Wikipedia:Reference desk archive/Language/May 2006

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May 1[edit]

Word meaning[edit]

What is the word that means "user of big words"? d It sounds something like ....syscapalian...(sp?)

I just heard it in a movie.. 03:10, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Sesquipedalian —Seqsea (talk) 04:08, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
here's a link Howard Train 04:32, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the prompt reply! The link doesn't show anything of value?

Try this one instead... Joe 05:49, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
I saw a tee shirt once which said Eschew sesquipedalian obfuscation. I couldn't have put it better myself. Notinasnaid 19:14, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

does this make sense?[edit]

does this make sense? how should it properly be written?

For example, blindness, a disability which encounters many things such as, one not being able to see anything, one being able to partly see, one being colour blind and one being low vision.

thank you

For example, blindness is a disability which encompasses everything from partial blindness (i.e being able to see with one eye {?}, colorblindess, and low vision) and total blindness (absolute loss of sight)

I'm not sure of this is right. Btw, low vision and being able to partail see???

when i say low vision i mean some one who can't see clearly and the other is partly blindess

My suggestion: Blindness is a broad term encompassing varying degrees of visual impairment [now go on to explain the various conditions]. Also, see Wikipedia's article on blindness. —Wayward Talk 09:57, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
Another suggestion: Blindness is a broad term used to describe varying degrees of visual impairment. —Wayward <small><;font color="#6BA800">Talk 10:38, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Use of initials with/without periods/fullstops[edit]

While reading articles in Wikipedia I see that there is considerable use of abbreviation initials that are peppered with periods. I'm thinking of "U.S." for example. There are hundreds of similar.

Is there any definitive preference for "U.S." or is "US" permissable?

If I'm editing an article can I change any "U.S." style abbreviations to "US"-style?

Lin 08:03, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

In current usage, including them is more of an American thing, and leaving them out more of a British thing. Look at Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Acronyms and abbreviations , Wikipedia:Manual of Style (abbreviations) etc. AnonMoos 08:15, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks. You're very kind. Lin 06:14, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Post sco ergo propter sco[edit]

A favorite band of mine recently put out a new album and the last song is entitled "Post Sco Ergo Propter Sco". So I was wondering if "Sco" is an actual Latin word and if so, what does this phrase mean? Thanks, Dismas|(talk) 09:02, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

It's a deliberate alteration of "Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc", the Latin name of a well-known fallacy... AnonMoos 09:12, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
Well, okay... I know about Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc and I can see that it's one word different but that doesn't really answer my question. Dismas|(talk) 09:17, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
Sco isn't a real word. It could be a wrong version of scio, I know. Daniel () 09:49, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks! Then I guess it's just an inside joke in the band maybe... Dismas|(talk) 10:02, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
Sco is a rich acronym, maybe scots. --DLL 20:57, 2 May 2006 (UTC)


What happened in the Rwanda genocide? Why did it happen? What was the United States goverment's response? Why? What was the aftermath?

Please search first: Rwandan Genocide. Notinasnaid 19:12, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

A word for...[edit]

Ok, this may be a dumb question for some but it isn't for me. I'm looking for a word for this definition. I've known someone for a long time, but I didn't even know it. PLEASE...find a word for this and if you it to me [e-mail removed to avoid spam]


How can you know someone and not know that you know them? Do you mean like deja vu? Can you give an example to make it clearer what you mean? --Shantavira 16:37, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

The word "florentine"[edit]

Does anybody know how the word "florentine" came to mean "served with spinach" when it is appended to the name of a culinary dish?

Larouse Gastronomique says that A La Florentine is used mainly for fish and eggs on a bed of spinach and covered with Mornay sauce. Lin 06:28, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

May 2[edit]


I need some 'exotic' (to an English-speaker's ears) sounding words for 'people', 'man', or 'human'. The intent of the word is to be relatively easy to spell, non-insulting, and very general - I just need a cool sounding word to name a fictional group of people. Any help is appreciated! DuctapeDaredevil 00:42, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Running down a list from my thesaurus, I found two exotic and understood words: mortal and earthling. Here are a two others, but they are less common and less likely to be understood, and I am not sure about the nuances in their meanings: Adamite and tellurian. Perhaps another option for you to consider is Homo sapiens, which has now developed a homorous sense outside of the scientific community because of its similiarity in appearance and pronunciation to homosexual.--El aprendelenguas 01:06, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Terran. --Nelson Ricardo 01:12, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Less like refering to humanity as a whole, and more like refering to the Roma people, like a name for a tribe or culture. DuctapeDaredevil 01:13, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Tellurian. User:Zoe|(talk) 01:52, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Anthromorphic biped? Biped ? Anthropoid? I don't if these will be accurate. More :Bipedal primate ? --Jondel 02:27, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
I always like "wight"--K.C. Tang 11:19, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Ugly bags of mostly water -- Ferkelparade π 14:03, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Ha, nice reference.--Andrew c 20:56, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Appleeaters. Hatbearers. Shoefooted. Goingbalds. Cellulardriven. Teeveelets. Shirelings ? --DLL 20:54, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
I like mench. Lin 06:30, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Meatbag. Tau'ri. — QuantumEleven 07:48, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

power point[edit]

hi my name is brandee rose and i was just wondering how do i do my teachers project on this web on uusing power point becass i really want o know how i have an e-mail address it's [email removed to avoid spam]

I'm not sure what you're asking. Are you doing a project about Wikipedia and want to know more? If so, read the articles Wikipedia and Wikipedia:About. Or do you want to know how to use Microsoft Office PowerPoint? It's not that hard, write out the outline of the text for your presentation and type it in to the PowerPoint template. --Canley 02:49, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Powerpoint reads also from a .doc or .rtf formatted text. Title 1 gives pages and subtitles give the text. Write your text, apply title styles, save, then open PP, select File | Open and choose the document with the said file type. You can save PP files in an .html format if it has to be a web page. --DLL 20:45, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

What are the best ways to learn a language?[edit]

I know that the best way to actually learn a language fluently is to live in a country where that language is spoken. Falling short of that does anyone have any tips on how to actually learn "to speak the language" not simply in the grammatical sense. Thanks in advance!

Acquainting yourself with native speakers is always good, if there are any in your area. If there's any amount of media output (movies and especially TV) in the language, that can also help, though of course it gets expensive if you have to import... —Zero Gravitas 08:19, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Read novels of increasing levels of difficulty using a dictionary. But you must be careful when choosing novels. Start with simple books that don't use colloquial expressions, idioms, and misspellings on purpose. For example, if you wanted to learn English and picked up Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn as your first English novel, then you would certainly go ballistic trying to figure out the meaning of words that aren't in the dictionary because they have been intentionally misspelled.

Also, I think listening to educational podcasts is better than television. There are podcasts in Japanese, Chinese, German, Spanish, and other languages. But first you need to pick up some essential vocabulary before anything else.Patchouli 13:23, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

My daddy always used to say that the best way to learn a language was in bed. Of course, access to an appropriate native speaker of the requisite gender and tendencies is not guaranteed. ;^p --Diderot 19:48, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Find some music you like with lyrics in the language you want to learn, and sing along. David Sneek 20:32, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

I carry a mini-dictionary and a small notebook filled with example sentences and sample phrase. While walking or riding the bus, I try to memorze them and create dialogs .--Jondel 10:33, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Here's what I do:
  • Read books
  • Listen to internet radio
  • Read a billingual newpaper
  • Memorize vocabulary flashcards
  • Go through a grammar book
  • Listen to CDs and repeat the phrases.
I hope that helps. --Think Fast 23:08, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

T.I.M.E. acronym[edit]

Technical Instrument Measure Existence

Simon Le Page 1988

And your question is? --Bth 11:48, 2 May 2006 (UTC)


I can't figure out what I am hearing when native English speakers talk, so I need some help.

  1. John: Many people like to say quote unquote African-American instead of black.
  2. John: Many people like to say quote and quote African-American instead of black.

Please tell me which of the italicized words John is using.Patchouli 13:12, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

He's saying Quote-unquote - it's a way of conveying some sort of ironic distance from what you are saying, the same way you would do by putting something in quotes in written language (We're going to have some "fun" is an entirely different thing than We're going to have some fun). Some people wiggle their fingers while saying the word to be enclosed by quotes, but those people should probably be shot on sight. -- Ferkelparade π 13:24, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Thank you.Patchouli 13:55, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Why should they be shot on sight? --Jesusfreak 14:02, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

They just should. -- Slumgum | yap | stalk | 15:18, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
It tends to be done in a very irritating way, and to be paired with other more recognizably obnoxious habits. And yes, it's quote-unquote, which is much less irritating, as it happens, than quote putting the punctuation unquote where it actually belongs. Black Carrot 22:00, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

The word used was 'warrant'[edit]

I recently went to an unclaimed property site. I found my name on the list of unclaimed property/ I noted that it said the property was more than 100 dollars. YEA!!! I sent a claim ove the net. I recieved an e-mail. The e-mail was from the IRS.....Scary!!!!!! They said to fo to thier site and in a mailcenter at thier whoa!!!!...What do you call the IRS? Extortioers?? It referred to the money as a warrant....or were thry talking... ARREST....say it ain't so Irene!!! Information asap would be fabulous, Thanks, One Scared ole Woman

For Goodness' sake, read a dictionary!
warrant (plural: warrants, past tense: warranted)
1. Authorization or certification; sanction, as given by a superior.
2. Something that provides assurance or confirmation; a guarantee or proof: a warrant of authenticity; a warrant for success.
3. An order that serves as authorization, especially: A voucher authorizing payment or receipt of money.
4. Law. A judicial writ authorizing an officer to make a search, seizure, or arrest or to execute a judgment.
5. A warrant officer.
6. A certificate of appointment given to a warrant officer.
-- Arwel (talk) 14:11, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
This sounds very much like some form of Internet fraud. For a start, the IRS do not store people's "unclaimed property" for them. I suggest you check with the police before parting with any money. --Shantavira 16:52, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
The IRS also does not send e-mails. This is almost certainly some sort of fraud. - Nunh-huh 21:07, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

types of language[edit]

how language differs from dialect?

According to Max Weinreich, a language is a dialect with an army and a navy... AnonMoos 19:27, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
So... does that make American English, British English, and Australian English different languages? —Keenan Pepper 19:41, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Noah Webster certainly tried to answer yes. --Diderot 19:45, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
The dialect article discusses this problem. David Sneek 20:27, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

There is an estimated or there are an estimated?[edit]


Please let me know which phrase is correct:

There is an estimated 50,000 landmines in Uganda.

There are an estimated 50,000 landmines in Uganda.


The important word is landmines. It's plural, so you say there are instead of there is. —Keenan Pepper 19:44, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) "There are an estimated 50,000 landmines in Uganda." The rule is: Use "there is" for singular and non-countable things; use "there are" for plural things. —Seqsea (talk) 19:46, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm, I am trying to find a way to reword the sentence that would support the there are construction, but I cannot think of it. Nevertheless, the plural are seems to be the right choice to me. The word an is what is confusing me. Landmines are an estimated 50,000 there in Uganda. This sentence is not fluent to the ears, either. I am wondering what an modifies. Any thoughts? Can it somehow modify the figure 50,000?--El aprendelenguas 01:12, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps it is short for an estimated number of 50,000'. --Chris S. 02:09, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Really, either of them work. They work because the person you say it to will understand. If you are writing a paper, however, I agree with Keenan Pepper. schyler 01:47, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

To ensure verb-noun agreement, a pedant might insist on: "There is an estimated number of 50,000 landmines in Uganda". Personally, I think you can get away with "There are an estimated 50,000 landmines in Uganda". However if you want to avoid all problems with pedants, you could say "It is estimated that there are 50,000 landmines in Uganda." JackofOz 03:08, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Or better yet, "There are about 50,000 landmines in Uganda.", or say who did the estimating: "A report by Johnson and Smith estimates that there are...". —Keenan Pepper 12:55, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure. The problem is that "there is" is often contracted to "there's", but "there are" doesn't contract so easily. Therefore, lots of people use "there's" for either the singular or the plural, especially when there are other words like "about," "an estimated," etc. My gut reaction would be "there's (or "there is") an estimated 50k landmines in Uganda," "there's about 50k landmines in Uganda," but if we take out the "about" or "an estimated," then I'd say "There are 50k landmines in Uganda." I'm not sure exactly why, but that's what "feels right." However, if you're looking for a "grammar book" answer, go with "there are." Linguofreak 17:38, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Japanese news anchors[edit]

How do they introduce themselves and how do they sign off? What sort of salutation do they use? Bhumiya (said/done) 20:02, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

I've only seen Japanese news once, but in the morning they seem to say ohayō gozaimasu when they begin. --KJ 03:29, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

May 3[edit]

Word from the definition[edit]

I recently started reading To Kill A Mockingbird and there is a part where the main character goes outside while it's snowing and hold out her tongue to catch a snowflake. She proceeds to say to her brother that it burns. He tells her that it is just so cold that it feels really hot. What I was wondering was what is the term used for this, that is something being so cold it feels hot, and the word for something being so hot it feels cold. Thanks. schyler 01:37, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

I don't think there's a specific word, unless painful fits the bill. Did you see cold burn? --Shantavira 08:31, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
If nobody else answers, you might try reposting in Science. Don't do it while this is still up, though, they tend to get bitchy about double-postings. Black Carrot 21:56, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't know, but if you want to make ice cubes, don't use a metalic tray, buy a plastic one instead. I've got my fingers burnt with a very cold metalic one once. – b_jonas 22:56, 4 May 2006 (UTC)


What is the difference between Pashto and Farsi?

you may want to take a look at Pashto and Farsi
Dlayiga 02:58, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Literary Response[edit]

I have a test coming up tomorrow. This is as much as we know, we get a poem or story, analyze it, and then talk about mood, point of view and so forth. We've also been told to talk about syntax, diction, and language. These all look the same (to me they really do) but their apparently different. Does anyone know how? I know language is "type" of language, ie. jargon, fomral. I was wondering if anyone knew a good website with a layout of how to write one of these essays or instructions on how to anaylze the story/poem (as I did poorly last time). Possibly something that has more suggestions on what one could write about as well, since I'm always short. Any help appreciated, thanks. C-c-c-c 02:06, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

I always hated these kinds of assignments too; I'll try to help you out. Syntax is the arrangement of the words, i.e. which order they go in. An author might delay an important word until the end (climax) or arrange three words in increasing order (tricolon crescens). Diction is the choice of which word to use. A good way to discuss these kinds of things is to say "if the author had used [some other word] instead, it would not have been as effective, because..." and then say the reason. Another sure-fire thing: if it's prose, talk about how it's like poetry, and if it's poetry, talk about how it's like prose. I'm not kidding, it worked for me. If you still have a decent amount of time to study check out Silva Rhetoricae; knowing a word like hendiadys or synecdoche and using it correctly is sure to win you points. —Keenan Pepper 02:55, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Longest Word[edit]

What is the longest word in the English language? Consider: "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis"(sp?) -this is a lung disease but I need an English word instead of scientific names. Please help me. Thank You in advance. --Siddhant 06:24, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Please see Longest word in English for a discussion of this issue. Angr (talkcontribs) 06:26, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Thankx. You pointed the exact link. --Siddhant 07:39, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Upside down circumflex[edit]

What's the proper name for an upside down circumflex? --HappyCamper 06:31, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Caron, although you see háček a lot when referring to Slavic languages. --Diderot 06:39, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
In Slovene it's called a strešica. David Sneek 07:25, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

The hacek is different from the breve. The latter is rounded, so is like an upside-down circumflex. -lethe talk + 11:58, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

But circumflexes are pointy like háčeks, not rounded like breves. Angr (talkcontribs) 12:04, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Hmm, I guess it is as you say. I guess I have been under a mistaken impression for a long time. Is the circumflex never rounded then? -lethe talk + 17:46, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Not in the Latin alphabet, but the Greek circumflex is rounded. Also, there's a rounded symbol like an inverted breve that's used to indicate tone in Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian, but that isn't usually done except in linguistics discussions. You won't see it in S/B/C books, newspapers, etc. Angr (tc) 18:38, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Haus des Meeres - correct article?[edit]

