Wikipedia:Reference desk archive/Language/January 2006

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January 1[edit]

i wonder[edit]

what are the latin words for shit,sex,gay and how do you spell liberty backwards and just in case you are wondering i am not doing my homework.

Sky = caelum in Latin, power = potestas, fire = ignis. Liberty spelled backwards is Ytrebil, or did you mean in Latin? --Angr (t·c) 17:34, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

Latin ignis is agni in Sanskrit, and though the learned writer Angr has nothing to with anger (as he maintains in his profile), the root of anger is Old Norse angr. Anger also means inflame, so we have some fire, too! Vsjayaschandran 21:10, 2 January 2006.

Can I ask what is Sanksrit for soap?I was amazed that in Hindi it is Sabun, similar to Philippine-Spanish Sabon(Spanish jabon). Others

said to be similar brother-frater-brata(Greek -phrater), six-sex-sas, god-deo-deva, snake or serpent-serpe?-sarpa, great -gna-maha , king or royal-rege-raja etc. Amazing!--Jondel 14:07, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

A couple sources I have give the origin for Hindi's साबुन (sābun) as coming from Arabic. Platt's dictionary is one and has some abbreviations that I can't find an explanation for that may indicate an earlier source. See here. So that may indicate a common origin for the words or just that Hindi got the word through Arabic. It's not hard to believe the Spanish word came through Arabic too. I don't know about the Sanskrit. - Taxman Talk 19:25, 7 January 2006 (UTC

Headline text[edit]


January 2[edit]

Argentina, Lebanon and Ukraine[edit]

Not sure if this is a language or geography question. Places like Argentina, Lebanon and Ukraine have in the past been referred to as "The Argentine", "The Lebanon", and "The Ukraine". Why? JackofOz 09:02, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

In the Philippines' case, it was usually called las islas Filipinas or the Philippine islands. Eventually it became the Philippines or las Filipinas. Though in Spanish, it seems, people usually omit the definite article and simply say Filipinas. --Chris S. 22:35, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
The names must mean something -- in whatever language they originate -- that requires a the, as do The United States of America, The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and The People's Republic of China. Sorry, that's just speculation. Mitchell k dwyer 09:21, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
My own guess is that these were originally the names of regions rather than states, since they were all part of empires ("The Sudan", also). That would explain why the people there get shirty if you include the "the". Mark1 11:15, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
It's a decent guess, but doesn't cover every case. There's of course the Hauge, located in the Netherlands. Most of the time, I think it's due to an ommited part. "The (Kingdom of the) Netherlands", "The Argentine (river)", "The Congo (river)". Or even: "The (Republic of the) Gambia (river)". The 'regions' theory doesn't really explain much though. Why "The Ukraine" but not "The Belarus" (or any other former part of the USSR/Russian Empire)? --BluePlatypus 13:30, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
Certainly there are some that mean things- The Hague means the hedge or enclosure. The Netherlands is a group of lands. Belarus? It means "White Russia", so doesn't get a "the" any more than Russia itself (why the Tzars were Tzars of "all the Russias" is an interesting complication). I'm not saying that all regions get an article- Appalachia, etc, don't- but "the Ukraine" could be short for "the Ukraine region". Name_of_Ukraine#Ukraine_or_the_Ukraine.3F supports my regions theory. And for even more detail, see [1]. Mark1 14:07, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

"Lebanon" comes from "the Levant", the traditional name for the region. "Ukraine" comes from the Russian word meaning "border", so calling it "the border" makes sense. (There is also a region in Croatia called "Krajina" for the same reason, from the Serbo-Croat word for border.) The Spanish name of the South American country in question is "La Republica Argentina", which is best translated as "the Argentine Republic", i.e., "Argentina" is an adjective in this instance, not a noun. "The Argentine" may be a shortening of "the Argentine Republic". The desert lying to the south of the Sahara desert is the Sudan desert, so "the Sudan" may come from the name of the desert, in the same way that Yukon Territory in Canada has, more so in the past, been called "the Yukon". The Republic of Mali was once called the "French Sudan". Ground Zero | t 16:14, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

The irony is that Slavic languages like Ukranian don't even have a word like "the." Nonetheless, when the country became independent, they figured the word "the" made it seem like a region rather than a proper country. As far as Argentina goes, it is called "la Argentina" in Spanish. Several countries have "el" or "la" as part of their Spanish names. -- Mwalcoff 19:04, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
If I'm not mistaken, all countries take a definite article in Spanish: La Canadá, el Ingliterra, etc. Ground Zero | t 21:45, 2 January 2006 (UTC)]
Actually, I think only a handful of countries, states, and cities take the definite article in Spanish like: el Canadá, el Uruguay, la Habana, la India, la Florida, etc. But some do not, like Inglaterra, España, México. --Chris S. 22:35, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

WOW!! Thanks, folks. JackofOz 22:07, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

Pirate talk[edit]

Did pirates actually talk like pirates, or do we have Hollywood to thank? Mark1 11:10, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

Well, I'm no expert on the subject (although I do own a nautical dictionary). But obviously the stereotypical Hollywood pirate is just that: A stereotype. So like all stereotypes it's exaggerated, simplified and distorted, but that doesn't mean there isn't some resemblence to reality in it. Most 'pirate' words are more general maritime slang. Most pirates (in the Caribbean) probably also used more Creole words than movie pirates, but I doubt their language was significantly different from that of contemporary Caribbean sailors. --BluePlatypus 13:09, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
International Talk Like a Pirate Day has some additional information about the sources of some pirate phrases. GeeJo (t) (c) 20:23, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
Also note that many languages were spoken by pirates, not just English. StuRat 22:54, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

An Uncommon Meaning of the Noun Individual[edit]

I thought that the meaning of the word individual, in the past, (maybe in the first half of the 20th century) included a derogatory connotation . For example to say that "an individual read the letter" had a derogatory connotation with respect to the person referenced. Was this form of usage in existence at one time?

The only derogatory use of the word individual (in this case, spelled more properly as induhvidual) that I know of was created by Scott Adams (cartoonist of Dilbert) a few years ago to refer to morons behind their backs. 16:55, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't think the word "individual" was in itself considered particularily derogatory. It's more a question of etiquette: It's rude to speak badly about someone, or to be openly confrontational. So it is/was considered more polite to not single out the person directly but rather to speak of an "individual", reducing the accusation to a mere insinuation. So by association, referring to someone in an indirect manner could itself be damning. But the tone of voice is critical here to distinguish between "an individual read the letter" as in "someone read the letter" and as in "someone-you-know-who read the letter when he shouldn't have". Which is why I don't think you can say "individual" was derogatory in itself. Adding the word 'certain' as in "a certain individual" makes it clearer that it's the insinuative meaning though. --BluePlatypus 23:10, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
I think this what the original poster is thinking of: if you are snobbish about social classes, and you see a man whose name you don't know but you can tell he's a gentleman, then you naturally describe him as "a gentleman". Therefore if you use some other word, such as "individual" or "person", it implies that he is not a gentleman and therefore considered unworthy. (I've only come across this sort of thing in period fiction, typically set in England.) --Anonymous, 04:11 UTC, January 3, 2006.

I don't think this applies to your usage of the word, but doing something independently could be considered inappropriate in cases where collective agreement is normally required. For example, if one member of a club decided "individually" how to spend the club dues, without the consent of other club members, this might be considered unacceptable behaviour. StuRat 22:51, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

french language[edit]

how do you say in french "she has vascular dementia"

Elle a démence vasculaire --BluePlatypus 12:50, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
Je dirais plutôt : « Elle est atteinte de démence vasculaire » — qui en plus d'être une phrase sûrement correcte, est bien plus élégante que la précédente tournure. Grumpy Troll (talk) 13:00, 2 January 2006 (UTC).
As usual my school french is trumped by a native speaker :) But am I correct in thinking that's a bit closer to "She is suffering from.."? (which would be the better way to say it in english too.) --BluePlatypus 13:42, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
You are indeed correct in that aspect. Grumpy Troll (talk) 13:50, 2 January 2006 (UTC).
"Elle est atteinte de démence vasculaire" is more idiomatic (more what they would say in France or other French-speaking countries). By the way, for those who don't speak French, GrumpyTroll said "Rather, I would say "She is suffering from vascular dementia" - which, as well as being a sentence that is certainly correct, is much more elegant that the above turn of phrase." — 14:15, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

french language[edit]

what is the french for "power of attorney"?

What is the english translation of "Mettre ( quelqu'un ) sous tutelle"?

Procuration (also means "proxy"). "To put (someone) under supervision --BluePlatypus 12:53, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
One may also come across the expression mettre les allocations familiales sous tutelle, which means to entrust the control of child benefit (allocations familiales) to a third party when "the children are raised in obviously defective conditions of nutrition, housing and hygiene and that the child benefit is not used in the interest of the children." That is, when a family receives money to raise the children and that the said money is not being used to this end, a judge appoints someone as to be sure that the money is spent in the interest of the children. Grumpy Troll (talk) 13:15, 2 January 2006 (UTC).

place name[edit]

What is the origin and meaning of the place name Tyas?

Where is it? I couldn't find a place called Tyas anywhere; did you spell it wrong? Did you mean any of these places?:
  • Tyaskin, Maryland, United States
  • Tyaskin Estates, Maryland, United States
  • Tyasanakaha, Ivory Coast
  • Tyasedougou, Ivory Coast
  • Tyasminovka, Ukraine
  • Tyaso, Ivory Coast
  • Tyassi, Estonia
  • Tyassono, Cameroon
  • Tyasty, Byelarus
  • Tyasédougou, Ivory Coast

If you mean it as a name, this site said :

"Middleton Tyas (Yorkshire): The first part of the name is Anglo-Saxon and means middle farm. Tyas is a Norman French name but there is no evidence that the place once belonged to the family of that name."

Sorry I couldn't be of more help... Sputnikcccp 21:05, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

January 3[edit]

Subject/verb agreement and collective nouns[edit]

A user has been going around changing "are" to "is" in many articles whose subject is a plural name (sports teams and bands). For example, they changed "The White Stripes are" to "The White Stripes is", "The New York Yankees are" to "The New York Yankees is", etc. Obviously this is awkward, but the user claims that this usage is correct in American English. Any English experts want to weigh in? It can't be correct to write that "The Beatles was on the Ed Sullivan Show", can it? Rhobite 02:53, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

I can't claim to be an English expert, but the rule is simple and well-known: If more than one person is acting as a group, the verb is singular. Otherwise, it's plural. [2] That sounds awkward to most people, so phrases like "The White Stripes are" are very common. Given that, I don't think it much matters: Usage determines what's correct. --George 03:05, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
I am no expert on American English. Canadian English, however, is quite similar. "The White Stripes is" is without question incorrect in my mind. The difference in usage between the UK and the US and Canada when it comes to subject/verb agreement is with respect to singluar collective nouns: "The BBC are chnaging their schedule", but "The CBC is changing its schedule." Ground Zero | t 03:37, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
Here is a quote from The Bedford Handbook on page 270. "In American English, collective nouns are nearly always treated as singular: They emphasize the group as a unit." The name of a band is a collection of one unit. RJN 03:47, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
That is a tricky one, given that in the examples you mention, although the name is referring to a singular group, the noun itself is a plural. I think the rule you need to apply here is: can you refer to a single member of said group/team using a singular version of the group name? For example: "John Lennon was a Beatle", "Meg White is a White Stripe", "Keith Richards is a Rolling Stone"? If so, then I think "The Beatles are..." and "The White Stripes are..." is correct. However, you could not do that for a singular noun, such as "Noel Gallagher is an Oasis", in which case you would say "Oasis is...". Where it falls down is where a (seemingly) plural noun is not necessarily referring to the band members, usually where the article "The" is omitted by the band, e.g. "Pixies" (the Wikipedia article does actually start "Pixies are an alternative rock music group...", but I would say "Pixies is..."). One can probably just bypass this whole arguement, however, but just rephrasing some of the sentences if it sounds wrong: "The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show." --Canley 03:52, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
The rule in American English is that a plural noun, like Beatles, gets a plural verb, but a collective singular noun, like the band Queen, gets a singular verb. In British English, both types of nouns get a plural verb. My guess is the user is a British person trying to write in American English and overgeneralizing with the rule. -- Mwalcoff 04:05, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
"The Beatles" is still one unit/entity is it not? I have already asked several English majors at my school and 2 English professors and they confirmed that "The Beatles is," "New York Yankees is" are correct. "The Beatles" is a collective entity. For example, you can replace "The Beatles" with "the band" <---singular --RJN 04:32, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
RJN, do you remember how I wrote on your talk page, "This is not worth edit-warring over and my advice is to leave things as they are"? Even if it were true that "The Beatles is" is correct in American English (which I doubt), it's considered poor Wikiquette to edit articles on non-country-specific topics only to switch from BrE to AmE or vice versa. --Angr (t·c) 05:53, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
...Particularly for a British band. I think one should also look at how the actual group/band/team refers to itself/themselves, which should probably be the definitive ruling in most cases, overriding any grammatical arguments. In the case of The Beatles, their official site uses "The Beatles were..." (plural noun), not "The Beatles was..." (singular group noun). --Canley 05:59, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
Just checked, the White Stripes and the New York Yankees also refer to themselves using plural verbs: "are" not "is". --Canley 06:07, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

Here is a sentence from MCA Records that would support the use of "is". "New Radicals, led by young liability/singer/songwriter/producer Gregg Alexander, is chomping at the bit." Hope this helps. RJN 06:12, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

Another sentence from Nine Inch Nails article and was never edited by me. "Nine Inch Nails (abbreviated as NIN and typeset as NIИ) is a critically and commercially successful American band formed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1988 by Trent Reznor." RJN 06:19, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
There are articles about bands and sports teams that use "is" and "was" before I even start editing. I am not the only one that is using it correctly. As I said many times before, I emailed my former English professor and she confirmed that the usage is correct. I even asked several other English majors that I know from my school. RJN 06:23, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
English is not a language prescribed from above. It's entirely likely that both are in common use and both must be considered correct from a descriptionist point of view. --Prosfilaes 07:36, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
Strictly speaking though, Nine Inch Nails (as a recording entity) is pretty much one person: Trent Reznor, so it quite likely should be "Nine Inch Nails is...". Your New Radicals example is neutralised on the main headline on the band's official homepage: "New Radicals Disband" - shouldn't this be "New Radicals Disbands"? The "is" also "sounds" right because it is after the singular Gregg Alexander. Angr is right, we're not going to reach a consensus on this for cultural as well as other reasons, so they should be left as they are with what sounds right, despite what your English professor says. Here's a link to similar debates on Ask MetaFilter (no consensus), Word Court (bands are a special case), and a cache of this site on plural noun forms says that the plural form of band names should be shown as plurals. --Canley 08:19, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

I think one area where the whole issue gets dodgy is when you try to consider a group as simply a plural of nouns; as in, people think of The Beatles as four Beatles who played music together. That makes sense, kind of, because you can refer to Paul McCartney as, at least, a former Beatle. So, when you get a group of them together, they're just four Beatles. Of course it would take a plural.

The same kind of example holds for The New York Yankees, and doesn't so much hold for the New Radicals or Nine Inch Nails. You could refer to a Yankee pretty easily, but there aren't actually a group of guys described as a "New Radical" or a "Nine Inch Nail," as Canley points out above. However, with the White Stripes example, I think my rule breaks down, because I don't think of Jack or Meg as a stripe, you know? --ParkerHiggins ( talk contribs ) 09:47, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

It took a long time for me to not want to injure myself every time I saw a collective noun being followed by a plural pronoun, but I am gradually learning to accept that we speak English differently in different parts of the world. I agree that it's not worth edit-warring over; however, there are just too many articles that clearly use the pronouns thoughtlessly. If someone deliberately says "the committee gave it their approval," I can gracefully move on, but later in the same article, the same noun gets the singular pronoun, so that it's obvious someone isn't trying very hard. In situations like this, I try to edit for consistency, and so far there haven't been too many reverts. So I'm writing all this just to make a plea: Whatever your preference, please be consistent! Mitchell k dwyer 11:39, 3 January 2006 (UTC) 11:38, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

I agree; consistency is foremost. BTW, if I were to come across "the committee gave it their approval," I'd probably change it to "the committee approved it," avoiding the problem altogether. —Wayward Talk 12:22, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
Thought I'd join this conversation as I already talked about this to quite some length with RJN on our user talk pages. According to Singular and plural for nouns:
"Proper nouns which are plural in form take a plural verb in both American and British English. Examples:
  • British English: "The Clash are a well-known band." American English: "The Clash is a well-known band." Both: "The Beatles are a well-known band."
Also, regarding the New Radicals, I found a press release by the band that reads "The New Radicals are disbanding", albeit under the heading "New Radicals dissloves" Here it's used as a singular without the "the", and as plural with it, and both versions seem fine to me (although I prefer the plural). The version RJN uses ("The New Radicals was") still seems wrong to me. --Fritz Saalfeld (Talk) 20:30, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
If I was writing it, I would just go with whatever I was comfortable with, but since there's disagreement, I figure I should mention something we recently learned in English class. A collective noun can be either singular or plural depending on how it's used. If the action is performed by all individuals individually, the noun is plural (the committee drive their own cars), and if the action is performed by the group collectively, the noun is singular (the committee meets in room 102). "Bare Naked Ladies was on the Ed Sullivan Show" would then be correct (though inaccurate). There are two other things to point out, though: plurals and alternate structures, both of which are buried in the small mountain of text above.
  • Plurals: There were four Beatles. John Lennon was a Beatle. 'The Beatles', though it may or may not have been that way originally, is not collective, it's plural. As such, the rules for collective nouns are irrelevant to it, and more familiar rules take over. Similarly, the Young Republicans are an organization, but the noun is not a collective, because each member is actually a Young Republican. The same could be said of some sports teams, but not all.
  • Alternate structures: It's clunky to extend the rules of collective nouns to, for instance, Oasis. To say "Oasis was on the Ed Sullivan Show" is fine by everyone. To say "Oasis were having creative differences", though it seems to satisfy the rules, is as uncomfortable to read as "He or she should give himself or herself a shot into his or her vein." Both correct, neither used, ever. People have better ways to put the same things. In the case of an inconvenient collective, people seem to usually hide it in a prepositional phrase where it can't do any damage. The best way to say it, then, would be, "The drummer and the lead singer of Oasis had a falling out." Or, as was suggested above, switch to a verb that, in that tense, does not differentiate between singular and plural.
BTW, I would use the bands' own preferences as, at best, a tie-breaker, not least because, as Canley mentioned, they may not be consistent with it themselves. And, in case the rules are region-specific, I'm from the USA, from the South, from Texas, from a bit north of Houston. As far as I know, the rules we learn are national. Black Carrot 23:01, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
LOL - "Oasis was on the Ed Sullivan Show" is not fine by me! This is one of the British/US differences that really grates. For me (British), when an American soccer fan on a messageboard writes something like "Liverpool has won" I really want to strangle him. I imagine it sounds just as odd the other way round. "The bank have written to say....", etc, probably sounds terrible to US ears. Jameswilson 03:33, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
Ouch! Ouch! You're hurting me! Somebody please make him stop!  :( Mitchell k dwyer 04:43, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

The Yankees are are doing well this year. The team is doing well this year. Same entity, but different verb depending on which noun you are using to refer to them in US English. --Nelson Ricardo 07:42, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

While English is my first foreign language, and not my native one, I learned it this way: If the noun in question refers to more than one person (the police, the Yankees, ...), use plural. —Nightstallion (?) 08:08, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

I had to teach a writing class to nonnative English speakers a year or so ago and collective nouns (hmmm, wait, wikipedia's defn of collective noun isn't the same...things like "committee", "group", "deck of cards", "The Clash"--a noun referring to multiple implied members) was one of the questions that came up. I have access to a rather extensive library of (American English) style guides and I spent hours researching the topic. Some style guides were very explicit in what to do but most agreed in a general sense: The answer is most often: "Context determines singular or plural", or what the collective noun is/are doing, and, then, if context doesn't help, how it sounds, which makes it subjective. An example of the former: "The Beatles put on their coats" ("the Beatles put on its coat" would just be silly), but "the Beatles is a famous band" ("the Beatles ARE a famous band" also sounds odd--if it were *are*, it would be "the Beatles are famous bands"??). An example of the latter--well, that's where we are, with plural-sounding collective nouns sounding better to many ears when treated as truly plural nouns when context doesn't clearly indicate one or the other. If I were writing on the subjects, I'd consider that "The Beatles" and "the Yankees" in most case be treated as plurals unless context clearly dictates otherwise, because you CAN have one Beatle or one Yankee, whereas "the Clash" is singular in such situations because there isn't "a Clash" representing an individual member. However, you can find style guides to justify whatever way you want to do it. It's going to be impossible for anyone to justify changing everything his/her way, so my pathetic recommendation would be to leave them as is.Elf | Talk 20:25, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

topics for group discussion[edit]

where can i find different topics for group discussion ?

Find an article about the topic you want to discuss, and then click on the "discussion" tab. Wikipedia is not really a discussion forum though, as far as I know the discussion pages are generally to reach consensus on editing articles rather than expressing a viewpoint. --Canley 08:22, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
Try watching the news, that can bring up some interesting items to discuss. StuRat 22:45, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

Collective Possession[edit]

If there were to be, say, a ball that were jointly owned by my sister and myself, what possessive pronouns would I use to describe it? As in, is it "My sister's and my ball"? And if i were to reduce her to a pronoun, would it be "her and my ball", or "hers and my ball"? Nothing sounds right. Thanks! --ParkerHiggins ( talk contribs ) 09:50, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

I believe the prescriptive form is "my sister's and my ball", pronominalized to "her and my ball". I remember my father ranting once about someone who had thanked him for coming to "Katie and I's wedding" instead of "Katie's and my wedding". If both possessors are nouns (including names), though, then you use only one 's: "Katie and John's wedding". --Angr (t·c) 10:28, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
I would think though that if reducing "my sister" to "her" then perhaps it would be better to instead reduce "my sister and my" to "our". It might be better, however, to rephrase the statement so that it is instead, "the ball that my sister and I own". Theshibboleth 12:05, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Let's face it, it's just awkward for prescriptive grammarians to answer. Prescription and description provides a good account of prescription, "the laying down or prescribing of normative rules for a language," but the living language will just burst the bonds of all the rules. The article Grammar offers more discussion.
  • Probably the best way to handle the situation is to find some way to rephrase it. This depends on context. For example, "The boy stole the ball my sister and I had bought." But the best solution is to stick with "our." Halcatalyst 19:04, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, the prescriptivist rule is that both nouns or pronouns should be in the possessive form ("my sister's and my"), but it the possessive of the whole phrase is much more commonly seen and heard, whether or not this is grammatically correct or not ("my sister and my"). This is commonly seen with pairs of proper nouns: "Jack and Jill's wedding" (rather than "Jack's and Jill's wedding"). Strictly, this refers to two entities: someone called Jack, and the wedding of someone called Jill, but no one would interpret it that way. Language is about understanding, so, while, "Jack and Jill's wedding" breaks the rule, the intended meaning is perfectly well understood.
Other rewritings of "My sister's and my ball" are "My sister's ball and mine" and "Mine and my sister's ball", although these could both possibly be misinterpreted as referring to two balls, one belonging to me and one to my sister. As others have said, the ideal solution is a rewording that doesn't sound pedantic or unnatural but is still grammatically correct and unambiguous. — 14:23, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
I believe the rule is when one of the possessors in a compound possessive is a personal pronoun, both possessors must be in the possessive form. Therefore, "Jack and Jill's wedding" would be correct for one wedding in which Jack and Jill are wed. "Jack's and Jill's weddings" refers to two separate weddings. A better example may be "London's and New York's underground systems." —Wayward Talk 07:14, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't think "Jack and Jill's wedding" strictly refers to Jill's wedding and Jack. I think the thought process used when someone writes "Jack and Jill's wedding" groups "Jack and Jill" as one (compound) object and then applies a possessive "'s" to it. It's a good analogy with a phrase like "the couple's wedding." I haven't studied descriptive English syntax, so I don't know how it's dealt with, but the situation where you have some sort of modifier (possessive, adjective, adverb) and a compound object can always lead to ambiguity (e.g. "cute puppies and kittens", "jogged and biked daily", etc.). LWizard @ 05:38, 7 January 2006 (UTC)


See also: Translation of the Week

Can people please give me as many translations of these words as possible. Thanks, Gerard Foley 14:40, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

The words in question are happy, feeling, and suppose. I think it's better to ask people to go directly there and add their translations, rather than having people add them here, otherwise this section will shortly become huge. --Angr (t·c) 14:57, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

January 4[edit]

Last name pronunciations[edit]

Is there a reference with the pronunciations of last names? I am specifically interested in those of musicians, such as Neal Peart, Mike Portnoy, and Pete Townshend. thejabberwock 01:46, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Radio stations often issue pronunciation guides (so all their announcers use the same pronunciation. One of these is the Voice of America pronunciation guide at [3]. - Nunh-huh 01:53, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

I don't know if there is any actual reference available, but I can definitely say that 'Peart' is pronounced 'pee-rt' and 'Townshend' is pronounced exactly like the more familiar name 'Townsend' (with the 's' like a 'z'). I can't help you with Portnoy, sorry. Givnan 06:08, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

As far as this British contributor is aware Portnoy is pronounced to rhyme with "sport-noise", but cutting yourself off before you get to the S in noise. I'm not familiar with the musician, but there's a book or film (both?) with the name Portnoy's Complaint, and that's the pronunciation I've heard from that. --bodnotbod 23:35, 11 January 2006 (UTC)


What caused the dropping out of the grammatical cases in most Indo-European languages?

  • Strangely, the more "primitive" languages tend to be more complex than modern ones. Or so I read the other day. Perhaps someone here can confirm or disconfirm. Halcatalyst 23:38, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
This is an oft-repeated statement, but it's not particularly true. With regards to Indo-European languages, it is, assuming we're talking about morphological complexity (i.e., inflections, declensions, etc.) rather than syntactical complexity (i.e., word order, etc.). All languages are generally about as "complex" as any other language ("complexity," of course, is hard to define or measure when talking about languages), but not all of them are complex is the same way. Early Indo-European languages were often very morphologically complex, synthetic languages, with numerous verbal inflections and nominal declensions. Through sound changes, most modern Indo-European language have lost much of that morphological complexity, and have become more analytical, which simply means they have become more complex with respect to rules governing syntax. This also applies to Indo-European languages; other families show the opposite sorts of changes, where free particles or words become attached to noun or verb roots and eventually become affixes which add grammatical information, making the language more morphologically complex, and thus more synthetic. --Whimemsz 01:58, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

All languages, not just those of Indo-European origin undergo change, and one typical feature of this is the shortening of words. The reason for this is that people tend to drop sounds from words while speaking at natural speed. As for grammatical cases being dropped, I think this is more prevelant in languages which have either developed large empires (e.g. Latin, Sanskrit, Persian, etc.) or have been involved in extensive trade with large numbers of speakers of other languages (e.g. the Germanic languages). -- As for the more primitive languages being more complex, we could compare that to the fact that the very first computer filled an entire room, while these days I can sit here on my sofa with my laptop and write this answer. Also, we should not forget that the languages of the classics does not in any way reflect the languages of the common people of the time, and is in fact more conservative. The language of the common people of Greece was only ever really written down for the first time when the Gospels were written. Certain later periods of Middle Egyptian have more in common with Old Egyptian, a language written down over a thousand years before, and therefore completely different from the contemporary spoken language. This was largely due to a conservative reverence for ancestors and more ancient ways. Givnan 06:32, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Why would trade and/or empire size be important in dropping cases? It doesn't appear that way to me. The Roman empire was bigger and had more trade than any of the romance-language countries. Yet it was the smaller vulgar languages which dropped the cases and evolved into the romance languages, not Latin. The nordic languages all dropped their cases (except icelandic) but German did not, yet germany had more trade and a bigger empire than they did. English seems to me to be the *only* language which DID drop cases and have a comparatively large empire/trade network. Explaining icelandic is simpler though: Due to their relative isolation it hasn't changed much in any respect in the last millenium. Obviously trade and size means more foreign influences and more change, but change doesn't seem to neccessarily mean dropping cases. --BluePlatypus 14:07, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

The fact that it was the small vulgar languages such as French, Spanish, etc., which dropped their cases, and not Latin, is exactly my point. It was after Latin became spoken in these provinces that French and Spanish became spoken, and being spoken by foreigners. These languages dropped the cases. Germany did not have more trade than the Nordic countries, as the Scandinavians were travelling as traders throughout the world (as far as Russia to the East, and as far as Arabia to the South). The Swedish island of Guttland in the Baltic was a total melting pot of nations and had a major port joining Asia and Europe. As far as German is concerned, New High German has a far less complex case system than Old High German had. The isolation of Iceland and the almost perfect preservation of its language in over one thousand years of its history is a perfect example of my point. Givnan 15:48, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

The "almost perfect preservation" of Icelandic has been greatly exaggerated in the popular mind. It's true the written language hasn't changed much, but a written language isn't a language. The phonology of Icelandic has changed massively over the past 1000 years, and the morphology and syntax have changed about as much as German has in the same time period. --Angr (tɔk) 15:56, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
You're thinking about the Viking-era trade networks, which is irrelevant in this context because cases were not dropped from the Scandinavian languages until centuries after the Viking age. Germany did indeed have more trade in the middle ages. Haven't you heard of the Hanseatic League? --BluePlatypus 16:49, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Actually, 12th Century documents written in East Norse already display a considerable amount of case-dropping and is very much more akin to the English of the time than Old Icelandic. The viking age had only just ended, but there was still a considerable amount of trade going on, especially with Eastern Europe and Asia. During the viking age, mercenaries were brought in from countries all over the known world. Also, what I've been saying is that written languages very often reflect an older period of its spoken counterpart (as Angr above agrees), and indeed, while this is not directly related to case-dropping it may serve to illustrate my case, in many modern German dialects, 'der, die, das' have all been reduced to a single phoneme 'd'. Givnan 06:09, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Well I wouldn't say 'just ended' for stuff more than a century later. But in any case, I still don't buy the argument. During the middle ages (which at least the majority seem to hold that cases were dropped in Scandinavian), the #1 trading partner of Sweden was Germany, in particular Lübeck and Hamburg. IIRC the Dutch were second in importance. So you have to ask the question: If trade was so important for the development of the language, then shouldn't it have had the effect to retain the cases, given that they were trading the most with people who used them? There's no disputing that German is the language which has had the greatest influence on Swedish, so why didn't the grammar become as germanized as the vocabulary did? It doesn't fit - there has to be other factors. --BluePlatypus 01:07, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Fair enough, then. But what would you say the reason was? In my first post to this thread, I put it down to one major yet simple feature of language change: shortening (I then went on to say that it seems more prevalent in languages with the most contact with other languages). And then why is it that the major Finno-Ugric languages retain a fairly 'conservative' case system? Givnan 05:33, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Well, I can't claim to have an answer to that. I'm just saying I don't see that general pattern. As for the Finno-Ugric languages, I think the answer is rather simple: Since they differ so radically from their neighboring languages that they're highly resistant to change. They're more of agglutinative languages than fusional, and I'm not sure the trend of dropping cases applies equally. Why expect the same trend starting with 8 cases (Sanskrit) as when you start with 30 (as in some Uralic languages)? --BluePlatypus 04:26, 11 January 2006 (UTC)


how do you say in french "once upon a time in a land far far away" and "they lived happily aver after"?

