Wikipedia:Reference desk archive/Language/March 2006

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March 1[edit]

Coupled cluster theory[edit]

I wonder...Is there an international dictionary of technical terms in existence? I would like to translate coupled cluster theory into as many languages as possible... --HappyCamper 15:49, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Mostly I've heard "coupled cluster" or "coupled cluster theory" in English, regardless of the language being spoken. (German, Dutch, Scandinavian languages). I think it gets translated in French (they like to translate everything). In Russian they tend to use the Russian word for "coupled" and English for "cluster". --BluePlatypus 16:42, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Actually it seems like the French also use "coupled cluster". And the Russian is "связанных кластеров". --BluePlatypus 15:16, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Different languages will adapt new terms from other languages differently. It just depends on what falls into common use. Unless a different term does come into common use trying to translate it by using the conventions of every given language is likely to be more useless than just using the English (or other original language) word. What you would probably be better off doing is creating a definition of what the term is in the target languages like "coupled cluster theory" es la teoría... - Taxman Talk 22:09, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Two Sets Of Adjacent Brackets[edit]

I have a sentence "...affinity of the polydactyl ZFP can be adversely affected by a short linker by forcing the helical periodicity of the zinc fingers out of register with the helical periodicity of the DNA subsites (the exact periodicity of which is sequence-dependent) ([bt]; [bu])."

The ([bt]; [bu]) represent my references. Is it correct to merge to the two sets of brackets? --Username132 20:46, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

The question is ambiguous. The word "brackets" is used by some (especially in North America) to mean specifically the square brackets "[...]", but it's also used (especially in Britain) to include any of the pairs "(...)", "[...]", "{...}", "<...>", etc., otherwise respectively called parentheses or round brackets, brackets or square brackets, braces or curly brackets, and angle brackets.
If you're talking about the ") (" sequence after the words "sequence-dependent", then the answer is no; the two sets of parentheses are serving different purposes. If you're talking about any of the marks within the "([bt]; [bu])" construction, then you should be guided by the house style of whatever publication or institution you're writing this for. Or if this is for a course or something and there is no applicable house style, just copy some style that you find in the references you've consulted.
--Anonymous, 21:35 UTC, March 1, 2006.
Sorry, I wasn't very careful there. It was the ) ( issue I wanted help with. Thanks. :) --Username132 23:28, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
It's a bit of a style question. My feeling is that you should only merge the brackets if the two references are saying the same thing. If you're referring to two seperate facts from two sources, then you should put them individually. --BluePlatypus 03:46, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

You say ([bt]; [bu]) are references; could you use a superscript number instead? For example, ". . . DNA subsites (the exact periodicity of which is sequence-dependent)."1Wayward Talk 04:31, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Please reread the original poster's clarification. They were talking about the two sets of parentheses, not the two references. --Anonymous, 07:00 UTC, March 2.
I realize that. While not directly answering the question, my suggestion alleviates the multiple-bracket problem. —Wayward Talk 11:23, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Oh, sorry, of course it does. I was thinking more of the previous response, which referred to the two references. --Anon, 00:44 UTC, March 3.

March 2[edit]

Meaning of a Phrase[edit]

What does the following phrase mean "i did love the man this side idolatry as any", specifically what does "this side idolatry" mean?

This quotation was from Ben Jonson to Shakespeare in praise.

It means "this side of idolatry", meaning he didn't love him as much as someone who would worship him, but close to it. User:Zoe|(talk) 02:51, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

hebrew word meaining[edit]

what the literal translation of word "sharon"

The biblical place name is שרון Šārôn. It comes from the root ישר yāšar, meaning 'straight, even, right'. It probably refers to the flatland plain called Šārôn between Jaffa and Caesarea Palaestina. However, it could also be interpreted as referring to uprightness/righteousness. It is spoken of in Isaiah, chapter 35, as majestically fertile. In chapter 33, destruction is exemplified by Sharon becoming 'as a desert'. The Bible also speaks of the flower חבצלת ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ, probably a crocus, which is often called the Rose of Sharon. — Gareth Hughes 16:14, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Name for Words that Have Vowels In Alphabetical Order[edit]

Is there a name for words that have all the vowels in alphabetical order; an example includes "facetiously" where a, e, i, o, u (and y) appear in alphabetical order. What is the name of the word that describes this type of word?

The only other word I know of (in English) that has this characteristic is "abstemiously;" I don't know if there's a word to describe these two words. I'm sure somebody will be along shortly to prove me wrong --LarryMac 19:05, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
There's no word for such a word, that I've ever heard of. Maybe it's time we made one up. JackofOz 20:01, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Alpha-Epsillic. -LambaJan 20:19, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Incidentally, there are a handful of others in English; another is "abstentiously". --Anon, 00:45 UTC, March 3.
Take a digital dictionary and search using the wildcard character '*', thus: *a*e*i*o*u*y*. That should give you a complete listing (at least, as complete as the dictionary is). Alas, I don't know how to use wild cards anymore with modern text editors. Why have they gone? Or have they? I used to use it a lot. DirkvdM 07:49, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Finding derivations[edit]

Is there any resounce I can use to find all words that are derived from a word? For instance, I want to be able to type in or look up "Flower", and get back "Flowering," "Floral," etc. I have university access to online sites such as, but I can't find anything with this function.

Thanks in advance! — Asbestos | Talk (RFC) 18:25, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

  • This won't get you exactly what you want, but it matches your general idea: WordNet is a large database of connections between words. If you search for "flower" in WordNet, then click "S:" to get possible relations and choose "Derivationally related forms", you'll find connections to other words. The noun "flower" will get you to the adjective "flowery" and the verb "flower", which gets you to "flowering" and "blooming", etc. Oddly, it doesn't seem possible to get from "flower" to "floral", but the other way around works. rspeer / ɹəədsɹ 18:50, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
That seems pretty interesting. I'll give it a go, thanks! — Asbestos | Talk (RFC) 19:00, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
"Floral" isn't derived from "flower"; it's more the other way round, hence User:Rspeer's result above. If you search for "flower" within etymologies at the OED you'll get at least 200 results including floral, floricide, florist, florid, florin, floriform, and floriscope. --Shantavira 14:55, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Jordanhill railway station in IPA[edit]

How is "Jordanhill railway station" annotated in IPA? --HappyCamper 18:30, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Believing it to be /ˈʤɔɹ.dənˌhɪɫ ˈreɪɫ.wɛː ˈsteʃ.ən/, I've added that to the article. — Gareth Hughes 18:51, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Station doesnt look right? Jameswilson 00:34, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Actually, I think that should be /ˈstɛː.ʃən/. — Gareth Hughes 00:41, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm from Florida and I say [ˈsteɪʃən] (actually more like [ˈsteɪʃ̩̩̩n̩]). —Keenan Pepper 03:40, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
My name is Jordan and I've always transcribed it [ˈʤɔɹdn̩] (although I know I've heard it said [ˈʤɔɹʔn̩] too]. Also, railway should be [ˈɹeɪɫweɪ], depending on accent. (However, ɛ cannot be syllable final in English and in English, ɛ isn't lengthened. It's a 'tense vowel'.) Finally, I agree with Keenan Pepper on [ˈsteɪʃ̩̩̩n̩].
One more thing: heavy Scots dialect could also render it [ˈʤɔɾdn̩ˌhəɫ ˈɾeɪɫweɪ] (possibly [ˈreɪɫweɪ], but that's a bit exaggerated/broad). Oh and ən and n̩ are essentially the same thing, I suppose. JordeeBec 20:07, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

March 3[edit]

van der[edit]

What does "van der" (as in names) means? What is the proper way to capitialize it? is it part of last name, first name, etc? --Leinart 03:45, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

"van der" is Dutch for "from/of the". I believe the convention is to leave both uncapitalized, and that the words are part of the last name. — TheKMantalk 03:54, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

In English-speaking countries, Johannes van der Waals would appear under V in an alphabetical list as, eg. "van der Waals, Johannes". But in the Netherlands, I believe he would appear under W as "Waals, Johannes van der". I think this means his surname varies depending on which country we're talking about. The non-capitalisation rule seems to apply to him. The only time "van" is capitalised is at the start of a sentence. But is there a different rule when it's just "van"? Our article on Vincent van Gogh says: "When the surname is written without the first name, the "v" is capitalized: Van Gogh". [Example, compare "the works of Van Gogh" with "the works of Vincent van Gogh".] I’m not sure where that rule came from, or that I agree with it. JackofOz 05:06, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

My name is Dirk van der Made, so I should know. :) Indeed, 'van' and 'van de' (without the final 'r') mean something like 'from' or 'of the'. 'Van der' is probably a variation of this in old Dutch. My father was born in the village Made, so he was probably the first in his line to leave the place. (By the way, Harry van der Made (first link) was my father.) It is a bit like 'de' and 'de la' in Spanish names, as in Paco de Lucia. Except that 'van der' is part of the last name. If you leave out 'Paco' you should also leave out 'de', so his last name is 'Lucia'. My last name is 'van der Made'. Notice the 'v' is not capitalised (when not at the beginning of the sentence). My name should be filed under 'M'. For this reason, the name is sometimes filed as 'Made, van der'. The full name is then either written as 'Made, van der, Dirk' or 'Made, Dirk, van der'. Very confusing. I've done a fair bit of travelling and before the age of webmail communication was done with poste restante. In order to prevent having to search through the letters 'm' and 'v' (and convincing the clerk of the necessity) I advised people to leave out the 'van der' when writing to me.
Jack, capitalising 'van' would be confusing when it comes to filing such names; 'van Gogh' should be filed under 'g'. DirkvdM 08:09, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
re:"Notice the 'v' is not capitalised (when not at the beginning of the sentence)." - I hate to correct you about your own name, but in Dutch the "V" should also be capitalized when a text mentions the last name without the first name, as in the Van Gogh example above. For example, from today's NRC [1]: "Opmerkelijk was de manier waarop GroenLinks-leider Halsema haar collega Van der Laan (D66) enkele keren aanviel..." David Sneek 10:42, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
That would explain the "rule" shown on the van Gogh page - it's a Dutch language rule. But there's no reason why it should be copied in English language contexts. To me, it is visually jarring to have "van Gogh" in some places and "Van Gogh" in other places, (other than at the start of a sentence). JackofOz 10:56, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
In Dutch the capitalization makes sense, because it helps to avoid confusion between the very frequent word "van" and "Van" as part of a name. In English there is no reason to do this. David Sneek
  • German 'von' and French 'de' aren't usually capitalized before names either. Or considered part of the name. --BluePlatypus 12:32, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Except de Gaulle. Rmhermen 16:28, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
The article on Charles de Gaulle says: "Although strictly speaking it is not a nobiliary particle, the "de" in de Gaulle has been written with a lower-case d for many centuries." --BluePlatypus 16:58, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Dikke van Dale (a dictionary that is generally considered the 'bible' when it comes to the Dutch language) has 2 1/2 pages on the little word 'van', but only a short entry on the use in names; "familienaam beginnend met van-". Notice 'van' is written small here. But a better argument is of course the name of the dictionary itself - officially, it's called just 'van Dale'. Check the cover. The 'van' is not capitalised. Same at the top of the title page. So that would seem conslusive. But then there is a sentence saying the name Van Dale is protected. With the 'v' capitalised. And Van Dale Lexicografie is capitalised. But it's completely capitalised, including the word 'Lexicografie'. So that's a brand name, which is free to deviate from the general rules. But then the same goes for the name on the cover (which is basically a logo). So even van Dale is not conclusive. So at least one cannot state with certainty that it should be capitalised. (I haven't won the argument but at least I haven't lost it either - am I happy now? Not sure :) ). Maybe we should ask a bunch of people wose name starts with 'van' how they write their name. But there is no Dutch ref desk, so I'm not sure where to ask then. This is irritating. I'm supposed not to know how to spell my own name? Grrrr... :) DirkvdM 09:26, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

By the way, a similar discussion has started at Talk:Vincent_van_Gogh#Capitalization. A continued discussion might make more sense there. (Then again, it would make still more sense at van (Dutch)). DirkvdM 10:01, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

Well, book covers and brand names are very interesting, but within a text the rule is simple: "Het voorvoegsel van een achternaam wordt in Nederland [okee, niet in Vlaanderen] met een hoofdletter geschreven als er geen voornaam of voorletters aan de achternaam voorafgaan." (PDF) Sorry... David Sneek 11:03, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

der is old Dutch, and not used any more except in names. Am I right? deeptrivia (talk) 04:38, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

'der' is still used in a somewhat archaic way for 'of the', as in 'commissaris der koning', which means 'commisioner of the king'. In modern Dutch this would be 'van de'. But I suppose you can't use that here, because then 'van der' would be 'of of the', which would be a bit silly. :) DirkvdM 08:41, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

English language[edit]

What is the word for a person who uses technical language when speaking to laymen instead of the less technical terms. It is not snob, show off, insecure, etc. There is a real word for this "condition" Thank you for your help. -- 04:55, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

precision, or correctness?--Prosfilaes 07:18, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Sesquipedalianism? ;-) AnonMoos 07:45, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Pedant, perhaps? --LarryMac 15:11, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
"Jargoning" is a perfectly good verb. But you'll have to be a bit more specific, do you only mean using jargon in order to intimidate, or do you mean using technical lanugage in general? Obviously not everyone using technical terms is doing it in order to show off. --BluePlatypus 15:50, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
"Jargoning" isn't a verb, it's a gerund. "To jargon" would be a verb. User:Zoe|(talk) 16:30, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
By the bye, 'jargoning' is also a noun, though presumably archaic. I've come across it in Coleridge - possibly he coined it - I think in the Ancient Mariner, where he talks of 'the birds' sweet jargoning'. Maid Marion 14:13, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
"First they came for the verbs, and I said nothing because verbing weirds language. Then they arrival for the nouns, and I speech nothing because I no verbs." - Nunh-huh 05:36, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Human? People have a strong tendency to assume their own frame of mind to be 'normal'. It is just that when this comes to the surface with the lingo they use that it becomes obvious and can be pointed out to those people. The fact that even then it can be hard for people to adjust illustrates quite nicely how locked up in our own minds we are. It's a miracle we can communicate at all. That is, assuming we do. Maybe we just all live on our own little worlds and only imagine we really interact with others. I'll stop now, before this gets too philosophical even for me. (I just realise there are other people reading this who may not have my weird mindset. :) ) DirkvdM 09:34, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure I completely understood you, so your latter assumption must be false. Unless you're just imagining that I wrote this. ;-) -LambaJan 22:46,

Flesch Reading Ease[edit]

Most websites say that the FRE gives a score of between 0 and 100, however surely since it is simply subtraction, it can be much lower than this - I got a passage that was -33. Or does one simply call sub-zero figures "0" and super-100 figures "100"?--Keycard (talk) 08:33, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

This contradiction is right out of Flesch's book where the formula was introduced, The Art of Readable Writing. He presents the computation and then says "The 'reading ease' score will put your piece of writing on a scale between 0 (practically unreadable) and 100 (easy for any literate person)", and he also provides a nomograph with a result scale calibrated from 0 to 100. But on another page he quotes a sentence from a life insurance policy and says that "The 'reading ease' score of this is minus 12".
The obvious explanation is that Flesch was trying to measure the readability of readable writing; he wasn't interested in measuring degrees of unreadability for passages that nobody could be expected to find readable. If the computed score is lower than 0, the passage is "off the scale" -- it's simply unreadable with any reasonable effort, and that's as much as you need to know. Conversely, "See Spot run" scores about 119 by the formula -- but you don't need a number to know that it's highly readable.
Useful reading ease scores are between 0 and 100.
--Anonymous, 10:55 UTC, March 3, 2006.

Thanks very much.--Keycard (talk) 13:34, 3 March 2006 (UTC)


Hi. I'm couldn't find an article explains the dictions of the letter P, for example why "psychodelic" sounds like "sychodelic". Is there such article? psychomelo(discussion) 14:10, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

The article psi (letter) is pehaps the one you need, but it doesn't answer your question. Every word beginning with the consonant cluster ps- comes from Greek. In Greek, such a consonant cluster is permitted in syllable initial positions, and has its own letter. In most languages, this cluster is not permitted in syllable initial positions, and is thus pronounced s-, and the p quiesces. This took place in Latin, and, through Latin, came to be the pronunciation of other languages. — Gareth Hughes 14:22, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Psst.. every word?! Pshaw! --BluePlatypus 15:45, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, I thought about watering that one down, but then thought it'd be interesting to see if anyone challenged it. It would be interesting to see if you could find anything more, um, lexical than those great Homeric interjections Ψστι and Ψαου! — Gareth Hughes 15:56, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Haha, did Homer seriously use those? —Keenan Pepper 17:23, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Good enough. psychomelo(discussion) 14:30, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
In some languages it is still pronounced as in German. Rmhermen 16:22, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Do you know of languages besides English (and perhaps Scots?) in which the p is not pronounced? 21:36, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Many such Spanish words are not even spelled with a p. The Spanish equivalent of pseudonym is seudónimo. —Keenan Pepper 05:07, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

von und zu[edit]

Following up on the "van der" conversation above, I have read past articles about the use of "von", "zu" and "von und zu" as prefaces of German names. I understand that "von und zu" meant that not only was someone from the place that follows, but they owned it? Are there Germans who still use "zu" in their family names? User:Zoe|(talk) 16:29, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Haven't seen "zu" alone, but I've seen "von zur". I don't think that distinction would be correct though. "von" is used for nobility, and if the family name was also a place-name, it's pretty safe to assume that it was one of their estates. But not all "von" names are place names or all "von zur" names. --BluePlatypus 16:53, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
But see Ludwig Freiherr von und zu der Tann-Rathsamhausen. User:Zoe|(talk) 18:54, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
you are right that it is at the origin. "von" was originally not reserved for nobility; as the names became hereditary, when land ownership changed, the "von X" was retained, but a "zu Y" was added. There was an overkill of "von"s in the 19th century (von Goethe etc., ie. "von" in front of names rather than toponyms), and the "von und zu X" (as opposed to "von X zu Y") was introduced to denote "actual" (lesser) nobility. Today, the "von und zu" is simply hereditary, just like the "von", with no real significance whatsoever, it's just part of the name. See de:Adel#Niederer_Adel, de:Adelsprädikat#Deutschland. dab () 21:08, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
For really fun names, you want one with a "von" a "zu" and "und" and a "genannt", like [[Hugo Philipp Karl Ludwig Johann Nepomuk von und zu Eltz genannt Faust von Stromberg]], who married [[Sophie von Boos zu Waldeck und Montfort]], or [[Agnes Schaffgotsch genannt Semperfrei von und zu Kynast und Greiffenstein]], who wed [[Oktavian Joseph Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau]]. - Nunh-huh 05:33, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Those aren't names, those are descriptions. :) And the 'genannt' bit is really weird because that means 'named'. So someone would then be called 'this and that named such and so'. Now which is it? Make up your mind. DirkvdM 08:48, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
All names start out as descriptions of some sort, but they've nonetheless wound up as names<g>. "Genannt" is best translated as "alias" or "called" here, and belongs to the name proper, just as "dit" names belong in certain French names. The monogramming of fluffy, absorbent towels must take these families years.... - Nunh-huh 12:31, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

Abacus adjective[edit]

Can anyone tell me the adjective that means 'abacus-like' please? Adambrowne666 22:12, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Well, the Latin adjective would presumably be abacalis, yielding the English abacal, but I can't say that anyone's ever used either of those words. I would just use abacus-like. —Keenan Pepper 23:01, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
abacal has been used since as early as 1854 - see this. JackofOz 23:29, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks very much, nice reference, JackofOzAdambrowne666 23:12, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

what the meaning of Ra'anan[edit]

what the litrary meaning of Ra'anan

Litrary? As in literary? Or literal?Off the top of my head, the first place I think of it is in Psalms 92 which says that (in my translation) "the righteous shall flourish as palm trees, as cedars of Lebanon they shall grow. Planted in the house of the LORD, in the court of our God they shall flourish. They shall still be fruitful in old age; they shall be ever-green and fresh [ra'anan in Hebrew]. To declare that the LORD is upright... etc..." My Hebrew English dictionary gives: "fresh, refreshed, green, flourishing, invigourated, luxuriant..." so that should answer both your questions. СПУТНИКССС Р 22:29, 3 March 2006 (UTC)


Germanic languages use words similar to hound/hund for the generic "dog". Where did English get this aberration from? User:Zoe|(talk) 23:49, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

From the Anglo-Saxon docga.
Slumgum 23:52, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Which apparently had a more specific meaning than the Old-English "hund", which it eventually forced out of use. The origins of "docga" are...mysterious. [2]. -Nunh-huh 23:58, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
I wonder if any etymologist has ever investigated whether the -cga is distantly related to the Latin canis. JackofOz 00:05, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
I would strongly doubt it -- it's one of a series of animal names (dog, hog, frog) which had a double "g" in Old English or early Middle English, and an unclear origin (only "frog" has even a partial legitimate comparative etymology). AnonMoos
This came up in December; try here. Shimgray | talk | 23:58, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, guys. User:Zoe|(talk) 02:13, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

March 4[edit]

derivation of a baseball slang term: "slide to third"[edit]

My wife uses the term: "She doesn't know me from a slide to third" meaning she has never heard of (me).

I can't figure out where the phrase came from.

Although it seems familiar.

Any background out there?

If she's from the American South, it could be original with her. Why don't you ask her? Or maybe she remembers where she got it.
The article on Etymology isn't very helpful on original expressions, but take a look there anyway. Its links and references may lead you somewhere useful (and certainly interesting). --Halcatalyst 16:07, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Plus, you could consult a slang dictionary. Try slang dictionary on Google or another search engine. --Halcatalyst 16:09, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

I think the baseball reference is interchangable. I was once talking to a pastor about the pipe organ in his church and he said "I don't know a b-flat from a petunia." lol. -LambaJan 22:58, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

Luke Vibert[edit]

How is the surname of musician Luke Vibert pronounced? Is it pronounced as it would be in French? "Vee-beh"? Or more like "vy-bert"? He's Cornish, if that helps at all. —DO'Neil 04:37, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

Brominated vegetable oil in German[edit]

What is the word for brominated vegetable oil in German? I couldn't find it in any of my Langenscheidt dictionaries. Thanks. Gilliamjf 10:23, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

I think it should be 'bromiertes Pflanzenöl'. However, the only reference I can find to it is on a mirror of an old version of the German Wikipedia. [3] A German Mountain Dew fansite doesn't mention it as an ingredient. [4] Markyour words 12:57, 4 March 2006 (UTC)


hi would it be possible for someone to translate this for me form ukranian into engliah plase? "Bliat kak zhe ti menia zaebala. Huli tebe nado? Ja ne lesbijanka. Ot'jebis ot menia. Perevodi, suka". thanks alot 16:53, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

That's some foul language. Why do you ask? --BluePlatypus 17:48, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
someone wrote it down on a piece of paper which ii found in a class of mine, is it very rude? i would still apreciate a translation please 18:01, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
Ok, well more-or-less it says "Wh--e as you and me f---d. Why must you? I'm not a lesbian. Get the f--k away from me. Translate, b--ch." --BluePlatypus 21:53, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
hmm, ok thanks a lot thats wierd. 22:33, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
Ehm, c--ld y-- als- g-ve us a tr---lation i- En--ish? DirkvdM 08:51, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Just following the Wikipedia:Profanity guidelines. :) I have no doubt you can find a dictionary of bad words for either English or Russian online if you really want to know. --BluePlatypus 09:36, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Reading those rules I'd say it's perfectly fine to use the word 'fuck' if it is part of the translation. DirkvdM 08:32, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
It's worth noting that this is Russian, not Ukrainian. And the first phrase is idiomatic, meaning roughly "you really annoyed me". The rest of BluePlatypus' translation is correct. --Ornil 21:51, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

March 5[edit]

Latin Translation[edit]

How do you say I think, therefore I am correct in Latin? — Ilyanep (Talk) 03:01, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

Cogito igitur sum verus. Four years in latin pays off. If you're a girl, replace verus with vera. If you're nothing, replace it with verum. -zappa 04:05, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
How about "Cogito ergo rectus sum"? AnonMoos 04:38, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
That's if you're male — if female you'd say "recta". Another word for correct is "verus" (feminine "vera"). Both adjectives can translate "correct" as used in "that answer is correct", and "rectus" is also "correct" in the sense of well-behaved, but my dictionary doesn't clearly cover the sense where "I am correct" means "I am speaking correctly", which I assume it what's wanted here. "Verus" can also mean "truthful", but in English "truthful" is opposed to "lying" rather than "mistaken". Still, my thinking is that "verus" ("vera") is the better choice. --Anonymous, 06:27 UTC, March 5, 2006.
Yes, I meant correct as in I am correct and winning this argument. — Ilyanep (Talk) 16:32, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Neither rectus sum nor verus sum sounds idiomatic to me. 'Cogito ergo non fallor' (or non falli possum) sounds more plausible, but it would be nice to think of a positive way of expressing the notion rather than resorting to the negative. Gareth Hughes could help us here - are you there Gareth? Maid Marion 11:02, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Recte opinor? Maid Marion 15:29, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
And how would you say "copulo ergo sum" in Ukranian (without the hyphens, please)? :) DirkvdM 08:54, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
My Ukrainian is rusty, but: Я злучаюсь, тому я існую. :)--Ornil 21:48, 7 March 2006 (UTC)


"An" is used before a vowel. Is "an unicorn" or "an unicycle" correct? it doesnt sound right-- 04:08, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

"An" is used before a vowel sound, but since "unicorn" and "unicycle" start with the /ju/ sound (IPA) it would be preceded by "a" (unless you've got a dialect of some sort that pronounces it as 'oonicorn') — Ilyanep (Talk) 04:11, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Is this the same with an university? Kilo-Lima Vous pouvez parler 14:52, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
I pronounce university as yuniversity so i use 'a' — Ilyanep (Talk) 16:33, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

Can someone expalin then why the usgae "an hotel" seems to be legal? The letter H can hardly be called a vowel.

I am guilty of using "an historic," but never "an hotel." One page I found seems to be rather laissez-faire about the whole idea [5], leaving it up to the speaker who is allowed to choose based on whether or not the first syllable is stressed; another blames the French [6], for cases (like hotel) where the H would be silent. --LarryMac 21:42, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
Why do some people drop the 'h' on homage or herb? Are they the same people who say 'Garage' instead of 'car-hold'? Or the same people who add an 'h' to the word 'aitch'?
Slumgum 21:48, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
What the hell's a 'car-hold'? I usually pronounce herb without an h, because that's the way I learned it, but just because that usually seems easier. Black Carrot 21:24, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
It's from a Simpsons reference. Wiggum thinks it's wrong to pronounce words with a French accent, such as 'garage'.
Slumgum 21:52, 8 March 2006 (UTC)


Using "man" as a general term for "human" became unpopular about thirty years ago. Assuming we don't bring the usage back, what's the best way to say things like man's inhumanity to man, man's fate, man through the ages, the environment has been spoiled by man, the place where the hand of man first set foot,etc.? (I'm looking for word substitutions, not rewrites, which are always possible and even easy, but which remain circumlocutions. --Halcatalyst 04:28, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

Typically you can use "humanity" or "mankind": at least one of those two will work in each of the examples given. There's also "humankind", if you prefer it. --Anonymous, 06:35 UTC, March 5.
Sidenote: "the first man on the Moon" leaves open the option that a woman landed before that man and thus cannot be translated as "the first human on the Moon". Lacking further knowledge, that is. DirkvdM 09:00, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Someone has recently made that very claim - see Talk:Neil Armstrong ("Not the first person on the moon"). JackofOz 09:07, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Many of those phrases leave open some variant on that idea. Man's fate in particular seems like it could be contrasted with woman's fate. Much language is untranslatable without further knowledge; "the baby is in the pen" may mean a playpen or a writing pen.--Prosfilaes 18:58, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Why would you want do ruin a beautiful phrase like "man's inhumanity to man" just to suit some insane fad? Black Carrot 19:39, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
If I were someone who would use the phrase "insane fad" to apply to something just because I disagreed with it, despite the fact that it's likely to give offense to my readers and not likely to encourage calm discussion, then, I probably wouldn't want to make that change. Otherwise I might consider communicating with my audience important and make what changes were needed for that.--Prosfilaes 02:12, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Not an insane fad, but definitely an attempt to "legislate" language. --Halcatalyst 02:37, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
If you want to be so meticulously correct, why bother using colourful language in the first place? Problem solved - there isn't one. DirkvdM 05:45, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Though I'm not sure exactly what you're implying there, I'd argue that the notion that "man's fate" is somehow more colourful than "one's fate" is largely a result of native English speakers being accustomed to the idiomatic use of the phrase. Certainly, had the phrase "one's fate" existed in place of "man's fate" from the beginning, we would give the same value to its colourfulness? When you learn another language the idiomatic phrases always seem literal and cold at first, but after you've experienced the words in context long enough for your brain to adapt the colourfulness of the words emerges, probably simply because of the weight that can be assigned to the word's meaning.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  07:00, 6 March 2006 (UTC)


Can someone write this in text (Farsi script) for me? I am assuming it reads:

Mun tu shudam tu mun shudi,mun tun shudam tu jaan shudi
Taakas na guyad baad azeen, mun deegaram tu deegari

If not, please transliterate the above into Farsi script. Thanks! deeptrivia (talk) 05:39, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

It's Amir Khusrau:

Man tu shudam, tu man shudi, man tan shudam, tu jan shudi;
Taakas nagoyad ba'ad azeen man deegaram tu deegari.


I have become you, and you me; I have become the body,
you the soul; So that none hereafter may say
that “I am someone and you someone else.

Dlayiga 07:22, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Could you write it in Farsi script, so that I have text instead of image. That's what I want. Thanks! deeptrivia (talk) 17:29, 6 March 2006 (UTC)


من تو شدم تو من شدى من تن شدم تو جان شدى
تاكس نگيد بعد ازين من ديگرم تو ديگرى

Dlayiga 05:28, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks! deeptrivia (talk) 18:45, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

English words ending with the letters -gry[edit]

I received an e-mail this morning containing a riddle asking which other English word ('other' as in 'apart from hungry and angry') ends with -gry. This mystery word is apparently quite well-known and used daily by most and yet and I am still to figure it out. Any help would ease my frustration and thus would be muchly appreciated. Thank you.

See Gry. —Wayward Talk 09:48, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

You'll find this page answers your question. -- 22:29, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Macbeth Act 5 Scene 1[edit]

What is the modern translation of Macbeth Act 5 Scene 1

Shouldn't that be "What is the modern translation of the Scottish Play, Act 5 Scene 1"? See Theatre superstitions
Shakespeare wrote in modern English. Which other language did you want it translated to? - Nunh-huh 18:43, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps s/he wants it translated from Early Modern English to, uh, contemporary English? --Chris S. 18:51, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
That wouldn't be a translation. It would be a paraphrase. If he is having problems with a specific sentence, he'd do better to ask here for an explanation of its meaning, if he wants some useful help. - Nunh-huh 03:31, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't see why it wouldn't be translating. It's taking a source text that's in one dialect and transforming it to a text in another dialect. That is the essence of translation.--Prosfilaes 05:37, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Translation is a rendering from one language into another. It's not about dialect, it's about language. - Nunh-huh 11:24, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
In the most general sense, translation is taking something from one form to another, preserving the essential properties. The 1913 Webster has "5. ... to explain or recapitulate in other words." and offers as a quote "Translating into his own clear, pure, and flowing language, what he found in books well known to the world, but too bulky or too dry for boys and girls." Just as importantly, the distinction between dialect and language isn't exactly clear cut. A translation between British English and American English, much less Early Modern English and modern English, is no less possible than a translation between Serbian and Croatian.--Prosfilaes 20:26, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, if one is motivated enough one can find a figurative definition of almost any word. Nonetheless, the fifth definition in a 1913 dictionary is pretty much irrelevant here, as is the asserted "uncertainty" of the distinction between language and dialect. People who actually do the editing required to gear a book towards an audience expecting American English or British English do not characterize their work as "translation", and the questioner clearly was not interested in such a process. - Nunh-huh 09:46, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
So words have changed enough in the last century that a 1913 dictionary is no longer useful? Then why do you wonder about someone trying to decipher a text much, much older? The way words are actually used does matter; take a press release from the University of Surrey that says "Apart from the translations into foreign languages, it also has to be translated into American English[...]". Morever, the difference is more than that between British and American English. The Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged doesn't cover any words obsolete by 1750 (so not Early Modern English and the Oxford English Dictionary covers it as subset of an extended range including Middle English. And I think the questioner was interested in Shakespeare in a language he could understand; I see not the difference between him asking it to be translated into modern English or French.--Prosfilaes 08:01, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
That a child or student may need a gloss to understand Shakespeare is unremarkable: those who would call that sort of assistance "translation" show the same sensitivity to nuances of language as would be expected of a press release, and are probably ill-equipped to provide that assistance, even armed with a 1913 dictionary. - Nunh-huh 20:43, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
And what type of sensitivity to the nuances of debate does someone show who's forced to resort to personal attacks rather than discussing the topic?--Prosfilaes 06:10, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I suppose that might be relevant if the topic were debate rather than language. - Nunh-huh 06:34, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Maybe they prefer a Texan American paraphrasing? Doctor: Go to, go to; you have known what you should not. / Doctor: Now git. Y'ain't spos'd ta know thaet. I don't have the never to paraphrase the whole thing.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  06:48, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Good job. You might not have the never, but do you have the nerve? Elf | Talk 20:04, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I ain't got nun a that neither!  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  05:39, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
I wanted to resist but can't:
  • Surfer translation: Medic: Oh, like, wow, you better getta outa here, dude, you know? Like, you already have, like, you know, wayyyy to much information, you know? Duuuude?
  • System engineeringese (might need updation): System Monitor: Abend. Protection fault.
However, user might consider downloading the Modern Shakespeare e-book] (not free, I don't think).
Elf | Talk 20:46, 6 March 2006 (UTC)


Is "updation" a word in the English language? --HappyCamper 21:37, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

No. I think 'update' or 'updating' can cover any possible occasion where 'updation' might be used.
Slumgum 22:41, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
On the other hand, it gets almost 400,000 Google hits, and it seems to be a commonly used word in various contexts. It may not have made it into dictionaries yet, but that happens only after the word becomes an accepted part of the language. JackofOz 22:48, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
I'd support it if it meant "the process of moving up the date", but not if it was another noun form of the verb "update", which is just simply rediculousness.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  00:36, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I would never use it either. I abhor most IT-speak and marketing-speak neologisms on the grounds that they are unnecessary, and almost all of the few that can be justified are ugly and embarrassing. How come the human race got by thus far without the need for this word? One could quibble all day along these lines, but that won't alter the fact that "updation" is now a word, and its users will determine its meaning(s). It would be nice if we could control the creation of words and their meanings to fit our own personal likes and dislikes, but such a luxury is not available. I use the words I like and ignore the rest. JackofOz 02:48, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Hey dude, I was just attachéing my 5-yen to the case, I have absolutely no intention of controlling the English language!  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  06:41, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Sorry if that's what came through, it wasn't what I meant. I was agreeing with you. Maybe I need an updation of my language skills :-) JackofOz 06:45, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I think I need to de-sarcasmitize my English.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  05:37, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

I tried a Google search and likewise got almost 400,000 estimated hits, but then I tried actually asking Google for the hits (you can ask for up to 100 per page and you can page through up to 1,000 in total). Even after I asked it to include "very similar" pages, there were only 992. However, I don't know if this is because the estimate was way too high, or because the 1,000-hit cutoff was applied before some sort of filtering that in this case eliminated 8 hits. I have seen this sort of effect on Google phrase searches before, but not with searches for a single word, that I can recall.

As to dictionaries,, which searches several major online dictionaries and other reference sources (including Wikipedia), does find one that defines "updation": this entry, credited to "Webster's New Millennium(TM) Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.6)", which calls the word informal.

--Anonymous, 05:22 UTC, March 6, 2006.