There is an aquarium in Vienna called the Haus des Meeres (House of the Seas). I don't understand why the article in the name is des - shouldn't it be der? The table here [2] shows that the plural definite article in the genitive is der, and Meeres is a plural noun. --Richardrj 08:49, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Nope, Meeres is genitive singular, so des is correct. Plural would be Haus der Meere -- Ferkelparade π 08:54, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
So Meeres means 'sea'? Then what does Meer mean? --Richardrj 08:58, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Meer is nominative singular, Meeres is the genitive singular form. German is one of those languages that actually distinguish between different cases of nouns (at least to some degree, the accusative form is the same as the nominative, dative is strictly speaking Meere but in today's usage, everyone uses the nominative form for dative) -- Ferkelparade π 09:04, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks very much - I didn't realise nouns as well as articles changed depending on the case. One more thing to learn... --Richardrj 09:07, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
This is of course identical to English in this regard. The sea's house. The final 's' indicates possession, both in English and in German. -lethe talk + 12:27, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
But when the word order is reversed in English, the final 's' is dropped - the house of the sea. The German is more like 'the house of the sea's.' --Richardrj 05:06, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
Not quite, the German doesn't have a word corresponding to "of" in this construction. When you do use a preposition, then "the sea" is in the dative and has no "s": Das Haus von dem Meer. Using the English syntax, as in des Meeres Haus, sounds very poetical in German. It's not usual in colloquial speech or even in prose writing. Angr (talkcontribs) 05:53, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

On the same subject, when I get letters, they are addressed to Herrn [my surname]. Why is this? I understand now that Herrn is the genitive singular of Herr, but I don't see why that should apply here. The genitive case relates to possession - what is possessive about this? --Richardrj 09:33, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

It's short for "An Herrn Lastname" ("to Mr. Lastname"), and the preposition an requires a genitive. -- Ferkelparade π 10:04, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Genitive? Herrn is also the accusative and dative form of Herr, and an goes with the accusative, e.g. An den Bundespräsidenten (to the federal president) where dative would be dem and genitive des. —da Pete (ノート) 10:18, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
No, the preposition an requires an accusative, and the accusative of Herr is Herrn. Herr is a so-called "weak noun", meaning all the cases except the nominative end in n in the singular:
der Herr
des Herrn
dem Herrn
den Herrn
Angr (talkcontribs) 10:19, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Argh, yes. Stupid mistake on my part... -- Ferkelparade π 10:26, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
More a mistake on my part - I was the one who mentioned the genitive :) I'm new to German and I'm struggling with the cases, especially the difference between the accusative and dative. I always thought the accusative related to the direct object of a verb, and the dative to the indirect object. But in the example above, An den Bundespräsidenten is apparently accusative, whereas I instinctively thought it would be dative (the letter is addressed to the president). Doesn't the presence of the word to automatically indicate that the object of the verb is indirect, and therefore that the dative applies? --Richardrj 10:41, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately it's not as simple as that. Where there's no preposition, the accusative represents the direct object and the dative the indirect object: Ich schickte meinem Vater (dative=indirect object) einen Brief (accusative=direct object). But with prepositions, the rules are different. Usually where a preposition indicates goal-oriented motion, the accusative is used, while if there is no motion or if the motion isn't goal-oriented, the dative is used. Thus there's a difference between Die Kinder liefen in die Straße ("the children ran onto the street", i.e. the street was the destination of their running) and Die Kinder liefen in der Straße ("the children were running on the street", i.e. they were on the street and were running there). Then certain verbs adjectives take prepositions, and you just have to remember what case goes with those prepositions. For example, Ich bin stolz auf dich "I'm proud of you" takes the accusative, though it can hardly be called "goal-oriented". Or Ich glaube an dich "I believe in you" also takes the accusative, though it can also hardly be called "goal-oriented". It's one of the toughest things to learn in German grammar. I've lived in Germany for almost nine years now and speak quite good German, but this is one area I still get mixed up about. It just takes practice and, frankly, rote memorization. Angr (talkcontribs) 11:02, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks very much. I'm going to print that out! --Richardrj 11:10, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

How do languages with free word order preserve qualifier-qualified associations?[edit]

I've learnt that some languages like Sanskrit are declensional to the point that word order is totally free. If so, how would they map qualifiers like adjectives and adverbs with their corresponding nouns and verbs when there is more than one possible combination? Can someone give examples? -- Sundar \talk \contribs 09:44, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

If they are completely word orderless, and that declensional, I would assume you'd have different declensions for "adjective describing object noun" , "adjective describing subject noun" , and so on. Otherwise, I would assume that word order may still be a useful thing.
For example, Japanese, due to having sentence particles that denote what purpose a word has in a sentence, still uses word order for some things; adjectives are placed in the proper places, for example, and the verb always follows everything else...
I would assume other languages either use some form of word order (or simply apply adjectives to the closest noun, or even the closest noun that makes sense from context) or rely entirely on context... I'm sorry I can't help much more; I don't know Sanskrit or other examples of such orderless languages.  :) Good luck in your quest for knowledge, though. -JC 09:50, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the answer, JC. I'm still wondering about claims of totally free word order. -- Sundar \talk \contribs 09:55, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
It depends on what you mean by totally free word order. Speakers generally try to keep words reasonably close to their dependencies, even when there is no specific rule concerning placement. As a result, there's usually not too much ambiguity about which modifiers refer to which words. Some people would argue that this means there are no truly free word order languages. Others would say that this has nothing to do with grammar, it is simply a by-product of speakers desire to minimise ambiguity and the limited short-term memory of speakers and listeners. I tend to fall in with the latter, although I would argue that many syntactic rules are actually a product of speakers and listeners desire to minimise ambiguity, blurring distinctions between syntax and pragmatic constraints on communication. --Diderot 11:13, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, I get it that it's a trade-off between ambiguity and syntactic freedom. But, I want to know if constructs unambiguous in any word order exist? If so, I'd like to see some examples. -- Sundar \talk \contribs 11:41, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Latin and Ancient Greek are like Sanskrit: word order is completely free. Here's an example: arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris Italiam fato profugus Laviniaque venit litora. That's the first couple lines of the Aeneid, and it translates like this, leaving the order unaltered: "arms man and I sing, of Troy who first from shores to Italy by fate driven and Lavinia and came shores". Adjectives are not near their nouns, verbs are not near their subjects, everything's all mixed up. I'm not positive that it's unambiguous; ambiguities certainly can arise, but in most cases, they're ruled out by context. Certainly in this case. Shorter simpler sentences are more immune to ambiguity, and it'd be easy to make a short sentence which is easily and obviously immune: canem agricola senecem caedit, which says "the farmer kills the old dog", in the order "dog farmer old kills". This sentence works in any order (though in Latin, and I expect also Greek or Sanskrit, some orders emphasize different words, and some might sound weird.) -lethe talk + 11:56, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
(edit conflict) in Homer's epics, you can see that an adjective can be four or five words far away from its noun, generally it causes no misunderstanding as the adjective agrees with its noun in number, gender and case... but the Homeric language is an artificial one, we have no reason to believe that the ancient Greek really speak that way.--K.C. Tang 12:01, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
It may be true that Homeric greek was not the spoken dialect of the day, though this would be hard to back up, since little is known about the time it was written down. It's certainly true of literature at the height of the Roman republic; the written dialect was more effected than the spoken dialect. I think Homer might have come from a much less educated time, so this may not be true of him, but it's not really relevant, is it? All Indoeuropean languages 3000 years ago were heavily inflected and therefore had a large amount of freedom in the word order, spoken dialects as well. -lethe talk + 12:07, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for all the responses. I got the point that ambiguities in this case are not theoretically ruled out (well, they're not restricted to word-order), but most ambiguities are resolved by the context. -- Sundar \talk \contribs 12:11, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes, ambiguities are theoretically possible. I hope you've also taken my point that sentences that are completely ambiguity free in any word order are indeed possible. That was your question, wasn't it? In particular, the sentence I gave you could never mean "the old farmer kills the dog" or "the dog kills the old farmer", no matter what you do to the word order. -lethe talk + 12:19, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
(edit conflicted) I noted that point too. I understand that declensions help make many sentences ambiguity-free in any word order. My initial question was about language structures that make sentences theoretically ambiguity-free for any word order. Your other point answered the follow-up question. Thanks. -- Sundar \talk \contribs 12:34, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
So I've answered the follow-up question, but not the initial question? I'm still not sure what the initial question is. Has it been answered? -lethe talk + 12:40, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
You've answered both. One part of my question was to know if languages have structures that make *all* sentences theoretically unambiguous in any word order. You've answered that with a "no". The other part was if there are examples where sentences could be unambiguous in certain cases. You've answered that as well. I know I've not been clear enough with terminology (constructs, structures). It's because I'm neither a linguist nor a native speaker of English. -- Sundar \talk \contribs 12:46, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Oh I see. So here's a question: is it possible to imagine a hypothetical very heavily inflected language so that word order can be completely free, and no ambiguity would ever be possible? The inflections that words carry are like little pointers to other words. A feminine ending on an adjective points to a feminine noun. A plural verb ending indicates that the plural noun must be the subject. In order to make the language completely free, each word would have to contain a pointer that uniquely identified every other word in the sentence by its relation. Seems like a word would have to contain the entire sentence, and the notion of "word" would be completely lost. Every sentence would be a single "word" long, which would then have completely free order, since there is only one way to order a single word. But I'm just sort of thinking out loud, I'm not a linguist either, just a guy who minored in Latin and Greek in college, so I don't know how correct my claim is. Maybe not very. -lethe talk + 12:55, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Interesting thought. Well, isn't there a better way to uniquely represent the words in the sentence? Also, does every word in a sentence refer every other word in the sentence? -- Sundar \talk \contribs 06:15, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
in classical Chinese poetry, you can really write "I bit a dog" to mean "a dog bit me", though Chinese, being an analytic language, has no inflections at all. In those "I bit a dog" cases, the meaning is totally determined by the context and our real life knowledge. So poetry doesn't count.--K.C. Tang 12:27, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Of course, context may not help with the sentence "fox tiger bit". This would be unambiguous in an inflected language. Then the word order can be put to poetic use. -lethe talk + 12:30, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
the point is that word order, in poetry, can be totally ignored, as long as the metre fits, no matter one is writing in an inflected language or not. So we should not use poetry as examples.--K.C. Tang 12:34, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
It's a good point. Poetic license can be used to get away with all kinds of things which are ambiguous or even ungrammatical from a purely syntactical point of view. -lethe talk + 12:40, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

shuck as a noun[edit]

I'm reading James Lee Burke's "The Neon Rain", published in 1987 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc. It's the first book in the Detective Dave Robicheaux series. This series takes place in New Orleans, LA and Cajun country environs, as Dave Robicheaux is of Cajun extraction. Having been born in San Diego, I haven't a clue about some of the terminology used in the book. Wikipedia has been a great source for understanding many of the terms used in the book. However, (finally my question!) I have been unable to determine the meaning of the word "shuck" when used as noun. It is apparent that it is slang and probably regional. I would assume that it is related to the phrase "shuck and jive", and while I've heard that phrase before, I'm still not sure what "shuck" means even in this context. Thanks, Stuck-on-shuck -- 17:09, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Can you use it in a sentence? And are you sure it's a noun? Black Carrot 21:52, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
The American Heritage Dictonary[3] gives two noun definitions, one of which could be what you're after, lacking an actual example of the usage you've seen:

2. Informal Something worthless. Often used in the plural: an issue that didn't amount to shucks.

Zero Gravitas 22:58, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
OK..... I was trying not to infringe on copyright laws, but since I have fully referenced the author, title, publisher and date, I'll just quote from the book...
1. on Page 44:
"... think you're doing, Purcel?" Segura asked. "That all depends on you, Julio. We hear you're putting out a very serious shuck about my partner," Clete said. "Is this him?" Segura asked. I didn't answer. I stared straight into his eyes. He ..."
2. on Page 55:
"... doesn't know what's involved. If he did, he might be on our team. Fitzpatrick prob- ably gave you a patriotic shuck and you thought you were helping out the good guys." "I don't know what the fuck you're talking about." "You're ..."
3. on Page 95:
"... wants to take her little girl back to San Antonio and study to be a hairdresser." "It sounds like a shuck to me." ..."
4. on Page 148:
"... a hog lot." "I'm not interested, Dave. Did you come by to screw me?" "You think I'm giving you a shuck?" "No, I think you're single-minded and you're bent on revenge. I made the overture the other night and complicated things ..."
5. on Page 194:
"... unlit cigarette in his mouth. "Don't get the wrong idea, Joe. I'm just an impulsive guy. Next time save the shuck for a Fuller Brush route," I said. His face went dead. Didi Gee had reserved a private dining room at ..."
6. on Page 241:
"... on tap, and eating oysters as fast as the Negro barman could rake them out of the ice bins and shuck them open on a tray. After the traffic had thinned and the streets had cooled in the lengthening shadows, I ..."
Still-Stuck-On-Shuck-- 00:08, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
Ah, here we go. #6 seems pretty clearly to be the main "shelling" meaning, but as for the rest, I found this at, of all places,[4]:
The expression "shucking and jiving", according to "The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang" stands for "fooling". It is therein stated, as you noticed, that for many blacks it is a survival technique to avoid and stay out of trouble. The verb "shuck" means to deceive or defraud someone; the verb "jive" is polysemous. In context here it also means to "cheat" and "mislead", albeit often in a playful way. Thus we have here a double whammy, an hendiadys, as it were.
This specifically refers to a verb, but the noun form would presumably work the same way. —Zero Gravitas 01:30, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the info! No-Longer-Stuck-On-Shuck! -- 02:42, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

use of the word pandemic[edit]

I do not remember the use of the word pandemic when I was younger. When did the word come in to use and who started the use of this word.

               Please and Thank You 

Stan Putzke

OED says mid 17th century (and, interestingly, a secondary meaning of 'pertaining to sensual love' appearing in the early 19th c.), so unless you are quite old... dab () 21:08, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
The New York Times' archive confirms the word has been used with some regularity for more than 100 years. It's in common use now due to fears about bird flu. You might not have heard it a lot when you were a child simply because it's not a word that children would hear a lot. -- Mwalcoff 00:33, 5 May 2006 (UTC)


for the purpose of a dinnertable discussion, could you give me, as precisely as possible (we are interested in possible glottal stops), the IPA transcription of the RP of

ere our arrows fly (from The Hobbit)

dab () 21:00, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

I think RP would use linking Rs rather than glottal stops here: [ɛəɹ ɑəɹ ˈæɹəʊz ˈflaɪ]. Angr (talkcontribs) 21:58, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
For me, similar, though no [ɹ] linking the second and third words. Jameswilson 01:07, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Top 5 languages used in web searches[edit]

I am at this link but I don't see any indication here or anywhere on the site where I can find the top 5 languages used in internet searches.

Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Have you looked at Languages on the Internet? As of September 2004, the top five languages are English, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese and German. This site, of unknown reliability is apparently more current, and switches Spanish and Japanese. Looking at the Top 500 websites, the top ranked search-only site is English (Google, #2), followed by the top search site in Chinese (, #4), top in Japanese (, #19), Spanish (, #31) and German (, #35). I should note that the languages on the internet links are for all uses -- not just searches -- but I have a hard time imagining that one language group is that much more likely to search than another. --ByeByeBaby 02:13, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
I would suspect, however, that Alexa users are biased to the languages that Alexa is supported in.--Prosfilaes 03:27, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

May 4[edit]

Capitalization of "von" at the beginning of a sentence?[edit]

If someone's last name contains the word "von", as in "von Neumann", and one wanted to use just the last name at the beginning of a sentence, would one capitalize it or leave it lower case? Some sentences in the John von Neumann article do capitalize it in this context, but I just want to know if that sort of practice is correct. -- noosphere 04:27, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes, it is correct. (Chicago Manual of Style, 8.7 "always capitalized when beginning a sentence".) In a collaborative environment such as this, however, the big-endians and the little-endians can only come to terms by recasting any such sentence so it doesn't begin with the name. - Nunh-huh 05:06, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
Great. Thank you so much for your answer. -- noosphere 06:30, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Bias, Landscaping[edit]

how do you say Bias or Landscaping in spanish?

(are partial | paisajemiento or áreas verdes correct?) Qrc2006 10:50, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

I'd say bias (noun) = prejuicio, biased (adjective) = parcial. Landscaping might be translated as jardineria ornamental. On an urban level it is paisajismo. Lesgles (talk) 21:33, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Head-first and head-final languages[edit]

Give the list of head-first languages and head-final languages. —Masatran 15:29, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

All of them? If you just need a few examples, see Word order please. David Sneek 15:54, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Alphabet and language in Transnistria, part of Moldova[edit]


I was just wondering about the language situation in Transnistria. Transnistria is a breakaway state of Moldova. The country is not widely recognized by the international community.

