Wikipedia:Reference desk archive/Language/2006 September 27

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
< September 26 Language desk archive September 28 >
Humanities Science Mathematics Computing/IT Language Miscellaneous Archives
The page you are currently viewing is an archive page. While you can leave answers for any questions shown below, please ask new questions at one of the pages linked to above.
< August September October >

Problem with passive voice[edit]

How can I make the sentence: "In life, people and things are not always the way they appear to be at first glance" without it being passive? [unsigned]

I might be mistaken, but I don't see any passive voice in it as it is now. 04:01, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Nevermind, thank you for your answer but I figured it out on my own. And yes, there is passive voice in it. "Are" and "to be" both denote the passive voice.
In passive voice, the verb is compound, meaning that it includes a form of "to be". "The mouse was eaten by the cat" is a passive sentence. The active version would be "The cat ate the mouse". The mere presence of the words "to be" in a sentence does not make the sentence passive. Your sentence is not passive. JackofOz 05:40, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Even the presence of a compound verb doesn't necessarily make a sentence passive. "The cat was eating the mouse" is still active, because the subject is the thing doing the action. The hallmark of a passive sentence is that the subject is the thing that the action is being done to. The subject of your sentence is "people and things". Nothing is being done to them. JackofOz 05:47, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
There are no passives in your sentence. I think you're getting mixed up between intransitive and passive. "People and things are ..." is active, but intransitive; so is "things appear to be ..." Petrouchka 11:31, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

See for this our article English passive voice.  --LambiamTalk 08:52, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Use of the word 'cure'[edit]

What is the correct use of the word cure? Googling lets me see lots of examples of finding or having a cure 'against' this or that ... 'cure against bird flue', 'cure against child labor', 'cure against Parkinson's'. But I think that it only sounds correct to have a cure for something. A cure for cancer, a cure for my troubles ... etc.

Thanks if you can enlighten.

As far as I know,"cure against" is wrong but that doesn't stop people from using it *sigh*Perhaps they've mixed it up with "prophylactic against"?(hotclaws**== 15:10, 27 September 2006 (UTC))

"Cure against" is definitely wrong. "Defence against" is OK. Unfortunately Googling is not a useful way to check the vaildity of expressions like this.--Shantavira 17:36, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for two replies. Can anyone help with a little more substantive or grammatical explanation of exactly what is wrong with the phrasing 'cure against' ... so that I can convincingly cure the problem that lead to the dispute and original question. Thanks again whoever contributes...

I don't think a "more substantive or grammatical explanation" exists. It is just how it happens to be. Many words come with conventional prepositions: "hope for peace", "eyes on art", and "fear of flying". In German you'd say for the last one: "Angst vor dem Fliegen" (next to the more usual Flugangst, which is more literally "flying fear"). In every language there are certain set ways of saying things, for no particular reason. "Cure for" is one of them.  --LambiamTalk 23:26, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
I have tried to learn several languages. Prepositions are always a pain in the ass, moreso for Germanic languages than Romance, actually. (You'd have no idea how much easier things get using the same word for both "in" and "on".) 惑乱 分からん 01:03, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

German rhyme for children[edit]

My grandmother was born in Germany in 1926. She relocated to the US after WWII. My question is about a little rhyme (sort of) in German that she will use when cleaning a small child's face and hands. I can't spell it the way a German would, but I'll do so in English words and see if somebody can translate (or explain) it for me. Thanks.