I think it's only used by suitly types trying to foist their emphazism on the rest of us. —Blotwell 07:35, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

March 6[edit]

L and R[edit]

This question was asked at Talk:Japanese_phonology. I'm sure it's a question that has been asked many times before and I thought I'd put up the answer for everyone to see.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  00:32, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

I noticed that Japanese doesn't have an "l" or "r". Is that why some native Japanese speakers mix l and r when they speak English? I'm not trying to offend anyone here.Cameron Nedland 00:18, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Though it's not the greatest article, check out Engrish, which explains a little bit. You basically answered your own question. In Japanese, there is no sound equivalent to the English "l" or "r" sound. Because of this—though it may sound suprising to a native English speaker—many Japanese lack the ability to reliably differenciate between the two sounds (the same applies for "v" and "b", and the many sounds symbolized by the letter "a").
The fact that many/most Japanese people don't generally think in roman letters, but instead in katakana, which is the native alphabet they use to spell most foreign words (and which, of course, lacks individual spellings for "r" and "l"), it makes it difficult for them to remember which words are spelled with "r" and which with "l", even if they are among the minority who can pronounce them.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  00:32, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Just to clarify one point, "has no 'l' or 'r'" may be misleading. Japanese does have a sound that is conventionally transcribed "r" in English. For example, you may have heard of the cities of Hiroshima and Sapporo, the Emperor Hirohito, and actor Toshiro Mifune. --Anonymous, 05:28 UTC, March 6.
Ok, and to clarify on the clarification, the Japanese sound that is conventionally transcribed as "r" in English is called an apical postalveolar flap, which is often considered an "r" even though it isn't because... well... it's a lot easier to say that than apical postalveolar flap.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  06:03, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Basically, the formation of this consonant is halfway between that of "American" R and L. Makemi 06:18, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
If them serving raw fish (sashimi) isn't enough to scare you away from a Japanese restaurant, their offer to put it "on a bed of lice" will surely do so. :-) StuRat 19:45, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Most recent[edit]

Which one of the 26 alphabets was added most recently and when?--Suraj vas

In American and British English, alphabet refers to a system of writing, a collection of letters. There is the English alphabet, which has 26 letters. --Prosfilaes 08:35, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I think perhaps the question is which of the 26 letters in the English alphabet is most recent. It's the letter J. --BluePlatypus 09:48, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
By the way, my co-workers from India use "alphabet" in the way seen in this question. --Anonymous, 23:15 UTC, March 6.
Well, you best set them straight then. Do they use the same word in India both for "an individual letter" and "the collection of all letters used in a language" ? If so, this might explain why they make this mistake in English. StuRat 19:39, 13 March 2006 (UTC)


Does anyone know what a good translation for the Dutch word 'fijnmazig' would be? Literally that would be 'fine mazed', but that sounds horrible. I want to use it in the context of public transportation with many cars (minivans) with many points to get on or off, thus forming a 'fine maze'. DirkvdM 14:24, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

  • A "fine mesh" or something "finely meshed" is what I think you're looking for. --BluePlatypus 14:41, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Googling 'finely meshed' gives several usages, including for cloth or webs, but also for a transportation grid, so that seems a good term. I almost wished it would have been a bad answer so I could have said "there's another fine mesh you've gotten me into", but now I seem to have managed to sneak that in here anyway. :) Thanks. DirkvdM 17:18, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
That "fine mesh" joke seemed a bit strained. :-) StuRat 19:35, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
lol, good use of paralipsis. —Keenan Pepper 17:44, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
The second element would be network. Dont know about the first though. Jameswilson 00:05, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Free lance taxi drivers[edit]

Is there a word for a system where people with cars tell a central organisation they are going somewhere and people without cars tell them where they want to go and the organisation then tries to match them. A bit like the designated driver thing, but with strangers and not necessarily with exactly the same point of origin or destination, effectively making the car owners free lance taxi drivers. And while I'm at it, are there good examples of where something like this is put into practise? DirkvdM 14:22, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

I do not have a name for the system, but as a rudimentary example, I offer the "ride board" that was available at my college student center. Students could post notices indicating either that they needed to get to some destination and needed a ride, or that they were going to some destination and would accept passengers. Back in my day, of course, this was all done with index cards. Perhaps today it could be done using CraigsList --LarryMac 14:34, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Posted too quickly -- looking at my local CraigsList, I see that there is indeed a "rideshare" category. --LarryMac 14:47, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
You mean like a Carpool or Carsharing? --BluePlatypus 14:36, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Carpool (aka ride sharing). That's it! I knew I knew it, but I had forgot. Actually, the term carsharing sounds more appropriate. The meanings of the two terms should be the other way around, but I suppose we're stuck with this. Thanks, guys. DirkvdM 18:19, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
The term "dynamic ridesharing" is used on the Ridesharing page of the Victoria (BC, Canada) Transport Policy Institute] for matching drivers and riders for individual trips, not just for commuting. There are several interesting examples of local implementations. --LarryMac 18:54, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
That's even more precisely what I meant. Thanks for the useful link! DirkvdM 08:41, 7 March 2006 (UTC)


In Joan Didion's book, A Book of Common Prayer, she uses the word "paregorina" at the end of the first passage in the middle of page one. I cannot find this word in either english of spanish, nor in any web site reference. What is the meaning and derivation? Steve T.

Not sure about that word, but "paregoricus" is "soothing" in Latin, from Greek "paregorein", "speak soothingly to". --BluePlatypus 19:37, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Which gave paregoric, a medicine known for its antidiarrhoeal properties. --DLL 22:35, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Grammar question re: hyphens[edit]

Would the sentence "The skin is gray-white and has areas of tan epidermis" have a hyphen between gray and white?


Yes. JackofOz 19:56, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I would say so. But "the skin is a grayish white" would be acceptable, at least to my eyes. Shimgray | talk | 19:57, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Agree, but maybe "pale gray"? After all, if you just keep adding black to white, it just becomes gray, so "gray-white" to me sounds sort of like "black-white" which doesn't make much sense. But I guess I'd have to see context. But, in the general case--e.g., "the skin is blue-green and...", yes, there's a hyphen. Elf | Talk 20:01, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

The answer is yes and the explanation is that gray-white is a compound adjective and that for purposes of clarity it's wise to use the hyphen. An example of possible confusion: "I have newspaper wrapped fish to take home." --Halcatalyst 04:21, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Is the question "a hyphen as opposed to a space" or "a hyphen as opposed to an en-dash"? If the former, then definitely yes. I would be interested in an answer to the latter question and a justification. (I'm tempted to use an en-dash, basically because "gray" doesn't qualify "white": they are equal partners.) —Blotwell 07:31, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
Are you not referring to a printing style rather than a grammar standard? --Halcatalyst 15:53, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
Am I? Why is it that distinguishing correct use of a colon from a semi-colon is grammar but distinguishing correct use of a hyphen from an en-dash is printing style? —Blotwell 01:13, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
A hyphen is definitely favored over an en dash in this case. En dashes are typically used in compound adjectives only when one or both parts of the adjective consist of multiple words. --TantalumTelluride 01:42, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
I was thinking of the usage I find mentioned in Dash#En dash:
The en dash is also used as a hyphen in compound adjectives for which neither part of the adjective modifies the other.
The context in which this is usually applied is, as it says, scientific naming, but my proposal seems like a logical extension. However, I'd accept that it's, at best, not much practised. —Blotwell 14:17, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

March 7[edit]

Courtship and "seeing each other"[edit]

When was the first time the phrase "seeing each other" as in ..."we're seeing each other" first used? Is it something that came up around the 1900s? --HappyCamper 05:48, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Etymonline says: Sense of "escort" (e.g. to see someone home) first recorded 1607 in Shakespeare. Meaning "to receive as a visitor" is attested from c.1500., so while the meaning may have narrowed to the romantic visit, my guess is that it isn't a very recent development. --BluePlatypus 15:16, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
Ah, I see. So the semantics has changed over time, but the usage has been quite prevalent already. Thanks! --HappyCamper 17:39, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
On the other hand books from the first half of the twentieth century tend to use "They are courting" or "he/she is stepping out with X" (both obsolete now) Jameswilson 23:58, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
Seems to me that the usages mentioned by BluePlatypus may be relevant to the origins of the sense that HappyCamper is asking about, but they're clearly not the same sense, so this isn't really an answer. Having said that, I don't have an answer myself. --Anonymous, 00:43 UTC, March 8, 2006.
And "walking out" was a Victorian phrase; all variants on what the modern world has as "going out". "Courting" is still in use in some areas, though often quite ironically... Shimgray | talk | 00:46, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
lol...this analysis is giving me a headache. Why do these things need to be so euphemistic? --HappyCamper 02:09, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
What would be the non-euphemistic equivalent? I'm not so sure "seeing each other" is euphemistic. That might be true where it's used in the limited sense of something sexual going on between the 2 people. In general, however, it means a lot more than just sex, and may not even include sex at all. JackofOz 02:44, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
Like "going steady", which was apparently popular for awhile. Black Carrot 21:18, 8 March 2006 (UTC)


What was the origin of the phrase "Albatros around my neck"?

By coincidence, I referred in a posting just yesterday to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. You should read it. Maid Marion 15:29, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
In fact, we have an article on it. —Keenan Pepper 17:40, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

"You're the wind beneath my wings, Peg."

"And you're the albatross around my neck, Al."

- Married With Children

StuRat 19:58, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

I'll throw in the link to the original document at Wikisource: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It's really not that long, and a good read, if a little odd. I love classic lit...*sigh* --Cromwellt|Talk 02:47, 14 March 2006 (UTC)



Originally posted by user User: at newcomers help page, and moved by me to here. Chachu207 18:18, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

There's a spelling mistake, it should be "van het", and the exact sentence is translated on this page as:
In commemoration of the unified adherence to the strike order, September 17, 1944.
I only wish I had found the page before I had finished with my own (sloppy) translation.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  05:34, 8 March 2006 (UTC)


I've got a question that, surprisingly, I can't find a clear answer to anywhere. Are the words 'butt' and 'buttocks' related etymologically? Black Carrot 23:56, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Very likely. They both seem related to the Old English word buttuc, meaning "end" or "piece of land", from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to strike". —Keenan Pepper 01:36, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
So Land's End would then be Britains butt in two senses? DirkvdM 08:22, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
That made me crack up. :-) StuRat 19:23, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
The OED says that butt is the diminutive form of buttock, and gives the first recording of buttock as in the thirteen century, the first recording of butt as in the fifteenth century. Perhaps more to the point, the words are of "obscure origin", likely to be Old Norse. The trail starts with Danish and Low German but -> Dutch bot (meaning short, thickset, stumpy). It also gives an etymology related to stumps/logs of wood. Seqsea (talk) 00:43, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
And the Dutch word 'bot' now means 'blunt'. Or a fish one doesn't want to catch (Dutch in-joke). DirkvdM 08:24, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Land's End in one sense only, as the UK equivalent is bottom or botty and Chambers Concise gives butt the meaning here as U.S. coll. along with eight other meanings, including fag-end which I hesitate to translate into USian. See also the Butt of Lewis, complete with photograph. ..dave souza, talk 11:58, 10 March 2006 (UTC), modified 12:02, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

March 8[edit]

commenting and commentating[edit]

a commentator can both comment and commentate on a topic (doing the latter when the subject is a sport, or generally when his commentary is of the running sort). I can't *oper my computer, I have to operate it); I can't *or on a subject, I have to orate—but I can but I can both comment and commentate on the peculiarities of English vocabulary. Is this borrowing of both the Latin agentive form commentator and the Latin verb stem comment- unique? —Charles P._(Mirv) 04:56, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

There is something similar in the verb 'to orient' or 'orientate' oneself, with 'disoriented' and 'disorientated' both in common use. Maid Marion 12:19, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
Some of this might have something to do with Latin iterative verbs as well -- to form an iterative or frequentative verb in Latin, you add verb endings onto the stem of the passive perfect participle. AnonMoos 13:29, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
There is also the common use of both 'preventive' and 'preventative'. In this case the latter word always seems plain wrong to me, but it is so commonly used that others must think differently. And I've just noticed the use of 'frequentative' by AnonMoos - 'frequentive' wouldn't be right, though the verb 'to frequent' is frequently used, whereas we would never say 'frequentate'. I can't see an underlying pattern here. Maid Marion 13:37, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
How about the absence or presence of a final t in the verb stem as an underlying pattern? ← wild, uninformed guess

It depends on whether the English word was derived from a present tense Latin verb form or a perfect passive participle. The perfect passive participle ends in -atus, -ata, or -atum in the nominative case. Brian G. Crawford 20:40, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

March 9[edit]

German translation please[edit]

Sorry to ask this, but could someone please translate the following German: "Das lied heißst tätsachlisch 'porompompom' und ist IMHO ein traditional aus mittel-bzw. Südamerika. Das teil wurde von hunderten interpreten aufgenommen. Am besten du suchst mal im shop deiner walh in der folk/sudamerika-ecke." KeeganB

Why apologise? This is a lingo ref desk - if you can't ask this question here, where else? Anyway, here goes: "That song is indeed called 'porompompom' and is IMHO a traditional from Central or South America. That part was recorded by hundreds of performers. You'd best have a look in the shop of your choice in the folk/South-America corner." DirkvdM 08:30, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Replace “that part” (which would be “der Teil”) with “it”. The preceding unsigned comment was added by Wikipeditor (talk • contribs) 11:02, March 9, 2006 (UTC).
I would say 'Der teil' means 'the piece'.
Slumgum 11:02, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
"Teil" does indeed literally mean "piece", but in colloquial German (which this was blatantly written in), it can be used to substitute most nouns, usually one referenced previously. Here, I think replacing it with "it" (as suggested above) or "the song" is most appropriate, IMO. — QuantumEleven | (talk) 18:46, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
"Blatantly"? JackofOz 20:24, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Of course, my German's not perfect, but I would say 'piece' is most apt, particularly when speaking about a classical or traditional 'musical piece'... "The piece was recorded by hundreds of performers."
I don't think Teil has that meaning in German- they would use Stück. Markyour words 01:19, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Precisely. I found it a bit strange, so I stuck to a literal translation. I can only interpret it as being about a part of a song. DirkvdM 10:44, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
A quick comment from a native speaker: "Teil" basically means "thing" in informal speech, so translating it with "it" is pretty much spot-on. "Piece" (in the sense of a piece of music) would indeed be "Stück". To confuse things further, note the distinction between "Das Teil" (some thing which is not specified further) and "Der Teil" (a part of a whole) -- Ferkelparade π 11:20, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Even more colloquial is "Dings". I've only heard it be used by teenagers, actually. Igor the Lion(Roar!) 13:34, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree to the colloquialism interpretation: "Das Teil" = "That stuff/thingy" Azate 00:07, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

a short class-room speech[edit]

Please help to edit or write something on the below headings for my project. (1) i wish i could celebrate.... (2) the day i turn sweet 16 and the day i turn 21. How do the relate to valentine in terms of my nerdy valentine and a velentine date from hell. If asked to say something on 'will you be my valentine?' what should be written about? Same as 'nerdy valentine' and 'a valentine date from hell'. i try to find a website but couldn't find one. kindly help me. thank you.

Pictogram voting delete.svg Please do your own homework.
Welcome to Wikipedia. Your question appears to be a homework question. I apologize if this is a misinterpretation, but it is our aim here not to do people's homework for them, but to merely aid them in doing it themselves. Letting someone else do your homework does not help you learn nearly as much as doing it yourself. Please attempt to solve the problem or answer the question yourself first. If you need help with a specific part of your homework, feel free to tell us where you are stuck and ask for help. If you need help grasping the concept of a problem, by all means let us know. —Keenan Pepper 21:46, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
I will add just a little. This isn't a quiz; there isn't a right answer. Your teacher expects you to be creative, to write about what you know, and what you feel, not to copy someone else's idea. How do you feel about valentines? Angry, excited, embarrassed, puzzled by what all the fuss is about? Whichever one it is, you have a starting point for expressing yourself on the subject. Notinasnaid 12:10, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Might I suggest that you rewrite the lyrics to "My Funny Valentine" as "My Nerdy Valentine" ? You could include lines like "While you may not be able to lift a car, I love you the most, by far". StuRat 19:15, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Also note that if there is any possibility that these people can be identified, then you need their permission before you write about them, or they might get quite angry at you. StuRat 19:17, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

The history of the verb "used"[edit]

Hi I was wondering if any clever person out there knows what the history of the verb use/used (or more relevant to my dissertation used to)is? or where i could find such a thing out.I have traced its use back as far as the middle English period but am stumped as to how or if it was used in the old English period. If it wasn't used in Old English did thay have an equivalent? If so what was it? ANY information on this matter would be thankfully and gratefully recieved at this time. Thanks in advance Liz --Soue79 10:35, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

Because the "use"-root can also be found in romance languages (French "user" "usager" "usiner", Italian "uso", "utente", Spanish "usuario"), my guess is that it first appeared in Middle English after the Norman Conquest of England. For an Old English equivalent, you'll have to wait until a real linguist reads this page. David Sneek 11:14, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, "use" is from Latin. It replaced the Old English "brucan" as the word for "use" (compare modern Swedish "bruka"). Another OE word for "use" or "apply" is "befæstan" (compare mod. Swe. "befästa"). --BluePlatypus 12:45, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
"Brucan"! I suspected it would be something like that, thinking of Dutch "gebruik", "bruikbaar" &c. and German "Brauch". David Sneek 13:30, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
"Broken" in English, of course. Note that something can be used but not broken; if broken, it must have been used in some way, but not necessarily (maybe it was broken while being made). --Halcatalyst 03:43, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
But you're talking about used to. Not sure quite what you mean. Which example is appropriate? both?
  • I used to like skiing.
  • I am used to skiing.
The only other language I know well is French. As far as I know, they would never use the verb user in either way. --Halcatalyst 03:50, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Hi Liz here again. Thank you so much for that information very useful. I mean "used to" in the first sense ie. an action that has now passed but was once habitual. (I think it is an adjectival use in the second sense you mention.Would that be right? )I wonder if you also know whether or not "used to" is a marginal modal when forming an interrogative or negative with "do" (e.g Didn't you used to like skiing? I didn't used to like skiing )Or as the Oxford English Grammar seems to think that when being used with do it is a main verb. I am confused as this is the only source that has this opinion. My interest in this particular matter has to do with the fact that if as the Oxford English Grammar states that it is a main verb when being used with do then "used to" is the only past tense form of a verb that can follow dummy do. Or at least it's the only past tense form i can think of that can follow "do / did/ don't /does ". If anyone can think of another one that would be great i'v been racking my Brains for months. I think there is an acceptable one in American English "I don't got it" (If this is acceptable i'm not sure)

Liz, I don't know enough to follow all you say here, but one thing I think I do know is that some of your examples are incorrect. For example, I think one says 'Didn't you use to like skiing?' rather than 'used', just as you would say 'Didn't you use a dictionary', not 'used'. I'm not sure if this helps with your main questions though. Maid Marion 10:49, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Hi Maid Marion. Yes it does sound rather odd doesn't it. "I didn't used to play football" is perhaps a better example of what i'm driving at. "I used a dictionary" has an entirely different meaning ie. i utilised the dictionary.(The pronnunciation is also different compare uSed to and uZed to) I am looking at "used to" as something that occurred habitually in the past. e.g Did you used to play football No I didn't used to play football. The spelling is another matter entirely although many sources say the "d" should be omitted when forming questions and negative sentences, there are some that think the "d" should be left. I think this boils down to the phonology because of the "t" in "to" follows the final "d" in "used" it doesn't get pronnounced.A bit like when "have" is followed by "to" it becomes something like "haf to" so "used to" becomes (in this sense at least)always pronnounced use to thus also affecting the spelling. I hope that helps you understand what I mean. I'm not the best at explaing things. Thanks again for your comments.

This is where conventional grammar helps. When we use "used to" as an auxiliary verb, do we say "I used to polish my car" or "I used to polished my car"? Answer, the first one; i.e., the verb "polish" appears in the standard infinitive form and is not conjugated in the past tense; the auxiliary "used to" provides the past tense. Your example is more complex because its auxiliary verb is "did use," not just do/did and not only use/used. But the same rule applies. The verb "did" provides the past tense and the verb "use" should be in the standard infinitive form, not conjugated in the past tense. —Wayward Talk 10:16, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
Sorry Liz, I'm obviously not making myself clear. What I was trying to say is that the verb in using a dictionary and being used to skiing is exactly the same verb, and its inflections are exactly the same. The fact that it has evolved two rather different senses makes no difference to this, nor does the fact that we sometimes pronounce uSe, sometimes uZe. What I'm saying is that, in my opinion, the sentence 'I didn't used to ski' or 'Did you used to play football?' is just wrong, and the only reason anyone writes that way is because of confusion between the past tense in 'I used to ski' (negative: 'I didn't use to ski') and the adjectival use of the participle in 'I am used to skiing'. Maid Marion 13:39, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Hi Halcatalyst. I have just read what you said about the French not using the verb in either of the senses you mention. This is interesting because it is similar in Welsh. In Welsh for "i used to live in that house" you would say something like " I was living in that house....(at one time/once)". The past continuous is used instaed. Do you know what the equivalents are in French. Or does anyone have any examples from other languages? The past continuous doesn't seem to convey the same sort of meaning. Are there any foreign language learners that have had problems understanding the English verb "used to"?

Fowler (Modern English Usage) has something to say about this: As an intransitive verb, meaning "be wont to", use is now confined to the past tense. We may say "He used to live in London", but not, as we might once have done, "He uses to live in London". The proper negative form is therefore "he used not to" (or, colloquially, "he usedn't to"); but "he didn't use to" should be regarded as an archaism rather than the vulgarism, like "He didn't ought to", it is generally thought to be in England.

If I can interpret this, since "used" is used only in the past tense, the question "Did you use to play football?", while firmly established colloquially, would generally be considered ungrammatical. It would need to be something like "Used you to play football?" (yeah, right), or "Is it the case that you used to play football?", or expressed a different way, eg. "Did you ever play football?". The "correct" options for the "didn't you" type of question are even more limited: "Isn't it the case that you used to play football?", or (with a different nuance) "You used to play football, didn't you?". However, "Didn't you use to play football" wins hands down in the colloquial speech stakes. Nobody quibbles when somebody says that, it's only when we come to write these words down that they look not quite right. JackofOz 21:38, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

  1. Traditionally, as Fowler says, "Did you use to" is regarded as a bad error, and, in Britain at least, very socially marked. It is a modal verb (like can, must) so the question form is "Used you to live in London?" Same with the negative "I used not". No auxiliary (did, have, etc) ever when you conjugate modal verbs. (The same applies for "ought to" - no did/didn't).

Many European languages use the imperfect tense for this idea, but in English that died out, so we have this weird phrase. Spanish has a near-equivalent "suelo (present)/"solía (past), but it's regular and they dont say it as much anyway because they can use the imperfect to convey the same idea.

  1. As for "I am not used to driving on the right", "used to" is not a verb (the verb is "am" only) and it is interchangeable with "accustomed to". The "to" is a preposition (so followed by -ing) not part of the infinitive. Jameswilson 00:35, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Jack, the French would say je vivais en France to indicate I was living in France, j'ai vécu en France to mean I lived in France. Again, I can't think of a way to say, "I used to live in France." I believe one might rather use some phrase like "recently" or "formerly" or something like that. Il y a longtemps j'ai vécu en France. Long ago I lived in France.
  • Liz, you have yourself a very interesting question.
  • About whether it's "use to" or "used to" -- this is only about spelling, and you can make your class distinctions about that all day long. Go back a couple of hundred years and it's not an issue. --Halcatalyst 01:53, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
"je vivais" (Spanish "vivía") is what I was getting at when I mentioned the use of the imperfect. In our terms, it can do double duty "I used to live" AND "I was living". I'm 99% sure that used to be true LOL in English too. If you need to emphasise it you would, as you say, put in another word, ("antes, vivía en Londres" in Spanish, for example), ie "Before/previously, I lived in London but now I live in Scotland"). But unless you need emphasis, the choice of tense is enough to convey that. So the default translation of "I used to live" is simply "je vivais".

Jameswilson 02:19, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm sure I'm not as well-read or linguistically knowledgeable as these scholars (though hopefully someday...), but I would like to add my 2¢. You are correct, Liz, that it is an adjectival use in the second sentence, as JamesWilson pointed out. As far as American English is concerned, "I don't got it" is not acceptable. "I don't get it" meaning "I don't understand it" is accepted, as is "I haven't got it" or "I don't have it," both of which mean "It is not in my possession." There was a Clint Black song (showing my roots, but oh well) called "What I use to be," and I have always felt that was an error. It should be "What I used to be." But that is parallel to the discussion, rather than actually answering any questions. Looking closely at your example of "I didn't used to play football," I think that we (from the US) might not notice or we might consider it a sort of redneckism, like Jeff Foxworthy's "usedtacould": "Can you dance?" "No, but I usedtacould." I think if we did notice it, we would prefer one of JackofOz's alternatives. But in "Didn't you used to play football?" would be much preferred over "Didn't you use to play football?" I think I'm with Oxford on this one, that "used to" is a marginal modal which always keeps the same form regardless of its context, even if some people (like Clint Black) don't pronounce it or even spell it that way. No, I think I've got it backward. I've talked myself into a tangle, and probably fallen in the error Maid Marion mentioned. As Al Pacino said in Scent of a Woman, "If you get yourself tangled up, just tango on." So I'll tango on out of here and leave this to the experts, though I may dip my feet in the water some other time, if no one minds. :) Probably on a less complicated question, though, or one I understand better. I thought I had this one figured out (at least what I thought I knew about it, in US usage), but I see now I don't have it. Well, anyway, best of luck to you, Liz. --Cromwellt|Talk 03:43, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Hi Liz again Thanks all you guys for your really helpful input. It has helped me to figure out what the general thinking on this subject is. I would just like to ask Wayward how sure you are about the infinitive rule applying to "used to"?I mean i know it applies to every other verb but this modal just seems to be behaving differently and it always occurs in the past tense.

I also just have to say to Maid Marion you sound like you are a prescriptivist. Yes ok the examples were PERHAPS incorrectly spelt but i had to spell them that way to convey my message. The fact also remains that from the studies i have carried out and looking at the Bank of English data....the majority of people now say "didn't used to" and "did you used to". I am not so concerned with what people SHOULD say but rather what they DO say. This way language change can be documented and questions can be asked. I also think you'll find that "using a dictionary" and "being used to something" are not exactly the same and i would even put money on the fact that the two have different etymyologies. "Be/get used to something" is something different entirely.What i am using in my "incorrect" examples is the marginal modal "used to" which ALWAYS occurs in the past tense. This is why i wanted to know: If "used to" occurs in a sentence with "do" does "used to" then become a main verb. The answer to this would then explain the spelling inconsistencies. You said my examples were incorrect, I hope i have now helped you to understand how they were not incorrect and made my purpose a bit clearer to you. But thanks anyway for your input.

Just on a final note as Halcatalystand jameswilson say the social/class implications of this are clear. I just love that word "redneckism" Cromwellt, great stuff. Its also interesting what you say about "didn't used to" being preferred over "didn't use to". (maybe it is towards America we have to look for seemingly newfound acceptability of this construction). Is i didn't got to really not acceptable American? Can you not say something like "you don't got to (gotta) jump if you dont want". I mean i know it wouldn't be acceptable in written American but i was under the impression that the majority of Americans would say constructions like the above example. Is it maybe a dialectal thing a redneckism as you say, although this sounds more Brooklyn to me. But i admit this judgement is made purely from the amount of American films i have seen and not from any first hand experience. Anyway Thanks again all you guys. Very Helpful. Liz

Hi again Liz. I'm not trying to be prescriptive, I just thought you were misunderstanding something and was trying to help identify for you where you were going wrong. (And I'm not saying that I'm right, and you're wrong - it may be the other way round or we may both be wrong - but at least if I outline my understanding of the matter it may help wiser people, yourself included I'm sure, to get to the truth.) So to say again, in a slightly different way, what I was trying to say before: I don't think people say 'I didn't used to play football'. What I think they say is a collection of sounds something like 'I didn't youssto play'. The question then arises, how do we represent this in written English? Knowing the origins of the expression - namely the use of 'use' in the sense of 'be wont to' - I personally represent these sounds as 'I didn't use to play football', which means I follow in the footsteps of older authors such as Shakespeare, and I don't have any grammatical peculiarity to explain. (As the quotation from Fowler explains, this usage may be an archaism, but it is certainly not ungrammatical.) Whereas 'I didn't used to play football' appears to me to be inexplicable under any rules of grammar, and (I believe) arises purely from people's misrepresentation in writing of the sound 'youssto'. They are induced into this misrepresentation because of the common (and completely correct) use of 'used to' as an adjectival phrase in 'I am used to that'. Once the misinterpretation has taken hold, there is then a grammatical peculiarity to explain, namely how can a past tense such as 'used' consist with another past tense such as 'I didn't'? (And I think it was this grammatical anomaly that you were trying to explain with your original question, correct me if I'm wrong.) But on my interpretation, this is a problem entirely of our own manufacturing, which does not arise on a correct interpretation of the 'youssto' sound. Hope this clarifies my thinking, which is not offered prescriptively, or as the only possible view on the subject. Maid Marion 15:54, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Oh, and in support of the above remarks, I have just done what no doubt I should have done earlier, namely referred to the Chambers dictionary on my bookshelves. Under the entry 'used to' it says 'There is often uncertainty about the correct negative form of used to. The following are all acceptable - He used not to do it, He usedn't to do it, He didn't use to do it. The following are usually considered incorrect - He usen't to do it, He didn't used to do it'. Maid Marion 16:12, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps you might the following quote from Online Etymological Dictionary useful:
Verbal phrase used to "formerly did or was" (as in I used to love her) represents a construction attested from 1303, and common from c.1400, but now surviving only in p.t. form.
Further I find it interesting that the adjectives gebräuchlich (German) and gebruikelijk (Dutch), derivatives of the verbs gebrauchen and gebruiken respectively (OE brucan), have a meaning comparable to the phrase used to: "usual, customary, habitual, common". --Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 12:17, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
What's even more interesting (I think) is that the "use" vs "usual" connection you point not only exists for the Germanic ("gebrauchen" etc) but also to the unrelated Romance language word "use", e.g. Spanish "usuar" and "usualmente" --BluePlatypus 18:31, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
On how to spell it, I would prefer "did you used" to "did you use". This would at least be consistent with "did you ought". Although it's rather got lost in the mists of time, don't forget that "ought" started out as the past tense of "to owe", and there was never any question the negative/interrogative of "I ought to" being "I didnt owe"/"did you owe to", nor "did you ough" without the past-sounding -t. . I'm sure those who stopped using "I oughtn't" went straight to "I didn't ought to". So if we are arguing that a new class of verbs is in the process of being created, I would say that "used to" (like "ought to") is invariable with all the conjugating happening on the auxiliary (don't, doesn't, did, didn't) not on the word itself. We are gradually reaching a situation where "used" like "ought" are no longer past forms even though they may look like it because of the final -t and -d. After all ther's nothing to say English verbs can't end in -t or -d in the present infinitive. Jameswilson 00:38, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

wuthering heights[edit]

has anyone read wuthering heights? if so, what do you think of heathcliff? is he a villian, just a man desparately in love? MysteriousStranger 18:55, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

I confess that I rooted for Heathcliff when I read it. David Sneek 19:01, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Very complex psychology here, tied up with early 19th century English social conditions in the time of early industrialization and Romanticism. You might like to read our article on Wuthering Heights. If you're really interested, have a look at Gothic novel. --Halcatalyst 03:39, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
And if you're really, really interested, read Wuthering Heights. David Sneek 07:45, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I've read about 20 pages in the last week, but the language is too lofty and 19th century and uber-cheerful that I can't hack it really! It sounds to me like a bad translations of a foreign text. --Dangherous 23:45, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I could see "too lofty and 19th century," but "uber-cheerful"? Are you reading the same Wuthering Heights that I read? Maybe you haven't gotten far enough into it to start on the desolate saga that it becomes. But I love that lofty 19th century style (a bit like Dickens, a contemporary, I think), and I would say it is about as far from a bad translation of a foreign text as one could get. Usually after reading anything from the period, I find myself speaking in that more complex style automatically for a while. Things were different then... --Cromwellt|Talk 03:48, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
If you want lofty, hard-to-read language, try Trollope. Or De Quincey. If you want something absolutely delightful from that period, I recommend Charles Lamb. His language is a little convoluted from our perspective, perhaps because folks then weren't in the gawdawful hurry we always are. --Halcatalyst 23:18, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
His "Disquisition Upon Roast Pig" is priceless. --Halcatalyst 23:23, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Hmmmm. In looking more closely at this text, I see it's a "translation" of Lamb. For shame! I'll see if I can find the real thing online. --Halcatalyst 23:28, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
No luck. --Halcatalyst 23:40, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Japanese question- 'a Dharma'[edit]

In a Japanese novel, the narrator sees an apparition which he describes as 'resembling a Dharma'- at least that's the translation (I haven't read the original). Does Dharma in this context mean a kind of person- boddhisattva?- or is this still Dharma in the usual abstract sense? Markyour words 19:06, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

I think it means resembling Bodhidharma (or most probably his representation in form of a Daruma doll.) deeptrivia (talk) 19:16, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

Ah, thanks! Markyour words 19:26, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

March 10[edit]

english grammer site[edit]

I search too much about english gremmer site ,I want the english grammer internet site which have Numerous grammer exercise and Solution

This seems like a good one. It also offers exercises to improve spelling and vocabulary. David Sneek 21:03, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Here are a few: Guide to Grammar and Writing, Online writing lab at Purdue University, The Tongue United. —Wayward Talk 01:31, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
Another good one is It's oriented to her writing textbooks (which are very good) and sponsored by her publisher. Teachers and students use the site for class online work, but it looks like anyone can go in and use the writing exercises there by simply entering a name. --Halcatalyst 15:53, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
P.S., there is an English as a Second Language (ESL) section. --Halcatalyst 15:54, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

A city made of disease[edit]

What would be the correct term for a city made of diseases? No illnesses or maladies in particular - just disease in general? Sorry, weird question, I know. Adambrowne666 23:30, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

do you mean a city whose inhabitants are uniformly diseased? or a city inhabited solely by disease-causing microorganisms? diseases aren't entities in their own right; they're abnormal conditions of living organisms.
you might try pathopolis (from the Greek for disease and city), which has been used once or twice before. —Charles P._(Mirv) 00:39, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

Of course - pathopolis - thanks! Adambrowne666 03:49, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

March 11[edit]

Archaic French[edit]

In English, when authors want to convey a sense of old fashioned-ness, they would use streotypes like ye, thy, thou, dost, and hither, and etc. I need to write a short story in French, and are there any such old-fashoned steotypes in French?

Hilarious terms and funny grammar may be found in renaissance authors - Rabelais, Ronsard ... try the french wikiquote or googl - to help building a tasty jargon like : "Doulce amye mienne venoit et me baisoit la main. Dès matines allions ès lieux paradisiaques" (My sweet girl came and kissed my hand. Together whe went in the morning to paradise places ...) --DLL 07:23, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
And use "point" instead of "pas". --Dangherous 23:47, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Use the imperfect subjunctive instead of the conditional, and the pluperfect subjunctive instead of the past conditional. Brian G. Crawford 20:37, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Hum... it is more in the way it is written (there were a LOT of "s" and "l" that weren't pronounced that have now disappeared). For instance : "un trosne" for "un trône" (a throne) or "Qui estes-vous ?" for "Qui êtes-vous ?" (Who art thou?). In the oral language however, this cannot be rendered.
There were also a few "y" that are now written "i". Most common example is "roy" which is an old fashion way of writting "roi" (king).
Another sterotype is the systematic use of "passé simple" while we now especially use the "passé composé". For instance, we now say "Je suis né en 1965 j'ai vécu à Paris." in an old-fashion way would be : "Je naquis en 1965 et je vécus à Paris".
Another one is the use of the "imparfait du subjonctif", which is almost never used nowadays (we use "présent du subjonctif" instead : e.g. "Il m'a demandé que je fasse attention" (modern), would be : "Il me demanda que je fisse attention". The classic example : "Encore eût il fallu que je le sus !" (if only I've known) which would be said nowadays : "Il aurait encore fallu que je le sache"
Now, what I described, would be a 17-19 century style.

For an older style : a lot of verbs would finish in "oïe" or "oit", and a lot of familiar feminine names in "esse" ("une pauvresse"= a poor girl).

There are a few words of vocabulary that smell like medieval times, like "oncques" (never), "ouïr" (to listen), "parentèle" (kinship), "raillerie" (a jest, mocking), "pendard" (a rogue), "palsambleu" ("gadzooks", literally, "by the blue blood") , "olifant" (an old hunting horn), "occire" (to kill, to slay), "nef" (a ship, a vessel), "morbleu" or "mordiou" ("Ye gods!", literally "the blue death"), "ma mie" (my darling, my beloved), "ménétrier" or "ménestrel" (a fiddler), "arpent" (an acre), "céans" (here), "chaloir" (to matter), "Corbleu" (By Jove), "épousailles" (nuptials), "faquin" (a knave), "goupil" (a fox), "ne... goutte" (not a thing), "hostellerie" (hostelry), "icelle"/"iceui" (she/he), "marri" (aggrieved), "ripailles" (feast), "septentrion"/"meridien"(North/South), "spadassion" (swordsman), "tudieu" (zounds)
A few sentences :
  • "Oncques ne vit plus pareil triomphe" (never had there been such an outstanding triumph)
  • "Oïez, oïez, braves gens" (Hark, or hear ye, good peeple)
  • "Vous m'en voyez fort marri" (I am most aggrieved)
  • "Je suis le maîstre de céans" (I am the master of this house)
Hope this helps... Feel free to ask more questions --Sixsous 03:55, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Whats it called?!?!?[edit]

Hi what do you call it in english poetry where an argument between two people is presented howevever only one part is discussed. An example would be John Donne's The Flea. Thanks Kingstonjr 16:23, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

In this case you could call it sophism if you like: a closely reasoned, empty argument (but very clever in the poem [do you think any woman would be swayed by it?]). --Halcatalyst 18:30, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
Well with Donne's vast amount of money, handsomely rugged looks and dangerous way about, i think it was too early a centuray for that.Kingstonjr 18:46, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
You may want monologue. Septentrionalis 22:00, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

March 12[edit]


I understand there's a single word that describes an event in warfare where the commander of one army personally combats and kills his counterpart in the opposing army. I recall Churchill using the word in his writing on Marlborough. I also faintly recall that the word begins either with an "m" or a "v".

Could you please try and find out?

Thank you very much

Bhalchandrarao C. Patwardhan

Jousting may be the word you're looking for. Jousting takes place between knights, who by natural right (as conceived in feudal society) are the leaders. --Halcatalyst 19:10, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
Possibly monomachia [Latin] or monomachy. Rmhermen 01:40, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

See also Spolia opima. Septentrionalis 05:25, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Also "challenge", as in "5b: to call out to duel or combat": [7]. If you want it to start with "v", perhaps "vanquish the challenger" ? StuRat 18:50, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Single combat?

word meaning[edit]

KOESISIPELUOVACA seen on wall paper on inside or cottage roof in Fiji island resort.

Wiktionary translations[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 figure
2 tone
3 dress

Thanks, --Dangherous 15:36, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Make versus Take[edit]

(1) Make

  • Make a nap
  • Make a sip

(2) Take

  • Take a nap
  • Take a sip

I am a non-native speaker of English.

Can someone tell me whether (1) or (2) is correct according to the rules of standard American English as it is accepted by educated people. Also, if possible, please explain the reason behind your choice.

-- 19:10, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

"Take" is correct, and using "make" instead of "take" in such phrases is an easy way to identify a non-native speaker. StuRat 18:39, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Option 2 is correct, just because that's the way it is. (I'm American, but I believe British English is the same in these examples.) --Nelson Ricardo 19:14, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
What Nelson said, in British English. Although you could also have either. Markyour words 19:21, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
Some comedian (George Carlin maybe?) observed that when you "take a piss", you're really doing the opposite, because you're leaving something, not taking it. —Keenan Pepper 20:08, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
Lots of words have different meanings. There's no striking involved in "hitting the road", "hitting the sack" or "hitting the showers". JackofOz 01:13, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
  • If we "take a shower," then why don't we say, "hitting the shower (singular)?"