I heard people say that Moldovan is very similar to Romanian and that some even consider it the same language. I also read that Moldovan is the dominant language in both Moldova (under Chisinau rule) and in Transnistrian, but in Transnistria they use the Cyrillic alphabet, while in the rest of Moldova they use the Latin alphabet.

However, recently I saw a documentary about Transnistria, and not only was everything written in Cyrillic alphabet, it appeared that Russian was the dominant language. There were only a handful of Moldovan schools, and they have to struggle to survive.

Can anyone clear this up for me? I will be very interested in any remarks.

Thx! Evilbu 18:57, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

I don't know much about it, but I was under the impression Ukrainian rather than Russian was the dominant language of Transnistria. Angr (talkcontribs) 19:09, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
Moldovan is Romanian. Most Moldovans I've met would agree. (And as far as Wikipedia is concerned it's the same - the Moldovan-language wikipedia was disbanded after a broad majority of Moldovan editors felt it was redundant). So bluntly, "Moldovan" is purely a political invention. Note that all of Moldova/Basarabia used Cyrillic while they were part of the USSR and the Russian Empire prior to that. Ok, as for Transnistria (Trandniestr) - Basically the raison d'étre of that breakaway republic is the wish to keep stronger ties with Russia (and Ukraine, although that's also inside the Russian sphere of influence, less so since the "Orange revolution" though). As you might know, the whole thing pretty much came about when the Russian 14th army refused to leave. The Russian and Ukranian minority there is sizeable. (IIRC, Moldovans are still the biggest ethnical group there, but not larger than Russians and Ukranians together). If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, the real reason for Transdniestr's existance is the Russian mafia, who's running a highly profitable smuggling and trafficing racket out of there. So in as few words as possible: Trandniestr is basically (with the possible exception of Belarus) the last surviving part of the Soviet Union. (Before someone asks.. Yes, I am interested in Moldova. -Someone's got to take an interest in those obscure corners of the map.) --BluePlatypus 02:07, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Thank you but I still don't get it. The situation is definitely complex, as Transnistria was once described as the part of Moldova that looks to the east, to Ukraine, but with the Orange Revolution Ukraine might turn more to the west itself. So what about the language then. Everyone used cyrillic that I saw in that documentary, but Ukranians, even if they are dominant together with the Russians, don't speak the same language either. So the Russians enforce Russian on everyone else? Evilbu 13:08, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

Ukrainian is written in Cyrillic too; are you sure it was Russian and not Ukrainian? And anyway, lots of Ukrainians do speak Russian, often better than Ukrainian. Angr (talkcontribs) 14:07, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
Well, I can't know what language it was without having seen the documentary. But as said, all three languages can be written in cyrillic. (E.g. "Good morning" is "Bună dimineaţa" or "Бунэ диминяца" in Cyrillic. Which is pretty different from Russian"Доброе утро" and Ukrainian "Доброго ранку"). There isn't much of a language barrier between Russian and Ukrainian. They have a high level of mutual intelligibility to begin with, and most Ukrainians know Russian anyway. (Something like almost half of all Ukrainians speak Russian at home) Most Moldovans and Belarusians know Russian too. (Even if Russian/Ukrainian are pretty far removed from Romanian. - although Romanian does have a clear slavic influence (E.g. "Yes" is "da". Even some non-Russian words are still Russian; "tram" is "tramvai", borrowed from Russian, borrowed from English "tramway"). Officially all three languages are official languages of Transdniestr. But I haven't been there so I can't speak from experience on what languages they de facto use the most. I suspect it's probably Russian for everyday, non-personal talk, since that's probably the language most people know. At home, people of course use their mother tounge. --BluePlatypus 19:13, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

How to show correct spelling in a mispelled quote.[edit]

I have a dedication which I want to quote, but the name of the dedicatee is misspelled. What is the proper method used to show the name as it is printed as well as to show that the spelling used is incorrect? For example, the name is shown as "Fridjof Nansen" but the correct spelling is "Fridtjof Nansen." There is only one letter missing ("t"), but I want to show the correct spelling, preferably inside of the quote. Feel free to correct any of my grammar as used in this paragraph.

I would either write "Fridjof [sic; Fridtjof] Nansen" or simply "silently correct" it to "Fridtjof Nansen". Angr (talkcontribs) 20:28, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
As long as it's a minor mistake, with no significance, most editors would be happy to correct it without drawing undue attention to it. I quote a lot in my work, and often have to correct sloppy spellings from Indian writers and publishers. --Shantavira 07:21, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

This issue comes up a lot when words spoken by some public figure are misspelled when converted into a written quote by a journalist. If I'm quoting the person using the "quote" written by the journo, I'll always correct the spelling because I consider I'm just finishing the journo's job. For example, when I see "can not" in a quote, I almost always change it to "cannot". "Can not" is a different concept and usually not what the speaker intended.

But there's a problem when the misspelled words commenced their life in written form. There's no single solution, it will depend on the circumstances. As well as what Angr and Shantavira have said, two other options are (a) quote them exactly without qualification (Fridjof), or (b) change "Fridjof" to "Fridtjof" and use square brackets to show this is your interpolation. You need to decide whether it's Nansen's name that's the real point, or whether the misspelling is somehow an important issue in whatever you're writing about. JackofOz 01:33, 6 May 2006 (UTC)


As a frequent RD contributor, I am quite confident that many who read this board are, as I, grammar pedants, and it is they in particular to whom I address this question, one that has troubled me for some time. A few months ago, I was copyediting a section of the Super Bowl XL article (which section now appears as its own article and changed “…some critics claimed he called it when the play clock had already struck zero. That would have penalised Pittsburgh 5 yards and made it 3rd and 11…” to “…some contended that the play clock hit zero seconds before Roethlisberger called for a timeout, which would have constituted a delay-of-game and resulted in the assessment of a five-yard penalty…”. Another editor, whom I think to be an excellent contributor, removed “the assessment of”, suggesting that the locution was unnecessarily verbose. Even as I have left (and will continue to leave, irrespective of the answers provided here) the sentence in the revised state, I wonder if others concur in my belief that “the assessment of” is, in a syntactic analysis, preferable. My argument, I suppose, rests primarily on the idea that a referee’s determining the existence of (and then whistling) a penalty in American football, or, even more aptly, in football qua soccer, is a significant interpolation between a player’s committing a foul and a penalty’s actually being enacted. While the primary actor in the scoring of a touchdown, for example, is the player (even as an official might make judgments as to whether a receiver caught a ball in bounds or whether the ball crossed the plane of the goal), upon which note I’d rest the contention that we ought to write “Joe Schmoe caught a 19-yard pass for a touchdown” (cf., “Joe Schmoe caught a 19-yard pass, which catching resulted in the ‘’assessment’’ of a touchdown”), the primary actor, IMHO, in the assessment of a penalty is an intervening actor, the referee, inasmuch as most assessments are discretionary (certainly more penalty assessments than touchdown assessments are discretionary), such that a given action doesn’t result in a penalty but, rather, in the assessment of a penalty. We are more likely, I think, to say that “Joe Schmoe caught a 19-yard touchdown pass” than to say that “Joe Schmoe committed a holding penalty” (rather, “Joe Schmoe was flagged for holding”), and I think such preference follows logically from the situation I set out. I certainly have entertained the idea that “the assessment of” ought also to be appended to sentences with respect to touchdowns, since one’s catching a pass doesn’t ‘’result’’ in anything; perhaps the use of result is altogether inelegant in any case. Notwithstanding that, though, is my “assessment” suggestion a hypercorrection/adduction of a distinction without a difference, or can it accurately be said that, since there is a cause more proximate to the assessment of a penalty than a player’s committing the penalty, the “assessment” locution ought to be preferred. (Even if I can’t make the list of users with the most edits, at least I can surely assume my place in the RD’s records book for “longest [and most inane] question.) Joe 00:01, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

While there is a difference between "the assessment of a 5-yard penalty" and "a 5-yard penalty," I think the difference is not significant enough in this case to merit the extra words. The meaning gets across clearly without them. When choosing between more or fewer words, you should generally go with the fewer if it doesn't significantly change the meaning of the sentence. -- Mwalcoff 00:29, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
OK sir, we're going to have to ask you to put down the dictionary and thesaurus and slowly back away. --LarryMac 12:35, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Hey, it's not as inane as the discussion at Talk:Mike McCarthy --Maxamegalon2000 04:52, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
No offence, Joe, but this reminds me of a certain PBF cartoon. —Keenan Pepper 05:06, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

May 5[edit]

German and Sanskrit[edit]

I was told that the grammar of the German language is based on Sanskrit. Is this true? --Vikram

Not really. What's the case is that both Sanskrit and German (as most European languages) are decendents of a single common ancestor, the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). Nobody knows exactly what PIE was like (and it can only be regarded as hypothetical, although a very likely hypothesis), since there are no written sources of that language. What we do know (and what was instrumental in forming this hypothesis) is that Vedic Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages decending from PIE that there are sources for. So as such, it's the language that's closest to PIE itself. Since all these languages have decended from a common source, they all have a somewhat similar grammar, at least compared to completely unrelated languages like Japanese. --BluePlatypus 05:16, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
It would be flatly wrong to say that any feature of German is based on Sanskrit—they diverge from fundamentally separate branches of the Indo-European family tree. Nevertheless, from the perspective of an English speaker, a superficial similarity might be seen in their inflectional systems. Both languages are grammatically conservative, having extensive case systems, whereas English is essentially analytic and lacks any sort of productive morphology. Both German and Sanskrit distinguish between nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive cases and both are, I believe, fairly fusional. However, from a German's perspective, Sanskrit wouldn't be familiar at all. Unlike German, Sanskrit has instrumental, vocative, ablative, and locative cases, dual number, not to mention a far more complicated system of conjugation, , and countless other differences. Of course, in terms of vocabulary, German is far more closely related to English. But even in strictly grammatical terms, it's a tenuous comparison. In that repsect, German is far more similar to Latin, Greek, or Irish (or any other Centum language) than to a distant cousin like Sanskrit. Bhumiya (said/done) 21:55, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for clearing this up BluePlatypus and Bhumiya :) --Vikram

SVO vs. AVO[edit]

I would appreciate if someone can explain the reasons for describing English as an "AVO" language rather than an "SVO" language. (ref:

Vineet Chaitanya

This is more appropriately discussed at Talk:Word order. Angr (talkcontribs) 08:07, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Just a guess, "agent" is more precise than "subject"? Though I admit I've never heard of this description before. --Keitei (talk) 13:48, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
It isn't more precise, it means something different. The sentences John kicked the ball and The ball was kicked by John have different subjects but the same agent. Angr (talkcontribs) 13:52, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Wouldn't that make English SVO and not AVO? "The ball was kicked by John" is OVA, but still SV(O). --Keitei (talk) 12:30, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
That's a good example of how the passive voice makes an SVO/OVA disparity, but since English prefers the active voice, it's still SVO and usually AVO. - Draeco 07:34, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Learning English in French class[edit]

In my traditional American education (note sarcasm), I found that I learned most of what I knew about English as a language from my French class. For a good 4 years, I had no idea what ˆ, `, ´, and ç were called in English. I also learned tenses in French long before I heard anything of them in English (e.g. plus que parfait). My teachers would often teach French through similar English ideas, naming them for the first time to me.
It makes me wonder if anyone else has had this experience, or has mourned years of defining "nouns", "verbs", and "adjectives". Why is it that in English class we learn nothing of English? I've had teachers recommend I take Latin if I want to learn about English. Is there a good reason why English classes in the US focus on literature? And getting into college... --Keitei (talk) 13:42, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

It's not just America. In Belgium, people defend studying Latin on the grounds that it leads to a better understanding of Dutch and French grammar. The Esperantists make the same case for Esperanto. The logic of this eludes me. Here, no one studies the linguistics of their own language except undergrad linguists, but I think that if they had to study the comparative linguistics of their native language and the second language or languages they're studying, not only could they do without the dead language, but they would have a much easier time with any future language study.
The story as I understand it is that the decline of prescriptive grammar study resulted in its replacement with practiced-based reading and writing in English classes. This was, in fact, a good idea and the right thing to do. You will become a far better speaker and writer of your native language, and you reach far higher levels of literacy, if your class time is spent reading engaging texts, writing essays and receiving corrections and constructive criticism of your own texts, rather than studying largely fictitious rules. This is fairly well established in the education literature, and is part of the logic behind whole language reading curricula. It breaks down for students with poor literacy or who are not fluent speakers of standard English, and this is much of the reason why phonics came back, but if the goal is socially acceptable language usage among competent native users, you still get more bang for your buck by reading texts and writing essays.
I think students should get some general notions of linguistics in school, especially enough phonetics to identify the place and manner of articulation of consonants, and learn to understand the vowel triangle (actually a trapezoid). This does them an enormous service in dealing with foreign languages. But also, learning to identify agents and patients, subjects and objects, modifiers and prepositional phrases, and diagramming sentences would be a good thing, if nothing else because it makes second language study much less of a mystery. But I don't think it can or should replace a serious literature curriculum. --Diderot 14:32, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Certainly some schools still teach grammar in English classes. It may be less common but it is not completely abandoned. Rmhermen 16:21, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
The story goes that there was a study back in the 70s that showed that teaching grammar had no effect on writing test scores of native speakers of course. I don't remember the citation. This had a lot of resonance because the skills and interests of people who become English teachers are not those of people who like to understand grammar. Also, the grammar being taught was traditional grammar which tries to squeeze English into a kind of jerry-rigged system developed for Latin, not to mention the incoherencies of prescription. For instance, to claim that English has a future tense makes no sense considering that the ways of expressing the future are periphrastic, whereas the way we express the past is inflectional. In Latin all three tenses were inflectional, as they are today in Romance languages.
I don't think grammar will make much of a comeback although it would be a lot more effective than learning Latin in teaching how to think analytically about patterns found in nature, overcome many of the myths about one language being better than another, and help with foreign language learning later. The reason for my pessimism is that English teachers won't want to learn it, and either will those who teach them. mnewmanqc
I found that learning Spanish made it much easier to teach the English language later in life to ESL students. I knew of things like passive voice and perfect tenses from Spanish class. -- Mwalcoff 22:36, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
i certainly learnt no grammar whatsoever in English classes at school (Britain). Our French teacher had to explain what a preposition was, the concept being unknown to us. Its not the same everywhere though - Spanish eleven-year-olds have already been taught all about the (Spanish) pluperfect subjunctive passive, etc. Jameswilson 23:11, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
I think a lot of English grammar is taught at a point where students are typically too young to retain the technical knowledge. In my experience, English classes had switched entirely to writing (and usually writing about literature) by 8th grade. We had been taught the language stuff, why focus on that again, is the line of thinking. If you don't start learning French until high school, that transition doesn't occur until later. As for the names of accent marks in English, I'd say most people aren't taught that because accent marks are not an important part of the language. - user:rasd
I'm in Ireland and find the exact same thing. I've said it several times to teachers that it's current manifestation as a subject is a "joke of a subject". Everyone I know, including some teachers, agree that it should be more focused on grammar and stuff like that, as opposed to literature and drama. I'm hoping some of these years they'll update the Junior Cert. English, since they're currently on a streak of updates of syllibi. Also the same is true for what you said about learning the names of tenses only in other languages, in my case: Irish, French and Spanish. Even in books, in the middle of a sentence in English, they refer to a tense as "Passé Composé" or "Aimsir Caite" etc.. - RedHot 12:30, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Where goes the possessive?[edit]

This sentence from Detroit, Michigan: "When Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick found himself behind in the polls in the 2005 election, his campaign tried to draw attention to his opponent, Freeman Hendrix's, support in the suburbs." It was recently changed from "opponent's, Freeman Hendrix, support" to the above. I would have guessed that the original was correct. Rmhermen 16:07, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

I think generally, either wording is going to be confusing. Technically, I think the second version is correct, but is confusing as Freeman Hendrix ends up straight after the possessive. The problem is, Freeman Hendrix is in a seperate clause thing, and if done correctly you should be able to read the sentence without anything from the clause. "opponent, Freeman Hendrix,'s support" obviously doesn't work. I think it needs to be reworded. "to the support his opponent, Freeman Hendrix, received in the suburbs"? Skittle 16:46, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
The original looks OK if you remove the commas around Freeman Hendrix's. Jameswilson 23:28, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
In spoken English, the rule is that the 's goes at the end of the last item in the possessive series. For example, "Have you been to my friend Bob's house?" The same rule is carried over to written English, but it may receive criticism since it is not in common practice. In addition, the inclusion of commas with the appositive make the position of 's more difficult. The best alternative is to use a construction with the word of, sometimes called a genitive construction. Therefore, the best way to word the example above is "...tried to draw attention to the support of his opponent, Freeman Hendrix, in the suburbs."--El aprendelenguas 23:36, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
I may be wrong, but I would have said "his opponent's, Freeman Hendrix's, support", although I can't say why. It just seems more natural to me. Bhumiya (said/done) 00:37, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

face vs construct validity[edit]

I think the link for "face validity" goes to "construct validity."

