Y" in "Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe" or whatever. Many of the other questions are semi-pointless, or could be answered with a little basic research. AnonMoos (talk) 02:06, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Our article thorn suggests that printers imported movable type fonts from the continent which did not have the letter and decided to simplify the alphabet. I know that letters have been 'nuked' from the Cyrillic alphabet on occasion.

Question 2[edit]

2. The Greek letter ξ (xi) is, according to the article, pronounced /ksaɪ/ in American English. This apparently aligns with what the letter would have phonetically represented in both Ancient and Modern Greek, even though most (if not all?) other Greek-derived English words starting with x have it pronounced with a /z/ sound. GalacticShoe (talk) 22:21, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Quick note that I would imagine that this pronunciation of xi is an intentional learned pronunciation or something similar; Greek word-initial x becoming z is probably otherwise just a consequence of /ks/ becoming /gz/ becoming /z/. GalacticShoe (talk) 22:27, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Pronouncing the name of ξ as /saɪ/ introduces an ambiguity with ψ.  --Lambiam 23:20, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This American was taught to pronounce xi as /zaɪ/. --User:Khajidha (talk) (contributions) 15:16, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Question 3[edit]

Re 3: Some English speakers pronounce why as /ʍaɪ/, and (according to Voiceless labial–velar fricative) some linguists analyze /ʍ/ as an [hw] sequence, thus giving the pronunciation [hwaɪ].  --Lambiam 22:01, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Question 8[edit]

Re 8: yoohoo?  --Lambiam 22:06, 2 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Teehee! … Perhaps the imitative name of a bird? —Tamfang (talk) 00:54, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Re 8: voodoo? --T*U (talk) 08:14, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

March 3[edit]


Why does the name of Moses have oi in some languages? --Tamfang (talk) 00:54, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Because it was Μωϋσης in ancient Greek. AnonMoos (talk) 01:54, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There's a wiktionary entry here... AnonMoos (talk) 01:58, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So why was it thus in Ancient Greek? DuncanHill (talk) 02:00, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In Yiddish it's usually spelled Moishe. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 04:42, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In Yiddish orthography, the spelling is משה‎, which does not suggest a diphthong. Given the pronunciation, one would expect something like מאוישעה‎. I don't know of an explanation for how an /ɔɪ/ crept into what in Hebrew is pronounced /moˈʃe/ (מֹשֶׁה⁩‎), with a monophthong. It is not plausible that this derived from philological considerations of Egyptian names.  --Lambiam 11:00, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, the Yiddish equivalent to German "Oh Weh" is "Oy Vey", so couldn't it be some internal phonetic developments? 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 12:43, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Two observations which may or may not be relevant:
  1. The Ashkenazi pronunciation of Hebrew that my father grew up with (though I didn't) renders וֹ /o/ as the diphthong /aʊ/
  2. Yiddish regularly has /ɔɪ/ corresponding to German /aʊ/.
I don't know enough Yiddish to be able to think of any other Yiddish words from Hebrew with a וֹ in the first syllable (there are some where it is in the plural suffix וֹת "oṯ", but they're usually reduced to /-əs/), to tell whether this is a wider phenomenon. ColinFine (talk) 13:42, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, I live and learn. Until today, I didn't even know that monophthong was a phthing.-- Verbarson  talkedits 16:57, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Yiddish accent renders the "o" vowel as "oi" in general. For example, Kadosh (holy) is rendered as Kadoish or sometimes Koidesh. (talk) 21:12, 4 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Greek version of the name is based on Hebrew, but not necessarily the Hebrew pronunciation as we know it. The Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible are much earlier than the use of vowel points in Hebrew. --Amble (talk) 17:14, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Septuagint, the old Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, was made in Egypt; and first-century Jewish scholars Josephus and Philo of Alexandria connected the name of Moses with the Egyptian / Coptic word for water, "mou" (μωυ) [9]. Perhaps that understanding of the meaning of the name "Moses" influenced its spelling in Greek by Greek-speaking Jews living in Egypt. --Amble (talk) 17:29, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Interestingly, the Tribe of Levites (to which Moses putatively belonged), as portrayed in the Pentateuch/Torah, alone featured Egyptian-style names, unlike the other Tribes whose names were characteristically Canaanite.
This might reflect an origin of the Israelites as an amalgamation of more than a dozen previously separate tribes (different ancient sources include between them more than twelve names), including one from a southerly, Egyptian-speaking, possibly Yahweh-worshipping region. The idea that these 12(+) tribes were descendants of the so-named twelve sons of Jacob/Israel is a typical founding myth also found elsewhere (see Twelve Tribes of Israel#Historicity).
'–Moses' is Egyptian, but incomplete, meaning "born of . . ." usually coupled with a God's name. If it ever reflected a real name, this was probably elided to prevent the embarrassment of having the main prophet of one religion being named for the god of another. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 21:00, 4 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Right on the monotheism! 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 21:52, 4 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Confusing phrase in 1984[edit]

I'm having trouble understanding this phrase from 1984:

"Unquestionably Syme will be vaporized, Winston thought again. He thought it with a kind of sadness, although well knowing that Syme despised him and slightly disliked him [...]"

I thought that despising someone entailed a strong disliking for them. Am I missing something, or is this an error in the text? (talk) 08:45, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There is no error in the text. See this webpage, which states (correctly, I think) that the two words don't necessarily mean the same thing. To me, "despise" is about hating what someone stands for, in political or social terms, whereas "dislike" is more of a personal thing. --Viennese Waltz 09:02, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Or else Syme is just practicing doublethink. -- (talk) 09:04, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To express that I find someone's opinions repugnant, I wouldn't say that I despise them. To me, that implies that my loathing extends to the person. To avoid that, I'd say that I despise the opinions that I find offensive. Words do not have crisp definitions, so we should allow some leeway, but I for one also find Orwell's formulation, if not puzzling, at least somewhat peculiar.  --Lambiam 10:19, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm wondering if the slight dislike was Winston's feeling, not Syme's. It would make more sense that way (although the phrasing should then have been "slightly disliking"). Clarityfiend (talk) 13:14, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To me, to despise someone means to evaluate them as worthless. This seems to me a different dimension from like-dislike. While it's unlikely that anybody would like somebody they despise, it doesn't imply that they dislike them strongly. ColinFine (talk) 13:46, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would go further: I myself have a friend whom I slightly despise (for some of his behavior) but nevertheless somewhat like (because of his overall qualities). {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 15:32, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, OED gives for despise - "To look down upon; to view with contempt; to think scornfully or slightingly of" and one can certainly look down upon someone yet still like them. DuncanHill (talk) 17:50, 3 March 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

March 5[edit]