-- 03:56, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

  • I do say "I'm going to hit the shower". StuRat 18:39, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
You do say! And what did the poor shower ever do to you? DirkvdM 05:31, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
    • Because usually when we say "hitting the showers" it's more than one person who's about to shower, and usually under separate showerheads. - Nunh-huh 06:46, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
      • I suspect it's more a male thing, stemming from testosterone-induced aggression and a possible over-compensation for the fear of being seen as other than active, strong, in control, and masculine, by one's male peers who in a few moments will be standing naked quite close to you. The sensuality and pleasure of a shower are to be denied at all costs. JackofOz 07:58, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Is there something you want to tell us, Jack ? LOL. I found communal showering in school to be most unpleasant, being a cold, mildew smelling room with no place to hang a towel, so you dropped it on the floor and it got it wet with who-knows-what. I often wondered why gyms always seem to require communal nudity, as opposed to individual shower stalls and dressing rooms, but then realized they are designed by gym teachers, who are largely homosexual (of the "butch" variety). That explains it all. The toilet stalls with no doors were the last straw, I will take my defecation needs elsewhere, thank you very much. StuRat 18:31, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I think it's merely an extension of having communal urinals in men's toilets. How do teachers get to design gyms? I thought that was a job for designers and architects. (Is it possible you have a slight case of paranoia about gym teachers and their obviously evil agendas?) :-) JackofOz 22:46, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Why are incarcerated people not in cells? Why do adults have to sleep in dormitory-style jails? Why does a person who has evaded taxes have to be next to a child-molesting rapist in American prisons (I am uncertain about prisons in foreign countries)?

Moreover, if we really want to punish people, it makes sense to sequester people in small cells as opposed to making them fight with homosexuals; this is in consideration of how fatal some fights have turned out to be.

  • Also, when I went to school in Los Angeles, CA, I could never defecate because the toilet stalls had no door and I didn't want to become a laughingstock.

-- 04:11, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Never heard of toilets without doors. I wonder what the purpose would be. Some sort of bonding? (I don't want to know what sort.) Romans didn't even have stalls and shat side by side whilst having a chat, but then they had a much more relaxed attitude towards nudity (and homosexuality for that matter). DirkvdM 05:31, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Is "shat" the past tense form ? :-) StuRat 22:35, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
"Shat" has an honoured place in Australian English. JackofOz 01:39, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Is that related to the Shat-el Arab ? Perhaps it's used as an open sewer ? StuRat 20:52, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
What would it be in non-Strine English then? Shitted? Or doesn't it exist? DirkvdM 08:03, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
I held it in for 5 days when I went to a camp which had no toilet stall doors. I talked to a person who served on a submarine, and he held it in for several weeks during the voyage for the same reason. (I imagine fasting and just drinking liquids was involved.) Do we need to pass a law to keep these idiots from removing the doors from toilet stalls before someone dies from their refusal to use them ? StuRat 22:30, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
  • On that note, a point of advice: Don't ever go to rural China. ;) Dforest 10:36, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Several weeks!!! Wow, that's really taking denial of Mother Nature to new heights. Might I suggest that anybody who would risk their own life because a toilet stall door was missing might need a re-think of their priorities. Surely there comes a point when you just get over it and do what you have to do. JackofOz 01:39, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Yea, that seemed a bit extreme to me, too. However, the fact remains that some people are sufficiently embarrassed to do so. This reminds me of em-bare-assing medical procedures, like the digital rectal prostate exam. The medical community says men should just "get over it", but the fact remains that people die because they don't want to undergo that humiliation. The medical community should get the message and offer less invasive options, like the PSA blood test, to those who refuse to "visit Dr. Goldfinger". StuRat 20:52, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
At the Rainbow World Gathering I went to, there was a very relaxed attitude towards nudity, but when it came to having a shit in the woods (in an official hole in the ground, mind you), people were rather upset when I disturbed their privacy. So it's not about the nudity. Dogs are nude, but also often seem to value some privacy when they shit ("a watched dog never shits" :) ). DirkvdM 08:03, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
I suspect that's because it's difficult to defend oneself from attack while so occupied. Thus, attacking such a dog is a rather shitty thing to do. StuRat 20:52, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

My Sons name translation[edit]

I have been searching for the translation of my 10yr. old sons name (Alexander) for a long time. I am extremleley computer iliteret and would really appreciate your help. I would dearly like the Japanese writing symbols for his name. Alexander.

Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. I've lost my son and best friend. I traveled to Japan and adopted my son. He was a very ill child, but I fell in love with him. I would like to put both his American name and his Japanese equivilent on his stone as well as a tattoo across my shoulder. My son was 10 and I am 54. I miss him terribly. It has only been 4 days. Thank you for any assistance or direction you may be able to offer me. Audrey (your instructions ask that an E-mail not be included. How do I go about finding out if you've received this and if you've obtained this information? Thank you.

Well, you have to consider that Japanese characters are intended for writing Japanese, which has different sounds from English, so if you tried to write "alexander" the closest thing you could get would be "arekusandoru". A Japanese person would probably just write it in romaji (Latin letters). That said, you could write "arekusandoru" in katakana like this: アレクサンドル (I'll upload an image of those characters if you can't see them.) —Keenan Pepper 20:21, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
The Japanese article on Alexander Hamilton spells it アレクサンダー ("Arekusandah") -- Mwalcoff 03:59, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
That way's better. —Keenan Pepper 13:03, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm very sorry about your loss. I can confirm that アレクサンダー is how it is usually written in Japanese. Dforest 09:24, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Just check back for the answer, that way it's there for everyone who's interested. Sorry about your loss. -LambaJan 04:20, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

You can write Alexander using katakana as mentioned above, or you can use one of the kanji ways. Here is an extract from a book on names, you can choose one you like for Alex. Sorry for your loss. +Hexagon1 (talk) 14:38, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

What words apply to the comparison of dissimilar terms?[edit]

Hi, can someone put forward for some words that apply to the 'comparison of dissimilar terms'? Thanks 19:44, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Apples and oranges? —Keenan Pepper 20:25, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
Ironically, apples and oranges are frequently similar enough to compare, as when comparing price, nutritional into, etc. StuRat 18:12, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Chalk and cheese? JackofOz 07:48, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I never heard that one before, must be Britspeak. StuRat 18:12, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
It probably had a British origin, but it's very often heard in Australia. The common phrases encountered in our respective countries sometimes seem as different as chalk and cheese. JackofOz 22:12, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

I.m not sure what you mean. Do you want examples or the word that means "comparison of dissimilar terms. Examples: As Black as coal as White as Snow. As sour as milk and as sweet as pie. As dark as night and as light as day. As good as gold and as bad as .....etc

However if you mean the word that means "comparison of dissimilar terms".....Chalk and Cheese are opposites not synonyms but ( I can't think of the word i want) oh yes antonyms. That is a word for two things that are opposite.By dissimilar terms do you mean opposites or like the above e.g apples and oranges. By COMPARISON of dissimilar terms do you mean for example: As hard as chalk and as soft as cheese or are you finding a similarity between two dissimilar terms by comparing them. I'm guessing that you mean the first and there definately is a word for this. Perhaps someone who has studied English lit. or with knowledge of Metaphor etc.. will know. It might come to me later.Liz

I am Looking for a Phrase...[edit]

Let us assume that I am uncertain whether Jane has stolen a bag. Now to make her own up to it, if she has stolen it, I go to her and confidently say, "Why did you purloin that bag? Go and bring it back."

Is there a verb or colloquial phrase in English to describe this trick of mine.

-- 23:57, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

The closest thing I can come up with is begging the question. moink 00:52, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I think term presupposition is used in counselling, therapy, NLP etc. Check that out first. My take on it is this: if Jane gives information in response to how, when, where and why questions, or if she can lead you to the bag, then the question of whether she stole it (or at least had some involvement in it) is resolved. Since guilt has been implicitly admitted, explicit admission will often follow hard upon. (At least that's the way it works on CSI, The Bill, Miami Vice, Perry Mason, etc - and we all know those stories are true to life). The theory is that it is impossible not to make a valid response to a question (but it may be mingled up with other valid responses, and some invalid ones too). To the question "When did you stop beating your wife?", a man who has never beaten his wife will give a different response than a man who used to beat his wife but has now stopped. The only question is whether the response is detectable by the observer. A response can sometimes be limited to subtle facial clues such as eye movements that would take a trained observer to understand. JackofOz 07:46, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Link added. JackofOz 09:39, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I thought the classical response to such a question was mu. 06:48, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
I have much to learn. JackofOz 09:19, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Colloquially you could say that you "tripped her up". Liz.

The phrase you are looking for, I believe, is asking a loaded question. The classic and oft-cited example of a loaded question is: "Do you still beat your wife?" --Fuhghettaboutit 22:41, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

March 13[edit]

King Franz Joseph I[edit]

Hi, I am attempting to translate an old German passport dated April 1884. It says on the front (in German), "In the name of his Majesty Franz Joseph I, King of Austria, King of Bohemia u.s.w., and Apostalic King of Hungary." Can you tell me what u.s.w. means?

Also, in the description of the passport bearer it looks like it says: Character/Profession: (difficult to read) "Flabavryafilfa" Does this make any sense at all?

Also, description of his mouth looks like it says "yusgavlisnsit?"

Birthplace of the wife looks like: "Krizouski." Is there, or was there such a place?

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide. Bonnie

USW stands for "und so weiter" which translates to "and so on".
Slumgum 01:46, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
It's equivalent to "etc." JackofOz 01:57, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
To find a fair number of places that might correspond to "Krizouski", go to Shtetl Finder and search for "Krizouski". Some are in Poland (Krzyczki), some Hungary, some Lithuania. - Nunh-huh 04:38, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

The description of his mouth? It would be great if you could upload a scan of the passport so that we could see the original rather than your interpretation of the letters. As far as I know, both German and Hungarian were official languages of Austria-Hungary, so it's possible that what you're seeing as "Flabavryafilfa" and "yusgavlisnsit?" is actually Hungarian rather than German. Angr/talk 14:19, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Well, I may have quite a bit left towards full fluency in Magyar, but I think I can safely say that those two words (as written) don't make any more sense in Hungarian than in German or English. --BluePlatypus 18:09, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
No, I didn't think so. All I meant was, it's quite possible that when the inscriptions are deciphered correctly, they might prove to be in Hungarian rather than German. Angr/talk 19:58, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Anyway, I am quite sure, that there is no "King of Austria" on the front of the passport. There should be an "Kaiser von Österreich" (emperor of Austria). Gugganij 10:26, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
No, I think it's right. The Austro-Hungarian emperors were also simultaneously King of Austria and King of Hungary. Angr/talk 10:27, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

What does this t-shirt say?[edit]

I've been thinking of buying this t-shirt, found on CafePress, for a friend who likes seals because it has a cute picture of a seal on it:

However, the shirt seems to have a message on it below the picture in a language I don't know and I don't want to buy it without knowing what it says. Attempts to reach the seller were unproductive, and I don't even know what language it might be to look it up. Can anyone help? Thanks! Crypticfirefly 02:45, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

I hope I'm proven wrong, but my hunch is it's not a language at all but a series of artistic markings. JackofOz 03:12, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't recognize it either. The other products sold there are all in English, with "SEAL is musiclover!" moink 03:17, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I also thought they might be "artistic markings" but some of the other designs by the same person feature other language-like markings as well. One other thing: for what it is worth, it looks like the artist might live in Hong Kong. Crypticfirefly 03:55, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Could it be Arabic ? StuRat 18:05, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
It is definitely not Arabic. First thing that leaps to my mind is possibly a highly-stylized form of Japanese kana syllabary symbols.... AnonMoos 19:58, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Or Chinese? Septentrionalis 22:11, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

According to Wictionary, this is the Japanese for 'seal': 海豹 (あざらし); おっとせい. I think can see a similarity, can you? -LambaJan 04:16, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

No. Although azarashi in hiragana あざらし and katakana アザラシ are written by four letters, I don't think it looks similar. --Kusunose 03:23, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

If you look sideway, does it look like "TURC"? Turkish language? -- 11:14, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Foreign scripts are often used as a design element in East Asia with little or no regard for the meaning. Some of the writing on the other shirts on the page definitely derives from katakana, i.e. the "hOmEr mOuSEpaD" reads グヨポィズ, which would be guyopoizu — complete nonsense in Japanese. My guess is it's purely design. Dforest 13:16, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Geir Hilmar Haarde[edit]

How do you pronounce Haarde in the Icelandic foreign minister's name? I've been able to work out how Geir and Hilmar are pronounced, so that's no problem. But also, as the name isn't a patronymic, is it still wrong to refer him as "Mr Haarde"? How should he be referred in short?

Thanks. 14:17, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

I do not know Icelandic, but, from that article, I would guess that /keiːr ˈhɪːlmar ˈhauːrtɛ/ is the right pronunciation — if aa represents á. — Gareth Hughes 23:15, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure that's an Icelandic surname, originally. "Haarde" sounds Danish/Norwegian to me, "Harðe" would be Icelandic. That'd make the "aa" an "å" and thus /oː/. --BluePlatypus 14:16, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Ah, the article in the Icelandic Wikipedia calls him Geir throughout. — Gareth Hughes 23:18, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I know it's customary to use first names in Iceland, since last names are just patronyms and not proper last names at all. That said, Haarde certainly doesn't look like a canonical Icelandic patronym (since it doesn't end in -son), making me wonder if perhaps the gentleman is actually a Norwegian or Dane or something who has moved (or whose parents moved) to Iceland. Angr/talk 14:13, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
It could easily be a Norwegian (or Danish) name. In Norway, the first vowel could be pronounced like the a in hard (if read as two a's) or like the a in ball (if read as old transcription of the letter å). Impossible to say from the spelling alone. The guy has appeared in Norwegian media a couple of times, but I do not remember how they pronounced his name. From my knowledge of Icelandic (pretty sparse), the h should be pronounced like in hit, the rd like in hard but with a rolling r, and the e like in head. Jørgen 21:18, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Is it "will be open" or "will be opened"?[edit]

Hi, my friend raised this question out of the blue and we were all arguing over it. She mentioned that she saw a signage on a gate that read, "This gate will be open from 10am to 2pm". Which one is correct? Some of us felt that it should be "opened" not "open". Could someone kindly enlighten us? Thanks!


To me, "will be opened" means it keeps getting opened and closed. "Will be open" means it stays open. User:Zoe|(talk) 17:24, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
As I understand the sign, the gate will be opened at 10am. It will then be open from 10am to 2pm. The sign is correct.
Slumgum 17:39, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree. This reminds me of a sign I saw which said "No parking after 11 PM". From 11 PM until when ??? StuRat 18:00, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I say "correct either way" for the gate sign. You can view the owners' action of "opening the gate from 10 AM to 2 PM" as a single unit and put it in the passive, "will be opened". Or the sign can describe the state of the gate, "will be open". For the parking sign, you could make a claim that it means until midnight, but I very much doubt that was the intended meaning! Probably this is a place where nobody would be arriving to park at night anyway, and the endpoint of the period just isn't important. --Anonymous, 18:27 UTC, March 13, 2006.
And what about the redundant signs that say "No trespassing without permission"? Why doesn't anybody change those? (Incidentally, I remember a real-life joke I read a while back. A fast food chain put up a poster saying "Chicken Wings! Their here!" After some complaints, the sign was changed to "Chicken Wings! There here!" After even more complaints were received, the restaurant gave up and finally posted "Chicken Wings! Now here!") Igor the Lion(Roar!) 21:06, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Long and ineffective sign: "No trespassing. All violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Short, but rather effective, sign: "All trespassers will be fully violated."

StuRat 21:24, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm always bothered by signs that say tautologously "No admittance to unauthorised persons". —Blotwell 06:02, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
There is a real difference in English between 'will be open' and 'will be opened'. Certain verbs (stative verbs) take a form of the verb 'to be' and with an adjectival form of the verb (like 'it is open', with base form, or 'they were finished' and 'we are closed', with the past participle). This describes the state of the verb (being open, being finished). On the other hand, the form of the verb 'to be' with the past participle signifies the passive voice (this can be confusing if a verb has its stative meaning with the past participle too). Thus, 'it is opened' describes the act of something being opened, not the state of it being open. The difficulty lies in the opposite 'being closed' being used to describe both the state and the action of being closed. For example,
  1. The shopping centre will be opened by the mayor tomorrow — the act of opening.
  2. The restaurant will be closed by the health inspector — the act of closing.
  3. The shop will be open from eight o'clock — the state of being open.
  4. The restaurant will be closed tomorrow — the state of being closed.
Therefore, seing as the sign (not 'a signage', please!) informs about when the gate will be in a state of being open, rather than when it will be being opened (by someone), it is more correct to say 'will be open'. Of course 'No trespassing without permission' is just a nonsense: if you have permission, you are not trespassing. The 'Chicken Wings' sign simply shows the inability to see the difference between the three homophones 'their', 'there' and 'they're' (meaning 'they are'). — Gareth Hughes 22:21, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
For me, saying "the gate will be opened from 10am to 2pm" suggests that it will take 4 hours to open the gate (it must be one bloody big gate then). --Dangherous 23:43, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
  • That's how I'd interpret it too. To repeat the above in fewer words: The questioner is confusing "open" with "opened", probably because of the "will be", which gives associations to the future perfect tense of the verb ("The gate will be opened"). However, in that context (as a verb) it means that the action of opening the gate will proceed during that time. Whereas what is usually meant is "open", the adjective, a description of the state of the gate during that time. --BluePlatypus 19:46, 14 March 2006 (UTC)


Words such as Bang, Pop, Boom are so descriptive of the sound they describe it is difficult to imagine another language deviating from their use. How do other languages handle the description of specific sounds? Have other languages arrived at similar words independently from English?

Thank you.

The article Onomatopoeia may give you some background. There's a link there to a useful page for international onomatopoeia.
Slumgum 20:36, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
For an example on how differently speakers of other languages can interpret the same sound, see Oink. GeeJo (t) (c)  23:56, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Not relevant, but amazing that we have stuff like List of animal sounds. Now could you find that in the Encyclopaedia Brittanica? --Halcatalyst 05:18, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, you certainly couldn't hear them, but then that's a possibility of the Internet that hasn't been tapped here yet - or is that another article? DirkvdM 05:38, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Somebody would have to do the work ;-). --Halcatalyst 23:09, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

I just happen to know that in certain parts of spain Cockadoodledoo is kirikirah. Really interesting how culture affects language. Liz

Kikirikí or quiquiriquí, to be more precise ;) --RiseRover|talk 13:55, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
In Aristophanes, the frogs make the noise 'Kekekekex koax koax'. Maid Marion 15:25, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Rooster talk in French is something like ki-ki-ri-ku. Which to me sounds more accurate than cockadoodledo. --Halcatalyst 23:09, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Actually, cockadoodledo in Frech is "Cocoriko". Spanish (in southern Spain at least) is "Kikiriki". A language very rich with Onomatopoeia is Japanese. They have one for almost every action or event, including smiling ("Niko") or looking at something ("Jii" or "Jitto")... Besides, they do not hesitate to use them in everyday speech. For instance, they can say "He was *niko-niko* at me" instead of "He was smiling at me", or "He was *jirojiro* at me" instead of "He was staring at me"... As for the animals, well, cows go "Mo", cats go "nyaa", dogs "wan", pigs say "buu", frogs "kerokero" and roosters "kokekokkoo"... oh, a lion goes "gaoooo" ^-^' A few verbs, that have evolved from Onomatopoeia to give you an idea :

  • Jabujabu : to splash water
  • Gabugabu : to drink water very quickly
  • Katankatan : to travel on rails (sound of the train)
  • Gabagaba : to be in loose clothes (sound of the clothes)
  • Gakugaku : to be very tired (or to be very afraid) (sound of legs shaking)
  • Uunuun : to cry out of pain
  • Paripari : to eat something crunchy

It is almost never inappropriate to use these verbs (unless in a very formal context). --Sixsous 04:58, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Rote Grütze[edit]

What's the best way to translate de:Rote Grütze into English? It seems to be a classic dish of some it made of berries? --HappyCamper 23:20, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

The de:Grütze article's English version is called Grits. 'Rote' means 'red', so it's a red coloured 'grits' dish.
Slumgum 23:36, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
It doesn't seem to say which berries it's made of, but it is made of red berries (and other red fruit) anyway. --Dangherous 23:40, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Doesn't appear to be anything like grits. The de:Rote Grütze article says sour cherries were standard, now raspberries and Johannisberries are also used. Rmhermen 02:40, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Rote Grütze isn't even remotely like grits. There is no name for it in English, so if you're thinking of translating the article, just call it Rote Grütze in English. It's a dessert made from cherries, raspberries, and red currants, and served with vanilla sauce. I think it's typical of northern Germany. I'd probably quite like it if it weren't for the cherries. Angr/talk 11:56, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Would't "raspberry cherry currant compote with vanilla sauce" get the job done? - Nunh-huh 17:55, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
See Rødgrød med fløde for more information.

German wordsquashing[edit]

Is there a term (in German or English) for the act of ramming loads of words together to make one really long word, eg. Hausaufgabenheft = homework book ? Thanks, --Dangherous 23:40, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Agglutination? —Keenan Pepper 23:45, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
It's not agglutination: that refers to the property of some languages to add numerous semantic particles to words, unlike inflexion languages that may have but one semantic 'ending'. I would suggest the more prosaic word 'compounding', see compound (linguistics). — Gareth Hughes 00:59, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
You're right, my apologies. Compounding is good, or even wordsquashing (a self-referential adjective). —Keenan Pepper 04:23, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
I've heard that in Turkish whole sentences can be put into one word. Is that glutinous or compounded? DirkvdM 05:50, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Turkish is an agglutinating language. Liz

Indeed. I've never heard of a glutinous language before. Angr/talk 12:07, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Actually glutinous does not refer to gluten either. This is explained in glutinous rice. Dforest 07:47, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

When I was in 2nd grade, I asked the teacher how to write in cursive. She said you connect the letters together. So, I wrote a whole page with all the letters connected together, not just those in the same word. It got quite a laugh from the teacher, who was more precise in her answers from then on. StuRat 22:16, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

When I was in tenth grade, studying Beowulf, my teacher said that a unique feature of english is it's ability to put two nouns together into a noun unit, which was called... I don't remember. Something rediculous like 'Shepherd's words' or something like that. Now I take linguistics courses at the uni. and I never came across anything like that and I don't think this feature is unique to english. -LambaJan 03:27, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps she was referring to kennings? Things like ring giver = king. Not percisely what your example shows, though, so I could be totally off :) I do know, however, that Hebrew puts two nouns together all the time into things called noun constructs (in English): בית ספר (lit. house book) = school. —Seqsea (talk) 08:10, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

March 14[edit]

What are these songs, titled in English?[edit]

I just LOVE a lot of these songs on the site apparently from Hong Kong.

Here are the songs I love the most (the ones I love even better are bolded) :

Fiona Fung - Shining Friends

Faye Wong - Woman that Are Easily to be Hurt
The Wind Hills
40 52
2R - The 29th Day
張德蘭 - When Can We Meet Again?
t.A.T.u. - All the Things She Said
Joey Yung - My Pride
Yumiko Cheng - Dance!
Cookies - Easy to Cry
Joey Yung - Lovin' U
Kary@Cookies - Can't Hear My Heartbeat
Boys'Z - Girls
Golden Snakes Dance
Patrick Tang - Piano
Edmond Leung - Find Me
五月天 - Car
Joey Yung - The Only Thing in the World

So can anyone translate the names of these songs, please? The Chinese names will be found on the link above. Thanks. --Shultz III 06:20, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Found 102 - Slumgum 22:13, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Thank you. That's one so far. Can anyone else decipher what they know? --Shultz III 02:43, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
This is the google-translated version. If you need precise info, you could email the site's creator.
Slumgum 02:53, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Found most.

  • 10 is actually sung in English, so the song name was not a translation.
  • 25 (I guess) is a Japanese song, as it uses a Japanese song title.
  • 25, 184, I don't know who sing these.
  • 40 is really the song title, but I don't know the tune, sorry.
  • I don't know 54.
  • 78 and 251, I don't know the English names of the artist/group.
  • I couldn't find 118.
  • 142 is cantonese version of Shining Friends (you knew it, right?)
  • 184 is a Chinese New Year song.
  • 251, I don't know what that song title means, something related to car.
  • 259 is a song which is delicated to mothers

Hope you enjoy Canto-pop music.--ka hang 08:46, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Translation of this phrase into as many languages as possible.[edit]

Could various people help me translate this phrase into as many languages as possible? I don't trust Babelfish or its brethren. Every day in every way I am becoming better. Thank you!

Welsh: Pob dydd, ym mhob ffordd, rwy'n gwellháu.
(Latin) Omni die in omni modo melior fio. (Italian) Ogni giorno in ogni modo divento meglio (this is a wild guess!) (Classical Greek, sorry I can't do the diacritics) Παση ημερα παντως αμεινων γιγνομαι (paseh hemera pantohs amaynohn gignomai). (Modern Greek) Καθε μερα απο καθε αποψια καλυτερευω (kathe mera apo kathe apopsia kaluterevo).Maid Marion 15:22, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
German: Jeden Tag werde ich in jeder Hinsicht besser.da Pete (ノート) 16:29, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
French: Chaque jour, de chaque manière, je deviens meilleur et meilleur. I believe this is the original version. --Anonymous, 17:00 UTC, March 14, 2006.
Yes, it's Émile Coué's old mantra. (I wonder how many hundreds of people have fruitlessly chanted that thing on their deathbed?) --BluePlatypus 18:05, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Original french : Tous les jours et à tous points de vue, je vais de mieux en mieux. --DLL 18:24, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
This is certainly far more idiomatic. --Halcatalyst 23:03, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the correction. --Anon, 23:22 UTC, March 15.

Arabic: حياتي أحسن كل يوم و فى كل وجهة نظر I went off the more idiomatic one. Literally (ar->en): My life I'm improving every day and in every point of view. -LambaJan 03:40, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

No I think it is: كل يوم و فى كل ناحية أتحسن . You translated "in every way" as in every point of view, and "I am becoming better" as my life is getting better. CG 19:54, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Tagalog: Araw-araw ay gumagaling ako kahit papaano. Spanish: Todos los días, bajo todos los puntos de vista, voy de mejor en mejor. (I got this from a page about Émile Coué rather than translating it from English). --Chris S. 05:51, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

This would be another translation in spanish: Cada día, en todo sentido, mejoro y mejoro.--Cosmic girl 01:15, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Dutch: "Iedere dag word ik in ieder opzicht steeds beter". A more literal and possibly 'stronger' translation would be "Iedere dag, in ieder opzicht, word ik beter en beter". The German translation by da Pete above is rather like my first one, except that 'immer' for 'steeds' is left out. With that it'd be "Jeden Tag werde ich in jeder Hinsicht immer besser". The second Dutch version would in German be "Jeden Tag, in jeder Hinsicht, werde ich besser und besser". I bet the other languages have similar problems, with the order of the words and especially "je deviens meilleur et meilleur". The English "I am becoming better" doesn't quite sound right. "I grow better and better" might be better. Then again, it's not my first language. DirkvdM 08:15, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

I've always heard it in English as "Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better." Angr/talk 16:05, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Igpay Atinlay: Everyway ayday inway everyway ayway Iway amway ecomingbay etterbay. ydnjohay alktay 16:21, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian: "Svakoga dana u svakom pogledu sve više napredujem". By the way, it's rather famous over here after Emir Kusturica's "Do You Remember Dolly Bell?" movie. Duja 17:38, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Danish: "Hver dag og på hver måde, bliver jeg bedre og bedre", Norwegian: "Hver dag og på hver måde, bliver jeg bedre og bedre", Swedish: "Varje dag och på varje sätt, blir jag bättre och bättre", Icelandic: "Hvern dag, á hvern hátt, líður mér betur og betur.", Hungarian: "Minden nap és minden szempontból egyre jobban és jobban vagyok”, Russian: "Каждый день, во всех отношениях, я становлюсь лучше и лучше" --BluePlatypus 20:55, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Hebrew: כל יום בכל אורח אני יותר ויותר טוב

Traditional Chinese: 每一天我都用不同方法令自己不斷進步。 Simplified Chinese: 每一天我都用不同方法令自己不断进步。 --ka hang 06:19, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

not really correct, should be something like: 每天我在每方面都不斷進步。the above literally means:"everyday i use different methods to continuously improve myself"--K.C. Tang 07:47, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
Tamil: ovvoru naaLum ovvoru vaziyilum naan munnaeRi varukiRaen. In Tamil script: ஒவ்வொரு நாளும் ஒவ்வொரு வழியிலும் நான் முன்னேறி வருகிறேன். -- Sundar \talk \contribs 08:07, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Japanese: 毎日どの場面でも私は良くなって来ています。CCLemon 13:19, 16 March 2006 (UTC) PORTUGUESE (BRASILIAN): Todo dia, a cada momento estou ficando melhor.

Finnish: Joka päivä muutun joka tavalla paremmaksi.

Estonian: Iga päev muutun igat moodi paremaks. -Kaarel 10:14, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

How do I write this in Esperanto?[edit]

"This book contains the notes of Jimmy Noodle on the subject of ESPERANTO. March 15, 2006." also, how do I say "I am a student of the Esperanto language." (My guess is: Mi estas ??? la lingvo Esperant.)

  • (Chi-)tiu libro enhavas la notojn de Jimmy Noodle pri Esperanto.
  • Lauvorte: Mi estas studanto de Esperanto. = Mi studas Esperanton.
In writing, proper accents should be used instead of ASCII transliteration; the sentences should start "(Ĉi)-tiu..." and "Laŭvorte:...".--Prosfilaes 20:08, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

oppposite of misogyny[edit]

What is the opposite of mysogyny? If misogyny is the hatred of women, is there a word which describes a hatred of men?

misandry. - Nunh-huh 17:59, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Opposite of misogyny would be philogyny. Hatred of men would be misandry (not sure if this exists, but if it doesn't, let's coin it). Maid Marion 18:01, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Does that mean that the opposite of misandry is "philandry"? And is that where "philanderer" came from? No help from the article. I suspect I'm right. But how curious. At its most basic level, philandering is about men bedding women. But "philandry" would seem to indicate a love of men. And it doesn't say who by. Could be by women, or by men. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but how did the meaning become changed, from the aggressive sex-warrior, to this metrosexual receptacle of the desires of others? JackofOz 12:55, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Jack, Chambers dictionary says that it literally means 'lover of men' but is misapplied to mean 'loving man', and is apparently used as a proper name of a lover in Greek literature. Can't recall coming across any such character in Greek lit, but no doubt he appears in some comedy or other. Maid Marion 14:45, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, "misandry" is a word: I confirmed it before I answered. -Nunh-huh 19:08, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
We even have an article about misandry. —Keenan Pepper 03:04, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Say, might the word perchance be 'misandry'? DirkvdM 08:19, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

The opposite of hatred of women would be love of women. Men and women aren't opposites, they're complementary. And what love of women is called depends on whether you're one yourself. DirkvdM 08:19, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

This is a general problem when people speak of "opposites". In this case the original poster specified what sort of "opposite" was wanted. --Anon, 23:23 UTC, March 15, 2006.
Yes, he did, and you should be ashamed of yourself. The answer is 'feminism', or 'rabid feminism' if you want to really make a point. Misandry may be proper root-wise (or is that mixing Latin and Greek?) but I doubt anyone will understand it, and it certainly doesn't pack much of a punch. Black Carrot 03:50, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Whereas "feminism" is likely to get you punched. If you're talking with people who think that women belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, then yes, they will think that feminism and misandry are the same thing. --Prosfilaes 05:57, 16 March 2006 (UTC):::
Of course, "misandry"—while it may not be understood by some—has the benefit of actually being a correct answer to the original question. Unlike feminism. - Nunh-huh 08:36, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Gothic Alphabet[edit]

[Question moved here from the Help Desk by Kilo-Lima]

Hi, I do name extraction for a geneology web site, and I'm in need of a Gothic alphabet that was used in the scandanavian countries and also in Old England

Can anyone help me.


It's not clear what is wanted (can it be clarified? I assume somehow the author of a moved question is told where to find it): a font? an explanation? Check our gothic alphabet article; it has links to the Unicode code chart for Gothic encoding, and to other resources that may help, especially this one. - Nunh-huh 18:06, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
The lead image of Blackletter shows an English example of 1407.
I think they are looking for a blackletter typeface. They would need to specify the century, however, "Old England" is a little imprecise; maybe they are looking for Early Modern English times? dab () 18:13, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure what the question is, either. The only alphabets used in the Scandinavian countries were the Runic alphabet, and later the Latin one. Dab is probably right in that they're looking for the gothic typeface. --BluePlatypus 18:35, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
To further confound confusion, in 19th-century printing terminology, "Gothic" meant "Sans-serif"... AnonMoos 21:57, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Jack knife[edit]

What is the origin of the word "jack knife"? Was the spelling different? Thanks. Lowell

The Online Etymology Dictionary has this to say: 1711, perhaps so called because it originally was associated with sailors. As a type of dive, from 1922. The verb is attested from 1776. --Rueckk 20:27, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
And sailors are all supposed to be called Jack? DirkvdM 08:20, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
"Hello, sailor". JackofOz 09:10, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, there is the old term for sailor, "Jack-Tar."
The Oxford English Dictionary earliest cite for the verb form is from 1806. The OED hyphenates jack knife, though, "jack-knife". The OED also suggests that the knife etymology may come from Jock the Leg Knife, which became jocteleg, and then jackleg knife or jackleg-knife, and finally jack-knife. They also have some speculation from a 1776 document that suggested there was a Jacques de Liege knife, which became jackleg, but they cannot corroborate that speculation. They don't seem to have any substantive suggestion that it's a sailor term. They do seem to suggest that it's a US coinage, not British. Interesting question! Joshuazucker 00:11, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

March 15[edit]

Is it correct to write "You will be spoiled for choice" or "You will be spoilt for choice"?[edit]

If anyone can answer the above question, I will be forever grateful. —This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) 04:17, 15 March 2006.

I'm not sure, but I think spoiled is more common in American English while spoilt is more common in British English. In Alabama, we would definitely say spoiled. --TantalumTelluride 04:41, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Both are correct; "spoilt for choice" is about 5 times more common on the Internet than "spoiled for choice", and the phrase should in any case probably be used sparingly, as it's idiomatic and the meaning may not be immediately clear to those who don't already know it. The preponderance of "spoilt" is probably because the idiom is peculiar to British English. - Nunh-huh 04:44, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
What does it mean? Is it like having an embarasse de richesses? Angr/talk 06:13, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, exactly. - Nunh-huh 07:09, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
THe idiomatic use of the verb spoil is that seen in the usage to spoil a child, meaning that it is bad for a child to receive to much of a good thing. However, spoilt for choice is only slightly negative in meaning, much like embarasse de richesses. British English does use variant spellings in -t and -ed for many past tense/participles, where American English only uses the more regular -ed form. In British English, they are virtually interchangable in those verbs that take both (e.g. burn, spell, smell). However, there is a distinct preference for one or other based on the word's grammatical use, and, oddly enough, the apparant duration of the action (the -ed form suggesting duration). — Gareth Hughes 11:56, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Are you sure about them being interchangeable Gareth? When using the past tense my impression is that we always (in Britain) use the form in -ed, never the form in -t. Whereas when using the participle there seems to be more variety of usage, and both forms occur. Personally, I use the -t form as the participle, and the -ed form as past tense, because it seems a useful distinction. (And while I'm on this page, are we spelling the French term correctly? I don't have a dictionary handy, but isn't the spelling 'embarras'?) Maid Marion 15:39, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Would that grammar was that simple! I'm afraid King Alfred burnt the cakes is more natural in British English than King Alfred burned the cakes — the latter suggesting to me that he spent some effort burning them. I do think that the -t form is used more often for the past participle, but that need not be so: After Mary had spelled all the words correctly, she moved on to the next page (perhaps because duration is a factor again). — Gareth Hughes 17:50, 16 March 2006 (UTC)


Is there an English sentence which is NOT an idiom but which cannot be translated into another language? Ohanian 07:54, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Any sentence, even idioms, can be translated literally into any other language, although some languages might not have certainly technical terms that exist in English (I rather doubt that Sentinelese has a word for "high-speed modem"), and so either a loanword, a loan translation (calque), or some other work-around might be necessary for those. Idioms lose their metaphorical meaning when translated literally, and puns lose their humor when translated literally, but otherwise, no, any sentence in any language can be translated into any other. Angr/talk 08:10, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
I have serious doubts about puns being translatable. It's not just that puns "lose their humour when translated literally". Puns cease to even be puns when divorced from their humor. The meaning of a communication is in the response it gets from the recipient. If the essential meaning isn't being communicated, can you be said to have truly translated the sentence? When considering the translation of puns, I believe it is essential to make the words the slave and the humour the master. Some would argue that this is not awhich is a translation at all, more like a paraphrase. So be it. It's a very moot point. But either way, I think you've lost too much to call it a translation. JackofOz 09:04, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Everything can be translated and nothing can be translated. You can't translate anything if you by translation mean conveying exactly the same meaning and connotations as the original. But that's a fundamentally flawed idea because no language is unambiguous to begin with. Different people make different associations when reading the same thing, even if it's a simple text. Not to mention things like dialects and regional variations. Naturally there are more and less ambiguous words and there are better and worse translations. But it's a pretty impossible question unless you can come up with a precise definition of what "translatable" means. --BluePlatypus 16:28, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Similarly to puns, any form of sentence that talks about the sound or spelling or physical appearance of the words in it will be problematic to translate. You could end up with something like "The first letter of the word was missing due to a misprint, so I couldn't tell whether it was supposed to be THOSE, TWO, FIRES, or EYES", which seems to make no sense at all. Typically what is actually done in such a case is to include explicit wording, either in a footnote or within the sentence, pointing out that the truncated word was in French and would be CEUX, DEUX, FEUX, or YEUX. But the result is no longer a literal translation.
Similar issues arise when translating poetry (what do you do if the original rhymed "eyes" with "fires") or works like La Disparition, a novel in French written without the letter E (by the way, the English version is titled A Void). Those who find this sort of thing an interesting subject should certainly take a look at Le Ton beau de Marot, a thick book by Douglas R. Hofstadter which in one sense is on the topic of how best to translate into English a single short poem in medieval French, but goes into much more than that.
--Anonyme, 23:18 UTC, 15 mars 2006. Mars, that's a planet, right?
Or a chocolate manufacturer? JackofOz 23:53, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Narrating difficulties pls. help[edit]

In narrating a story, are you allowed to not be a character in a story? just to make a story about a character I created to do stuff in my imaginary created worl, but Im not part of the story not a character or anyone. So can I not be a character at my story??