I disagree. Vehemently. Loomis51 23:55, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

The A was B, who had Ced themselves[edit]

The Royalists' major asset was the Navy, who had declared themselves for the Prince of Wales.

Is the above sentence's grammatical number correct? “Themselves” feels wrong. I'd say “itself” or “herself”, but I am not a native speaker of English. If the word “Navy” is used like “police” in that sentence, shouldn't it be “The Royalists' major asset were the Navy, who had declared themselves for the Prince of Wales”? Wikipeditor 17:10, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

There are two points here. The first is that the verb must agree with the subject, not the complement, e.g. "Clouds are vaporized water" and "The last crop was potatoes" (I took these examples from Fowler). In more complex sentences, even native English speakers sometimes get confused, but the rule does not change. Since "asset" is singular, it must be "the asset was".
The second problem is the word navy, a collective noun which can be singular or plural depending on context. Here, it is taken as a plural, hence "themselves". This usage is rare in American English, however, which is probably why it feels wrong to you. For example, as an American speaker, I would say "The Royalists' major asset was the Navy, which had declared itself for the Prince of Wales." Lesgles (talk) 18:07, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Ignoring the unrelated issues raised below, Lesgles is right. The use of "was" is correct, and the only option, no matter where you live; the use of "themselves" is correct in British usage, incorrect in American, and completely unrelated to "was". Tesseran 21:45, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately, I currently do not have the time to read through all replies yet, but will try to do so later. Thanks to everybody for contributing, and especially to Lesgles for summing it all up. Wikipeditor 15:05, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

I'd say "The Royalists major asset was the Navy, which had declared itself... "Were" and "themselves" just don't sound right to me. Of course, I'm an American, and we treat almost all group nouns as singular, except for things like "police", whereas the British would be more likely to say "...were the Navy, who had declared themselves..."

In any case, mixing "was" and "themselves" is wrong by either the British or the American standard. It was probably written by an Englishman and proofread by an American or vice versa. Linguofreak 18:20, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

It actually isn't a mix, as the two verbs do not have the same subject. As I mentioned above, was agrees with the word asset, which is singular (the asset was). Themselves agrees with Navy, which can be construed as plural (the navy were). As an American speaker, though, I would rephrase the sentence the same way you would. There might be a better way to construct the sentence, but it is grammatical as it stands (in British English, at least). Lesgles (talk) 00:00, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
The rule about number agreement is not always clear cut. When referring to a single person whose gender is unknown or unimportant, using "he or she" in all its forms is tiresome, so it's now usual to use "they" and "them". What's the reflexive form? Is it themself, because a single person has only one "self"? Or is it themselves, because "selves" has to agree with the grammatical number of "them"? Hard to say, but many sources say "themself" is not really a legit word. In any event, if you type the word "themself", most spell checkers will change it to "themselves", and so we get things like "The person who did this really has to sort themselves out". Most writers will accept that change without blinking, because it reflects the way most people speak (which may, ironically, have something to do with the tyranny of the spell checker to begin with). In this respect, Fowler (2nd edition, 1978 reprint) was not up to speed with current PC-think (although this may have changed in the 1999 3rd edition). His 1978 preferred solution was to avoid "themselves" in such cases and assume masculine gender ("himself") because that was the convention in the interpretation of legal documents. He also takes the piss out of himself by concluding "Whether that convention ... is an arrogant demand on the part of male England, everyone must decide for himself (or for himself or herself, or for themselves)". JackofOz 00:54, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
Indeed, singular they has always been a tricky problem (separate from the one brought up by Wikipeditor). My personal solution is to restructure the sentence whenever possible. Lesgles (talk) 17:57, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

"SCHM" prefix[edit]

I saw a billboard for a Mini Cooper that had the tagline "OPEC, SCHMOPEC". I've often seen the "schm" prefix, used to show disdain for something or someone. Is there a name for this type of phrase?

Shm-reduplication -- AnonMoos 17:55, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
I <3 Wikipedia! —Keenan Pepper 00:44, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
<3 ? -LambaJan 18:44, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Love. Tilt your head to the right and use a little imagination, and it looks like a heart. Angr (talkcontribs) 18:47, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, I was too lazy to open GNOME Character Map and get one of these doohickeys: ♥ —Keenan Pepper 21:19, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

Chinese translating.......[edit]

Good afternoon....I am looking for a program or web page for translating Chinese into English. Any help would be greatly appreciated, Thank you.

Google language tools. --Ornil 20:15, 5 May 2006 (UTC)


how do i put info i got from an article on this website into my works cited? how is it supposed to be formatted and look?

See Citing Wikipedia. You can also use the cite tool by clicking on the "cite this article" button on the toolbar to the left. Note that questions like this are more suitable for the Help desk than the reference desk. GeeJo (t)(c) • 23:53, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

May 6[edit]


hi, I just wrote an artice in English and I know that the same article exsists in Hungarian and Swedish, but I can't find the link to. Usually they are on the left side, but not this time. I want to be able to change the language of the article by one click. Can you please help me to do that? thanks

You have to put links to them at the bottom, in the form [[hu:Article name]] or [[sv:Article name]], where hu and sv are the ISO 639-1 codes for Hungarian and Swedish. I'd do it for you but you didn't mention which article. =P —Keenan Pepper 02:10, 6 May 2006 (UTC)


Hi, it's me again, I just tried like you said, and it seems to work. btw the article is: it's about my hometown. thanks again

No problem. I noticed you also added links to German and Japanese, where the article doesn't exist yet. This can't really hurt anything, but it's kinda useless and it might give people false hope that there actually is an article in their preferred language. —Keenan Pepper 02:58, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

Question on the English Language[edit]

A riddle is going around on email saying that there are 3 words in the English language that end in "gry". Two are "angry" and "hungry". What is the 3rd? The only clue given is "wiki", but I am completely confused by your site. I am assuming that the clue means to use this site. It says: "There are three words in the English language that end in "gry". ONE is angry and the other is hungry. EveryONE knows what the third ONE means and what it stands for. EveryONE uses them everyday; and, if you listened very carefully, I've given you the third word. What is it? _______gry?" The email claims if I send the riddle to 5 people that the answer will automatically appear on my screen. I know that won't happen. But if you could point me in the correct direction, or if you can get the answer, I would truly appreciate it.-----Judy Thomason

See gry - Nunh-huh 02:51, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
And please don't forward it. Most people have heard it before. Is there a name for this type of "please forward" spam? I haven't been able to find an article about it. --Shantavira 09:17, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
Chain e-mail -lethe talk + 09:21, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

Vowel Quadrilateral[edit]

I'm writing the linguistics page of the Chaozhou language and would like to add a vowel quadrilateral like in the french phonology page, i tried to decipher the codes on the edits page, and tried replacing some vowels with the ones i want but i still can't do it. Can anyone tell me how i can make one? i'm quoting the French one here:

Front Central Back
Blank vowel trapezoid.png
i • y
 • u
e • ø
 • o
ɛ • œ
 • ɔ
a • 
ɑ • 

The vowels to the left of the dot • are unrounded; those to the right are rounded. See Vowel roundedness.

Merci! Shingrila 03:47, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

I never figured it out either, which is why I just used drawings for the vowel charts at Ulster Irish, Connacht Irish, Munster Irish, and California English. Drawings also let you be much more precise about the relative positions of the vowels. Angr (talkcontribs) 09:01, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
Hi. I was the one who made the French table, so I can tell you how I did it, but it might also be easier to just make a graphic as Angr said. I took the full vowel chart from Vowels, then went to the sandbox to play around with it. The top section defines the headings at the top (front, central, back), and the bottom section defines the side (close, open, etc.). Then each of the middle sections is for one of the rows. You will have to go in and delete all the vowels that do not appear in the language. All you have to change is the part inside the IPA tags. I put &nbsp; in their place, although I don't know if that's strictly necessary. I don't know if that was at all clear, but you might also consider just making a picture. Lesgles (talk) 00:32, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Lesgles and Angr, but i still don't quite get it :<, could you demonstrate it by making one with only the cardinal vowels?

the vowels i need for Chaozhou are [a], [i], [e], [o], [ɤ]/[ɯ]/[ə], [u], and their nasalised counterparts. Shingrila 06:18, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

All right, I was bored so I tried this. You might be able to modify it to make it better:
Front Central Back
Blank vowel trapezoid.png
i • 
ɯ • u
e • ø
ɤ • o
Lesgles (talk) 21:13, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Blocked on Hungarian Wikipedia[edit]

Hi, I was writing acticles in English about Hungarian towns. Then I went and added a link on the Hungarian sites so people will see that the article is also available in English. But for some reason I have been blocked from the Hungarian Wikipedia. Please help me! Thanks,


This kind of questions probably belong on the help desk, but have you tried contacting the admin who's blocked you? - ulayiti (talk) 17:08, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
If you're the same guy who asked before about Soltvadkert I think your block log says: "blokkolva 1 nap lejárattal (generating invalid iw links en masse)". So it's only a one-day block. I guess you'll need to be a bit more careful to check that you're links are correct. (And perhaps get a username, the admins are probably more forgiving then.) --BluePlatypus 19:44, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
Haha, maybe I spoke too soon when I said links to nonexistant articles couldn't do any harm. =P —Keenan Pepper 04:05, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

May 7[edit]


how to write a letter given my apologise?

Pardon? —Keenan Pepper 03:07, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

This is one way to do it.

You start with stating in the most sincere and regretful tone exactly what you're apologizing for. You then go on to describe how this matter affected you and others involved in your hearts and lives. Then you write the lessons you learned from the situation and how they will help you to do better in the future. Then you offer any assistance that may help to alleviate any suffering that was in some way caused by your actions. You close by talking about some of the wonderful qualities this person has and how they have positively affected your life. You might want to open with that also. Hmmm... I think that's everything. But this is for a personal letter, if it's a professional memo the guidelines change quite a bit. -LambaJan 18:41, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

Just one thing I'd add to that: it's important to accept responsibility for what you've done--to say "this was my fault" in one way or another. Many people (especially politicians, it seems) try to get away with "non-apology apologies," that is, issuing a statement that on its surface seems to be an apology, but on more careful review is not one, often because it lacks acceptance of responsibility for the unfortunate incident. Cynthia McKinney has been widely criticized for her "apology" regarding the recent incident with the U.S. Capitol Police, as it did not include any acceptance of responsibility for the incident on her part. Chuck 20:48, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Turkish help[edit]

Could someone please translate this for me?

Beyaz atlı sımdı gectı buradan
Surarısı can elınden vurulmus
Cıksın daglar taslargayrı aradan
Beyaz atın suvarısı yorulmus

Ellerı elıme deymez olaydı
Gozlerı gozumu gormez olaydı
Bu gonul o gonlu sevmez olaydı
Beyaz atlı sımdı gectı buradan

Thanks! deeptrivia (talk) 01:39, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

Cem Karaca lyrics; his article could sure use improvement! --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 15:24, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, that's right! Still waiting for translation though. deeptrivia (talk) 16:14, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

Try asking one of the people listed at Wikipedia:Translators available#Turkish-to-English. Angr (tc) 17:18, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Red-eye effect in photography[edit]

Does anybody know the technical term for the "red-eye" effect in photography? I thought that it began with "hemo-", but I might be totally wrong. Please, please, please, if anybody knows, I'd greatly appreciate it. (I doubt that I'll be able to sleep until I find out!)

Not sure what you mean by technical. "Red-eye effect" seems to be the principal term, as far as I can tell—at least, I can't find any other. It needn't be long and Latin-derived to be "technical". —Zero Gravitas 05:37, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
I've been trying to find words that start with hemo-, which means "blood" in Greek. Maybe hemophthalmia, "an effusion of blood into the eyeball" [5]? Could be confused with the red-eye effect. :) Lesgles (talk) 05:47, 7 May 2006 (UTC)


I have two questions:

Where is the Brahmi language mainly used today? What does the message mean and what does it say behind the picture of Anne Frank?

as usual, readings of the Brahmi and of the Anne Frank articles are highly recommended. Cheers.--K.C. Tang 06:52, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Have you been to my userpage or something? deeptrivia (talk) 03:25, 12 May 2006 (UTC)


A Frenchie is translating an article into French, as is baffled by a word, sprunge. The sentence whence it comes is: James VI/I traced his origin to Fergus, saying, in his own words, that he was a "Monarch sprunge of Ferguse race". I told the budding translator to just ignore this quote, as nobody's going to miss it. I had a quick search through online dictionaries and a massive uni-owned one, with no reference to the word. However, I felt generous, and tried to sniff out a reference, and a few websites hinted it is a Middle English word, maybe related to the word sprog (the British definition). Anyone who knows more about Middle English, can they give a hand? Was my advice of "ignore things you can't translate" apt? Blimey, I do feel generous today. --Wonderfool 11:49, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

I think this is just "sprung" with an e on the end, as was done in "olde englishe". James is saying he was from the line of Fergus. I guess it would be "un monarque jailli de la ligne de Fergus" in French. Hope this helps... СПУТНИКССС Р 11:59, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Just in case it isn't obvious, sprung comes from spring. Spring, sprang, sprung. Like sing, sang, sung, via ablaut. --KJ 23:41, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
"A Frenchie"? Ignore article content? ... Ardric47 05:22, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Aunt/Uncle and Niece/Nephew[edit]

Does anyone know if there's a gender neutral tem for aunt/uncle and niece/nephew. I can't find one anywhere but it seems odd if there isn't since every other relative word I can think of, has one. Anyone know? - RedHot 17:41, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

The only thing I can think of would be a compound term: 'parent's sibling' and 'sibling's child'. It's a little clumsy, but unless you invent a new term and it catches on, you're stuck with things like this. English is not a perfectly gender neutral language. -LambaJan 18:24, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
A friend of mine who was studying anthropology told me once the term "nibling" had some informal currency among cultural anthropologists as a gender-neutral term for "niece or nephew". Angr (talkcontribs) 20:43, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
I occasionally use 'niefling' among my family. Comes from somewhere. Skittle 22:13, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
"parent's sibling" and "sibling's child" cover only half the story. There are also "parent's sibling's spouse" and "spouse's sibling's child". JackofOz 03:35, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for those answers. I just find it strange that those two (aunt/uncle and niece/nephew) are the only ones, except of course for cousin which is neutral by nature. - RedHot 12:19, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

What is this Russian Text?[edit]

Киа дефиа легиа фервор'
Ве! Ла либер', чу суперос тиујн главојн?
Или кун швит' спит', ескит' кај терор'
Венос, форпренос, чу тенос ниан хавојн?
Јам тамбурас ла хиспан'!
Јам Поркул' импетас,
Ли аванце де лонтан'
Ал Берген' импетас.