"Schaltzie, Schmaltzie, Budapecture, Soydrechture" Danthemankhan 15:55, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

The second word is almost certainly a diminuitive of Schmalz, "lard". The first word could be from Schatz, "darling". The third looks like Budapest (!), but Budapester is/was apparently a kind of men's shoe. Haven't got a clue about the last one though. -- the GREAT Gavini 16:26, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Do you know where in Germany your grandmother grew up? I tried reading it out loud, but the last word does not ound like anything I would recognize. If I knew what dialect your grandmother was speaking, reading it out while trying to emulate that dialect would probably change the way the words sound quite a bit, maybe then I could guess what the last word might be -- Ferkelparade π 17:27, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
On seond thought, if your grandmother is Swabian (I'm too), it might be "Budapeschter, d'Säu trecht er" (Guy from Budapest, he's carrying the pigs). That doesn't make much sense, but from what I remember from my own childhood, most nursery rhymes are more or less randomly stringed together words :P -- Ferkelparade π 17:31, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
I have never heard anything like it, and couldn't find it in German children's rhyme collections either. Here's a very wild guess: "Schatzi, Schmatzi, Puderbäckchen, Säudreckchen". The translation would be something like: "Darling, kiss-kiss, powdered little cheeks, pig's little dirt". Budapecture might also be Butterbäckchen which would mean 'little butter cheeks'. In which part of Germany did your Grandmother grow up? As already pointed out by Ferkelparade, the local dialect might be helpful. It could be a variety of the word 'Pausbäckchen', meaning chubby little cheeks.---Sluzzelin 18:33, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

My grandmother grew up in Frankfurt am Main. Danthemankhan 20:32, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

That was where Anne Frank was born. bibliomaniac15 23:33, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

In that case she might have spoken one of the Hessian dialects, Nassauisch perhaps. I tried looking for clues on German dialect pages, but I couldn't find anything helpful. I still think it might be something close to my wild guess above, but I can't solve this one satisfactorily. I took the liberty of posting the question on German WP's reference desk and will report to you if I receive any helpful answers.---Sluzzelin 07:27, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
I got a very helpful response from user Peng, a native Frankfurter. The user's grandmother recited a similar rhyme while washing or caressing her grandchildren's hands. The beginning is identical and goes 'Salzi, Schmalzi...' (followed by 'Kieksfingerchen', meaning 'squeaky little finger'). So the whole verse probably goes 'Salzi, Schmalzi, Puderbäckchen (or Butterbäckchen), Säudreckchen'. Translation: 'Salty, greasy, powdered little cheeks (or little butter cheeks), pig's little dirt'. Loosely translated, the last word could also mean 'filthy little pig' in an endearing way.---Sluzzelin 14:49, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Wow, thanks a lot. It is most appreciated. :) Danthemankhan 15:00, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Brief update thanks to inputs from users Peng and Rainer Z: The correct Hessian version would be: Sälzje, Schmälzje, Budderbäcksche, Säudrecksche. This dialect version is closer to your transcription than the (sort of) Standard German version I gave, and now it definitely means 'little butter cheeks'.---Sluzzelin 18:03, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks to Sluzzelin. Last night before i slept i had another very possible idea. Hope you understand my english: Instead of Budderbäcksche it could be meant Buwebäcksche. Buwe means boys (in hessian) and refers to, that boys often got dirty cheaks. And the Säudrecksche is a turned word for Drecksäuchen( = little dirty pig), which is a normally an offense to someone, who is dirty, but in this diminutive form its more like a caressing word and refers also to little boys, who play in the mud and get dirty. Thats it. Hope I could help you. --Nfu-peng 12:43, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks a lot, you have been a great help. Danthemankhan 16:01, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Spanish pronunciation[edit]

How do you pronounce the term "Revolución Bolivariana"?