This is my problem I need some advice on how to narrate a good story. please reply soon.

It's allowed. In your imaginary world you are absolutely free. David Sneek 11:02, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
OK. If it isn't about you, it must be about other people. Them, over there. That's who the story is about. But how does that have any risk of involving you as a character? You're the writer, you get to decide what happens. You don't need permission. Check out Third Person. JackofOz 12:41, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Doesn't that involve the narrator in the story, at least indirectly? That seems to be the very thing the questioner does not want to do. JackofOz 23:49, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

A narrator can be a character in the story, but doesn't need to be. In the TV sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, for example, Malcolm frequently stops mid-scene to talk with the audience. However, other narrators aren't in the story at all. StuRat 00:29, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Ron Howard narrates Arrested Development, but he is not a character on the show. --Nelson Ricardo 01:36, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Good example. StuRat 21:31, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Back to the question from JackofOz, there's a type of first-person narrator I recall from fictions of the middle of the last century -- sorry I can't recall any titles, that wasn't one of my big interests then [nor is it now] -- where the narrator is a "fly on the wall": there's the first person perspective, but the narrator is not involved in the plot, only a spectator. The narrator has no stake in what is going on and does not pass judgment on the plot or characters. Thus, this type of narrator is the opposite of the more classic third-person omniscient narrator.

You might ask, why would this be interesting? And you would have to answer that question for yourself. The fictions were regarded as experimental at the time, and I don't suppose they've caught on. But the author got something out of writing them, and at least a few readers have taken them seriously. --Halcatalyst 04:08, 20 March 2006 (UTC)................................ There is not reason why you could not write a story in 3rd person narrative and then ad yourself as a character without a POV.It would be like the cheeky appearances of Hitchcock in his films and Stan Lee in Marvel comic film adaptations.I'm now inspired to write a short story just to put myself in as a character.Of course in "literature" many authers do appear as themselves thinly disguised and now I come to think of it Anthony Trollope writes of a writer out hunting which is patently himself.Can't remember which novel right now. hotclaws**==

What does NNNN stand for?[edit]

In the olden days, we can see NNNN at the of a telex document. Some people are still using it at the end of press releases. What does NNNN stand for? Why is it appended to the end of a document? --Chan Tai Man 11:20, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

It's the "End of Message" code for telex. I don't think it stands for anything in particular. I have no idea why they chose "NNNN", but there's probably some story behind it out there. Anyone? --BluePlatypus 16:38, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
This makes me think of a template or placeholder for any numeric end of message code. As the use of that code may have disappeared, only the format (meaning any number from 0 to 9999) subsided. Anyone else ? --DLL 19:42, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
See "The NNNN... is a familiar one hole consecutive sequence which can be quickly identified as end of message by operators" at AFTN and it is also mentioned in Specific Area Message Encoding#Full Message Breakdown. hydnjo talk 00:10, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. The ideas of using "one hole consecutive sequence" for EOM is interesting and very practical. I can concur that 'cos I have a small collection of paper tape from the time I first leant CNC programming. --Chan Tai Man 12:17, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Relevancy vs Relevance[edit]

please forgive me if I have done this wrong, but i am new to wiki-world :)

i searched an item for which there was no wikipedia entry, and was taken to a page with suggestions and "Relevancy", expressed as a percentage. I have never heard or seen this word before, so I searched wiktionary for "Relevancy" but was unable to find a definition. Should "Relevancy" be replaced by "Relevance" ??


"Relevancy" is in my 1975 dictionary. Fowler (1976) says: "The OED treats -cy as the standard form. In practice they are probably equally common". Which is surprising. I agree with you, "relevance" seems to be a lot more common these days, at least in my world. But on the other hand, what about this quote from Flanders and Swann: "They said I was irrelevant. But I ain't a relephant, I'm a ... gnu". Now, I don't know about you, but I think that displays a great deal of irrelevance, or irrelevancy if you prefer. It's always good to see both sides of these sorts of questions. JackofOz 13:11, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
"Relevancy" is in my computer's dictionary as well. (I use the New Oxford American Dictionary, Second Edition [8] that came with Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger".) "Relevancy" is listed as a derivative of "relevant". (See [9].) —OneofThem 18:56, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Looking for an idiom or phrase[edit]

I'm looking for the idiomatic word or phrase that could be used to describe overly general statements such as:

  • Japanese people are better at everything.
  • Everyone's favorite color is blue.
  • All white people live in the USA.
  • Everyone loves chocolate.

I've forgotten what it's called and haven't found anything remotely relevant in searches for things like "overly general stament". --Tifego 19:17, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

"Generalization"? "Stereotype"? I dunno. :P —OneofThem 19:20, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
It's not either of those. It's something very specifically referring to the statement. --Tifego 19:22, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
And it is common enough that I believe there is probably a Wikipedia article on it, which I can't find because I don't know its name. --Tifego 19:24, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
"overgeneralization" is an acceptable compound. --BluePlatypus 19:27, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Prejudice seems a little hard ? --DLL 19:31, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Er...sorry if this sounds stupid, but wouldn't generalization or universal affirmative work? If you want to be more specific, there's a lot of stuff linked in the syllogistic fallacy article. -Наташа ( UserTalk ) 19:32, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

It is none of these mentioned so far. Sure, I could call it an overgeneralization, but that just doesn't sound as witty as using the idiom that was coined to mean this exact thing. (Especially because overgeneralization has way more syllables... it's a 2- or 3-syllable phrase.) Somebody must know this, considering how many times I've heard or read it being used... --Tifego 21:28, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Would it be hyperbole?--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 22:10, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Are you sure "stereotyping" (mentioned above) isn't what you want? --Anonymous, 23:20 UTC, March 15, 2006.

How about Tautology? User:Zoe|(talk) 23:21, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

"blanket statement"? moink 23:30, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Blanket statement! I think that was it, thanks. --Tifego 00:06, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
(I guess I was wrong about it not being more than 3 syllables) --Tifego 22:53, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Avoid blanket statements ;-) hydnjo talk 03:25, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Hebrew Word Meaning[edit]

What is the Literary Meaning Of this Hebrew Word "Nachshon"?

"The boy's name Nachshon is of Hebrew origin, and its meaning is "adventurous, daring". --DLL 19:28, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
I really wouldn't trust those baby name sites for accurate etymologies. The root of this name appears to be the same as the root for the word "snake" in Hebrew. But Nachshon is only a name in Hebrew (not a regular Hebrew word), to most precisely answer the question. AnonMoos 22:15, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

The meaning of the french word juveigneurie[edit]

Hi, I am researching my family tree and have come across the word juveigneurie as in the sentence

"juveigneurie de Coataudon dont les seigneurs sont issues Des Barons de Pont de Corral, Les blaisons Des familles.,les blaisons de Coataudon sont issus du Pont-l'abbe,les blaisons des familles."

Can anyone translate this for me please. I have tried various dictionarys and Babelfish but neither can help. Thanks

Just googld for it : "Juveigneurie has nothing to do with this at all. This was a modification of Breton customary law which allowed the division of noble estates to give an inheritance to younger brothers.". The word contains roots alike juvenus (young) and seigneurie (lordship). Bla[i]sons is an heraldic sign. --DLL 21:46, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Not exactly the same, but the gavelkind article will give you a general idea of the system. Jameswilson 23:29, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
That's an interesting word, that. Had to look up the etymology, and since this is the language page, I thought I'd share it: from OE "gafol" (tribute, tax, rent) and "kind" (offspring, kin). --BluePlatypus 01:12, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

March 16[edit]

Looking for an illusive word[edit]

Hi, My ten year old son and I are searching for the meaning of a word. Runcible appeared in a book we are reading in this sentence, "A long way from the coast of Kansas, there is an island, a runcible island covered with forest." We have searched our dictionaries (three), and checked the search engine Ask, but the closest we have come is a runcible spoon: meaning a sharp edged fork with three broad curved prongs. However, we don't think this definition is appropriate for our purposes. Can you help us? Thank you for your efforts.

Sincerely, Tricia and Alex

Runcible is a word concocted by Edward Lear in his poem The Owl and the Pussycat: "They dined on mince, and slices of quince, / Which they ate with a runcible spoon." See runcible spoon. It's been used in other contexts as a silly nonsensical word since then. moink 01:33, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Is the book Solomon Leviathan's Nine-Hundred and Thirty-First Trip Around the World by Ursula K. Le Guin? --Canley 12:46, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

I do believe the word comes from the Latin root 'runc-', meaning 'covered with weeds or plants'. CCLemon 13:04, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

first generation college student[edit]

As a 49 year old grandmother finally attending college online, I just learned of the Flesch-Kincaid rating. The first occasion I've had to write something for class, I typed it in MS Word and received an 'ease of reading' rating of 57 and a grade level rating of 10.2.

Should I be insulted that I apparently write on a 10th grade level?? How, exactly, should I interpret this numbers as related to my writing skills?

Bonnie Wolff

Absolutely not. Don't ever write papers just for the purpose of increasing that score. Your aim is to write papers that present your ideas clearly, flow easily, and are well organized. Something that shows you know the material, and have been thoughtful about the subject. Computers are not very good at evaluating these qualitative things. The Flesch-Kincaid rating is a score that is generated based on things like the length of the words that you use, the number of syllables, the length of your sentences, et cetera. It has no ability whatsoever to interpret the meaning behind your paper. I would take it with a grain of salt. The score is correlated with the whereabouts of academic papers - for example, if you were to analyse really scientific papers, the score tends to be quite high - perhaps due to the technical jargon used, and the lengthy/complicated sentence structure. However, none of these necessarily mean that the paper itself is of high calibre. I would talk to your professor to see if s/he has any suggestions for you instead - that feedback would be much more valuable than a number from a computer. --HappyCamper 01:19, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Plus, the rating is reading difficulty, not writing talent. The best writers write clear and legible prose, that can be read by anyone. Newspapers, for instance, generally try for about an 8th grade level. Simple, clear writing, with no more complexity than required to get your brilliant ideas across, is best. moink 01:29, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Ah, seems like moink beat me at saying what I was going to say while I was writing; that it's a readability test, not a test of the quality of writing. For comparison, feeding a famous Hemingway line into the thing, it gives a Flesch-Kincade grade level of 7. Needless to say, I don't think anyone would say Hemingway was writing at a 7th grade level. (He is, however, known as a writer who used short sentences) I wouldn't say that all the best writers write clearly and legibly (James Joyce immediately springs to mind). But for someone who isn't a master writer, writing in a simple and concise style is much harder than writing long convoluted sentences. On the other hand, being too concise doesn't make it easy either. Prose with no repetition and redundancy is rather hard to read, since you need to pay attention or you'll miss something. --BluePlatypus 01:53, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Avoid any temptation to go back over what you've written and throw in a few unnecessary long words just to try and sound more intellectual. The aim is clarity. Jameswilson 04:09, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
But certainly go back over what you've written. You can almost always say it better (clearer, simpler, more concisely etc) than the way it first comes out onto the paper. JackofOz 05:38, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Technical manuals are typically written at about the 10th grade level. Why? Is it because technicians are no better educated than that? No. It's because in any writing the most important necessity is to communicate. You want people to understand what you have to say. A good rule is to keep it as simple as possible, but no simpler. Maybe you have a gift in that regard. Don't lose it. --Halcatalyst 22:09, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

A question about a name...[edit]

I have come across the name Istara and i want to know the meaning. I know nothing about the name. I would like to though . Please let me know. Thank you.

At least it is a name for a basque cheese (Googlimages). Basque is a very lonely language. --DLL 17:59, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
I suspect that it may be a variant form of Ishtar, but I couldn't find anything authoritative to back that up in a brief search. Chuck 16:33, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
This is a bit far-fetched, but if the first a is pronounced as a schwa, it could be derived from Istria... --Missmarple 09:20, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

How to change the word "Black" to "White" changing only one letter at a time...[edit]

Hi, I remember seeing his once, a sequence of words that changed from Black to White with only one letter changing at a time and each intermediate word a valid english word.

A sequence something like :

Black Block Clock .. .. .. .. Chile While White

Except for Black and White I have just gessed the rest as an example. From memory it was about 10-12 steps....

Would love a solution , I have worked on it but cannot make the two ends mee! Many Thanks, Steve L. Type 08:44, 16 March 2006 (UTC)08:44, 16 March 2006 (UTC)~


That kind of puzzle is called a word ladder; some say that Lewis Carroll invented them. There are programs to do them on computers; one of them gives the solution "white, whine, chine, chink, clink, click, clack, black". "Chine" is definitely a word, though not a common one. -Nunh-huh 08:52, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

What does "Hame Baham" mean?[edit]

I think it's farsi. If no one knows the answer, could somebody please direct me to a place where I could get an answer?

Beacharn 12:35, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Can you give some more background on this? It will be easier to search/ask about if I can be sure of the language and know a bit about the transliteration, context, etc. -LambaJan 22:29, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Problem with Kannada fonts[edit]

Dear sir

I ma not able to see the Kannada fonts in the Kannada home page

Please help me



Please suitly emphazi your question. Luigi30 (Ταλκ) 14:49, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

For the benefit of myself and any other new users of Wikipedia, could someone please explain the origin and meaning of this 'suitly emhpazi' joke. I just don't get it. Thanks. Maid Marion 15:22, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

To suitly emphazi means to be more clear or to offer more detail. The expression first appeared here. David Sneek 16:00, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks David. Maid Marion 16:17, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
You know, if you tell everyone the inside joke it's not as funny. But interestingly enough I remember when that one came up, but have never gone back to check it. My memory of it was certainly different from the reality to the point that I initially thought you didn't point to the first use. But I'd also point out that 'the phrase' is used in different contexts than you've pointed out. It is also used for anything from simply making fun of typos to random incomprehensible statements. As my last pointless point, the phrase now gets 14,700 google hits. - Taxman Talk 21:20, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
That's a very strange Google result: there are only ten actual results given. If you "repeat the search with the omitted results included", you go down to six results. It also suggests you search for "supply emphazie" instead, though that gets you nowhere.
And while we're on it, an in-joke among regulars is funny; an in-joke used to mock clueless newbies (as here, and increasingly often) is not funny. Markyour words 21:46, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
In this case it wasn't the newbie who was clueless, by the way; the question makes perfect sense. David Sneek 16:57, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Agreed. It's fine to have inside jokes, but not ones that make fun of questioners. Though many are, why should we assume that any particular inquirer is stupid or malicious? Aren't we here to help? --Halcatalyst 22:03, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
When the original questioner asked us to "suitly emphazi" the answer, I believe they meant we should "suitably emphasize" it, meaning provide a Wikilink to the article which answers his question. Thus, I use the term to mean "provide a Wikilink". StuRat 23:05, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Anyway, to answer the real question, this page gives instructions to install Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit fonts. Here is another. David Sneek 16:07, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
And there's Wikipedia:Enabling complex text support for Indic scripts that you may have to do after installing the fonts. That is linked to from the bottom of all the tables in articles on Indic languages, including Kannada language. - Taxman Talk 21:20, 16 March 2006 (UTC)


Hi. I am a student in high school and I have already taken two years of Latin. I am thinking about taking third year Latin. so what benefit can I get from Latin?

Well, besides improving your knowledge of the language and introducing you to some of the finest literature of Western civilization, it will improve your ability to understand how languages in general work. Angr/talk 16:05, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
I seem to remember that someone (can anyone remind me who it was?) described Virgil's hexameters as 'the stateliest measure ever moulded by the lips of man'. That's what you can look forward to enjoying if you persist with your Latin - go for it! Maid Marion 16:19, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, they're not as good as Homer's. But if you keep taking Latin now, when you're in college you can take Greek, and then you'll be in for a real treat! Angr/talk 19:16, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
I concur with the sentiments expressed directly supra (which comment, without your having taken Latin, wouldn't be as comprehensible), but I write only to say that I believe the quote apropos of Virgil to have come from Tennyson, from whom sundry quotes may be found at this Wikiquote page. Joe 20:36, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Homer is just grand, of course, but when it comes to 'stateliness' I would say Virgil's hexameters have the edge - Homer's trip along more briskly with a higher count of dactyls. Thanks for the tip about Tennyson - I'll check it out.Maid Marion 08:53, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
In other words, Virgil cheats more often by pretending to be writing dactylic hexameter when mostly he's just using spondees. Angr/talk 10:03, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Extraordinary view! I'll assume you're joking. Maid Marion 10:16, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, you were right about Tennyson: Maid Marion 09:52, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
It'll be very useful when you go to Latin America. --Chris S. 23:18, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm sure you're aware that the above comment is probably a joke. I've taught Latin, so I guess I'm qualified to answer. The fact that you're asking what good Latin will be to you suggests to me that you may not want to take Latin and are being pressured to do so by parents or other authority figures. If you're going to take it just because you've been told to do so, it probably won't be much value to you except to fulfull a graduation requirement or to look good on an application to a selective institution of higher learning, and it may help you on the SAT. Reading widely among "literary" works in English would probably help you more with the SAT, however. If this is what you want, ask your English teacher for a list. If you're interested in the subject, third year Latin, which is usually an introduction to literature including selected readings in Caesar, Vergil, and Catullus, will help in your understanding of literature and grammar in English as well as Latin. Doctors and lawyers no longer need to learn Latin, so if you're thinking of legal or medical education, don't feel compelled to learn Latin. Professional schools will teach you the terminology you need to know for the profession you choose. Ultimately, you should take elective classes because you like the subject matter. If you don't like the subject, take something you like more. Brian G. Crawford 23:31, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Literary Meaning of " Ashkelon "[edit]

what is the Literary Meaning of the hebrew word "Ashkelon" ?

Do you mean the literal meaning? In Hebrew it's just a place name, but it's not of Hebrew origin, so within Hebrew it doesn't meaning anything other than "the city of Ashkelon". It may have meant something in the language of the Philistines, though. Angr/talk 19:16, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
It's easier to just say 'suitly emphazi' when it doesn't make sense, you know. ;) Luigi30 (Ταλκ) 21:32, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but when one says it to an unlogged-in user, one could be considered to be biting the newcomers. Angr/talk 21:44, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Amen. --Halcatalyst 21:57, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

"Hate it when" or "Hate when"[edit]

I've seen people using, for example, "I hate it when ____ happens", but I've also seen "I hate when ____ happens". From my portuguese background, the second version seems more natural, but I don't really know if there's any issue here. Which is correct, if any? ☢ Ҡiff 22:32, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

They both sound normal to me. I think the first one is more common in spoken English, and the second one is more common in writing, from what I've heard of them. --Tifego 22:46, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Also, "I hate it when" expresses more anger than "I hate when" because of "hate it" being emphasized. --Tifego 22:48, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
"I hate it when that happens" sounds natural to me; "I hate when that happens" sounds either uneducated or pseudo-uneducated (as a joke). Angr/talk 06:51, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Really? I've always thought it was the opposite. "I hate when that happens" sounds unnaturally academic or snobbish to me. In any case I'd never use "I hate when", or indeed "I hate" anything... --Tifego 07:05, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
I hear both all the time. I've never drawn a distinction between them. Bhumiya/Talk 04:27, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Grammar nitpick: comprises of, comprised of are wrong[edit]

There are MANY wikipedia articles that use a phrase like "X is comprised of Y and Z" which, as far as I know, is incorrect.

It could be "X is composed of Y and Z" or "X comprises Y and Z" but I think it's always wrong to say "comprises of" or "comprised of".

Before I go hunting (using the handy search tool) and fixing every occurrence of that phrase, could someone who is more expert in grammar please let me know if I'm right to be correcting all these?

For a few examples: The title of should be changed to "...whose titles comprise solely numbers" or "...whose titles are composed solely of numbers."

I also just edited with this change, before realizing (1) I might be wrong, and (2) it might occur many other places which ought to be changed too ... should be "comprises tribals" instead of "comprises of tribals"

And plenty more ...


Joshuazucker 23:00, 16 March 2006 (UTC) Joshua Zucker

Let's see what Google comes up with... there's this. Also, "composed of" got about 1.3 times as many results as "comprised of" (which, while more than 1, is much lower than it normally should be if "comprised of" is widely considered incorrect). I think it's not correct English, but its use is so widespread that it might be considered correct sometime. --Tifego 23:11, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
This is interesting, "In the 1960s, 53 percent of the Usage Panel found this usage unacceptable; in 1996, only 35 percent objected". So it's abating. While my first impression is that you're correct, I'm not sure I'd bother with changing it now. --BluePlatypus 23:21, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

It's always wrong to say "comprises of", but not always wrong to say "comprised of". It depends on the grammatical context. I would accept the following variants:

  • "X consists of A and B"
  • "X is composed of A and B"
  • "A and B comprise X", and its passive counterpart
  • "X is comprised of A and B".
  • "X comprises A and B" is often heard, and the meaning is clear enough, although literally it means the opposite of "A and B comprise X".

But the following are definitely wrong:

  • "X comprises of A and B"
  • "X comprised of A and B". JackofOz 23:18, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for all the tips! Maybe I'm just being an old fogie on this one. I try to resist that. (I've gotten over split infinitives and now a preposition is something I can end a sentence with.) So I'll just let this one go, and allow "comprise" to start down its slippery slope to becoming interchangeable with "compose". Now, don't get me started on the distinction between "use" and "utilize" ...

Again, thanks,

Joshuazucker 23:50, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

There's a difference? I always that "utilize" was a complete synonym of "use", used by people who didn't think "use" sounded fancy enough. Years ago when I worked as an editor at a translation company, we had a Japanese-English translator who loved the word "utilize"; we always told the typists to just do a global search-and-replace to change every instance of "utiliz(e/ed/es/ing)" to "us(e/ed/es/ing)". Angr/talk 06:50, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
You've got to be careful with the options used on those global search and replace functions, or you might change "brutalize" (if misspelled as "brutilize") into "bruse" (although "bruise" might actually work, in some contexts). StuRat 23:09, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
I actually got that question quite recently. Personally I feel there's a slight difference in the connotations. "Utilize" is more like "make use of", whereas "use" is more direct. Same meaning, but a little difference in the strength of the activity implied. --BluePlatypus 16:16, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
On the use/utilize distinction, the OED says "To make or render useful; to convert to use, turn to account." I tell people that "utilize" means "make use of something that would otherwise be wasted", which seems close enough to the OED definition, and also close enough to BluePlatypus's explanation. But this is a distinction on its way out, I fear, as Angr suggests above: soon enough, "utilize" will only mean "use, and I want to sound fancier or smarter than other people". It makes me sad when the language loses useful distinctions in this way. Joshuazucker 23:36, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
I generally hear "utilize" as a polite, formal, or emphatic form of "use". Although some people use it pedantically or to sound mock-pedantic, I think most people simply employ it to stress the verb or maintain a certain rhythm. Bhumiya/Talk 04:36, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
No need to be sad, Josh. It's the normal state of affairs. Vocabulary is a buyer's market, as soon as people need a new word for something, it'll pop into existence. You can always borrow a word, or start bruking an old one. ("to bruke" being a modernized version of O.E. "brucan" that I just invented) --BluePlatypus 21:44, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Actually, now that I read it, I remembered "bruke" is already "to use" in Norwegian. Heh. Although I was thinking of using English pronunciation (rhymes with "duke") and monosyllabic, not duosyllabic like Norwegian. --BluePlatypus 21:48, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Old English brūcan never entirely died out, but it did change meaning. It's still barely alive in the form brook with the meaning "tolerate", as in "Jimbo will brook no criticism of Wikipedia on user pages." Angr/talk 23:26, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Interesting that "brook" in that sense is only ever used in the negative (although humorists can prove me wrong). Much like "having no truck with" something. One doesn't normally say "I will brook xxx" or "I will have truck with xxx". JackofOz 00:53, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

March 17[edit]


I have always wondered why the German language has 2 ways to say Saturday? Can anyone help me out? thanks Zach 01:39, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

I didn't know that! :o (Well, I only took one year of German. :P ) I only learned Samstag. Ah, I see that the German Wikipedia article also mentions Sonnabend. I've never heard that before. here's the Google English translation of the German article on Saturday, if that helps. —OneofThem 02:03, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
It means Saturday?! I always thought that it was an abbreviation of "Sunday night"! Then again, I thought "fünf vor halb drei" was a particularly odd way to say 2.25.
Slumgum 02:32, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't know if there's a good answer to the question why German has two words for "Saturday", but it is indeed the case. In general, Sonnabend is used more in the north and east, and Samstag more in the south and west. I have the impression that Samstag is spreading at the expense of Sonnabend (but no data to back that up); if my vague impression is correct, maybe in a hundred years or so everyone will say Samstag. Angr/talk 06:41, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Just a dialect difference, isn't it? The same as Austrians use "Jänner" for January, instead of "Januar". -- Arwel (talk) 14:22, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Or how some Americans say "soda" and others say "pop"? :P —OneofThem 00:28, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
It seems like too much of a diff just to be a result of differences in pronunciation, to me. StuRat 16:32, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Sure, and there are hundreds of similar examples between British English and American English, and probably dozens within American English. Angr/talk 14:34, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
There is an explanation for this here. Sonnabend was introduced by Saint Boniface as an alternative to Samstag, which ultimately derives from the word Sabbath. The article conjectures that it might have been coined because it was seen as purely Christian (as opposed to the "Jewish" Samstag). --Rueckk 16:55, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Sonnabend is similar to Mittwoch -- a Christian substitute for the original pagan name, which survives in English "Wednesday" (after Wodan). So only five-and-a-half days of the week are still pagan in German (while in English all seven days are pagan). --Chl 02:44, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm a linguist--all the answers given here (except the one by Slumgum) is correct. The reason for this is in fact the natural language development: different groups find different names for the same thing. --Sinatra 22:42, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't think you realise that my response was 100% accurate, because it's opinion. Slumgum | yap | stalk | 23:03, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Sinatra, you must be a very special kind of linguist. Very few of the ones I know say "all the answers ... is correct". JackofOz 23:50, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

German Song[edit]

My brother, a few years ago, told me about a German hard rock song that, though intended to sound as angry as humanly possible (and Germans can do it), actually translates to a cookie recipe. The refrain is, apparently, "Don't use eggs." Anybody recognize it? Black Carrot 03:00, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't immediately recognize the song, but your description sounds a lot like Knorkator -- Ferkelparade π 10:22, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

I know another example of a song which has a mood that doesn't match the lyrics: "Come Saturday Morning", which, from the lyrics sounds like planning a fun time with a friend, but is made sad by the tone: [10]. StuRat 16:20, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

It's highly probable this is a case of misheard lyrics. You don't know anything else about the song? Dforest 17:49, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

It's Die Eier von Satan. --Chl 02:39, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Awesome. I love it. Black Carrot 21:48, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
LOL...the stuff that you learn on Wikipedia...this site *still* amazes me! --HappyCamper 00:20, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
That's seriously the best song I've heard of in a long time. — Laura Scudder 01:47, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Referencing your prevous work[edit]


I was wondering how I would site my previous unpublished work in an APA format.

Thanks you.

  • Why would you want to cite your own unpublished work? Just publish it. Then, next time, you can cite it. --Halcatalyst 05:33, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Wait, I think I see what you're talking about: you wrote a paper for school and want to cite what you said in an earlier paper. Well, again, you could just say it again. Nothing to cite, since it's not available in the public domain. That's what citation is for. Just don't submit the same paper as original work for another class. That's cheating... cheating yourself, at least. --Halcatalyst 05:37, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Actually, citing one's own (or other people's) unpublished work is done all the time. The format to use is:
Einstein, A. (2005). The kinetic properties of yellow snow. MS, Princeton University.
(MS stands for manuscript.) Ideally, the paper has the date of the final draft written at the top together with the title and author's name. If you have uploaded a PDF of the manuscript to the Internet, making it available for anyone to download (always a good idea until it gets published), then you can include the URL in the citation too:
Einstein, A. (2005). The kinetic properties of yellow snow. MS, Princeton University. Available online at
Hope that answers your question! Angr/talk 06:36, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
I've seen in press plenty of times as well, indicating that it's been submitted but not published. (although I suspect it hasn't been submitted yet in a lot of cases) --BluePlatypus 16:10, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
I'd only use in press if it's been accepted for publication but hasn't appeared yet. If it's been submitted but not yet accepted (or rejected), I'd say under review for publication and give the name of the journal. Angr/talk 16:15, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Is it only my browser (Firefox), or the Wiki scripts, or rules not easy to relate to ... nowiki text (courier font) using more than one line goes unendlessly to the right of the page.
Do people have to mind <br>s ? Where is this talked about ? --DLL 17:42, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
I dunno, but I put a hard return in my monospaced text above so it wouldn't happen. Is it happening for you anyway? Angr/talk 18:40, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Ability to relate to others[edit]

Can someone give me a paragraph on the above with no more than 150 words

Try looking up empathy and theory of mind (third definition). StuRat 16:08, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Do your own homework - if you need help with a specific part or concept of your homework, feel free to ask, but please do not post entire homework questions and expect us to give you the answers.
If you need research help, please be more specific about what you're looking for. Dforest 10:30, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

You could always try the old (fictional) standby: "Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others Ability to relate to others". Thhat's not quite enough words, but you get the idea.. --Halcatalyst 14:29, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

I think you missed that the specification is no more than 150 words. Therefore, I suggest the following:
"The ability to relate to others is important."
See? A paragraph with no more than 150 words! Chuck 16:44, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
If your teacher is a Wikipedia addict, mind his words : No personal research! Cite your sources! As they say in Wikipedia's RD, "The ability to relate to others is important." --DLL 17:36, 17 March 2006 (UTC)


I would like to put forward a new word - Spammonkey (could be hyphentated or perhaps just one M, hmmm).

This would describe someone who leaves themselves open to being spammed by leaving their e-mail address in very public places. At the end of their question for example.

Any comments much appreciated.

Thanks,Dan (14.04 GMT) <e-mail address removed> just kidding, pleae accept my apologises dandfcsdfg)

You're welcome to do that, but know it doesn't make any difference that you posted the idea here. New words are not proposed and accepted or rejected by some group or body; they just come to be, like the weather. The exception might be if you had the money for some expensive advertising campaign, but it's usually the other way around: The ad is based on some "hot" word that's already current among "fashionable" people. --Halcatalyst 14:25, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Personally, I would prefer Spam Viking. David Sneek 18:47, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure if a word which already has over 800 Google hits could really, truly, be called "new" though perhaps the meaning is. Notinasnaid 20:05, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
I wonder if some neologisms (those not invented in advertising agencies) have the word first and the meaning later. What I mean is, somebody comes up with an apropos word and no doubt attaches a meaning to it, but as it spreads the meaning that sticks only gradually develops. This sort of distortion is a normal part of communication; see the Telephone game. --Halcatalyst 00:30, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Area names in England that end in sex[edit]

  Dear sir 
         can you please tell me why Essex,Wessex,Sussex,Middlesex
  all end with the same letters
                              Pauline Moran

The -sex in those names comes from the Saxons; the counties were originally basically called "East-sax(onland)", "West-sax(onland)", "South-sax(onland)", "Middle-sax(onland)". Angr/talk 15:12, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Middlesex sounds like a good place for transexuals to live. :-) StuRat 16:04, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Intersexuals - See Middlesex (novel). Rmhermen 18:02, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Reminds me of the parent who said "I have 3 children, one of each sex". JackofOz 02:11, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Notice there was no "North-sax(onland)"? The population must have all died out.CCLemon 06:35, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

The northern-most kingdom was Northumbria. There were other kingdoms of the Saxons without saxon in the name such as Mercia.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 18:26, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Box Symbols within Article[edit]

I'm new to Wikipedia. The "Sudoku" article contains (数身に限る), such as in Introduction The name Sudoku is the Japanese abbreviation of a longer phrase, "suuji wa dokushin ni kagiru (数字は独身に限る),"

What does that mean? Is it garbage text, or am I missing something?

RSVP, Karen

It's Japanese. If you used a Japanese font you could see it (although since you aren't using a Japanese font you probably don't want to see it). Markyour words 17:46, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
You would need to download the Japanese font to see it. Otherwise, it appears as boxes or question marks, typically. StuRat 01:32, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Or also it's possible, if you already have a Japanese font, that the text encoding method in your browser is set improperly. In the case of Wikipedia, it should be set to Unicode. Dforest 06:58, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

'suuji' means 'numbers', 'dokushin' means 'single', and 'kagiru' means 'limited to, limit to'. It's a catch phrase that plays on the word 'single', both in the sense that the player does it on his/her own, and the fact that all numbers have to be single digits. 'Numbers limited to singles', or something like that, is the actual literal translation of it. CCLemon 06:31, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, didn't read the title of the post before my reply.....CCLemon 06:33, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

No matter what I did with fonts or browser settings, I never had any luck getting this to work until I added supplemental language support for Windows. That is done through the Windows Control Panel. Perhaps the necessary files are already included in many Windows installations, but they weren't on mine. --DannyZ 08:20, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

correct pronounciation of the Mira River[edit]

I am part of a chorus in the U.S. and we are rehearsing to perform "A Song for Mira" at our next concert. I would like to know how to correctly pronounce the name of this river. Thank you. M. Morgan, Washington state

I looked for an actual pronunciation in a few encyclopedias, etc., but couldn't find anything so settled for actually listening to a recording of the song. I used a recording by John Allan Cameron, who appears to be the first person to record it. He very clearly pronounces it like my-ruh: (IPA: [maɪrʌ]). —Seqsea (talk) 07:34, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Capitalization after dash[edit]

I've been wondering for a while, does a dash after a certain term indicate a new sentence? For example, should it be:
John Doe - a professor at TAU
John Doe - A professor at TAU

-- Y Ynhockey (Talk) Y 21:48, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

No, it doesn't. --Anonymous, 00:40 UTC, March 18, 2006
No. In your context, dashes are substitutes for commas and merely seperate an appositive. In other words, both of the following are correct, though I would personally recommend the first. John Doe, a proffessor at TAU, likes Jujyfruits. Johne Doe- a proffessor at TAU- likes Jujyfruits. (Of course, non of this matters if you are merely making a list with sentence fragments.) Dar-Ape 01:51, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
If it's in a list, either is correct, since you can use Title Case If You Want. If it's in a normal paragraph, I'd say only the lower case 'a' should be used.--Slumgum | yap | stalk | 19:55, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

March 18[edit]

What Does This Mean?[edit]

Hi, Im James... Can you please tell me What Does "Link To The Notation of Change" mean? It's in a WAPTEEL english assignment I must do and it's the 4th Teel..or L I think..Please help!!

What in the world is WAPTEEL? —Keenan Pepper 05:16, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

A Google search shows exactly 4 hits, all of them from a single post on an Aussie students' forum. [11] Apparently it's a mnemonic used for writing critical essays.

Here is what it says about the "L" step:

L - ( link ) and here you link the example back to your I.J thesis!! woo hoo!! essay done use the TEEL part for every new technique use the WAP for your intro, then just put in a conclusion

"I.J" refers to "Imaginative Journey", apparently the student's assigned topic.

This may or may not answer your question. Can you elaborate on your instructions? Dforest 05:42, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Based on what I managed to parse from the link posted above, I'd say that in the L portion of your essay, you should explain the significance of what you've just written about. For example: Your thesis is "Kangaroos are the coolest." So, following this little WAPTEEL thing:

What - Kangaroos (and their coolness)
Audience - Everyone
Purpose - To show how kangaroos are cool; alternatively: because earth needed an animal that hops and has a pouch. (The poster seems to mention both of these understandings of "purpose".)
Techniques - Kangaroos have pouches; kangaroos look cute as heck; kangaroos can kick your butt; kangaroos say wtf mate.
Example - Provide specific examples of kangaroos doing all of the above—movies, books, humorous anecdotes, etc.
Effect - How does the coolness of kangaroos impact other things? Having kangaroos makes Australia cool by association. The use of kangaroos in movies provides great comic relief, as well as the coveted aw-factor.
Link - Why is it important that kangaroos are cool and have an impact on other things? (Note that this is different from Effect, because instead of just pointing out how kangaroos are cool and how they impact things, you're explaining why people should care.) Since kangaroos are so cool, it is theoretically possible to use them to great economic and political advantage. If only Australia realized this, it would easily render all other countries in the world powerless. (The point is that you take your evidence and show why it matters in terms of your thesis.) I apologize for the length of this and hope that it has been at least partially helpful :) —Seqsea (talk) 08:03, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

You'd think that we hadn't been teaching writing for hundreds of years without the benefit of mnemonics and acronyms everywhere. — Laura Scudder 01:52, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Any Thai translators?[edit]

Hi, I'm trying to put together a page on Penguin Villa, but virtually all information is in Thai. I found a bio on this site, but I can't find any way to reliably translate it myself. If anyone can help, I've pasted the biography into the article's talk page. Thanks! Bhumiya/Talk 04:02, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Latin name for new species[edit]

Not sure if this question is better put to the science or language reference desk, but here it is: I'm writing a chapter that features microscopic machines, like the nano assemblers spoken about by Eric Drexler et al, and would like it if I could use a Latin species name to refer to them.

A strange question, I know, but if anyone out there thinks it might be fun to come up with a few suggestions, I'd be most appreciative.