Кун реном',
Спиту ал хиспано.
Ниа хом', ниа дом'
Савај кун елано!
--Quentin Smith 18:14, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

It's in Cyrillic, but it isn't actually Russian. This is an identical text in Roman script, which is apparently an Esperanto translation of the Dutch song Het beleg van Bergen op Zoom (The Siege of Bergen op Zoom), referring to an event of the War of the Austrian Succession. This looks like the original text. —Zero Gravitas 18:24, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Not Russian cyrillic either given the "Ј"s. Probably Serbian cyrillic. --BluePlatypus 20:32, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Serbian has those ubiquitous DJ and TJ mergers, which I don't see in this text. But maybe it's just a transliteration from some other language. -lethe talk + 20:50, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Zero Gravitas already said what language it is: it's Esperanto, written in Cyrillic for some reason. Angr (talkcontribs) 21:10, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
J is a pretty common letter in Esperanto. Probably the program or person that transliterated the text didn't know to write a Cyrillic й. PeepP 09:14, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
So you mean they'd lack knowlege about a common, easily transcribable letter, yet still know something more obscure like that the Esperanto letter "ĉ" is equivalent to "ч"? Doesn't seem probable to me when "Ј" is a perfectly good letter of the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet. It is also the one that'd correspond to the Esperanto "j". --BluePlatypus 11:13, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
I think it's probably not language specific. Cyrillic J is a convenient transliteration of Roman J, and it's not a translation, so it need not conform to a local variety of Cyrillic. For example, when we transliterate Hindi from Devanagari to Latin, we often write ã with a tilde for nasal a = आँ, but that doesn't really mean we're using the Portuguese Latin alphabet. We transliterate the voiceless postalveolar fricative ब as š with a hacek, but that doesn't really mean we're using the Czech Latin alphabet. It just means that when transliterating, we need to find symbols which represent the source language well. As long as it's not a translation, there isn't really a need to conform to the orthography of any target language. I think the same thing applies here: when transliterating from Esperanto to Cyrillic, we just take whichever letters fit well with Esperanto, and don't worry about which local national varieties of Cyrillic they come from. So I think the presence of Js doesn't justify the assumption that the transliterater preferred Serbian to Russian. -lethe talk + 11:22, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
That doesn't work, because "j" is the same letter as "й". They have the same sound, and both versions work just as well as a translitteration of Esperanto "J". But "J" for "je" is a local variant, it's only used in Serbian and Macedonian and most cyrillic alphabets use "й" instead. There's no point in only translitterating all the letters but one and keeping a foreign letter like "j", unless you don't consider that to be a foreign letter. --BluePlatypus 10:39, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

From Dutch language[edit]

Could someone kindly explain the cultural references in this quotation? It comes from Dutch language

"There have been many definitions of hell, but for the English the best definition is that it is the place where the Germans are the police, the Swedish are the comedians, the Italians are the defense force, Frenchmen dig the roads, the Belgians are the pop singers, the Spanish run the railways, the Turks cook the food, the Irish are the waiters, the Greeks run the government, and the common language is Dutch."

--HappyCamper 21:13, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

Cultural references -You mean stereotypes? They seem pretty obvious. But in short Germans are fascists, Swedes are boring, Italians are cowards, French are lazy, Belgians have no culture (Ever heard Plastic Bertrand? ;)), Spanish railroads are never on time, Turkish food (i.e.: kebab) is bad, Irish are rude, Greeks are corrupt and Dutch is an ugly language. --BluePlatypus 21:26, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
I heard a slightly different version of the joke. It's about the difference between heaven and hell: In heaven, the British are the police, the Germans are the scholars, the French are the chefs, the Swiss are the bankers, and the Italians are the lovers. But in hell, the Germans are the police, the French are the scholars, the British are the chefs, the Italians are the bankers, and the Swiss are the lovers. Angr (talkcontribs) 22:35, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

airplane pronounciation[edit]

hi, why do we say airplane but say (certainly in UK english)"aeroplane". is this what it used to be called? it seems weird when we pronouce airport phonetically... (even more weird is the french who say aéroport but then bail and call an airplane "un avion"). any suggestions?

Because "aeroplane" is the British word for a heavier than air flying machine. To me, "airplane" is very much an Americanism. --Arwel (talk) 00:25, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
Not quite right. The general term for a machine capable of flight is an "aircraft". An "aeroplane" is a powered heavier-than-air flying vehicle with fixed wings. So a helicopter is an aircraft but not an aeroplane. A 747 is both. But yes, "airplane" is an Americanism for "aeroplane". JackofOz 07:18, 8 May 2006 (UTC)


hi, what are umlauts (german) called in english and french? (i.e. citroën) thanks

Diaeresis. -lethe talk + 22:22, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
To be more specific, it's called an umlaut when it changes the quality of a single vowel, and a dieresis when it marks one vowel as being separate from another. —Keenan Pepper 23:21, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Usually, in my experience, the symbol is called an dieresis even when being used for umlaut.--Prosfilaes 23:31, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Not so in typography, according to umlaut (diacritic). --KJ 23:46, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Not so in heavy metal, either. -LambaJan 23:38, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
In my experience, the symbol is usually called an umlaut even when being used for dieresis. Angr (talkcontribs) 23:53, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

In French it's called tréma. The distinction between diaeresis and umlaut (diacritic) might not be strong in French. Both of them link to fr:Tréma. --KJ 00:05, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

I can't think of a french word where the tréma changes a single vowel. Tréma comes from the same greek word meaning dot or hole, like in monotreme, those beasts having only one. First dotcoms, I think. --DLL 19:13, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

May 8[edit]

French Translation of Chimera[edit]

Does anyone know the French word for chimera? Thanks. --Think Fast 00:54, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

The article links to the French Wikipedia article: fr:Chimère. --KJ 01:03, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. Sorry I didn't see that when I looked at the article. --Think Fast 02:41, 8 May 2006 (UTC)


I have been looking to learn the Croatian language for a long time now (ever since I heard what it sounded like on ER). I would really appreciate any help in finding what would be the best way to do this (save going to Croatia or taking a college course). I am looking to be able to buy some sort of Audio disk package and/or book combination. If anyone knows of anything, that would be great. Chuck(척뉴넘) 06:05, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Many people said "Teach Yourself Serbian" by David Norris and Vladislava Ribnikar is good. They also have "Teach Yourself Croatian", which should differ from Serbian only in dialect and script used, so I'd imagine the course is as good. Mind you, I'm a native speaker and didn't actually use it, but people recommended it. You might also consider renting some of Višnjić's movies while you are studying the language. :) Serbo-Croatian is not particularly hard, most Americans I know got the pronunciation right after a while (or at least, very close to right), but 7 cases singular and plural combined with genders do make it a bit of a nightmare sometimes. You might also consider hooking up with a person from Bosnia/Croatia/Serbia (it's essentially the same language) and asking for help. --dcabrilo 07:22, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
This could also get you started. --Shibo77 09:06, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks very much...I'm probably gonna buy "Teach Yourself Croatian". Chuck(척뉴넘) 11:45, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Refer me to translator. (Old Norwegian)[edit]

I have very old letters written in Norwegian from 1895 to about 1924. I am having a hard time finding someone to translate them for me. I understand the language has changed since then and I am wondering if that is why everyone I give them to can not translate them. If you could refer me to someone I would be grateful. Thanks. Beverly Bowman

You could try asking directly at the talk page of any of the people listed at Wikipedia:Translators available#Norwegian-to-English. (You might want to check their contributions first and make sure they're still around. You could also click "E-mail this user" to send them an e-mail.) But don't call it "Old Norwegian"; most people understand that to mean Norwegian before about the mid-14th century. What you have is simply old-fashioned Modern Norwegian! :-) Angr (tc) 17:08, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
Actually, Norwegian from circa 1900 should not be difficult at all to anyone who speaks Norwegian. Even to someone who speaks Swedish it should be comprehensible. -From what I understand, a lot of Swedes read Ibsen in high school, in the original 19th century Norwegian. (Similarily, most English don't have problems reading Mark Twain either) If they're short, I might be willing to help out. Try my talk page. (Although I find that for documents from that era, reading the handwriting is often a lot harder than any archaic the language) --BluePlatypus 08:43, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Thank you very much. I will check it out.

Until 1907 the written language for most Norwegians was not "Norwegian" but Danish! So Ibsen among others (the most famous Norwegian author) wrote in Danish, not Norwegian. Spoken Norwegian language, however, had a quite different pronounciation than written. By spelling and language reforms in 1907, 1917 and 1938 Danish written language was transformed into Norwegian. Those who didn't have patience for that to happen created another version of the Norwegian language, called Nynorsk. Any Norwegian or Dane will be able to read a letter from 1900 today. H@r@ld 10:49, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

Name Pronuciation[edit]

How would the name Matejczyk be pronounced? Thanks, --Chapuisat 17:54, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

From the page Polish phonology, it seems it would be pronounced something like "ma-TAY-chick", IPA: [maˈtɛi̯ʧɨk]. But I'd wait for a Polish speaker to be sure. Lesgles (talk) 18:07, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks. --19:52, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

is there a word for the phenomenon when the month, day and year are all the same?[edit]

Such as this year, it's June 6, 2006 (or 06/06/06; or previously 05/05/05, 04/04/04 etc.). I have googled using various "key" words and have come up empty-handed, except for what someone else described as "triple date". Any ideas?

Apocalypse!!! Aaaahhhhh!!! :) --Think Fast 23:16, 9 May 2006 (UTC)


Me and some friends are trying to figure out how many words we can make out of the word orchestra. I've gotten a lot of words but I need help finding the nine letter words. Some of my friends said they have two nine letter words. I can't find them to save my life. I heard that the other two were proper nouns. But I don't know if thats fact or not so, thanks in advance. -- Jesusfreak 22:17, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

There's "carthorse" for one. —Zero Gravitas 22:28, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
When carthorse is legitimate why shouldn't horsecart be too? Is there a rule against using both?-- (talk) 11:45, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

Thank You so much. If anyone can find anymore let me know. -- Jesusfreak 22:50, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Chest Roar? or did you want single words? Philc TECI 22:57, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
Try this. -Elmer Clark 23:18, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

I need single words. Thank you. -- Jesusfreak 00:40, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

The only other word suggested by Anagram Genius, which is pretty thorough, is Carothers, which is a proper noun. Perhaps your friends were looking there. --Shantavira 07:36, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Has there ever been an orchestra conducted by someone named Carothers? That would be a wonderful thing to have at one's fingertips for a rainy day. JackofOz 13:11, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Or a carthorse named Carothers? Or a carthorse named Carothers who conducted an orchestra! Angr (tc) 14:21, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Well, waddaya know, there really has been a conductor named Carothers, although it looks like she acquired the Carothers name after she finished conducting. In 1986, Rosalyn Harbst was a conductor for the Louisville Youth Orchestra, and she now runs a legal practice under the name Rosalyn Carothers [6]. I wonder if she knows what anagrammatic secrets her new name holds. Maybe we should tell her ... JackofOz 07:34, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Thank you all so much. I won't hold you back though. If you find more let me know. I found out that it can't be a proper noun. Once again, thank you! -- Jesusfreak 19:37, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

May 9[edit]

Subject/ed to fine?[edit]

Glad that I found this forum. On the door of trash chute in my apartment building, following warning is posted: "Persons keeping trash on floor will be subject to fine." This sentence can also be worded as "Persons keeping trash on floor will be subjected to fine." What is exact difference between these two, if any? Thanks. AshishGtalk 01:12, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Are you sure the first one wasn't subject to a fine? or fines? The way it's written sounds to me that if you keep your trash on the floor, you're going to be forced to fine somebody else, which is quite silly.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  06:34, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
The grammatical construction is archaic but not wrong, just like you can say "the prisoners were subjected to torture" -- though I'm going to guess Ashish's dorm is somewhere in the U.K. To answer his question, "subject to" implies a more passive condition in which it will become necessary to pay a fine..."subjected to" is slightly more harsh and makes the fine sound menacing. - Draeco 07:02, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
I was only referring to the fine in the first sentence; I don't find anything wrong with being "subjected to fine". I meant to imply the difference is that in the first statement, fine should be a noun (at least as I, a Canadian, understand it), and in the second statement it is a verb.
Subject in the first is an adjective (ty gravitas!) so you could compare the first (if a fine was used) to the phrase "be known to a friend", whereas with fine as a verb in the second sentence, you could compare it with the phrase "be asked to perform". I believe you though, that it's probably not wrong, just the fact that if it actually is an archaeic grammar form, it directly contradicts modern grammar.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  07:20, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
The first "subject" is an adjective, actually. —Zero Gravitas 15:16, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
That makes more sense, thanks!  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  07:12, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

"Subject to fine" to me means liable or vulnerable; it is possible that a fine will be assessed, and the landlord will be within their rights if they choose to enforce this, etc. "Subjected to fine" makes explicit the promise that this WILL come to pass; rather than a possibility, it describes a certainty. Tesseran 22:51, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Common Second Languages taught in the UK[edit]

Would it be correct to say that French is the most common second language taught in British schools similar to that in American schools, Spanish is the most frequent taught second language?Chile 02:16, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

  • Apparently French is in fact the most common second language taught in British schools. See this page. --Metropolitan90 03:38, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Is there a verb that means 'to move peristaltically'?[edit]

Thanks Adambrowne666 03:41, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

From googling it looks like "peristalse" is a verb. "As a result [of degeneration of nerves] the colon cannot peristalse, or push stool through."[7] "People with irritable bowel syndrome have altered bowel motility; i.e., in particular their small bowel does not peristalse or contract normally."[8] --Cam 03:59, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
"peristalse" is nonstandard, it's not a form that dictionaries have really picked up. I do know some words for this, but my mom used to yell at me if I used them. --iMb~Meow 04:07, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks very much - so sounds like 'peristalse' is a back formation from peristalsis - probably only a matter of time before it does get into the dictionaries, but I still wonder if there is an appropriate word there already ...? Adambrowne666 04:45, 9 May 2006 (UTC)


Example sentences: "The system comprises several elements." Or, "The system is comprised of several elements." Any thoughts as to which is preferred? --Richardrj 09:43, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Comprises (or 'is composed of'). Some people will tell you that 'is comprised of' has now entered the realm of the acceptable, but they're ignorant, illiterate apes. HenryFlower

In patents (at least in the U.S.) "comprising" and "composed of" are not synonyms. "A system comprising A, B, and C" may have additional elements beyond A, B, and C, while "a system composed of A, B, and C" has nothing else beyond the stated elements (or, sometimes, has no additional elements that materially affect the invention). See [9] for more than you ever wanted to know. I don't think the distinction carries over to ordinary language, however. But all the same, "a system comprised of A, B, and C" is generally not used. Chuck 12:20, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
I say "is comprised of" and I 1) can read and 2) am not covered in hair, in addition to 3) I can walk upright. --Think Fast 23:13, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Also you apparently don't understand hyperbole. =P —Keenan Pepper 04:52, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
And 4) you're wrong.
But does this mean that you don't understand sarcasm? :) --Think Fast 23:57, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Touché. —Keenan Pepper 01:12, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
And I don't understand French. Joe 22:01, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Or idiomatic English phrases used independently of their foreign language meaning. Skittle 14:21, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps it's just because, in my brief foray into recreational fencing, I never had much occasion to use the term; instead, I frequently yelled, "Stop hitting me with the foil; I concede". Joe 22:56, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Searching for "comprise" at returns not only dictionary definitions, but also usage examples from literature and usage notes from the Columbia and American Heritage usage guides. --Petershank 20:44, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Imaginary town, one word?[edit]

Is there a one word for 'imaginary town' or fictitious town'? The Indian writer R.K. Narayan describes an imaginary town called Malgudy in his novel Malgudy Days. Is there a one word for such a town?

Utopia--El aprendelenguas 12:32, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Nope. --Richardrj 13:04, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Would 'Ruritania' be appropriate to describe a fictional town?