  • See Once upon a time for this phrase in other languages, including French. I think in French the saying "Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d'enfants" (lit: They got married and had lots of children) is the equivalent of "happily ever after". Hope this helps... СПУТНИКСССР 23:06, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

January 5[edit]


Was "thou artn't" a contraction used in the days of Early Modern English for "thou art not"? -lethe talk 06:18, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

I think I've seen "thou'rt not". User:Zoe|(talk) 16:37, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

crossword help[edit]

first of all id like 2 start by wishing u guys a happy new 'wiki'year(altough i'm 4 days late) guys can u help me out with these words

  • squabbling in evidence at 21's 1920(5,8)(*A*T*P*L*T***)
  • major residential area(4)
  • it's done in prison (4)
Rape ? StuRat 12:40, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
Time. - Nunh-huh 20:59, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
  • first lord of the treasury (5,8)(*R*M*M*N*S***)
  • cockney expression of surprise (3,5)(*O*L****)

please heelp me out here ...,.,,

A four-letter word for a major residential area? Do you need a hint? And what's done in prison? The Cockney expression of surprise could be "coo lovey". --Angr (tɔk) 11:59, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure it's not 'coo lovey'. Actually, I'm very sure. It's probably 'cor blimey', and you've missed a letter out. Nobody's going to be able to help you with the first one, as our psychic powers won't tell us what 21 was. Proto t c 12:32, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
All I can think of for "21" is the 21 Club, but I don't know of any squabbling that took place there in 1920. --Angr (tɔk) 12:38, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
(*A*T*P*L*T***) (5,8) could be something politics, though... --Angr (tɔk) 12:41, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
If you know that Tony Blair is the current "First Lord of the Treasury", the solution should be obvious. Lupo 12:07, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

please i requested 4 help AND NOT SARCASM

We're not being sarcastic! The first one we don't know, but I suspect it's something plus POLITICS. The second one is probably CITY, the third one either TIME or RAPE, the fourth one PRIME MINISTER, and the fifth one either COO LOVEY or COR BLIMEY. --Angr (tɔk) 12:57, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
Cor Blimey wouldn't fit. I suggest COR LUMMY. JackofOz 23:50, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
Indeed I wasn't trying to be sarcastic. However, I find that being given the solutions to a crossword puzzle takes all the fun out of it. Thus I thought I'd give you another hint that should've led you to "Prime Minister". Lupo 13:03, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

This is a good site for help with crosswords, as it is inhabited by people who do them all the time. --Shantavira 13:49, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

In the first clue, the "21's" is probably referring to the solution to clue number 21. So, if the solution to clue 21 was "London", you would read the first clue you listed as "squabbling in evidence at London's 1920." -- AJR | Talk 16:48, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
It's probably "party politics". Adam Bishop 17:14, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

hey guys it worked THANKS A LOT TO ALL OF YOU $im sorry i was a bit pissed of earlier in the dayit was not cor blimey or coo lovey it was cor limmey

Drink in a box[edit]

I was wondering what the common name for a drink in a small box is. These types of drinks have many different names but i am looking for a suitable name to use on wikipedia. To drink it, you insert a straw into the top. I know in Australia alone there are many names, such as poppa and juice box. Any suggestions?--Ali K 12:42, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

I always heard juice box in the U.S. too. --Angr (tɔk) 12:51, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
In the UK, they're normally called cartons, which is also what the biggest manufacturer of the things, Tetra Pak, calls them. -- AJR | Talk 16:57, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
I'd call it a carton if it holds a liter or more of juice. But the little serving-size ones (200-250 ml) are juice boxes. Kids take them to school in their lunchboxes. --Angr (tɔk) 17:16, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
Actually Tetra Pak calls them the "Tetra Brik". --BluePlatypus 20:12, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, juice box seems to be the one. What are common brands in the U.S. and UK? --Ali K 03:44, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
FWIW, I call them Trinkpäckchen in German. Wikipeditor
Do you mean common brands of carton, or common brands of drink? smurrayinchester(User), (Talk) 09:26, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
I mean common brands of drink. But these will be written on the juice box for example: 'Golden Circle's Orange and Pine drink.'--Ali K 07:47, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Carton only means any paper container (usually for a liquid) to me. The only really common use I've heard for it is milk carton for either the single serving or the half-gallon. Dave 07:51, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Common brands of drink sold in those small cartons in the UK are various flavours of Ribena and a range of (additive filled?) fruit juices called Just Juice. Oh. Wait. The name implies no additives, rather, doesn't it? I'm sure there are others sold in such packaging but I can;t recall any at the moment. --bodnotbod 23:39, 11 January 2006 (UTC)


See chappati. --Angr (tɔk) 14:20, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Could a kind Swede translate these phrases for me?[edit]

I don't trust Babelfish for anything resembling a coherent sentence. I'd appreciate anyone who can translate these short phrases into Swedish. (This isn't homework, by the way.)

1. "The flow of time is always cruel."__ 2. "I can only speak English." (I'd like if someone could tell me how to pronounce this, too.) __ 3. "Psychology" and "Psychology student" __ 4. "Sex, drugs, Kubrick and night swimming" __ Thanks. :)

  • 1) "Tidens gång är alltid grym" 2) "Jag kan bara engelska". 3) "Psykologi", "Psykologistuderande", 4) "Sex, droger, Kubrick och nattsim". This page has some sound samples which should help you with #2. But you won't need it. English has been a mandatory subject in Swedish high-schools since 1849, and in elementary schools since 1945. Today it's mandatory from the first grade. You'll have great difficulty finding a Swede not able to understand a simple phrase like "I only speak English". --BluePlatypus 18:45, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Boddy bop[edit]

What does boddy bop mean?

  • A discussion here suggests it's electronic shuffling of human images "backwards and forwards on screen in time to music." Maybe like the famous propaganda gag of Hitler doing a jig when he marched down the Champs-Élysées. Halcatalyst 00:08, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Possibly worth checking that you haven't simply misheard the term body popping a type of dance very popular in the UK, having been imported from the States in the very early 1980s. --bodnotbod 23:42, 11 January 2006 (UTC)


On that template is the term "voice". Does that refer to grammatical voice or writer's voice? I'm No Parking and I approved this message 05:50, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Active voice (I hit the ball) vs passive voice (the ball was hit by me). Copy editors mark up this sort of thing. I don't thoink they'd touch the author's voice, which is really part of style. Halcatalyst 06:02, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

But when there is a choice between active and passive voice, this is also a part of style. And in either case, "style" is mentioned in the template. It makes no sense to me for "voice" to be in there. --Anonymous, 10:00 UTC, January 6, 2006

  • I prefer a passive/aggressive voice: Your ass will be kicked by me. StuRat 06:41, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Done, and thanks. It had not occurred to me that such a page would exist separately from the Wikipedia:Manual of Style. Okay, it refers to "tone, style, and voice", but it doesn't explain what it means by them. Still, the fact that these are grouped together seems to make clear that they are thought of as all one thing. Therefore it must be the "author's voice" that's intended, rather than the grammatical meaning as suggested earlier by... oh! that was you! Huh. --Anon, 18:38 UTC
  • OK, I admit I don't know what "voice" means. But I do copy edit. Halcatalyst 01:26, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Hee. "Copy deiting" looks like it means playing G-d with the articles instead of just correcting the mistakes. Dave 09:33, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Either (a) fire the copy editor or (b) deify him!!! Halcatalyst 02:12, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

January 6[edit]

Term origin[edit]

Please could anyone explain the origin of the term "broad" meaning girl/woman/lady etc and frequently used in the USA during the 1920-1950 period?

According to [4], it might have arose as being suggestive of broad hips, or it could be tracable to the American English word abroadwife for a woman away from her husband, often a slave. GeeJo (t) (c) 09:41, 6 January 2006 (UTC)


How big is fox, coyote, and wolf scat?

This is not a language question. Please ask it at Wikipedia:Reference desk/Science. --Angr (tɔk) 10:29, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
Even though the question is about crap, I don't think it's a crappy question, but would like to point out that foxes aren't canines, but wolves, coyotes and, of course, dogs, are. StuRat 00:56, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Who said foxes were canines? JackofOz 01:06, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Who said foxes weren't? Wikipedia seems to think they are. Elf | Talk 01:16, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, they're canids, but they're in the Tribe Vulpini, not the Tribe Canini. And the person who asked the question implied they were canines by labeling the question "canines" and then asking about foxes. --Angr (tɔk) 01:19, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Rule of thumb: probably significantly smaller than the animal itself. --Black Carrot 04:42, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

---WTH?? "tribe"?

Ita. "Tribi Canini" et "Tribi Vulpini" sunt sub sectiones de familiae Canidae et super sectiones de geni, id est...sorry I got carried away there. Family is higher than tribe is higher than genus. Click on Canidae for an example of how the classification works. WAvegetarian (talk) (email) (contribs)

apache language[edit]

This message was left at b:simple:Wikibooks:Staff lounge

My name is Dee Runningdeer. I am newly married to an Apache from Norman Oaklahoma. I would like to make him proud of me and would love to learn his language, but he does not have the patients to teach me. Can you help? Please e-mail at Hopefully you can put me on the right track.

Could someone form here please go to simple.wikibooks and answer this as there is no-one there who can answer this question. Thanks, Gerard Foley 15:40, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

My patience with those can't distinguish "patients" from "patience" is running out. JackofOz 23:46, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
What happened to assuming good faith? I assumed her husband was a doctor and he usually assigns his patients the job of teaching Apache to those who want to learn, but at the moment he doesn't have any. :p Angr (tɔk) 23:49, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
"Doctors who lack patience soon will lack patients, as well." StuRat 00:51, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
i dont ever read this page, so sorry for the late response. there's more than one Apachean language.
if husband is Chiricahua, then Mrs. Runningdeer should contact Michael Darrow from the Fort Sill tribe. he has put together a little booklet on the language. there is no grammar of Chiricahua, so if more in depth study will require delving into Harry Hoijer's publications from 1930s-1950s. University of Virginia put a page of Hoijer's texts - the grammatical sketch is here: Chiricahua is very close to Mescalero, so information on this language is helpful. no linguist is really working on Chiricahua unfortunately. Willem de Reuse & me gave Mr. Darrow a list of nouns.
Linguist Scott Rushforth is doing work on Mescalero, so he should be contacted for info on this language. with the Mescalero tribe (in New Mexico) he published a vocabulary list in the 1980s (mostly nouns). i dont know what kind of pedagogical materials have been/are being developed. Rushforth recently a grant to do some work.
Plains Apache has perhaps only one male speaker remaining (lives in Oklahoma). no grammar or dictionary. William Bittle wrote a dissertation in 1960s & has a few articles published. Willem de Reuse & Melissa Axelrod have done a little fieldwork (de Reuse is most recent & still in contact).
Jicarilla has several people involved. Melissa Axelrod and/or Merton Sandoval should contacted. there is a very elementary phrase book available from there are dictionaries & other material written for & by the Jicarilla tribe. a big dictionary is being developed by Axelrod.
Western Apache is receiving a lot of attention from Willem de Reuse. it has a not-so-good dictionary and many very simple pedagogical materials published by the various tribes (mostly by White Mountain in the 1970s with SIL linguists). De Reuse has an advanced pedagogical grammar in press (maybe even will be published this year), this is probably the most indepth grammar of an Apachean language besides Navajo. Keith Basso has
Lipan is dead. no grammar or dictionary & hardly anything published. Hoijer's unpublished fieldnotes are available from the American Philosophical Society. his Lipan stem list is lost, according to de Reuse.
Navajo is also Apachean. there are tons of things written on this language. in order to understand the other languages well, these works should probably be consulted.
the various tribes should also be contacted. Hoijer is dense, but very informative. check out the biblio: Southern Athabaskan languages/Bibliography. also look through the International Journal of American Linguistics.
peace – ishwar  (speak) 20:17, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

What is the opposite of the term phrase 'meet and greet'?[edit]

I have been asked an interesting question. When a person is stood by a door, welcoming people to the premises, it is often referred to 'meet and greet'. I have been asked what the opposite phrase is, when you say goodbye to people as they leave the premises. Does anyone have an idea on this?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments,

Pete62.232.224.4 15:58, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Um..."Dismiss with a kiss"? --Gareth Hughes 16:02, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
"Farewell", the person doing it being a fareweller? --Canley 17:29, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
See you out and shed a tear (abbreviation : tear you out). Or : demeet and regreet ? --Harvestman 19:36, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
  • And of course there may not be any such thing. Stabilizer 17:02, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
"Eject and respect"? ;o) I don't think there's a formal or obvious opposite, I'd say it's a question without satisfactory answer. However, if you were satisfied with just the title of a person who meets, greets and waves goodbye "host" would probably be apt. --bodnotbod 23:53, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Thanks Bodnotbod, I'll modify your "Eject and respect" and plump for "eject with respect".

Pete83.245.83.237 21:40, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

City names in Katakana[edit]

Anyone have an idea what "Shreveport" might look like rendered into katakana? I've looked around for lists of city names in Japanese script, but no luck on this one. The "shr" is particularly troublesome. Thanks! — BrianSmithson 18:21, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Follow the link to the japanese version of the page you linked to. "シュリーブポート" seems to be it. --BluePlatypus 20:07, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
What a wonderful idea. Thanks for the tip; this'll come in handy for other cities, too. — BrianSmithson 20:16, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
Why not try Wiktionary? --Gerard Foley 23:03, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

An alternative to the above シュリーブポート could be シュリーヴポート, which takes into account the 'v' in Shreveport. It also types more smoothly on a Japanese computer, without having to change bits of it from kanji to katakana. Givnan 08:16, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Two words used back to back.[edit]

Is there a name for using a word twice, back to back? Example: If I had had a better education I would already know the answer to this question.

  • Reconsidering this, I don't understand the question. The question I answered was, "What is a name for speech stutters... 'Um, um,' 'er, er,' uh, uh,' etc.?" Many Toastmasters call it "double dribble," as in the game of basketball. Halcatalyst 03:36, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
The example was just a particular form (past subjunctive?) of the verb "to have". There are other ways a word can be repeated that don't involve verb forms. I don't think there's a name that covers all these instances, other than "repeated words". JackofOz 03:56, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
And spell checkers give a warning then. There is also homonymy, as, in french, "les poules du couvent couvent" (the convent's hens lay). --Harvestman 19:33, 9 January 2006 (UTC)


Anybody know the origin of the word Dixie, as used to describe the South?

The article Dixie discusses this. That article doesn't get into the fact that the term was used with some regularity in minstrel show tunes from the 1840s and 1850s to describe a sort of generic "land of the black slaves". When the song "Dixie" exploded in popularity across the United States, Dixie and the South became synonymous. — BrianSmithson 18:48, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

The secret life of ...[edit]

"The secret life of ..." seems to be a common start to titles of books and other works of art. For example, The Secret Life of Plants, The Secret Life of Machines, The Secret Life of Bees, all start that way. Does anybody know the origin of this type of title (i.e., the first work of art which publicized this phrase to the extent that all modern versions are derived from its use)? --JianLi 21:53, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

The Secret Life of Dogs might be the first one. StuRat 23:08, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
No idea of the date of that one but The Secret Life of Walter Mitty probably started the craze. MeltBanana 00:57, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
I think "The Secret Life of (a specific person)" is quite different from "The Secret Life of (a general class of things)", so don't think that started the trend. StuRat 02:25, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
  • It goes back pretty far. 1897, for example: "The secret life of harmonic vibration containing three studies and twelve lessons". --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 22:04, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Geographical word[edit]

How would I say "from Oceania" or "of Oceania" in a single, like "French" (of or from France). The obvious guess, Oceanic, has a very different meaning. Would I say "Winston Smith is an Oceanic citizen" for example? smurrayinchester(User), (Talk) 22:54, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Since "Oceania" was a fictitious country, the adjective is undefined. But I think I'd prefer "Oceanian" to "Oceanic". JackofOz 23:44, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
I'd think it better in general not to create an adjective form of a fictional place, at least in non-fiction writing.--Prosfilaes 00:02, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
That's probably a good idea. Otherwise, you end up with useless words like "Utopian" or "Lilliputian". --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 22:22, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, Oceania (1984) is fictitious, Oceania isn't. Either way, I'd go with "Oceanian". --Angr (tɔk) 00:12, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

January 7[edit]

translation from Russian[edit]

Any ideas how should the piece marked bold be translated into english? Потом не выдерживаю, луплю кулаком по столу, ору и брызгаюсь: - Умник! Лопух развесистый! Обрадовался - два года! Да с таким дипломом ты всю жизнь будешь сдувать пыль с вольтметров на какой-нибудь энергостанции в Лабытнанги! Thank you. ellol 00:27, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Умник! means "good boy", "smart lad" or something like that. I suspect the other 2 words are an idiomatic expression that can't be translated word for word. Лопух means a burdock, a type of plant, and развесистый means "branching" or "spreading". JackofOz 00:48, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
If it were so easy.. Умница, yeah, means "good boy" and "smart lad". Умник usually has ironic meaning: as if the guy thought a bit and did something unusual, which he thinks is a good thing; but really it's not, and it would be better if he didn't do it. Лопух, except for burdock, means "dumb man", and is used usually when a man did a silly thing. Лопух развесистый, lit. meaning big burdock (also referring to развесить уши(Один врет, другой уши развесил!)) expresses here that a guy is "very-very dumb".
So the question could be, how to express "very-very dumb", using literary english language? ellol 01:15, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
A real smart guy! You must have been born yesterday! This is not so much about being dumb as being gullible. --Ornil 02:18, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Thank you. ellol 10:11, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, it's my mistake, the text doesn't involve being gullible. And your variant is too long, after all, it's invective though a literary one. I would propose something like "A know-all! A clinical idiot!".. ellol 02:47, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Could you help me in another place? Он уныло кивает. И вдруг начинает с увлечением объяснять, что все не так страшно, как мне кажется, нужно только уехать отсюда и переждать несколько лет, а там все непременно изменится, не может быть, чтобы не изменилось, не бывает такого...
I'm unsure about the last words, i rendered them as "and then all will surely change, there is no way of not changing, such things don't occur.."
I suppose it's not natural.. how it could be done better? ellol 03:35, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
It's pretty good, actually, I think. I would maybe say It's impossible for it not to change, it can't happen. --Ornil 20:33, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
I will use this, thank you. Just am trying to write a page about my favourite writer in spare time :) ellol 10:47, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Latin Phrase[edit]

I can not find this phrase in the list of latin pharses. Somone posted this as a response to a diatribe I wrote. I don't want to ask the poster what it means for fear of fool-dom. Can ye translate it ? --Omni Maximus God_of_War. Omni Maximus God_of_War...

'Omni Maximus' means 'greatest of all'. Givnan 08:05, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

"Omni" means "to everyone" (dative, not genitive). The original poster was probably just trying to be a smartass and doesn't really understand what it means either (because it doesn't really seem to mean anything). Adam Bishop 21:48, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
That is to say that it literally translates as "to all greatest." I think xe may have been trying to say that everyone holds xym in the highest regard, exempli gratia, "MARS EST MAXIMUS OMNI," although that is an unnatural construct and looks highly contrived in both Latin and English. I'd say it's been too long since their high school Latin class.WAvegetarian (talk) (email) (contribs) 08:16, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
"To all greatest" would be "omni maximo", if "greatest" is describing "all". "Mars est maximus omni" could make sense, "Mars is the greatest to all", in the sense of "everyone thinks Mars is the greatest" or something (although it would probably be plural, omnibus). Adam Bishop 13:23, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

Speech patterns[edit]

In speech (sound-wise), what is the difference between these two sentences:

  • You told me I'm a bore in bed.
  • You told me, "I'm a bore in bed."

I feel like maybe there's a pause, but that seems very optional. It seems like it must be a tone thing. Does the second one maybe rise when the quotation starts or am I just playing with my voice? Dave 09:37, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, i would say that the second would have a pause and the quote may even be said in a different tone of voice.--Ali K 13:48, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

The first one is incorrect. In indirect speech you should say 'You told me I was a bore in bed', and the second one actually means the original speaker is calling himself or herself a bore in bed. Givnan 14:45, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Actually, it's perfectly legitimate to say "You told me I'm a bore in bed." The meaning would be: you told me (at some time in the past) I'm (generally, always) a bore in bed.But "You told me I was a bore in bed" implies you said it one time. Halcatalyst 15:50, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
I wasn't asking for a grammaticality judgment, and they're both perfectly grammatical in every dialect of English I've ever heard of, anyway. Incorrect is not a word you should be using to discuss people's speech. Dave 02:12, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

They can mean two different things. The first mean's I was told that I'm a bore, the second is someone told me she's a bore. The first one is thus ambiguous and should be rearanged if clarity is desired. - Taxman Talk 17:25, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Yes, we all know that. That wasn't the question. Read more carefully next time. —Keenan Pepper 21:44, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Are you this rude to everyone or am I just special. Sometimes the obvious needs to be said because we don't all know much of anything. - Taxman Talk 01:15, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
I think the tone thing is real. The first one flows smoothly through with a continuous pitch contour, but the second one pauses on a falling tone and then resumes the quotation on a higher tone. I gave it to someone else to read and he pronounced it the same way. I'm from Florida, if it matters. —Keenan Pepper 21:44, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
I think the basic difference is that with the first one, you're making a statement, and with the second, you're cutting off your statement to imitate someone, right down to their choice of pronoun. So, as Keenan Pepper said, there is a generally a slight pause (to indicate a seperation), then the quote starts, continues, and finishes like any other sentence, with a certain rounding off of tone because people are lazy, and sometimes an unusual voice or rhythm to make fun of the person being imitated. --Black Carrot 00:05, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, Keenan. I'm from Florida, too, so even though it doesn't really matter, it definitely gives a little more weight to my initial guess. I was wondering how other people heard the tones, and falling followed by higher sounds like a pretty great way to describe it. Dave 02:12, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

"The" in titles[edit]

I read somewhere that the "The" in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn only became popular after an illustrator used it in a caption for the book, so the true title (and the one to which Wikipedia redirects to) is actually Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Likewise, Henry Louis Stevenson originally titled his novel Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, sans the "The." How common are titles that "omit" the "The," and is this usage (or lack thereof) somehow grammatically incorrect (as the Jekyll and Hyde article says it is)? --JianLi 17:42, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

When talking about it, "the" should be included, if missing. For example the sentence "I liked Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" seems very wrong. Whether "the" is in the official title doesn't much matter, though. StuRat 18:09, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Note 1 in the Jekyll/Hyde article says the author wanted to omit the "the" to make the title more mysterious. I have no reason to doubt that.
  • ESL speakers often have problems with correct usage of the articles 'a,' 'an,' and 'the.' It's actually more complicated than most native speakers realize. Here are two points from Rules for Writers, 5th ed., by Diana Hacker:
  1. Use the with most nouns whose specific identity is known.
  2. Do not use the with plural or noncount nouns meaning "all" or "in general"; do not use the with most singular proper names.
  • Another point Hacker makes is that 'a,' 'an,' and 'the' can be added where necessary for grammatical completeness.
  • However, I don't think the issue in titles is really about grammar. It's about style. Halcatalyst 02:05, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

'two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun' in finnish[edit]

How would one say 'two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun' in finnish? Do they have that mcdonalds saying in finland?

They're there for sure! hydnjo talk 21:23, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Wiktionary:Translations of the Week[edit]

We are looking for people to translate the following into as many languages as possible

  1. swimsuit
  2. sort
  3. when pigs fly

Thanks, Gerard Foley 00:09, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Wouldn't it be easier to sort out what to do with the translations if you specified what sort of sort you meant? --Anon, 00:49 UTC.

You probably didn't click on the link, but to answer your question, the sort of sort I mean is

  • Verb
    • separate according to certain criteria
    • arrange in order
  • Noun
    • type
    • person
    • act of sorting
Gerard Foley 02:11, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Note that "sort" also has an alternate meaning, primarily in British English, as in the phrase "we'll have to sort that out later", where it means to figure out or solve the problem, it doesn't mean to put in chronological order, alphabetical order, or any other order. StuRat 08:37, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
I dunno, that seems pretty common on this side of the pond too. - Taxman Talk 16:44, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

For "When pigs fly", you need to decide whether you want a literal translation, which will sound like "when a porcine animal undergoes aeronautical motion", whether you want to translate the meaning, which is "never", or whether you want to try to translate into some other humorous expression in each language which means some improbable event. For example, in our own language, "when hell freezes over" is another expression with the same meaning. However, some languages may lack any such expression. StuRat 21:09, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

For when pigs fly I think it should be translated into some other humorous expression in each language which means some improbable event. Examples:


quand les poules auront des dents (literally "when chickens have teeth")

  1. when pigs fly


wenn Ostern und Pfingsten auf einen Tag fällt (literally "when Easter and Pentecost fall on one day")

  1. when pigs fly, never
Gerard Foley 21:49, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Malayalam

Kakka malannu parakkum (The crow will fly upside down; kakka = crow; malannu = upside down' parakkum = will fly)

Kozhikku mula varumpol (When the hen has a breast; kozhikku = for hen; mula = breast; varumpol = comes)

  • Hindi

Sooraj pashchim se ugega (When the sun will rise in the West)

  • But in french : [quand les poules auront des dents] les renards auront des tenailles (Cavanna) : foxes will wear pliers. --Harvestman 20:04, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

January 8[edit]

what is the meaning of que pasa[edit]

  • 'What's happening' as this site [5] attempts to tell us. --Tachs 13:03, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
    • Yes, that's the literal translation. I think it's the equivalent of 'What's up?'. For some reason, my Spanish colleague always answers this question with 'Nada'. :-) ----Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 17:52, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Literally, "Que pasa"? means, what is happening, what's passing? So "Nada" is perfectly acceptable -- "Nothing". What's up? is "Que tal?" User:Zoe|(talk) 22:40, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

Unicode for Syriac resh with seyame[edit]

What is the Unicode for the Syriac letter resh with seyame (i.e., with two dots rather than one, indicating plural)? Suryoye (pl.) in Syriacs is now spelled the same way as Suryoyo (sg.) in Syriac language, but should be written with seyame. I would like to correct that, but can't find the character in the Unicode chart found in the article Syriac alphabet, probably due to an outdated Windows version. Thank you. ------Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 17:43, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Unicode for Syriac is a bit sparse, but the usual way I encode this is U+716 U+308 (dotless dolath-rish and combining dieresis), which gives ܖ̈. The current standard gives no other input method other than this workaround. --Gareth Hughes 16:48, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

January 9[edit]

(no questions today)

  • So what was everybody doing on Jan. 9 <g>? Halcatalyst 01:35, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

January 10[edit]

IPA for dummies?[edit]

It seems that we currently do not have any article geared toward helping English-only speakers pronounce sounds only present in languages outside of English. Articles like IPA Chart for English do exist, but are not particularly helpful unless you already know IPA and are interested in learning how to pronounce English. Does anyone know of articles or external sites that could help me understand IPA transliterations? Theshibboleth 01:20, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

This site is a good introduction to some basic phonetic terminology. This site is also a good introduction to some of the concepts. For recordings of different IPA characters (to give you a general feel for what a given description/character actually sounds like), try the Wikipedia pages on different sounds (e.g., Voiced bilabial fricative), and these charts (but for the love of God, stay away from this chart! It's highly inaccurate in many, many places). The phonetician Peter Ladefoged's site has recordings of a number of more obscure or less well-known types of sounds or phonological contrasts from around the world. I hope that helps! --Whimemsz 02:38, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

tommy douglas[edit]

give me a 2-3 page essay on 3 insirational things tommy douglas did to canada that made him an inspirational canadian, please. Thanks. -- 16:43, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Tommy Douglas was able to become an important political figure in Canada and make many important contributions to the government of Canada because he did his own homework. And so should you. Ground Zero | t 16:45, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
  • How much will you pay us? User:Zoe|(talk) 22:41, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

affect or effect?[edit]

it is also essential to enquire what affect/effect new liberalism as an ideology actually had on practical british politics. Which one? I consulted [6] to no avail. -- 20:02, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

'effect'. --Nick Boalch ?!? 20:06, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

In general, affect is a verb, and effect is a noun -- when you affect something you have an effect. You can also affect a mannerism or style of dress, but you will not have the desired effect if people think you are affected. However, "affect" is used as a technical term is psychology and related fields. AFAIK that is the only legit use of it as a noun. DES (talk) 20:10, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

'effect' is also in common use as a verb; for example one might effect a transformation in something. --Nick Boalch ?!? 20:12, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
True. I persoanlly dislike that useage -- generally "cause" or "make" or some such verb can expres s the same meaning more clearly IMO -- but it is a valid use. However the use of "effect" as a noun is IMO far more common, and "affect" is prtty much always a verb (with the exception i mentiond above) which is what contols in the example that started this thread. DES (talk) 20:25, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
  • In the example, 'effect' is correct. This is a usage question for which Diana Hacker is a good resource. She says, "Affect is usually a verb meaning 'to influence.' Effect is usually a verb meaning 'result.' The drug did not affect the disease, and it had adverse side effects. Effect can also be a verb meaning 'to bring about.' Only the president can effect such change." Halcatalyst 23:21, 10 January 2006 (UTC)


What is the origin of the word "Ishkabible"?

I have no idea how authoritative it is, but try this.--Pucktalk 00:48, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

This question was asked a week ago, and as a result of our answers, the article at Ish Kabibble was written. User:Zoe|(talk) 18:59, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

January 11[edit]


What percent of the modern english language has latin language roots?

Try doing a search on Wikipedia. See that little box on the left of your browser that says "search"? You can type something in, say, "English Language", and you can find all sorts of things, like answers to your questions. Because I'm too nice, here you go: (this is a direct quote from the English language article:
Word origins:
One of the consequences of the French influence is that the vocabulary of English is, to a certain extent, divided between those words which are Germanic (mostly Old English) and those which are "Latinate" (Latin-derived, mostly from Norman French but some borrowed directly from Latin).
A computerised survey of about 80,000 words in the old Shorter Oxford Dictionary (3rd ed.) was published in Ordered Profusion by Thomas Finkenstaedt and Dieter Wolff (1973) which estimated the origin of English words as follows:
French, including Old French and early Anglo-French: 28.3%
Latin, including modern scientific and technical Latin: 28.24%
Old and Middle English, Old Norse, and Dutch: 25%
Greek: 5.32%
No etymology given: 4.03%
Derived from proper names: 3.28%
All other languages contributed less than 1%
James D. Nicoll made the oft-quoted observation: "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary." СПУТНИКССС Р 02:43, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
Note that most French also has Latin roots, so the 28.3% of English coming from French could also be considered as coming indirectly from Latin. StuRat 04:11, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
Indirect influences are aren't useful if you want to give a percentage. Take "chivalry". From Old French "chevalerie", from Latin "caballus", which in turn comes from Celtic (compare Irish "capall"). So you'll have to count that as a French word, a Latin word and a Celtic word. Either it won't add up to 100%, or you'll have to draw the line at saying it's 99% Indo-European and 1% "other".


What is the japanese word for monkey? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

猿 is Japanese for "monkey" and it is pronounced saru. hydnjo talk 05:00, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
In Roman alphabet, by the way, it's saru. --Chris S. 05:16, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
You can find more at Wiktionary, Gerard Foley 19:54, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Different meanings for inability[edit]


English is a grand language where words come from half of Europe. Unfitness is inability as un = in, fit = able and ness = ty, respectively in old english (saxon ?) and latin or french (roman languages).
Roman words come from a norman conquest that occurred 1,000 years before ; they refer to knowledge, war or luxury. E.g., there are different names for animals in stock, herded by poor saxons (read Ivanhoe), or in the dishes of rich normans. There must be a page somewhere in WP about that. Now, didn't you look up in an online dictionnary ? --Harvestman 19:54, 11 January 2006 (UTC)


Can someone help me out with what these letteers/symbols mean? Your help is greatly appreciated. e-mail me at rsmoke at wctel dot net The symbols are on a spool of stranded rubber, and I suspect it is the manufacturer's name or logo. I woould like to contact them re: more material. thank you for your help.