Adambrowne666 21:20, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Be specific : what does your nanomodel look like ? Latin names are given, not to look like latin (or greek), but to be 'visually' understood. If it has a big head, think of "macrocaputa pentiumii" ; if it has red eyes like any wikipedholic, "purpurops nanowiki". --DLL 21:10, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
What about all those plants named after people? I wouldn't assume the plants mysteriously look like the founder. ☢ Ҡiff 00:55, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
People don't 'found' plants. They only found companies and organizations, etc.. However, people CAN plant foundations for such companies, organizations, etc.. Sorry, just nit-picking! CCLemon 04:02, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the responses. The nanomachines are the traditional assembler type, but in a 17th century context (it's a long story) - in the novel, they're described as "Mechanical spiderlets so surpassing small that anything tinier could scarcely be imagined. Their enginery is wrought of microbes’ whiskers, and moves by wheels and spiral pulleys, as doth a clock." Hope this helps. Adambrowne666 06:59, 21 March 2006 (UTC)


Is "The reality is most colleges only send representatives to Venice once a year," or "The reality is that most colleges only send representatives once a year" correct and why? This is one of the few aspects of grammar that has thus far been beyond me. Theshibboleth 22:11, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Either. No reason, that's just how it is. Markyour words 22:20, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
I'd be more comfortable with the first one being written, "The reality is, most colleges only send representatives to Venice once a year." I don't think anyone will complain about either wording, though. If you're asking which is using completely proper grammar, I'd bet neither is, but I couldn't say why. Black Carrot 23:38, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Both versions are fine. In the first one, the relative pronoun is understood. In the second one, the relative pronoun is expressed explicitly. In some cases it is confusing to leave out realtive pronouns, but other times they can make a sentence difficult to read. In this case, either version is perfectly fine. --TantalumTelluride 23:45, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

How did Harry Houdini pronounce his Hungarian last name?[edit]

Harry Houdini was originally known as Erich Weiss/Weisz. (He was born "Weisz," but after he came to the United States his family usually used the spelling "Weiss.") If this were a German name it would be pronounced "Vice." I don't know Hungarian pronunciation, however, so I don't know how the name sounds in Hungarian. Does anyone know? (You can e-mail me if you like.)

sz is pronounced "ss". "w" does not seem to exist in Hungarian[12]. My guess is either "Wayss" or (more likely) "Vayss". "Vice" (or potentially "Veess") is another likely possibility. The Jade Knight 00:16, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
FWIW, Rachel Weisz pronounces it 'vice'. I suspect that Harry did too, regardless of what his ancestors may have done. Markyour words 01:27, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Scott Schoeneweis (Showin' wice) is an example of someone choosing to avoid the original pronunciation of his surname.-- Slumgum | yap | stalk | 01:39, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
It is actually a German name. "Weisz" is just a Hungarianized spelling of "Weiss" (presumably the original to the original), so they can be pronounced the same. Although whether a Hungarian would kind of depends on the speaker, it doesn't really have the German "ei" diphthong. So "Vice" or "Vayce" or inbetween. --BluePlatypus 02:01, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, Hungarian doesn't really have the same 'æ' sound. If it was written 'Wajsz' it would be pronounced more like 'Vice' in a Birmingham (UK) accent, which is totally different and approximates more to 'Voice' (with a more open mouth). CCLemon 03:56, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks so much for your help so far. I know there's something of an air of mystery about what exactly Houdini's real name was (just as there was an air of mystery about so much else about him - I think he liked it that way!). But does anyone know, German and Hungarian and everything else aside, how he actually pronounced the name? I know he generally preferred the spelling "Weiss" after he came to the United States, but I'm also wondering which is really more authentic.

Words in English with three consecutive identical letters?[edit]

Hi! Does anyone know if there are any words (not including acronyms) in English with three or more consecutive identical letters (like "exaaample", if such a word existed)? -- 22:04, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Here's what Oxford has to say on the subject: "The usual rules of English spelling outlaw triple letters. ... Nevertheless, we have encountered curious forms such as crosssection, and the complete Oxford English Dictionary does contain instances of frillless, bossship, countessship, duchessship, governessship, and princessship, and the county name Rossshire." —Seqsea (talk) 23:31, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for finding that article; it was v. helpful :). -- 23:43, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
If you include onomatopoeiae, there are quite a few. 'Grrrr' to name one. Black Carrot 23:44, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
When such words might occur, they are sometimes spelled with a hyphen to avoid the triple letter (for example, Ross-shire), but not always. This question hinges on the very fuzzy issue of what we mean by "a word in English". A list of some words in English and other languages that may be spelled with triple and quadruple letters can be found here; follow the links at the bottom for other "word oddities". --Anonymous, 01:42 UTC, March 19, 2006.
The word I have always heard cited is 'goddessship.--Fuhghettaboutit 07:22, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Very interesting article. However, at the bottom it suggests that there is a Japanese word for 'princess' which can be romanized as 'joooo'. There is indeed a Japanese word (女王) meaning 'queen' (not princess), but this is romanized as 'joou', not 'joooo', even though both spellings have the same pronunciation.CCLemon 06:21, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

In addition to 女王, the word for "phoenix" (the mythological animal) is 鳳凰, which depending on the romanization used, it may be romanized as "houou" or "hoooo". --Oskilian 07:51, 2006.3.19 (UTC)

There is also Invernessshire.

Someone up in March 14 discovered another: oppposite. :) Black Carrot 01:07, 20 March 2006 (UTC)


March 19[edit]

Person whose son/daughter has died[edit]

A person whose father and mother have died is called an orphan. But I can't seem to find a word to describe a person whose son/daughter has died. I overheard at my cousin's funeral that there are no words in any language to describe this. Is it true? or is there an english word to describe a person in such a situation.

--Oskilian 07:48, 2006.3.19 (UTC)

I don't think there is a word for it, probably because it was so common 100 years ago that no term was needed for it (like no term is needed for a person with both arms). StuRat 13:41, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
More to the point, having a son or daughter die didn't put you in a separate social category. Widows and orphans (the latter often used to mean a child whose father was dead even if their mother was still alive) were a special case because they no longer had a "bread-winner" to take care of them. Losing a child was unfortunate, but it didn't have the socioeconomic ramifications of losing a husband or father (let alone both parents). I think that's the real reason there's no special word for someone who's had a child die. Angr/talk 20:00, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

There are ways in other languages to indicate that someone's son or daughter has died. English has far fewer ways than many languages to indicate family relationships. For example, in Latin you couldn't just say "uncle"; the word you used indicated whether you were speaking of your mother's brother or your father's. (There were still other words to speak of one's uncles by marriage.) In societies in which social status, inheritance, religious identification, and so forth, depend heavily on a person's family position, and in which complex family arrangements such as polygamy and marriage of close family members are permitted or encouraged, it's only natural that language would develop to describe ties that languages used by other societies in which such ties didn't matter or simply didn't exist. The reason all of this matters is that identifiers such as the one you're describing exist in cultures in which a mother's worth is strongly identified with her children. (They may exist in other languages too, but I know they do exist in the languages of these cultures.) In some parts of Africa, a woman who has a child (I'm not sure if this applies to daughters or just to sons) actually loses her own identity and becomes known as "Mother of So-and-So," and if the child dies she is thereafter known as "Mother Bereft."

The word "calypso"[edit]

I am studying the Illiad and the Odyssey . In disucssion the question came up as to the origin of the word as per music. As the only person in the group from the Caribbean I volunteered. No, I don't think it originated with Homer's "Calypso", but I could be wrong and will continue to pursue this route, but , if anyone out there can shed further light on the usage of this word as per music from the Caribbean, I would be most grateful. Thank you.


Well, the dictionaries fail us on this one. Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate says the name of the music probably is from the name of the nymph; the OED and American Heritage Dictionary say simply "origin unknown" for the name of the musical genre. Angr/talk 13:27, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Also it may be of interest to you that the earliest citing in the OED is in 1934, from Aldous Huxley's Beyond Mexique Bay:
A Calypso tin roof on posts in which..the local talent assembles to rehearse certain songs composed against the coming of Carnival. Ibid. 19 The tunes to which these songs are sung is always some variant of an old Spanish air called Calypso; the words are home-made and topical. Ibid., The themselves ‘Calypsonians’.
--Dforest 13:42, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Also, perhaps the name has some connection with Kaiso. According to's The Evolution of Afro-Caribbean Music [[13]], "Calypso is a mixture of African folk songs and has its roots in a West African form of music called Kaiso." The Kaiso page suggests it is a shortening of Calypso, but it is unsourced and seems to contradict the Calypso music article, which concurs that Kaiso is one of the stylistic origins of Calypso. --Dforest 14:15, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
The name of the nymph comes from καλυπτω, meaning "hide". I expect the connection is figurative, rather than etymological. Sam Korn (smoddy) 20:12, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

According to an article at the Trinidad and Tobago National Library entitled Calypso Music in Trinidad and Tobago, these are the main theories on the origins of the word; the lattermost one they consider the most plausible: (emphasis mine)

  • It came from the Carib word 'carieto,' meaning a joyous song, which itself evolved into 'cariso'.
  • It originated from the French patois word 'carrousseaux' (which was originally from the archaic French word 'carrousse') meaning a drinking party or festivity. This word was later transformed into other variants, namely cariso, calyso and cayiso.
  • It may have come from the Venezuelan/Spanish word 'caliso' which referred to a topical local song. ‘Caliso' has a similar meaning in St. Lucia; The word 'careso' also refers to a topical song but mainly in the Virgin Islands;
  • It was derived from the West African (Hausa) term 'kaiso', itself a corruption of 'kaito', an expression of approval and encouragement similar to 'bravo'.

I rewrote the kaiso article to reflect this information. --Dforest 02:23, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Faust I[edit]

In German schools 'Romeo and Juliet' is both part of German and English lessons. It is almost as famous as 'Faust, Part 1' by Johann Wolfgang Goethe. What about British or American pupils/students? Do they also know this German tragedy?

I did six years of German at school in Britain, and it was never so much as mentioned. So, no. There are parts of the curriculum which involve studying a selected work, but I doubt many teachers or students would choose Faust as that book. We're an island race. :)Markyour words 17:55, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Because every school has a different curriculum, I'm sure it varies. But speaking generally, I would say that Faust has not permeated American culture nearly as much as "Romeo and Juliet". At the high school level, many students are probably unfamiliar with even the name. I can't speak for the British. bcasterlinetalk 17:58, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
I took German in high school in America, and the work was mentioned but never read. It is also not a standard work in translation for English classes. Actually, I don't remember reading any significant translated works that weren't Greek. It's unfortunate because I now love Russian lit. — Laura Scudder 18:02, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't remember reading any translated literature in high school, except in Spanish class. My guess is most Americans haven't heard of Faust, although the "Faustian bargain" is a common theme in fiction.
I'm suprised that they would have you read Shakespeare in high school, considering the difficulty of the text. Even native speakers of English require "translations" into today's English to understand it. As far as reading Shakespeare in a different language -- doesn't that kind of eliminate the point of Shakespeare? -- Mwalcoff 18:12, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, the fictional concept of selling your soul to the devil, via a formal contract, for earthly rewards, is widespread in America, although few probably know that originally comes from Faust. The Devil is typically shown to live up to the letter of the agreement, but not it's spirit, by giving them what they asked for, but somehow making it unpleasant. It's even been featured on The Simpsons, where Homer sold his soul for donuts. StuRat 19:26, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
For just one doughnut, actually; I think he should have negotiated for three or so. Joe 19:37, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Though Faust predates Faust Part 1, and I'm sure the concept predates either. Markyour words 19:31, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
"Even native speakers of English require "translations" into today's English to understand it." (!) I read untranslated Shakespeare at school; every taught version of it I've encountered does the same. Footnotes for the odd word, perhaps, where the vocabulary has changed or he uses a particularly archaic construction... but it's not like reading Chaucer, it's not that removed from modern speech. Is this an American thing? Shimgray | talk | 21:08, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Maybe. Perhaps some of the words are less unfamiliar to British students. I remember seeing a footnote in King Lear explaining that "zed" (from Act II, Scene 2) is the UK way to say "Z." Most Americans don't know that.
When I was in high school, I used to buy versions of Shakespearian plays that had the original on the left and the "translation" into today's English on the right. I think it's tough to expect high-school students to understand things like the following random bit of Hamlet: "Nor windy suspiration of forced breath / No, nor the fruitful river in the eye / Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage, / Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, / That can denote me truly: these indeed seem."
Imagining having to teach that to inner-city ninth graders who can barely read, like a friend of mine had to do! -- Mwalcoff 01:42, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

CAPULET So reich will ich es Romeo bereiten.
O arme Opfer unsrer Zwistigkeiten!
Nur düstern Frieden bringt uns dieser Morgen;
Die Sonne scheint, verhüllt vor Weh, zu weilen.
Kommt, offenbart mir ferner, was verborgen,
Ich will dann strafen oder Gnad erteilen,
Denn nie verdarben Liebende noch so
Wie diese: Julia und ihr Romeo.
Alle ab.

As rich shall Romeo's by his lady's lie;
Poor sacrifices of our enmity!
A glooming peace this morning with it brings;

The sun for sorrow will not show his head.

Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;

Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished;

For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

In my high school experience we only read american and british novels with the exception of Heart of Darkness. I am not sure how classify that one, but it was written in English. Also at least one Austrailan book. I took two foreign languages but never read any thing of length in translation. I know the basic story of Faust, but don't remember where I picked it up. There are many stories in English that allude to "selling your soul" etc. At that age I read a great deal of classic literature on my own, but nothing german. The only things I think I read in translation was everything I could find that Alexandre Dumas wrote, Don Quixote, and The Prince. In college I read in translation Greek plays (theatre), Norwegian plays (theatre), French essays (philosphy), and plenty of ancient lit like Gilgamesh (mythology and Hist of Lit I). The only German translations I can think of reading are fairy tales (Grimm Bros etc.) So in my expierence the German literary tradition has never really entered American culture, even the part that enjoys reading old books.
I also think it strange that people read Shakespere in translation, as the plots and characters are not what make him remarkable. What makes Shakespeare worth reading is the poetry of the language. The use of blank verse is untranslatable and the many puns would be completely lost. I also disagee with them being "translated" into modern English. Truly it is not that difficult to understand.
Out of curiosity in Germany what are considered the basic novels that must be read by high school students? In America I would be surprised if someone had never read Nineteen Eighty-Four; either Of Mice and Men or The Grapes of Wrath; either The Old Man and the Sea or A Farewell to Arms; something from America of the late 1800's (works of Nathaniel Hawthorne or Washington Irving or else The Red Badge of Courage); and something of the Southern Gothic tradition (works of William Faulkner or The Heart is a Lonely Hunter or To Kill a Mockingbird). --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 19:50, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

In English we have Doctor Faustus instead. Gdr 00:52, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

In my pre-college schooling in America we did about 4 novels a year for seven years but never did any of your list except Hawthorne, Irving and Mockingbird. Rmhermen 01:32, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Faust is considered to be late-high-school material (in Germany, it's usually given as a set text in the last or penultimate grade), and it's at times fiendishly difficult for students at that level. I would be very suprised if it was ever read in high school level German as a foreign language classes.
To answer Birgitte, it would be very surprising if someone who had finished high school (Gymnasium, the German school system is split into three paths) hadn't read at least one work by both Schiller and Goethe. Beyond that, the list of 'standard texts' starts to grow rather large very quickly, but almost always includes something by Rainer Maria Rilke, Günther Grass, Theodor Fontane, Franz Kafka (yuuwwwrrghhhh), Thomas Mann, and usually a suitable dose of modern (post-WW2) literature dealing with either the decay of contemporary society or a problem involving Jews (or both!). — QuantumEleven | (talk) 09:40, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

I am a German. I would like to apologize to the Jews for the unbelievably cruel mistakes of my people in the last century. Please do not think anything bad about me, but one year history, one year literature and one year ethics about Nazis is enough at school. Germany, let's look forward to having a good connection with the rest of the world.

"latina" language link[edit]

I know this might not be the right place to ask, but I can't find the Village Pump for the Latin version of Wikipedia (sive Vicipedia) In the discussion for this home page, some people seem to have strong misgivings about the "Latina" link to indicate a corresponding entry in Latin. They would prefer "Latine", because that's how you say "in Latin" ... in Latin. Cfr. Personally, I am also ill at ease with "Latina" and would prefer "Latine", if relabeling the link is not too much bother. Thank you in advance, --Calmansi 20:22, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

The link to English doesn't say "in English", it just says "English". It's just the name of the language, so it should be in the nominative case. What do other inflecting languages do? —Keenan Pepper 20:52, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Czech is written Čeština, but the interwiki is Česky. I'm not sure whether one is adjectival or something else. Sam Korn (smoddy) 21:01, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Interesting. I would imagine that "Česky" is the adjective "Czech". This seems to be an inconsistency, as we do write "Slovenčina" (not "Slovensky") for Slovakian. As far as I can tell, for other languages we are writing the name of the language alone, but where the only name of the language is an adjective followed by the word for "language", only the adjective is written, e.g. "Deutsch" not "Deutsche Sprache", "Русский" not "Русский язык". —Blotwell 02:54, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
You are correct that the noun for "Czech language" is "čeština," while the adjective for "Czech" is "česky." But it's very common for people to use "česky" as a noun, as in "Mluvím česky." ("I speak Czech.") The term for "in Czech" is "v češtině." -- Mwalcoff 00:57, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure whether this is the best place for this comment, but it's prompted by the discussion above, so here goes. Are we not just kidding ourselves in thinking that we can write an encyclopaedia in Latin? I mean no disrespect to the people who have contributed, and I certainly could not better their efforts myself, but having just now for the first time browsed the Latin pages I noted many infelicities of expression, quite a few errors of grammar, and several instances where the meaning was just not intelligible (even to someone who has been reading classical and mediaeval Latin for more than 30 years). I love the idea of somehow keeping Latin alive, in the sense of encouraging people to read the marvellous texts composed in that language, but as far as a living language of communication is concerned, shouldn't we just concede that it has now died out (the Vatican notwithstanding)?Maid Marion 10:26, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Personally I would get rid of the Klingon Wikipedia first. That's just sad. —Keenan Pepper 13:31, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
There's also the Moldovan one, which is/was pretty ridiculous. Seems it's suspended at the moment, though. --BluePlatypus 14:35, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Apparently they've voted to close it down. --BluePlatypus 21:15, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
I wouldn't judge the entire living Latin movement based on the issues in the Latin Wikipedia. There's a lot more to living Latin than the ratio of losers to scholars in one site. Cnoocy 16:32, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

Tsar Bomba -- Kuzka's mother?[edit]

I posted this to Tsar Bomba awhile back but never got a response there, so I thought I'd try here...

I was testing out some of my Russian today (playing with and putting in things like "nuclear weapon test" and seeing what that would call up in Google), and found a number of places on the web where Russian websites referred to the Tsar Bomba as "Кузькина мать" -- Kuzka's mother? I don't know what this means, but perhaps someone with better Russian can ferret out whether this is what the Russians call(ed) this bomb, and why. --Fastfission 21:06, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Apparently, to "show somebody Kuzka's mother" is a Russian idiom meaning "to punish". Kruschev, that witty soul, used it when describing Tsar Bomba to the UN General Assembly. I commend to you our article on Russian jokes... Shimgray | talk | 21:11, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
It is a well known anecdote (and confirmed to be true) about Khrushev interrupting the UN conference (to the best of my knowledge, the one in September 1960) multiple times, by shouting rather obnoxious comments to spekers, and in one instance pounding his shoe on the table. One of his comments was «мы вам покажем кузькину мать» — “we will show you Kuzka's mother.” It is also less historically certain, but it is said that the translator was confused and put it like “Mr. Khrushev will demonstrate a mother of someone Kuzka.” The huge bomb was thus jokingly named «Кузькина мать» — “Kuzka's mother,” because it was never designed as a practical weapon, but rather as a means of showdown of power, thus being the indirect object of “showing someone the kuzka's mother.” To put this into context, imagine the attitudes of best of the best engineers and scientists, selected for the nuclear program, towards the uncivilized, uneducated peasant Khrushev. The joke, indirectly referring to his misbehavior on the conference, was mainly construed as derogatory towards Khrushev and not about the bomb whatsoever.
The idiomatic phrase itself rather means “to beat, to give a thrashing.” It does not bear connotations of punishment, retailation or vengeance: it refers to the beating in itself, not its cause, and neither it asserts one's being right (or wrong) in doing that. It is used jokingly in educated discourse (think of “in the last state elections, the Rep. have shown the Dem. Kuzka's mother”), but literal use is confined to uneducated speech. I feel also that “the kuzka's mother” may be a closer literal translation as the phrase implies target's knowledge of the “mother” in question, despite Russian the definite article (and any article in general) as a formal demonstrative marker.
Origin of this idiom is, AFAIK, uncertain. Kuzka may be an uneducated-diminutive name for Kuz'ma (Koz'ma), which is an archaic masculine first name; «кузька» kuzka also means grain beetle (hilariously, «хрущ» khrush, which is the origin of Khrushev last name, is also a pest!), but I know of no historical Kuzka, and much less an insect, with such scary a mom that one falls beaten from merely seeing her. :)
Oh, and as you might have already guessed, I am a native speaker of Russian. 03:35, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Imitation of English[edit]

English speakers sometimes imitate how other languages sound for comedic effect, for example someone might say "fung shee how tang soo.." to imitate Chinese. Does anyone have any examples of speakers of other languages imitating how English sounds to them? —Keenan Pepper 22:55, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

We do have Non-native pronunciations of English but I don't think we have anything on intentional bad imitations. Rmhermen 23:59, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, but that's not what I was talking about. "Fung shee how tang soo" doesn't really mean anything in Chinese, it just approximates the salient phonetic features. I think someone imitating English in the same way would sound really weird to people who actually understand English. —Keenan Pepper 00:22, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
This page has both the famous "ACHTUNG! ALLES LOOKENSPEEPERS!" imitation of German and a similar German imitation of English. The latter is not at all funny to me but presumably is hilarious to German-speakers. -- Mwalcoff 01:48, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
There are the long-running "Cafe Boeuf" sketches on the radio show A Prairie Home Companion where the "maitre-d" speaks incomprehensively incomprehensibly in pseudo-French. This gives an idea of the goofiness, but you have to hear it to appreciate it. --Halcatalyst 03:43, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
I remember a friend of mine in Paris, a Belgian, who used to mock resident Americans noticing tourists: "Ruh gar dee lays uh mericuns luh bah." --Halcatalyst 03:51, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
That's just dumbed-down French ("regarder les americains là-bas"). The Jade Knight 07:55, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
No it's making fun of American accents. --Halcatalyst 23:30, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
After living in France for two years my sister asked some French friends to speak French with an American accent, no doubt curious as you are to hear it. She said it was the most beautiful French she had ever heard, crystal clear and beautiful. Her friends were rolling on the floor laughing. Good luck in your search, it will be rewarding if you can hear some. 23:12, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Like the German inventor of the bra, Herr Stoppemfloppen? CCLemon 03:44, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm sure I have purchased products whose instructions were an example of this joke. Somehow it all makes sense now. Notinasnaid 10:06, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
I can't think of an entire pseudo-English string right now, but it would definitely involve lots of /ɹ/s and /ɚ/s and /oʊ/s. These are probably the most "English sounding" to German ears. --Rueckk 15:53, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, I think the most distinctive thing about English to the ears of other European languages is the pronunciation, much more than the words themselves. In particular the vowel sounds are 'odd', thanks to the Great Vowel Shift. As mentioned above, imitating the English accent is common, probably much more so than imitating the language itself. (Which is kind of hard, given how many words are common between English and just about all other European languages) --BluePlatypus 16:48, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
In my experience, a person with no English vocabulary will generally utter something along the lines of "rah roo reebrab", when trying to imitate what English sounds like, with emphasis on the way "r"s are pronounced in English. The people I'm referring to would generally be Russian. If they have some knowledge of vocabulary, they might say something like "I frrrrrom Amerrrrica", really stretching the "r"s (without rolling them). Imitation of the "w" sound as in "what" or "world" is also common. I think Rueckk's response above indicates that it's pretty much the same with Germans. --Aramգուտանգ 17:02, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
The BBC comedy series [Allo Allo] had two British airmen being sheltered by the French Resistance, whose version of "rhubarb, rhubarb" was "fAH-fAW-wAW-wAH" or some such to convey how they sounded to the French. Jameswilson 23:23, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
When an English friend of mine tries to speak with an American accent, she always ridiculously overemphasizes the sounds that are different in American English. For example, she'll say "häääääääckey" for "hockey" and "tomaaaaato" for "tomato." -- Mwalcoff 00:50, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

March 20[edit]

Song recognition request[edit]

I heard a song with French lyrics and Arab music on the Buddha Bar collection. It goes something like "j'voudrais etre un fauteuil dans un salon d'coiffure pour dammes." Does anyone know the title and/or lyrics of the song? Thanks. deeptrivia (talk) 00:45, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't know, but I like the imagery. Black Carrot 00:49, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
lol. deeptrivia (talk) 00:52, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Ditto with the imagery. It's by Gnawa Diffusion and is called Ombre-elle, released in 1997. —Seqsea (talk) 03:59, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

The lyrics are fab enough to warrant a translation into English: I'd like to be a seat In a ladies hairdressers So that the pretty souls' bums squash against my pride

I'd like to be a perfume Just so I could get smelt And disappear upon your body Like a drop between two bosoms

I'd like to be a hairpin And caress your locks To be a fresh hand Watered by your sweat

Oh, how I'd like to be a seat In a ladies hairdressers So that the pretty souls' bums squash against my pride and joy

I'd like to be a belt And to hug your waist So I wouldn't lose any detail Of the uncanny curvature

I'd like to be the dust Of the nails beng filed And sense the intimate touch Which scatters and loses me

Oh, how I'd like to be a seat In a ladies hairdressers So that the pretty souls' bums squash against my pride and joy

I'd like to be a shirt And have as pure intent To cover your cherries Without laying a hand on you

I change and I'm bursting So as not to miss you To pierce your secrets I'd have to be a world

Oh, but the best thing is to be a seat In a ladies hairdressers So that the pretty souls' bums squash against my pride and joy

Which is a dead-cert number one hit. --Knotted 22:42, 21 March 2006 (UTC)


A rather peculiar question, but where did the word pee (as in urinate) come from? How did they become synonyms? My little brother came up to me and asked me. I wanted to give him a valid answer. Thanks. schyler 02:46, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it's from the first letter of "piss." Amazing what you learn every day! -- Mwalcoff 02:53, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
To partially continue, heading over to piss, we find that it's been in use since at least 1290. Its etymology starts with Middle English piss-en, then Old French piss-ier, then French piss-er and continues on. It also says that the Old French and Italian (pisciare) forms are probably onomatopoetic. Unfortunately, that's as far as the OED takes us... there's no given indication as to why piss is related to urine. (Except that piss originally wasn't limited just to urine, but also water generally. In 1440 urina is mentioned in relation to the word; after 1600 every reference to piss has to do with urine as opposed to water.) Hopefully someone else can tell you the connection between piss and urine. —Seqsea (talk) 03:19, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
You gave the reason yourself: it's onomatopoeia. It sounds like "psssss" or "pshhhh" when a stream of urine lands on something. --Anonymousssss, 03:40 UTC, March 20/06.
And piss wasn't always a dirty word. We pass from euphemism to emphemism to euphemism... for example, toilet -- bathroom -- water closet -- loo -- john -- head -- latrine. I might have the order wrong, but it's in there somewhere =).We tinkle, we pee, we wee-wee -- Hey, it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. --Halcatalyst 03:29, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks. That answers the question enough for my brother. schyler 14:02, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

On a side note, saying "piss", or rather "psssssssssssssssssssss", can inspire a toddler to urinate, say before a long car trip, just as running water can. StuRat 14:20, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
And another side note; in Germany, one can find a place to urinate by looking for the sign saying, "Pissort" ("piss place"). --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 22:08, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

The funny thing is, in Finnish, pissa means urine but is not at all dirty, on the contrary, it's a childish euphemism. If you want to call urine by its proper medical name, use virtsa. If you want to sound hard and macho, use kusi. JIP | Talk 15:43, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Scientists and Spelling[edit]

There are certain spellings that seem to trip a lot of people up, such as:

  • confusing –ence and –ance endings (in words like dependence, existence, etc)
  • confusing “affect” with “effect”
  • spelling words the way they are mispronounced (eg. “definately”)
  • leaving apostrophes off possessives (eg. Wikipedias policy is xxxx)
  • inserting apostrophes inappropriately into plurals (eg. these editor’s are good people)
  • putting apostrophes into possessive pronouns (eg. her’s for hers; it’s for its)
  • confusing “its” (the possessive pronoun) with “it’s” (an abbreviation)

and many other examples.

It constantly surprises me that scientific/mathematical people are prone to these errors no less than any other group. I am talking about these people as a whole, not any particular member/s. The surprise is not because they are necessarily interested in language per se, but because more than any others they are trained to be precise and exact with mathematical "language". They excel at arguing a case with complete rigour, in environments where there is zero tolerance for misuse of mathematical or scientific symbols or terminology. They can with complete confidence produce and manipulate a long, complex mathematical expression involving powers, integrals, derivatives, trig functions, exponentials, logarithmic bases, etc – yet they can’t remember whether to write "its" or "it’s", and more often than not get it wrong. I exaggerate of course. Why doesn’t this concern for precision and accuracy flow over to their spelling of simple, common words? I can’t believe it’s because the mistakes have never been pointed out to them. It's not because English spelling is sometimes illogical and arbitrary - the thousands of symbols and terms that they use correctly are just as arbitrarily named. What is going on here? JackofOz 06:26, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

It actually makes perfect sense to me. Mathematics/science is what they love and scientific symbols and terms the way to powerfully express that love; the spelling and grammar of utility terms is a mundane obstacle. That's just my take, though. Superm401 - Talk 07:09, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Also, aren't language and logic a right brain vs. left brain thing ? Thus, people who rely more on one hemisphere must rely less on the other, just like left handed people don't use their right hand as well and vice-versa. Also, the messy, inexact, exception-filled rules of spelling and grammar must seriously annoy those who like to think logically. They would want one consistent rule to determine if I comes before or after E, for example. Then finally, there's the fact that whatever rules we do have for such things are just "made up", not agreed to after all possibilities were considered and the best chosen scientifically. I'm surprised scientists and mathematicians don't reject English spelling outright and spell everything phonetically, where at least consistent rules exist.
I, myself, am aware of most of the spelling and grammar rules, but choose to ignore those that seem silly, like the exception to adding an apostrophe to a possessive form, if the word happens to be a pronoun (for example: pronoun = "a noun which has lost it's amateur status"). If the grammarians (which I consider closely related to planarians) choose to correct it, that's fine, but I refuse to initially use such a silly exception. Also, "quotations should include only the exact words and punctuation quoted, except for trailing punctuation, which should be included inside the quotation marks even if not in the material quoted", is another silly exception I feel free to ignore. StuRat 13:41, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
You’re saying that you know all the rules, but you choose to ignore those that seem illogical or unscientific? I guess that’s a valid approach. Most people march to the beat of a different drummer in some way or other. But I've never heard of this process of grammatical rules being “agreed to after all possibilities were considered and the best chosen scientifically”. Maybe you’re saying there should be such a process. Who would the committee comprise, and how would they be appointed or elected? What if they were not unanimous in their decision? Who would look after compliance issues? What about the myriad of different versions of English, all with their unique subset of local rules? Why don’t you apply the same argument to, say, the symbols for the elements? Some are based on their English names, some on Latin names, some on words from other languages. Where’s the scientific, logical consistency in that? Will you be referring to tungsten as T from now on, rather than W? JackofOz 23:27, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Or we can just call it wolfram, which sounds cool anyway. StuRat 15:07, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
If you make such a mistake in ordinary language the message usually (though not always!) gets across just fine, whereas the tiniest mistake in mathematics tends to make the whole reasoning invalid. DirkvdM 14:03, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree. Communication is essentially about the message getting through (the content), and less about how that happens (the form). It’s only prigs and pedants like me who get overly concerned about form. But form nevertheless has its own special beauty, and deserves some attention. A slight smudge on a painting, or a banal moment in an otherwise brilliant symphony, may not matter much in the overall grand scheme of things, but for those who are interested in the detail, these things will be jarring, and they will interrupt the flow. Same with unexpected spellings and punctuations – for me, they get in the way of the flow of the message, which is exactly what I don’t want to read. Words are meant to be the vehicles that contain the message; but when they are mis-spelled, they become their own message (but not a message I was wanting to receive). I am easily confused when I'm being asked to take note of two messages simultaneously, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I don’t have the exact wording, but Einstein said something like “If I struggle with a difficult problem and finally arrive at a solution, but that solution is not elegant, then I know I have not found the best solution”. JackofOz 23:27, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
I think Stu is out of hi's mind. :) Markyour words 20:13, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Is it that apparent ? :-) StuRat 20:18, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
I'd like to add a few observations to the mix:
  • Both 'language' and 'math' skills are supposed to reside in the 'left side of the brain' in the split-brain summaries. No dice. However, they are different skills.
  • There's actually quite a bit of difference between the two, culturally. Grammar and spelling are what you suffer through in English class and fix with Word, math is what you build your pride on. Also, as you say, there is a great deal less tolerance for error in math, so there is a great deal less error.
  • That may be true for you, but for many people it's the exact reverse. The writers of the world, by and large, are not mathematically minded. What builds their pride is the construction of beautiful writing, while maths is something that had to be endured at school because it was compulsory. By its very nature, maths has to be approached rigorously (although there is a lot of room for creativity and elegance, nevertheless). There are those who tolerate (or maybe don't even notice) creative spelling because it's just not that important to them; and there are those who are less tolerant because it does matter to them. For them, words are precious things, to be cherished and protected. There's nothing wrong with either position, they're just different. JackofOz 12:54, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
  • People have only a certain amount of time, energy, and concentration. Though it's certainly not in the least impossible to learn all those things in school while at the same time learning trig, and I've done it myself, I have to imagine it'd be much easier to just focus on one and let the other drift. This refers more to general problems with writing than to specific mistakes.
  • Once one of those is pointed out, why change it? It isn't hurting anybody, and there are more important things to do.
  • People, I've discovered, are rather fatalistic regarding the things they haven't done well in. If they aren't good at math, it's because they can't do math. If they don't write well, it's because they can't. If they draw stick figures instead of people, it's because they have no talent. My sister, for instance, surely could learn to spell at this point if she wanted to, but has been desensitized to the whole thing from years of difficulty. I suspect this fatalism creeps in when people are told they've misspelled 'definitely' yet again.
  • Scientists are usually able to write complex and comprehensive papers and theses, in which their intelligence and mastery of the language is abundantly self-evident. There is no question of their not being able to write well. And yet, often, they make up their own rules about certain spellings because, apparently, it makes more sense to them to write this way. This is not something that only left-brained people do, but it seems to be something they are particularly prone to. JackofOz 12:54, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Not everybody actually knows all the rules. And it's quite possible to go for years without something being pointed out. How many people, for instance, are aware that you aren't supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, like I just did? From my limited experience, not many. Black Carrot 23:30, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
  • This demonstrates one of the fundamental differences between language and mathematics. Mathematics is constantly exploring new frontiers, but its basic structure is unalterable. Whereas, language and its rules are constantly changing. Some formerly unbreakable rules are no longer rules at all. "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put" (Winston Churchill). The argument about split infinitives is another example. Whether it used to be an iron-clad rule or not is no longer relevant - it is not a rule any more, and those who insist on avoiding the split as often as not end up sounding like a relic from the late 19th century. If the scientists have their way, maybe in the future we'll all be writing "it's" where "its" would apply today, or writing "your" where once "you're" would have been written, etc etc. Ultimately language change cannot be resisted, but that is a very far cry from simply throwing in the towel and tolerating every example of individual spelling or grammar. Tolerance is a great value, but it can often be misapplied in the name of political correctness. JackofOz 12:54, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
  • My approach is to try to slowly nudge the language toward more logical rules. Nobody can instantaneously change the grammar rules, but if enough people, like me, use more logical grammar, it's rules will slowly improve. We can also slowly improve things thru the subtle use of more logical spellings. StuRat 15:03, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
That's unlikely to happen if you can't even tell the difference between grammar and punctuation/spelling. (Hint: Punctuation and spelling have nothing to do with language.) Angr/talk 15:09, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
Whether I lump punctuation (including apostrophes) in with spelling or grammar will have absolutely no effect on whether the possessive form of it eventually changes from its to it's. StuRat 15:17, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
If the spelling it's to stand for the possessive form of it is someday regarded as a standard spelling rather than a mistake, that will not be a change in the English language, because the current rule that the possessive is spelled its isn't a rule of the language, it's a rule of the orthography, which has nothing to do with language. Angr/talk 15:22, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
I disagree with that, Angr. Orthography has everything to do with language. Most languages exist in both spoken form and written form. There is a limited number of "correct" ways of speaking a word if you want your listeners to understand what you're talking about. There is an even more limited number of "correct" ways of writing a word. If you were writing about a table, spelling it as "ta'ble" or "tible" or "vable" or "planet" would be regarded as correct by nobody at all. So the orthography is intimately bound up with what is being conveyed by the word. Some degree of flexibility is possible in some cases, but veer too far away and you've got either an entirely different word, or no word at all but just a collection of letters. JackofOz 02:20, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Jack, I don't think there's much point in talking to Angr, he's either trolling for a fight with his nitpicking distinctions or just trying to impress us with how he's much smarter than everyone else. Either way, I see no further point in talking with him. StuRat 22:08, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Stu, please re-read WP:NPA. I am neither trolling for a fight nor trying to impress anyone, I'm trying to clear up an extremely important distinction between language and the physical representation of language. It's exactly the same as the difference between a pipe and a painting of a pipe. Angr (talkcontribs) 22:16, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Ok, I see you have a PhD in theoretical linguistics, now I understand why distinctions which are utterly unimportant to Jack and I (and most others) seem critically important to you. As for personal attacks, saying "That's unlikely to happen if you can't even tell the difference between grammar and punctuation/spelling" seems quite rude to me; meaning something like "nobody cares what you think, because you're stupid." Also, a painter might very well call a painting of a pipe simply a "pipe", and not a "representation of a pipe". It's not necessary to make the distinction when your meaning is clear. For example, he might ask someone to "go get the pipe", meaning the picture of the pipe. The only time this would be ambiguous is if both the painting of a pipe and an actual pipe were present. Thus, that is the only time such a linguistic distinction would be required. StuRat 22:49, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Orthography is just a way of representing language. Saying "I want to slowly nudge the language toward more logical rules" and then proposing a change in orthography is a bit like a biologist saying "I want to make apples redder" and then proposing a change in the paint color used in still-lifes. Angr (talkcontribs) 12:48, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

I can see what you're getting at, Angr, but I think this is not a useful distinction to make (outside of abstruse philosophical considerations). The representation of a word is either its orthography or its sound. Divorce the word from its orthography or its sound, and what's left? The concept of a word? The idea of a word? How can we even talk about, say, the word "apple" in the absence of the representation of the word? Just exactly what would we talk about? That red, juicy, crunchy edible thing? But even then, you have to use other words to describe the entity, so why not just say "apple"? Ultimately I see your argument going nowhere. JackofOz 22:56, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

I'd say the sound of a word is the word, not a representation of it. There's the red crunchy fruit, which is not a word; there is the articulatory/acoustic phenomenon conveniently represented /æpl/, which is a word used by convention to refer to the fruit and which is part of the English language; and there's the written form apple, which is a string of symbols used by convention to refer to the word pronounced /æpl/, so it's two steps removed from the fruit. For convenience, we can call the written form apple a "word" too, but doing so is like saying "Let's hang the pipe on the south wall" when by "pipe" you mean "painting of a pipe" (as StuRat mentioned above). There's nothing wrong with doing it colloquially, so long as we remember that there is a difference. Angr (talkcontribs) 10:02, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
I think we'll have to agree to disagree. As a professional writer, I take exception to the notion that when I write stuff, I'm not using words at all but just a visual representation of them. Spoken language may have preceded written language historically, but in my view they have equal linguistic status. JackofOz 06:55, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Pronunciation of "hijra"?[edit]

"Hijra" is used for a subculture of transgendered people in India (Hijra (South Asia)) and for the withdrawal of Muhammad to Medina (Hijra (Islam)). How are the two words pronounced? AxelBoldt 06:49, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

OED gives the word as "hegira" with alternative spelligns of "hejira" and "hijra", and gives the pronunciation as "hedge-ih-ruh" (I don't know how to quickly type the IPA symbols so I'm giving an approximation), with incorrect pronunciations of "he-jie-ruh" or "hidge-ruh". So, "hedge-ih-ruh" is your answer. The Jade Knight 08:00, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks! AxelBoldt 18:06, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

The prononciation of transgendered people is like Hij-da

With stress on the first syllable, rhyming with "rider"? AxelBoldt 18:06, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
No, the vowel is / i: /, so you would pronounce it closer to a mix between heejra and heejda if you can't pronounce the flap right. Sorry I saved just before you did. - Taxman Talk 18:19, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

The devanagari for the Indian term is हीजड़ा. You could look at the Hindi article to get more info on that pronunciation, as it has all the IPA for the symbols. The vowels are not shown in their full form, so look for those in the second column marked "Diacritical mark with “प”". The most important, and the only major difference from how you might pronounce the word in English, is the "r" which is an unaspirated retroflex flap. That makes it a bit more like a d as the above noted, but not fully. A variant spelling/pronunciation is shown as हिजड़ा which uses the short / i / instead of the longer vowel. - Taxman Talk 18:05, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, that is all very informative and I will now go and dig into the Hindi article more. Another question came to mind: do the two meanings of the word possibly have the same root? After all, Muslims ruled India for a long time, the eunuchs were valued at the muslim courts, and the Arabic "hegira" can mean "to leave one's tribe, to sever relations" which would also fit for the transgender subculture. AxelBoldt 18:26, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

It's possible. The Hindi word is listed as of Persian origin. See this link that may lead you to more on what you're looking for. But be careful to look at the actual pages because that page mixes entries too. Specifically I found this that seems to make it look like they have different roots. Also the vowels on it don't show up in the right order for me even with complex text support enabled, but they do when pasted here, so I dunno what's wrong there. - Taxman Talk 19:18, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Looking for a word....[edit]

OK: I'm wondering if there's a word for the act of mentioning something positive but immediately bringing up a negative.

