Wikipedia:Reference desk archive/Language/2006 July 24

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El Salvadorian slang[edit]

Does anyone from El Salvador know what "solotope" means? It's supposed to be a slang term they use, I think recently in El Salvador and I can't find it anywhere online -- 00:20, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Spanish adjectives for the cardinal directions[edit]

I stumbled across the Spanish Wikipedia article for Canadá the other day, in which it says that Canada is the "país … más septentrional del mundo", that is, the northernmost country in the world. I've only run across the word septentrional once before, at Talk:Ursa Minor#Septentrion, so I was rather surprised to see that it's used as a common word in Spanish. My Spanish–English dictionary gives two translations for northern (del norte and norteño); it lists más septentrional under northernmost. I am of course aware of the Spanish words oriental and occidental for eastern and western, respectively. My dictionary lists del sur and austral for southern, the latter being labeled as a Latin American variant, and after a bit of searching I was able to find meridional.

What is the difference in usage between words like septentrional, austral, meridional, oriental, and occidental and the phrases del norte, del sur, del este, and del oeste? Are there other words like septentrional that I'm missing? —Bkell (talk) 01:08, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

I don't have an answer for you, but I will note that you could ask the same question about English (except perhaps you would use boreal rather than septentrional. In English the distinction would be one of register, I suppose--the Latinate variants are in a register so highfalutin' as to be almost self-parodic. I gather this isn't the case in Spanish, but still, parallel native and Latinate vocabularies are pretty common in European languages, aren't they? · rodii · 02:01, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Does Spanish have a native vocabulary as opposed to a Latinate? By the way, I like the stress placement in Canadá: English, Russian and Spanish all have different stress positions (and French has none, they say :) Conscious 15:40, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
I would say the existence of Spanish/Latin doublets such as Bkell posts above indicates that it does. The fact that Spanish is a Romance language doesn't preclude it having two strata in the lexicon, a native/Romance and a learned/Latinate. Just as English borrowed huge gobs of Latin during the 17th century, so, apparently did Spanish (at some point). (English has Germanic/French/Latin triplets here and there, I think.)· rodii · 16:44, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Spanish indeed has many "duplets," just as English has Germanic/French/Latin "triplets." Consider the following pairs of words: hierro, férrico,; madre, maternal; huir, fugaz. In each of these pairs, the first word is less formal, entering the language as Castillian evolved from Vulgar Latin. The second, more formal, word entered the language much later, from a literary Latin.

It's tangential, but there's some interesting names in various languages for winds that come from various cardinal directions: see Wind#Names_for_specific_winds_in_certain_regions and Category:Winds. — Catherine\talk 22:29, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Septentrional is a direct Latin import, and is more formal register as with most Latin borrowings in European languages. Norte comes from Germanic, I think English but wouldn't swear it. It's like Bélico/Guerra. There is no descendent from Latin by normal language evolution rules here as is normally the case (e.g.,masculino/macho). [[user:mnewmanqc|mnewmanqc)
Norte doesn't come from English -- English north, Spanish norte and German Nord all come from the same Germanic root, so these words are siblings, not parents/offspring --Zantastik talk 07:38, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
But that only begs the question of how Spanish acquired a word from this Germanic root, which AFAIK is not a normal route by which words have entered Spanish. French, of course, also has nord, and I've wondered how that came about as well. I doubt that either language acquired this item from Proto-Germanic. --Tkynerd 18:37, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
No, they didn’t come from Proto-Germanic directly. That would be far too long ago. Instead, French, Spanish, Occitan, etc., all acquired these Germanic words from the Franks. Note the name “Français”, which derives from Old French franceis and thence from L. franciscus, which is itself from the Frankish frankisk. The language the Franks spoke was the Old Frankish language. In France in particular the Vulgar Latin language won out over the Frankish tongue despite the Franks being the rulers; this is suppposedly due to the prestige of education which the high ranking ex-Romans had in comparison to the Franks. For more Spanish-related edification, see List of Spanish words of Germanic origin. — Jéioosh 20:27, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Comedic duo[edit]

Is there a technical term for the standard comedic duo? I'm thinking in terms of the secondary characters who are a comic foil to the main (usually dramatic) narrative, popularly used in Shakespeare (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) and still common today (R2D2 and C3PO, Jay and Silent Bob, Pintel and Ragetti, Mullroy and Murtogg...). I'm not talking about straight-man and foil, because they're a little more complex than that, and I'm sure I remember somewhere that there's a specific name for this dramatic convention. I keep thinking 'dramaturgical dyad', but that's just an earworm from the Simpsons. Ziggurat 03:52, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