Nope. --Chuck(척뉴넘) 15:05, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
If it is for a novel, Phantasmaborough, Phantasmeville, Civitafantasma, Fantasmagorod ... I like also this one : Dreamgulch. --DLL 18:52, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
"Nowhere"--Teutoberg 00:06, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Or ErewhonGareth Hughes 16:08, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Again, no. Fictional countries, or proper nouns of any description, are not what he was asking for. HenryFlower 16:31, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm thinking something like mythopolis... —Keenan Pepper 23:33, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
There's a Wikia that uses the term "conworld". Sounds like some sort of technobabble World's Fair. Ashibaka tock 22:56, 12 May 2006 (UTC)


Hello! My name is Vitor and i'm a profound admirer of the WikiPedia website and its concept. I've learned so much from this community, and i'm so grateful that i would be so happy to participate and help as much as i can! I haven't edited any article yet (but i haven't known Wikipedia that long), and 've been thinking so much of how to help... I've noticed that the website is translated in various languages, but not all articles! And so i would to help and translate as many articles as i can (all if possible!) to my language (portuguese)! But i've looked around and i haven't found any option to translate. And simply editing shouldn't work, because i would only be changing to portuguese an english article... I really hope i get the chance to help improve this amazing site! I await your answer! Thank you so much, best regards. --vitinhov 16:06, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Well, first of all, do you have an account at the Portuguese-language Wikipedia yet? If not, sign up for one there! That's the place to put your translations into Portuguese. Once you're done, be sure to add interwiki links to both the English and the Portuguese articles connecting them to each other. Portuguese Wikipedia has a category Artigos em tradução for articles that are still very short in Portuguese that need to be expanded by translating them out of English or another language. If you're also willing to translate from Portuguese into English, then add your name to the list at Wikipedia:Translators available#Portuguese-to-English, and keep an eye on Wikipedia:Translation into English#Portuguese-to-English for articles that someone has asked to be translated from Portuguese into English. Boa sorte! Angr (tc) 16:35, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
It's not actually a mere "translation" but a separate Portuguese Wikipedia, to which you can add and edit articles like you can here. (Your user account won't carry over, though, so you'll need to create another one there if you don't want to be anonymous) —Zero Gravitas 16:26, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

May 10[edit]

How do I reference Wikipedia?[edit]

Hi there, i have used your website extensivly for a major university assignment, and i have searched all over the website but cant seem to find information so i can place this website in my reefrence list. Could you please help me to refrence Wikipedia in APA STYLE? thankyou so much for your time

Use the 'Cite this article' link on the left toolbar. Chuck(척뉴넘) 02:56, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
The best place to look is Wikipedia:Citing Wikipedia. Let us know if you need more help! Isopropyl 02:57, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Please see Wikipedia:Citing Wikipedia, or click "cite this article" in the toolbox on the left. No one person can be held responsible for writing an article, depending on what style you are using (APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, etc..) you just put the article name or Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. -- Flag of the United States.svg Mac Davis] ⌇☢ ญƛ. 04:52, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Don't. Wikipedia is not a suitable reference for a major university assignment. HenryFlower 12:12, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
I'd like to second that. Wikipedia is on its way to becoming something of plague in university writing, and most professors I work with believe it's significantly less reliable than it probably is. - user:rasd
Yeah, perhaps you could use the actual references from the article you are using...that is likely to be more accepted by your professor. Chuck(척뉴넘) 14:16, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
I suppose it depends on the topic for your project. If you're writing an article relating to the internet, public perceptions of a certain topic, or another issue where you would be taking a step back and examining Wikipedia itself as a medium, then go for it. However, I certainly would not use Wikipedia as a substitute for other types of sources. Citing from any sort of encyclopedia (online or off) for university projects is generally bad practice, and your time would be much better spent searching through journal articles or other primary sources. If you have a competent professor and this is indeed a major university project, you will get smacked for using an encyclopedia as a source instead of relying on primary sources. (And yes, I know we're no longer really answering your question.) ;) DavidGC 12:33, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
[off-topic]] (or perhaps meta-topical): Hi guys, I thought to fix the misspelling in this discussion title, mainly for making it reachable when archived. Would that have undesired side-effects? --Gennaro Prota(talk) 15:01, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

That question recurs periodically. --DLL 20:09, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

RE The birthplace of proverbs in different languages[edit]

I am wondering if the proverbs on the list of "*Country* proverbs" were "born" in *country*? Eg, was all the proverbs on this page "born", ie minted, in Finland?

No, they're not. Some of them probably are, of course. But in general, no. People tend to borrow proverbs as they borrow words. So Finnish has a lot of proverbs from Swedish and Swedish from German. For instance, Hungarian, Finnish and Swedish both have the expression "to get the basket" (to be rejected). In all cases its from German. Sometimes they get corrupted in fun ways too. Swedish: "Ont krut förgås inte lätt" ("evil gunpowder is hard to kill") is somewhat nonsensical, but means "bad things are hard to get rid of". The German original was "Weeds are hard to kill" (which makes more sense), where "unkraut" (weed) was reinterpeted as "ont krut". --BluePlatypus 20:04, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Couldn't it be that proverbs have several "birthplaces" because they're based on common sense? Take "a bird in the hand is better than ten in the bush" as an example; My guess is that every culture has "given birth" to a proverb with the same basic meaning but in different words. But why, if you are correct when saying that Finland borrowed most of those proverbs and they are merely translated to Finnish on that list, are there only 20 or so of them listed? I think almost every proverb, native or not to Finland, are known and have a finnish equivalent there. If the case is that the author only wrote some proverbs, the most common if you want, adding page with proverbs native to specific countrys maybe is a welcome future project.
Last time I heard my Inuit friend exclaim "a bird in the hand is better than ten in the bush". Does that mean sth ? --DLL 20:08, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Well, first, no I disagree with the idea that most languages have equivalent proverbs. I'm pretty sure there are unique proverbs out there. If not for any other reason, but because things are not perfectly translatable, different words have different connotations. You could translate the Hungarian proverb "More was lost at Mohács" as "Don't cry over spilled milk." but it would not carry the same weight as referring to that great historic tragedy of theirs. Also, the amount of usage varies a lot even among shared proverbs which are exactly the same (e.g. Biblical ones). I don't quite understand your second point: The reason there are only 20 proverbs on the list is the people editing that list have only bothered to 20 of them. I did not exactly do a survey of which ones originate in Finland or not. But to take an example: "Sour said the fox about rowan berries" is from the well-known Aesop's fable The Fox and the Grapes. In any case, it would be utterly meaningless to have a list of "native" proverbs, because there is absolutely no way of defining what "native" means any more than defining a "native word" or "native custom". These things get passed around from culture to culture, they change and are adapted. Most of the time, there is no definite origin, as with the fable for instance. Yet, the Finns say "rowan berries" where most use "grapes". So does that make it Finnish or not? (Actually, the Swedish is "rowan berries" as well). You might as well try making a list of "native English words" --BluePlatypus 22:47, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

somos nosotros[edit]

What does 'somos nosotros' mean?

My guess is "It's us" or "Here we are" or the like. Angr (tc) 20:26, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Angr is right. I would like to add that in Spanish, if a first- or second-person pronoun is used as a predicate nominative, the copula is conjugated to agree with that pronoun, not with the subject of the sentence. For example: Las siete personas que usted ve somos nosotros. (=The seven people that you see are we.) Somos agrees with nosotros, not personas.--El aprendelenguas 01:43, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

May 11[edit]

just a sentence[edit]

the FP on the Main Page has this sentence: "They mainly eat insects and some seeds." It sounds odd to me. Just ask for you guy's opinions.--K.C. Tang 00:18, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

I think so too. It sounds better like "They mainly eat insects and some types of seeds/certain varieties of seeds".  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  00:41, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
but could we do without the "mainly"? the "eat" controls both "insects" and "seeds", and the "manily" modifies "eat", then the sentence can be seperated into "they mainly eat insects" and "they mainly eat some seeds", the latter being odd. is my understanding correct?:)--K.C. Tang 00:47, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Sounds okay, mostly a bit informal and not very well-written. "Mainly" is informal speech and "some seeds" is ambiguous - a few varieties of seeds or a small number of them? An example of more formal way of saying it could be "Their principal diet consists of insects and a few varieties of seeds". --BluePlatypus 01:10, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
yeah, that's what i want to hear! thanks.--K.C. Tang
The basic problem is that "mainly" is qualifying "eat" instead of "insects". This suggests they also do other things with insects. "Only" is another word that is often wrongly placed. --Shantavira 07:29, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
I've changed the text to User:BluePlatypus's suggestion of "Their principal diet consists of insects and a few varieties of seeds". Angr (tc) 07:41, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
thanks a lot, hope that more admin care about the language problems concerning the main page, now discussions about these problems are usually ignored.--K.C. Tang 08:16, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Shantavira's point is the major problem I see with the sentence. "They mainly eat insects and some seeds" actually means something like "Out of all the things they do, they spend most of their time eating insects and some seeds," which is probably not what the author means to say. Rewording the sentence to read "They eat mainly insects and some seeds" would solve the problem of this misplaced modifier and would convey BluePlatypus's statement, "Their principal diet consists of insects and a few varieties of seeds."DavidGC 12:25, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
"'Out of all the things they do, they spend most of their time eating insects and some seeds,' which is probably not what the author means to say." Probably not what the author means to say, but probably true nevertheless! Angr (tc) 12:40, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Possibly! Though I'd also bet that looking for the insects and seeds ranks right up there with sleeping.  :) DavidGC 12:43, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Does the "some seeds" refer to a few varieties or to a small proportion relative to insects? Rmhermen 15:43, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Isn't language wonderful! JackofOz 00:56, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Places and things named after them[edit]

Hi. I'm doing a project about Hong Kong Governors. and I wanna introduce places and things in Hong Kong which were named after them. Is there any word that explains "places and things named after somebody"? Thank you!!! Kahang 12:27, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Try eponym. JackofOz 14:03, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Thank you so much!Kahang 00:16, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

German to English translation requested[edit]

I was instructed to come here to ask for tanslations; i also posted the request at Wiktionary, as suggested. I am requesting that the Geman Wikipedia article Abraham von Worms be tanslated into English as Abraham of Worms. I have pre-made links leading to the new page-to-be. I attempted a babelfish translation and found the text too difficult and too filled with specialized terms for the software to handle. I shall be posting this request elsewhere. Whoever does this work will have a great deal of my gratitutde as i will be using the page to link to many other pages in the grimoire and occultism areas. Thanks in advance. You may contact me at my talk page if you wish further details. Catherineyronwode 20:23, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Answered at User_talk:Catherineyronwode. Angr (tc) 21:01, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Origin of the word, "textbook"[edit]

Does someone know why textbooks are so-called? Textbooks frequently have pictures in addition to text, and other books (that are not textbooks) frequently carry only text.

In this case, I believe that "text" is being used as in meaning 8 shown at Merriam-Webster. (The Wiktionary page could use some help.) --LarryMac 20:40, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
I'd always convinced myself that it was because the books came with a pre-printed text, as opposed to blank books such as notebooks, exercise books, ledgers etc. Then there's novels with are always fictional texts.
Slumgum | yap | stalk | 20:49, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
I agree with LarryMac. The word textbook is not in opposition with, say, a picture book; rather, it describes a book that contains a (course) text. Lesgles (talk) 03:01, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Textbook does have a specialized meaning, at least in the U.S. Unfortunately, our article says nothing about the origins of the term. My guess would be that it goes back to the professor's notes for a course. Publication of such texts was especially common in the 19th century. The next step was usage for self-education, then finally by other teachers based on the reputation of the author or simply availabilty. --Halcatalyst 22:07, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

May 12[edit]

Starlight in Daden[edit]

What language is the song Starlight in Daden by Ekova? Would be awesome if I could get the lyrics. deeptrivia (talk) 03:28, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Apparently Ekova doesn't actually sing any words, she just makes vocal sounds. See User:Zoe|(talk) 17:38, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Separate Alphabets for Transliteration and Loanwords[edit]

I have been given a special question for my Japanese homework. Does any other language have a separate alphabet for transliterations and loanwords, as the Japanese have Katakana?

Thanks -- Slayton

Please do your own homework, but you're welcome to use Wikipedia to research your answer. I'd start at Writing system and then follow relevant links from there. Angr (tc) 07:18, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
If you do find an answer, though, please post it here - I'm really interested now. --Hughcharlesparker 10:38, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Back in the 1930s, Albright said that ancient Egyptian effectively had a syllabary to indicate both vowels and consonants when transcribing foreign-language names (while the ordinary writing for native Egyptian words indicated consonants only). I'm not sure whether any extra symbols were used (more probably only augmented interpretations of symbols already used in writing Egyptian, I would guess). AnonMoos 13:26, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

You may want to slap your Japanese teacher on your wrist for over-simplifying and increasing the ignorance of Japanese students across the world. Katakana isn't a separate alphabet for loanwords, it's a separate alphabet that is used for loanwords along with a handful of other things. It was originally used pretty much the same way hiragana is, and apparently in some areas of Japan the roles were reversed. A Japanese word (or a Sino-Japanese compound) spelled out in katakana is used similar to italics in English. If you say "katakana is a separate alphabet for transliterations and loanwords" it sounds like you're implying it was made for that purpose, which it wasn't. Sorry, I have a tendancy to snap at teachers who give chūtō-hampa (half-assed) explanations.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  17:57, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Catchy phrase too catchy[edit]

I'm writing a scientific article, but I keep using the term "come and go" quite often. Does anyone know an alternative (preferably a more scientific-sounding) term to replace this? --JD

"Talking of Michelangelo"? In all seriousness, could you give us some context? Perhaps a sentence you are trying to use it in?

Oh, sorry anonymous user. Here's the context: "A person with this disease has relapses of symptoms that come and go throughout their lifetime." --JD

How about "recur periodically"? - user:rasd

Thank you thank you sooooo much! Oops, that wasn't it putting it very scientifically. Oh well, at least it effectively gets the message across. Anyways, before I continue to talk to myself, I would like to thank you for assisting me. Have a great day! --JD

"Recur periodically" seems to be a tautology. Generally, I think "recur" is sufficient. But in this particular sentence, JD has used the word "relapse" as well. I'm not sure that "relapse of symptoms" is quite right - doesn't a person relapse into the condition, not relapse into the symptoms? So I'm not sure whether you're saying the condition continues forever but the symptoms come and go; or the condition itself comes and goes. In any case, we know there is a recurrence of symptoms so that concept does not need to be restated. How about either:
  • A person with this disease has relapses throughout their lifetime, or
  • A person with this disease has symptoms that recur throughout their lifetime. JackofOz 07:33, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

I think you could relapse into symptoms. In fact, with chronic diseases like Lyme Disease or HIV, you don't really relapse into the disease, but rather the symptoms, such as the condition of AIDS. "Her AIDS relapsed" or "She relapsed into AMaybe I'm not really getting what the difference between a "condition" and the condition of having symptoms is. Maybe it's more correct in saying the disease relapsed: "His HIV relapsed, and he once more had full blown AIDS." Anyhow, in its broader sense of "return to" (i.e. he relapsed into silence), I think you could relapse into symptoms. On the other hand, I'm really tired, and upon rereading what I wrote, nothing makes sense. :-)

Also, I generally agree with you about "recur periodically." However, in a stricter sense of "periodically," "recur periodically" would imply a regularity of recurrence that "recur" doesn't denote. — vijay 08:36, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

I agree with your agreement, vijay, but not necessarily with your analysis of "periodically". I think that means I three-quarters agree with you, or something. "Periodically" can mean "from time to time" or "regularly". If the reader thinks it means "from time to time", all they've got is an unnecessarily repetitive superfluous tautology (he he). Not an untrue statement, but not good writing either. It's likely the smarter ones will assume this could not have been intentionally written with this meaning in mind, and they'll revise their interpretation to "regularly". But then they've been misled because JD said the symptoms come and go but nothing about that happening on a regular basis. Either way, adding "periodically" lessens the perfection of "recur". That may well have been the very point you were making, vijay. If so, please forgive me for taking my time in processing it. :--) JackofOz 13:38, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Because of my background, I can only speak with reference to psychological conditions, as IANAMD. However, in psychology, conditions relapse, while symptoms recur, as JackofOz has indicated. The logic is as follows:
Let's say you are seeing a patient suffering from a type of schizophrenia, and his symptoms have previously included auditory hallucinations. If after a few years of absence, the hallucinations suddenly reappear, we would say he has had a recurrence of symptoms, because they have reappeared. However, we would say his condition has relapsed, because the condition has returned to its former, more severe state (which included the hallucinations).
The symptom itself has not relapsed, because this would literally mean that the symptom has changed back to its earlier state. The symptom itself has not really changed -- it is either present or not, just as you either have a headache or you don't (severity of hallucination, or headache, is irrelevant to this differentiation). It's therefore the condition that has changed, since the condition includes the presence or absense of the symptom. Therefore...
  • "Recurring symptoms."
  • "Relapsed condition." DavidGC 08:46, 12 May 2006 (UTC)


A friend of mine has recently taken over running a fotolog page called borriscos. It's for interesting patterns made with light. We've been unable to find out what borriscos means - dictionaries haven't been of use. We think it may be a slang form of a portugese word, but neither of us speak the language. Can anyone help? --Hughcharlesparker 10:45, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

It looks like borrisco means "spray" or "shower". (I found a Portuguese definition in this dictionary and then translated that.) --Cam 00:43, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Brilliant. Thanks. --Hughcharlesparker 23:36, 17 May 2006 (UTC)


Hi. I would like to know what does "fountain of the art" mean; I am french and the meaning is not obvious to me. Does it mean something like source of inspiration? or somehing else. By the way, the original sentence is there. So, if somebody can translate this phrase, or at least give some synonyms, he/she is welcome. Thank you very much.

