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January 14[edit]

Xhosa pronunciation question (letter "r")[edit]

At Nelson Mandela it is claimed that the name Rolihlahla is pronounced [xoliɬaˈɬa], but at Xhosa language#Consonants it says that <r> is pronounced [r] (while <rh> is pronounced [x]), so this is an apparent inconsistency. Can somebody review this please? --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 14:29, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

Ah, I have discovered this video - skip to 0:50. She is definitely saying an [x] in Rolihlahla, although the stress pattern seems to be more like [ˌxoliˈɬaɬa]. Based on what I hear, I am going to change the primary stress, but the initial consonant does appear correct. --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 14:37, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
Found this - using the name Rholihlahla (note initial "Rh"), and on an official government website. This also resolves the inconsistency which I noted above. (I see that the Xhosa Wikipedia also uses Rholihlahla - see [1]). So I am going to change the spelling also. --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 14:45, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

And more - see comments here. "Sadly, on the rare occasion when his proper name is used, it's misspelt - Rolihlahla rather than Rholihlahla". (In case the link goes stale, just to note that this is followed by an explanation of how plain R does not exist for indigenous words and is only used for loanwords and is implausible in the context.) Given this and other sources, I think we have to stick with plain "R" as the name for which there is the most evidence, even if it originates from a misspelling. I'll relegate the Rh version to a footnote. --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 15:00, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

And finally - found a reference to the effect that orthographical conventions have changed over the years. Possibly too long a quotation to reproduce here in view of copyright, but a Google search for "Rholihlahla and not Rolihlahla" (including the quotation marks) should show you what I am referring to. --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 15:44, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

January 16[edit]

Arabic: " Hello, حلو ". Can this mean anything, not in a romantic context?[edit]

Two men work together in one company. One of them, is a native Arabic speaker, and knows that the other man understands very little Arabic, so they talk in English - when they sometimes have to meet due to their work relationship.

They have never been friends, but after some years of mutual acquaintance as co-workers, the native Arabic speaker has recently begun to address the other guy, who is younger by seven years, as " Hello, حلو ". The younger guy, who is not an Arabic speaker, wonders if this phrase should probably be understood in a romantic context, or it may reasonably mean also something neutral, like "Hello man", "Hello fellow", or something like that... (talk) 08:46, 16 January 2019 (UTC)

Is it customary for Arabic-speaking men to call each other "Sweet"? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 13:09, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
Please notice that my question was not about "sweet", but rather about حلو : Does it always mean "sweet" - which should probably be always understood in a romantic context (when used in addressing an adult), or it may reasonably mean also something neutral, like "man" / "fellow" / "guy" / "youngster" / "lad", rather than "sweet"? (talk) 13:30, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
It sounds like you're asking if the Arabic word حلو has a context in which it would be used in a non-romantic manner between two men. I don't know the answer, but to address Bugs's secondary question, in many languages (English included) there are terms whose nature changes drastically depending on context, both social and linguistic. I can think of words in American English like "ass" which can be benign (the farmer had an old ass that used to kick something fierce) or vulgar (kiss my ass). I think he's asking something along those lines. --Jayron32 17:56, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
Hello by itself is not an Arabic work; it's an import from English but can be used in an informal context. Hellu is an Arabic word meaning sweet, which can have similar connotations as the English "sweetheart". Problem is, the two are written the same in Arabic, which has limited written vowels, and can often be pronounced the same way by a native Arab speaker who doesn't easily distinguish between the o and u sounds. So, it's possible the speaker means one word and the listener hears the other; or he is deliberately using the Arabic word for "sweet"; or he is willingly playing up the ambiguity of the term. It's impossible to know as someone not privy to the conversation. --Xuxl (talk) 20:34, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
Are you a native Arabic speaker? Anyway, as I have pointed out, the conversation is held in English, being the only language understood by both of them, while the first word is no doubt Hello, pronounced / hə'lou /, i.e. with the consonant [h] and the diphthong /ou/, the stress being on the second syllable. The second word is no doubt حلو, pronounced / 'ħɪlʊ /, i.e. with the consonant /ħ/ and the vowel /ʊ/, the stress being on the first syllable. Further, sometimes, the Arabic speaker says "How are you doing, حلو ?", the last word being pronounced / 'ħɪlʊ /, so he probably does not try to play up any ambiguity of the term "Hello". The younger guy just wonders about what the Arabic speaker means by حلو: Can it have also a neutral meaning, e.g. "fellow", or "guy", or "youngster", not in any romantic context? If it can't, then, can it also mean "darling" (which is, in my view, less romantic than "sweet")? (talk) 21:16, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
On the contrary, "darling" is highly romantic. It's what spouses call each other. (Like saying "sweetie" or "sweetheart".) ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:58, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
There is no reason to think the use of "حلو" between two men is gay. If you translate any normal dialog between two male Arab friends literally into English, it will sound very gay to Western ears. That's just the Arabic language. Russian does this too, to a smaller extent. Russian men frequently call one another "мой дорогой" (moy dorogoy), literally "my dear," "my darling." It's perfectly normal. My translation of "يا حلو" as used between two male friends would be "handsome," but you could translate it as "sweet" if you prefer it. But it is just a friendly way to address another man, although it is at the same time humorous. He is just becoming more friendly, but not gay. —Stephen (talk) 01:09, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
It makes some sense. In regions where there is a large cultural wall between men and women, men can tend to be more effusive with other men, while being very reserved towards women. America used to be this way, much more so than now, which is why some wishful thinkers have taken expressiveness in 19th century letters between men as a false sign of "gayness". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:39, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Xuxl -- I would really expect English "hello" to appear in Arabic with the ه consonant, not the ح consonant... AnonMoos (talk) 13:57, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Given this is ostensibly a non-Arabic speaker reporting on something said orally, any transcription into Arabic letters of what was said is not reliable. I have no idea if there is a standard transcription of the English "Hello" into Arabic. Xuxl (talk) 14:58, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
As I have pointed out, the first word was (certainly) pronounced / hə'lou /, and the second word was (certainly) pronounced / 'ħɪlʊ /. That's why I wrote Hello, حلو. Hope this helps. (talk) 15:18, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Are any of you native Arabic speakers? (talk) 15:18, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Would something like Category:Translators ar-en help you find someone to help you? --Jayron32 18:28, 17 January 2019 (UTC)