Those are spaces in the file name. The Internet and you browser can't deal with spaces so they get represented by the ASCII code for a space instead. Blame it all on Bill Gates--Pucktalk 17:00, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
On, never mind, I just looked at the picture. Your probably talking about those symbols and letters. I'll feel pretty stoopid right now.--Pucktalk 17:03, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
Never mind, but a hint : those symbols look chinese. This one is really hard : how do yo do to find chinese speaking wikipedians ? tried a search for userboxes ... discovered that the language is abbreviated "zh". Finally :Category:User zh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - Articles in category User zh - There are 195 articles in this section of this category. Those articles must refer to Zhōngwén speaking users. See : The idea is to ask to one of them. --Harvestman 19:32, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Here is the Wiktionary link for , I can't fint the second one. Gerard Foley 19:53, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Here's the second: - Louise 19:21 12 January (EST-Oz)

Correct - that is the Shun Sheng company's stamp. --Kainaw (talk) 00:59, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

crossword help[edit]

hey could u help me with these phrases

  • only animal allowed in?(5,3) ?guard dog? (how about "house cat"?)
  • expression of surprise after sir walters ?(5,5) (I guess this would be something to do with Sir Walter Raleigh - Bod) - great scott Sir Walter Scott MeltBanana
  • animal that absorbs liquid(6) - sponge
  • little was said to be dangerous (8) - learning
  • fighting ship(8) (Only guess I got is battle but it seems unsatisfactory - Bod)look what ive got(c*r*e*t*)could u guys like fill in the blanks-- 06:11, 12 January 2006 (UTC) - "corvette"
  • modernise(6) - update
  • unsettle(10) -discomforti need a word that starts with r(R*S*O*P*S*)-- 06:43, 12 January 2006 (UTC) - possibly discompose MeltBanana
  • figure-department of defense(8) - pentagon
  • proverbially a greedy sea bird(6)
  • group with common policy(4) - bloc

pls im counting on you guys

Animal that absorbs liquid is a sponge.
Figure-department of defense is a pentagon.
User:Zoe|(talk) 19:01, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
Glad to see this is not homework. Gives us poor desk employees (slaves!) a little pause. Well, try, fighting ship : destroyer, bird : petrel, group : wiki ? --Harvestman 19:16, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

it cant be petrel because (*a*n**)is what ive figured out - "gannet"?

and for group i have (*l**)-- 19:23, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

See gannet and maybe club. makes it easier but is that good or not ? --

Harvestman 20:35, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

I so much want the "proverbially greedy sea bird" to have 7 letters, not 6.

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His mouth can hold more than his belly can,
He can hold in his beak,
Enough food for a week!
I'm damned if I know how the hell he can!
Dixon Lanire Merrith, "The Pelican"(1910) - Nunh-huh 00:59, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

but what about the

January 12[edit]

Avenue, Boulevard and Garage[edit]

I had typed this question in another part of the Wikipedia website, but I still don't understand. Were the words avenue, boulevard and garage were they around before the invention of cars? And did all of the three words originate in France? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Most good English dictionaries will tell you the origin of the word (its etymology) and the first recorded use of the word in English. According to the Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate:
avenue: from Middle French, from the verb avenir, to come to, from Latin advenire, first attested to in 1600.
boulevard, from a French modification of the Middle Dutch bolwerc, first attested in 1768.
garage, from the French word garer meaning to dock; first attested in English in 1902.
So yes, they are all from French, and two of them were around before the invention of cars. - Nunh-huh 00:49, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
I provided these answers on the Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities when you asked the question there. Links are to be clicked, dude. Natgoo 00:55, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
You could gare or park boats (original meaning, see quai de la gare in Paris, France), chariots, horses, and trains long before motorized cars were invented. --Harvestman 07:51, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

"A"s and "m"s[edit]

How is it called, when a person doesn't know what word to say next and sais instead a lot of 'a' and 'm' sounds? ellol 00:47, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

It's usually called "hemming and hawing" or the person is said to "hem and haw". There's probably a much fancier rhetorical term-of-art for it, but I think "hem and haw" is what you're looking for. - Nunh-huh 00:54, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
Thank you! You hit the point exactly. ellol 10:15, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
They're called "Speech disfluencies". --BluePlatypus 01:34, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
Depending on how it sounds, context, and what part of the situation you mean, 'clearing their throat', 'stalling for time', 'bombing', and 'muttering' may also fit. -- 05:25, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Here's a related discussion from a few days ago. Halcatalyst 00:34, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

German phrase[edit]

In Activision's Call of Duty 2, there is a german phrase painted on a wall at a german defensive position. It reads "Einer spinnt immer!" It intrigued me and I did a literal translation of the phrase at, but the translation said "One spins always!" Is this a false translation, or is this an actual german phrase, and if so, what does it mean? What is it in reference to? I would greatly appreciate it if you provided me with a explanation to clarify. Thank you --

Literally "one is always spinning", as in spinning. While "spinnen" can mean "spinning" it can also be used to mean "crazy" or "nuts" ("Er spinnt!", "He's crazy!"). So: "one is always crazy". --BluePlatypus 05:15, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Days of the Week[edit]

What day of the week is represented by the abbreviation "DIE" and what language is it? Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

What's coming to mind for me is German Dienstag or Tuesday. But I don't know if it's an accepted abbreviation in German. --Chris S. 07:15, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
It certainly isn't the usual abbreviation for Dienstag, which is Di. Are there other days of the week listed too? --Angr (tɔk) 08:39, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

This was on an analogue watch, probably from a person from europe. It is one of the days of the week, set on the watch next to the date (28th). There would have been other days but the watch had stopped on that day. Kind regards == "

Well, certainly German for Tuesday is the most likely answer. If anyone ever gets the watch started again, or even just manually advances the hands so that the day-of-the-week dial moves on, you'll know it's German if the next one is MIT followed by DON, FRE (FREI?), SAM, SON, MON. --Angr (tɔk) 09:54, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
I imagine watches rarely use the "Sonnabend" form of "Samstag"? --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 16:31, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, it's difficult to abbreviate "Sonnabend" so that it's distinct from "Sonntag", although "Sa" can be considered an abbreviation of Sonnabend as well as Samstag. --Angr (tɔk) 16:39, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
I have an analog German watch with three letter abbreviations, and yes, it's Dienstag. — Laura Scudder 17:11, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
And it uses FRE for Freitag along with the others Angr cites. The DIE always kinda entertained me. — Laura Scudder 17:14, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
The conclusion to this is story is that the watch in question was on someone who was in fact dead!!
I live in Germany and work, have two boys in school, and the days of the week abbreviations are: Mo, Di , Mi, Do, Fr, Sa, So. This "Die" for Di´..., I have personally never seen Die written anywhere. This watch was probably made for the Germans by Americans. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Word for street pointed at landmark[edit]

What is the word for the phenomenon when a street is pointed directly at a landmark in the distance. An old building or a tower usually. It can be that the street was built to point at the landmark or the landmark was built at the end of the street or it can be that it is a coincidence. Sometimes the street might not even go the entire way to the landmark or might be interrupted. Thank you.

I can't think if there's a single word for it, but one place to look would be reading about Baron Haussmann, some of whose alterations to Paris were specifically the rerouting of various avenues and boulevards to point at various monuments. There are also "monumental avenues" in Washington, D.C., Munich, and Berlin. - Nunh-huh 06:39, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Station Approach, Railway Approach, Approach Road &c. chocolateboy 11:04, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

German sound[edit]

Does German have the 'ch' sound as in 'charity"?

Yes, it does (the German word for "German", deutsch, ends with the sound). But it's pretty rare at the beginnings of words, and is found AFAIK only in loanwords from other languages word-initially. --Angr (tɔk) 14:54, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
What about tschuss?
Apparently from Spanish adiós[7]. --Angr (tɔk) 06:41, 19 January 2006 (UTC)


  • Please ask a specific question, or review our article on etymology. Ground Zero | t 22:34, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

January 13[edit]


I am looking for the three words in the English language ending in gry. There are Angry and Hungry but what is the third one

This old chestnut again. There is no third one. --Angr (tɔk) 09:24, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
This is a question that regularly annoys those who labor at actual physical reference desks, and several maintain web-pages devoted to analysis of the question. In general they seem to believe that it was a riddle of some sort or another, but that the wording of the question has been lost so that the riddle is no longer discernable. For excruciating detail, see [8] [9] - Nunh-huh 09:53, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, if the question is phrased "What three words in English have gry at the end?" the answer is "angry, hungry, and gryphon" because it was never specified at which end. --Angr (tɔk) 10:09, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
We actually have an article about this: see Gry. --Angr (tɔk) 10:11, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
See Riddle chain letter on F-Secure hoax info. There are otehr words btw, but are very rare: aggry, ahungry, anhungry, unangry; just don't ask me what they mean. – b_jonas 18:56, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

Greeks and Grecians[edit]

How come there are two adjectives that describe people from Greece? Wouldn't either "Greek" or "Grecian" suffice? Or is there some minute difference between the two that I was hitherto unaware of? Igor the Lion(Roar!) 13:31, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

So that the following joke can be made:
Q:What's a Grecian urn?
A:About 80 drachmas a week. Mattley (Chattley) 13:37, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
  • "Hey, at least they aren't being called rutabagas!", as the Swedes would say. *rimshot* --BluePlatypus 16:11, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Hey, that joke is out of date. You have to give the answer in euros now! --Anon, 17:08 UTC, January 13.
The two words are both derived from Latin: one from Graecus, meaning 'Greek' (both noun and adjective), the other from Graecia, meaning 'Greece'. There's no real difference in meaning, but Grecian seems to apply more to objects; one can speak of a Grecian urn, a Grecian nose, a Grecian statue, or Grecian architecture, but people are more often described as Greek.
These are not the only such words: Hellenic means exactly the same thing, as does Achaean (in the Iliad at least; it also has more specific meanings). Even Danaian is attested, though it's rare. Names of the Greeks might be helpful. —Charles P. (Mirv) 14:22, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
It's not the only case of multiple adjectives derived from the same country name, either. Consider "Argentine" and "Argentinian", "Italic" and "Italian", "British" and "Britannic", "Spanish" and "Hispanic". In most cases these have evolved distinct senses, like "Greek" and "Grecian". --Anon, 17:08 UTC, January 13.

Welsh language[edit]

The recent change to the Special Characters box has created a new category of Welsh, but I always assumed Welsh used the Latin alphabet (I live on the Welsh/English border, and have never seen these letters). The characters, such as ɱ, ʥ, ɮ and ᵐ don't seem anything like how I have always seen Welsh written. Are these a different way of writing Welsh, maybe Old Welsh or similar? smurrayinchester(User), (Talk) 14:48, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

I think your cursor must have slipped in the dropdown menu. Those are all from the IPA, the next item down on the list. The Welsh menu item just gives the letters A E I O U W Y, capital and lower case, with acute, grave, circumflex, and dieresis accents on them. Now, some of these (e.g. ä ë ö ẅ ÿ) I've never seen in Welsh, but better safe than sorry. --Angr (tɔk) 15:06, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
I think Welsh and IPA (or API as they call it) have been mixed up; the API/IPA is empty. These symbols are definitely in the Welsh box. smurrayinchester(User), (Talk) 15:11, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Actually, I think mine has become badly messed up somehow (it has Ấ, Ỹ and Ổ as Spanish letters). smurrayinchester(User), (Talk) 15:13, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
I think there are still bugs in it, and they're being worked on. At any rate, for me IPA is called IPA and has IPA characters. Angr (tɔk) 16:29, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Word needed[edit]

In the article Ford Model T, the expression was "... the concept of paying the workers a wage concomitant with the cost of the car, so that they would provide a ready made market.". Someone changed this to "...the concept of paying the workers a wage ancillary with the cost of the car, so that they would provide a ready made market.". Neither of these seems correct to me. Is there a better word to use? Rmhermen 15:01, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Proportionate to? Consistent with? --Angr (tɔk) 15:07, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
It's hard to say what the better word is without knowing exactly what they're trying to say.. although "ancillary" is in any case a terrible substitute for "concomitant" since they don't mean the same thing at all. "Ancillary" implies to me that the wage would be more or less independent of the cost of the car, whereas "concomitant" would mean a wage "in accordance with" or "corresponding to" (that is, "proportionate to" as Angr said) the cost of the car. Of course if the former meaning is factually more correct then it's of course the better word, but it certainly doesn't seem more correct from the context given. --BluePlatypus 16:06, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, the meaning seems to be that they would be able to afford this car but not a more expensive one. "Proportionate" is better than the other choices, anyway. I haven't read about this, but I doubt that Ford was worried about paying them so much that they would buy more expensive cars; it seems more likely that "a wage sufficient that they could afford the car" is the real meaning. I don't think this is important enough to be placed in the article's lead anyway; the workers can't have formed that large a fraction of the car's market. It should be lower down, but I don't have time to change it now. --Anonymous, 17:17 UTC, January 13.
"Concomitant" is a thinko for "commensurate". chocolateboy 11:13, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Translation request: Italian->English[edit]

I don't suppose someone would be willing to have a stab at translating the passage below? I'm researching information for the OMI cryptograph article, and I don't really trust machine translation enough to use it as a source! The original is here (found here).

Italia; circa 1939; O.M.I.
Apparato crittografico che viene considerato la risposta italiana
all’ENIGMA, con la quale condivide l’impiego dei rotori di
cifratura; se ne differenzia, oltre che per l’aspetto esterno, per
il peso piuttosto rilevante, l’alimentazione da rete e in corrente
continua, una maggiore complessità costruttiva dei rotori.
Consente la stampa del testo su nastro di carta accellerando
le procedure di cifratura, decifratura e di verifica del testo. Per
rendere più agevole la battitura dei testi, un motore elettrico
provvede ai movimenti dei meccanismi. Il grave limite di questo
apparecchio era nei contatti elettrici, striscianti, tra i rotori:
nel tempo, l’usura e l’accumulo di sporcizia determinavano
dei falsi contatti pregiudicando fortemente l’affidabilità dell’apparato;
giova comunque ricordare che lo stesso problema,
anche se in misura limitata, si riscontra in tutte le apparecchiature
con lo stesso principio di funzionamento. Impiegata
dalle forze armate italiane in maniera occasionale e discontinua,
la sua cifratura venne forzata dall’Intelligence britannica
nel Febbraio 1940. Venne definitivamente posta fuori servizio
nel Settembre 1941, rimanendo disponibile per il mercato civile
per qualche decennio. Dimensioni: sola macchina 37 x 42
x 17 cm, valigia di trasporto 43 x 48 x 23 cm. Pesi: sola macchina
circa 20 Kg, con valigia ed accessori circa 27 Kg.
L’esemplare esposto durante la mostra è stato cortesemente
messo a disposizione da: Francesco Cremona, collezione “Cremona”,
Colleferro, Roma.

Thanks for any help,

Matt Crypto 15:03, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

I don't actually speak Italian, but I know Latin and I can sort of read it. Want me to take a stab at translating it? =P —Keenan Pepper 05:56, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
Go for it; it's better than what I've got! :) — Matt Crypto 21:11, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
OhMyGosh! If you trust me I can do it, but my main field of interest is Classical Greek... Just give me a day and let me summon a mathematician or engineer... Where should I post the translation?- εΔω 11:38, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, it'd be very kind of you. I guess an appropriate place would be here, so that the "question" gets "answered", as it were, but feel free to post it any place, and I can copy it here. — Matt Crypto 13:22, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Hello! Please note that as a native Italian speaker, I usually translate only from English into Italian. However, I hope that the following draft will be a better source than a babelfished text. Best, --BrokenArrow 14:05, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

OMI-Nistri cryptographic machine
Italy; around 1939; OMI
This cryptographic device is regarded as the Italian response to the Enigma; it features the same keywheel-based mechanism as the German machine, differing by its external appearance, rather bulky weight, electrical power supply (both AC and DC) and greater complexity in the rotors' structure. The text can be printed on paper tape, thus speeding up encoding, decoding and proofing operations. Text typing is made easier by an electrical motor that drives the mechanical parts.
The critical limitation of the device was in the wiping contacts between the rotors: Over time, mechanical wear and dust build-up caused poor electrical contacts that severely limited the device's reliability. However, it should be remembered that all devices sharing the same principle of operation are affected in a limited way by the same problem.
The machine was used only occasionally by the Italian armed forces; its cypher was broken by the British intelligence in February, 1940. It was officially put out of commission on September, 1941 and remained available on the civilian market for several decades.
Measurements: Machine only, 37 x 42 x 17 cm; With carrying suitcase, 43 x 48 x 23 cm. Weight: Machine only, about 20 kg; with suitcase and accessories, about 27 kg. The exhibited specimen is shown by courtesy of Francesco Cremona, “Cremona” collection, Colleferro (Roma).
Many thanks for the translation! — Matt Crypto 20:04, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

Comma usage[edit]

Which is correct?

Where able I try to help on the Reference Desk and the Help desk.


Where able, I try to help on the Reference Desk and the Help desk.

Thanks.--Pucktalk 17:56, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

I may have answered my own question. According to Comma (punctuation), it should be the second form since it is an introductory clause. Correct?--Pucktalk 18:01, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Actually, it isn't a clause, because it doesn't have a finite verb. Unfortunately the example of an introductory clause at Comma, "Once upon a time, I didn't know how to use commas" isn't a clause either. --Angr (tɔk) 18:05, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
If I were to say, Where I am able, would that be an example of what you are talking about? Would that get a comma?--Pucktalk 18:22, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes to the first question, and I suppose so to the second question. I've never worried much about punctuation; I just do what feels right. --Angr (tɔk) 19:11, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
That's probably a good way to look at it, but there have been times I've been reading something and a glaring mechanical error in something like spelling or punctuation has spoiled what would otherwise be good writing. It's kind of like a guitar player with one string just slightly out of tune. It bugs me when I see other people do it and I'd like to not have people feel the same when they read my stuff. Maybe I worry too much about what other people think. I guess my mother didn't give me enough love as a child or something.--Pucktalk
I changed the comma article to say "introductory words and phrases", which IS correct and of which both this and the Once Upon A Time are examples. Elf | Talk 21:26, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

When I copyedit, I place a comma after the following introductory words, phrases, and clauses:

  • Items that have no grammatical connection to the sentence, e.g., "Of course, Tom didn't know it was going to rain."
  • After an adverb unless it is followed by the word it modifies, e.g., "Currently, all positions are filled."
  • After a prepositional phrase of four or more words.
  • After an infinitive phrase, e.g., "To raise enough money, Sarah had to sell all her jewelry."
  • After a participle phrase, e.g., "Looking for the lost child, Jim knocked on every door in the neighborhood."
  • After an adverb clause, e.g., "Before Jenny left home, she made sure her cell phone battery had a full charge."

This is merely my personal guideline that I follow to help standardize an article. Wayward 00:02, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

I believe the actual proper sentence would be, "Where I am able to help, I try to help ..." I don't think it's technically acceptable to leave the subject, the helping verb, and the direct object of a clause (66% of its total words) implied, but it flows fine, so I'd say go with it. And use the comma, unless there are already too many around it. -- 00:17, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
personally, I put a comma behind everything whose expected location is somewhere else, and so was moved to the front for emphasis. That includes everything in your list except the first example (which is more like an interjection, see Dangling modifier for the analysis of "hopefully" in this regard) and the participle phrase, which requires a comma for another reason. Circeus 16:07, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Use a comma after an introductory clause or phrase. Take it from an old writing professor and Rules for Writers, 5th ed., by Diana Hacker. That's the way it is for standard English writing.
  • There are of course no commas in speech. Linguists value speech more than writing, and that's fine. I agree that speech is primary, writing definitely secondary. However, this question, I believe, is about writing. Halcatalyst 03:04, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

what is, allowing destructive behaviour to continue?[edit]

  • In sociology contexts in terms of addictive behaviors I've heard the term enabling used. But that's more providing the means to do something that just ignoring it. I didn't immediately find any useful Wikipedia article's relating to either though. - Taxman Talk 19:50, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

How about let something run/take its course, let things drift/slide/rip, be negligent, be remiss? (From my Van Dale dictionary Dutch-English.) ---Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 20:40, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Would acquiescing fit the bill? JackofOz 21:30, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

If you're looking for a technical term, you might try posting on the Science board, or finding a website devoted to sociology. Conversational wordings very rarely sync up well with jargon. -- 00:21, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

  • I suppose you could say that "enabling" is jargon, but the word also has a very important common use. Unfortunately, neither Wiktionary nor are any help, so I'll tell you what I know.
  • Many people are addicted to one thing or another. Family members or others are often caretakers. Often, they are engaged in a suble interpersonal dynamic wherein they subconsciously encourage the addictive behavior in order to meet some deep-seated need of their own. This is called "enabling" in the clinical psychology community. As a layperson, I know this term, and so do many others. Halcatalyst 02:49, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

How about codependency ? StuRat 03:26, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

January 14[edit]

Globali"Z"ation or Globali"S"ation?[edit]

Does anybody know what the difference between the spelling of globalization and globalisation are? both bring back matches in google (50 million and 18 million respectively). Is one a US or one a UK spelling? In fact there are a whole lot of words that (to the best of my knowledge) be spelt with either a z or an s in this sort of construction e.g. liberalism.

Any thoughts on this would be helpful, Thanks.

"Liberalizm"? That's not valid in any variety of English. -- Arwel (talk) 13:20, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
Let's put it this way: American dictionaries define "globalisation" as the "British variant" of "globalization". Presumably British dictionaries return the favo(u)r.- Nunh-huh 07:41, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
Maybe some dictionaries say that, but I don't think it's that neat. (Dictionaries are not the unalterable truth that most people seem to assume, but merely what one person thinks or one group of people agree is the case - just like Wikipedia really.) Both variants are found wherever English is written. Given that the Z version apes the actual pronunciation, I would wager that it predated the rise of a distinctively American spelling. I'm not talking about this word in particular, but all words ending in -ise/-ize or -isation/-ization. JackofOz 07:59, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
I'd say the -ise/-isation spellings are virtually unknown in the U.S., except by people who have reason to encounter British writing a lot. But unlike most other American spellings (color, center, etc.), -ize/-ization is not restricted to the US. Dictionaries from Oxford University Press, for example, always recommend -ize/-ization. Angr (tɔk) 08:03, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
the reason is, I assume, that Greek -izein is written with a zeta? dab () 08:06, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
I suppose. I should point out that Oxford does recommend analyse as opposed to American analyze, and in this case the Greek word ἀναλύω doesn't have any sibilant consonant at all. --Angr (tɔk) 08:32, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

From the OED:

[I]n mod.F. the suffix has become -iser, alike in words from Greek, as baptiser, .vang.liser, organiser, and those formed after them from L., as civiliser, cicatriser, humaniser. Hence, some have used the spelling -ise in Eng., as in French, for all these words, and some prefer -ise in words formed in French or Eng. from L. elements, retaining -ize for those of Gr. composition. But the suffix itself, whatever the element to which it is added, is in its origin the Gr. -izein, L. -izare; and, as the pronunciation is also with z, there is no reason why in English the special French spelling should be followed, in opposition to that which is at once etymological and phonetic. In this Dictionary the termination is uniformly written -ize. (In the Gr. -iz-, the i was short, so originally in L., but the double consonant z (= dz, ts) made the syllable long; when the z became a simple consonant, (-idz) became -iz, whence Eng. (-aIz).)

The following are illustrations of some of the recent uses of the suffix: 1591 Nashe Introd. Sidney's Astr. & Stella in P. Penilesse (Shaks. Soc.) p. xxx, "Reprehenders, that complain of my boystrous compound wordes, and ending my Italionate coyned verbes all in ize." 1611 "Florio, Inpetrarcato, Petrarchized." 1618 J. Taylor (Water P.) Journ. Scotl., "I haue a smacke of Coriatizing." 1682 D'Urfey Butler's Ghost II. 177 "Ralpho+takes the Tongs+and snaps him by the Nose+surpriz'd, To be thus rudely dunstaniz'd." 1796 Coleridge Lett. I. 209 "We might Rumfordize one of the chimneys." 1833 Blackw. Mag. XXXIV. 533 "It is a taste that, to coin a word, insignificantizes everything -- unpoetizes nature." 1840 New Monthly Mag. LIX. 492 "Tandemizing, cricketizing, boatizing, et omne quod exit in izing, is not to be carried on without a considerable expenditure." 1858 Sat. Rev. V. 264/2 "He has no fear of Tower-Hamletizing the land." Ibid. VI. 203/2 "To Perkin-Warbeckize a pretender is the best, because not the most spirited, policy." 1861 T. L. Peacock Gryll Gr. viii, "Arch-quacks have taken to merry~andrewizing in a new arena." 1866 Sat. Rev. 10 Nov. (L.), "If a man+is funny, and succeeds in Joe-Millerizing history, he pleases somebody or other." 1876 Preece & Sivewright Telegraphy 164 "Of the first class [Preservation of Timber] the three best known processes are: (a) Burnetising, (b) Kyanising, and (c) Boucherising." 1881 Mahaffy in Academy 23 Apr. 295 "She does not Irvingise Shylock." 1885 J. C. Jeaffreson Real Shelley II. 192 "The troop of nakedized children rushed downstairs." 1894 Westm. Gaz. 21 Mar. 7/3 "These instruments, before they are used, should always be strictly anti-septicized." 1897 A. Lang in Blackw. Mag. Feb. 187 "To do this is not to Celticise but to Macphersonise." 1897 Westm. Gaz. 28 July 6/1 "The word 'Klondykised'. has been coined to express the conditions of persons who have caught the mania [for seeking gold at Klondyke].+ The effect has been to 'Klondykise'. nearly all the people of the town." 1898 L. A. Tollemache Talks w. Gladstone 114 note, "It [the passage] is, as it were, Canning Gladstonized." Wayward 09:15, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

What is the correct term for responding to a question with another question?[edit]

I have checked on google but to no avail. Saw it in a Q+A in a uk paper with a quirky response.. "Being a politician" - there must be a proper word for it surely? Rondolpho -- 13:50, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

Avoiding the question? Though I suppose responding to students using the Socratic method would fall under the same terms, and clearly isnt avoiding the question. GeeJo 15:24, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
I agree that evasion is the behaviour and is also possibly the intention but does this style of evasion have a specific name? Thanks for the interesting link though195.92.40.49 15:42, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
I didn't find the answer to your question, but I did find this at MIT [10]. It's pretty cool. Just for fun, ask it what Wikipedia is.--Pucktalk 15:56, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
Or this: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? chocolateboy 11:25, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Ratiocinatio [11] is the best I could find for pretentious verbiage fans. This though is a rhetorical term and suggests someone arguing with themselves and who likes the sound of their own voice; so we are back at politicians. If you want someone to argue with ELIZA may be of interest. MeltBanana 16:27, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
In your effort to disparage "pretentious verbiage fans", I think you've thrown the baby out with the bathwater, and/or misunderstood the meaning of "verbiage". "Verbiage is an insulting term usually meant to disparage needlessly wordy prose". Using "ratiocination" could well replace a much longer set of words, and would thus be the precise opposite of "verbiage". Why use many words when one does the job of all of them? JackofOz 01:14, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
"Counter-question: A question in reply to another question, a question asked by the person questioned." OED --Shantavira 19:54, 14 January 2006 (UTC)


Where did the word Ghost originate from--

Like most English words, it's of Germanic origin. It comes from Old English gāst and is related to words in other Germanic languages, like Dutch geest and German Geist. Angr (tɔk) 21:20, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
According to one of my Dutch etymological dictionaries, it's only attested in West Germanic, but perhaps related to Gothic usgeisnan "frighten" (perhaps original meaning "ecstasy"), according to another also to Old Norse geiskafullr, "filled with fright". ---Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 21:30, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
Strange, looking up the cognate gast in a Swedish etymological dictionary, it is apparently from German (geist) via east-Frisian. The Gothic word is mentioned but not the Norse one. Maybe they're just independent words from the same proto-Germanic root. --BluePlatypus 11:43, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Originally, it didn't have the meaning of a dead spirit, though, because it's used in such phrases as "Holy Ghost" to mean a holy spirit. In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo calls Friar Lawrence his "ghostly father", meaning spiritual advisor. User:Zoe|(talk) 22:09, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

On the contrary, it seems. Online Etymological dictionary states This was the usual W.Gmc. word for "supernatural being," and the primary sense seems to have been connected to the idea of "to wound, tear, pull to pieces." The surviving O.E. senses, however, are in Christian writing, where it is used to render L. spiritus, a sense preserved in Holy Ghost. Modern sense of "disembodied spirit of a dead person" is attested from c.1385 and returns the word toward its ancient sense. Most IE words for "soul, spirit" also double with ref. to supernatural spirits. Shakespeare certainly used it in the "dead spirit" sense as well, see Hamlet. --BluePlatypus 18:35, 15 January 2006 (UTC)


In French the Future Simple for BOIRE, it is buvr- or boir-? Which is more Correct?

je boirai, tu boiras, etc. --Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 21:19, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

does BUVR- work? I thought that was the one my teacher used?

My dictionary ("The Canadian Dictionary, Concise Edition", from 1962) shows only the forms Benne gives. A Google phrase search on "je boirai" finds 21,400 hits while "je buvrai" has only 142. I don't know if there are French-speakers who consider it correct, but it doesn't seem like a choice a teacher would make, except perhaps if it's a dialect form and the teacher speaks that dialect. --Anonymous, 15:48 UTC, January 15, 2006.
None of my French grammars or dictionaries show the other form. I also checked the Dictionnaire québécois d'aujourd'hui, but that one also gives the regular form. Perhaps you mean the imparfait, which is "je buvais"? I can hardly imagine a good teacher teaching their students dialectal French. --Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 18:01, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
In french, future is generaly infinitive + -ai, -as, -a, -ons, -ez, -ont. "je buvrai" is not correct but understandable as future (and sometimes oraly used).--Coyau 18:39, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Visiting People[edit]

How come when people from the U.S. go to (ex. Mexico) we have to speak Spanish, but when the people come here, they can't learn to speak english?