For example:

"The criminal was caught -- no thanks to the police."

I think it's a "downer." At least your question made me think "Here comes Debbie Downer." :) Superm401 - Talk 07:17, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
When relating to compliments, I've heard it called a "trailing barb" (eg. "your hair looks great… though it would be better if it were shorter.") The Jade Knight 07:53, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
This also might be similar to paralipsis (or some of the other rhetorical devices connected to that article). СПУТНИКССС Р 12:47, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
It's also similar to a backhanded compliment, like "It's amazing that you won the beauty contest, especially with your looks." StuRat 13:19, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
That's not a backhanded compliment, that's just an insult. A backhanded compliment is more like "I'm not surprised you won the beauty contest, you were by far the least ugly contestant." Angr/talk 13:23, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
According to Neil Strauss, a compliment which is also an insult ('negging') is the best way to pick up women. Markyour words 13:25, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Insulting them is the best way to pick them up ? "So, what's a girl like you doing in a nice place like this ?" StuRat 13:30, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Yeah. That's even somewhat clever. The idea is to a)not be like ever other guy who hits on her (praise and adulation get old), b)be funny if possible (humor is a social lubricant), and c)make her try to justify her worth to you (put someone down properly, and they have the urge to regain lost pride). Done properly, in concert with a lot of other things, it's supposed to be a very effective way of getting her attention. Black Carrot 23:06, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Japanese word mukade?[edit]

Anyone knowing Japanese language out there? I am currently trying to improve the centipede articles, and I would like to make the article mukade at least a decent stub (add a taxbox etc), but can't find any information as to what species that actually is! Google didn't give any clear answer too. One page [14] states that "hagaji means larger centipede and mukade means smaller one", another refers to it as "giant killer centipede"! Is it a certain centipede species at all, or just a japanese word for "centipede"? And if it is a real species name, then what is its scientific (latin) name? Kaarel 13:33, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Hmm... according to ja:ムカデ, it corresponds to the class Chilopoda, i.e. it's just the general word for centipede in Japanese. Angr/talk 13:46, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
sidenote: the kanji for mukade, 百足, means "100 legs", exactly as "centi-pede" or the German Hundertfüßer does.--K.C. Tang 12:00, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for the answers! So it seems pretty clear that the Japanese word means just centipede. Now there remains a possibility that, independently of the word's original meaning, the English usage nevertheless refers to a particular Japanese centipede species. My Google search failed to corroborate such possibility, but I'd like to be sure. Is the word present in some bigger dictionary of English language? -Kaarel 10:56, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

How to say this in English?[edit]

I am correcting a translation from Finnish to English by another Finn. I have stumbled upon this sentence.

Member information letters we will deliver primarily to your email-address.

Its meaning in Finnish is the following:

As for the member information letters, we will primarily deliver them to your email address.

Is it possible to say this in English in a more concise form while preserving the emphasis? If I say:

We will primarily deliver member information letters to your email address.

Then the meaning changes to mean that the things we will be delivering to your email address will primarily be member information letters. How can I preserve the focus on the e-mail delivery, given the information letters, instead of focusing on the information letters, given the e-mail delivery? JIP | Talk 22:14, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Your second one is fine, it's just not a straightforward way most would say it. I can't tell exactly what you want the focus on, but 'Member information letters will be delivered primarily to your email adress' covers it pretty well. - Taxman Talk 22:24, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm unclear on what "primarily" means here. Do you mean it will be delivered there unless they specify something else ? If so, this should be clarified in the statement. StuRat 23:22, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

""I agree. I dont really understand the word primarily here. Do you just mean generally? Or do you mean what StuRat suggested? Jameswilson 23:31, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

I would also add a hyphen between "member" and "information." -- Mwalcoff 00:44, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
  • It's what StuRat said. The letters will be delivered to e-mail unless specified otherwise. So maybe I'll use the second sentence? JIP | Talk 05:17, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
"The letters will be delivered to e-mail unless specified otherwise" is clearer than either! Jameswilson 05:23, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

March 21[edit]

Global Warming[edit]

What are the major causes of this phenomenon

Global warming. Search before asking. --Slumgum | yap | stalk | 00:29, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
Global warming is caused by excess heat off people angered at having science questions listed improperly on the Language Reference Desk. StuRat 01:40, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
Not to mention having homework questions asked at any Wikipedia reference desk. Angr/talk 10:29, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Language translation[edit]

Hi! I'm trying to find a good language-translation website & I need help, please! Anything free would especially be good! (EricSpokane 01:12, 21 March 2006 (UTC))

The best you can do for free is word-for-word machine translations that ignore the context. Those are highly unreliable translations, but I've used them anyway, such as the Babel Fish translator available at [15]. StuRat 01:37, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
Hint: if you do use machine translations like that, do a "round trip", such as English -> French -> English, so you can have some idea how badly your sentence has been raped. StuRat 02:39, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
If you're looking for a machine translation site like StuRat described, it would help if you told us which languages you're interested in translating. Dforest 04:33, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
Google's translator is as good as any other automatic translator I've used. —Keenan Pepper 16:39, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm gonna have to say that Google's translator is the best free translator. I had some fun with it once by browsing the Google-translated German Wikipedia, and it works really well! :D —OneofThem(talk)(contribs) 20:24, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
It's fun to run sentences through the machine translators a few times to see what they come up with. Here's what happens with "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party" when Google translates it to French, then back to English again: "Is now the hour for all the good men to come using the part." --Halcatalyst 05:28, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Aramaic Lanuage[edit]

What is the meaning of the Aramaic name, Hagneia?--

It actually seems to be a Greek word meaning "purity" or "chastity". If you were to give its spelling in the Hebrew or Aramaic alphabet, then I might be able to tell if there's any connection there. (By the way, scholars have been arguing for centuries as to what the original Hebrew or Aramaic word behind the transcribed Greek name "Essenes" might have been, since this Greek transcription leaves open so many possibilities.) AnonMoos 07:58, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Word Origin and Spelling[edit]

I was looking for the origin of a character in literature. The name of the character is pronounced "milk toast" but I know that is not how it is properly spelled. It is now used as an adjective to describe people like the character and I would like to look up what that means but I am stumped without the proper spelling.

Can you help me with the proper spelling and the origin?

I hope this is a proper way to ask a question as I am new to using Wikipedia.

Grateful thanks,

PompeedPompeed 02:28, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

See Caspar Milquetoast. StuRat 02:36, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

I've seen it spelled "Milquetoast" and it appears to be used as a derisory name for a weak or effeminate male in American literature in the 20's and 30's.I think both Robert Benchley and James Thurber have used it in their work. hotclaws**==

origin of a saying.[edit]

I would like to know the origin of the saying "He's a heel". Why do we use this part of the foot to describe a male's personality.

Thanks for the help.... D

heel (n.) "contemptible person," 1914 in U.S. underworld slang, originally "incompetent or worthless criminal," probably from a sense of "person in the lowest position." From the Online Etymology Dictionary. I hope this helps. --Rueckk 13:48, 21 March 2006 (UTC)


Is the title of the Shirley Jackson book "We Have Always Lived In The Castle" a quote?It sounds like one but I can't track it down.Thanx

It's too vague, it looks, as most of book titles nowadays, as a catchphrase so you shall remember it. --DLL 18:47, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

How to write a letter about inviting someone as a honorary patron?[edit]

Dear all,

Would you please advise me of some ideas or samples for an English writing about an offer to someone of an appointment as a Honorary Patron on behalf of a Society. I would like to know what sort of content should be composed of and also what mode of language should be appropriately used?

Thank you very much for your kind help.

Find out if the person has a title and what the proper form of salutation is.Set out the aims of your society and what they hope to achieve.Tell them why you think they are appropriate for this post and could help in this cause.Use simple ,grammatical language so they can easily see the points you're making.Put in what they will get out of it,gratitude,personal satisfaction and publicity are good ideas.You could also try asking why they won't if they refuse and even if they have ideas who you could approach.Thank them anyway,even if they refuse,they may accept next time. Good luck!


Thanks for your help^^


Can you explain the difference between steady state used as a noun with no hyphen and steady-state pharmacokinetics (hyphenated because it is an adjective)? Is there a punctuation rule that covers this hyphen usage? Thanks, Brenda

I think you've covered it. When two words form an adjective + noun pair (It's in the steady state) they're not hyphenated, but when they're used attributively like an adjective (steady-state pharmacokinetics) they are. Angr/talk 14:43, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
These days, though, as often as not the hyphen is dropped, and you'll need to work out from the context whether the hyphenated adjective was intended, or the adjective + noun pair was intended. JackofOz 14:49, 21 March 2006 (UTC)


Comment les seigneur disaient-ils "bonjour" au Moyen-Age ?

What was the middle age knights' hello ? Salut ? The chansons de geste - try reading some - are not plentiful of dialogues, people there outcry or make love (courteously meant) without preliminaries as you would expect in a modern play or a novel. --DLL 18:43, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
On ne disait pas "bonjour" (ou "bon jour"/"bonne journée")? C'est assez près du latin, "bonum diem". La forme "jour" datant du 13ème siècle. --BluePlatypus 19:10, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Opposite of French Spacing[edit]

What's the opposite of French spacing? (I.e., the term for using only one space after a period). Is there a Wikipedia article on the dispute in general, rather than that specific part of it? -- Creidieki 23:42, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

March 22[edit]

Noun possessive form question[edit]

I have always been confused when writing nouns that end with the letter "s" in the possessive form. I am not sure when - 's - should be added to the end of the noun or when simply - ' - should be (e.g. Thomas's house or Thomas' house). Could someone very familiar with English grammar inform me on this please? - Conrad Devonshire 00:15, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

There is no right answer; it depends on the style you're using. Associated Press style is to use s's with common nouns ("the floss's length") and s' with proper nouns ("Flanders' house"). -- Mwalcoff 00:17, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Strunk and White says always use s's no matter what. —Keenan Pepper 03:35, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Unless it's a Biblical name.[16] :( "Charles's house is big and Jesus' house is small." Why does this exception exist? Just to make life difficult, I think. —Seqsea (talk) 04:05, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Presumably conservatism. Swedish is worse at that, even though it doesn't use genitive apostrophes, having gotten rid of them a century ago. It uses pseudolatin irregulars for both "Jesus" and "Kristus"; "Eriks hus" (Erik's house), but "Jesu hus" (Jesus' house) and "Kristi hus" (Christ's house). --BluePlatypus 04:23, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Strunk and White also say that "people" should never be used as the plural for "person". I would never willingly listen to Strunk and White against my better judgement. The Jade Knight 04:19, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Really? What do they say should be used for the singular of "people"? Dforest 06:50, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
 ? All they say is that "people" shouldn't be used with words of number, e.g. "one person, three persons", not "one person, three people". I don't interpret them as saying you can't say things like "many people", just that you shouldn't use it with a number. --BluePlatypus 08:32, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
In formal English, people is a singular noun: "the people of the U.S. is...", "all the peoples of Asia are...". —Keenan Pepper 13:04, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
I'd say it can be a singular noun, but the singular usage is so rare that almost all uses, including that first example, are just wrong. Markyour words 22:35, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Um, so you're saying the first example is wrong but the second is fine? —Keenan Pepper 18:35, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes. Americans are mongrels, not a people. Markyour words 22:17, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
There's nothing to say a people cannot be composed of individuals all or most of whom are mongrels. :-) JackofOz 06:33, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Government Language Programs[edit]

I already asked this on the Humanities section of the help desk, but thought I'd ask it here as well: Assuming they do not already speak the language, how do employees of government agencies (such as the State Department)learn the necessary languages? I realize that most of these employees are probably hired already speaking the foreign language required for the position, but what about a current employee who is transferred and most speak a new language? Any special programs, etc? Thanks, Ryan

So basically, you're asking if the US Government does "in-house" language training? I don't believe it does, outside the armed forces/intelligence community. I think civilian employees learn from private language-training companies on GSA contracts. --BluePlatypus 04:14, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
As a matter of fact, I've gone through a Spanish program while working for the government (albeit for the County Government in a Library). They hired someone to come in and teach us basic library Spanish. There was nothing particularly special about it. The Jade Knight 04:18, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
The Department of Defense uses the Defense Language Institute, while the State Department, FBI, and others use the Foreign Service Institute. I also found this PDF on foreign language usage in the government that focuses on the people learning/speaking the languages.[17]Seqsea (talk) 04:26, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

As far as I know, State Department Foreign Service officers who are assigned to an embassy abroad go through paid language training for about six months. Brian G. Crawford, the so-called "Nancy Grace of AfD" 16:19, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

The answer is they do it just about like anyone else would but in a structured way. This isn't specifically on gov. employees, but I found this list of resources from SIL that are pretty useful, especially those in the 'Essays on Field Language Learning' section: [18]. The language learning in the real world paper is pretty good and quite extensive. - Taxman Talk 23:34, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

What is Back of a Napkin?[edit]

Hi, I have come across terminologies like back of a napkin ? What does this really mean ? Does it have something to do with any business model also ?

Thanks, Praveen K. Jha

This seems like a combination of two different expressions that both refer to something that wasn't carefully thought out; instead it was just casually written down on any piece of paper that was handy. Maybe you have a letter in your pocket that's still in the envelope it came in; the back of this envelope is probably blank and may be handy to write on. Or if you are eating, there may be paper napkins at the table, and you would write on a napkin. The back of a napkin isn't anything special, but as I say, I think someone has just combined the two expressions "written on the back of an envelope" and "written on a napkin".
What is being written, in these expressions, could be anything. If it's something that you would expect to be carefully planned, like a business model, then this is surprising: either it's just a first try and you're saying that it needs more work, or else the point is that the person who wrote it is very smart and doesn't need to plan it any more, or else it's the opposite, they're very stupid and their business is headed for disaster. Without context it's hard to tell which is meant.
--Anonymous, 05:20 UTC, March 22, 2006.
One meaning of the phrase is to suggest that the subject was thrown together quickly, and might not be the most accurate or detailed. "My back of the napkin calculations show that π ≅ 3." It's derived from the experience of being somewhere and having a brilliant idea, but only having the back of a napkin (or an envelope, or some other scrap of paper) to write on. In the sense of a business model, Google suggests that the idea is that your business plan should be simple enough to explain to others in the space of a napkin—that way you can persuade people to invest, no matter where you are. —Seqsea (talk) 05:28, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
See Back-of-the-envelope. Also, there is a widespread (albeit false) myth that Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg address on the back of an envelope while on the train to Gettysburg. Dforest 06:28, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Another apocryphal story apropos of jottings on an envelope or napkin is that of the genesis of the Laffer curve; Laffer, our article tells us, readily concedes that he didn't invent the concept (though he did popularize), and doesn't recall the napkin incident (although I expect he would have written on the front of the napkin rather than on the back :)). These stories certainly add color to the respective histories; it seems remarkable that something scribbled on an envelope or napkin could later become so important (notwithstanding, well, actual history). Joe 06:46, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
In my experience napkins are remarkably ill-suited to writing on. The writing implement tends to just tear the napkin to shreds. Unless of course you use a cloth napkin, in which case the problem is keeping it flat and stiff enough to write on comfortably. Angr/talk 08:44, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
A felt-tip marker can work on a napkin, so long as you hold the napkin down on all sides. StuRat 13:46, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

Mortal lock?[edit]

What is the origin of the phrase "mortal lock" used to mean something which is certain or a sure bet? It's the "mortal" part of the phrase which strikes me as odd -- one might have expected the phrase to be "immortal lock" since "mortality" suggests the possibility of failure. --Metropolitan90 05:57, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

Could it be related to "I'd bet my life on it" ? StuRat 13:43, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
I think it's an allusion to the idea that death in inevitable, kind of like nothing is certain but death and taxes. ×Meegs 18:03, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

french huh?[edit]

hey i received this message scribbled on the back of a utility bill this morning can you help? it looks like french adn i have no idea what it says and maybe it will help me figure out who wrote it. Italic textce n'est vraiment pas drôleparce que je biseaute pense à une autre maniére devous dire combien je t'aime--Crazypinkster 08:22, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't know about biseaute, but otherwise it says "It isn't really funny because I (something) think of another way to tell you how much I love you." The weird thing about it is it uses different forms of "you": de vous dire combien je t'aime (to tell you [plural or formal] how much I love you [singular informal]). The context seems to require "can't" in the position where biseaute is; but French for "I can't think" is je ne peux pas penser, not je biseaute pense. Angr/talk 08:40, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
the verb biseauter is rather technical, have no idea what it means here... some slang usage?--K.C. Tang 11:56, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
I think I've got it! The person meant to look up "can't" in an English-French dictionary (seeing as a native french speaker wouldn't mix tu and vous) but read off the wrong line or something and got the unusual word "canted", for which "biseaute" (beveled) is a translation! --BluePlatypus 13:23, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
"Looked it up", my cul. The person in question typed "this isn't really funny because i cant think of another way to tell you how much i love you" (note the missing apostrophe in "cant") into Babel Fish (website) ( and asked it to "translate" (I use the word loosely) from English to French. I just tried it myself and the output is exactly the sentence ce n'est pas vraiment drôle parce que je biseaute pense à une autre manière de vous dire combien je t'aime. I don't really blame Babelfish for getting confused about the secret admirer's poor punctuation, but you'd think it could at least keep its tutoyer and vouvoyer straight WITHIN A SINGLE SENTENCE. Yet another reminder of how pathetic machine translation is.... 02:29, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Mystery solved. Reminds of something I read once that had been translated from German into English: "Fräulein Maria disgusted Jever with freedom of the city". Disgusted? Disgusted? Looked at the German original, the verb was verleihen "to grant". Makes perfect sense in German... then my eye fell on something in the dictionary: verleiden "to spoil something for someone, to disgust someone with something". Another time I was reading something translated from French into English about a woman in Africa who went to the market to buy "bananas, lawyers, and mangos". I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out what was meant. Angr (talkcontribs) 13:42, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
avocado / lawyer. There's this dish I once had in France called the "diable d'avocat", which was some kind of avocado pudding. That was one of my first experiences of a French pun, which I found rather amusing,

--Knotted 17:08, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

Word for fetish/fantasy to be rescued?[edit]

What words might relate to someone who gets "kicks", or sexually aroused by being rescued from danger or something like that? For example, a kind of damsel in distress kind of complex? Thanks 22:29, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

The closest thing I can think of is masochism, but that's more enjoying being tortured before the rescue. I remember some CSI-like show had an episode where a couple paid to have the woman kidnapped, so the man could then rescue her and both would be suitably aroused. StuRat 16:59, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

Need some help with a tranlsation form Arabic to English[edit]

Could some translate the following two pasages from me. I do not even now if the start and end with a complete sentence, but it's the part about al-Khwarizmi that is important.

وذكر أنه لما اعتلّ علته التي مات فيها وسقى بطنه أمر بإحضار المنجمّين، فأحضروا؛ وكان ممن حضر الحسن بن سهل، أخو الفضل بن سهل، والفضل بن إسحاق الهاشميّ وإسماعيل بن نوبخت ومحمد بن موسى الخوارزميّ المجوسيّالقطربّليّ وسند صاحب محمد بن الهيثم وعامة من ينظر في النجوم، فنظروا في علّته ونجمه ومولده، فقالوا: يعيش دهراً طويلاً، وقدّ روا له خمسين سنة مستقبلة؛ فلم يلبث إلا عشرة أيام حتى مات

الخوارزمي واسمه محمد بن موسىوأصله من خوارزم وكان منقطعاً إلى خزانة الحكمة للمأمون وهو من أصحاب علوم الهيئة وكان الناس قبل الرصد وبعده يعولون على زيجيه الأول والثاني ويعرفان بالسند هند وله من الكتب كتاب الزلزيج نسختين أولى وثانية كتاب الرخامة كتاب العمل بالاسطرلابات كتاب عمل الإسطرلاب كتاب التاريخ سند بن علي اليهودي ويكنى أبا الطيب كان أولاً يهودياً وأسلم على يد المأمون وكان منجماً له وهو الذي بنى الكنيسة التي في ظهر باب الشماسية في حريم دار معز الدولة وعمل في جملة الراصدين بل كان على الأرصاد كلها وله من الكتب كتاب المنفصلات والمتوسطات كتاب القواطع نسختين كتاب الحساب الهندي كتاب الجمع والتفريق كتاب الجبر والمقابلة.

Cheers, —Ruud 13:40, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

It's kind of difficult to translate because I don't understand some of the Arabic words (ancient Arabic or Persian words) and the punctuation is terrible, but here it is. I made the words you're probably looking for bold. Much of the following is transliteration because I couldn't figure out the meaning.
"...and he mentions that when he became ill (the illness by which he died) and [...?] his stomach he asked to bring the astrologists, and so they were brought. Among those who were brought Al-Hasan bin Sahl, Al-Fadhl bin Sahl's brother, and Al-Fadhl bin Is'haq Al-Hashemi, and Ismael bin Nobekht, and Mohammed bin Mousa Al-Khwarizmi Al-Majousi Al-Katarbali*, and Sanad, the companion of Muhammad bin Al-Haitham, and other astrologists. So they examined his illness, star sign, and birthday, and said: He lives a long time. They saw he will live 50 more years. He lasted but 10 days then died.
*Al-Majousi Al-Katarbali could be his extended last name, or could mean the magus (Zoroastrian); the latter is less likely.
Al-Khwarizmi, his name is Mohammed bin Mousa, and his origin is Khwarizim. He was isolated in a "Khizanat Al-Hikma" (lit: Wisdom Locker) of Al-Mamoun, and he was one of the astronomers**, and people before and after (scoping?) relied on his two (Zaij? Persian word, could mean stars) that are known as Sand Hind(sic). He has written Al-Zalilij book (Persian?) with two editions, first and second, and Al-Rukhama book, the Manual Book of Astrolabes, the Work of Astrolabes Book, the History Book. Sanad bin Ali Al-Yahudi (the Jew), called Abu Al-Tayeb "was the first Jew" and became a Muslim by Al-Mamoun. He was his astrologist and he was the one who built the church in which (Bab Al-Shamasiya) appeared in the harem of Mou'ez Al-Dawla. He worked amongst the astrologists/astronomists; indeed, he was the head of all astrologic/astronomic (scoping?). He had the books: "Al-Munfasilat and Al-Mutawassitat", "Al-Qawati'e" with two editions, the Indian Arithmetic Book, the Summation and Subtraction Book, the Algebra and "Al-Mukabala" Book (hisab al-jabr wa'l-muqabala).
**Ancient Arabs rarely differentiated betweem astronomy and astrology.
-- Eagletalk 20:18, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Can you Translate this into any language other than English?[edit]

Dear Reader,

I am attempting to get the following paragraph translated into as many languages as possible.

"Nature is nowhere accustomed more openly to display her secret mysteries than in cases where she shows traces of her workings apart from the beaten path; nor is there any better way to advance the proper practice of medicine than to give our minds to the discovery of the usual law of Nature by careful investigation of rarer forms of disease. For it has been found in almost all things, that what they contain of useful or applicable nature is hardly perceived unless we are deprived of them, or they become deranged in some way."

William Harvey (1657)

If you can help, please do. Your help will be much appreciated.

Warm Regards,


Here's an effort in Classical Latin - anyone with a dictionary by them will no doubt be able to correct. 'Nusquam solet Natura arcana sua mysteria apertius revelare quam cum vestigia suae operationis longe a via trita exhibeat; nec meliorem inveniamus viam medicinae recte adhibendae quam ut animum nostrum intendamus ad inveniendum solitum ius Naturae ex indagatione rariorum morborum. Nam, ut in omnibus fere rebus notum est, vix percipimus utilitatem cuiusquam rei nisi cum nobis erepta fuerit aut aliquam mendam susceperit.' It will be hilarious (not!) if it turns out that Harvey's original was actually in Latin, no doubt more elegant than the above. Maid Marion 15:15, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
Maid Marion, there should be no doubt that Harvey originally wrote the text in Latin, assuming that the quotation comes from a book (I believe he might have written some of his letters in English, but this is my speculation.) Of his two major books, at least one was printed also in English in his lifetime, but — focussing on your point — each one had a Latin original. Your translation is certainly laudable; remember that Latin was not Harvey's mother tongue either. :)
[19] 11:47, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Dutch: "De natuur is nergens zo gewend haar verborgen geheimen te laten zien als in die gevallen waar ze de sporen van haar werking buiten de vaste paden toont; noch is er een betere weg voor de vooruitgang van de juiste geneeskundige praktijk dan onze geest te richten op de gebruikelijke regels van de natuur middels de zorgvuldige studie van zeldzamer vormen van ziekte. Want het is in vrijwel alle dingen ontdekt, dat wat ze bevatten aan nuttige en toepasbare natuur, nauwelijks wordt waargenomen tot we ervan zijn beroofd, of ze op de een of andere wijze zijn verstoord." David Sneek 14:36, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

In a French rather as old as Harvey, this would be (word for word by googl tools, then amended) :
La nature n’est nulle part accoutumée plus ouvertement à montrer ses mystères secrets que dans les cas où elle découvre des traces de ses fonctionnements indépendamment des sentiers battus; et il n’est meilleure manière de faire avancer la pratique vraie de la médecine que de dédier nos esprits à la découverte des lois habituelles de la nature par une recherche soigneuse des formes les plus rares de la maladie. Car on a trouvé dans presque toutes choses, que ce qu'elles contiennent de nature utile ou applicable est à peine perçu à moins que nous soyons privés d'elles, ou qu’elles se trouvent perturbées d'une manière quelconque.
For a proper and modern French translation, you have to think seven times. --DLL 18:13, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
PS - there is such a great similarity in the structure of the English and French phrases that one could think that scientists did think in French at that time, or that the difference was slighter than now between languages : which would explain why the automated translation was not so bad (try by yourself). Try also to figure out how to translate the original into modern English. --DLL 18:49, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
He thought in Latin — that must explain it! :)
[20] 11:47, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
The modern now, but not so up to date : Les cas plus évidents dans lesquels la nature révèle ses mystères sont ceux qui s’éloignent des sentiers battus. Et la meilleure façon de faire progresser la pratique médicale est d’analyser les règles qui prévalent dans les maladies orphelines. En effet, la plupart des informations utiles sur les objets sont masquées au regard de la conscience, sauf dans l’état de privation de ceux-ci ou dans les perturbations qui les frappent. (But Harvey did not use this orphan disease concept)--DLL 19:03, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Ни в коих обстоятельствах не расположена более природа открывать свои потаенные секреты, чем в случаях видимого отступления ее от наторенного пути; и нет также лучшего способа развить действенную практическую медицину, нежели посвятить наши умы открытию общих законов природы, но изучая редчайшие формы болезней. Ибо известно, что мы осознаем полезность и практичность большинства вещей, лишь будучи их лишены, или же когда они приходят так или иначе в негодность.
[21] 11:47, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
La naturaleza no esta acostumbrada a demostrar sus misterios secretos mas abiertamente en ningún momento que no demuestre pistas de su trabajo fuera del camino golpeado;ni hay una manera mejor de avanzar la correcta practica de la medicina que entregar nuestras mentes al descubrimiento de la inusual ley de la naturaleza mediante una investigacion cuidadosa de las enfermedades mas raras.puesto que se ha encontrado en casi todas las cosas, que lo que contienen de util o aplicable es dificilmente percibido a menos que seamos alejados de ellas o que sean perturbadas de alguna manera.--Cosmic girl 20:32, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Traditional Chinese
大自然沒有到處宣揚她的奧秘,她只要人類不斷發掘;她亦沒有告訴我們治病良方,她只要人類不斷研究。除非我們享用大自然資源的權利遭到剝奪,或者生態秩序變得混亂不堪,否則人類根本不會知道大自然可貴之處,就像不知道其他所有事物的價值一樣。--ka hang 12:11, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Simplified Chinese
大自然没有到处宣扬她的奥秘,她只要人类不断发掘;她亦没有告诉我们治病良方,她只要人类不断研究。除非我们享用大自然资源的权利遭到剥夺,或者生态秩序变得混乱不堪,否则人类根本不会知道大自然可贵之处,就像不知道其它所有事物的价值一样。 --ka hang 12:06, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

French translation[edit]

Someone dropped us an email about Image:National Front.gif. Les immigrés vont voter... et vous vous abstenez?

The translation we have is the very clumsy "The immigrants go to vote...and you abstain?" He didn't seem quite sure what the best way to phrase this was, and my French is rusty... anyone? "The immigrants will vote" seems best for the first part, but the double vous in the second line confuses me. Shimgray | talk | 16:35, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

I think "to abstain" must be a reflexive verb in French, so the first vous is the subject pronoun and the second one is the direct object pronoun. The paradigm would then be
je m'abstiens     nous nous abstenons
tu t'abstiens     vous vous abstenez
il s'abstient     ils s'abstiennent
Right? Angr (talkcontribs) 16:44, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm sure Angr is right. Apart from a very slight change (The immigrants are going to vote, rather than 'go to vote') the original translation sounds just fine to me. Maid Marion 16:47, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. What about "The immigrants are going to vote ... and you, you abstain?"? --BluePlatypus 18:14, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
I just looked it up in the dictionary. "To abstain" is definitely s'abstenir, a reflexive verb. "You, you abstain?" would be vous vous abstenez, vous? Angr (talkcontribs) 21:09, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

Probably these translations are too formal: The immigrants are going to vote... and you hold back? Septentrionalis 15:13, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Or ...and you stay home? Angr (talkcontribs) 15:30, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
No youyou please : the reflexive in unused in English for that. Vont : the clumsy one is far better, the sense is not "... are going to vote ...". There is a frequentative hint, and also a stress, so : "... vont voter ..." would be " vote ...". Nothing is perfect in translation, just say : "The immigrants do vote ... and you abstain?" --DLL 17:55, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Being a Natl Front poster (I should have read some lines up), it must be in France, where immigrants have no rights, so the sense is : They will be allowed to vote. Then "are going to vote" is correct. --DLL 18:08, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
DLL, they use the term "immigrants" to mean non-white. So here its second-generation blacks/Arabs who are French citizens and therefore do have the right to vote now that they are complaining about. Its the same usage in Britain. If somebody goes on about "bloody immigrants" they mean all "Blacks and Pakis", not just recent arrivals. So it is present tense here. Jameswilson 00:08, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Right, like Mexicans here in Texas. Dirty immigrants.
I think the most natural, and compact, translation would be, "Immigrants vote...and you don't?" Black Carrot 16:50, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

UK or U.K.[edit]

What is the correct way or abbreviating a place. For example: UK or U.K.? Not much more to be explained I don't think. Anyone know if they are both right? What would you say is the one to use? --Thorpe | talk 20:39, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

Judging from the Wikipedia article on the United Kingdom, it appears that "UK" is more correct. The Jade Knight 21:01, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
Both right. It's a style point, not a language point. The only slight difference in meaning is that U.K. makes it more obvious that you are abbreviating from a two-word name, while UK makes it more obvious that the term has become a word in its own right. But in practice we're unlikely to care about either of these implications when using it. Markyour words 21:07, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree with that. On a related note, some Americans seem to get quite concerned when others refer to their country as "the US", rather than "the U.S.". What difference it makes to anything escapes me. JackofOz 22:17, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
Probably for some it's just a sense of what's "right." If there are some deep thinkers out there with this preference, they might say the separation entailed in U.S. better represents states' rights :D . --Halcatalyst 02:44, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
If I'm not mistaken, "U.S." is an exception to the Associated Press' rule that acronyms should not have periods. I believe the reason is that "US" could be mistaken for the word "us." -- Mwalcoff 05:16, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, this is a problem with headlines in all caps, for example "IRAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM WORRIES US". All caps can cause other similar problems, like one I saw saying "LAX SECURITY A CONCERN IN CALIFORNIA". It turns out they were talking about Los Angeles International Airport, which has airport code LAX. StuRat 11:15, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
In the second headline, the meaning is probably the same with either LAX. Rmhermen 17:13, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
US is not an acronym. If it were, it would be pronounced like the pronoun "us". Americans tend to prefer periods in abbreviations, while the Brits prefer without full stops. --Nelson Ricardo 05:09, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Are FBI and CIA among the prominent exceptions? JackofOz 09:21, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

What is the word for sun glare off of snow?[edit]

One word. May begin with the letter "a".. may contain an "s", "p" and/or "tion".. just can't recall or find elsewhere, and it's driving me nuts. Not snow blindness, but a single word. Thanks, in advance, from Colorado198.176.189.201

Probably not the word you want, but albedo is the term for the reflectivity of a surface. --LarryMac 22:03, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

Actually, that is it exactly! Here's sun in your eye! Thank you! 22:42, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

Latin -> English translation[edit]

Hello! What does the name Omnis Arcanum mean? I'm guessing it's Latin, though I could be wrong...

"Omnis" means "all" (as in "omnipotent" - all-able) and "arcanum" means "secret" (as in "arcane" - difficult to understand) --BluePlatypus 23:44, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't have a dictionary handy, but I suspect it means "secret of everything." Brian G. Crawford, the so-called "Nancy Grace of AfD" 01:35, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

As blueplatypus said "Omni: means "all." Merriam-Webster says "Arcanum" means "mysterious knowledge, language, or information accessible only by the initiate..."
So with my two years of high school Latin, I'd agree it's "All [is] secret." I do recall that Latin could get along without verbs in cases like this. Did you read our Blood Ravens article? --Halcatalyst 02:40, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, not quite: if nominative, omnis is masc/fem, while arcanum is neuter. 'All is secret' would be 'omne [est] arcanum'. But omnis might be genitive, giving 'secret of everything'. However, none of this sounds at all plausible: this is just cod Latin. Maid Marion 08:51, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Just to confirm what Marion said: It's Pig Latin, more or less. ;) —Nightstallion (?) Seen this already? 13:03, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Pig Latin is very different from that. 21:11, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks all of you for your informative replies! I looked at the Blood Ravens article but it said nothing about the etymology of the name, which is what I want. So if Omnis Arcanum is pig Latin, what's the most "correct" way to say "secret of everything"?
According to my Latin dictionary, Tacitus uses the phrase omnium secreta rimari "to delve into the secrets of everything", so I guess omnium secretum would mean "the secret of everything". Angr (talkcontribs) 10:05, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

March 24[edit]

The easiness to learn a language[edit]


I'd like to know that is there any scale or index created to rank how easy to learn a language?