A female foil in comic opera is a soubrette; there's only one of her, but she does generally come with a male 'friend'. HenryFlower 11:27, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Oo, interesting, but not quite what I'm looking for. I also found the Joey and Auguste relationship from professional clowning, but that's a little more specific than I'm looking for. Ziggurat 21:16, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
On Wikipedia, I've noticed that the crosslinking is incredibly helpful, since it often leads you to titles you wouldn't have thought of looking for directly. For instance, I started at Comic_relief, which didn't fit but lead me to a gold mine at Category:Stock_characters. The first one that looked helpful was Foil_(literature), which linked to Comedy_duo, which mentioned Buddy_film in the text, one example of which was Jay_and_Silent_Bob_Strike_Back. I got tired of it after that, but all along there are a web of other articles that will probably take you to what you're looking for. Black Carrot 03:28, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Thank you, those are really interesting. I guess what I'm looking for is term to describe a combination of the foil and the double act in a particular style; I'm not really looking for the specifically straight-man / foil relationship (as I mentioned in the original question), but it's possible that there is no more particular term for what I'm imagining :) Ziggurat 03:36, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Meanming and origin or the name 'Avigdor'.[edit]

Having read an article ref: Avigdor Liberman I'm very curious to learn the meaning and origin of the name, AVIGDOR. Would you be so kind to help in my quest? Your reply will be most helpful. Thanks for your time and kindness, Chet Elfenbein, Miami, Florida

The sites I visited said it's believed to be Hebrew and its purported meaning is 'father protection'. Googling 'avigdor name origin' or 'avigdor name meaning' will show some sites.--Anchoress 04:11, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Languages of Be bold.png[edit]

Be bold.png

This image shows "Edit this page" and "What links here" in multiple languages/writing systems. I recognize Korean, English, Japanese, and Simplified Chinese, but what are the others?

I'm asking because I want to create an alternative SVG image. Thank you, in advance. --Kjoonlee 04:08, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

I recognise German, Welsh, Spanish, and Thai as well. Can I suggest that you either contact the original creator, or look through the interlanguage links on the side of the be bold page? Ziggurat 04:22, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure the one with the g-hat is Esperanto. —Keenan Pepper 04:42, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, Redaktu la paĝon = Edit the page in Esperanto. --π! 05:09, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
And Pubblichi questa pagina is Italian. —Keenan Pepper 04:46, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
'Diese seite bearbeiten' at the top is German, 'Edita esta página' is Spanish and 'Deze pagina bewerken' right below that is Dutch. By the way, the Dutch and German sentences use the full verb, so they mean 'to edit this page', whereas the Spanish version is imperative. Not very consistent, but then only ref desk nitpickers would notice. DirkvdM 07:14, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
I can't comment on the Dutch, but the German 'Diese Seite bearbeiten' is also imperative. It's identical to the infinitive form. —da Pete (ばか) 10:29, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Both the Dutch and the German are infinitive in form but imperative in function. In German, the genuine imperative would be one of "Bearbeite diese Seite", "Bearbeitet diese Seite", or "Bearbeiten Sie diese Seite". User:Angr 17:51, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
I only see it in English, which is odd. Notinasnaid 18:51, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
I'm not good at the grammatical terminology, so I may repeat what you just said, but both the Dutch and German could be used in an imperative sense, but it would be an incomplete sentence. Sort of the way one speaks to someone one considers inferior. In other words a bit rude. At least the Dutch one, but I think the same goes for the German sentence. So I suppose it's not meant in an imperative sense. DirkvdM 18:51, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
In German at least, and presumably in Dutch too, using the infinitive as an imperative like this does sound kind of abrupt in conversation, but it's perfectly normal in written instructions. User:Angr 20:08, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
So how would you say it in conversational German to make it sound less abrupt? --Richardrj 04:56, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
"Bearbeite diese Seite." Or, when using the 'polite' form (as is pretty much the standard in Germany) "Bearbeiten Sie diese Seite." And it never hurts to add "bitte" ("please"). DirkvdM 07:41, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
German Wikipedia usually addresses its users as du, though (e.g. if you try to view your watchlist when you're not logged in it says "Du bist nicht eingeloggt"), so "Bearbeite diese Seite" is right. User:Angr 09:01, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Your post a little higher up gives both Bearbeitet and Bearbeite as possibilities (for the du form?). What's the difference? --Richardrj 09:26, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
"Bearbeitet" is informal plural, corresponding to the pronoun ihr. In general, it's used when speaking to two or more people you would individually address as du. User:Angr 09:48, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
This special form is commonly used for menus and buttons in computer programs, so most users would expect it here. However the text used on the WP site is not actually "Diese Seite bearbeiten", just "Seite bearbeiten". Kjoon, you might want to correct that in the SVG version. —da Pete (ばか) 09:38, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Aha! Internet Explorer on Windows does not show the transparent parts of the image at all. If you are trying to reach the largest number of people, that might be worth bearing in mind. Notinasnaid 20:16, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, Notinasnaid. I also see it only in English. I was wondering what the hell you other guys were on. I'm still not sure .....  :--) JackofOz 21:21, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