The premise of this question is false; therefore the question is unanswerable. --Angr (tɔk) 21:53, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
Why is it that Americans, when they visit Europe, hardly ever seem to make an effort to learn at least the basic expressions of the local languages ...?
Why do we humans generalise so often? ---Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 21:58, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
Note that there are far more languages and dialects in Europe than in the US, making speaking the native language much more difficult for Americans visiting Europe than for Europeans visiting America. StuRat 04:12, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
If one must indulge in this stupid overgeneralization: Why would it be more difficult for Americans than for British or other Europeans? --BluePlatypus 11:32, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't see how stating that there are more languages and dialects in Europe than in the US is a "stupid overgeneralization". Depending on if you include the UK as part of Europe or a separate from Europe (as many in the UK do), you may or may not have a substantial English speaking group in Europe. However, I would still say that dialects vary more in the UK, say from Scotland to Wales to London, than they do in the US. Thus, someone from the UK would have an easier time picking up the American dialects than the reverse. However, if the American visited ALL of Europe, they would have many languages and dialects to learn, while Europeans visiting ALL of the US would have relatively few. StuRat 15:31, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
True. You always get a better response / are less likely to be ripped off if you at least attempt to speak the local language, even if it's only to apologise for not being able to speak the local language! -- Arwel (talk) 13:29, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
Another factor is simple psychology: With (real or perceived) superiority comes a demand for humility. A rich person is expected to be more generous than an average person. An average-weight person shouldn't complain about losing weight in the presence of an obese person, and so on. So for Americans, who are coming from a powerful and dominant culture, the bar is raised when it comes to taking interest in other cultures. It's basic human nature. The same thing also goes for the relations between colonial nations and former colonizers, or occupants. The reasoning above: "We're the bigger culture, so we shouldn't have to" sums it up well. That's exactly what the others think that Americans think, which is why they have to start from being perceived as 'arrogant' instead of neutrally. So it is precisely because English is such a major language that they have to make more of an effort to learn local ones. If you feel that's unfair, it's because you're taking that advantage for granted. --BluePlatypus 15:26, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
Dealing in stereotypes...the people of the United Kingdom, where I reside (generally described as "English" in this singular case, rather than British, for some reason) have an equally bad reputation for not learning the language when overseas. "Say it in English, only louder" is a British catch phrase of how to address foreigners. (This largely works, except in France, where the British are all convinced that the French pretend not to understand English). British people who permanently emigrate (especially to Spain) notoriously live in English speaking enclaves and learn little of the local language. I'm interested in the basic premise, though: do people from the US really have to speak Spanish, or do they just say it in American English, only louder? Notinasnaid
No, of course not. The basic premise of the question is false, as I said at the beginning. Most people who visit the U.S. from other countries do learn to speak some English, and many Americans who go abroad don't learn the local language, assuming that everyone there will speak English. And so long as they stick to touristy destinations, their assumption will usually be correct. Germans don't learn the local language when they visit other countries in Europe either; they speak to locals in English. --Angr (tɔk) 10:43, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, the premise is false, for more reason than one. Many visitors speak only English in Mexico, but if you happen to grow up alongside a Spanish-speaking minority, you end up picking up and using some. Not only is the bar higher as BluePlatypus points out, but Americans in some regions get more exposure to Spanish than people in some areas of Mexico do to English. — Laura Scudder 07:35, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
That's true, the south-west US is heavily hispanic. If you go to a fast food restaurant there named Jack in the Box, the server will inevitably say "Welcome to Yak in the Box"...must be a mighty big box ! StuRat 08:09, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

January 15[edit]

Wiktionary:Wiktionary:Translations of the Week[edit]

We are looking for people to translate the following into as many languages as possible. Please go to the relevant Wiktionary page and place your translations there

  1. anticlockwise
  2. inside out
  3. grid

Thanks, --Dangherous 00:53, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Is anticlockwise the same as counter-clockwise ? StuRat 04:07, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
For anticlockwise, Deutsch:[12], Português,[13], Română:[14] and Svenska:[15] are a few. hydnjo talk 04:58, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
"medurs" means clockwise ("med" = with, "ur" = clock), anticlockwise is "moturs" ("mot" = against). It's the same words in Swedish and Norwegian. --BluePlatypus 11:27, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Anticlockwise: वामावर्त्त, प्रति-घटि
  • inside out: उलटा
  • grid: झर्झर, जाली

Note: See this English-Hindi dictionary deeptrivia (talk) 05:59, 15 January 2006 (UTC)


The word for "emerald" appears to be "smaragd" in many languages. What language is "smaragd" from? -- 18:57, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Apparently, according to various definition sites (like etc...):
  • Middle English emeraude, from Old French, from Medieval Latin esmeralda, esmeraldus, from Latin smaragdus, from Greek smaragdos.
Well, you learn something new every day! Thanks for that question; I got to learn something new! СПУТНИКССС Р 20:27, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
The question still remains, where did the Greek word smáragdos come from? It's certainly not inherited from Proto-Indo-European. Webster's Third says it might be of Semitic origin, related to Hebrew bāreqet. --Angr (tɔk) 20:32, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
The OED says it's connected with Sanskrit marakata, marakta emerald, which does make it Indo-European. --Heron 20:42, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
Yeah "connected with", not derived from the same PIE root as. In all likelihood it was borrowed into both Greek and Sanskrit from some original source. Maybe the original source was Semitic, or maybe the Semitic languages borrowed the word too. The word just doesn't look like a typical PIE root, or a typical Semtic root either, for that matter. --Angr (tɔk) 20:53, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
Ah, sorry, I missed your point there. I just checked in Eric Partridge's Origins, and he guesses that it's 'ultimately Semitic', likening it to the Hebrew root you mentioned, and to the Akkadian barraḳta, emerald. --Heron 21:11, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
Not to be too nit-picky, but bāreqet isn't a root, the root of bāreqet (ברקת) is bâraq (ברק), v. to flash (lightening), at least according to Strong's Concordance.
Hm, interesting. Monier Williams (Sanskrit-English) provides no etymology, Van Dale Dutch etymological dictionary points at Akkadian barraqtu < barāqu "flash, lighten". Syriac, another Semitic language, has braq for "shine, lighten, flash". --Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 21:23, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
It's a bit out of date, but [16] is a Mineralogia Polygotta that says
marakta im Sanskrit (ganz wie maragd im Aethiopischen), auch asmagarba, asmajoni, apanica, lomasarara, haritasman (der grüne Stein), harinmani.—garuda im Sanscrit scheint ein sehr edler Stein gewesen zu seyn, da man ihn auch als the bird and vehicle of Vishnu bezeichnet; Wilson übersetzt ihn in seinem Wörterbuche mit emerald (Smaragd), so auch garudmata, garudottirna, garudaçmen; ob er hierher gehört, bleibt zweifelhaft, das Wort hat Aehnlichkeit mit jakut, auch mit zmerud;—marakata im Bengalischen, auch tsuni und harinmani (d.i. grüner Edelstein);—pachee soll er im Hindu heissen. In Peru (Südamerika) heisst der Smaragd pachel, pacha, was ein höchst merkwürdiges Zusammentreffen mit dem indischen Namen seyn würde. (pinga ist der gewöhnliche Name in Brasilien);—zemcrud, zamrud im Malaiischen;—smrucht im Armenischen, auch zmrroud, zmroukt;—σμαραγδος, μαραγδος der Griechen (zunächst wohl nach dem Armenischen und Aethiopischen);—smaragdus der Römer, aber nur zum Theil; der aegypticus ist der ägyptische, der scythicus der siberische (wenn er nicht Malachit ist); der bactrianus kann auch Smaragd seyn, die andern Arten waren Malachit oder chalcosmaragdus, der prasinus könnte vielleicht hierher gehören;—smiraldus und esmaraldus im Mittelalter;—smarag im Gälischen (Schottischen); amerand oder ameraud ist grün, woher vielleicht emeraude und emerald stammt, wie der Smaragd im Französischen und Englischen heisst;—smaragdu im Walachischen;—isumrud im Russischen, auch isoumrode, zmeroud, szmaragd im Polnischen;—smerald im Dalmatischen und Wendischen;—smaragd im Böhmischen, Magyarischen, Schwedischen, Dänischen;—smeraldo im Italienischen;—esmeroud, amarantsteen, smaragd im Holländischen;—esmeralda im Spanischen; esmaragdo, esmeraldo im Portugiesischen; emerald im Englischen;—emeraude im Französischen (wohl von emeraud, d.i. grün im Gälischen).
and yes, it's in German.--Prosfilaes 18:27, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Vielen Dank. Thank you everyone else too. -- 18:57, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

January 16[edit]

Origin of a saying[edit]

What is the origin of this saying 'As Safe as Houses'. Look forward to your reply.

These folks make a stab at it.--Pucktalk 03:25, 16 January 2006 (UTC)


How would you define the slang use of corny or cheezy? I often attempt to teach this word to my (Japanese) students but for such an apparently simple word breaking it down to its basic meaning is really a challenge. I can't seem to get any closer than 'old-fashioned', 'pure/innocent to the point of being odd', or 'gaudy' (gaudy doesn't translate easily either though ...). Any thoughts?

And another one ... does it make sense to define ever? The standard translation for this is 'before now' which I really don't like but it may be the case that it can't be properly translated as it is really just a grammar function that allows for clarifying/adding strength to the meaning 'has such an event existed before now?' and the like.   freshgavin TALK    05:24, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Those are actually pretty good statements of the words' various uses. Is there any Japanese equivalent? I think the way most people learn what 'corny' and 'cheesy' are is by seeing them. Also, it might be worth mentioning that they usually have a negative connotation, because you don't respect something that is corny or cheesy. Black Carrot 07:39, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
I wonder if, in explaining, it is worth setting these two words up as opposites of cool, if that is a familiar concept. It isn't a definition in itself, but it may help to place them in context. Actually, I don't see corny or cheesy as having the same meaning at all: corny has undertones of innocence, while cheesy has undertones of cynicism. Notinasnaid 10:22, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes. I would describe corny as a failed attempt at being cool or clever, and cheesy as a failed attempt at being dramatic. --Grocer 18:13, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

These definitions are pretty decent, but don't let your students overthink on the definitions. Try your best to find the words used in context, and with enough readings including the word, they will learn the meanings more like native speakers do. Remembering definitions usually isn't helpful, but knowing how a word is used to convey meaning is. - Taxman Talk 00:42, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

The ones I listed translate easy enough ... I usually say 古臭い (furu-kusai, which basically translates back into English as 'Old-ish' or 'smelling old'). Just want to note that I'm trying to overburden them with the definitions, generally they want to pick up the nuance which often involves a lot more explanation and examples than just a simple definition. The problem with cheezy and corny is that the examples vary and a lot of them don't equate in the Japanese culture ... a lot of things I would regard as horribly corny are completely reasonable here. The examples I usually use for context are:
  • Oyaji Joke (Dad jokes... as in crappy jokes that your dad is likely to say)
  • Romantic nerds (where the 'pure to the point of oddity' comes from)
  • Old school rap/techno (again, combines out-of-date with a kind of purity)
Even with those examples it seems difficult for them to understand how Brad Pitt's acting would be considered 'corny' or how many commercials in Japan are annoyingly cheezy. Cool is probably just as difficult to explain properly, the Japanese equivalent (格好いい/kakkou ii) literally means 'looks good', referring to performance or outfit (for example maybe a little closer to the concept of a 'dreamy guy') so it would sound a little strange to call your puny cousin 'cool', or when you say it meaning something is really fun.
Anyways, it's really one of the fun things about learning a language as radically different as Japanese or Chinese is. I've really come to appreciate the breadth of meaning of some English words, and of course come to like the pure usefulness of some Japanese words that aren't easily used in English, like 面倒くさい (pain in the ass, troublesome).   freshgavin TALK    02:13, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Back to corny , I would translate it as omoshirokunai (面白くない) (not interesting), the best I can come up with. Gaudy as hade (派手), 'loud colors'. It is best describe as 'if colors were sound, the color would be blaring, loud'. But that is not an 'exact' translation of gaudy either.--Jondel 09:29, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

After explaining the meaning to my wife (using countless examples!), she finally came up with a word for 'gaudy', as in 'tacky', and it turned out to be a word I knew all along. 「だっさい」(dassai) was the word she came up with. I understand your difficulty, though, as I've always found it really hard to translate these words. 「古臭い」(furukusai) was a word I have used mostly for it. Slightly off topic, I once went out with a girl whose family name was 'Taki'. The relationship went downhill after I told her the meaning in English, which just shows you have to be careful when translating stuff (she had actually ASKED me if it had a meaning in English!) --Givnan 08:20, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

effect of advertising[edit]

What is the effect of advertising on modern society? Advertising is a major imput on our lives but how does the language used effect this in everyday life?

Can you explain more about why you want to know? The framing makes this sound very much like a homework question as it stands. Notinasnaid 11:08, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
On the plus side, advertisiing increases buying and thus is a significant driving force behind capitalist economies. On the negative side, it leads to overconsumption of items of questionable value and quality, which causes depletion of natural resources, pollution, bankruptcy, and (in the case of advertising for alcohol, tobacco, and unhealthy foods and drinks) can lead to disease. StuRat 12:40, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
If you ask me, advertising often comes down to making people give the impression that they are in need of something they actually have no use for, by means of making them identify not so much with the product itself, but rather with the feeling that the company wants the consumer to associate the product with. More and more, advertising tends to be concentrated on creating a certain atmosphere, which has hardly anything to do with the product it's supposed to promote. -Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 13:41, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
One idea that I've mulled over some times is that advertising is a pointless waste of human and natural resources, serving only to endlessly redistribute market shares from one corporation to another, not creating any value in the process. On the contrary, advertising is considered by many to even be a detriment to their quality of life. Advertising is a parasitic companion to market economy, in the sense that it is one of the elements which produces nothing of value to society as a whole. It only serves one actor in the economy at the detriment of another in what is mostly a zero-sum game. On the other hand, I have no suggestion for an economic system which is overall more efficient than the market-economic one, so I'll just have to live with it. --BluePlatypus 14:38, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
The only thing I see helpful about ads to the consumer is that they provide information. For example, I bought my current truck, a Chevy Avalanche, after seeing it advertised and noting that the "pickup bed" can either be kept separate or combined with the cab (by removing the barrier) into more of an SUV. I thought that was a useful feature, and since I was due for a new vehicle, I bought and have used it in both the "cargo mode" and the "passenger mode" since then. While I could have gotten this info elsewhere, I wouldn't have known to look for it unless somebody "jammed it in my face" in the way ads do. StuRat 15:03, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Translation request English -> Tamil/other Dravidian languages[edit]

In Indonesian, the word for horse is kuda. Some say that this word is derived from Tamil. Is this correct> Thanks. Meursault2004 18:12, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Talk to User:Ganeshk. deeptrivia (talk) 01:11, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

I already did, thanks. Meursault2004 09:07, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

How do you say patience?[edit]

"Pay-shence". --Canley 23:57, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
How do you say patience? Like this: pa-tience (pay-shence). Perhaps in IPA: [ˈpeʃɛns]. Or did you mean in other languages? Well, tell us which language and we'll work from there. СПУТНИКССС Р 23:59, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
(a) I think we can assume this English-language question is about the English-language word "patience". (b) I have never heard anybody pronounce it "pa-ti-ence". It's 2 syllables, not three.JackofOz 01:07, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Do you really pronounce it with the stress on the second syllable like that, or did you just make a mistake with your IPA? —Keenan Pepper 01:19, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
I know little about IPA, but doesn't /ˈpeʃɛns/ have the stress on the first syllable? At any rate, I've never once heard the accent on the second syllabe.
(He changed it after I said that. =P)—Keenan Pepper 06:05, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
In any event, it's phonemically /ˈpeʃɪns/ for me; phonetically something like [ʼpʰeɪʃʷɨnts]. Not that that really matters. Canley's approximation of "PAY-shence" is pretty good, I think. --Whimemsz 05:29, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
You're both right... I don't know what I'm doing. Just ignore me. СПУТНИКССС Р 01:23, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

January 17[edit]

French Pronouns[edit]

In the phrase, il est à la maison, am I suppose to use the pronoun y or en. and for the sentence il va à la maison, what pronoun should I use?

I was always taught that indirect objects with the pronoun à take y, i.e. il va à la maison becomes il y va. However, il y est sounds wrong somehow, but I can't think of why. СПУТНИКССС Р 01:00, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
  • il y est doesn't sound all that wrong to me, though in spoken French, I'd rather say il est là . deeptrivia (talk) 01:08, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Both il y est and il est là are correct, il est là being slightly more colloquial. As for y and en, the first replaces à and the second de. E.g. Il va à la maison = He goes to the house, and Il sort de la maison = He comes out of the house. - Mu 12:31, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Il est à la maison - il y est. Il va à la maison - il y va. Il vient de la maison (comes from) - il en vient.
In each case, il is the only pronoun. Y and en are adverbs. --Harvestman 18:38, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Request English translation of French radio station name[edit]

I'm trying to update the Bandeapart article as part of my work on the Sirius Satellite Radio project, and as part of that, I want to provide a translation of what the name means. However, my French is way too rusty, and I'm not having any luck via the search engines. I understand that it's some sort of pun or play on words of "bande à part", but beyond that, I'm lost. Can anyone translate it for me? Their site is at, if that's of any help. Thanks, --Aaron 02:22, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

It is indeed a play on words. The name comes from the French expression faire bande à part, which has several meanings. In the case of a group, it means to form a separate group. In the case of a person, it means to keep to oneself. In the figurative sense, it means to be an exception. The name is also a pun on bande, which in this context can mean both a musical band and a radio frequency. Taken as a whole, it suggests something like "A Band Apart" or "The Special Frequency", but it's difficult to find a translation that catches it all. - Mu 12:26, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Thank you Mu! I appreciate it! --Aaron 15:45, 19 January 2006 (UTC)


how do your pronounce gagnon?

If it's French, it should be pronounced /gaɲɔ̃/, or roughly, gan-YONE, with a nasalized sound at the end. —Keenan Pepper 06:01, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Alternative word for "cost"[edit]

What's another word for "cost" which ends in "ity"? --HappyCamper 08:36, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Gratuity? (second usage listed in that entry) GeeJo (t) (c) 09:10, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Indemnity, noun: a sum of money paid in compensation for loss or injury. hydnjo talk 21:53, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

greasy old man[edit]

Could you please let me know what is a) the origin b) the common usage in England in the 1930s of the expression "greasy old man"

Thank you

IPA vowel chart[edit]

Hello, I've found several IPA vowel charts (in which the exact pronunciation of the vowels in the corresponding languages is shown). These include Dutch, Hungarian and Swedish. I want to ask if someone can post the IPA vowel charts for other languages (mainly English, Spanish, Italian and more). Thanks - JorisvS, 17 January 2006 16:11 (local time)

For English, it would have to be dialect-specific: the locations of the vowels are extremely different from one dialect to the next. My understanding is that Spanish vowels are rather stable across dialects (unlike consonants), so for Spanish it would probably be feasible. I don't know about Italian. --Angr (tɔk) 16:15, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Currently vowel tablesare created using Wikisyntax, mostly toallow links to individual sound articles. However, a standardized representation in "true" vowel tables would be nice to have, assuming links to the sound articles are still present Circeus 16:23, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
I assumed that what JorisvS was asking for was not tables created with Wikisyntax, but rather images of the vowel trapezoid with dots representing the positions of the vowels, like this one. Because it's an image, though, it's not possible to link to the articles of the individual sounds. --Angr (tɔk) 17:04, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
I understood that perfectly. What I meant was a table like that at Danish phonology#Vowels. Circeus 18:01, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
I've added a vowel chart for California English both at that article and at English phonology. --Angr (tɔk) 17:44, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
It would be nice to make an audio link for this sort of thing. Beyond my technical abilities though. Because, as was said higher up, a given IPA vowel symbol will be pronounced slightly differently across accents and languages, which is the main reason why foreigners pronunciation still sounds slightly different even if their English is virtually flawless. Jameswilson 00:03, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

'Citizens' and 'nationals'[edit]

What is the distinction between being a 'citizen' and a 'national'. For example, residents of the Netherlands Antilles are said to be Dutch citizens, and Netherlands Antilles nationals. Thanks if you can make it clear for me.

Normally it's the same thing. The Dutch issue is special since the Netherland Antilles has a high degree of autonomy. The Kingdom of the Netherlands isn't the same thing as country referred to as The Netherlands, similar to how the British Commonwealth isn't the same thing as the United Kingdom. Now, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is more close-knit than the Commonwealth, but certainly less integrated than France. The French Antilles are part of France, and also of the EU. The Dutch Antilles are not part of the EU. However, the Dutch have arranged thing so that citizenship is a Kingdom issue, and so the people of the Dutch Antilles are still EU citizens. If you want you could say that the Antilles are one of three nations within the Kingdom. But it's a controversial word, and there's no agreement on how it's supposed to be used. For instance the autonomous regions of Spain are not allowed to call themselves 'nations' ("naciones"), since their constitution defines Spain as one Nation. So what it boils down to is that the meaning of the word depends on the context of the constitution and form of government of the country involved. --BluePlatypus 16:46, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
The United Kingdom has a similar thing for people who are attached to overseas territories and ex-colonies. You can be a British national without being a British Citizen. See British citizenship. DJ Clayworth 19:19, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for those two replies. I'm still working it through though. The article on British Citizen made it clear that the issue is complex, but didn't basically explain the distinction between being a 'national' and being a 'citizen' except that there are several types of citizens, all of whom are nationals. But what IS a 'national'? Above, I used the Netherlands example not because I was really interested in Netherlands, just because I wanted to use one example to try and be clear. I think there are many, many exceptions to the generalization (which I accept) that the words are often used interchangeably. What I hope to understand is what exactly is the distinction, and how might it be put to good use. Would there be a conflict resolution benefit to allowing for 'Basque National, citizen of Spain', or 'Chechen National, citizen of Russia', or 'Russian National, citizen of Ukraine'...etc. 'Taiwanese National, citizen of China'? So I'm still looking for reference or links to a source explaining the legal distinction between a national and a citizen...Do we have a way to also post this question/discussion to the Reference Desk, Humanities page?

Right. Diplomats are experts at utilizing the ambiguity of words, so you can perhaps use it to solve conflicts, but it can also be the cause of them; I previously alluded to the situation in Spain, which is problematic since the people of Catalonia want to be called a 'nation'. (See "Current political issues" on that page). But as the Nationality article says: Traditionally under international law and the Conflict of Laws, it was the right of each state to determine who its nationals are.. So there just isn't any simple answer. --BluePlatypus 16:25, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
Two issues to consider here. 1) There is no neutral reference for this, since it is a matter of local law. What's a citizen in one country will be a national in another country. 2) There is also a language problem. Not all languages even have the distinction "citizen" versus "national". In German, for example, both are translated as "Bürger". As a consequence, there is no distinction between the two in German law. Then there is an additional confusion in English about the term "nation". Sometimes it means "country", sometimes it means "ethnicity", and the two are obviously very different things. Politicians often benefit from this confusion when they call some population with disputed political status a "nation" -- people will believe the group is or should be a country, when in reality they are just an ethnicity. --Chl 13:53, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

How to increase attention span at work?[edit]

How can I increase my attention span at work, so I don't ping pong between projects so quickly.

This is not a language question. --Angr (tɔk) 16:12, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps you need to find a line of work that you find interesting enough to hold your attention. StuRat 19:06, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
I am a high school teacher at a school with a very large percentage of students with attention-deficit problems. You don't say what kind of work you do, so StuRat's suggestion could be all you need. However, for whatever reason (some say behavioral, some say developmental, some say physiological), some people do have difficulty remaining on task for any period of time and don't seem to have much ability to change this behavior. One metaphor is that of looking out a window, and having a window-shade come down every so often for varying lengths of time over which one has no control.
There are pharmaceutical approaches, and there are self-management approaches. I'll leave the drugs to someone else to get into, but there are some strategies for managing your own attention problems (again, a lot depends on what kind of job you have). First, you can put yourself on a kind of time-check. This will take some practice (and a bit of time), but you can make a little sheet of paper with fifteen-minute time increments listed. Then, every fifteen minutes, you jot down what you're doing right at that moment. This is a kind of self-check to see if you're on-task and a reminder to get back on task if you've been distracted. At first, this is going to be very difficult to do, but in a while you may find yourself self-monitoring without the need of the time-sheet.
One way the drugs work is by overstimulating certain parts of your brain, thus allowing the part that attends to tasks at hand to stay on track. Caffeine practically does the same thing. Many of my students, rather than take a pill at lunch, will just have two cans of cola, and this is good enough to keep them focused for the remainder of the school day without keeping them drugged into their after-school hours. Something else that works for many of them is to listen to music while they're trying to do work that requires a bit of attention (especially written work). Rather than distract them from their tasks, what music often does is distract their brains from distractions, if that makes sense, and so they are able to spend longer periods of time on necessary tasks.
Please keep in mind that many jobs are better done by people with shorter attention spans. Active, hands-on type work may be more in your line than, say, office work in a cubicle. Also, a lot of people diagnosed with attention-type disorders have the ability to hyperfocus on certain types of tasks; if you have that tendency, find work in areas that you can hyperfocus in (computer work and accounting are two possibilities -- both require extreme amounts of attention to detail). I know this sounds like a contradiction, but hyperfocusing is one characteristic many attendion-deficit students have in common.
Good luck. There's a lot of literature out there that you might try, such as Mel Levine's excellent Driven to Distraction. At the very least, books like this will help you understand your attentional problems better, and that has to be a good thing. --Mitchell k dwyer 15:36, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

"Don't blow smoke up my a**"[edit]

Does anyone know the origins of this expression? The meaning, as I understand it, is "don't tell me good news if it's baloney", or maybe "don't flatter me falsely". So where and when and why did blowing smoke up someone's rear end become a euphemism for giving them phony good news or flattering them? Thanks. Babajobu 17:07, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

This usenet post has an answer to that. --BluePlatypus 16:06, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
Wow. Thank you. At last, the answer. Babajobu 16:07, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

What is a Ballywick and what was it originally?[edit]

My partner used the word 'Ballywick' today. Apparently it is something that is within your domain, i.e. "An understanding of Finance is within my ballywick, however the consumption of cheeseburgers does not lie within my ballywick."

This understanding is supported by the few references I see to the word on the Internet. However, I have no idea what a ballywick itself is, and since it is such an interesting sounding word I would really like to know what it meant originally, and, if possible, why?

It is the jurisdiction of a bailiff. Both Jersey and Guernsey are bailiwicks. That last link tells you everything. --Gareth Hughes 18:28, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Adjverb, adjective or .....[edit]

Hello I coach a lot of people and ask them to define their personal strengths or qualities e.g. creative, intiative, empathetic, proactive, determined, dynamic, open etc. They struggle to find the words and I wondered if you would have such a list. However, I am not sure if we are talking about Adverbs, or Adjectives or something else!?! Your help would be most appreciated. Thanks. Pamela (Switzerland)

Those are adjectives. However, Wikipedia does not have such a list to my knowledge (and brief searching). Superm401 | Talk 21:19, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
This is a starter list. hydnjo talk 22:01, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
There are lots of possbile words in Wiktionary's English adjectives category. Thryduulf 13:10, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
Adverbs in English tend to end in -ly. And you can make an adverb out of almost anything by adding -ly to the end of it. Your examples would become: "creatively", "initiatively", "empathetically", "proactively", "determinedly", "dynamically", "openly". Of course not all adverbs end in -ly, for instance "very". Which gets even more confusing since it has an 'adverbized' form: "verily" which doesn't mean same thing. :) --BluePlatypus 16:04, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

Ology words[edit]

What are some cool words with the suffix -ology in it?

Try Hermione1980 21:44, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Actually, this is a better link. Hermione1980 21:46, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Thank you, got it

January 18[edit]

Spelling a name in Latin[edit]

My girlriend, soon to be fiancee is named Stacey and I want to get a tattoo of her name spelled in Latin, the language of love, on my chest near my heart, because she is my whole world and the person I see myself growing old with, but I don't speak any other language but english. I was wondering if you could help me with this problem. Really I just want her initials on my chest which are, or will be SRT.

There were no Staceys in Ancient Rome. And since when is Latin the language of love? You must be confused. --Nelson Ricardo 01:16, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

Well...."Stacey" comes from the Ancient Greek Anastasia[17]. The Romans apparently had a masculine form Anastasius, so I suppose Anastasia might be a vaguely okay Latin form of "Stacey." But I don't know much about Latin, so don't take my word for it. But if you just want her initials, why do you need to know her name in Latin? --Whimemsz 01:31, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

He apparently want's to find out her LATIN initials so he can tattoo THOSE. I mean, think about it; it's a much better conversation starter.
  • A: Hey Bruno, what's that on your chest?
  • B: My ex-wife's initials.
  • A: Wasn't your ex-wife named Stacey?
  • B: Not in Latin!
  • A: The language of LOVE?!
  • B: Apparently not!   freshgavin TALK    06:55, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
Oh... and if anybody still cares ... Stacey is spelled Stacie in the 'language of love', as far as I know.   freshgavin TALK    06:55, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
No. Don't do it! A tattoo of your girlfriend's name on you is a jinx!

Origin of a metaphor[edit]

I'm an attorney who today was informed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that I didn't prevail in a case that I litigate, United States v. McBride. In reading the court's opinion, I was struck by a metaphor that Judge Martin used that went as follows: "it's as difficult as herding bullfrogs into a wheelbarrow." I readily agree with the thrust of the metaphor but I must confess that I have never heard it used and try as I might, have been unable to find its origin. Any assistance in solving this mystery will be greatly appreciated. Steve Nolder Snolder at columbus dot rr dot com

Perhaps a mixed metaphor. I've heard of herding cats (no pun intended) and have heard of ... bullfrogs in a wheelbarrow but have not come across the combination cited by Judge Martin. hydnjo talk 02:48, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
I, too, like this metaphor. It sounds like one of those Southern expressions Keith Jackson would use. Judge Martin was born in Boston but spent a lot of time in Kentucky.
Here's the full quote from the judge's opinion:
"Before turning to the facts of this case, we pause to comment on the state of the law since Booker. Achieving agreement between the circuit courts and within each circuit on post-Booker issues has, unfortunately, been like trying to herd bullfrogs into a wheelbarrow. The courts have particularly struggled to — and often failed at — properly applying the remedial portion of Booker along with the remedy. One murky area is what to do about the pre-Booker concept of “departures” under the Guidelines now that the Guidelines are merely advisory. This Circuit is not exempt from causing confusion in this area. One particular source of that confusion is the Court’s recent opinion in United States v. Puckett, 422 F.3d 340 (6th Cir. 2005); see also United States v. Melendez-Torres, -- F.3d -- (1st Cir. 2005). Therefore, we take this opportunity to clarify the scope of our review of sentences in light of the potential ambiguities resultant from Puckett."
The judge is referring to the United_States_v._Booker case in trying to figure out what to do about Mr. Nolder's client, one of those fun tax protesters.
Here's an article from 2000 that talks about "transporting bullfrogs in a wheelbarrow." -- Mwalcoff 05:23, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
Well isn't that the cat's pajamas.   freshgavin TALK    06:58, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
That expression sounds very Mark Twain to me. StuRat 10:11, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
That's funny. Strikes me as a bit John Travolta.   freshgavin TALK    07:06, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

But beginning a sentence[edit]

I know this is a lame topic but I came across something in the American Heritage Book of English Usage (this page) a while back that tickled me about this elementary school rule and I haven't been able to get any straight answers about it yet.

The article itself was defending the use of but at the beginning of sentences by giving an example from a respected author; in this case J.M. Coetzee.

In his youth Dostoevsky had been attracted to utopian socialism of the Fourierist variety. But four years in a prison camp in Siberia shook his faith.

After thinking about it for a few seconds I had to disagree with it ... not because the example sentence isn't correct, but because the example sentence is using a (the?) different meaning of the word but, and thus the "rule" doesn't apply here.


  1. He isn't very nice. But he has many friends. (Typical (mis)use of 'but' that makes grammarians shudder)
  2. He started eating. But seven minutes later he decided to quit. (Here 'but' is a substitute for 'only' and thus there is no feeling of "incompleteness" as the former has)

Also, when I read the second sentence the rhythm and intonation change slightly as well, to reflect that 'but seven minutes' has a unit meaning as opposed to the singular grammar function is has in the first example.