Like "ray-voh-loo-see-OAN bo-lee-vahr-YAH-nah". Remember to use the Spanish "r" sound. I'll leave it to someone else to put it in IPA. -- Mwalcoff 22:54, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
[reβ̞olusiˈom boliβ̞aˈɾjan̪a] (I think.) --Ptcamn 23:51, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Looks right to me. Bhumiya (said/done) 01:54, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Note that the 'e' in 're' shouldn't really be pronounced as in 'ray'. It's more like the 'a' in 'baker'. The 'v' should sound more like a 'b'. The 'loo' should be pronounced with a short 'oo'. Since this is in America, I suppose one shouldn't use the Spanish 'hissing c' (what's that called?). Are you sure anout the 'OAN'? Shouldn't that be just 'ON' (or is that also Spanish Spanish?). The 'ee' in 'lee' should also be short and the following 'v' might again have to be more like a 'b'. And I'm not sure about the 'shortening' of the last 'i' to 'yah', but I suppose that in practise that's how it turns out. I totally agree with the 'bo', though. :) DirkvdM 06:36, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Also remember to change the "see" by "th-ee" (same sound as in growth) if you're using Spanish from Spain. --RiseRover|talk 06:49, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
...unless it's Andalusian or Canary Islands Spanish, in which case it would indeed be as in "see". -- the GREAT Gavini 15:40, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
All this confusion is why there should be mandatory IPA in secondary school. If you want to hear the Spanish sounds go to[site] and hit the Spanish library links. mnewmanqc 11:33, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
That would solve a lot of problems here, I guess. But then, if everyone knew everything, there would be no need for Wikipedia. Regarding Dirk's comments, the spelling pronunciation is based on my dialect, General American. To me, there is no difference between the "ay" sound in "ray" and the "a" sound in "baker." (They're both /e/.) There is really no way to point out the length of the "oo" or "ee" sounds in spelling pronunciation. "Lo" would be pronounced /loʊ/, not /lu/, and "le" might be pronounced /le/, not /li/. There's not really a need to emphasize vowel length, either, since it's not really an issue in English or Spanish. "ON," to an American, would be pronounced /ɔn/, not /on/. Some Spanish speakers use /b/ for the letter "v." Others use a sound in-between /b/ and /v/, which Ptcamn has represented with /β̞/. -- Mwalcoff 02:28, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
IPA and those slashed letters don't mean anything to me, and I suppose that goes for most people. So alas, until education changes that, we'll have to do with the way you wrote it in your first answer. Which is alas a very bad representation. Especially the 'ray' is a common (and, if you ask me, very ugly) mispronunciation among English speakers. I suppose the omost common mistake the English make is to speak to far to the back in the mouth, as it is done in English. Most other languages are pronounced furhter to the front and Spanish is a good example for that. A little while back I gave 'plaza de la revolucion' as something very hard to pronounce, to which someone replied that that was easy. At the time I assumed that was meant as irony, but later I realised that it may have been their mispronunciation. The difficulty lies especially in that the 'l', the 'r' and the Spanish pronunciation of the 'z' and the 'c' make the tip of the tongue do some impossible juggling tricks - it should be kept as close to the teeth as possible. In other words, if you can't pronounce 'plaza de la revolucion', you'll know you're doing it right. :) DirkvdM 06:29, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm, I might have pronounced it similar to Swedish, possibly... Still, it only seems impossible to anglophones... =S 惑乱 分からん 09:48, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
The article Close-mid_front_unrounded_vowel says the letter "e" in Spanish makes the same sound as the first half of the dipthong in the American pronunciation of "late." So from an American's perspective, there's probably no closer sound to the Spanish "e" than the vowel in "ray" (which is the same vowel as the "a" in "baker.") -- Mwalcoff 02:15, 4 October 2006 (UTC)


Would "Sciencia est vox" be a grammatically correct translation of "Knowledge is power?" (And no, this isn't homework, I'm just curious) bibliomaniac15 23:32, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Grammatically correct, yes. But not semantically correct, or spelt correctly.
Assuming you want Classical Latin and not say, Medieval Latin, it should be "scientia", not "sciencia"; lenition of t to c happens later.
And "vox" means "voice", not power. --Ptcamn 23:44, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

What would you suggest? bibliomaniac15 00:19, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Scientia potentia est.  --LambiamTalk 01:45, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Original poster possibly meant to write 'Scientia est vis', rather than vox. This would be a perfectly OK translation. Maid Marion 09:21, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Here [1] is the German user page of a German Wikipedian who collects translations of this sentence in several languages. --Rabe! 20:26, 28 September 2006 (UTC)