There's a pretty good list of translations of 'edit this page' here. Ziggurat 21:25, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
On a closer look, this page appears to be the place where all these translations were first listed. The languages in question are all there. Ziggurat 22:02, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
The foreign charachters between "In" and "www." are southeast Asian, and Thai. — The Mac Davis] ญƛ. 21:09, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

stabo and stabila[edit]

As I understand it, in Esperanto, roots are never supposed to contain affixes. I was surprised when I stumbled across this situation:

  • stabo (from the root stab-) means "staff"
  • stabila (from the root stab-) means "staff-tool-ish"
  • stabila (from the root stabil-) means "stable"

Of course, "staff-tool-ish" doesn't make any sense, but I still find this ambiguity frustrating. Does anybody know how this came to be, and are there any other examples of ambiguous roots in Esperanto? --π! 06:01, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

I got the impression that it wasn't a big deal if the natural root happened to contain an affix; Esperanto wasn't designed to be computer-parsable, unlike Lojban. I think there's at least a few more of these cases; financo, and every other fi- word, include the fi- prefix.--Prosfilaes 06:32, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Good point, but at least nanco doesn't mean anything on its own. --π! 07:51, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Neither does "stab-il-a", really. People deal with real homophones all the time without much problem; pseudohomophones just aren't something to worry about. The fact that ni and mi are easily confused in a noisy environment is much more important, IMO.--Prosfilaes 05:48, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
Likewise Persone is a pun on person-e ("personally") and per-son-e ("through sound").--Prosfilaes 03:32, 31 July 2006 (UTC)


What is the Arabic rendering of bidun? --Neutralitytalk 06:22, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Is it بِدون? Baa+kasra, daal, waw, nuun.--droptone 17:51, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
I think it's a compound preposition: ب is a preposition meaning "by, at, in", added to the somewhat abstract noun دون gives بدون , meaning "without". AnonMoos 21:57, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Yes, دون (dun) itself could be used alone and has the same meaning as بدون (bidun). CG 17:35, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

shot dead[edit]

Is "shot dead" proper English? If it's not, what do I replace it with? --mboverload@ 23:54, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

It's perfectly acceptable English. It might be a bit informal in some contexts. If that's the case, you could replace it with "shot and killed". (The idea is to remove the ambiguity of simply saying "shot", since one can be shot and merely wounded, rather than killed....) - Nunh-huh 00:08, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Absolutely standard English. "Resultative" verb/adjective constructions abound in English and elsewhere: "left stranded" "run aground" (OK, that's not an adjective) "kept isolated" etc. It's fairly idiomatic in that not all combinations are possible. · rodii · 00:21, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
The wording "shot to death" has been promoted as a replacement (ISTR for political rather than grammatical reasons), though Google test reveals both are very common. Googling with site:uk confirms my impression that "shot to death" is very rare in the UK. —Blotwell 01:15, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
However that could mean something different. "Shot dead" would generally be taken to mean one fatal shot, whereas "shot to death" would suggest many bullets, ie. they just kept on firing for as long as it took until the person died (cf. kicked to death, bashed to death). JackofOz 02:39, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

I still don't get the controversy. How is "shot dead" any different from (the other canonical examples) the absolutely parallel "painted red" and "hammered flat"? · rodii · 04:28, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree. "Hammered" does not necessarily mean the thing finished up flat; "hammered flat" completes the picture. And "painted" does not necessarily mean the thing finished up being red; "painted red" completes the picture. Likewise, you can be shot without dying ("shot"), or you can be shot fatally ("shot dead", or "shot to death", depending on the circumstances). JackofOz 06:21, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
I'm intrigued by the idea that 'shot to death' is being promoted- by whom, and why? For me it conjures up visions of St. Valentine's Day massacre-style killing; I take it it doesn't have those connotations in AmE? HenryFlower 11:17, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
I agree. To me, in Nebraska, "shot dead" gives the impression of a single shot that more or less instantly killed the victim, whereas "shot to death" sounds like the gunman kept shooting bullets until he was certain the victim was dead. —Bkell (talk) 18:17, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Yes, to me (British) they also give that impression. I'm claiming (I reiterate, only on the basis of something half-remembered I read years ago) that shot dead, the common expression, sounded too clean and painless and the anti-gun lobby wanted to popularize something gorier. —Blotwell 23:41, 25 July 2006 (UTC)