Does anyone else follow me on this? I think the book is using the example incorrectly.   freshgavin TALK    07:18, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

Yes I follow you. But I think you're mistaken. I doubt that four years in a Siberian gulag would have felt like "only" four years. (I also think prescriptive grammarians need to get a life and stop shuddering whenever anyone else speaks or writes.) --Angr (tɔk) 07:22, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
  • In the 2nd example, I don't see how "but" could be a substitute for "only". "Only" introduces the new concept of a short time later, which is not equivalent to the concept of simply changing one's mind 7 minutes after starting.
  • The thing with "but" is that it is meant to convey a strong contrast between two things. Despite those pesky grammarians, I can't see anything wrong with having the 2 things appearing in separate sentences rather than in 1. If that means the 2nd sentence starts with "but", so be it.
  • What rule makers need to be focussing on is the incorrect use of "but" where "and" is more appropriate. Eg. "I love you but I don't have time to talk right now". The "but" unnecessarily downgrades the "I love you". The 2 concepts are not related; "and" is more appropriate here. JackofOz 08:07, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
    • There are no rules of language, and certainly no 'rule makers'. It's all about what you want to say, and how you want to say it. Whether or not to use 'but' at the start of a sentence is at the descretion of the author. Yes, breaking a sentence at a 'but' can break up the flow of the text and make it more difficult to read. But not always. Also, a writer might actually want that effect. There's no right or wrong, there is only being closer or further from conveying that which is intended. --BluePlatypus 10:33, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
No rules of language?? Where did you get that notion from? Millions of teachers, writers and ordinary folk seem to think there are certain rules. Our article on split infinitive is all about the debate about the so-called "rules". JackofOz 11:53, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
There are rules, and then there are rules. One definition of "rule" is "A usual, customary, or generalized course of action or behavior"; another is "An authoritative, prescribed direction for conduct". — Matt Crypto 12:02, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
Appeal to authority. That's because they are taught 'rules' in primary school. Most things that you learn in primary school are oversimplifications. It's easier to tell someone "this is wrong", than to explain how it doesn't convey what they intend, or how poor spelling makes reading difficult, etc. There are 'rules' in the first sense, as Crypto defines it. But there is nothing "wrong" about breaking such a rule. There is nothing wrong with intentionally using an irregularity. Or do you consider E. E. Cummings to be a 'bad' writer, since he didn't follow the 'rules'? I'm not saying people shouldn't know the regularities of a language. That's a prerequisite for being able to use irregular language effectively. But since the "rules" are mere regularities, or generalizations, trying to derimine what is "right" and "wrong" for trivial things like the above is a futile and petty exercise, in my opinion. --BluePlatypus 12:37, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
Whether or not your communication is still effective if you break a rule, and whether or not there are rules to begin with, are different issues. But you now agree there are rules. And I agree they are usually generalisations and simplifications - for the simple reason that most people who are taught the "rules" are school children, who can deal only with a certain level of complexity and need to understand the main principles. But learning a language at university level is a much more complex matter, where all manner of exceptions and variations and nuances and subtleties are taught and are expected to be understood. The more sophisticated and complex the entire "rule" becomes, the more context-dependent becomes the appropriateness or otherwise of any given set of words. But none of that equates to throwing the rules out and having carte blanche to say/write whatever you want. Or more accurately, you can say/write whatever you want, but whether your listeners/readers will understand you is another question. Communication is a 2-way street, so there has to be some agreement about what words and combinations of words mean - that's where the "rules" come in. And I disagree the original question is trivial, or that this debate is futile. It's what language is all about !! JackofOz 13:17, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
I didn't say there are rules, I said there were generalizations. What I take issue with, is using those generalizations in the sense of an absolute "right" and "wrong". And I see no particular reason to enforce "agreement" on what words mean. All communication is imperfect to begin with. You can never convey exactly what you mean. One person might find a period before "but" annoying, another might find it highlighting a point in an interesting way, neither may be the intention of the author. Ambiguity is what makes writing an art. You simply cannot neatly divide things up into little categories, one following the rules and one breaking them. All generalizations fail at a point, and zooming in on that point and trying to focus the rule into black-and-white "right or wrong" is indeed entirely futile because your premise is a false dichotomy. In analogy, you might as well discuss how many hairs a person can retain without being considered "bald". --BluePlatypus 18:03, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand. You wrote "There are 'rules' in the first sense, as Crypto defines it. But there is nothing "wrong" about breaking such a rule." I read this as you saying there are rules, but that it's OK to break them. Now you're saying you never said there were rules. What do the quoted words mean, then? Was there another way to interpet this? Anyway, I certainly agree with you about getting too precious about the "rules", whatever they are and whether or not they exist. Effective communication is the key. JackofOz 01:26, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
Personally, I blame the Bible. Biblical Hebrew sentences often start with the copula, which can be translated as and or but. And older English translations of the Bible are full of sentences starting with but and and. In Modern English, conjunctions at the beginning of a major sentence are usually considered to merge it with the foregoing major sentence. In these cases, a comma replaces the full stop between them. This may seem prescriptive, but it is the way that most editors expect work to punctuated. Having said that, it is useful to have different degrees of separation:
  1. I love you. I don't have time to talk right now. [strictly correct]
  2. I love you; I don't have time to talk right now. [strictly correct]
  3. I love you. However, I don't have time to talk right now. [strictly too correct]
  4. I love you. But, I don't have time to talk right now. [often deprecated]
  5. I love you; but I don't have time to talk right now. [often deprecated]
  6. I love you, but I don't have time to talk right now. [strictly correct]
--Gareth Hughes 13:25, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
It's always reassuring to see a priest blaming the Bible. I wonder if Biblical language is also to blame for hymns that start with "and", like "And did those feet in ancient time" and "And now, O Father, mindful of the love". --Angr (tɔk) 19:53, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

But I don't see anything wrong with starting a sentence with "but". These "rules" only exist because someone, somewhere, has found a way to harvest the energy of shuddering "grammarians". So keep on shuddering. --MarkSweep (call me collect) 23:32, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

The reason for the biblical sentences beginning with "and"/"but" is also based on the Vav HaHipuch, as I explained in the Vav article; the vav at the beginning of a verb switches the tense, and thus results in things like "And the L-rd spoke to Moses" etc..., not "And the L-rd will speak to Moses" (a over-literal translation), where it simply means "The L-rd spoke to Moses". The same with the hymns, which are mostly based on biblical verses. СПУТНИКССС Р 01:03, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
As it happens, neither of the hymns I mentioned is based on a Biblical verse. --Angr (tɔk) 06:07, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

Back on topic for a minute ... I agree with Angr that 'only four years' is a bit of an understatement, but that only reaffirms my claim that the quote shouldn't be used in an English Usage guide; it's ambiguous.

For those of you who are doubting the 'second meaning' of the word but, consider the phrase I am but a man. It's an old-ish use of the word, but as the quote is old (even if it wasn't, it could be meant to SOUND old) that would make sense.

The truth is, the only one that can be blamed for the whole 'but' argument/rule at all is English itself. I'm willing to bet 90% of the languages in the world contain casual word-phrases that express the idea of although or on the other hand (Japanese has at least 5 that can be used interchangeably) but for some reason in English most of them are conjunctions that can seem odd if they aren't 'conjuncting' directly related statements.

Whether the bible is the initial cause or not I don't know, but I'd certainly point at language teachers as the modern cause for increased use (myself included). My students frequently use because, so, and, and but freely even beginning paragraphs; all equivalents are acceptable in Japanese. Of course there are ways of making these correct ... e.g. Because of this incident..., but when 40 students hand you sheets that you've corrected twice already with the statement I liked it. Because it was beatiful. (not the answer to a question!) I tend to lose the will to enforce 'correct' grammar on them at all.   freshgavin TALK    06:55, 19 January 2006 (UTC)


What could be a correct translation of the German word Christengemeinde? Literally, it means "Congregation of Christians", but for some reason I have the idea "Christian congregation" would render better English. --Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 09:30, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

"Christian congregation" is fine. --BluePlatypus 10:20, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
only if referring to a particular congregation. The German term may also refer to Christendom as a whole, in which case it could be rendered either thusly, or as Church Militant. German "Gemeinde" literally translates to Oikumene, and not to Ecclesia ("congregation") dab () 13:56, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
Danke. But in this context, it means a Freikirche. It's used in the name "Aramäische Freie Christengemeinde", which I translated as "Aramean Free Christian Congregation" (see Syriacs/miniproject). --Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 14:12, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
That seems fine, but I'd probably say "Free/Independent Aramaic Church". --BluePlatypus 15:54, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
since that's probably a translation from the Aramaic in the first place, I would opt for "Aramaic Church" too. dab () 09:38, 20 January 2006 (UTC)


I got an invitation from Great Britain. A scientific Professor will retire and there shall be a cometogether with colleagues giving some lectures.

Now I am a little bit confused, because the term "Festschrift" is used in this invitation for the spoken and not written lectures. (in German "-schrift" means "written").

Can you help me to brush up my English ?

Many thanks

We have an article about Festschriften. Usually, the articles of a Festschrift are presented as spoken lectures at a conference, but gathered as written pieces in a book afterwards (from the printed notes of speakers). However, sometimes the lectures are not printed, but are still described as part of a Festschrift. You should contact the person who invited you for clarification. --Gareth Hughes 13:07, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

January 19[edit]

biggest languages[edit]

Which are the top five world languages in terms of number of people who can understand/speak them ?

See List of languages by number of native speakers. --Angr (tɔk) 06:54, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
That's a good start, but isn't quite what they asked. They wanted to include people who know the language either as a native or second language. StuRat 23:50, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
Just about everybody understands the language of love.   freshgavin TALK    07:08, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
Nah, according to This very desk, Latin is the Language of Love, and I certainly don't understand it. :) GeeJo (t) (c)  09:14, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
Latin is not the language of love. I have no idea where anyone would gte this idea. The Romance languages are dervived from Latin, so this may lead to the confusion. --Nelson Ricardo 01:11, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
While I'm pretty sure GeeJo was joking, just to set the record straight, the phrase the language of love originally referred to French, because of the Anglican belief that the French accent sounds 'romantic' (POV).   freshgavin TALK    01:43, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
Aye, 'twas all in fun. GeeJo (t) (c)  09:32, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
Somehow I don't think the opinion that the French accent sounds "romantic" qualifies as an Anglican belief. --Angr (tɔk) 09:37, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
Haha oops, you got me. I should have said anglophone belief or maybe occident.   freshgavin TALK    01:06, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
List_of_languages_by_total_native_speakers#World_Almanac_estimates might be what you are looking for. The numbers are supposed to include second language speakers. Be advised that in my experience, well-meaning editors sometimes alter information in lists such as these, so they may not actually be the figures that appear in the Almanac. --Cam 05:18, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Japanese homophone[edit]

Does anyone happen to know if there is a word in Japanese that is homophone to 'Lion'? I don't mean the Japanese word for lion, but a word in Japanese that sounds like lion. My friend Jun had trouble with my name and thought for a long time that my name was actuall Lion, but he had a really easy time saying it, despite the L (which I realize isn't always a problem in Japanese). I just hope Lion in Japanese isn't an alternate phrasing of gaijin or something. Thanks for your help.

Well, there's ラヨン rayon, which is Japanese for raion, but that's probably as poorly known a word in Japanese as raion is in English... --Angr (tɔk) 09:42, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, hi soldier Ryan. May I call you thus ? Other words : rayon (fibre), french layon (similar to ley ?). For Japanese words, lets us find where to search, starting with the approximate prononciation [l|r][i|y][a|o]n. --DLL 13:34, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
If you said a word that sounded like 'lion' in Japanese it would be assumed to be 'lion'. I'm not sure about your question though ... you might as well say Is there a word in English that is a homophone of 'lion'? because they use the word 'lion' in Japanese. (raion).   freshgavin TALK    23:45, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

Thank you both for your responses. I knew it wasn't going to turn out to mean something really cool like "Awesome American Dude (li-) Who I Will Totally Give Twenty Bucks To (-on)", but I hoped it might have a more common meaning aside from rayon fibre or the Soviet Raion, like maybe "soup bowl" or "hubcap". I suppose we can't all have beautiful Japanese names. -Ryan

Well, be careful what you ask for. When my mother lived in Japan she found out that her name (Marquita) sounded rather like the Japanese word for "fire wood" (makita), much to the amusement of the locals. --Angr (tɔk) 09:41, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
I'd be pretty happy to be mistaken to have a name like 'lion'. As it is most people here think my name is 'cabin', which isn't nearly as flattering. If you REALLY want to force the issue you could always insert meaning into your name by creating a name stamp and choosing the characters for your name carefully. If you name was actually spelled the same as 'lion' (ra-i-on) you could go for a 雷音(raion, roughly 'sound of thunder'), but unfortunately for you, Ryan is formally spelled ra-i-an, and off the top of my head I can think of 雷鞍 for that, which means... uhh... 'thunder saddle'.   freshgavin TALK    17:24, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

Funny you should mention it, my friend Jun pronounces the O very strongly (like li-own), so maybe he thinks I am actually like the sound of thunder. I do talk pretty loud. -Ryan

I recommend you 雷庵 ra-i-an, employing a pseudonym-forming suffix 庵. 頼庵 "a dependable man" and 礼庵 "a polite man" can be the alternatives as they are in the same pronunciation. --Tohru 05:42, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

Thank you! -Ryan

Japanese "r"[edit]

Why it's said that Japanese can't pronounce the "r" letter, replacing it with "l"? They have such names as Hirohito and many other names with "r". Thanks. 11:40, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

It would be more accurate to say that Japanese speakers have difficulty learning to distinguish between the "l" and "r" sounds of English and other European languages, because Japanese doesn't have this distinction. The Japanese sound usually transliterated "r" in names like "Hirohito" is an alveolar lateral flap, which has some characteristics in common with European "l" sounds and some in common with European "r" sounds. --Angr (tɔk) 12:02, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
Your confusion might also stem from English-speakers' extreme difficulty correctly pronouncing the Japanese sound that is represented in Romanization as r. Remember, that r in Hirohito is a representation in one language of the sound in another language, and it's not a fair match. In pronouncing the Japanese sound, the tip of the tongue touches the roof of the mouth, right behind the teeth -- a very different physical requirement from that of pronouncing the r in "ridiculous." In that respect, the Japanese sound is a lot more like an L or even a D sound. There is a hard D sound in Japanese, but no R or L sound, which is part of the confusion. --Mitchell k dwyer 15:18, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
The Engrish article is an interesting read.  ;-) hydnjo talk 21:54, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
Hollywood may also be one source of this confusion. I've seen many movies featuring 'fake Japanese people' with usually Chinese actors saying things in rather accurate English while attempting to overemphasize the Japanese weak point with lines like 'Unberrreverrable!' which would be very unlikely coming from the mouth of a real Japanese person.   freshgavin TALK    23:47, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

Many younger Japanese can distinguish between r and l due to media exposure. Of course the majority can't. Also, 'hu', 'who' and 'fu' sound the same to many Japanese.--Jondel 07:28, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

It's also worth noting that these difficulties are to do with the fact that we fundamentally hear the phonemes we have been brought up with, even though there is no "physical" difference between them - an example of categorical perception. Psychological experiments demonstrate, for instance, that asked to categorise sounds on a continuum between 'r' and 'l' (in a random order), a native English speaker will have a fairly consistent line between one and the other. That is, they will be aware that a sound is "r but quite like l", but will rarely mistake that same sound for "l but quite like r". For distinctions that aren't relevant in their native language, they will not be able to make such clear distinctions, even though they will be able to hear that the sounds are not identical.
If I remember rightly, we initially distinguish between a much wider range of sounds, and selectively "unlearn" distinctions that aren't useful for the languages we are exposed to as toddlers (about age 2, I think), grouping them into the phoneme categories we need to tell one word from another. - IMSoP 19:41, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

Learning languages.[edit]

At 17, how difficult will it be for me to learn a new language, knowing only English now? How do the following languages rate on the difficulty scale; Swedish, French, Norwegian, Esperanto, Icelandic, Finnish, Japanese? What are the easiest and hardest languages to learn? Thank you to anyone who responds.

I would say Finnish and Japanese would be the most difficult of those, if only because they are so different from English. —Keenan Pepper 18:12, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
The easiest of those would probably be French and Esperanto. But since you have Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Finnish on your list, it seems your interests lie in Scandinavia. If you learn Norwegian first, Swedish will be easy to learn to pronounce and Danish will be easy to learn to read. After you've mastered all three, move on to Icelandic, and then bite the bullet and try Finnish. --Angr (tɔk) 18:37, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
(double edit conflict) Esperanto is really easy to learn. I learned more Esperanto from in two days, than I learned Spanish in an entire year. As for Norwegian and Swedish, I don't have a clue – being a native Norwegian speaker, I don't know how hard it'd be to learn for an "outsider" (also, Norwegian and Swedish are mutually intelligible languages, so you would only have to study one of them really hard, and only just a small bit of the other). I don't know about Japanese, but Finnish has a really complex grammar. Icelandic is somewhat similar to Norwegian and Swedish, but it has harder grammar (I think). Don't really know about French. Hope that helps (although someone should probably fill in for the languages I don't know…). ;-) Jon Harald Søby 18:47, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
I agree about Esperanto's ease; I used to learn Esperanto when I was ages 13-15, but lost interest because there were few "real" resources. That's the advantage of learning "real" languages; I had more "fluidity" with French in relatively less time than Esperanto, and I owed that to access to French media and speakers. With Esperanto? No easy access to speakers plus the only Esperanto film that's easily attainable is Incubus. The advantage with Icelandic, with very few speakers, is that at least there's a place where you can immerse yourself in that language. My point is that I think ease also depends upon a lot of exposure. --Chris S. 02:26, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
There's quite a bit of access to text and writers of Esperanto (soc.culture.esperanto) online. There is also the online TV channel Internacia Televido.--Prosfilaes 03:07, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm aware of SCE as I used to frequent that group a decade ago. But I did not know about Internacia Televido, I should check it out. Times have certainly changed! --Chris S. 03:14, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I can't speak for Esperanto, don't know any of it. But I'd rank French as the easiest from the English perspective. Then Swedish and Norwegian Bokmål as exactly equal, with Nynorsk Norwegian being only a tad more difficult. (a non-native would usually learn Bokmål anyway). They have a very slightly easier grammar than French , but French has a much more similar vocabulary. Icelandic is harder than the other Scandinavian languages since it retains cases (same as German in this respect), and also has fewer foreign words, making the vocabulary more difficult. Finnish and Japanese are about on-par since they're both very alien to English, but since Finnish uses the latin alphabet, I'd say it's easier, at least if you're interested in being able to read/write. --BluePlatypus 20:31, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
And of course, it's very individual. I wrote French had a tad harder grammar, but that's with respect to verb conjucation. OTOH, Swedish and Norwegian have a very difficult and arbitrary genders. Even native speakers make mistakes sometimes. French is easier in that resepect. Swedish and Norwegian have very difficult intonation and language melody (very difficult to master for a non-native), Japanese and Finnish are rather easy in this respect (although vowel length is vital in Finnish) and French is in-between. I'd still maintain French to be the all-round easiest. (with the possible exception of Esperanto) --BluePlatypus 20:49, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
If you're not sure about how much effort you're willing to put into it, you might as well start with Esperanto and see how it goes. All the learning tools are available online and you'll see results immediately. Even if you give up or you don't like it the only thing you wasted was a little time; very little effort.
I have learned French and Japanese and as you can imagine there is a huge contrast between the learning curves; French being rather similar to English and Japanese being rather alien. I personally prefer the latter approach because it proves much more interesting for me to have to deal with a language that has very little in common with what I am used to. Learning the Japanese language teaches you almost as much about the Japanese culture as it does grammar, so I don't really have to think conciously about learning it as much, and it keeps me motivated even when I don't see any progress.
You should consider Chinese too, it's at least as different from English as Japanese is. People often say that Chinese is almost impossible to learn because of the thousands of characters required to read it, and thus people assume Japanese would be easier to learn because there is less characters, but you really shouldn't listen to that. As you would expect you get over the initial shock and, in fact, learning Kanji/Hanzi for languages like Japanese/Chinese will increase your learning curve significantly; it is much more natural for the brain to think in images than in letters or words.
As for the fact that you're 17, I'd say that's the BEST time for you to start learning another language. It would be best for you if you could do student exchange to another country for 6 months or a year, but even if you can't, at 17 it is still quite possible for you to become fluent in a language to the level that you can't be distinguished from a native speaker. People that start learning after their 20s often don't register things like intonation or slight variances in pronounciation as well and thus may never be able to sound completely natural.   freshgavin TALK    01:05, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
Hi, I've studied more or less all the languages you mentioned. I would have to say that the easiest are French, Norwegian (Bokmål), Swedish, and Esperanto. The hardest, as some have said above would be Japanese and Finnish. The Defense Language Institute has their own ranking. Anyway, French and Japanese were the two languages I studied formally and I started both languages at 16. I speak French very well, but my Japanese needs a lot of improvement. 17 is a good age, you have a lot of spare time to learn. I'm 25 now, and really wish I had more time to devote my attention to Russian and German. --Chris S. 02:18, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
Another ranking. Seems to follow the general trend. Although I'd rate Spanish as easier than French. --BluePlatypus 15:43, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
That's not much of a ranking ... more like an informal survey. It was taken based only on the basic impression students had about learning each of the languages, probably none with any experience in actually learning the language. The teachers as well weren't necessarily teachers or knowledgable about the language that they were ranking so I don't really see the usefulness of a ranking like that.   freshgavin TALK    17:10, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
Trying to say whether French or Spanish is easier than the other seems kind of difficult for me. Spanish has relatively easier pronunciation while making frequent use of the subjunctive mood. French, OTOH, is the opposite. But I think that's just the tip of the iceberg. In the end, I see both as well as other Romance languages, save for Romanian-Moldovan, of equal difficulty/ease. --Chris S. 00:52, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

When I studied Swedish, I found the hardest thing for me to master was the pronunciation. The tonal qualities were hard, too, but I found some of the vowels really hard, so I didn't get very far with it. French, with its large amount of similar vocabulary to English, was easier (plus, I did it from age 11 at school), but the grammar was a little hard to master. I think also exactly because I thought that French was easy, I didn't put too much effort into it (and besides, I chose German at school, but had to study French instead because nobody else wanted to do German, so I felt a little bit of resentment, maybe?). Finnish is extremely easy, pronunciation-wise, but its grammar is very hard to master (14 cases of the noun), but I started to learn Finnish again after doing Japanese at university, as I realised that the best way to think of the endings is to treat them as postpositions (as in Japanese). The vastly different vocabulary stumped me, though, as I was studying on my own, and still I haven't had the chance to go to Finland. Japanese was easy, in terms of pronunciation, and the Kanji were not so difficult (as you notice a lot of coherence in them - they are not just meaningless pictures), but I had difficulty in the first year of my Japanese studies while I was learning the Hiragana and Katakana. That's just my own experience, though, as everyone has their own ways of learning things. Hope this helps. Givnan 06:15, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

English term for German "Gärrohr"?[edit]

Hi over there, today I've been working on the article de:Gärröhrchen for the German Wikipedia. I wonder if there`s an article about this thing in the English Wikipedia as well, so I could link to it? Unfortunately I don't know the proper expression for it, and all my webresearch, consultation of dictionaries etc. stayed without a result. I've also been looking for a link in the English articles Fermentation etc., but couldn't find any. Perhaps there's someone here who recognizes the picture in the German article and can either answer here what's its name in English and if there's a corresponding article, or if there is, link it in de:Gärröhrchen? Thanks in advance, Dominik Hundhammer, 21:51, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

Fermentation lock. Been a while since I saw one of those. --BluePlatypus 22:04, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks a lot and to your health :-) -- 22:11, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
de:Gärverschluss is the German article for Fermentation lock. There is no article on the English Wikipedia corresponding to de:Gärröhrchen that I can find - Fermentation lock kinda covers them both. Proto t c 11:27, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
Now both de:Gärverschluss and de:Gärröhrchen link to Fermentation lock ... that's not right, is it? --Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 17:18, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
That's not a problem, assuming the article really does cover both topics - there's no requirement for two Wikipedias to divide topics the same way, so this is reasonably common. However, if it's going to stay that way the English article should really link back to both German ones, as the interlanguage links are kinda sposed to be symetrical. - IMSoP 19:44, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

January 20[edit]


Hi, does anyone know what this means? tvoj sej pristik letac, moj stepiknak udrok bog duvrok casti,gospodina ??? thanks.--Cosmic girl 01:20, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

I can't help you with the translation, but Language guesser tells me it's Croatian. GeeJo (t) (c)  13:21, 21 January 2006 (UTC)
The question header also suggests it's Croatian. Anyway, I don't know enough Croatian to decypher it, but "tvoj" is "your(s)", "moj" is "my/mine", "bog" is God (same in most slavic languages). "Gospodin" is "gentleman/mister" and "gospodina" is the genitive form. --BluePlatypus 15:30, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

so Gospodina is like 'girl'? or lady or someting? ... I wish I could know the meaning to the other stuff...but thanx anyway :D --Cosmic girl 19:46, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

No, "genitive" means it adds a meaning of possession. So gospodina would mean something like "the gentleman's" (or possibly "[something's/someone's] gentleman;" I'm not sure how Croatian cases work). --Whimemsz 21:46, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Ohhh cool I see, I thought that word meant the female version or something. thank you.--Cosmic girl 21:49, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Aha, apparently "gospodin" can also means God (Gentleman = Lord, Lord = God), which is probably the meaning intended since "bog" is in there. Since it's genetive and trailing I'm guessing the end is basically ", of god". So whatever it is, it's something religious. Perhaps a blessing. --BluePlatypus 22:50, 21 January 2006 (UTC)
O maybe! it's just a thing that a friend of mine wrote 2 me but ... I doubt he speaks croatian properly, I mean he has some knowledge of it, but I don't think he is fluent anyway.

I know I know... why don't I ask him directly? I did! but he won't tell... the other time he said I was a bug and he was god! hahaha so I'm a little paranoid :P--Cosmic girl 00:16, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

It sounds vaguely Slavic, but it's definitely not Croatian, believe me. I'm pretty sure it's not Serbian or Slovenian either. I checked some words on Google, no results. Probably a practical joke. --Zmaj 12:47, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Thank you Zmaj! :D --Cosmic girl 20:01, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Translation request[edit]

Hello, does anyone know what this means? I don't know what language is, but it looks Croatian or Polish. Thanks. --COA 21:35, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

Čtenáři mají jistě ještě v paměti americký film EVITA, jenž vypráví díl historie Argentiny, ale podívejme se na ní i z hlediska zvláštních jednotek bezpečnostních sborů v novodobějším aspektu. Již v roce 1986 vznikla ve struktuře Policejního ředitelství Buenos Aires Brigáda pro zvláštní operace - Sokol (BRIGADA ESPECIAL OPERATIVA HALCON /Policista 11/97/), která se měla podílet nejen na potlačování mezinárodního terorismu a jeho aktivit v Argentině, ale i na boji proti nebezpečným pachatelům. Vlastně je připravena kdykoliv a kdekoliv podat pomocnou ruku nebo pouze taktickou radu policistů při řešení nezvyklých taktických situacích. Struktura velitelství je následující - brigádě velí tzv. komisař, jenž je podřízen policejnímu velitelovi, přičemž komisař odpovídá mimo jiné i za výcvik a i nábor. Přičemž je základní výcvik rozdělen do třech fází po dvou měsících, v nichž je zahrnut i jakýsi výběrový kurs a zkouška vhodnosti kandidáta. Nakonec jsou takto vycvičení muži, experti v protiteroristickém boji, výsadkářství, potápění a bojovém umění, začleněni do jednoho z pěti bojových týmů po 15 mužích. Každý tým tvoří svým početním zastoupením samostatnou jednotku zahrnující mimo jiné odstřelovače nebo i vyjednávače, přičemž v případě potřeby může být celá brigáda nasazena jako velká intervenční skupina. Kromě své hlavní role plní jako jiné obdobné jednotky i úkoly ochrany VIP, hlavně státních návštěv. Členové této jednotky, jenž soustřeďuje nejlepší bojovníky v Argentině, udržuje úzské pracovní styky s jinými speciálními jednotky ve světě, převážně v USA, o nichž již byla v tomto volném seriálu řeč (LAPD SWAT, FBI HRT, DEA atd.) Další argentinskou policejní zvláštní jednotku je SECCION DE FUERZAS ESPECIALES (SFE) pocházejicíc zargentinského četnictva neboli GENDARMERIA NACIONAL. Stejně jak v případě Francie (GIGN a RAID), Itálie (GIS a NOCS) a mnoho dalších, kde vedle sebe existuje jak policie, tak i četnictvo, i zde je tato zvláštní jednotka určena pro akce na venkově a neobydlených částí, oproti jednotce HALCON, jenž je určena pro akce ve městech a jejich okolí. SFE je podřízena Ministerstvu obrany a byla založena v roce 1986, v roce kdy v příhraničních operacích byli náznaky o působení teroristů Hizballáhu v souvislosti s drogami jako výnosným zdrojem financí. Její úkoly se tak rozšířili na protiteroristické operace, akce v džungli, hloubkový průzkum, obojživelné akce ale i vrtulníkové výsadky. Kromě toho může v případě větších operacích spolupracovat, nebo podporovat, Brigádu pro zvláštní operace Sokol. Proto byli také její příslušníci vysláni na stáž k francouzské GIGN, jenž v poslední době proslula záchranou rukojmích z letadla A300 AIRBUS v Marseille v prosinci 1994, kromě toho udržuje SECCION DE FUERZAS ESPECIALES úzké kontakty se španělskými kolegy z GEO /Policista 11/96/. Aby se argentinský policista-četník dostal do této 44členné jednotky musí nejprve dosáhnout hodnosti seržanta a odsloužit 5 let služby, samozřejmě, že musí mít výbornou fyzickou kondici a projít baterií psychologických a fyzických testů. Sem spadá jak plavecký test, tak i běh a střelba a další. Následný výcvik probíhá po 6 měsících a je rozdělena do dvou (tříměsíční) etap, zde je vedle nám již známých odborných znalostí zařazen i výsadkářský výcvik. Po tomto půl roce, jehož konce se dočká pouze 20% uchazečů o službu, ale ani tady vše nekončí, následuje 8měsíční zkušební doba, během níž má každý nový adept přiděleno instruktora z řad starších příslušníků jednotky. Jednotka o síle 44 mužů je rozdělena do tvou operačních sekcí, z nichž každá se dále dělí na dvě skupiny (GRUPO DE INTERVENCION), které zase tvoří dva operační týmy. V pohotovosti je 24 hodin připravena k akci 22členná sekce, včetně dvou odstřelovačů a případně dalšího speciálního personálu, včetně pyrotechnického oddílu GEDEX. Tento systém umožňuje do 24 hodin zasáhnout jednotce z její základny v Ezezie kdekoliv v zemi. V souvislosti s nárustem projevů terorismu v Argentině (útoky na židovské představitele) je plánováno zvýšení početního stavu jednotky, který by měl dosáhnout čísla 100. Jejich výzbroj je velmi rozmanitá, vzhledem k specifickým úkolům, od pistole SIG Sauer P 226, samopalu HK MP5 a jeho mnoha z verzí, až po odstřelovací pušky SIG Sauer SSG 2000.

Not Croatian or Polish. I'd say it's Czech or Slovak. Can't help with the translation, sorry. JackofOz 21:40, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
Definitely Czech. Ale nerozumím česky... (but I don't understand Czech). --Chris S.
Czech, according to
Still no translation ... but a little tip : you can guess by yourself. Search for a long word in the text, as "bezpečnostních", in Google ; it returns sites like [] ; Then cz is the country code ISO3166-1 for Czech Republic. Now do we have categorized users for that language here ? Searching ... ... --DLL 21:33, 21 January 2006 (UTC)
This tells you about an american film about Evita (Peron, in Argentina), where the Halcon (falcon) brigades make an appearance . Do you want to see the film ? DLL
Not exactly, I'm currently looking for additional information about Argentine law enforcement agencies and tactical teams. The text talks about the Falcon Brigades, a special ops division of the Argentine Federal Police. Anyway, thanks for your help! --COA 23:14, 21 January 2006 (UTC)
The section appears to use Evita as a segue into a discussion of some branches of the Argentine police, starting with the Falcon Brigades. It's a little long for me to try my hand at (my Czech is really rusty), but I can tell you that everything after "Další argentinskou policejní zvláštní" is likely to talk about other branches besides the Falcon Brigades. -- Mwalcoff 03:49, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

Here you are. I have no idea about the correct police/military terminology in English, so don't take the technical terms too seriously. The text apparently comes from the Police Bulletin of the Eastern-Bohemian Region 1-2/2004 [18].

Argentine — the special forces
The readers surely remember the American movie Evita, which tells a story about a part of Argentinian history, but let us take a look at it also from the perpective of special units of security forces in a more recent aspect.
Back in 1986, the Special Operations Brigade – Falcon (Brigada Especial Operativa Halcón, Policista 11/1997) was founded under the Police Headquarters of Buenos Aires, aiming not only at suppression of international terrorism and its activities in Argentine, but also at fighting dangerous criminals. Actually, it is ready to help or give a tactical advise to policemen whenever unusual tactical situations need to be solved.
The structure of command is as follows — the brigade is ruled by the so-called comissioner, who is subordinate to the police commander, where the comissioner is responsible among others for training and drafting. The basic training consists of three phases, two months each, which also include a sort of selective course, and a test of suitability of a candidate. After the training, the men, experts in counterterrorist combat, parachuting, diving, and martial arts, are finally engaged in one of the five combat teams, each consisting of 15 men. Every team forms an independent unit, including among others snipers and negotiators, and the whole brigade may be employed as a large intervention group if needed.
As is the case with other similar forces, apart from its main duty it also serves to protect VIPs, usually visiting foreign statesmen. The members of this unit, which concentrates the best combatants in Argentine, maintain close contacts with other special units abroad, mainly in USA, which were already mentioned in other issues of this irregular series (LAPD SWAT, FBI HRT, DEA etc.)
Another Argentinian police special force is the Sección de Fuerzas Especiales (SFE), coming from the Argentinian Gendermerie, Gendarmería Nacional. As in the case of France (GIGN and RAID), Italy (GIS and NOCS), and many others, where police coexists with gendermerie, also here this special unit is intended for missions in countryside and inhabitated areas, whereas the Halcón unit is used for missions in cities and their neighborhood. SFE is subordinated to the Ministry of Defence, and it was founded in 1986, in which year there were traces of operation of terrorists from Hizballah in areas near the border, in connection with drug trade as a lucrative source of revenue.
Its tasks were thus extended to counterterrorist operations, missions in jungle, in-depth (???) reconaissance, amphibious missions, and even helicopter parachuting. Apart from this, it may cooperate or support the Falcon Special Operations Brigade in large-scale operations. For this reason, its members were sent on internship to French CIGN, which is recently renowned for rescue of hostages from an A300 Airbus in Marseille in December 1994, apart from this the Sección de Fuerzas Especiales keeps close contacts with their Spanish colleagues from GEO (Policista 11/1996).
Before an Argentinian policeman-genderme may join this unit with 44 members, he must attain the rank of sergeant, and serve at least 5 years of duty, of course he must be in an excellent physical condition, and pass a collection of psychological and physical tests. These include a swimming test, as well as running, shooting, and others. The subsequent training takes 6 months, and it is subdivided in two periods (three months each), it also includes a parachuting training apart from the already mentioned skills. This half year, which only 20% of the candidates manage to pass, is not the end of the story, it is followed by a trial period of 8 months, during which each candidate is appointed an instructor, who is one of the senior members of the unit.
The unit consisting of 44 men is divided in two operative sections, each of them is further subdivided in two groups (grupo de intervención), which in turn consist of two operative teams. A section with 22 members is mission-ready on guard for 24 hours of a day, including two snipers, and other special staff, including the GEDEX pyrotechnical squad. This system enables the unit to intervene in any part of the country from its base in Ezezia in 24 hours. The size of the unit is planned to increase to 100 men, due to recent increase of terrorist activities in Argentine (attacks on Jewish representatives).
Their armament is quite diverse because of their specific tasks, ranging from SIG Sauer P 226 handguns, many versions of HK MP5 machine-guns, to SIG Sauer SSG 2000 sniper rifles.