---User:cpcheung 23:14, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

No. It's not even really feasible. A Spainish speaker will find Italian a lot easier to learn than an English speaker, and the English speaker will find it a lot easier to learn than a Japanese speaker will.--Prosfilaes 03:31, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
While I agree with Prosfilaes, I've come up with my own short list of the easiest languages for an English speaker to learn fluently (in order):
  1. Scots
  2. Spanish (particularly for Americans, it loses some edge to Brits and Canadians)
  3. French
  4. Norman (particularly Jèrriais)—Norman is nearly as easy for an English speaker to learn as French.
The reason no Germanic languages are on there (excepting Scots, which is a German-Norman hybrid, like English) is because, while it is easy for English speakers to pick up basic Germanic vocabulary, most more complicated German words are much more difficult to learn, unlike (particularly in French and Norman) the oodles of advanced cognates some Romance languages have (stuff like English "electrocution" and French "électrocution"), making it much easier to gain full fluency in these languages. The Jade Knight 03:46, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
From an objective standpoint it would not be feasible, as already stated above. If certain languages were inherently more difficult to learn, then certain children would take longer than others to reach linguistic maturity, and this is not the case. Of course, some languages are more complex than others, as explained in this post by Jacques Guy, but that doesn't translate into "difficulty" per se.
Anyway, while there is no way to establish the objective difficulty of a language, one may establish their difficulty with respect to speakers of any given specific language. I believe the U.S. military ranks languages according to the difficulty they pose to English speakers. I don't recall the scoring system, but I remember that Chinese was the hardest and Spanish the easiest, with Arabic, Japanese, and Russian somewhere in the middle.
I came across this interesting article, which mentions an unpublished document known as the "The Missionary Training Center Language Difficulty Index" (LDI), which may be what you're looking for. It compares the native language to the target language in seven categories: writing system, phonology, tones, genetic relationship (e.g. cognates), morphology, syntax, and "sociolinguistic issues" (ostensibly this would include Japanese honorifics, avoidance speech, and other culture-specific linguistic devices). The LDI uses a sixty-point scale to quantify the level of difficulty. At the link you can find an in-depth explanation of the process. As an example, they compare English to both Mandarin and Cantonese. In the end, it is established (in every category) that Cantonese is more difficult than Mandarin for English-speakers. Of course, if they were compared to, say, Tibetan, instead of English, Cantonese might turn out to be easier. It's completely relative. Bhumiya/Talk 04:39, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
All of Bhumiya's points are quite well-made, and I haven't much to add, except to cite this site, which divides languages into three categories based upon the facility with which a native speaker of English might learn them; I think the system referenced by Bhumiya as used by the U.S. military (to-wit, the Defense Language Institute) is similarly-styled, although it may consist (or may have consisted), IIRC, of five categories. Joe 06:40, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
I have heard that Latter-day Saint missionary language-learning materials (such as the LDI) are quite good, but unfortunately they do not seem to make them available to the general public. The Jade Knight 10:19, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Of course,desire comes into it.If you really ,really want to learn a language then the task is easier.If it's forced on you,i.e. at school the required motivation is absent.I would like to learn Vietnamese or Welsh and would try really hard but simply could'nt be arsed in school with German...... hotclaws**==

The Defense Language Institute of the US military ranks languages by difficulty for native English speakers. Per the DLI, the four hardest languages for English speakers are Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic. The next tier includes Russian, Farsi, Vietnamese, and Greek among others. Here's the DLI website giving the full list. As a side-note, the Guiness Book of World records best linguist in the world, Ziad Fazah, claims of the 58 languages he has mastered, Mandarin was the hardest because of all the homonyms which force the learning of entire phrases not just words. 23:48, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
I, frankly, don't find Farsi that hard to comprehend. I mean, I have studied a LOT (to which my babel thing is testament)of languages, so maybe I'm a bad person to talk, but I guess my brain is just built that way. I have not studied any non-Indo-European languages, so I would venture to say that they are harder. I am nowhere near fluent in Farsi, but so far, it hasn't been so tough. Dlayiga 02:38, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
I, personally, don't find Mandarin that difficult, once you get pronunciation down. The Jade Knight 02:39, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Define anozinizing[edit]

The authors of South Park recently issued the following statement: "So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!" (Emphasis mine)

I've never heard the word "anozinizing" before. Anyone know what it means? 10:26, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Given the source, they probably just made it up. Angr (talkcontribs) 14:33, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
And given the context, it seems to be a parody of Scientology-speak. Markyour words 19:09, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
At the end of the episode, all of the names in the credits have been changed to "John Smith" or "Jane Smith." The word is probably a parody of Scientology language meaning "to make anonymous."TheSPY 20:26, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Hubbard, Scientology's founder, was fond of coining words and phrases, like "suppressive person", thetan, dianetics, e-meter, and of course Scientology itself. Superm401 - Talk 03:11, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Like Maternal[edit]

What's the word for the love a child feels for their mother/parent? The equivalent of maternal/paternal/fraternal? I tried searching, but obviously using the word 'love' in association with 'child' gave only distressing results. 15:33, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

You mean filial love? Maid Marion 16:05, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

--Nice one, Maid Marion Don420 20:04, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Native English Pronunciation[edit]

"I have not considered it."

In the above sentence, does have sound like ash or does the vowel possess a schwa sound by standards of colloquial American accent?

If not weren't there, the vowel in have would sound like a schwa; does not change anything?Patchouli 15:43, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

We'll need a more specific term than "Native English," i.e. British English, American English, Australian English . . . Even so, myriad dialects within each one might result in a different answer. In the American English that I speak, which is not particularly "southern" or "midwestern", the a in have sounds like the a in ash; the presence of "not" makes no difference. --LarryMac 16:10, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
He said American English. In ordinary spoken colloquial English it would be contracted to "I've not considered it" or "I haven't considered it", so it's difficult to say how the uncontracted form should be pronounced. Obviously both [hæv] and [həv] would be understood, and neither would be called wrong, but I suppose [həv] would be more common. And no, the presence of not doesn't make a difference. Angr (talkcontribs) 16:14, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
[həv] would be nonstandard here. The Jade Knight 19:48, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
I speak a dialect of Western American English, and for me, the "a" is also pronounced æsh, regardless of "not". Even in the expressino "I haven't", the "a" is still pronounced the same ("I've not" is not usual for my dialect, though I use it occasionally). The Jade Knight 19:46, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Mea culpa, I completely skimmed over the "colloquial American accent" part. --LarryMac 16:31, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

The"a" gets longer or shorter depending what part of the UK you live in.Also in many local dialects the"H" would disappear from the begining of "have"hotclaws**

There are several issues getting confused here. I think the question involves mainly reduction. English (essentially all dialects) often has what are called reductions when vowels are not stressed. A schwa is one level of reduction (disappearance is another). It appears when have is not stressed. In "I have not considered it," if the have is stressed the vowel will not be reduced, and it will probably rhyme with ash. If the not is stressed it will be, and will be either a schwa or possibly elided.

Another question are the various dialectal differences involving historical English short a, which affect words like have (when stressed) and ash. I am not an expert on the distribution internationally, but I suspect that they are usually perhaps always going to rhyme, and that most of the time they will be pronounced [æ], but not in every dialect. see Broad A ==

Both could be possible. It depends on the context. The problem is that whereas some people write "I have" or "I've" to show the pronunciation, other people were taught NEVER to write "I've", "can't", "we'd", etc, so it's impossible to tell which they mean. They use the contractions in speech but not in writing. Jameswilson 00:19, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
  • I thank everyone for its responses.Patchouli 10:12, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Grammatical Case Loss[edit]

Is there any reason to explain why grammatical cases have fallen out of use in several languages in favor of using word order to indicate syntax? For example, Spanish comes from Latin, but Spanish nouns and adjectives indicate only number and gender, not case. In addition, Ancient Hebrew used to have full-functioning nominative, genitive, and accusative cases, but even by Biblical Hebrew, only lemmata and usage traces of these cases remained. -- 17:48, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

I think I would see this as a larger move towards analytic language. However, I can't think of one example of the reverse, languages gaining new inflexions, happening. — Gareth Hughes 18:03, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
In Otto Jespersen's Language: Its Nature, Development, and Origin the gradual disappearance from many languages of grammatical cases and declensions is discussed as a general process of improvement, a movement towards simpler and more effective means. I don't know if his theories are accepted by modern linguists, but it sounded very convincing to me when I read it. David Sneek 18:36, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
What puzzles me is that so many languages retain gender, which serves no purpose at all. Markyour words 19:07, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
I would like to hear more about your assumption, Markyour words. Don420 20:12, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
What assumption? Markyour words 20:35, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
My question is why languages have gender to begin with. -- Mwalcoff 23:42, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
I have an interesting counter-example showing that analytical language is not always "movement towards simpler and more effective means" — specifically, the “effective” part. :) I am a native speaker of a highly inflected language (Russian), and for this micro-study I asked a few native only speakers, what would they reply on a phone ringing while at barber's, if the other party asked what they were doing? The common answer was: "I am having my hair cut." (rarely “getting,” but this is unimportant.) And inflected languages? Here you go: Latin tondeor, Russian [я] стригусь (brackets are to mean that the pronoun is optional.) Analytical languages may be simpler — although "simpler" is as in "to walk is simpler that to eat nuts from a bag: you have much fewer muscles to supervise;" language is used unconciously, and thus "simple/complex" axis is apparently unapplicable to it at all — but not at all more pragmatically effective, if efficiency may be correlated with the number of lexemes or phonemes used: for what Latin does in 7 letters, English needs 6 words :)
Anyhow, the subject has been interesting me for a while. The IE languages lose inflection over time, while new cases over the original 8 appeared rarely, and hardly survived (Russian prepositional case, which is morphologically same as the extinct locative, is in full use but is "more synthetic" as it requires a preposition; Lithuanian, the most conservative modern IE language, has lost 2 of 3 "extra" cases, and the third, the illative, is waning). While the tendency to eliminate irregularities is very much explainable, the tendency to eliminate rules is not. Another fascinating and closely related subject is the origin of the complexity of proto-IE; this one has hardly been systemathically taken upon. I'd be awfully grateful (and this is not just a figure of speech!) to see any pointers to the new research in these areas. 07:47, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
It is also interesting that several languages have moved towards using tones (and then more tones), rather than away from this. My guess, however, is that language tends to be cyclical—words get smashed together and shortened, and then recombined into long words, which get smashed together and shortened again, slang takes over and words switch out, grammar gets simplified and word order gains prominence… but then normal words turn into particles, and particles transform into cases, and grammar complexifies itself once again, only to repeat the cycle.
IE was probably very case/conjugation heavy, explaining why most of its descendants now have become much more simplified—but was proto-Finnish as complicated as modern Finnish, I wonder? The Jade Knight 20:31, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
IMO, languages like Finnish and Hungarian don't quite fit into this hypothesis, since they're more or less agglutinative languages.. I said it here before, but I think there's little reason to believe that the language will develop the same way if you start with over 20 cases as when you start with 8. That said, Finnish and Hungarian have indeed lost some of their cases. --BluePlatypus 20:37, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't think it's a question of increasing or decreasing complexity. In the case of Chinese at least, the move towards tones didn't make the language more complex, because the tones replaced certain phonemes. Similarly with cases: information isn't gained or lost, it's just moved from one form of expression (declension) to another (prepositions). Markyour words 20:42, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
But that's exactly my point! Complexity moves around. It may move from particles to word order, but it's still there. When you drop cases, you have to add prepositions. Drop prepositions, you have to add cases. The Jade Knight 20:47, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Ah; when you talked about grammar getting simplified and becoming more complex again, I pictured these taking place seriatim. If you mean simultaneously, then I quite agree. HenryFlower 01:39, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Lost cases as compared to the language 2000 years ago? The Jade Knight 20:49, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, I don't think anyone really knows what those languages looked like 2000 years ago. But certainly if you compare Finnish with Hungarian with Sami, it's obvious that new cases must have appeared and other ones disappeared. --BluePlatypus 14:28, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Thank you to everyone who has given his or her input on my question. The topic of case loss is evidently more complex than what I initially imagined. It is interesting that languages (namely, the Romance languages) that have lost their declensions have retained somewhat extensive conjugations, most of which have null-subject attributes. While prepositions eliminated declensions, pronouns did not eliminated person and number from conjugations. Once again, thank you all. (New username of who posted the question)--El aprendelenguas 02:04, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

A late thought, if I may. Mwalcoff, your question was why languages have gender to begin with. I prefer to ask "what does the fact that languages have gender tell us about humans' propensity to distinguish between male and female?". This is because language is nothing if not a reflection of society. Males and females have always fallen into different camps, in all societies and not just human ones. Whatever they may have in common, males and females are different things, and have different names. Children differentiate males from females quite early, well before that knowledge could be of any practical use to them. It seems to be innate, which is probably a good thing for the future of humankind. The bonobos don't seem to have quite got the idea yet, but they're learning. (I'm coming back as a bonobo in my next life, btw.) JackofOz 13:43, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
That question seems to presuppose that all languages divide their nouns into genders based on sex. They don't. Some languages use other types of grammatical gender, such as animate/inanimate, or based on the shape and/or flexibility of the object. Many language have no grammatical way of distinguishing males from females at all, not even a difference between "he" and "she" in pronouns. So there's nothing universal about it at all. Angr (talkcontribs) 14:01, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
During the evolution of my comment, at one stage I conceded there would be many counter-examples, and I was speaking generally. Seems I was over zealous with my editing. OK, so maybe it's not innate. I assume the proportion of languages that don't have grammatical gender is very low (I'd hazard a guess at less than 1%). My question would be, "Why do these languages differ from the norm?". JackofOz 15:00, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

---origin and end of gender--- The key point is that gender is simply a system of word classes, that get different patterns of agreement with complements (e.g., adjectives), determiners (e.g., articles), pronouns, and often verbs. So you get el niño bueno, la niña buena. However, there gender does not necessarily associate with sex; that's just the pattern in Indoeuropean and Semitic languages, which are the most familiar to us. Bantu languages often have 10 or so genders, with a vague semantic motivation, (long object, food, etc.) which is not consistent any more than masculine and feminine gender are in IE languages.

I'm not an expert on this area, but my understanding is that gender originates historically from classifiers. Classifiers are words that describe a type of something and end up being obligatorily used with words that fit that type. For instance in Vietnamese, which may or may not be the best example, though it's the only one I know at all, the word for meat is thith (not sure of spelling). To say chicken, you say thith ga. To say beef, it's thith bo, and so on. It's as if in English we had to say chicken meat and cow meat. In that way, you classify the animal as meat. As time goes on, these words can be reanalyzed grammatically as bound morphemes, and can be reduced phonologically. They can then get repeated on determiners or complements. It's possible to speculate that the masculine ending in Protoindoeuropean began as something like the word for male or man, became a classifier (male child, male person, male sheep), got reduced to a bound, inflectional morpheme, and spread to all words that were analyzed as grammatically masculine, whether or not they had any meaning of maleness. The form may have begun by attaching to or becoming determiners and/or complements (e.g. adjectives) or through its phonological form changed the sounds of those words or some other process created different patterns of determiners or complements for masculine words, as opposed to feminine or neuter ones.

Another fact is that there appears to be a natural tendency for humans to organize words into classes, and have all the members of a class act in concert. When an emerging gender morpheme gets associated with some members of a particular class, it may then spread to all.

Gender disappears through phonological leveling, that is sounds that were once distinct become merged. There is a natural tendency for mergers to overcome distinctions. So the caught/cot merger is spreading inexorably. In English, we no longer have gender (him and her are sex reference not gender) because the final vowels in many words, which formerly distinguished them, merged to schwa. It is also speculated that Scandavian speakers in late Old English early Middle English times, had a somewhat different gender system, and when they mixed with English speakers, the system became neutralized. Perhaps in the future, we'll develop systems of classifiers in English and the process will begin again.

Again, this isn't my area of expertise, but that's more or less the outline.

March 25[edit]

Swearing in Wikipedia Articles[edit]

Hi I was wondering what is Wikipedia's policy on swearing in articles? I dont mean as in just swearing for the sake of swearing, I mean are you able to put the actual words 's-h-i-t' etc.. in quotations?

Thanks for your help in advance --Sahafan 09:18, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

See Wikipedia:Profanity. The Jade Knight 09:26, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for such a quick response :) --Sahafan 09:30, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

You're very welcome. The Jade Knight 09:31, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Shaving tackle[edit]

I've come across this word in a piece of fiction full of old words. All I can find is references to football and fishing. Can anyone tell me what a shaving tackle is? - 13:26, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Tackle in this sense means gear or equipment. Shaving tackle is razors, brushes, foam, etc. Fishing tackle is rods, reels, baits, etc. There's also "wedding tackle", an Australianism for genitalia. JackofOz 13:45, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

(Posting after edit conflict) Shaving tackle appears to refer to the implements necessary to shave (old style): Strop, straight razor, soap brush, styptic etc. Image listed as Sterling Silver Shaving Tackle in Velvet Case. And here, lists the following for tackle: 3. Gear, stuff. Example "shaving tackle". --Fuhghettaboutit 13:50, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Alphabetical Order in Japanese[edit]

Do Japanese characters have an agreed upon order, like the Roman alphabet? I'm curious how the three different character sets are alphabetized with each other. And, what about Kanji? How do Japanese readers order a list of Kanji? It seems there are far too many characters to organize in a specific order. If there are phonebooks in Japan, how do they order the characters used for names? -Quasipalm 16:54, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Just found the answer to my own question. See: Collation#Radical-and-stroke sorting.
Another form of collation is radical-and-stroke sorting, used for non-alphabetic writing systems such as Chinese logographs and Japanese kanji, whose thousands of symbols defy ordering by convention. In this system, common components of characters are identified; these are called radicals in Chinese and logographic systems derived from Chinese.
Characters are then grouped by their primary radical, then ordered by number of pen strokes within radicals. When there is no obvious radical or more than one radical, convention governs which is used for collation. For example, the Chinese character for "mother" (媽) is sorted as a thirteen-stroke character under the three-stroke primary radical (女).
-Quasipalm 17:00, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
See also Kana#collation. --Kusunose 02:22, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

German bird[edit]

Hello deskers, could you tell me what a Felsenpfeifer is? My German-English bird translation skills aren't that hot. It's for my new article Birds of the Faroe Islands. Thankyou, --{{User:Wonderfool/sig}} 16:57, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

It literally means "rock piper", but you probably knew that already. I can't find it on Google, except on mirrors of the Wikipedia article. Bhumiya/Talk 18:20, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
I suspect it's the rock pipit, Anthus petrosus. Angr (talkcontribs) 18:29, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't understand German, but this might help: Stelzen (Familie) The Jade Knight 02:42, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

The Russian translation for "Black"[edit]

I'm writing a historical fiction novel in which Russia occupies an unnamed American city. One of the characters is a mulatto and is often a victim of rascist remarks from the occupiers. Is there an English transliteration for the word mulatto, or a word similar in definition? If not, what about the word "black"? I googled it and found several variants, but don't know which one to choose: chorniy chornogo chrornomu chornym chornom chornaya chornoy chornuyu chornoye chorniye chornyh chornym chornymy

Which one of these would refer to an male individual whose race were being referred to in a derrogatory manner as "black"?

I don't think those are different words, they're just the same word in different cases, number and/or gender. You'd need to give a whole sentence, or at least a whole phrase, to know the right form. What do you mean by 'English transliteration for the word mulatto'? Mulatto is an English word. HenryFlower 21:22, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Those are various declensions of "чернота" (chernota), that is "black" (the color). Mulatto is "мулат" (mulat). A derogatory term used would be "черножопый" (chernozhopiy) "black-ass". Note that term is also used against those who look Caucasian. That is, people actually from Caucasus, not white people. (Yes, Russians do seem to find the American usage of the term as synonymous with "white" amusing) --BluePlatypus 22:49, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
I think they're declensions of the adjective чёрный (black). The first 5 are masculine, the next 3 are feminine, the next 1 is neuter, and the last 4 are plural. JackofOz 06:37, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
I'll venture a guess that chorniy is masculine nominative, which is likely the form you need. I also have a question. Is this historical Russia that occupies the city Soviet Union? If so, Soviets as communists and internationalists would have likely viewed themselves as liberators of oppressed minorities from the racist capitalist government, so I don't really see their soldiers engaging in such activities. Zocky | picture popups 23:09, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Like Zocky said, if your story takes place 25 or more years back, keep in mind that racism by the occupiers would be covered up and looked down to. E.g. take a look at First International, Socialist International or even The Internationale. However, keep in mind racial dynamics in Russia (e.g. oblasts with mostly non-Slavic population, racial distribution between Asian and European regions, etc.). Now, some names for a black person in Russian would be негр (negr, which is not offensive as English nigger or even negro nowdays), or чёрный (cherniy - nominative, masculine). негр is a noun, while чёрный is an adjective. I suggest you also take a look at Color_metaphors_for_race#Russia. --dcabrilo 23:31, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
The things there are articles on never ceases to amaze! But I agree, the opression of blacks in the USA was a staple of Soviet propaganda. The most applicable form of racism (if any) to US conditions would probably be anti-semitism, which has deep roots in Russia (as in much of Europe), although the official stance varied widely depending on the time period. --BluePlatypus 00:44, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Also note that in recent years Russians have wisened up to the fact that in English "nigger" is a derogatory term for Blacks, and sometimes use its direct transliteration "ниггер" when they want to degrade them. This, however, is only a recent development and would not have been used 10 years ago. In addition, "обезьяна" (obezyana), meaning "monkey", is also used as a derogatory term, and can be combined with the aforementioned "chernozhopiy" (black-assed), producing "черножопая обезьяна" (chernozhopaya obezyana) to express extreme hatred and prejudice. You should also note that in Russian, the word "mulat" (mulatto), has a somewhat positive connotation, as does "kreol" (Creole) or "mavr" (Moor), invoking an image of an exotic and interesting character in literature, perhaps because there is very little association between those terms and people a Russian is likely to have seen. In addition, when using the feminine for a mulatto (mulatka) or a Creole (kreolka), it is almost implied that you are talking about an attractive person (again, this is probably the result of images from literature). --Aramգուտանգ 08:45, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

March 26[edit]

Mopeds,gopeds,and energy usage[edit]

I was wondering, are you really doing anything to prevent energy consumption when you use a moped instead of a goped?t still runs on electricity, and that runs on oil anyway so are you really doing any good?

I don't know much about mopeds or gopeds, but there are numerous ways to obtain electricity without using oil—Hydroelectricity, geothermal power and Nuclear power are all such examples. The Jade Knight 02:21, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

The main advantage of mopeds is that, when compared with cars or SUVs, they don't use much energy. StuRat 03:25, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Latin translation[edit]

Lingua Tusca magis apta est ad literam sive literaturam.

What does the preceding mean? (I presume it is Latin; this comes from here. zafiroblue05 | Talk 02:04, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

The best I can make out is "the language of Tuscany is better suited to literature." --Fuhghettaboutit 02:36, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
"The Tuscan tongue is better suited to the letter or literature." —Keenan Pepper 05:10, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm just guessing, but I suspect there is a slight mis-quotation - I suspect the original author wrote 'literas' rather than 'literam'. Maid Marion 09:39, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Where to learn german[edit]

Hard question,But I was wondering if someone know where can i learn German in Queens(New york city)

Try checking out materials from a local library. The Jade Knight 03:31, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Reading books won't be accurate.

Generally, you can find all sorts of multimedia materials in libraries—this is about the best resource you'll find short of having a professional teacher. If you're looking for someone to exchange language practice on the internet, there are websites which can help with that (such as this one). The Jade Knight 05:20, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Practicing on the Internet is a very good way to hone your skills. You might also want to check out this link to some language centers in the New York area. Naturally it's more expensive than learning from books or CDs, but learning at a center could be faster and more effective. Bhumiya/Talk 19:32, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
With some judicious internet searching I was able to find extensive audio and video lessons, pronunciation guides, exercises, practice stories and vocab lists. I combined that with what my local library had and ended up with some very good resources—for Hindi no less, a much less commonly taught language than German. You should find a lot more for German. Wikipedia isn't bad either, if you find some spoken versions of German articles that will amount to a lot of pronunciation practice, and movies are good too. See also what the local universities have. They may have resources you can go there to use such as audio lessons, etc, even if you're not a student. So far I haven't spent a dime, though as Bhumiya mentioned, you could if you wanted. - Taxman Talk 15:28, 27 March 2006 (UTC)


Is there a list of adjectives, nouns or verbs with their suitable prepositions? It is difficult for Germans to use phrases like "typical of" "difficulties in" or "give away" correctly.

Section 4 of this page may be helpful. David Sneek 12:48, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

The Dnieper River[edit]

What is the meaning of the word "Dnieper"

'The river in the rear' [22], from Scythian via Greek. HenryFlower 10:31, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Transcribing an old text[edit]


I am working on 1633 printing of John Donne's Poems which can be found here. I have two questions. First in general, what does everyone think of variety in spacing following punctuation. I have been trying to copy as closely as possible but it is hard to judge because each line is spaced slightly differently. Is there any rhyme or reason to why there is you;but in one place and turne ; and in another and then ſeene; he in yet another instance? Secondly a specific question. What is the character in the word correctness? Not the long s(ſ), the really odd c connected to t?--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 21:45, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

The "ct" is just a ligature -- no special meaning. --Chl 21:59, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
You can find a font here that includes the ct ligature if you are word-processing the printing and trying to preserve the character of the original as much as possible. Theshibboleth 22:07, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Thank you. Yes I am trying to reproduce it at s:Poems (Donne). Is there any advantage or disadvantage to trying to replicate the odd spacing with the puntuation? Are they are just the printer being careless, or is the some reason any one would care to see it replicated?--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 22:23, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm guessing that it's the printer either being careless or trying to space the line to fit or be fully justified. If you want to keep absolute fidelity to the original, keep it. If you want to clean it up to make it easier to read, fix it. The Jade Knight 23:40, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Well I am not keeping the original line breaks so I shouldn't keep the spacing to justify them. I just wish I knew better what sort of spacing was standard in that time period. I didn't have any luck with the ligature, as I am trying to put this on wiki rather than being able to use a special font on my word processer. I found one place that suggested using c‍t as a workaround, but I amagine no one would understand that. --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 23:54, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
It might help to think about why you're trying to reproduce it accurately. Are the printer's intentions important to you, or only Donne's? HenryFlower 00:22, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
That is a good point. Generally I would say the authors intentions are most important. But in something as old as this the way it was presented is of no small interest itself. That said the scans are available freely online if anyone wants to see the printing. On the other hand if is no great effort to be accurate, why not go for it? If anyone wants a more readable version they can read the 1896 edition that is modernized. --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 00:38, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Textual critics who study printed sources generally make a large distinction between "substantive" and "accidental" variations. The latter are those introduced in the printing process, and they can be non-trivial; for example, one Freudian literary critic went on and on about "soiled fish of the sea" in Melville's Pierre, but the author actually wrote "coiled." However, for the most part they are insignificant. It's not at all like e e cummings. You'd have to make the case that Donne ever intended punctuation to be part of the meaning, because it certainly isn't obvious that he even had much control over the publication process (most authors past and present do not).
  • Here's where you can can read about the 1995 critical text of Donne's works. Definitely not modernized. --Halcatalyst 02:05, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Poem lyrics[edit]

Does anyone know where I can find the lyrics of Amir Khusro's poem Roop Saroop Jalwa Fadan ? Thanks! deeptrivia (talk) 23:25, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

March 27[edit]

Colorado/Rocky mountain English[edit]

Is there information available anywhere on the dialect in this region? I've tried searching Wikipedia and Google on the issue and turned up nothing. I started with Colorado, and finding nothing on that dialect, expanded my search to the Rocky Mountain area, with no success. I can easily find information on the Midwest, the South, or even a state-sized area such as California. For Colorado I have nothing but a few bits of self-analysis I've done, but that is unreliable. (not to mention the fact that since I left CO I've picked up german, with several new phonemes, as well as the fact that I've lived in Texas for three and a half years and self-educated myself in phonetics).

Specific questions at the moment: (I have what I think are the answers to these, but I'd like confirmation)

Is the Lenin/Lennon merger present? My own answer would be yes, but I've found little info on that merger in general, let alone its geographic distribution.

Is the Cot/caught merger present? Once again, I'd say yes. This is supported by descriptions of a "western" dialect I've seen, but I don't like the idea of lumping the Rocky Mountain region and everything to the West into one dialect group because the West coast has several features that I don't think happen in the RM region (or at least not in CO), such as the rang/rain and king/keen mergers.

Are the rang/rain and king/keen mergers present? As I said above, I don't think so.

Is there a split between the consonant + vowel /ju/ and the vowel /iw/? Yes, from my own analysis (A single instance of the letter "u" is "a u" /@ ju/, while a female sheep is "an ewe" /@n iw/, and I have a three way minimal pair between "use" /juz/, "ewes" /iwz/, and "ooze" /uz/). Most other dialects seem to lack this split. However, there is little or no information on the split anywhere.

How is /{/ tensed before different consonants? /{/ appears as the basic sound, /{:/ appears before /n/ and /m/ (although maybe /{_r/ would be the better symbol. It seems to be tenser rather than longer, but I couldn't find any X-SAMPA diacritic for tenseness), and /{i/ seems to appear before /g/ and /N/. All three are allophones of /{/.

Again, I think these represent features of the Colorado dialect, but I'm not at all certain. Confirmation would be great. Linguofreak 00:09, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Some, but not all, of these questions will be answered in The Atlas of North American English by William Labov, Sharon Ash, and Charles Boberg (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, ISBN 3110167468). Maybe you can find a copy at your nearest major university library, though the book was only published in December and is extremely expensive, so perhaps even they won't have it. You can buy it yourself from Amazon if you have $620 lying around and nothing better to do with it. You could also trying joining the e-mail list of the American Dialect Society and asking the people there what research has been conducted on the Colorado accent. Angr (talkcontribs) 05:12, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
No, I don't have $620 lying around, and I'm currently living about 90 minutes drive away from the nearest large city, which with today's gas prices equates to exactly $621 to get to the nearest university library. :-) But I'm hoping to get to University of Arizona next year, which I understand is a fairly descent linguistics school, so they might well have it. Of course, I don't have the $24,000 a year they want for out-of-state students lying around either... Speaking of which (a bit off topic): exactly how good is U of A's undergrad ling program? What schools have better UG ling programs? Are there any good UG ling schools in Texas? And maybe something that could answer all of those at once: is there anything available on the web where I could find a listing of schools with UG ling majors ranked by the quality of their ling programs? Linguofreak 05:41, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Both University of Arizona at Tucson and University of Texas at Austin have very good linguistics departments, though I'm not sure to what extent they're good for undergrads too, or only good for grad students. In general, linguistics departments tend to focus on their grad students rather than their undergrads; my impression is that's true throughout the country. I don't know off the top of my head of any ranking of undergrad linguistics programs, but maybe you could snoop around and see what you find, or write them an e-mail and ask. Angr (talkcontribs) 05:52, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
My dad seemed unimpressed with the Ling dept. at UT Austin when I did my campus visit there, but really liked the one at UoA. Linguofreak 03:48, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, to be honest I was unimpressed with the Ling dept. at UT Austin when I was an undergraduate linguistics major there, but they still have a good reputation. And I was there 1986-90, so I was hoping things had changed by now. Angr (talkcontribs) 08:35, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Little survey[edit]

it's often said that a vowel-rich language is more pleasing than one which is consonant-rich in terms of sound, i don't know if everyone can agree with that (i myself often doubt that), so i venture to have a little survey here: do you feel that a vowel-rich language is audioly more pleasing than a consonant-rich one? e.g., do you think Italian sounds better than German? i know the question is oversimplifying, a possible response is: "well, it depends on who speaks that language, every language can be spoken beautifully..." but let's have a very general survey...--K.C. Tang 00:13, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

I've always appreciated the sound of Russian, and disliked the sounds of Spanish and French, but it's hard to tell how much that's connected to other feelings about the languages.--Prosfilaes 00:22, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

If you just want general opinions I'd say "Nein, Deutsch ist viel schöner als Italienisch." (German is much more beautiful than Italian). Linguofreak 00:24, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

I am very partial to Persian. There's something about the vowels that just gets to me. I also really love Xhosa.Dlayiga 00:26, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Short answer: no. Longer answer: there's a bit in Ulysses where the two characters, Bloom and Stephen, overhear a couple of Italians talking. Bloom says that he thinks Italian is a beautiful language, and asks Stephen what they were saying. Stephen says, "they were arguing about money". HenryFlower 00:27, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

A vowel-rich language sounds more like music, since vowels can have tones, and thus, sounds "more pleasing." Spanish is my favorite, since it is a harmonious language with pure vowels and favors open syllables. While there is, of course, some personal preference involved in the question above, many people would agree that certain sounds simply do not sound pleasing. Take the epiglottal sounds, for example (see International Phonetic Alphabet).--El aprendelenguas 01:35, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

À chacun son goût. De gustibus non est disputandum. Verweile doch, du bist so schön. Beautiful in thought as well as tongue. The rest is silence. --Halcatalyst 01:44, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't know that so many of the guttural sounds are by nature displeasing, it's just that the ones not found in English (or your own native language) tend to be mispronounced by English speakers learning languages that have those sounds, thus, they sound bad to English speakers, since lots of our exposure to other languages comes through English speakers who have learned them. A properly pronounced /x/ is in my opinion one of the most beautiful sounds there is (certainly moreso than English's hard, abrupt k). Most English speakers' can't say /x/ properly, though, so we don't think much of German. An English speaker says: "Letztuh Nokkht hæbuh ik meinuh Howsufgoben gemokkht. Ikkh hæbuh es hoytuh gebrok(choke)t." As opposed to the German, who lets loose with a flowing, "Letzte Nacht hab' ich meine Hausaufgaben gemacht. Ich hab' es heute gebracht." linguofreak

I totally agree with you on this point. In [x], the back of the tongue does not touch the roof of the mouth or the uvula. Is there a name for the horrible sound English speakers use instead? It's not really a unvoiced uvular trill, but it's close. —Keenan Pepper 05:31, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
I dimly remember a story about an Englishman, a Spaniard (??) and an Italian (??) arguing about which language is the more beautiful, and focusing on the respective words for 'butterfly' in these languages. A German overhears and interjects with 'Was ist los mit Schmetterling?'. Maid Marion 09:13, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

It's not just the English who can't pronounce the [x]. In Der Rosenkavalier, Valzacchi is an Italian whose bad German pronunciation (and grammar) gets some laughs in Act III:

Ik rat' Euer Gnad'n, seien vorsicktig!
Die Sittenpolizei sein gar nit tolerant!
Sogleich in Anfang. Wird sogleich zur Stelle sein.
O weh, was macken wir?
Ick excusier mick. Ick weiß nix. Die Herr kann sein Baron, kann sein auch nit. Ick weiß von nix.

JackofOz 12:46, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure about that theory.. Norwegian and Swedish for instance have quite a lot of vowel sounds, and also a melodic prosody. They're not usually accused of sounding ugly, but don't seem to top anyone's lists of most beautiful either. (Danish, which uses the glottal stop instead, is widely considered to sound pretty ugly though) I think the gutteral sound of the Dutch "g"/the last sound in the Scottish "loch" is considered ugly by quite a lot of people. (Certainly much worse than the German "ch") Certainly languages that have melody are usually considered more beautiful. (So not Finnish or Japanese) Personally, I think Romanian sounds cool. :) --BluePlatypus 13:05, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
BTW, here is a page with sound samples of Danish dialects. Judge for yourself. At your own risk :) --BluePlatypus 13:08, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
so much from you guys! :) --K.C. Tang 13:30, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Actually, I'm not Danish or speak it. I can read and write it at an intermediate level (say, a newspaper) but those dialects (except Copenhagenian) are near-incomprehensible to me. OTOH, they're nearly incomprehensible to a lot of native speakers as well, which says something about how inarticulate the language is. --BluePlatypus 17:31, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure exactly what sound English speakers use to pronounce /x/ in German. I think varies from speaker to speaker, but for those that attempt it at all (rather than substituting k) I have a couple theories. 1) Something involving a good deal of saliva. 2) Something uvular. 3) Something with the airway being much tighter than typical for a fricative, but not closed completely as for a stop. 4) Something behind the uvula, say epiglottal for instance. When the palatal allophone is involved (as in "ich," "recht," "nicht"), you often end up with either /k/ or /S/. I tried asking the guy next to me to pronounce "Nacht," but he actually managed to get the /x/ out without much trouble. He did end up dropping the /t/ though. Which also seems to be common. Some people here on campus that have heard me speaking German will copycat me every once in a while and say "Nish! Nish!" (nicht). This would demonstrate both the dropping of sounds after /x/ and the conversion of the palatal version to /S/. Linguofreak 03:46, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I like dipthongs. Languages rich in those are beautiful. I also like the /غ/ in Arabic. I like the /خ/ when it's soft and natural, but not when it's forced. I like the /l/ and a lightly rolled /r/. I don't very much like the sound of German because it sounds forced to me with all the cht's and such. For that matter the /ع/ often sounds unnaturally forced into Arabic words and I don't like that. I agree with the other fellow about Persian. They have a very soft natural pronounciation and they rarely sound like they're forcing anything. -LambaJan 04:04, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't think you're supposed to use "/.../" with anything other than IPA or X-Sampa characters (or some other phonetic alphabet). The X-SAMPA values of the two Arabic characters you listed are /G/, and /x/, and /x/ is the ch in German. Most of the time in German this is pronounced "soft and natural", but most of the German that non-Germans here is 1) Non-Germans attempting to speak German, and over-forcing /x/ because they don't know how to say it, or 2) actors playing stark-raving-mad dictators or Nazi drill seargents shouting at the top of their lungs. Any language can sound ugly when the speaker is screaming till he goes hoarse. Linguofreak 23:18, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, I wasn't aware that the /.../ convention was restricted to those characters. I actually listed three characters, but it's hard to tell because of font size. The غ doesn't directly correspond to the /G/, but rather the /ɣ/ or /ʁ/. The ﺝ in Egyptian colloquial would sound like a /G/. I can respect what you said about German, and I hope to hear a good sample sometime. -LambaJan 03:30, 3 April 2006 (UTC)


This thought crossed my mind this evening and I wanted to see if it made any sense. Could the word median, meaning "middle", derive from the fact that the ancient Greeks called the Persians "Medes" and the war fought against Persia was known as the "Median Wars"? Perhaps because Persia was located in the middle of the world as it was known at that time (and even today, with the name "Middle East"). If this is true, which word came first? Did the Greeks call the Persians "medes" for some reason unrelated to the present term? (And yes, I realize that the Medes are actually a people distinct from the Persians.) Thanks, Ryan

Median is from the Latin word medius, "middle", which is from the PIE root *medhyo-. Mede is from the Greek μηδος (mēdos), which could possibly be related. If so, the sense of "middle" came first. —Keenan Pepper 04:58, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
For another use of the Latin, see the Wikipedia article In medias res.