This is not a common English phrase. It looks like it was just one translator's choice of words. Google it and you will find the words don't turn up anywhere else. "The Fountain" just means single source of a great amount.--Teutoberg 16:47, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
It appears to mean that Ireland considers Scotland a land where art forms relating to the harp "blossomed" or spread out in some sort of nice, fanciful way. I don't really like the translation, fountain isn't really used in that sense, it's more common used like the example you gave; a source.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  17:48, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Actually, I think it's used in exactly the sense of a source: a fountain in the sense of the source of a river, not in the sense of a water feature.
The original reads multorum autem opinione: hodie Scotia non tantum magistram æquiparavit Hiberniam: verum etiam in musica peritia longe prævalet et præcellit: unde et ibi quasi fontem artis iam requirunt.
There's nothing wrong with translating fons as "fountain", though the sense intended is perhaps a bit archaic, and "fount" might have been a more transparent translation. However, O'Meary is not the only translator to have rendered it "fountain". Forester does the same. — Haeleth Talk 18:24, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Devoiced nasals[edit]

I was just making an IPA chart for the consonants of the She language and was looking for the little circle for devoicing. I can find both [ŋ] and [°], but how do i combine them?

What you have found may be this. Try the combining character ring above (not sure whether that's the English name): ŋ̊ – Wikipeditor 17:13, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Shouldn't devoicing diacritics go below the consonant? --KJ 07:14, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Made with bits copy-and-pasted from the IPA article: ŋ̥ --KJ 07:17, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
The devoicing diacritic goes above characters with descenders. ŋ̊ is correct. Angr (tc) 08:25, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Ah, thank you :) --KJ 11:53, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, but where do i find combining character ring above? Shingrila 13:39, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
There's something you can copy from velar nasal. By the way, you can google for Unicode characters. [10] --KJ 14:06, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

an vs. a preceeding "h" words[edit]

Please to excuse if this has been brought up recently, but could someone please explain the situation with using a/an before words starting H? Highly, for an example, would it be an highly or a highly? Is there a correct form, or is it stylistic? Is it widely considered overly pretentious? Is it a regional thing? Thanks very much. Jahiliyyah 20:59, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

It depends on whether the 'h' is aspirated. If it is not, 'an' is indicated. Thus, 'an honor,' but 'a high honor.' --Halcatalyst 21:13, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Words that begin with a stressed syllable and the sound /h/ are preceded by a, as in "a highly respected person" or "a house". Word that begin with the letter h but start with a vowel sound are preceded by an, as in "an honest person" or "an hour". Difficulty arises in the case of words that start with the sound /h/ but begin with an unstressed syllable, like "historic": some people write and say "a historic" while other people write and say "an historic". In this case, both forms are considered acceptable, though I think "an historic" is less common in the U.S. than in Britain. (A separate issue is words that begin with the /h/ sound in some dialects but not in others, especially herb, which is pronounced with the /h/ sound in Britain but has no /h/ sound in America. As a result, Brits correctly write "a herb" and Americans correctly write "an herb".) Angr (tc) 21:16, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

In the US, "an historic" would be considered "putting on airs". User:Zoe|(talk) 22:17, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Funny you should say that, given that the only place I can think of having seen it recently is in American writing. (ISTR Tom Clancy uses "an historian" exclusively, though I may be slandering him there.) It strikes my British eyes, too, as old-fashioned and not a little pretentious. So maybe it's not a regional thing after all. — Haeleth Talk 18:33, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Now that I think about it, "an historic" seems acceptable use to me, but "an historical" does not. I have no idea why this is the case, but if I saw "an historical" in something I was editing for someone else, I would immediately get rid of it, though I would give "an historic" a pass. DavidGC 01:36, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

What's the term for this?[edit]

I have one of those "definitions without a term" questions. What is the term for that phenomenon where a specific development or discovery seems to have arrived at by two or more completely unrelated people almost simultaneously? Ok, that definition was a bit clumsy, so I'll use an example: Sir Isaac Newton is commonly credited with the development of calculus, yet from what I understand, at least one other person, who had no contact with and had no knowledge of Newton's work, had developed calculus at almost exactly the same time, only to be beat out by Newton by an extremely short period of time. I always thought that the term was zeitgeist, but looking at its definition, although it seems to be vaguely related to the concept, zeitgeist just doesn't seem to be the term I'm looking for. Is there a more precise term, or was I right all along in assuming that zeitgeist was the term I'm looking for? Loomis51 22:48, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

"Zeitgeist" would be, for example, the 1960s hippie movement in the US. Newton and Leibniz would be called "coincidence". Ashibaka tock 22:52, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
The Forteans have the concept of "Steam Engine Time":
You might find the article on Synchronicity interesting. Black Carrot 00:01, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Alternative Past Participles[edit]

Most verbs have only one past participle. For example, the only past participle for the verb to walk is walked. Similarly, the only past participle for the verb to run is ran. However there happen to be a few verbs with two (or possibly more) past participles.

For example:

  • to hang - hanged and hung
  • to burn - burned and burnt
  • to sing - sang and sung

Why do a rare few verbs in the English language have alternate past participles when only one is necessary? Am I missing something? Just to prove my point, verbs somewhat synonimous to the above get by with only one past participle.

  • for to dangle there is only dangled
  • for to sear there is only seared
  • for to chant there is only chanted

Is this perhaps just an accident of the English language or is there more to it?

For to sing, only one is in fact a past participle (sung). Sang is the simple past, and forms like He had sang are nonstandard/wrong (depending on whether you're prescriptivist or descriptivist...). Burned/burnt is just U.S. vs. UK English, and I wouldn't even call them different words. For hang, hung is the main form and hanged is a special case only used for people. —Zero Gravitas 00:31, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Do you know other Germanic langauges? you'd understand the situation if you did...--K.C. Tang 00:55, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Ablaut doesn't account for extra forms on a single verb, though, just the strong/weak difference, which didn't really seem to be what the question was about. —Zero Gravitas 01:07, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
my wild guess is that there was only "hung" but no "hanged" 500 years ago... the "-ed" forms of some strong verbs were later additions... they are easy to form... you say "dwarfs" or "dwarves"? as to the co-existence of "hanged" and "hung", i guess this is a case of "semantic differentiation" (is it the right term?)...--K.C. Tang 01:26, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Because technically hanged refers only to the act from which death results, one may say that an individual was hung (i.e., suspended) until hanged (i.e., dead, having been strung up). One may suggest that the former (hung) is unnecessary, inasmuch as the latter (hanged) encompasses the action of the former, but I suppose my locution might be used where one wishes to emphasize the pre-death act of hanging; certainly if the hanging were unsuccessful (e.g, because, as in sundry Westerns, a noble lawman showed up to cut down an individual out from under whom the trap door had dropped), one might say that the indiviudal who nearly died was hung but not hanged. Joe 02:14, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
As Terry Pratchett put it '"Men are hanged. It's dead meat that's hung." "Thank you. As I was saying, Mr. Pounder was strangled, and then he was hung."' --Sir Ophiuchus 00:25, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
Does anybody outside of the United States use "snuck" as the past tense of "sneak"? User:Zoe|(talk) 01:58, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes, we do in Australia, but only colloquially, not formally. JackofOz 02:01, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
England, too. My bit of it, anyway. I actually only found out that "snuck" wasn't the correct form after your question spurred my to look it up in Chambers'. --Hughcharlesparker 00:24, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
To clarify for the original questioner there used to be many more strong verbs (basically those where you change the vowel to form the past participle) but the weak verb ending "-ed" has gradually replaced a lot of them. But its a slow process over centuries and sometimes the old form never disappears entirely so there are two participles for a (long) while. All the other Germanic languages have this strong verb/weak verb division too. Jameswilson 03:22, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
yes, we're in a transitional state, 300 years later we may have no more "burnt" and "hung", who knows?--K.C. Tang 03:40, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

This questioner may be interested in Newspeak. schyler 03:47, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Carlrichard 12:17, 13 May 2006 (UTC) probably, people from other parts of america had the habit of pronouncing words differently and ultimately found a way of writing them according to their pronunciation; that's why, there are many variants for the past tense and past participle forms of some verbs. well, that's only my opinion.

There are two linguistic change processes involved. Sneaked to snuck comes about by what is called rule extension. It consists of the the making of a weak verb into a strong one because of a reanalysis. It extends the strong verb rule to a formerly weak one. The opposing tendency, the loss of strong verbs generally, is a form of levelling, where irregularities are eliminated. A more recent, non-verbal case is mines for the first person possessive. mnewmanqc

You start off with one form, then people extend new forms based on analogy (like a toddler calling a 3-pronged fork a threek). Soon enough the forms become common knowledge. This is how language evolves. Daniel () 20:29, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

May 13[edit]

Greek color terms[edit]

could someone familiar with greek write an article for that? it is a controversial and most intriguing subject... I'm a bit surprised that there's no article for that yet...Cheers--K.C. Tang 04:06, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

I'm confused as to the topic. Are you referring to Greek words for purple, orange, etc.? Or are you referring to terms used to denote race by Greek-speaking people? DavidGC 05:42, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
i mean the "red", "blue", "yellow" used in ancient greek literature...--K.C. Tang 06:12, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Ah, ok. The 'controversial' bit threw me off, as today these color names would be fairly straightforward, I imagine. Ancient Greek is a different matter, however, and I'm not sure how it varies from Demotic Greek in this area. Hopefully someone who has studied these differences will wander through here soon. DavidGC 14:12, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Before the 1940s everything was black and white! --Teutoberg 20:36, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Then I suppose the new colors they invented must have been rather frightening. This might explain the Red Scare of the 1950's in the US. :-) StuRat 21:58, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
Is the questioner perhaps referring to Nietzsche's conjecture that the Ancient Greeks perceived their world as flesh-toned, red, lacking blue and green, or something to that effect? Not literally, of course, but aesthetically. I vaguely remember reading something like this in The Birth of Tragedy, but it could have been any one of his early works. He speculated, based on their art and literature, that the Greek artist saw the entire world as a living, breathing thing, red and bloody and throbbing. He would most likely associate the growth of the artist's palette with mankind's alienation from his own nature, i.e. the slave morality, inversion of morals, etc. I don't recall any discussion of the linguistic implications of this, but Nietzsche was a philologist, so he may well have said something on that subject. Anyway, that's my suggestion. Bhumiya (said/done) 21:46, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

french translation[edit]

have I translated this right: Carl wants to go to Paris. Karl veut aller à Paris.

how do you read that?

is there any website in which I can hear this French sentence?

Please don't post the same question on two reference desks. schyler 13:17, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
See the discussion. --Halcatalyst 19:26, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

-uous words[edit]

Carlrichard 12:11, 13 May 2006 (UTC)do you have a list of all the words that end in -uous? thank you.

  • Running a search for words ending in "uous" at might give you what you need. (Be sure to select the appropriate function and uncheck the translation boxes.) DavidGC 14:18, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
grep uous$ /usr/share/dict/words yields:
ambiguous arduous assiduous congruous conspicuous contemptuous contiguous continuous deciduous discontinuous disingenuous exiguous fatuous impetuous incestuous incongruous inconspicuous ingenuous innocuous mellifluous perspicuous presumptuous promiscuous sensuous sinuous spirituous strenuous sumptuous superfluous tempestuous tenuous tortuous tumultuous unambiguous unctuous vacuous virtuous voluptuousKeenan Pepper 17:10, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
  • There are some additional, often very rare, words listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. Some of these are rare variants of equivalent words that end in –ous. A few (but only a few) might never have been used in print, except in dictionaries. I didn't list the ones considered "obsolete" by the dictionary. It seems like there were more words that were obsolete than not.
æstuous, anfractuous, biduous, cernuous, circumfluous, concentuous, cornuous, discontiguous, dividuous, dulcifluous, equicontinuous, fastuous, fellifluous, flexuous, fructuous, gastriloquist, genuflexuous, grandiloquous, halituous, imperspicuous, inciduous, incontinuous, indeciduous, infructuous, insensuous, interfluous, intertranspicuous, irriguous, kinofluous, lactifluous, majestuous (?), menstruous, monstruous, mountuous, multisiliquous, nocuous, perpetuous, ploysensuous, pretersensuous, propinquous, residuous, rorifluous, septemfluous, septifluous (?), siliquous, somniloquous, supersensuous, suprasensuous, theftuous, tonitruous, torrentuous, transpicuous, unassiduous, unconspicuous, uncontinuous, undeciduous, unfructuous, unperspicuous, unportuous, unpresumptuous, unsensuous, unsuperfluous, untempestuous, untumultuous, unvirtuous, unvoluptuous, venifluous, ventriloquous, versutiloquous (?), viduous, viscuous.
Including obsolete and compound words, the OED lists 214 in all. Ardric47 21:47, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Short Latin Translation[edit]

Hi, trying to get a translation of a short English soundbite into Latin - proving difficult to do by book, and impossible to do online through translator services.

The phrase is, simply: 'Re-Unify Now!' and is meant to refer to the Roman Empire re-unifying through the European Union.

The nearest I have have managed to create so far is 'Reconsocio Extemplo!' but I have no idea if this is correct. Can anyone with a passing knowledge of Latin help?

- Frank

"Reconsocio" isn't very good Latin, from what I can tell -- consocio is a transitive verb conjugated in the first person singular present form (not an intransitive imperative verb), and trying to add "re-" freely at will as a prefix is a little dodgy (in terms of classical Latin, at least). Also, extemplo means "immediately, right this moment", if that's really what you want to say.
I would suggest "Redite societatem extemplo!" or "Redeamus societatem extemplo!" (depending on whether you want it to be in the second person or the first person). The Usenet groups sci.classics / humanities.classics have sometimes considered such questions. AnonMoos 21:16, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks !

- F

German-Speaking Kings[edit]

Does anyone out there know if any current kings or or other royalty around the world speak German? Thanks Reywas92 15:24, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Natively or not? There are plenty of royalty who speak German, many fluently. As for native speakers, off the top of my head, the Prince of Liechtenstein is a current monarch who speaks German natively. The Queen of Sweden is also German. --BluePlatypus 16:24, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Native or a second language. I'm just looking for a list. Reywas92 19:10, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Pronunciation of Merriam[edit]

How is the Meriam in Merriam-Webster pronounced? I can't even find it in the online version of Merriam-Webster. Thanks.

In IPA, /ˈmɛɹiəm/. In Merriam-Webster's own system, \'mer-ē-əm\. Angr (tc) 17:57, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
(Lol) This is a trick question, isn't it. There is no 'Meriam' in "Merriam-Webster". :--) JackofOz 00:47, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Looking for a term[edit]

How are these children books which, when opened, reveal foldable panoramas and similar stuff called? I've been looking for thewords but can't figure it out. Circeus 20:44, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Often Pop-up books... AnonMoos 20:50, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Thank a lot. Circeus 21:16, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Pronunciation of a word[edit]

What is the correct pronunciation of Adaro? Thank you! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 20:53, 13 May 2006 UTC.

What language is it supposed to be? AnonMoos 21:19, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

The language is English.

Red Queen
"What's the French for fiddle-de-dee?
"Fiddle-de-dee's not English", Alice replied gravely.
Red Queen
"Who ever said it was"?
Alice thought she saw a way out of her difficulty, this time. "If you'll tell me what language fiddle-de-dee is, I'll tell you the French for it!", she exclaimed triumphantly.
But the Red Queen drew herself up rather stiffly, and said, "Queens never make bargains." AnonMoos 22:34, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Is it one of these? HenryFlower 22:33, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

It is A race of sea spirits from the mythology of the Solomon Islands; see Adaro (mythology).

The article Adaro (mythology) doesn't answer your question. Neither Wiktionary or recognise it as an English word so I'd suppose the word is from an indigenous language of the Solomon Islands. Unfortunately, the editor who added the info on the mythological Adaro hasn't cited a source, and wasn't logged in, so it's no use asking them on their talk page. --Hughcharlesparker 17:42, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
If it means anything, whether it's English or not, 95% of English speakers would pronounce it with the stress on the second syllable, if asked to guess.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  05:17, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

My guess would be Adaro (uh-darrow). Agree or disagree?