Here, "Policista" is a monthly of the Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic [19]. Hope this helps. -- EJ 19:32, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

BTW, DLL: I suspect that you had troubles finding a Czech speaker only because you looked at a wrong place. The ISO 639-1 code for the Czech language is "cs", it is not the same as the ISO 3166-1 code for the Czech Republic. -- EJ 20:04, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

Thanks a lot! --COA 23:42, 22 January 2006 (UTC)


Can it be argued that the French language had made a effort in trying to make itself sound good?

French (unlike English) has an official body, l'Académie française, to rule on what is and isnt correct usage. I suggest you have a look to see if there are examples where they have disallowed/allowed new words or modified the grammar, specifically because A sounds better than B (to French ears) - look at concepts such as euphony, elision, etc. Jameswilson 00:23, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

January 21[edit]


What is the difference between a Close central unrounded vowel and a Close front rounded vowel? The sound clips sound exactly the same to me. And I fairly recently heard from a native speaker what WP is calling the first one, and it sounded much more like the "oo" in the word "good" (in other words, more "u," more grunt-like) than the posted clip. Side question: Do minute linguistic differentiations, such as between between "central" and "front" really exist in the real world? Zafiroblue05 05:44, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

The names alone tell what the difference is; they describe the position of the tongue within the mouth as well as whether or not the lips are unrounded. You may find more information at vowel, but basically close means that the tongue is up close to the roof of the mouth. Central and front refer to the horizontal position. Front means the tongue is towards the front of the mouth. An example of a front vowel in English is the /i/ or "eeeeeee" sound. A back vowel would be the /u/ or "oooooooo" sound. Central is somewhere between these two points. Stick your finger on your tongue when you pronounce these sounds to give you an idea. Also, the vowel article I mentioned has a visual reprensentation of what I'm talking about.
I am assuming that you are a native English speaker, if that is the case then these vowels are not native to you. Since these vowels are not native to you, you tend to approximate to a vowel that is already native to you, like the Near-close near-back rounded vowel in "good." And to answer your question, yes these "minute linguistic differentations" do really exist in the real world. Russian is one example (though the front vowel is unrounded). --Chris S. 08:52, 21 January 2006 (UTC)
Inhaling while making an articulation is a less intrusive way of feeling where in the mouth your tongue is than sticking your finger in your mouth. The air coming from outside is relatively cold on your tongue, allowing you to feel it without having to acccommodate a finger in your mouth.
There is also an acoustic reason why the front rounded vowel sounds so similar to the central unrounded vowel: the second formant of central vowels is lower than that of front vowels, but at the same time the second formant of rounded vowels is lower than that of unrounded vowels. So both the front rounded vowel and the central unrounded vowel have slightly lower second formants than a front unrounded vowel (the ee sound of fleece), the former because it has lip rounding, the latter because it is central but has no lip rounding. --Angr (tɔk) 16:45, 21 January 2006 (UTC)


Hi folks! Does anyone know how to get four tildes (for signing my posts here) on a Japanese style computer, without copying and pasting the ones down below? My computer has a tilde above the zero, but when I press 'shift' and 'zero' I just get a zero. For now, I'll just copy and paste as usual, but if anyone can help.......Givnan 06:24, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

If it's not SHIFT 0, try ALT 0 or CNTL 0. StuRat 06:42, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the advice but that didn't work either...Givnan 10:30, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Then try combos, like SHIFT ALT 0 or SHIFT CNTL 0 or ALT CNTL 0. StuRat 12:22, 21 January 2006 (UTC)
There's a long list of special characters under the edit box. Among them is a tilde, which you have to click four times. – b_jonas 11:25, 21 January 2006 (UTC)
If you've got a UK keyboard, it's SHIFT # GeeJo (t) (c)  13:18, 21 January 2006 (UTC)
Don't you have this button? --BluePlatypus 15:56, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

It's a Japanese keyboard, sorry, and I ned to SHIFT and 3 in order to get #, so I can't SHIFT and #. And thanks, I found the button in the list of actions above the edit box. Cheers everyone.--Givnan 16:35, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Which means that the icon for signing in that list is rather - uh ? - unergonomical ? Please someone take a look at the problem, or let's open a special page to discuss the matter. --DLL 21:13, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Similar problem with spanish keyboard. User:AlMac|(talk) 00:37, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

How about shift + '^', the second to the right of '0'? --Tohru 06:40, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

"~"? Yes! That worked! Thanks! I've got one of those IBM laptops where the mouse is a red dot in the middle of the keyboard and it's really fiddly trying to copy/paste stuff! Saved a lot of time! --Givnan 07:36, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

Learning Esperanto online.[edit]

I intend to learn Esperanto (I only speak English at the moment and have barely studied another language), but there are no real-life courses and very few books to help me. Which online resources could you recommend to me? I'm already looking at [ Lernu] and Curso de Esperanto, but I'd really like something that has longer audio courses I can listen to, to aid in pronunciation. Thanks. Taiq

Audio courses are hard to find, but look into the email correspondance courses where you can mail in your homework and get corrections. It's a pretty good motivator. There's links there from lernu.   freshgavin TALK    01:11, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

January 22[edit]

Wiktionary:Translations of the Week[edit]

Globe of letters.png

We are looking for people to translate the following into as many languages as possible.

Please go to the relevant Wiktionary page and place your translations there

2 deal
3 mood

Thanks, --Dangherous 00:53, 22 January 2006 (UTC) and Gerard Foley 07:18, 22 January 2006 (UTC)


Why are Sailors called "Gobs"?

My father, who was a sailor, said it meant 'Going Overseas, Back Soon' but I don't believe him.--Givnan 05:58, 22 January 2006 (UTC) suggests it was an insult. But I would suggest it was because they had to shout a lot ("gob" meaning mouth or shout). --Shantavira 13:30, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
I'd be sceptical. In general, acronym etymologies are usually false. See False etymology for a bunch of examples. --BluePlatypus 14:17, 22 January 2006 (UTC)


A bit of a follow-up to the "Sounds" question I just asked. Chris S. says that the "oo" in "good" is a Near-close near-back rounded vowel. The article lists an English example (yes, I am a native - midwestern US - English speaker, BTW): "hook." However, for me (at least), the vowel sound in "hook" (or "book") sounds slightly but markedly different from the vowel sound in "good." Is this just my particular accent, or does the way one makes a "d" (front of the mouth) as opposed to the way one makes a "k" (back of the mouth) change the sound of the vowel that immediately precedes this? If so, does this mean that the "oo" in "hook" is not a near-close near-back rounded vowel? Also, if so, is this change in vowel sound related to how the "L" in "milk" makes the word nearly two syllables (as opposed to just one in the hypothetical "mik")? What would the name of this phenomenon be? Zafiroblue05 02:26, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

Without hearing your accent, I can't really tell how you pronounce hook and good. It could very well be your accent. In mine (just "generically" US with traces of Philippine influence; I've lived everywhere, so I don't know), at least, they sound almost identical. The article does mention that it is only slightly rounded, which is how I pronounce it. The [l] in /milk/ is a velarized alveolar lateral approximant. --Chris S. 03:20, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
I tried pronouncing both words without the terminal consonant and and the vowel sounds were decidedly different (I have something of a local-Hawaii accent mixed with a bit of California, but it's pretty close to Midwestern, I believe). But then when I tried pronouncing both words without the initial consonants OR the terminal consonants, they sounded identical. Don't know if this helps, but it was kind of fun. --Mitchell k dwyer 04:31, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
Surrounding consonants do have an effect on the articulation of vowels, so it is quite likely that the vowel of good is slightly more front than the vowel of book. Both vowels can still be described as near-close near-back rounded, though; it's just that the one in good might be more "advanced" (articulated further forward). It will also be longer, because vowels in English are longer before voiced consonants than before voiceless ones. As for the /l/ in milk, it is velarized, and velarized Ls in many languages tend to become vocalized (vowel-like). --Angr (tɔk) 06:53, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
Looks like you mentioned it before I got a chance to do so. I was just thinking about what Zafiroblue05 said and pronounced the words myself. I did notice that my pronunciation of hook was [hUk] while good was [gU:d] - and this is due, as you say, to the voiced vowel which influences vowel length. It's like the the diphthong /aI/; the /a/ is raised to a schwa before unvoiced vowels. Compare rice and rise. --Chris S. 07:57, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
That depends on your accent. For me, there's only a difference in length between the vowels of rice and rise; the starting point of the diphthong is the same in both words. --Angr (tɔk) 22:38, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
Vowels before voiced consonants are both longer, as Angr and Chris have said, but they also have a significantly lower tone, which could also be part of the difference you hear. For me at least, it's also true that the /ʊ/ in "good" is somewhat more fronted than the /ʊ/ in "book" (something like []). --Whimemsz 23:22, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
/mɪk/ is a name and a racial slur. Not just hypothetical anymore! The /l/ in the place you described is often called "dark L" as opposed to "light L," which is the one in words like play. Dave 07:40, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

I'm of Irish heritage and we pronounce 'milk' lith a "light L" and 'play' with a "dark L". --Givnan 08:25, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

1000 Japanese basic words[edit]

User:Tohru has just copied ths page from the Japanese Wiktionary. Perhaps if anyone knows some Japanese they might start filling in entries for these words. Thanks, Gerard Foley 09:04, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

Is that really appropriate in Wiktionary?   freshgavin TALK    01:14, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

per what?[edit]

is it per say? or per se? I've read and I can't tell which of them is just by how it sounds...--Cosmic girl 15:11, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

It's per se. --Angr (tɔk) 15:14, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

thank you!:D--Cosmic girl 17:42, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

If you gave it a bit of thought, you could figure this out on your own. If it really was "per say", then why would anyone ever spell it as "per se" ? On the other hand, since it is "per se", it's easy to understand how somebody who never saw it in writing would think it was "per say". StuRat 21:51, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
And if you gave it a bit more thought, you'd realise that "per say" is meaningless. So it must be something else. If "per se" is the only other alternative on offer, than it's pretty likely that's the one. Those who write "per say" don't understand what the term means, or that it is a Latin phrase. Trying to spell "se" as if it were an English word is a bad blunder. I award zero marks to our education systems that deem it OK not to be able to spell properly or not to have basic concepts of grammar. JackofOz 22:16, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

I know :) but I've spoken spanish all my life and I don't know everything about english, so...and I suspected it was 'per se' but thank you :D.--Cosmic girl 22:52, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

Pronunciation of 'Pesci'[edit]

How do you pronounce Joe Pesci's last name? like "pesky" or is the c soft? Noodhoog 15:54, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

If it's anything like the original Italian, it's more like 'peshy'. I have no idea how Italian-Americans generally pronounce their names though. - ulayiti (talk) 16:14, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
Elaborating, "c" before a soft vowel (i or e) in Italian is like the English "ch" in "church" (IPA "tʃ"), if it's a hard 'c' then you put an 'h' in-between. (E.g. 'chianti') If it's preceeded by an 's' it becomes more of a 'sh' sound. Ulayiti is correct in that not all Italian-Americans use the Italian pronunciation, I remeber reading that the Karate Kid actor Ralph Macchio pronounces it "Mah-chi-oh" and not "Mah-key-oh". I can't recall hearing Pesci's name pronounced in a different way than the Italian though. --BluePlatypus 17:20, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

I've always heard it pronounced like "peshy" (IPA /pɛʃi/). --Whimemsz 17:46, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

Never heard of anything but "pe'shy" hydnjo talk 21:21, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

Thanks folks, "peshy" it is, then :) --Noodhoog 12:37, 23 January 2006 (UTC)


What is the proper way to pronounce "Agincourt"?

I assume you're referring to French vs. English? Both are acceptable just like with, say, "Paris". --BluePlatypus 17:26, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

You can be sure that in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, they don't pronounce the name of the Agincourt neighbourhood , A-zhin-coor, as the French would, but Age-in-cort, as the English would. Ground Zero | t 17:36, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

I have no idea what the English pronunciation is, but I imagine the proper French pronunciation would be /aʒɛ̃kuʁ/ or /aʒæ̃kuʁ/, or approximately "ah-zheh-coor" or "ah-zha-coor" (where the second vowel is nasalized). Don't quote me on that, though. --Whimemsz 17:51, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

The first one (/aʒɛ̃kuʁ/) is right. - Mu 22:45, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
In the UK, the battle is always pronounced "a-zhin-caw" (with the stress on the first syllable (a as in hat = IPA æ). Jameswilson 00:17, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
In the UK it can also be pronounced "a-zhin-cawt". DJ Clayworth 18:50, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

translations from English to French[edit]

  • How do you say "courage" in French?
  • How do you say "movies" in French?
  • How do you say "flesh and bone" in French?
  • How do you say "whisper" in French?
  • How do you say "summer" in French?
  • How do you say "sticks and stones" in French?
  • How do you say "attitude" in French?
  • How do you say "stranded" in French?
  • How do you say "wish" in French?
  • How do you say "calico" in French?
  • How do you say "death day" in French?
  • How do you say "smooth criminal" in French?
  • How do you say "hair" in French?
  • How do you say "hat" in French?
  • How do you say "shirt" in French?
  • How do you say "sunglasses" in French?
  • How do you say "jeans" in French?
  • How do you say "eyes" in French?
  • How do you say "trash can" in French?
  • How do you say "alien ant farm" in French?
  • How do you say "mouth" in French? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Machine translation: courage, films, chair et os, chuchotement, été, bâtons et pierres, attitude, échouée, souhait, calicot, jour de la mort, criminel lisse, cheveux, chapeau, chemise, lunettes de soleil, jeans, yeux, bidon de détritus, ferme étrangère de fourmi, bouche  :-) hydnjo talk 18:15, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
As is to be expected from a machine, quite a number of these "translations" are, in fact, nonsense. If you don't provide any context, however, you can't expect a human to do much better. - Mu 22:48, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
"Smooth Criminal" is a song by Alien Ant Farm (originally by Michael Jackson). One wouldn't generally translate songs or band names, which is one of the reasons why these machine translations in French are particularly nonsensical. Zafiroblue05 01:48, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
So, present your translation. I did the best I could with my own resources (Google look up) and I sure hope someone could improve on that! Please do. My translations were not a serious contextual translation as I stated at the outset. I don't even know if this is a serious question or a WP test. My stab at translation was available to anyone, French speaking or not. So far all I've seen is criticism without improvement. Can't we do better than that? hydnjo talk 04:21, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
Geesh, I'm the least competent person to answer this question and I expected to be overwhelmed with correctness within minutes. ? hydnjo talk 04:57, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, like they said, without context they can do no better. "Attitude", for example, can mean "state of mind", "hostile state of mind", or the position of an airplane. Thus the translation would be different for "Why the attitude ?" or "What's your attitude toward my suggestion ?" or "Watch your attitude during the final approach.". A round trip machine translation (where you translate the result back into the original language) can be good at detecting if it translated the wrong meaning of a word. Also, they can be quite fun, with "put your nose to the grindstone" becoming "go grind your nose on a wheel". LOL. StuRat 15:41, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
Also, I've noticed a problem with some machine translators in that they fail to distinguish between a word they were unable to translate and one that translates into the same word in the other language. StuRat 15:45, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
This site shows machine translation at its funniest. - Mu 00:18, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Look it up[edit]

I have a question regarding the idea of looking something up, and it comes in two parts. The first is, what do you know about this phrase on its own? Colloquial, or formal? In what parts of the world, and what parts of society, is it used? How did it develop? Anything you know. The second is, just how did Wikipedia mangage to exist for four whole years without this phrase being a huge freaking part of it? That's the most basic phrase in reference book terminology, how did it get skipped over? Instead, we talk about 'searching' for something, where you type in the exact name of the article you want and it takes you there. Black Carrot 19:25, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

"Search for in a book or other source, as in I told her to look up the word in the dictionary. Late 1600s." says The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. German uses "nachschlagen" ("towards hitting"), Norw./Dan./Swe use "Slå opp/op/upp" ("hit up"). I don't think French or Spanish have a similar expression, but just use some variant of "to find". As for why Wikipedia doesn't use it.. could be because "search" doesn't just look the term up, but also looks for it in articles where it isn't the header. --BluePlatypus 20:16, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
Here, a WP only search which is not case sensitive and is more forgiving than you could imagine. Next, here, just start typing something and you'll see what I mean. Both places are far superior to WP's searching capabilities but that's what they do. Encyclopedia is what we do best, searching within our own material leaves something to be desired but we're getting better. Finally, I don't disagree with you, it just has just become customary in recent times to search rather than look up, perhaps becaue of calling them search engines rather than look up engines. hydnjo talk 20:22, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
Just to explain my own thoughts a bit further, look it up connotes "here is a book, look up what you..." whereas search is perceived to be more global, "search the entire library for...". The problem that you cite is indeed real. WP's Search function because of its limitations behaves more like a Look up function whereas the first link in the previous paragraph is indeed a Search. hydnjo talk 20:50, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

It's not the Search function I'm talking about, it's the Go function. The entire and only purpose of it, which is the easiest way to find things, is to put you in the exact article you named. This, it seems to me, is exactly what most print books do with an alphabetization scheme. Black Carrot 03:29, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

True, and in the skin that I'm using (Classic) Go is the first choice presented next to the Search box (upper right, not to the left). So, stupid me as I first started out here, I thought that Go is what I was supposed to do. It took only a few days for me to realize that Go was the least effective way to get where I wanted to go. American flag history gets a No such page whereas American flag#History is just fine. One needs to be pretty sophisticated user to work that one out. I learned pretty quickly to use this link for most of my searches unless they were spot on. Another search device is wikiwax which allows searching for consecutive letters in the title without the need for them to lead, great if you're looking for all of the articles which include "Jefferson" in their title because you don't know which one is what you're looking for. No question that WP's case sensitivity and other quirks that come with the Wiki package leave a lot to be desired when it comes to searching (looking things up) but remember that the package was primarily designed to be a Wiki, not a search engine. hydnjo talk 04:53, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
I knew there was a reason why I never used the "Go" button. If I come across a term on a webpage that I want to ask Wikipedia about, my actions vary depending on whether the term is already linked to Wikipedia (usually means I am already on Wikipedia, and I just click) or whether it is not linked (I highlight and right-click to select the wikipedia-specific Google search you mention above). If I am already on Wikipedia, I may type in the search box and use the Wikipedia search button if I feel like a change. If the search may need careful selection of terms, I gather together the relevant search terms, use a straight Google search, ferret around a bit to find relevant terminology, and then come back to Wikipedia, unless I've found a better page already (though I may come back to Wikipedia to compare it to the "better" page - and edit if I feel like it/have time). Hadn't heard of the wikiwax thing, thanks for that. Carcharoth 11:33, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
Some more stuff on looking things up, copied from Wikipedia:WikiProject_Usability: "Technically this isn't improving the usability of Wikipedia itself, but is about improving ways to search Wikipedia. It is also really only for those doing LOTS of searches on Wikipedia, but I thought the following links to might be of interest [20] and [21] (to do wikipedia searches through Google). If you have Firefox, you eventually end up highlighting something, right-clicking, and selecting a Google search of Wikipedia for the highlighted term. Something I find useful anyway. See also Wikipedia:Browser_notes#Search_Plugins" Carcharoth 12:50, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
I hope we have a page in Wiktionary Wikt:look up, --Dangherous 17:10, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

January 23[edit]

How one could soften expression "you excuse me"?[edit]

How to change it, so it would only mean that no offence was involved in previous words, not really asking for excuse? (saying to friend: your method proved to be reliable, safe and boring, you excuse me.) ellol 00:22, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

"No offense intended", or "if you'll pardon the expression," or "and I mean that in a good way". BTW, "you excuse me" isn't really a phrase used in English; would be more like "if you'll excuse me" or "excuse my ______" (excuse my choice of words, excuse my interference, excuse my attitude...") Elf | Talk 00:44, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
I think intonation is very important here - pausing a moment before saying "and boring," smiling a little when you say it, these sorts of things would make it clear that you're not being rude. If you wanted to be even more clear, you could pause a second at the end of the sentence, smile, and add a simple "Sorry." What really matters in all this is the way you say it, though. (Incidentally, "you excuse me" by itself sounds like a very awkward English sentence that would never be used by a native speaker.) --George 00:49, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Thank you. Colloquial english is my worst trouble. I'm trying to render a small abstract of a book. I'll probably use "no offense intended" or "sorry". Damn, still am unsure if it's perfect :)ellol 01:08, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

It sometimes helps if you're NOT perfect. People tend to assume you know exactly what you're saying when you don't make any mistakes, and oftentimes will let you off (forgive you) if they are lead to believe that your 'rudeness' or 'bluntness' is due to your lack of English experience.   freshgavin TALK    01:23, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
I'll have to remember that trick: "Thinks me, anus of the pig is the breath have you. Say I rightly ?" LOL. StuRat 15:24, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
Even those native speakers who are sufficiently articulate sometimes employ a similarly-constituted scheme; when one couches his vituperations in magnanimity, he hopes sometimes to insulate himself from criticism of his untoward remarks while nevertheless conveying a pejorative message. See, e.g., the United States Senate, in which the hatred of one member for another is in direct proportion to the lavish nature of the former member's presentation of the latter (to-wit, "I have great respect for the honorable Senator from Mississippi. He is a great friend of mine. However, anyone who supports his legislation is an idiot. Indeed, he is an idiot for having authored such a horrific bill. He should be executed at dawn. But I continue to have great respect for him. Now let's kill him."). Joe 04:02, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
Hmm... Yes, think you are right. ellol 01:45, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
If it's really formal, you could use "with all due respect", although it is a bit stuffy, and would go at the start rather than the end. smurrayinchester(User), (Talk) 15:25, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Yeah I love that phrase. "With all due respect, you're a nob."   freshgavin TALK    01:58, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Eponine, Les Miserables[edit]

How does Eponine's death in the French classic Les Miserables by Victor Hugo representative of politics in Argentina?

This is obviously a homework question. Please see the rules at the top of the page.--Prosfilaes 04:01, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
What kind of question is that? What does a fictional character in France have to do with politics in Argentina? Sheesh. User:Zoe|(talk) 22:55, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
I suspect that the only relation between the two is that "Les Miserables" followed "Evita" into the Broadway Theatre (Evita played there 1979-1983, Les Mis 1987-1990). I doubt it's a homework question, but I'd love to hear more, especially if it is! - Nunh-huh 01:14, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

La bohème[edit]

Could someone provide a definitive pronunciation for the opera 'La bohème' by Puccini for an English speaker?

According to my French dictionary 'bohème' (defined as happy-go-lucky or unconventional) is pronounced 'bo-em' ('bo' as in 'board' and 'em' as in 'hem') with a silent 'h'. However, 'bohemian' in English is pronounced 'bo-heem-ian', with a strong emphasis on the 'h'.

Does anyone know how the opera title should be pronounced in English, if a definitive pronunciation does exist?

Many thanks.

I've always heard the French pronunciation used. So "la bo-em" is close enough. If you want to use the English "Bohemian" you can of course call it "The Bohemian", although it's customary to use the French title. --BluePlatypus 17:09, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
There semes to have been quite a dispute about this on Talk:La bohème, and whether it should be "The bohemian" or "The bohemians", etc. In any case, I can only speak from my own experience, which is that I've always heard it referred to as "La bohème" and with French pronunciation. --BluePlatypus 17:16, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

If you use the French title of the opera, which people invariably do, it is pronounced with the French pronunciation - bo, em, no 'h' sound. It's a mistake to think it means either 'The Bohemian' (person) or 'The Bohemians'. It means their world, their milieu, the type of life they live. It's taken from the title of the novel by Henri Murger (which, if I recollect properly, and apologies that I don't know how to type the accent, is Scenes de la vie de boheme, ie scenes of bohemian life). By the way, if the intended meaning was 'The Bohemian [Girl, ie Mimi]' I think Puccini would have called it La Bohemienne. Maid Marion 17:57, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

And if Puccini intended it to mean "La vie de bohème" then he could've equally well named it that. It seems rather pretentious to assert knowledge of what Puccini intended and didn't intend a century later. Surely he knew what the title meant, and perhaps the ambiguity was intended. Besides you cannot dismiss "The bohemian" as wrong on those grounds, as "La [vie de] bohème" and "The bohemian [lifestyle]" work the same way. For all I know, though, he could've intended "The czech person". --BluePlatypus 20:19, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
The outcome of the debate at Talk:La bohème on 6th January was that "The title is not directly translatable into English. It refers to the bohemian life the characters lead" (that note now appears at the foot of the article itself). If anybody has a new contribution to that debate, that talk page would be the place to make it, not here.
Also, Blue Platypus, can you please try to refrain from characterising other people's contributions in pejorative terms like "pretentious" (Maid Marion above), and "arrogant" (me, elsewhere yesterday). Assuming good faith and being courteous are official WP policies. JackofOz 08:16, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
That's because your answer the other day was arrogant. You responded to a questioning of ideas with nothing more than "You don't know what you are talking about". That is a personal attack. Describing that attack as 'arrogant' is hardly any less courteous. As for this case, it is a pretentious thing to claim to know exactly what someone else is or was thinking. It is not discourteous either, I did not claim Maid Marion was a pretentious person. I said it was a "rather pretentious" statement. And I stand by that. If you can't see the difference between criticizing the person and criticizing an argument, that's your problem. --BluePlatypus 15:06, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Sorry to insist on this BluePlatypus, but it is not possible that 'the ambiguity was intended' because there is no ambiguity. La Boheme is not French for 'the Bohemian', it is French for Bohemia (and by extension for a certain lifestyle). Maid Marion 09:36, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Well, This dictionary gives:
  • BOHÊME, BOHÈME, subst. et adj. A. Vx. Habitant de la Bohême; qui est de la Bohême, qui concerne ce pays ou ses habitants. - a person from Bohemia.
  • Un bohème. Artiste, écrivain vivant au jour le jour, résolument affranchi des règles et usages établis; personne qui vit hors des cadres sociaux (cf. bohémien C) : - A bohemian.
  • La bohème. Ensemble des personnes, artistes, des intellectuels qui mènent une vie sans règles, hors des cadres sociaux.
And here's a quote from Hugo's Hunchback :

Arrête! Une bohème! Ta folie est extrême!. Certainly he doesn't mean "Stop! A bohemian lifestyle!" or "Stop! A part of the Czech Republic!"? --BluePlatypus 15:06, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

I stand corrected BluePlatypus. Thank you - very informative. However, I am still quite certain, and I'm fairly sure most opera fans think the same way, that the title of Puccini's opera refers to the third definition you quote ('ensemble des personnes ...'). Apart from other considerations, few opera fans would see the opera as being the story of Mimi, which I think is what people have in mind when they translate as 'The Bohemian' - both the original book by Murger, and the opera, are about the bohemian group, in which Rodolfo and Mimi are both leading characters. The opera, I believe, is not the 'story of Mimi' in the way that, say, La Traviata really IS the story of Violetta. Perhaps other opera fans could say whether it has ever occurred to them to interpret the title in any way other than the way I have been arguing for. Anyway, all most interesting. Maid Marion 15:18, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Well for what it's worth, I don't think it's referring to Mimi either. But I really don't think we'll ever know exactly what Puccini intended. But on the other hand, it wouldn't be art if it wasn't open to interpetation either. --BluePlatypus 18:16, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
As a newcomer to Wikipedia I apologise for posting the same question both here and in the Talk:La bohème page. I thought that posting the question here would attract a more diverse response, whilst I was also interested in responses from those who had contributed so passionately and eloquently to the Talk:La bohème page.
My question dealt specifically with the pronunciation of 'La Bohème' rather than translations, capitalization or anything that had been discussed elsewhere. I had seen it advertised in The Times and elsewhere as 'La Bohème' (with the accent over the 'e' and with a capital 'B').
This would contradict what others had stated about the English convention being to omit the accent. If the accent is omitted then surely this changes the pronunciation - hence my question.
Thanks to all for your interest and your speedy, detailed and insightful responses. 10:30, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

*ucks, shuttlecocks, balls ets.[edit]

The words puck, shuttlecock, ball, jack...what have they in common? I'll tell you...firstly they all sound a little rude, but I'm that's coincidence. Secondly, they're all small things that are hit in different sports. Anyway, is there a collective term for "small things one hits in sports"? Maybe projectiles? While we're here, why not come up with any more names for "small things one hits in sports". Thanks --Dangherous 17:06, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

How about stones and marbles ? StuRat 18:23, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

How about 'bullseye'? How about 'nuts' in kickboxing? Black Carrot 21:56, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
Guys, I think he wants to know a synonym for "small things one hits in sports," not other things people hit in sports. Rory096 13:19, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

they're all small things that are hit in different sports. Ahem. --Pucktalk 23:13, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Second language acquisition when there are no bilingual speakers[edit]

I've wondered about this for a while as I struggle to learn a language where there are plenty of bilingual resources to help me. How does one learn a language where there are none, such as in the first contact of an indigenous population? I can imagine you could learn the basic terms for concrete objects by pointing them out and repeating the word, and the same for observable actions, but what about for abstract concepts? Eventually through exposure I guess you could piece together the grammar. What I'd really like to know is more practical information on how fluency is actually achieved. I tried our articles second language acquisition and language acquisition, but they either didn't cover this specifically or I didn't have enough background to understand them. Can anyone shed some light or point me to some accounts of how this is done in practice? Thanks - Taxman Talk 18:08, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

There aren't many populations where nobody speaks another language left. So, eventually you would find a common language. Maybe one of them speaks French or Spanish or Hindi and you could find a second translator from that language to English. However, how to develop a common language with aliens is an interesting field of study. This will be made even more difficult if the only communication is via radio.
Of course, for languages spoken by small populations, you may not be able to afford a translator, and for such a language there may not be dictionaries to convert from and to English. So, you might end up approaching it as if it was a first contact, anyway. StuRat 18:39, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Presumably by the same mechanism a child learns to speak. --BluePlatypus 19:59, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
It's been my impression that total immersion is the best way to learn a new language. You go somewhere where either you understand what people are saying and respond, or you don't get what you want. What I've heard from people who have experienced this is that you learn fast, and you learn well. As far as what you do to learn, yeah, I think it's pretty much the same as when you're a kid. You figure out what some things mean, and build on them. I've read, though(in my psychology textbook) that different parts of the brain handle this when you're an adult from when you're a kid, so I don't know how similar it is at that level.
Some quick searching turns up , which is nice, plus a wide range of different things for Google -learning language psychology- and Google Scholar -second language fluency cognitive-. I'm not sure what you're looking for, so I can't be more specific. Black Carrot 21:51, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Berlitz Language Schools are based on the immersion principle -- the teacher speaks only the foreign language, from day one. As far as I know, they are even quite successful. Unfortunately the wikipedia article on them is kind of sketchy. 09:05, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Wycliffe Bible Translators regularly attempt this. I'm sure they must describe their methods somewhere, but the only place I could find in 5 minutes was: [22]. They say, "Building relationships is where we start. Making friends, understanding their culture, and learning a language that's never been written down are first steps. The linguist learns to speak the language in much the same way a child learns to speak, by listening and mimicking sounds. It will take the linguist several years to establish an alphabet and discover the intricacies of the language." — Matt Crypto 09:20, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

The immersion method is risky though, as was already discovered by the hero of E.T.A. Hoffmann's The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, a cat who tries to learn to speak the language of poodles:
"In some book or other a thoughtful scholar gives the advice that one should make an effort to think in the language one wishes to learn. The idea is outstanding, but the execution not without some danger. It so happened that I managed very quickly to think like a poodle, I immersed myself so deeply in poodlish thoughts that my actual knowledge of the language stayed behind, and I myself didn't understand my thoughts."
David Sneek 18:31, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Thanks Matt, that was pretty good. Their site does have some more I was able to find too. Here for the curious. I guess I sort of assumed it would be slow, but I just can't understand how someone would bridge the gap to abstract concepts. I guess you just learn enough words that can be used at first to somewhat innacurately define a given concept and then improve it as more words are learned. I know this used to be fairly common for example when traders or explorers encountered North American indigenous people, someone had to learn the language from scratch to be the first translator. It just doesn't seem like it took them several years. Columbus' crews seemed to communicate effectively fairly quickly, though I suppose that could have just been through gestures and subjugation. - Taxman Talk 21:41, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

January 24[edit]

Spanish help -very basic stuff[edit]

Where are you from?-can you give me a spanish translation what does "como te llamas, el chic(a,o)" mean, exact translation. Thank you —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

¿Cómo te llamas chico/a means "what's your name, boy/girl?" --Chris S. 03:05, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
or "How do you call yourself, the girl/boy," if you want to be absurdly exact. --Maxamegalon2000 22:05, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Good ways to improve vocab[edit]

What do you reccomend?