Pronunciation of "Jehovah"[edit]

What is the IPA notation for "Jehovah"? I am particularly curious to see if there are any similarities between its native pronunciation and its Chinese transliteration...thanks for your help! --HappyCamper 12:11, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

"Jehovah" itself is a medieval invention, based on a misunderstanding of the Hebrew manuscripts, so it doesn't really have a native pronunciation. See Tetragrammaton and Jehovah for more discussion. Angr (talkcontribs) 12:29, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

\ji-'hō-və\ is the pronunciation based on the phonics of Merriam-Webster. I am a former Jehovah's Witness, though I never got baptized and quit after 1.5 years.Patchouli 20:14, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
<unsolicited>I suggest you watch Life of Brian to find out what happens to those who pronounce Jehovah</unsolicited> --Fuhghettaboutit 21:08, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
I honestly don't understand the M-W system, but I (in the midwest United States) hear people say /dʒəhovə/. Ardric47 09:51, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
That is current, but the j (dʒ) is a rather recent development. When this spelling originated it probably represented phonemes that were closer to the original version it was transliterating. -LambaJan 03:47, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Apparently, as it was taboo to utter the name of God, the Hebrews mixed the consonants of 'Yahveh' and the vowels of 'Eloh' to make a new word, 'Yehov(+ah)'. This is where 'Jehovah' comes from. CCLemon 06:45, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

List with articles to translate[edit]

I hope this is the right section, in case it's not please tell me where I have to ask. I have a question regarding translations from the German Wikipedia. As there are lists for everything here, where do I find a list with articles that exist in German but not in English? Just like the Requested articles, only more specific. — Shantris Te'Amdoraja 14:40, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Here is a list. David Sneek 15:01, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
...which proves that there are really lists for everything here! That's great, thank you! :) — Shantris Te'Amdoraja 15:05, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
My pleasure. David Sneek 17:45, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

March 28[edit]


The grammatical gender article doesn't mention the possible origins of the subject, are there any books or websites that we can get the relevant info? (i heard that one of the hypothesises was that grammatical genders were related to mythology: the goddess of moon in the myth of a certain peopel is a woman, then "moon" is feminine in that language...) It seems a very big subject anyway, and inseparable from the idea of noun class...--K.C. Tang 00:38, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

gender origins[edit]

I added this to the article under march 24, when the subject came up. I'll repeat it here for convenience

The key point is that gender is simply a system of word classes, that get different patterns of agreement with complements (e.g., adjectives), determiners (e.g., articles), pronouns, and often verbs. So you get el niño bueno, la niña buena. However, there gender does not necessarily associate with sex; that's just the pattern in Indoeuropean and Semitic languages, which are the most familiar to us. Bantu languages often have 10 or so genders, with a vague semantic motivation, (long object, food, etc.) which is not consistent any more than masculine and feminine gender are in IE languages.

I'm not an expert on this area, but my understanding is that gender originates historically from classifiers. Classifiers are words that describe a type of something and end up being obligatorily used with words that fit that type. For instance in Vietnamese, which may or may not be the best example, though it's the only one I know at all, the word for meat is thith (not sure of spelling). To say chicken, you say thith ga. To say beef, it's thith bo, and so on. It's as if in English we had to say chicken meat and cow meat to refer to the food as opposed to the animal.

As time goes on, these classifiers can be reanalyzed grammatically as bound morphemes, and can be reduced phonologically. That is, they lose their status as independent words and only exist attached to another word. Perhaps an imperfect parallel would be gonna (it's imperfect because of course gonna is a verb plus pronoun that became an auxiliary verb, but that's the kind of process that happens. The new bound morphemes can then get repeated on determiners or complements, which is the process of agreement.

Therefore, it's possible to speculate that the masculine ending in Protoindoeuropean began as something as the word for male or man, became a classifier (male child, male person, male sheep), got reduced to a bound, inflectional morpheme (maychild, mayperson, maysheep), and spread to all words that were analyzed as grammatically masculine, whether or not they had any meaning of maleness. The form may have begun by attaching to or becoming determiners and/or complements (e.g. adjectives). Another fact is that there appears to be a natural tendency for humans to organize words into arbitrary classes, and have all the members of a class act in concert. When an emerging gender morpheme gets associated with some members of a particular class, it may then spread to all. There are also issues of how sound changes happen that I won't go into here because it would be too complicated to explain.

Gender disappears through a process called phonological leveling, that is sounds that were once distinct become merged. There is a natural tendency for mergers to overcome distinctions. (So the caught/cot merger is spreading inexorably). In English, we no longer have gender (him and her are sex reference not gender) because the final vowels in many words, which formerly distinguished them, leveled to schwa. It is also speculated that Scandavian speakers in late Old English early Middle English times, had a somewhat different gender system, and when they mixed with English speakers, the distinctions also became leveled. Perhaps in the future, we'll develop systems of classifiers in English and the process will begin again.

Again, this isn't my area of expertise, but that's more or less the outline. Maybe you got more than you bargained for!

Thanks your explanation! so the key point is "there appears to be a natural tendency for humans to organize words into arbitrary classes"?--K.C. Tang 08:04, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Yeah: that's the heart of genders/noun classes along with the existence of agreement that follows these classes. Note that we have a somewhat parallel phenomenon in verbal conjugation paradigms, the most familiar and obvious case being (-ar), (-er), and (-ir) verbs in Spanish. An interesting point in the field is that the existence of gender agreement patterns have been used as an argument by formalist linguists against structuralist ones since it is hard to imagine a purpose for it. mnewmanqc

"Tendency for humans to organize words into arbitrary classes" : yes, and everything else. Reference Desks, living species, castes, political parties, nations, colors and all are arbitrarily structured by opposing/complementary or multiple terms also. --DLL 21:22, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
I might suggest that information theory offers a reason why languages often use arbitrary classifiers: Noise disambiguation. Adding words that limit the possible number of different things you could be saying enhances clarity of communication under noisy conditions. For the Dutch speakers out there: Ik lees het ____. Most likely, the word "boek" follows, but not "krant". So, if the last word is partially garbled, your brain jumps more easily to the right conclusion about what word was said because the neuter article "het" was used.
This, however, is original research. Or at least, I can't find anybody else suggesting that. So it doesn't belong in Wikipedia articles.
For those who know more linguistics, this kind of logic is deployed by Andre Martinet in his Functional load hypothesis to explain phonological neutralisation in diachronic linguistics. It is a sort of extension of the theory that puts the emphasis on noise robustness. As a general principle, I think it can explain a lot of language changes, including changes motivated by sociolinguistics, like the formation of creoles. But, I haven't tried to write a paper on it. --Diderot 11:39, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Latin translation check[edit]

Am I right in thinking that [Fortuna,] omnis malos in terra expurga igni tua is a reasonable translation of "[Fortune,] purify by your fire all evils on earth"? Granted, it doesn't make much sense from a mythological viewpoint to the best of my knowledge, but I'm thinking of making it a motto for a pet project. - RedWordSmith 03:24, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Ignis is masculine, so it should be igni tuo. Other than that it looks fine. —Keenan Pepper 03:34, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
I'd say "omnia mala" for "all evils." Brian G. Crawford 03:50, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Me too. omnis malos is early Latin for omnes malos and would mean "all wicked people". Angr (talkcontribs) 05:27, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
What do you think about changing in terra to ex terra? That makes it analogous with expurga. In addition, some Latin grammar books condemn the placement of a vocative at the beginning of a sentence, (Jenny's First Year Latin is one), but poets have broken this rule. Nevertheless, if you feel compelled to follow this, consider "Expurga, Fortuna, omnia...."--El aprendelenguas 21:16, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks all. Omnia mala ex terra expurga igni tuo - it has a nice ring to it. - RedWordSmith 23:39, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
That sounds like Carmina Burana =) Ardric47 09:55, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm a little worried by the nature of this project. The voices didn't tell you to do it, did they? HenryFlower 20:14, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Sometimes, though, one's lack of Latin proficiency forces one to create slogans or stories that, viewed otherwise, would seem rather strange. When first I studied Latin my freshman year in high school, the book we used consisted largely of stories about a fictional family in Pompei, such that the vocabulary we learned was rather esoteric; when we had to write stories about the family after just a few weeks in class, our being familiar with an odd variety of words forced me to craft a narrative in which, after the Vesuvian eruption, the family dog and mother, thinking themselves to be the only creatures left on the planet, repeatedly tried mating to preserve life on Earth. Though I got an "A", the teacher never looked at me quite the same way again. Joe 20:27, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, in this case, it's just a personal project that I think deserves a cool and slightly unsetteling motto. If Henry is asking me if it was inspired by voices, then I think I've put my knowledge of Latin to good use. Funny story, BTW. :) - RedWordSmith 23:39, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
could also be "purify by fire all evils on your earth (terra tua)". --DLL 21:03, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

articles wrongly added to the english zone[edit]

I have writen some articles in Portuguese. I would like to post them on the portuguese zone of the wikipedia, but I was mistaken and I have added them to the english zone. If I cannot move them to the portuguese zone of the wikipedia they will be deleted in 2 weeks. Can you help me solve this problem so I won't be mistaken again and could you tell me how can I add articles directly to the portuguese zone. Thank you very much!

The articles were:

Sequenciação multiplex


cromossoma walking

The way to add them to the Portuguese Wikipedia is to use the prefix "pt" instead of "en", thus:
Just cut and paste the material from the English Wikipedia to the Portuguese Wikipedia pages at the above addresses. Also, please note that encyclopedia articles should not be signed. (I see your signature on the articles here at en:, but it should be removed when you move them to pt:.) Angr (talkcontribs) 12:05, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Also, I see Portuguese Wikipedia already has an article pt:Oligonucleotídeo. Angr (talkcontribs) 12:10, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Japanese word "Asami"[edit]

What is the meaning/definition(s) of the Japanese word Asami ? Thank you for your reply.

Curtis Tantillo

I don't know, but there's an article about it at Japanese Wikipedia: ja:あさみ. Seems to be a player for Gatas Brilhantes H.P.. Maybe there's a lexical meaning, too, but if so, it isn't at Wiktionary. Angr (talkcontribs) 15:26, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
it means "shallow water", but the word might be "azami" あざみ (thistle), if you're looking for a plant...--K.C. Tang 00:17, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Etymology of Greek Ptolemaios and Italian Tolomeo[edit]

I have some etymological questions related to issues I am trying to clear up at Ptolemy (disambiguation), which might eventually be detailed enough to warrant moving to something like Ptolemy (name). The questions are:

- Can anyone clarify the Greek origin and etymology of Ptolemaios? This is already briefly discussed at Ptolemy (disambiguation) and given in Greek polytonic (whatever that is), but I'd be grateful for further clarification and additions, especially of possible root words in Greek. Also, any relevant spellings in other languages would be great as well, though I think the Greek, Italian, Egyptian (hieroglyphics and cartouches) and English versions (not all these languages are there at the moment) would be enough to be going on with.

- Can anyone comment specifically on the etymology of Tolomeo (apparantly a name still in use in Italy today)? I have seen sources that say the name comes from the Ptolemaic pharaohs, but I am wondering if the name spread directly from Macedonia to Italy, rather than via Egypt? Though later, obviously, it could have taken both routes.

And any examples of the name Ptolemy in use today would also be great! Thanks. Carcharoth 15:35, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

According to my smaller Liddell and Scott, ancient Greek Ptolemos is an "Epic" variant of the word Polemos "war" (as in Polemic). In this context, "epic" means found in authors like Homer. I have no idea why the [t] is inserted here, but it's also found in the apparently unrelated words Ptolis and Ptolisma (for Polis and Polisma). AnonMoos 20:31, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Moos. A serious check everywhere (and we beat Britannica).
Bartolomeo (Bartholomew) could also give Tolomeo in Italian ; I'm sure Ptolomeo can. Some languages like double initial consonants, some don't (don't you say 'sychology ?) --DLL 21:13, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Ooh! Good point! I may have to remove some of the Tolomeos if it is uncertain whether they are from Ptolemy or Bartholomew. Maybe Tolomei is the correct rendering/borrowing of Ptolemaios into Italian? Though looking at the Bartholomew page, I see that some of the names in other languages have a very similar ending to Ptolemaios.
I also see that the etymology of Bartholomew is given as 'son of Tolmay', so I tried to find the etymology of Tolmay. Unfortunately, the only Google hits on a search for "Tolmay" and "etymology" was Wikipedia or copies of Wikipedia. Worrying. I was hoping to find that the Aramaic 'Tolmay' is in some way related to the Greek Ptolemaios Carcharoth 22:06, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Looks like Wikipedia is not reliable for the etymology of Bartholomew... I found a source that said the etymology of Bartholomew is the Aramaic phrase "son of Talmai". And this gets 598 Google hits. Can anyone clarify this and confirm what is correct (from a reliable source), and then the Bartholomew article can be changed.
For now, I have found this source that says that the phrase is "son of Talmai", and that is does probably mean "son of Ptolemy", and my suspicion was correct: "The Hebrew name TALMAI is derived from the Greek PTOLEMY, and bears witness to the extent to which Israel had become Hellenised by the time of Jesus." This is, remember, some 300 years after Alexander the Great conquered the known world and brought Greek culture to places as widespread as Egypt and India (and Israel). The most famous Ptolemy was his general who ended up ruling Egypt, but it looks like there were plenty of Ptolemies fathering sons in other areas as well!
But this doesn't answer the question about whether Tolomeo is more likely to come from Ptolemy or from Bartholomew. It would be rather ironic if the sequence went: Ptolemy, Son of Ptolemy, Bar Talmai, Bartolomeo, Tolomeo! The Ptolemy bit surfacing after thousands of years being under the thumb of the Son! Carcharoth 22:21, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

All - Not[edit]

English speakers in the midwest u.s. seem lately to be confusing the order with sentences that include the words 'all' and 'not'. For example, instead of 'not all people are children' many people would say 'all people are not children'. The latter is clearly wrong because some people are children, but nevertheless it is common to hear someone say the latter while clearly meaning the former. Has anyone else noticed this development? outside of the midwest? Any theories about why this might start to happen (language instability, lanuage contact, education, etc...)? Is this actually a new development or am I just noticing something that's been going on for a while? Thank you. -LambaJan 21:42, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

The problem is widespread, and this is just the tip of the iceberg (so don't get me started). Part of my job is to help make my organisation's external marketing material and internal staff communications clear and unambiguous. It's a permanent battle. "All ... not" frequently gets the red pen treatment. Those who draft this material tend to write the way they speak. They are in an age group (20s-30s) that was not taught many of the basic concepts of language that were previously considered indispensable. The results of this dumbed down educational approach speak for themselves. JackofOz 23:47, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
is it really a "wrong" and "new" usage? how about "All that glitters is not gold"....--K.C. Tang 01:37, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Funny, I always thought it was "not all that glitters is gold." -LambaJan 03:29, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm also sorry to report that all things are not equal, but all is not lost. Alas, all of us are not perfect grammarians, are we? :) 02:40, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
all correct usages are not logical, guys!--K.C. Tang 03:03, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I wouldn't say that it's a wrong usage, but it sounds more archaic to me than anything. I certainly don't use it regularly. And I wouldn't say that (to me) it's ambiguous either. I'd say the meaning is equivalent to "Not all people are children". If I wanted to say, "For all x, x is not y," I would say, "There are no people that are children," or "No person is a child," or something like that. As the guy below says, language isn't always logical, and even if it were, different languages (or dialects even) parse logic differently. Linguofreak 03:26, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
maybe you'd love the German version better: Es ist nicht alles Gold, was glänzt--K.C. Tang 03:40, 29 March 2006 (UTC)


Before you deal with a writing problem of ambiguity, let me say as a linguist that there is no reason at all why language should map logical relations. If you expect it, or you think it should, then you are in for constant disappointment. The spurious argument that double negatives equal a positive is the prime example, when, of course, in most languages multiple negation is mandatory.

That said, it seems to me that all people are not children is ambiguous logically. It does not necessarily really mean All human beings are adults. It is a question of what in semantics is called scope of negation. Is the not interpreted as negating the noun phrase children or the verb phrase are not children? If the scope of the negation is put into square brackets, it would be all people are [not children] versus all people [are not children]. If it is the latter, than the assertion all people are children is being negated, which is the meaning intended, and which is clear because the other meaning makes no sense, at least under most circumstances.

I'm sorry if that sounds pedantic, but if a you get a doctorate in linguistics, it gives you a certain pedantry license to make up for the low salary.

Anyway, I think it is part of an editor's job to reduce ambiguous phrases--even one where one of the meanings is improble--just as it is mine when I work with student writing. It may or may not be getting worse, but I suspect the word order you mention is nothing new. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mnewmanqc (talkcontribs) 01:26, 29 March 2006

Thank you Mnewmanqc. Scope of negation hadn't occured to me before. Do you have any thoughts about how or why a semantic treatment would gain such widespread usage at the expense of a grammer rule? I don't mean to be pushy with my questions, but I think if the rule were consistantly followed then there would be greater consistancy and clarity in the language. Ultimately it's not very important because the intended meaning usually comes across, but it begs me to wonder if English's transferring information via word order is actually more unstable than if it were to use cases or something. I know cases break down and get lost also. Is it that the importance of the information transferred makes the mechanism more stable and that less important cases or grammer rules get lost, or is it that, independent of the importance of the information, one version of transmittion is more stable than another? -LambaJan 03:29, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

LambaJan, It's best to think of production and interpreting of language along the lines of a computational process, with the difference that there is a great deal of tolerance of ambiguity and resolution of meaning requires context. The rules of grammar of a language are like computational parsing protocols, but unlike a computer they are acquired through exposure to the language as a child preferably within the constraints of human information processing hardware (i.e., the brain) and possibly (this is controversial) a kind of language specific operating system called universal grammar. The wiki equivalent are the various rules for formatting. That is what linguists refer to as grammar.

However, what I think you mean by grammar is a set of conventions that get laid out consciously by such people as copy editors and grammar book writers. These are useful to the extent that they provide guidelines for writers, but they have a history of being arbitrary, often unworkable, based on unscientific analyses, and changeable. Linguists refer to them as prescriptive grammar usually with a sneer. But really it's a question of style, and prescriptive grammars are best thought of as style manuals. The wiki equivalent are the rules of style. The problem is that the prescriptive grammars often purport to be actual human grammars. If you're interested in this topic, Steven Pinker has a book called the Language Instinct.

As for word order versus rich case morphology, it is probably not possible to say which is better. How would you establish the criteria? They ultimately encode information successfully.

Sorry for not signing earlier, mnewmanqc

Thank you. -LambaJan 05:26, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Origin of "Semper Fidelis' use in a Warrior/Military group ??[edit]

Somewhere back some time ago I vaguely remember the motto "Semper Fidelis" being used in some ancient Celtic/Irish warrior group or some other such people in ancient Ireland, perhaps the Red Branch Knights, the Tuatha Da Danaan, etc???. Does anyone have information on this?

Try the article Semper fidelis.schyler 22:24, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

meaning of german spoken in mazda commercial[edit]

I recently saw a commercial for the car company mazda where several other people from other car companies are there saying how mazda is better than their cars. At the end one guy asks, "are we the only ones worried about this?" to which another answers, "appearently not." he points to a crowd of other men from other car companies and one from (I assume) a german car company says something to the tune "auchten liber". I know absolutely nothing about german or any languages of that area. Can someone attempt to translate what the man says? schyler 00:28, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Probably "Achtung liebe"? I think it means "Watch out, my dear.", it is the literal German term that U2 used (partly-translated) for their album Achtung Baby --Canley 02:33, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
"Ach du lieber". "Oh my dear", basically -- perhaps best known from the song "Ach du lieber Augustine". Here's a great writeup on it. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 02:48, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Although it's a real interjection, in my experience it's one of those stereotyped expressions that's more common in foreign depictions of Germans than in real usage. A French equivalent is "Sacre bleu!". I wonder how it came to be a stereotype, together with the more common "Mein Gott!" (my god) and the less common "Donner und Blitzen!" (thunder and lightning). Anyone? Perhaps some movie character long ago? --BluePlatypus 02:59, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Speak or Speaking[edit]

Which sentence is correct and why?

1. I am looking forward to speaking with you. 2. I am looking forward to speak with you.

you look forward to "something", and "speaking with you" is "something"--K.C. Tang 01:40, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
K.C. is correct. You may have been confused by the "to" which actually is part of the grammatical unit "looking forward to", not part of "to speak". If you say "I wish to speak with you", this is correct, but the "to" is now part of the verb "to speak". 01:46, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, not quite. Another point of confusion is that "going to" can be used as an auxillary verb for "shall". You are going to do "something", as in "I am going to speak". In general, though, if the first verb is a continuous action ("looking"), the second should also be ("speaking"). You can also say "I am going to be speaking", although with different meaning. So basically, it's always continuous (-ing) if the first verb is, unless it's 'going to', unless you mean to refer to a future action-in-progress, and not just a future action. It is a rather confusing thing in particular if you're not a non-native speaker, since some languages don't have that. --BluePlatypus 02:50, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Hmm, on further thought, that doesn't work either. As "I am trying to explain". I guess the reason could be a matter of simple convention, "looking forward to" is usually followed by a verb in present-continuous tense? --BluePlatypus 04:56, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
"to look forward to" is followed by "something", and one makes a verb a "something" by adding either -ing or by adding "to" - one can say "i look forward to to hear from you" instead of " hearing from you", though no one says that. Does this explanation make sense? --K.C. Tang 05:36, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, if you're implying that there's a connection between the "-ing" in the noun "something" and the present-continuous suffix, then, no. ("thing" is from Norse "þing" and the Norse languages don't have a present-continuous tense) --BluePlatypus 06:16, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Hmm, I think you're referring to that "-ing" can be used to turn a verb into a noun? E.g. "to drum" becomes a noun in "My drumming is bad". But it's a verb in "I look forward to drumming". --BluePlatypus 06:53, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
i must've expressed myself in a confusing way :(, i don't know the jargons, an English teacher can explain these things more clearly...:)--K.C. Tang 07:10, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
it's not a terribly interesting question anyway, the above "all-not" discussion seems more know of similar structures in other languages?--K.C. Tang 12:02, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I think what K.C. was trying to say is that -ing added to the end of a verb forms a gerund (a noun form of a verb), just as to - to the front of a verb forms an infinitive. In the phrase (if you can call it a phrase) "looking forward to," to, being a preposition, requires an object. Theoretically, it could take either the gerund or infinitive, but since "to to speak" sounds awkward, it takes the gerund. If an English speaker could say *"I'm looking forward seeing you," then there could be debate about the differences in continuous action and time reference between the infinitive and the gerund. However, since to in the expression above is a preposition and not the introductory word of a complete infinitive, the gerund is used. The bare infinitive is not an option. Compare "Walking around the city was fun," "To walk around the city was fun," and *"Walk around the city was fun."--El aprendelenguas 20:49, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
your explanation is much clearer! but is there a word which can include both "gerund" and "infinitive", something like "noun clause" or "noun phrase" or whatever? anyway, thanks for help me out...:P--K.C. Tang 00:04, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Gerunds, infinitives, and particles are all classified as verbals.--El aprendelenguas 02:22, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
This is surely the farthest I've ever indented here. El aprend is, of course, altogether correct; if the original poster is still troubled, though, he/she might rephrase the sentence as "I look forward to our speaking" (I'm not a particular fan of the locution "I'm looking forward" [c.f., "I look forward"], but I readily concede that the former is not proscribed by standard usage guides [or even by most prescriptivists] and that the two phrases can be understood to convey different meanings, and so won't lay out here the reasons for which I might object to the usage). Joe 00:24, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
That's "Government of verbs". (Some verbs are followed by the infinitve, others by the gerund, and others by nothing (I can swim)).
  • But in the phrase "look forward to" "to" is a preposition and after prepositions the second verb must always be in the "-ing" form. Jameswilson 00:27, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I will remember to doing that. --BluePlatypus 18:06, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
???? Jameswilson 22:57, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Exactly. It doesn't seem to holding true. --BluePlatypus 00:16, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
No, theres no problem (he says airily). Lets see if I can explain this. In the example "looking forward to", "to" is a preposition, so followed by -ing. But mostly, "to" linking two verbs is not a preposition, its part of the infinitive of the second verb - so no -ing.

To tell which is which, try adding a pronoun directly after the "to" to test if it really is a preposition.. Does it still make sense? Mine does; yours doesnt. ("I'm looking forward to it" v "I will remember to it") So my "to" MUST be a preposition. And your "to" CANT be. So I need -ing and you need the infinitive. Jameswilson 03:58, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Why does "meridional" come to mean "southern"?[edit]

I know that "meridional" is related to "meridian," which means "midday" etymologically. But it has remained a mystery to me how "midday" could come to mean "southern"? Could somebody help? Thanks a million!

Because the sun is in the South at midday, at least if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, European, countries where the term originated. Maid Marion 09:22, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
sidenote: the words "sun" and "south" are etymologically related, as is, a bit surprisingly, "helium".--K.C. Tang 12:04, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
At first sight, that etymological remark sounds quite unbelievable, but it's always nice to learn something new. Can you explain further, or provide some authority for the remark? Maid Marion 14:37, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
It's "common knowledge" among Indo-Europeanists. "South" is from Proto-Germanic sunþaz, which is a derivative of the root sunn- "sun", which is from Proto-Indo-European *seh2wl-/sh2wn-, which is also the origin of Greek hēlios "sun", the source of helium. Angr (talkcontribs) 14:54, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Angr - one lives and learns. Maid Marion 15:25, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
this "sun-south-helium" trick is one of the treasures of the you see it's not exactly a bad idea to invite an etymology geek to parties...of course this kind of "unlikely cognates" is not the best way to impress girls... :p --K.C. Tang 00:00, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
No, but it's better than pointing out that "fart" has cognates in almost every living Indoeuropean language, whereas hand does not. Actually, that won't impress boys either, except if drunk or extremely geeky. mnewmanqc

Dear all:

I raised the "meridional-southern" question but forgot to leave my name. Wow, you guys' comments really opened my eyes! I was enlightened. Though I'm interested in English etymology, I suddenly feel like "a frog at the bottom of a well," to quote a Chinese four-character idiom. Thank you guys. I'll be back often to ask you questions! 04:27, 30 March 2006 (UTC) T. Y.

Origin of the word "elf"[edit]

Just wondering whether the word elf might actually be derived from the German "helfen"? We use phrases like Santa's little helpers to refer to the elves, and helfen is German for helping.

I saw your entry suggesting it comes from the latin ablhus (white), but thought this might be an alternate theory.


Gothic Merchant

-- 14:53, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

It isn't believed to come from the latin word, just from the same proto-indo-European root (*albh). "help" comes from the PIE root *kelb-. I wouldn't put much faith in that folk-etymology. --BluePlatypus 16:57, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
The New Oxford American Dictionary, Second Edition[23] says this about "elf"'s origin:
ORIGIN Old English, of Germanic origin; related to German Alp ‘nightmare.’
OneofThem(talk)(contribs) 18:34, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Then there's always the Edmund Spenser theory... AnonMoos 19:50, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

There is a connexion between Alp and Help. When GWBush wants to help a country, it is a nightmare. --DLL 21:03, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Was that really neccessary? —OneofThem(talk)(contribs) 00:26, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Egyptian scripts[edit]

What were the differences between the Ancient Egyptian logograms and the consonantal alphabet? 17:12, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Please see Egyptian hieroglyph, Hieratic, Demotic (Egyptian), and articles they link to, and then do your own homework. Angr (talkcontribs) 17:28, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Request help in pronouncing names from Middle East[edit]

I am reading a few books on current affairs on the Middle East. I am having extreme difficulity in knowing how to pronounce the names of people in the books even though they are translated in english. I have tried to Googel them and also Wikipedia. While these sources offer explainations as to who they are and what they do, I cannot find assistance in pronouncationl. Can you help me?


The Voice of America pronounciation guide covers 2200 names, from Mahmoud Abbas to Hoshyar Zebari, and beyond. --ByeByeBaby 20:39, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

March 30[edit]


Out of pure curiousity, anybody know which article has the most interwiki links? India has the most I could find. Tuf-Kat 01:53, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

More than Wikipedia? That's obviously one of the first articles that gets written in a new language. —Keenan Pepper 02:10, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
New technical words such as computer, radio, laser ... are quite similar in most (latin-like alphabet) languages : they may be easier to link and might have been linked more. --DLL 20:59, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
India has 146 and Wikipedia has 119 -- this may be because there are a lot of small wikis in Indian languages, so an Indian topic might be worth checking. India also easily beats science, computer, Jesus, laser, Hinduism, New Delhi, United States, radar, biology and George W. Bush. Tuf-Kat 01:25, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
India has 147, and I too can't find an article with more. Wikipedia has 120. United States has 98. English language has 86. Earth itself only has 77(!). London has 75. Pakistan, 69. Jesus, 66. Water, which I thought would have loads, only has 60 (it wouldn't let me add the interwiki to tlh:bIQ, for some weird reason). I would suggest that the main reason there's so many interwiki links on India is that someone has bothered to find all of them. Proto||type 13:55, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Have you checked to make sure there are actually articles at all of them? Sometimes people enthusiastically add Interwiki links to where they think an article ought to be in other languages, even though there isn't one there yet. Angr (talkcontribs) 14:03, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, and a lot of the ones that do exist are pretty worthless, for example fo:India. —Keenan Pepper 18:20, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
chr:India is pretty amusing too. Angr (talkcontribs) 18:33, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
The Cherokee main page has 127, btw. 10:13, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
You can't add the tlh:bIQ interwiki because the Klingon Wikipedia is no longer a Wikimedia project (or is still being migrated elsewhere, or something like that). Tuf-Kat 08:23, 1 April 2006 (UTC)


Can someone transliterate this for me,: "доброе утро, товарищи." I know it means, "Good morning, comrades," but how would it be pronounced in Russian. schyler 04:15, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

"Dobroyeh otro, tovarishchi" Eivindt@c 04:27, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
The second word is ootro, not otro. JackofOz 04:29, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
He's right, my bad. Eivindt@c 04:42, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Не за что. JackofOz 05:36, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
"utro" too. But that of course presupposes a reader speaking a language with sane vowels.. :) (you-tro, they-tro?) --BluePlatypus 17:59, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

In the post-Communist era, do ordinary Russians still call each other tovarishch? User:Zoe|(talk) 18:03, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Not unless they're old-school communists. Please see Comrade. Eivindt@c 19:46, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Since nobody linked yet: Romanization of Russian should be sufficient for further transliteration. --dcabrilo 08:00, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

meaning of: kurban bayramınız mubarek olsun[edit]

I had the above comment on a page on my website. Could be just spam but a google search shows it;s a common phrase, in tturk I guess. Anyone knows the meaning?

thanks -- alexandre van de sande ~~

Do you have any particular reason for thinking it's something to do with 'Eid? 'Mubarak' in Arabic just means 'blessed', and I can quite believe it's been borrowed into Turkish. I haven't got the vocabulary, but '-iniz' means 'your'. ColinFine 00:18, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
"Kurban Bayrami" is Turkish for Eid ul-Adha, not Eid ul-Fitr. --Cam 01:09, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Ah! I was seeing the Turkish and the Arabic together a few places, and totally incorrectly concluded the obvious! --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 01:56, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
  • That is Turkish for something like "let your holiday be blessed", hard to translate exactly for difference in language logic. Also word "your" is with emphasized politeness. Bayram is holiday, kurban bayram was originally any holiday that had slaughtered animal offered since kurban is "offer" itself, usually ram kept especially for that purpose. Originating from some of Indian languages, perhaps Sanskrit? Not sure. 20:23, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Mubārak is a word in Hindi too, but Platts gives it's origin in "barakat" which it says is a Persian word. That's all it gives, but it's not a Sanskrit origin then. - Taxman Talk 12:49, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
  • The word I was speculating about was "kurban", not the "mubarak". Also possible from Persian, dunno ... Thanks anyway. 17:58, 3 April 2006 (UTC)


What does crying over spilt milk actually mean?

Worrying about something which cannot be remedied. HenryFlower 23:40, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
or worrying over something insignificant. schyler 00:25, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Though both senses are, I suppose, sometimes intended, I think the former meaning is the more widely-known and -intended (see, e.g., the Wiktionary article). The concern, I think, isn't so much about the size of the problem but about the fact of its already having happened. It should be noted that, while spilled milk may be cleaned up (such that the spilling is remedied or rectified), nothing can be done to reverse its having been spilled, and the latter, I think, well approximates the vernacular sense of the idiom/proverb. Joe 00:42, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Maybe as in something that always happens anyway, whether you worry or not? Like kids always do spill their milk..have you known one that didn't? CaroleDrake 12:33, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Update to the WK article. In French : Il ne faut pas pleurer sur le lait renversé. The origin may be found in a fable by Jean de La Fontaine, la laitière et le pot au lait (the milkmaid and the milkpot) ; but the poet borrowed themes from Aesop. --DLL 18:17, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, he did. David Sneek 11:47, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

March 31[edit]

Opposite of calm.[edit]

Agitated? Dave 02:36, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Tempestual (even though there isn't actually a common noun form). -LambaJan 02:38, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Do you mean tempestuous? Also tumultuous, and see some more antonyms here. --Lph 03:15, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps tempestual is a portmanteau of tempestuous and menstrual; that might be the ultimate antonym for "calm". Joe 04:01, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Tempestuous is an adjective. I thought maybe they were looking for more of a noun or gerund, so I made one up. Then I wrote the explanation so that they would know that this is not a common form. -LambaJan 14:30, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Excited? Worked up? I was going to say agitated, but it's already there. СПУТНИКССС Р 04:15, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
In science, exited is the way to go. -- Flag of the United States.svg Mac Davis] ⌇☢ ญƛ. 08:45, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I think entrances are just as exciting as exits. :--) JackofOz 08:52, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Intense? CaroleDrake 12:27, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
WP:UBD? :P --Ferkelparade π 12:58, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
No, that was the antoynym of 'sane'. :) Proto||type 13:34, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
For weather conditions, inclement is a good antonym for calm.--El aprendelenguas 23:37, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Frenzied ? StuRat 04:55, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Rhyme scheme[edit]

Is there a name for the type of rhyming in this?:

The Red New Deal with a Soviet seal/

endorsed by a Moscow hand/

The strange result of an alien cult/

in a liberty loving land.

--elpenmaster I only know it as internal rhymes in the lines.The other pattern is A B C B.There may be a posh name for the whole quatrain style.hotclaws**==

See Rhyme scheme. —Wayward Talk 07:28, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but it doesn't seem to be within the page rhyme scheme. It is indeed Internal rhyme, and hotclaws has it right this time. Proto||type 12:46, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Split the internal rhyme lines up, and it's a tail rhyme, perhaps more specifically a rime couée. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 16:32, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks --elpenmaster

Loxley and Bagelle[edit]

I am traing to translate movie "Robin Hood: Men In Tights " in Croatian language, but I have problem with names : "Loxley and Bagelle", why is this funny, what that stand for, describe me meaning of theirs names . Thanks

"...Robin of Loxley and Maid Marian ..

What a combination! Loxley and Bagelle. Can't miss it...."

The allusion is to bagels with lox. Angr (talkcontribs) 12:00, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
The producer and director of the film, Mel Brooks, is Jewish and routinely inserts small bits of light ethnic humour about Jewish (or at least Jewish American) culture in his films. In America, bagels and lox are seen as stereotypically Jewish cuisine, although neither is of uniquely Jewish roots and they are nowadays widely eaten by other people as well. So it serves as a joke with multiple functions: such tidbits of Jewish trivia are a trademark of Mel Brooks' oeuvre; the allusion is anacronistic because there were few Jews (ballpark none) in medieval England; bagels and lox are highly modern Jewish cuisine - I doubt either has been widespread among Jews anywhere for more than two, maybe three centuries; and of course, it is funny for a duo to have names of foods routinely thought of and eaten together. --Diderot 12:36, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Actually, according to History of the Jews in England, there were Jews in England from the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 until they were expelled in 1290. The Robin Hood stories are now usually understood as taking place during the rule of Richard the Lionhearted (1189-1199), so in fact there were Jews in England then (and according to his article, they were treated very badly at his coronation, too). And you're probably right about bagels being invented in the last few centuries, but who knows how long people have been eating smoked salmon? Angr (talkcontribs) 12:48, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I imagine people have been eating smoked salmon since time immemorial, but I'd always understood it to be something the Slavs got from the Vikings and the Jews got from the Slavs. But you never know. As for bagels, it looks like the article says they were a 17th century Polish invention. I know Russians make something similar. So, it may be more than three centuries old among European Jews.
I thought the expulsion of the Jews from England was roughly contemporaneous to Robin Hood, but I stand corrected. --Diderot 15:07, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
For a good translation, remember that Locksley is a Norse toponym, the meaning of which, if found, might be funnier, even in Croatia (where it not historically known ?), than postrvi (→salmon ?). Unless it would be proven that Locksley is related to salmon ? --DLL 17:41, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Could be. -ey means "island" anyway, and salmon is leax in O.E. But you've got to be careful with those salmon-related toponyms. The town Laxå in Sweden may be named "salmon river", but there's no river there. It's from the Finnish laakso, meaning "valley" --BluePlatypus 00:51, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Alas, it seems it's not Norse; the last bit is "lea", Lock's lea. Makes more sense than the '-ey' idea, too, because I can't for the life of me think of a Norse word/name ending in '-sl'. (German which has some though) --BluePlatypus 01:08, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
The introduction to "The Jewish Manual: Practical Information in Jewish and Modern Cookery... (1846)" [24] (on the modern edition, not this one) mention that that book contains few of the modern recipes, that most of things like lox on bagels came from Eastern European Jews.--Prosfilaes 02:36, 1 April 2006 (UTC)


What is a patootie? CaroleDrake 12:24, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Either one's sweetheart (girlfriend/boyfriend), or buttocks. --Lph 12:34, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
That's kind of what I thought, but why? I can imagine saying 'my sweet ass' meaning "no way", but why relate it to a special someone? CaroleDrake 12:57, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Because it comes from sweet potato. In southern vernacular, "sweet patootie" is a generic term of endearment and is generally agreed to be derived from "sweet potato pie" -- New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Its use as a term for 'ass' came later. Proto||type 13:37, 31 March 2006 (UTC)