January 17[edit]

Chinese Name[edit]

Does anybody in China today have this as their personal name? The name in question is 清云. Also, it is common for personal names in China to be a combination of verb and noun? déhanchements (talk) 06:12, 17 January 2019 (UTC)

Boat vs. ship[edit]

What is the difference between a boat and a ship? Is it only a matter of size (with the distinction set arbitrarily), or is there another, more precise distinction? 2601:646:8A00:A0B3:0:0:0:ECBD (talk) 11:20, 17 January 2019 (UTC)

See Ship#Nomenclature. Mikenorton (talk) 11:45, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
So, one precise (but not universally accepted) definition based on behavior during turns, and a lot of vague ones. And I, too, have another definition in mind: per my proposed definition, a boat is small enough and simple enough that its captain can simultaneously also perform the duties of the helmsman, whereas a ship is too big and complicated for that and requires these two roles to be performed by different people. Any objections? 2601:646:8A00:A0B3:0:0:0:ECBD (talk) 01:52, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
Where would you use that self-styled definition? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:56, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
Not so much self-styled as based on my own observations of which vessels people tend to call "boats" and which ones they tend to call "ships". As for the US Navy definition (a boat heels toward the inside of a turn, a ship heels to the outside), that one runs into problems with vessels that use hydrodynamic lift: for example, almost identical hydrofoil designs could heel in different directions if one has surface-piercing foils and the other one fully-submerged foils; as for planing vessels, they might heel toward the inside of a turn while hull-down at low speed, but toward the outside while planing, so the exact same vessel would be considered a boat at low speed and a ship at maximum speed -- an absurd situation indeed (which could be the case with some hydrofoils as well)! 2601:646:8A00:A0B3:0:0:0:ECBD (talk) 06:03, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
As long as you're not intending to apply your personal observations to Wikipedia articles, you're fine. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 07:49, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
I'm reminded of Flip Wilson's retelling of the voyage of Columbus. As they approached land in the western hemisphere, the captain cried out, "Lower the longboat!" Wilson adds that the "longboat" was really a short boat on the side of the big boat. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:56, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

January 18[edit]

Paul Meara[edit]

How do I email Paul Meara to tell him that one of the words on his Plausible Non-words List, homoglyph, is a real word? Khemehekis (talk) 02:17, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

Typing the words Paul Meara email into Google gave me this as the first hit. It contains his email address. It's also on his website. What exactly did you try before asking here? Matt Deres (talk) 16:32, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
I googled "paul meara" email, with quotes, which for some reason didn't pull up any pages where I saw his email on the first few pages. Khemehekis (talk) 03:34, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
Thanks, by the way. Your google-fu is better than mine. Khemehekis (talk) 03:36, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
The word is a neologism and doesn't yet appear in printed dictionaries, though I expect it will soon. It is well cited in Wiktionary. Dbfirs 13:52, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
How odd. I copy-pasted what you typed into Google and the first hit was still the Cardiff site. Matt Deres (talk) 16:47, 19 January 2019 (UTC)


From German cruiser Leipzig: "Prinz Eugen struck C on her port side, just forward of her funnel, cutting her nearly in half - the forward point of the clipper bow of Prinz Eugen actually stuck out beyond the starboard side of Leipzig."