Regularly read the dictionary itself. Keep a notebook always and jot down words from Newsweek, Time etc.--Jondel 07:47, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
That's right. Sir Winston Churchill, who won the 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature, explained his extraordinary vocab by saying that he never encountered a word he had not previously heard without looking up its meaning in his dictionary. Simple, but very effective. JackofOz 09:08, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
You will also need to engage in regular discussions (in person, by phone, by computer, or by mail) with people who have good vocabs, if you wish to keep your ability to use those words alive. StuRat 10:48, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
It also helps to read things that you normally wouldn't read. If you're a science geek, get a book on literary theory. Delving into specialized but not-too-technical books is also a wonderful thing: A popular intro to string theory, an anatomy coloring book, a Haynes manual, or even just a website about rodeo will teach you dozens of new words. They may not come up every day, but they're good to know. And always keep that dictionary handy. --George 17:11, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
Subscribe to Reader's Digest. Every month, they have a column, "It Pays to Increase Your Word Power", with lists of semi-obscure words and their meanings. User:Zoe|(talk) 22:57, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Watch English DVDs with the English subtitles on.   freshgavin TALK    06:03, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Belizean Kriol & Spanish-based creoles[edit]

I was fascinated by the Belizean Kriol language when I visited there a few days ago. Then, at the Cozumel Museum, I visited the Mayan hut display. The host was a man speaking something that sounded like a mixture of Kriol and a Spanish-based creole. Surprisingly, having some French, I could understand him quite well. The question is, what could have been the Spanish creole he was using? Or was it just Kriol? I've searched around Wikipedia without finding much information about any Spanish creoles used in the Caribbean. Halcatalyst 01:00, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

The only two Spanish creoles I know of are the ones in the Philippines, Chabacano, and Palenquero of Colombia. Papiamentu of Aruba has Spanish influence, too. Ethnologue doesn't say anything about Spanish creoles in Belize. What makes you think it was? I am thinking that it could either be codeswitching between Spanish and Kriol or perhaps some Spanish words in the language. But I am guessing, as I don't know the linguistic situation in Belize. --Chris S. 03:14, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
Your guess makes sense. Probably what I said was confusing. There's only Kriol in Belize. But (in my life) two days after first exposure to Kriol I heard a creole spoken by a Mayan in Cozumel, which of course is now Mexican. I'm assuming there was a Spanish influence in his speech since I heard a lot of words that resembled French. I was just amazed that I understood as much as I did. Obviously it's far easier to understand than to speak. And from what I've come to understand of written Kriol, that isn't going to be too easy either. But if you don't have to do them, hard things can be fun. Halcatalyst 03:28, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Pleonasm vs. Tautology[edit]

I've been wondering: what is the real difference between a syntactic pleonasm and a tautology?

I don't have suitable reference books handy, but I suspect the Greek derivations of these terms indicate the essential difference between them. Pleonasm means superfluity - using more words than are needed to express a meaning. Tautology means saying the same thing twice over (or more than twice). If my guess is correct, it seems that a tautology is always pleonastic, but a pleonasm is not necessarily tautologous. Maid Marion 10:54, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

We have articles on tautology and pleonasm. I'd personally only ever heard tautology used in the logic/math sense before. — Laura Scudder 18:32, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

  • I've heard it used outside that area, in writing and even in speech. In this more everyday sense, "tautology" merely is a more pretentious way of saying "redundancy." Zafiroblue05 07:56, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
What's pretentious about this word? JackofOz 11:59, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
No response. "Tautology" is very commonly used in my world, and this is the first time I've ever heard it described as "pretentious". Cheers. JackofOz 21:01, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Tautology doesn't just mean "redundancy"; it means that a statement is self-supporting and conveys no information. Basically the same as in math, but I've heard it used in debates. Redundancy conveys the same thing twice, but tautology conveys something once that doesn't need to be conveyed at all. rspeer / ɹəədsɹ 05:55, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

military practice: "port arms"[edit]

(This question was originally posted by at Wikipedia talk:Requested articles; included is my first guess at an answer. "Port arms" is a position where one holds the rifle diagonally in front of the body. Any other ideas on the etymology?) ----Lph 14:03, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Forgive my audacity, but I was hoping to find the origin of "Port Arms" with respect to weapon position and thus, the implied threat. To me, Port Arms, looks like a statement of: "I have a really nasty killing machine here, and I am showing it to you. If you are not a threat, this is not a problem for either of us." "Port" implies landing somewhere, and if landing as a stranger, the above seems to be a logical greeting, as it were. (Sorry, if not quite "nice.") Just curious, especially since I found no information here.

My guess would be that the command "port arms" comes in some way from the French "portez" which means "carry". (Or from the English "support".) This would be a good question for Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Language; I will post it there. --Lph 13:38, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
The origin is indeed French, coming to the language through Norman French; they were the ones who invaded England -- 1066 and all that -- and ruled for a couple of centuries. French was the language of court of all things "important," including the military. Many, many military words in English come through French. Port arms ("portes armes") means merely "carry your weapon" and, of course, be alert for the next order. Halcatalyst 14:29, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Old Irish[edit]

At Talk:Fenius Farsa, Codex Sinaiticus (talk · contribs) is asking for the IPA for Auraicept na n-Éces and Goídel mac Ethéoir. regards, dab () 20:52, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Done. --Angr 21:41, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

The horse and the sheep in Sanskrit[edit]

Can anybody translate this 'Indo-European' fable, written by A. Schleicher in Sanskrit please? Thank you!

Avis Akvasas Ka
Avis, jasman varṇa na ā ast, dadarka akvams,
Tam, vā gham garum vaghantam, tam, bhāram magham
Tam, manum āku bharantam.
Avis akvabhyams ā vavakat:
Kard aghnutai vidanti manum akvams agantam.
Akvāsas ā vavakant:
Krudhi avai, kard aghnutai vividvantsvas:
Manus patis varṇām avisāms karṇanti
Svabhyam gharmam vastram avibhyams ka varṇā na asti.
Tat kukruvants avis agram ā bhugat.
Meursault2004 21:19, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Well that seems to be Schleicher's version of constructed PIE. Do you expect people to know that and translate it into Sanskrit for you? Notice the article give three quite different attempts at PIE constructions of the story. Or are you looking for someone to take the English translation and translate that to Sanskrit to compare? Just from rudimentary exposure to Sanskrit I can confirm Schleicher's version is closer to Sanskrit than the others, but I'm still not sure what you're looking for. Not that I find it likely someone knowing Sanskrit will arrive to do the work anyway. :) - Taxman Talk 22:21, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Well this version is very close to Sanskrit. So I expect that someone with a knowledge of Sanskrit would be able to translate this ... I have seen several here. So I think I'll just wait and see. Meursault2004 09:19, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

It would have helped if you had it in Devanagari. This is too hard to read. deeptrivia (talk) 09:37, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
Won't the title be: अविः अश्वश्च ? (aviḥ aśvaś ca). deeptrivia (talk) 10:03, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Yes I think so (aviḥ aśvaś ca). But this fable is reconstructed Indo-European. I don't think that there is a version available in Devanagari. Meursault2004 10:46, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

It would take me about two hours to cast this in acceptable Sanskrit; send me a reasonable sum and I'll do it :) Seriously, try to do it yourself and post the result here for review, this is a place to ask questions, not a place people come to for free assignments dab () 11:36, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Term if surname and firstname are firstnames[edit]

Do you know the term given to a person who's first name and surname is like a first name such as "Darren Martin" or "Daniel Aaron"?

I know there is a term for this because I've heard it before but cannot for the life of me remember what it is and I'm having difficulty googling it. I hope you can help me, I've asked so many people and no one has a clue what I'm talking about.

I don't think this is what you're looking for, but the only word I could think of that was close to this was "patronymic", where the surname of the son is the same as, or based on, the forename of their father. --Canley 22:42, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

January 25[edit]

Cyrano de Bergerac Quote[edit]

I don't know French, and the machine translation is... peculiar... can anyone translate this for me? Thanks. "Si le coud de baisers soit envoyé par courrier vous pourriez lire mes mots avec vos lèvres" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mattman723 (talkcontribs)

I think "coud" should be "coup." I would translate it as "if kisses could be sent by mail, you could read my words with your lips." I'm not a native speaker of French, but the French seems somewhat awkward to me. Just my impression. --Chris S. 02:50, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
PS - The French translation you have seems to have come from a Xanga, as that is the only hit I could find using Google. The Cyrano de Bergerac movie, according to IMDB, apparently says "If kisses could be sent by letter. You could read my words with your lips." --Chris S. 02:59, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
Chris S.'s translation is literally correct. Another possible translation is, "If I could blow kisses to you with a note, you could read my words with your lips." Halcatalyst 12:16, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
The xanga you were redirected to is a friend of mine's. She uses the quote in her away message, and I was quite curious about what it meant. Thanks alot guys for your help, your translations are much better than AltaVista's! M@$+@ Ju ~ 01:47, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Unicode in arabic[edit]

What is Unicode in arabic? 15:37, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Since it's a proper name, I'd assume it's 'Unicode'. Or do you mean the transliteration? --BluePlatypus 15:56, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
BluePlatypus is correct, but if you were asking a more useful question about the code points for Arabic in Unicode, then you should look at and click on Code charts. --Gareth Hughes 16:05, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
I believe the word Unicode translated into Arabic is: لا توجد نتائج بحث عن.--Kevin Hanse (talk) 17:00, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

I need the transliteration and a reference would be nice. Thanks, Gerard Foley 18:47, 25 January 2006 (UTC) note was my IP address

The above-mentioned site has this page: where the question "What is Unicode?" is written in many diffferent languages. Here is the arabic version of the article "What is Unicode". Crocodealer 10:27, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
According to that page the Arabic word is يونِكود presumably transliterated yūnikūd (or maybe yūnikawd -- I'm not sure what the usual custom is for representing the long ō sound in Arabic). --Angr 10:54, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Arabic: يونِكود‎‎ would usually be transliterated as yūnikawd, but, as it's derived from an English name, dictionaries would often just transliterate it as yūnikōd. The only help given in the Arabic is the marking of the short i. I believe this, rather than the over-translated version above, is correct. --Gareth Hughes 12:59, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

The nickname Bob[edit]

Why is the name Robert shortened to Bob? Why is William shortened to Billy? Why is Richard shortened to Dick? none of the original names begin with the letter that nickanme begins with. Ms Alston syeedaalston at

I'm not sure there's much of an answer to this - they're abbreviated that way "because they are": slang doesn't really go by logic. The Oxford English Dictionary (which calls them "pet-forms") seems to agree with me (thanks to the current Wordhunt, you can access it online for free until next week). Here are some of their etymologies:
[A playful alteration of Ric-, contraction of Norman Fr. and Anglo-Norman Ricard, L. Ricardus = Richard.]
[f. Billy, familiar perversion of Willie, hypocoristic or pet form of William: cf. Bobby = Robby = Robert.]
(Hm, now there's a useful word - or not - "hypocoristic" apparently means "Of the nature of a pet-name").
Interestingly, though, it gives a bit more detail on "Harry", which I've always wondered about:
[ME. Herry, from Henry by assimilation of nr to rr; er subseq. becoming ar, as in HARRY v.]
(whence also the feminine name Harriet, originally = Henriette)
This help you at all? - IMSoP 18:33, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
now let's see you explain Peggy. Rmhermen 18:43, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
Some other examples are Peg(gy) from Margaret and Polly from Mary. --Angr 18:44, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
I can't, but the OED seems to have had a go:
Doll (and hence Dolly)
[a shortened pet-form of Dorothy, Dor- being modified to Dol-: cf. Hal, Sall, Mall, Moll, Poll = Harry, Sarah, Mary.]
So I guess Molly (and then Polly) are variants of Mary to match other names "in vogue" at some point in history - like more recent Bazza, Gazza, Shazzer, etc...
Peggy, meanwhile, appears to have gone Margaret→Maggy→Meggy→Peggy, which makes some kind of sense.
[Playing with the OED online is much easier than staring through a magnifying glass at my mum's one-volume tiny-print "Compact Edition", impressive though the latter is :)] - IMSoP 18:57, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
I know the edition you mean. I think an electron microscope is more useful for reading it than a mere magnifying glass. --Angr 19:05, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
I notice that most of the short forms begin with a plosive, which gives them a snappier sound. --Lph 19:10, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

One cause might be that when young children try to say their own names or the names of others, they come out wrong. Parents, thinking it cute, may continue to use that form. For example, my brother Patrick said his name as "Paggy", and was called that well into adulthood, as a result. If someone else thought it was cute and did the same with their own kid named Patrick, then Paggy might catch on as a semi-official nickname for Patrick. Similarly, my other brother, Marshall, became "Marfall" and my dad, Alvin, became "Alby". StuRat 19:16, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Yeah. In Ender's Game, the main character (Andrew Wiggin) is called Ender because his sister couldn't pronounce his real name when he was young and said Ender instead. A cousin used to call one of my sisters "my 'Nell" because he couldn't pronounce her real name, Jennelle, which was a combination of her first and middle names, Jennifer Ellen. Don't trust anyone who says they know exactly where a name came from, it can be way more complicated than it has any right to be, and whether it becomes widespread is based on the dynamics of fads, which are really hard to track backwards. BTW, aren't we supposed to delete that e-mail? Or not? Black Carrot 20:12, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

A lot of English language surnames derive from these nicknames. Dickens from Dickon, a nickname for Richard (Dick). Hobbes from Hob, like Bob a nickname for Robert. Dobbins, likewise. User:Zoe|(talk) 17:19, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

polish spelling[edit]

is there another way to spell the name Szeszycki? Could Sze be the same as Cie? Would a Russian or Slav spell the name differently? If so how would it be spelled?

Thank You

Leonard Szeszycki

Hello Leonard. Well, there are almost always alternative spellings, especially if you include the variants emigrants come up with to make the pronunciation more consistent with that of their new country. I don't know any Polish variants though. As for your second question, I doubt "Cie" could be used in place of "Sze". The former is approximately the English "tsee-eh", whereas "Sze" is more like "Sheh". I'd guess a Russian translitteration would be approximately "Шешицкий" (Sheshitski), which isn't really different since the sounds render pretty directly. Czech spelling could be "Šešický". I'm sure we have some native Poles around here who no doubt know more variations. --BluePlatypus 00:19, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Cie in Polish is pronounced 'chuh', sort of, so that wouldn't work. Wouldn't it be pronounced 'Shushiski', not 'Sheshitski'? If you're looking for a person, remember that if it's a woman, it may well be spelled Szeszycka. Proto t c 13:50, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Yeah 'chuh' is probably a bit closer. I'd say 'Sheshitski' is still closer though, with an 'e' as in 'eh' or 'pet' (not 'e' as in 'easy'). A 'u' might be a little less ambiguous though. Depends of course a lot on what kind of English you speak too. :) --BluePlatypus 14:17, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
It's kinda somewhere inbetween the 'e' in 'pet' and the 'u' in 'push' ... I really need to learn IPA :) Proto t c 14:23, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

The Wikipedia page on Polish phonology, as well as some other sources (e.g., [23]), say that Polish <e> is IPA /ɛ/ (the sound in American English "pet"), though I trust the others who have answered know far more about Polish than I do (maybe the vowel is more like [ɛ̈], a centralized /ɛ/?). I think, based on my very limited knowledge of Polish orthography, that the IPA for "Szeszycki" would be something like /ʃɛʃɨʦkʲi/. "Cie" would, I believe, be pronounced /ʨɛ/. --Whimemsz 23:30, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

What is a baseball cap?[edit]

Does a cap need to display some sort of reference to baseball (such as a team logo) in order to qualify as a baseball cap?

Nope. See the Wikipedia article on baseball caps. --TantalumTelluride 22:55, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

I saw an article in this morning's paper concerning the Palestinian elections, showing Palestinian women, fully veiled, wearing baseball caps with the Hamas logo on them. User:Zoe|(talk) 17:20, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

Well, it certainly is refreshing that a hat designed for American baseball is now used as part of the successful campaign for electing a self-admitted terrorist organization to lead the Palestinians. StuRat 21:36, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

January 26[edit]

Origin of language[edit]

i was just wondering... what was the exact origin of language? is there any ONE language which all others have stemmed from? and how is it that humans were capable of making sense out of a heap of sounds? - Gelo3 01:30, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

See Origin of language. No one knows for sure when language first arose; it probably couldn't have been more recent than about 40 thousand years ago, because that's when the first humans reached Australia, which meant they had to be able to build boats, which would have been such an advanced technological project that it would have been virtually impossible for them to do it without some very complex communication. But it may have been as long ago as 2 million years or so. In all likelihood, all modern languages are descended from one common ancestor, because the faculty of language probably only evolved once, among one community (but efforts to reconstruct this language, sometimes called "Proto-World," have not been successful, at least in the view of mainstream linguistics). --Whimemsz 01:39, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
I believe the majority of the world's modern languages were thought to have originated with Vedic Sanskrit. StuRat 02:40, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
No. Many of the world's languages, including Sanskrit, are believed to have originated in Proto-Indo-European, but PIE is not Sanskrit.--Prosfilaes 02:48, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Um, what? For one thing, Sanskrit itself evolved from Proto-Indo-European, and for another, Proto-Indo-European is only the origin of all Indo-European languages, which is by no means "the majority of the world's languages". —Keenan Pepper 02:48, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Based on population, the Indo-European languages are the primary lanquages spoken in Europe, Russia, India, the Middle East, North snd South America, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Africa. The only major populations speaking non Indo-European languages are in East Asia and the Pacific Ocean. So, I believe we get over half the world's population, hence "the majority", speaking Indo-European langages. StuRat 03:07, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Have you ever been to Africa? Though you might say its primary languages are IE, I wouldn't. Official languages, yes. But I would say (guessing) that the majority of Africans speak a Bantu language as their first. --대조 | Talk 13:38, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
You may be right (although I'm not convinced, I think it might be a toss-up), but "the majority of the world's languages" means something different from "the languages spoken by a majority of the world's people". —Keenan Pepper 03:22, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Ok, let me state it more clearly: "I believe the modern laguages spoken by the majority of the world's population..." StuRat 04:02, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
What evidence is there to support the theory that language only evolved once? It seems to me just as likely that it evolved in many different places, but maybe I'm missing something... —Keenan Pepper 02:51, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, there is Occum's razor, which states that the simplest explanation should be used unless there is evidence to the contrary. Language having evolved only once seems simplest to me. StuRat 03:07, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Proto-Indo-European is of course, a hypothetical language. Is there any living (or definitely known to have existed) Indo-European language older than Vedic Sanskrit ? What about any older language? deeptrivia (talk) 02:55, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Hittite is considered to be the oldest known (i.e. readable) Indo-European language. Sanskrit is the language which is more used in comparative historical linguistics because its records are far more copious.--CCLemon 08:16, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
There are also Eurasiatic, Nostratic, and Borean, all of uncertain validity. See [24]; the StarLing database is also interesting to explore. ᓛᖁ♀ 03:04, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Sumerian is older than Vedic Sanskrit, and not Indo-European. —Keenan Pepper 03:11, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Proto-Indo-European is not a hypothetical language; there's no real valid reason to doubt its existance. The Greek language and Vedic Sanskrit seem of equal antiquity; the Linear B tablets and the Rig Veda both date to about 1500 BCE, according to Wikipedia. Egyptian texts have been dated to 3200 BCE and Sumerian texts to 3100 BCE, and Sumerian is the oldest written language, all according to Wikipedia.--Prosfilaes 03:17, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia article calls Proto-Indo-European a hypothetical language. It was constructed only recently. Linear B is from 14th - 13th century, used for writing Mycenaean (some kind of proto-Greek?) deeptrivia (talk) 03:33, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, more accurately, our reconstructions of Proto-Indo-European are hypothetical. There is absolutely no reason to doubt that some language did exist at one point which gave rise to all modern IE languages. When we call it a "hypothetical language," we mean that since it is unattested, our reconstructions of it are more or less bound to not reflect historical reality (although historical linguists would like to think that their reconstructions come fairly close to historical reality). But Proto-Indo-European definitely did exist at some time. --Whimemsz 23:09, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Humans are wired for language in some very deep way. I think there's enough difference between us and hypothetical non-speaking humanoids to assume that we evolved language before we left Africa, and thus we learned language while our species was confined to a small area. Given the advantages that language would confer, I'd bet that any speaking tribe would wipe out the non-speaking tribes unless they copied the invention, and there would be no tribes far enough away to reevolve language.--Prosfilaes 03:10, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

Regarding a comment made above, with the world population presently at about 6,450,000,000, the population of India and China put together amounting to almost half of that (I can't find solid figures on Wiki, a conservative estimate would put the two at a total of 2.9bn), I challenge that it's unlikely that the majority of the world speaks (should be, were taught by their ancestors) Indo-European languages!   freshgavin TALK    00:18, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

Well, many popular languages of India are in fact Indo-European. The most popular non-Indo-European languages are Chinese, Arabic, and Japanese. —Keenan Pepper 01:22, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
To be precise, 74% of Indians speak (750 million people) an Indo-European language. If you talk about Greater India, you can safely add another 300 million speakers. You can then continue by adding the entire populations of Europe, the Americas, Australia, etc.deeptrivia (talk) 02:52, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
The vast majority of the populations of Europe, the Americas, Australia, etc. In Europe, there's notably the Basque, Finns, and Hungarians that don't speak an IE language, as well as thousands of small aboriginal languages spoken all over the Americas and Australia.--Prosfilaes 02:59, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, amd anyway, while it's true that the majority of the people in the world probably speak an IE language, it's certainly not true to say that the majority of the world's languages are IE (the Austronesian family alone has about twice as many languages as the IE family), as Keenan Pepper already said above. --Whimemsz 03:11, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Oh yes, that's true. I was talking about number of speakers. deeptrivia (talk) 03:16, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

Here's a source [25] that what ranks IE languages in with 2,562,896,428 speakers (44.78%). Sino-tibetan (including Chinese and Indian varieties) ranks in (second) with 22.28%. While it's not solid evidence against the existance of a Proto-Indo-European language, these were the kind of numbers I was looking for!   freshgavin TALK    04:24, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

I found John McWhorter's The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language to be an interesting read. Based on his studies of language borrowing in recent history, his thesis (loosely stated) seems to be that the P-I-E root thesis is untenable because, well, languages just don't evolve that way.KWH 05:37, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

January 27[edit]

Spanish Question[edit]

Why is it Desde que tengo 12 años and not Desde que tuve 12 años or Desde que he tenido 12 años ("Ever since I have 12 years" as opposed to "ever since I had 12 years" or "ever since I have had 12 years")? — Ilyanep (Talk) 00:42, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

I wish I could answer you since I know spanish, but, I don't understand your question :S, I think that's more of a linguistics question than a spanish one. also the first one and the second one can be both correct depending on what you want to say, but I doubt the third one can be correct in any context.--Cosmic girl 01:40, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

Well I'm only in High school spanish 2 :D An example from our book would be Tengo hijos desde que tengo veintisiete años. Is it just because it follows from the tense of the first verb? And maybe this is a lingustics question :\ — Ilyanep (Talk) 02:27, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
You're just asking why tener is in the present tense, rather than a past tense, right? (I'm afraid I don't know the answer; I'm just trying to help clarify the question). Ojalá que Cosmic Girl o un otro hablante nativo puede contestar la pregunta ahora. --Whimemsz 02:57, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, that is my question. Past tense would seem to make more sense if you're using 'since'. — Ilyanep (Talk) 03:16, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
I can't explain it either, but if it's any reassurance to you, German does the same thing: you say seitdem ich zwölf bin "since I am twelve", not *seitdem ich zwölf war "since I was twelve". --Angr 06:07, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

You are right, it would make more sense the other way, but I guess it's just like some things in english that I find illogical, but I can't remember one right now...maybe it's more of a 'sound' thing than a 'it should be this way' thing, you will in time get used to the language and it will seem natural. also, from your example, I guess the best thing to say it is Tengo hijos desde LOS veintisiete años, and that way you avoid the whole thing.--Cosmic girl 16:24, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

You want something illogical in English ? That's easy enough:
  • After you open a door, the door is now open. But, after you close a door, the door is now closed.
  • You always say you have "more" of something, but say you have "less" or "fewer" depending on if it's an integer or not (more or less coffee, but more or fewer coffee beans).
  • A "coed" is a female at a coeducational college. There is no term for a male at such an institution.
StuRat 21:22, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Of course I accept it as is and will get used to it, but it just piqued my curiosity. — Ilyanep (Talk) 23:17, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
It's English that is the excaption in the "desde" thing. Most other European languages have the present tense. Jameswilson 02:22, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
Same in french, depuis que j'ai 12 ans and not depuis que j'ai eu 12 ans. There must be some rule there, and common to some languages.
Maybe past years are still a part of us. Cf. since I succeeded in driving a car on the road, which belongs to the past, even if I still avoid driving towards the fence. --DLL 21:15, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

The greatest furphy of all time[edit]

Non-Australians might not understand the word 'furphy. It means a commonly held misconception about something; an untrue statement that has become accepted because nobody has challenged it yet, or if they have, most people haven't heard about it.

Politicians are fond of criticising the other side using the expression "That's the greatest furphy of all time". The expression is widely used outside politics as well. I'd be interested in knowing what people think, from their own experience, is "the greatest furphy of all time". JackofOz 06:13, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

The existence of poodles. On a serious note: that people need meat to be healthy.
I would have said it's a furphy that vegetarianism is healthy. --Angr 09:07, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Then you'd fail. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health, British Medical Association and the Mayo Clinic, vegetarian diets offer a number of health benefits compared to non-vegetarian diets. -- from Vegetarian nutrition. But that's a discussion for another time.
Since you said "of all time", I assume former furphies count, so I will go with the Earth being the center of the solar system and the universe. StuRat 16:55, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
I'd have to agree. Taiq
In the way the phrase is used (at least where I come from), it usually refers to something that is a current misconception. But yours is a fair interpretation. JackofOz 20:55, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
"Trade (barter, currency, whatever) is essential to civilization." ᓛᖁ♀ 17:22, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't see how this question is on-topic, nor how it is likely to produce more light than heat.--Prosfilaes 19:20, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
What "topic" would that be, Prosfilaes? Each question on these pages defines its own topic. As for for light and heat, I'd rather wait and see. So far so good though. JackofOz 20:55, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
The topic Prosfilaes means is presumably Language, which is what this reference desk is supposed to be about. --Angr 21:08, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I see. Well, this question has to do with how a particular phrase is used, which to me seems like a language-related question. Miscellaneous was an option, but this one seemed a better fit. JackofOz 02:02, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Simple french.[edit]

What would the french words allume and eteint (sp?) mean, in the context of setup options for a dancing videogame? My options are A: Karaoke allume or B: Karaoke eteint.

I think allume would mean "light up/turn on" and eteint would mean "put out/turn off". --Angr 09:09, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

Makes sense. Thanks a bunch.

CV21 - who owns it?[edit]

does anyone know about it a secret advertising/design agency?

i have tryed to contact them but they do not reply.... as i have heard they work for free if you are the right client...

please advise as i would like to know if anyone has had any luck contacting them.


Mr Hall (OBE)

Your question was answered here. User:AlMac|(talk) 11:51, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Please do not post your questions more than once. We may not know the answer to your question, are still figuring it out, or are refusing to answer for one of the reasons stated at the top of this page. Asking us a second time will not likely get you your answer either, and almost guarantees you we will be ignoring you in the future. Your question may be deleted if you see this notice; you should reformat it to prevent this from happening.
You have placed the identical question on all RD and in some cases several times. Your qustion cannot be answered as stated. You need to identify what the "it" is that you are asking about ... contact whom. What organization are you asking about, some branch of government, some organization that ownss some consumer product you are using, our diety? User:AlMac|(talk) 10:07, 27 January 2006 (UTC)


Bantu are a large group of ethnic peoples in Africa. Halcatalyst 21:34, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

Bantu people[edit]

See the previous topic. You can actually do your own homework by entering these words in the search box at the left instead of asking here. Might save you some time. Halcatalyst 19:04, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

coup de gras[edit]

You mean Coup de grâce, a death blow. Halcatalyst 18:59, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

That can be taken literally as a shot to the head following a firing squad to ensure the victim is dead or figuratively as in taking the capital city being the final step in a revolution. StuRat 21:11, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Blow of fat (same article). May be heard as fat elbow in french. --DLL 21:04, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

dirty words?[edit]

Does anyone have a good list of these in lots of different languages?-- 23:07, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

Search for alternate dictionaries on Google. deeptrivia (talk) 15:07, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
The profanity article has a link to Swearsaurus: Archive of profanity in 170 languages. --jh51681 01:18, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

January 28[edit]

Language reference desk archives[edit]

How do I access the Language reference desk archives? I have an answer for a question posted here a couple of weeks ago, asking about the origin of the name of the river Medina in the Isle of Wight. --Halcatalyst 03:40, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Click on the Archives link at the top of this page, then choose the appropriate category and date from the list. --jh51681 03:47, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
Never mind -- I see that the answer has been given in River Medina. This is the same answer I got from a native of Wight last week. --Halcatalyst 15:23, 28 January 2006 (UTC)



How would i write the phrase "God is watching" in aramaic?


There is a site that offers a side-by-side English Aramaic New Testament. A search has reavealed to me that the phrase "God is watching" occurs nowhere in the Bible, much less the New Testament, therefore I cannot provide the answer to you. However I can provide the link [[26]] and direct you to Luqa 23:35-36 as in those verses you'll find the Aramaic for "and looking" (sometimes translated "watching") and "of God."
I thought I could tackle this for you because I know a bit of Arabic, but the script they used looks more like some form of Syriac than the proto-Aramaic that I was able to find a transliterated alphabet of. That might have been the more accurate choice for the time and place, but that doesn't help me to read it to look at the grammer and see what changes would be necessary to construct the sentence properly, assuming the grammer is similar enough for me to figure it out. -LambaJan 23:09, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
G-d in talmudic aramaic is usually referred to as "rahmana", the compassionate one, which according to Syriac alphabet would be written ܐܢܡܚܪ. Don't know if that helps you (I can't even see it myself). Anyway... СПУТНИКССС Р 04:04, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Linguistics term[edit]

Ex: I take 200 newspaper articles and note (perhaps via a software program) how many instances of "male and female" occur as well as how many instances of "female and male." I collate and compare.

What the is the specific name for this type of analysis? That is, word frequency in compounds of the above sort? I'm bugged all to hell because I've forgotten. Marskell 13:28, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Frequency analysis?? --Shantavira 15:35, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Or textual analysis?? --Shantavira 15:41, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
Grrr. It is essentially frequency analysis but it's specified to linguistics. I should also add: why does the brain get soft an I's startin forget stuff? Marskell 16:48, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
Probably too much aluminum in your diet... :p --Angr 17:50, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
collocation? dab () 18:27, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

I believe sir, that corpus analysis and specifically collocation analysis were indeed the words my brain misfiled. Thank-you. As for the reasons behind the misfiling I blame beer ahead of aluminum... Marskell 18:39, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

"What happens in Vegas..."[edit]

Hi. Does anyone know where that phrase ("What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas") originated? Maybe it's really obvious, but I'm not that familiar with American popular culture. Also, I hope this is the right section for this question. If it's not, let's just say this question deals with etymology. Thanks in advance! --Rueckk 17:19, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

I think it's just from the advertising campaign, because that's where I first saw it.--Prosfilaes 17:46, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
Aha, so there was an advertising campaign that used it? Interesting. I was wondering how 'official' and well-known this saying is. Apparently the answers are 'pretty much' and 'very'.
I suspect it refers to gambling, for which Vegas is famous, meaning that any winnings are gambled away or spent on the other delights that Vegas has to offer. Being way out in the desert, there is nowhere else to spend it. --Shantavira 18:04, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
Makes sense. In addition to that, I always thought it implied that Vegas was some kind of special zone where normal rules don't apply. You know, "Sin your heart out, it's not going to matter in the outside world". Anyway, thanks to both of you. --Rueckk 18:52, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
It's definitely from the Las Vegas tourism advertising campaign. Scenes of a woman writing a postcard, then wiping out what she has written. Three young guys celebrating the bachelor party of one of them, who runs into his fiancee and her girlfriends. A teenager cleaning up the house after having a party while his parents were gone and they come home and won't tell him what they did, though sex is implied. Lots of examples like that. It's more than just gambling. In fact, gambling seems to be the least of it. User:Zoe|(talk) 23:02, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Long before Lost Wages started using the phrase in their advertising, elite military units (such as the US Army Green Berets and Rangers and the US Navy Seals) had the informal code, "What happens in the military stays in the military." --Halcatalyst 23:10, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

See this article. The advertising campaign, originally using the wording "What happens here stays here", began in late 2002, but various versions on the phrase were in use before that. The difference is until the advertisements appeared, they were pretty much limited to people who had, or wanted to convey, the irresponsible attitude that the phrase suggests.
I did a Google Groups search to find early postings of the phrase on Usenet. There is only one use of "What happens in Vegas stays..." from before 2003: this posting from 2000, where someone talking about trips to Las Vegas ends with the words: Pretty damn liberating. I'm not sure I can share with you the details as I was informed that "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Note the "I was informed". "What happens here stays here" occurs several times before 2003, but not in connection with Las Vegas.
Incidentally, I don't remember ever seeing the advertisements myself until a couple of weeks ago. I was not pleased to do so.
--Anonymous, 01:10 UTC, January 28, 2006.
Wow, that's a great article. I didn't know that the saying has been around before its connection to Vegas. I thought all the variations I had seen were different takes on the Vegas version, but this way it actually makes more sense. The slogan is pretty catchy, so it's only logical it's not the work of some PR agency. Thanks a whole bunch to all of you! --Rueckk 17:45, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

There was also a satire version of that ad:

"I just woke up in bed with a dead transvestite prostitute in my bed, which was covered with cocaine, along with 100 pounds of diamonds. I have no idea where any of it came from or how I got there."

"Hey, don't worry about it, whatever happens in Bangkok stays in Bangkok."

StuRat 17:39, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Science and Maths acquisition[edit]

Are there any prominent supporters of the assertion that Science and Maths must be taught in a child's mother language (rather than in a 2nd language)? I've read it at places, but don't know that the mainstream position is. deeptrivia (talk) 18:07, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

It should be taught in whatever the language of the country or region is. Else, it becomes a harmful crutch. When the student goes on into the working world, they won't have the luxury of writing their memos in their native tongue. --Nelson Ricardo 09:50, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
Of course, the college professors won't bother to learn the native language of the country. I once had a college prof tell the class "your assignment this weekend is to all go find piece of ass". Later on we realized he meant Ps, or "P sub s", in the problem he did only the board that day. StuRat 17:27, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
Good one. You might want to think about adding that to our list of mondegreens. Cheers JackofOz 21:19, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
I'd never heard that. Are you talking about higher or lower education? I know that in Scandinavia for instance, almost all higher education in Science, Engineering and Maths is mostly in English. (In particular, English-language textbooks are used) They never really had any higher education in their own languages (German dominating before). Yet those countries have done pretty well for themselves in those areas, so at least for higher education the idea seems dubious. --BluePlatypus 02:08, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
The question becoming interesting when the parents speak different languages to the child. Is Daddy's more formal and precise, Mommy's more practical, and so on (and the exact languages matter few there) ? Then all depends upon the goals of education. Do you want the future engineer to be able to specify the plans of the the chemical plant, or to build it ? --DLL 20:55, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

January 29[edit]

Past tense of sneak[edit]

What is the correct past tense of sneak: sneaked, or snuck? I mean, I'm going to use snuck regardless because it's cooler, but which is older? —Keenan Pepper 08:11, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

I'm glad you found the answer on Google, but I'm restoring the question and answering it anyway, in case others are interested. Sneaked is older; the OED says snuck is originally and chiefly U.S. But it is not the case that the oldest form is necessarily the one that prescriptivists insist on: clumb is much older than climbed, but if you say clumb nowadays you're likely to sound like Cletus Spuckler. --Angr 08:24, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
snuk This user says snuck.
Bwahahaha... Thanks for this user box. —Keenan Pepper 16:47, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Dike vs Dyke[edit]

In the Netherlands article someone changed 'dyke' to dike' because that would be "less giggle-worthy". I wondered if that would fit in with the EE the article is written in and Googling the two words for UK sites suggests that 'Dike' is in deed more common in EE. Is this true and does the spelling 'dike' indeed have less of a sexual connotation? DirkvdM 08:57, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

"Dyke" with the "y" is a common vernacular term for lesbian. This, I suppose, is the giggle factor. Note that "dyke", like "queer", may or may not be a pejorative depending on the speaker. As for the artificial earthen wall meant to hold back water," both dike and dyke may be used but the former, with "i", is more common. Marskell 09:50, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
The Netherlands just needs to get an all lesbian, full-figured militia, then they can say "we're protected by giant dykes", and both meanings will be true. StuRat 17:14, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
StuRat, nice one :) . Merskell, you're Canadian, for which my congratulations, but how is your knowledge of EE? Googling 'dike' gives 20 times more results than 'dyke' for UK sites. DirkvdM 17:46, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Nice words?[edit]

In reaction to a question above I'm curious if there is also a list of 'pleasantries' (or what should I call that?) in different languages. This would be especially beneficial to international (business) travellers who have no time to learn the local language (or version of it, such as with English). Knowing the right word to say in a certain situation can make contacts a lot smoother, even if you don't (porperly) speak the lingo. Such as when you you step on someone's toe, in Spanish the thing to say would be 'disculpame'. But what if you reach past someone in a shop, or when you want to ask someone something. In English the phrase would be 'Excuse me' (or rather 'pardon me' in the first ewxample?), but in other languages different phrases might be used for differnt situations and that could cause confusion. DirkvdM 09:38, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

In Japan, as I understand it (and doubtless oversimplifying) more than half of speech is given over to pleasantries. This leads to the interesting phenomenon that a simultaneous translator can finish before the original Japanese speaker has finished. Notinasnaid 11:04, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
The sister project Wiktionary has some common phrases and the translations. Those entries like wikt:thank you and wikt:how are you? can be helpful =). --Tohru 11:45, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
Several companies have found it lucrative to market simple phrasebooks with roman alphabet transliterations for this very reason. -LambaJan 20:40, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
While formal Japanese can seem very ... over pleasant, more than 50% is a bit much. Formal Japanese is a lot more 'standardized' than English is so sometimes it is easy to predict what the person's response will be. Many of the younger generations regect this and may refuse to use formal Japanese at all, their speach thus being no more 'pleasant' than you average English speaking teenager. The 'interpreter finishing before the speaker' phenomenon is mostly due to the fact that with Japanese word order (subject, object, verb) it is often possible to guess what verb and tense will be used in a sentence by context, although this can allow for big, unprofessional mistakes in interpretation.   freshgavin TALK    02:50, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

We also have List of common phrases in various languages. Not exactly what you were looking for, but it has some of it. It's also not strictly the type of thing Wikipedia should carry, but it's stood against deletion a couple times I think. Better place would be Wikibooks. - Taxman Talk 20:12, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Try also the excellent list there if you are lost in the Middle earth. --DLL 20:48, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

what is meant by macrumors?[edit]

Wiktionary:Translations of the Week[edit]

Globe of letters.png

We are looking for people to translate the following into as many languages as possible.

Please go to the relevant Wiktionary page and place your translations there

1 roll

Thanks, --Dangherous 13:43, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

What does "muffin" mean in slang terms?[edit]

What could the word "muffin" mean, apart from the delicious food product? I ask, because in the film I just watched (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me), characters exchanged the dialogue

 Jacques: I'm not Jacques. I am the Great Went!
 Laura: I am the muffin.
 Jacques: And what a muffin you got, eh?

While this isn't answering your question, are you sure it wasnt "I am the Muffin man"? If so, that's a fairly well-known children's nursery rhyme (which I notice we don't have a page for). The person responding could be referring to a Muff, I suppose - though I wouldn't swear to it.GeeJo (t) (c)  22:53, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
I always thought "muffin" referred to this, but I could be wrong. СПУТНИКССС Р 23:13, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
There's a deleted scene in the film where Laura and Donna have a conversation at Donna's house that goes something like this:
Donna: "You want a muffin?."
Laura: "Donna, you ARE a muffin."

The implication seems to be that Donna is sweet and innocent. Of course cutting out that first scene meant the line at the bar makes no sense, but since when has that ever stopped David Lynch? -Canley 00:42, 30 January 2006 (UTC)


Some usages of 'muffin' in English slang-

  • Canadian slang has:
    • "Square Head/English Muffin — Words used to describe English/Anglo Canadians, the former in French is "Tête Carré". "English Muffin" is often heard in New Brunswick schoolyards with its counterpart, "French Fry". In British Columbia, squarehead invariably is a derisive term for an ethnic German, i.e. someone who still has their accent and old-country hardliner attitudes. Not generally used to mean Austrians or Swiss."
  • The O.E.D. has, for 'muff':
    • (colloquial) (adjective) - "A fool; n.5 1. Now also: an overly compliant person, a dogsbody."
    • (examples) - "1830 ‘W. T. MONCRIEFF’ Heart of London II. i, A visitor? hurrah! some muffin, I daresay-he must pay his footing. 1977 M. HELPRIN Refiner's Fire (1990) VII. x. 208 ‘They are fools, you know, convincing and attractive as bats.’ ‘Yes... Muffins of the lowest caliber.’ 1996 New Yorker 15 Apr. 56/2 It was already attracting a group of young, eager volunteers like Cornelius-‘muffins’, in the parlance of ‘Primary Colors’-whose job was to perform whatever tasks..needed doing."
  • The O.E.D. has, under the actual 'muffin' headword:
    • U.S. (chiefly baseball). "A person who habitually muffs a catch or ball. Now hist."
    • Canadian slang - "A young woman, esp. one who regularly partners a particular man, by arrangement, during a social season. Now hist."
  • Finally, for the O.E.D. 'muffin' headword, there are various 'muffin' compound words that might shed some light on the colloquial / slang usages of the word:
    • muffin-maker.
    • muffin bell, the bell rung by a seller of muffins.
    • muffin-cap, now hist., a flat woollen cap formerly worn by charity-school boys, etc.
    • muffin countenance, colloq. = muffin face.
    • muffin dish, (a) a covered dish used to keep muffins (sense 1a) hot (now chiefly hist.); (b) a dish in which muffins (sense 1b) are cooked. muffin face colloq., a face reminiscent of a muffin in some way; spec. an expressionless face; a person having such a face.
    • muffin-faced (adj.) (colloq.), having a face reminiscent of a muffin; spec. having an expressionless face.
    • muffin-fight, colloq., a tea party (cf. muffin-worry and bun-fight s.v. BUN n.2); (also more lit.) a food fight.
    • muffin-head, orig. British regional (also muffin-yed), a fool, an idiot.
    • muffin man, now hist., a seller of muffins.
    • muffin plate, now rare, a plate (occas. with a cover) on or in which muffins are cooked or stored.
    • muffin ring, a metal ring into which the batter for a muffin is poured to be cooked (now also used in the cooking of other items).
    • muffin-tin, a tin in which muffins are cooked.
    • muffin-worry, colloquial (now rare), a tea party.

P.MacUidhir (t) (c) 01:48, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Then there's that wonderful term of endearment stud muffin. JackofOz 14:06, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Hebrew translation[edit]

What is the hebrew word for "sad"?

Sad, as in unhappy or depressed in hebrew would be עצוב, IPA: ʕaˈʦuv, or in English approximation, "ah-tzoov". СПУТНИКССС Р 23:42, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
What is this "Voiced pharyngeal fricative" thingy you represent with "ʕ"? I was always taught that ayin and aleph were "silent" letters, and that only their vowel had a sound. -- Mwalcoff 23:42, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
As I understand it, ayin is silent (or at least a glottal stop) in Standard Israeli Hebrew, so that /aˈtsuv/ or /ʔaˈtsuv/ would be the pronunciation for most people. But in Yemenite Hebrew ayin still has its original pronunciation of the voiced pharyngeal fricative (like Arabic ‘ayn ﻉ). However, in that dialect tsade also still has its original pronunciation of a pharyngealized s (like Arabic ṣād ﺹ), so that a Yemenite pronunciation of the word is more like /ʕaˈsˁuv/. Angr/talk 06:27, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

January 30[edit]

Reflexive and intensive[edit]

What is the difference between reflexive pronouns and intensive pronouns? 04:20, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

A reflexive pronoun indicates that the subject also receives the action of the verb, e.g., "She helped herself to the last piece of cake." An intensive pronoun emphasizes a noun, e.g., "I myself wouldn't do that." —Wayward Talk 04:34, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

IPA vowel charts (Canadian etc.)[edit]

Does anyone know where I could get some more specific IPA vowel charts for different varieties of English pronounciation? As it is right now the only one I can find (for English) is California English, which while similar to my (Toronto/International English) accent, is missing some vowel information that I need. Doesn't seem to be anything findable on Google either.

It makes it a lot easier to understand IPA if I can compare it with my own voice, and if I can have a good approximation (a 'Standard Canadian' chart would suffice, I've been accustomed to listening to Ottawaian hockey English since I was a child) then I can at least judge the IPA vowel symbols relative to my own pronounciation.

I can approximate a British, Californian, or Australian accent pretty well, but my accent tends to be slightly exaggerated so not too useful for IPA and I'm not sure what symbols to use for my breed of English, or where the vowels should be represented on the chart.   freshgavin TALK    06:25, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Heh. The reason the only vowel chart I uploaded is for California English is that it was the only one I could find. --Angr 07:40, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
Damn. Well at least we have that! Although I'm not sure if I'd feel confident calling it a standard California English accent chart either; it seems way too different from what I expect, and from the way I pronounce (for me it seems to be missing not one, but two sounds) even though I know it should be quite close.
Regardless I'll keep looking. When I get a little more practice with IPA and I feel more confident about my own vowel placements I'm going to do a little bit of OR in my sandbox and I'll put up my own vowel chart then to compare. I also tend to disagree on a few points with the designation in Japanese etymology too.   freshgavin TALK    06:08, 2 February 2006 (UTC)


Where did the idiom: to take ______ with a grain of salt came from? and what is the idea behind it?

Have a look at our article on the subject. Cheers JackofOz 21:14, 30 January 2006 (UTC)


Yes, we have that in WP. Should it be in Wiktionary ?
Plenty of things to do to make an encyclopedia conforming to its goals. Create sites for films and games and records and TV series and soccer players and even districts, communes and smallish towns all over the world where nothing happens (else they are in WP). --DLL 20:40, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

Heroic couplet[edit]

Is a rhyming couplet in iambic pentameter coming at the end of a sonnet a "heroic couplet"? 23:37, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

According to the good folks at [], a heroic couplet is "A verse unit consisting of two rhymed lines in iambic pentameter" (quoting the American Heritage Dictionary). So I'd say yes. --George 01:42, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
But note that it doesn't have to be at the end of a sonnet. The "heroic couplet" was a staple on the stage. And though a "Shakespearean sonnet" consists of three "Sicilian Quatrains" followed up by a "heroic couplet", not all sonnets are so constructed. -- Nunh-huh 01:52, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
You can read all about the Heroic couplet here. --Halcatalyst 01:55, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

January 31[edit]

What is the difference between llamo and llama?[edit]

What is the difference? Thanks.

According to this site a male Vicuna/female Llama results in a Llamo-vicuna, a South American Camelid hybrid. Read all about it there and in the Llama article. hydnjo talk 01:39, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
My Response:
Sorry I was not clear. I meant in spansih. Sorry for this confusion. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)
llamo and llama come from the verb llamar meaning "to call." Llamo is in the first person, so it means "I call." Llama is in the third person so it means he/she/it calls or even "you call," but politely. --Chris S. 03:40, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
From latin clamare, to call aloud. Also, I wonder what an American Camelid hybrid might give ? --DLL 20:35, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
You can remember by going 'Como te llamas?', or 'What is your name?', and 'Me llamo es...', ' My name is...' 01:26, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
That last one should be 'Me llamo ...', not 'Me llamo es...'. Literally, the sentences mean "How do you call yourself?" and "I call myself..." --Maxamegalon2000 22:10, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

"A" or "An" in front of "unique"[edit]

Hi! I always though its "a" for a consanant and "an" for a vowel, but Word suggests "a unique" instead of "an unique". Also, on google, "a unique" is much more popular than "an unique". Please could someone explain which is right?

Thank you! -- 10:09, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

Thank you all for your answers! -- 13:36, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
I have argued (not necessarily correctly) that "a unique" tends to be used the US, while "an unique" tends to be used in the UK. So, for a wikipedia article this follows or defines the spelling rules for the article. An article about US topics should say "a unique"; an article about UK topics should say "an unique"; an article about international topics which has adopted UK/US spelling should use the appropriate version; and an article which has neither, but where the author has used "a/an unique" has defined the language variation that must be used in the rest of the article. Actually, it isn't completely clear-cut as "a unique" is sometimes used in the UK too... Notinasnaid 10:16, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
It's "a" because it depends on the first sound of the word, not the first letter. The first sound of "unique" is the "y" sound, the same as the first sound of "yellow", which is an approximant consonant. Angr/talk 10:17, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, unique begins with a vowel letter, but its first sound is the consonant y. Likewise, we write 'a university', 'a useful tool', but 'an undergarment' and 'an unlikely visitor'. I don't think there are UK/US differences. --Gareth Hughes 10:26, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Contrariwise, we write "an hour" and "an honest man" because these begin with a vowel sound despite beginning with a consonant letter. And here there are UK/US differences: in the UK they write "a herb" because in British English herb begins with the consonant /h/, while in the US they write "an herb" because in American English herb begins with the vowel /ɝ/. Angr/talk 10:32, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
I've always wondered why that is so. Americans start the name Herb (eg. Edelman) with the 'h' sound, but pronounce the word 'herb' (eg. lemongrass) differently. Why do they make this distinction? JackofOz 11:20, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
I guess because Herb as a nick name for Herbert is of Germanic origin, while "herb" as in lemongrass is borrowed from French, which inherited it from Latin, which probably lost the /h/ sound around the time of the Claudian emperors. The Brits then started pronouncing the /h/ again later as a spelling pronunciation (the same thing happened at different times to "humble" and "hotel"). Angr/talk 11:40, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
That makes sense, Angr. Actually, it rings a bell. I think I've forgotten about 98% of everything I ever knew. Maybe I need to take some herbs. What's a good one for restoring memory loss. JackofOz 12:10, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Hmm. I take back my statement that "I have argued" this point. It was actually "a historical"/"an historical" I was debating previously. I don't have a particular view on a/an unique and its usage around the world, but I have seen both. Notinasnaid 10:34, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Lol. Ginko. But I'm not sure it's an herb, since it's from a tree. -LambaJan 21:40, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Remember we learn to speak before we write so we have already "naturally" learnt to say "a unicorn" and "an umbrella" before somebody comes along and teaches that they are both spelt with the same initial letter. I dont think there is any US/UK difference.

As for "hotel", I think some people regarded it as a foreign word, even spelling it "hôtel" and hence "an", but that would be regarded as an affectation by most people today.

I don't mind if you pronounce it Frenchly (I know English doesn't have words like Frenchly, but Esperanto does, and I like 'em) like 'otel. But if you pronounce the /h/, then it's "a". I was once thoroughly abused by one of my grandmother's friends for saying "a hotel" but I will argue vociferously on my being correct. --대조 | Talk 13:37, 2 February 2006 (UTC)



I've searched the web and your site for a definition of this word. I don't want my friend (who's blog I'm reading now) to think I'm just an ingoramus. Could someone please define this word for me?

Thanks ..

And correct grammar is "apparatchiki" for the plural. At least if you want to use Russian plurals. English is rather inconsistent on that (e.g. "pierogi" is plural but often treated as if singular). --BluePlatypus 16:06, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
I've never come across pierogi, and can't find it in Wiktionary either. What does it mean, as a matter of interest? Maid Marion 16:13, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
You didn't look here at Wikipedia: Pierogi. --Angr/talk 16:16, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
They're very tasty. :) I recommend trying it out whenever you get the opportunity. The word 'pierog' just means 'pie' though ("american pie" is "amerikansky pirog"), and it has a bit of varied meaning as the article points out, from 'pie' to 'dumplings'. The generic pierogi is usually a meat pie. My favoriet is the Ukrainian specialty of cherry-filled vareniki. --BluePlatypus 16:27, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks - they look good! Maid Marion 16:31, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
They taste even better. Yum. JackofOz 02:13, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Correct English grammar would call for apparatchiks, IMO. It's the form I'd expect to see, and I certainly don't think we need more irregular plurals in English.--Prosfilaes 19:46, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
If you never tried pirogi with beet soup, try it! We did in a polish restaurant in Paris and had that again for dessert for the love of it! --DLL 20:31, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
If I ever heard anyone say "pirog", I would think they were talking about a pirogue. User:Zoe|(talk) 03:06, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

I would agree with Prosfilaes in general, but it isn't always that cut and dry. I've encountered "apparatchiki" a lot in my literary travels, and I'd say it's just as accepted as "apparatchiks". As Blue Platypus says, many people don't know that "pirogi" is already plural, so when they talk about "pirogis", they're not aware they're re-pluralising. Same with the plural words "pirozhki", "bliny" and "zakuski" (the singulars for which are "pirozhok", "blin" and "zakusok", although the singular forms are little used). My head says that English words should have English plurals, no exceptions (but there are immediate problems there - "man" becomes "mans"). My heart says that would rob of us the invaluable cross-cultural richness for which English is renowned. All the same, that in itself is no argument for introducing new foreign plurals. JackofOz 02:13, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

No, the English plural of man is men. 'English plural' does not always mean 'add an s'. While I'm here, I do hope that the plural of ignoramus is ignorami. Mark1 02:22, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
One of my favorite quotes (borrowed from our article on loanwords: The tendency of the English language to borrow extensively is summed up by James D. Nicoll: "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."  :) — Catherine\talk 20:57, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Duo, trio[edit]

  • Is the word 'duo' singular or plural? Similarly, is it correct to say "The trio is" or is it "the trio are"?
    • Singular both. "The trio is..." in the same "the team is..." or "the group is..." Marskell 15:31, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

It can depend on the context.

  • "A trio is a group of three (whatevers)" - there, trio is singular.
  • "The trio were practising before the concert" - there, it refers to each member of the trio individually practising, and is effectively a shorthand way of saying "The members of the trio were practising before the concert". In that sense, trio is plural. JackofOz 19:55, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

I believe the treatment of such words differs between American English and other, umm, British-y versions, such as Australian English. American English would treat both contexts as singular. LarryMac 20:21, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

OK. How about actions that can only be done by individuals, such as sleeping. Would you say "The pair is sleeping" or "The pair are sleeping"? JackofOz 02:22, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Duo was ... dual. There is an intermediate grammatical number between sigular an plural in some languages, as was in ancient greek. Some words, even in english, may bear a memory of that.
The first WPian to give an example deserves something (both he and me). --DLL 20:27, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm game. In old Russian, there were three grammatical numbers - singular, dual and plural. The dual and plural have largely been merged nowadays, but there's still a remnant with the counting numbers. If you say "one banana", "three bananas" and "seven bananas" in Russian, the case of the word for banana will be respectively nominative singular, genitive singular, and genitive plural. JackofOz 01:46, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
In context, you may intuitively use it incorrectly as plural, but both duo and trio are singular. "The trio was practising..." is the correct form. If you want to say "members of," say "members of..." Marskell 22:24, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
I have a feeling this is another case of British English going with plural verbs and American English going with singular verbs after certain nouns, see British and American English differences#Singular and plural for nouns. Angr/talk 22:32, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
And the police are ... (whatever they are :) ). Same with 'BBC', I believe. In EE, that is. DirkvdM 08:52, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Even Americans say "the police are...". It still feels weird to me in German to say "Die Polizei ist..." in the singular. Angr/talk 08:58, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
But police doesn't take a plural s (no "polices") and duo and trio quite clearly can. OE had a dual incidentally. Marskell 11:35, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
I still think it comes down to a context/perceptual thing. If you're talking about a trio as a single entity, then it's single. If you see them as 3 separate individuals, they are plural. I expect we'll never agree because, as you correctly point out, usage differs between countries. Churchill (or was it Shaw) was correct about the USA and Britain being two countries separated by a common language. BTW, I'd say that in many ways Australian English is a lot closer these days to American English than it is to British English. JackofOz 11:56, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Twas actually Angr pointed out the Brit and American difference and in looking at the page it seems this is perhaps the truest answer. As a Canadian speaking for American English, I would broadly suggest that if a noun referring to a group can take an 's' plural, agreements will follow normal patterns ("team is," "teams are" and thus "duo is," "duos are"). Note what Wiki says (Duo is actually a page): "a duo is a group of two persons or objects." Oh shit, someone should look at old Batman re-runs and see how they refer to the Dynamic Duo... Marskell 14:43, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Any word like 'trio', 'brigade', 'herd', etc. is defined as a singular COLLECTIVE noun, i.e. a singular term for a collection of people, objects, animals, etc., therefore requiring a singular verb to follow. The confusion arises with a word like 'trio' when it becomes synonymous in the speaker's/writer's mind with, for example, 'the three(of them)'. 'Trio' is in grammatical terms a singular collective noun, but any numeral greater than one indicates plurality and therefore requires a plural verb to follow, hence the confusion. I certainly make this kind of error in casual speech, as I suspect, do most British English speakers. I don't think the error is at all dependent on whether one is a speaker of a particular regional variety of English - Australian, Canadian, Indian, or whatever - unless one is extremely careful in one's speech (with a consequent tendency to sound pedantic or pompous). I think it's just a case of 'English as she is spoke'. 23:36, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

Agreement with brackets[edit]

The last question got me thinking about something I've wondered about previously. Where a second subject that is plural appears in a bracket after a first subject that is singular, which should the predicate agree with? Ex:

  • "Mary (along with her two sisters) is a formidable language student" or
  • "Mary (along with her two sisters) are formidable lanuage students"

I'd assume the former here but it's never been precisely clear to me. Marskell 15:41, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure what the formal rule is, but the singular verb sounds correct. The construction with 'along' seems to mark this out as a parenthesis (whether it is punctuated with brackets or commas), and the main sentence is 'Mary ... is ...'. The plural verb grates on the ear, and is surely wrong. And yet, if you were to say 'Mary (and her two sisters) ...' your audience would certainly be expecting a plural verb, even though the punctuation might well indicate a parenthesis. Maybe some thoroughgoing grammarian out there can formulate a rule that covers these various situations. Maid Marion 16:08, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure there's a right or wrong here. Personally I think it's a rather bad use of parenthesis to begin with which is causing the problem. The thing within the parenthesis needs to be a truly expendable part of the sentence. If it (as in this case) changes the subject from singular to plural, then that doesn't make the cut in my opinion. It would be better off with double commas. "Mary, along with her two sisters, are formidable language students". --BluePlatypus 16:17, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Ack. I'd want singular agreement even there: "Mary, along with her two sisters, is a formidable language student." Or better yet, rearrange: "Mary is a formidable language student, and so are her two sisters." (Which reminds me of a line from Maurice: "Dr. Barry is a very good man, and so is Mrs. Barry!") Angr/talk 16:23, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I'd want a singular with double commas too. And yes, it is an unneeded use of parenthesis which should be re-arranged. But there is also nothing incorrect about the formulation. So pass it around and tell everyone Marskell thought of it first. He (along with other contributors on this page) is an excellent Wikipedian. Marskell 16:29, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
If sensible, moderately-well-educated people aren't sure whether it's right, then there is something wrong with it- it's bad writing. 'Mary and her two sisters are good students.' Mark1 11:09, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

The phrase in parentheses (brackets) is adding something to the main statement, but because of this is technically not part of the structure of the sentence it is 'outside of' the main statement. Test it this way - Version 1: 'Mary and her sisters ARE formidable language studentS.' Version 2: 'Mary is a formidable language student --- and so are her sisters!'

This would pattern in exactly the same way in both German and French. Here's the German:

Version 2:'Maria ist eine ausserordentliche Sprachstudentin - ihre Schwestern auch!' Version 1:'Maria und ihre Schwestern SIND ausserordentliche Sprachstudentinnen.' 23:52, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

British-y languages[edit]

How different is Scots from Welsh, and what's a good describing word for how Scots Gaelic sounds, esp. to someone who speaks a romance language or Welsh? 20:13, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

Check out

User:AlMac|(talk) 21:17, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

I already looked the stuff up. My problem is that I cannot pronounce it and therefore do not know how to describe the sound of Scots Gaelic, esp. as heard by a Welsh-speaker, because I only speak English. The bit about Romance languages is because I don't speak one of those either. What I want to know is, how does Scots Gaelic sound to someone whospeaks French or Welsh, because noone speaks Latin or the original versions of Scots Gaelic or Welsh anymore. 01:19, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Describing a sound in words in a way that gives the reader an unambiguous perception of how a listener would hear it, is as impossible as describing the Mona Lisa to someone who's never seen it and expecting them to have an unambiguous picture in their head of what it looks like, or describing the taste of passionfruit to someone who's never tasted one. In other words, it can't be done. There's no substitute for sensory experience. Books that teach languages are great because they provide all sorts of information about vocab, grammar, syntax etc - but when it comes to the way the language is actually spoken, that can only be truly understood orally and aurally. JackofOz 01:37, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
As a Englishman who doesnt speak either language, I would say the basic sound of Scots Gaelic is the same as the sound of English as spoken by a Highlander (which is I suppose not surprising). And totally different from the sound of Welsh. You can listen to some Scots Gaelic here. (Click on "Èist a-rithist" on the right-hand side). Jameswilson 02:28, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
As a Welshman who speaks Welsh but no Gaelic, I have to say that Gaelic sounds nice but is totally incomprehensible. According to my copy of iTunes, I currently have 109 Runrig tracks on my iPod, and a quick scan shows 33 of them are in Gaelic. While, looking at written Gaelic, or indeed Irish, I can sometimes see connections with Welsh, Gaelic/Irish orthography is non-intuitive to a Welsh-speaker - an example from Runrig's repertoire is An Ubhal As Airde which if I recall means "the highest apple", which in Welsh would be "yr afal uchaf" - you have to recall that "bh" is pronounced as "v" in Gaelic, as is "f" in Welsh, so you get similar words for "apple". When I travel to Ireland, I see signs on the railway platforms headed "Rhabadh", which clearly match the Welsh "Rhybudd" ("Warning"), but I don't know how they pronounce it! -- Arwel (talk) 02:55, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
It's rabhadh, and although the pronunciation varies from dialect to dialect, /ˈrauə/ will be understood everywhere. Angr/talk 06:51, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
In my (decidedly non-Gaelic-speaking) Scottish family, "mahorsht mahorsht" represents any Gaelic phrase. But an amusing proportion of real-life Gaelic is borrowed from English, so news reports tend to go "marhorsht mahorsht ma-helicopter mahorsht". Mark1 14:46, 1 February 2006 (UTC)