What does "struck C" mean here? Mũeller (talk) 02:36, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

It means that a previous contributor messed up slightly while working on the paragraph. Fixed. -- (talk) 03:44, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

Are there other words where the Arabic consonant غ interchanges with the Hebrew consonant ר?[edit]

According to this site the words غنى and רנה/ רנן are from the same root. If it's true, then my questions is: Are there other words in which the Arabic consonant غ interchanges with the Hebrew consonant ר? ThePupil (talk) 10:42, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

It's not a usual or ordinary correspondence, which would be غ / ע (as you probably already know), and none of the Biblical Hebrew words derived from such roots are shown with Arabic cognates with غ in Brown-Driver-Briggs. I don't understand the Slavic language on the linked web-page, so I can't tell what evidence (if any) is offered for the idea... AnonMoos (talk) 11:31, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
I suspect that the basic assumption of that site is wrong. Actually, the Arabic root غ.ن.ي (meaning "sing") is analogous to the Hebrew root ע.נ.י (meaning "sing", whether in binyan qal as in Numbers 21 17 Psalms 147 7 etc., or in binyan kaved as in Exodus 32 18 etc.), whereas the Hebrew noun רנה derives from the Hebrew root ר.נ.נ (meaning "sing"), being analogous to the Arabic root ر.ن.ن (meaning "scream"). (talk) 11:47, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

January 19[edit]

The food tastes good[edit]

In "the food tastes good", what kind of word is "taste"? Anna Frodesiak (talk) 08:02, 19 January 2019 (UTC)

Present tense of the verb to taste. If you say The taste of the food is good then taste is a noun. Dbfirs 08:12, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
What is doing the tasting? Forgive me. I've been out of an English-speaking country for so long, I just forget these things.

And with smell, if you smell the cheese, you are doing the smelling. If the cheese smells, isn't the cheese giving off a smell? Anna Frodesiak (talk) 08:21, 19 January 2019 (UTC)

The verbs can be used both transitively (where you do the tasting or smelling), and intransitively where it is the food or the cheese that "excites a particular sensation". See wikt:taste. Dbfirs 08:34, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
Ahhhhhhhhh, I see. I get it now. Thank you so much, Dbfirs. Anna Frodesiak (talk) 08:38, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
It is an unaccusative verb. That article notes (in section "Unaccusativity in English") that "many unaccusatives alternate with a corresponding transitive construction where the unaccusative subject appears in direct object position". (Note that "good" is not a direct object, but a complement.) --ColinFine (talk) 18:14, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
Thank you, Colin, for that neologism. The concept is familiar, but the word is new to me! I can't find it in any printed dictionary yet, but I see that it has been in Wiktionary for ten years. Dbfirs 18:31, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
From the article I linked to, Dbfirs: 'The term "unaccusative verb" was first used in a 1978 paper by David M. Perlmutter of the University of California, San Diego. According to Perlmutter himself, the terms "unaccusative" and "unergative" were both invented by the linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum'.--ColinFine (talk) 21:47, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
Thank you, yes, I'd read the article to understand what concept was being referred to. (I wasn't unaccusing you of anything. ) The Wiktionary entry that I linked to has two more recent usages, so the neologism will reach printed dictionaries soon. I expect the OED already has it in its database, but they haven't added it to their Third Edition yet. Dbfirs 21:52, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
Just gonna leave this here for you. Matt Deres (talk) 20:46, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
I would just describe "taste" as a linking verb. Khemehekis (talk) 22:46, 19 January 2019 (UTC)

Why Copenhagen and not Copenhaven?[edit]

Copenhaven makes more sense given the meaning of the name of the city, and there exist places in Britain with names that end in "haven". So, why did "haven" change into "hagen"? Count Iblis (talk) 22:27, 19 January 2019 (UTC)

Wiktionary says, From Low German Kopenhagen, a calque (perhaps modified by folk etymology) of Danish København. déhanchements (talk) 01:24, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

January 20[edit]

Japanese text[edit]

Is there anything informative or interesting in the Japanese text on this image: File:Elephant_catching_a_flying_tengu.jpg2606:A000:1126:28D:7DA4:5755:BC13:D792 (talk) 03:03, 20 January 2019 (UTC) — If the answer is "yes", please explain Face-wink.svg

Yours sincerely/faithfully[edit]

In British English, how would one end a certificate/confirmation letter? The letter starts with a heading directly followed by what is being certified or confirmed (no "Dear Sir/Madam"). On one hand, the first person to receive the document is obviously known by name since it is about themselves. On the other hand, it is technically addressed to everyone (e.g. an employer) who needs to see the certificate/confirmation. -- (talk) 05:52, 20 January 2019 (UTC)