May 14[edit]

Tom Lehrer[edit]

In the introduction to Tom Lehrer's song Send the Marines, he uses the word escalatio. What does he mean? Black Carrot 01:39, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

IMHO, in view of the context, that's supposed to be escalation. See, especially, Vietnam Wars#Lyndon B Johnson and Vietnam (1963-1969). Joe 01:47, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
Right, I figured it was probably a reference to the idea of escalation, but what's with the 'atio' bit? And it's not a typo, that's the way he actually says it. From the laughter it evokes, I assume it's a clever bit of wordplay. Black Carrot 01:51, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
I surmise it's a play on fellatio, but as an oblique reference to the word for a different kind of sexual act, the other one that starts with f, in its most pejorative and destructive sense. Excellent humour from Lehrer, as always. JackofOz 01:55, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
I thought of that as well but assumed it simply to be an orthographic error on the lyrics site; as it's actually said, Jack is surely correct, not only with respect to the reference but also to the humor. Joe 02:23, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
It's not a typo in any case, Lehrer actually says "escalatio" on the recording, and there is audience laughter at that point. As to what the joke is, I have no idea. Marsvin 18:33, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

Greek characters with accents[edit]

Really, I have two questions here:

  • I'm transcribing some text that includes some text in Greek. Several of the words end in <σ>. I thought that when sigma appeared at the end of the word it was always written <ς>.
  • Also, many of the Greek words have accents. As I'm transcribing into LaTeX, I'm simply using math mode to print the characters. I don't know anything about the system of accents in Greek, but it seems that most are grave accents and acute accents. In one case, I think an omega has a "hat." I'm not sure if that's actually the name of an accent, but it looks a bit like what \hat{\omega} would produce. (That word is των, from "παραδοσισ [again, with the final σ] των ιερων".) Most confusing, however, is the word εποπτεια, with an accute accent on the iota. The word, as it appears, seems to start with a closing single quote <’>. The quote's placed close enough to the epsilon that it could be a type of accent, but I just don't know. The word is used twice, and both times the mark appears, so it was clearly intended.

My copy is a scan of the original typewritten work, so it's difficult to tell exactly whats going on. The typewritten nature might explain the lack of the alternate sigma, but I'm not knowledgable enough to say. Does any of that make sense? — vijay 06:02, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Check out polytonic orthography, including the tables at the bottom. --Cam 07:03, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, that just about answers everything. I'll stick with the polytonic orthography, for two reasons, 1) it lets me copy exactly (important since I don't know what I'm doing! :-) ) and 2) the text is referring to Eleusinian Mysteries, and so old Greek makes sense to me. I assume that my \hat{\omega} is, indeed, a circumflexed omega, although the type is poor, and if someone could confirm that for me, I'd appriciate it. About the sigmas, though. Am I right to say that if a word ends in sigma, it should always be printed <ς>? The article on sigma doesn't say when it came into existence. I assume that it's not a new invention, though, and that it should be used. I assume it wasn't available to the typist at the time. — vijay (Talk) 22:59, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Would it be possible for you to upload the scan of the original, so other people could get a look at it? Omega with circumflex is certainly correct for των in the quote above. I've never seen σ used in word-final position, but then I've only ever seen printed Greek. Perhaps typewriters in Greece really don't have (or didn't use to have) ς; I don't know. Angr (tc) 05:40, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
Using two different sigma or beta (<β> and <ϐ>) symbols is, as far as I know, pure convention and tradition. Some editors/printers normally don't use the distinction. Aurelien Langlois 11:59, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
All use of writing systems is pure convention and tradition. In the ancient Greek texts we read in college, no distinction between <β> and <ϐ> was ever made (namely, β was used exclusively and ϐ never; I don't even know when the latter is supposed to be used), while the distinction between nonfinal <σ> and final <ς> was made consistently, except in editions that used the lunate sigma (the one that looks like <c>). Angr (tc) 12:07, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, all. A series of questions on how to get LaTeX working with \usepackage[polutonikogreek,english]{babel} evolved into confirming my thoughts about this text. To conclude here: the apostrophy-epsilon was the typist's way of conveying a smooth-breathing mark over the epsilon. And, yes, the omega in των takes a circumflex, which may be represented in a number of ways, including the "hat" my source used, and the ~ that the babel/polutonikogreek package uses. Also, there's probably no good reason why the <ς> wasn't used. There probably was a bad one, though: the typographer didn't have one available. As my source is mainly english, with sparse greek phrases, I think that makes sense. Again, thanks. — vijay (Talk) 04:20, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Trying to improve translation of Den Pobedy[edit]

Do you know, what is a verst? Thank you. I just think, whether it would be appropriate to replace versts in the lyrics with miles or kilometers, as versts might be too unknown to most people. ellol 08:45, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

There's an article on the unit: Verst. If the term is in the lyrics, then you shouldn't change it; just link the term and maybe footnote it. —Zero Gravitas 09:01, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
I thought, that replacing versts by miles would make it more close to readers. So, it is inappropriate? ellol 09:12, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
In general you can't just do that without introducing the possibility of inaccuracy. But in this particular case it would make no difference as there is no specific number of versts. The sense is "we've come such a long way", so miles would work just as well. I think the reasons the writer used versts, 50 years after that unit of distance became obsolete, was to suggest a great period of time, and for rhythmical purposes because Были километри would not scan. This translation needs quite a bit of work to render it into idiomatic English. "We've been hastening this day as could" is word for word what the Russian says, but it fails to translate the meaning of the sentence and no English speaker would ever say that. JackofOz 10:29, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
Thank you. It seems plausible that the use of versts underlines oldness of the event.. However they might also be used for more of solemnity: as well as Не смыкала очей is a more solemn version of Не закрывала глаз. And I'll try to find a better translation of the string. By the way, may be you have any idea? (No offense intended, Были километры.) ellol 11:31, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
Actually, it's just high above my abilities to reach idiomatic English. ellol
Just as a thought, you might consider using an obsolete English term such as league to achieve a similar effect to the obsolete verst. Either way, I'd leave the footnote in. Lesgles (talk) 18:14, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
Thank you! ellol

How is : "Fu Hsi" or "Fuxi" pronounced ( chinese ) ?[edit]

He is the supposed author of the I Ching , but I can't figure how its pronounced with the two wats its written .Hhnnrr 11:55, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Roughly, "foo shee". In IPA, /fu ɕi/. Someone else will have to tell you what the tones are, though. Angr (tc) 11:59, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
Realistically, no-one can tell you how to pronounce it- you have to hear it and be corrected by a teacher. The Deng Xiaoping article has an audio clip of his name- the x in his name is the same sound as in Fuxi. If you're happy with an approximation, it's half-way between s and sh, so either of those would be reasonably close for most purposes.
We do have an article on him: the tones are rising and level respectively. Our article on the x is at Alveolo-palatal consonant. HenryFlower 12:01, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Thank you very much ..Hhnnrr 12:31, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

in ancient Chinese, "foo" (伏) sounded something like "bu" or "buk" (yes, the Chinese version of Grimm's Law)...--K.C. Tang 13:13, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Translation - Welsh[edit]

Hey - a local band I have become involved with want to translate the name of their EP into Welsh, and I thought of no better place than Wiki to go and ask for help :) The album name is "The Path Not Taken", so any close equivilent to that i Gymraeg would be of great help to them.

Cheers doktorb | words 13:50, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

This has been answered elsewhere. "Y llwybr nas cymerwyd" doktorb | words 13:18, 15 May 2006 (UTC)


What is the short form of Ambassador, like Mr is the short form of Mister

It is Amb. [11]
You address him as your excellency--look in Forms of address. Also try "Amby" or, when very familiar, "Ambasaurus." --Teutoberg 15:04, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

How to learn the language "Pali".[edit]

Hello, I intend to learn a language called "Pali".Its an ancient Indian language that was used by people during the times of Gautam Buddha.All his sermons had been written and compiled in this language.Can Wikipedia help me learn this language and go through the scriptures?

Our article (Pali) provides an overview of the language; several external links at the end of the page point to sites that are designed to teach the language. Once you've a handle on the basics, we've a Wikisource page of Pali documents on which you may practice; there's also a Pali Wikipedia to which you might contribute/at which you might practice reading. Finally, the Pali Text Society appears to be a useful resource for those seeking to learn the language or to find texts in Pali. Joe 16:33, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
A.K.Warder's Introduction to Pali (ISBN 0860131971) is the standard reference work on the subject. It's pretty thorough and not expensive. But be warned that Pali is not an easy language. --Shantavira 17:08, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
I've flirted with the idea of learning Pali too. Is it any easier when you've had several years of Sanskrit at university, as I had? Or are they too different for Sanskrit to be much help? Angr (tc) 18:02, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
Our Pali article looks really good, and I don't think many of us are in a position to tell you much more than is in that article. They seem to be very related to the point that your Sanskrit training would greatly aid your ability to pick up Pali. And I'm jealous. Sanksrit is one I wish I knew, but I'm not sure it will make it far enough up my priority list unfortunately. - Taxman Talk 00:51, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

I think I was insulted[edit]

I was having a conversation with an asian assosciate of mine and he, jokingly called me what I understood as sounding like:

  • lanchoos
  • banderjuda
  • bander de bund

Now I believe he is pakistani. I am aware these were insults but I dont know what htey mean or even what language they were in. I apologise for my ignorance.

Bandar is Hindi for monkey [12], can't help you with the rest. --Eivindt@c 02:57, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

The two commonest and most vulgar insults in Hindi / Urdu are 'behan-chod' and 'maadar-chod' which refer to the addressee having incestuous relations with his sister and mother respectively. Assuming that you didn't mishear the above and that your friend was a tad less obscene, the term 'bandar-chod' - not very common and hence, pretty hilarious - would mean 'monkey-fucker'. I'd hazard the first epithet on your list as having been 'lund choos' which would be the equivalent of the charming term 'cocksucker' and the last epithet on your list as having been 'bandar da gaand' which in Punjabi would be 'monkey's ass'. -- Giri.

Maybe it's not an insult if you don't understand it--Teutoberg 17:28, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

thank you for the replies. You wouldnt happen to know any good ones I can use to combat him do you? thank you again.

Check out You'll find plenty of ammo there in any language you want. -- Giri.

Heh-hem. There seems to be porn on this site. --Nelson Ricardo 02:45, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
Norwegian has some choice ones; I'll be back with a link to Norwegian cusswords for you. But nice to have the Punjabi swearwords, as I live in BC's Lower Mainland. I picked up the Toishan variants of the usual Cantonese cussing over the years, but never got to learn any Punjabi vulgarities, despite "needing" them on various occasions. Not that I want to get into a fight or anything.....I collect Hungarian naughty phrases, BTW; got any?Skookum1 00:48, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

Origin of word "jerry" for Germans[edit]

The Brits call the Germans Jerries and I guess the word jerry-can follows from that relation. What is the origin of this slang word jerry?
—Preceding unsigned comment added by Bud9691 (talkcontribs)

I always simply thought it was because both words start with "GER" - if you spell Gerry with a G. Chambers says similar. Bombs away Fritz!
Slumgum | yap | stalk | 23:18, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
Yup. Gerry is a contraction of the word German. A jerry can, according to the article, is so called because the design of the container was German. --Hughcharlesparker 09:40, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

May 15[edit]


Does anyone know the year that the movie "ever after" was set in???


P.S. please reply ASAP

I don't think your question has anything to do with languages to be honest... doktorb | words 13:19, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

If you read the article, you will see that it is set in the French Renaissance. Search first: ees quicker --Shantavira 13:59, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Wild Swans at Coole by W.B.Yeats[edit]

Could anyone explain to me the symbols, motifs and themes of the poem? I think I don't really get what the poet is trying to articulate through the poem. Thanks a lot.

Please do your own homework. Thanks a lot. Angr (tc) 13:39, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
Good english ? --DLL 19:37, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Noun like "nostalgia for a future that wasn't"[edit]

Hello, writers. I'm looking for a word that describes the feeling of nostalgia for a promised future that didn't happen. For example, when I was a kid I was all but promised picnics on the moon by tht time I was an adult. Now, when I look at old sci-fi pictures from the 70's of people in massive earth-orbiting space stations, I have a certain longing for that initial feeling about the future. --Justin

Yearning? Disappointment? I'm sure there's a word, but I can't remember it at the moment. Daniel () 20:22, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
In the microprocesor age I thought I'd just have to ask my computer this question and after ::Computing...:: i'd get the right answer. Instead I type some terms into a search engine and get spam, porn and lunatics. How about "historical optativity" modeled upon "historical imperative" or "hyped-hope-hate" or "anterior-outlook-optimism-appetence". I would suggest Future Imperfect but that is already a star trek article. If you actually feel more at home in the hoped for future present, than the actual stinking present, then nostalgia may be your word as it means yearning to return home. But then.... hesternopothia is yearning for the good old days so crastinopothia should be the word you want. MeltBanana 22:35, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
Bitterness?--Teutoberg 22:41, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

There's a whole book "Yesterday's Tomorrow: Past Visions of the American Future" on this. See also The Gernsback Continuum and Raygun Gothic... AnonMoos 03:34, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks all! --Justin

Try Retro-futurism, it looks similar. Rmhermen 03:14, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

How to search for a term/phrase/saying[edit]

How would I search for the saying "Don't shit where you eat?" I'm interested in the meaning and etymology. Thank you, Josh

You can go to a library with a Lexis or other full-text database account and ask the librarian to help you. It will have old newspaper and magazine articles, even including stuff like hip-hop mags and Playboy.--Teutoberg 22:43, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

And as far as meaning goes, it's a warning to keep parts of your life seperate; specifically, your work life and your romantic one. In other words, just as you wouldn't want to get your shit accidentally in your food, you wouldn't want the potential for a screwed-up relationship to affect your career. Phrases with the same meaning include:
  • Don't get your butter (or meat) where you get your bread.
  • Don't fish off the company pier.
  • Don't get your honey where you get your money. --ByeByeBaby 00:00, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
Oh, and if you're interested in the song "Don't shit where you eat", check out our article on the mighty Ween as a start. --ByeByeBaby 00:00, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
Don't dip your pen in the office ink. HenryFlower 10:03, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Around here it's always been "Don't shit where you sleep". Why this needs an etymology I can't be sure, but in terms of usage it's usually to do with screwing around with co-employees or with housemates/roommates, but in a more general sense is "don't screw up with where you work/live". Not sure how old it is, but I bet it goes back way before World War ISkookum1 00:44, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

May 16[edit]

Who tends yaks?[edit]

I'm editing a wikipedia article about someone described as once being a "yak shepherd". I wasn't aware that yaks were sheep. Is there a more appropriate term? "Yakherd" isn't in the dictionary.... TheMadBaron 09:26, 16th of May 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps simply "yak herder"? "Yakboy" has a certain charm too, though... Angr (tc) 09:34, 16th of May 2006 (UTC)
I'd go with yak herder too. "Yakherd" gets google hits, but at least one of those is referring to a herd of yaks rather than a herder of yaks. HenryFlower 10:02, 16th of May 2006 (UTC)
"yak farmer" seems to exist as well. "Yakowboy" would work, at least if they were hearding "Yakows", (see Dzo). --BluePlatypus 18:04, 16th of May 2006 (UTC)
Don't search for "yakheard" in the dictionary. It would be "herd of yaks".  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  06:19, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

Yakov Smirnoff ? :-) StuRat 15:40, 17th of May 2006 (UTC)

ooooooooooooooh Stu, that one was a groaner. NOW you're pushing it! Loomis51 00:30, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

I was going to suggest yakker myself. I think yakherd is pretty obvious, as far as ordinary English constructions go (shepherd, cowherd, swineherd and so on)Skookum1 00:42, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

a phrase[edit]

please what is "all your writting needs" in latin. thank you so much.-- 15:06, 16 May 2006 (UTC)Anel-- 15:06, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

That's a rather ambiguous and elliptical piece of English-language-specific advertising sloganese which isn't a sentence. A translation which makes sense in Latin won't be a literal translation. AnonMoos 16:12, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Symbols for spacial relationships[edit]

Are there any basic spacial symbols that mean "in between" or "touching, on" or "motion towards" (or others) used in any typographical convention, preferably ones you can find in ASCII or on a basic American keyboard? I'm developing my own personal notation system for sign languages. For example, right now, I'm using:

L palm-in th/f1=chin, tap2
L handshape, palm orientation inward, then make the area between the thumb and index finger touch your chin and tap twice
(the sign for "lesbian" in ASL)

But maybe there are already established ways for showing in between instead of using my / or for contact instead of using my =

--Sonjaaa 16:18, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Are you aware of SignWriting? There's no Unicode support for it yet (and it would be difficult to implement because of the way the signs are put together), but it does use the asterisk * to indicate touching. Angr (tc) 18:15, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I am, but I'm not sure if I like it or why it's even becoming popular. It's not as user-friendly as it could have been.--Sonjaaa 21:55, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

That may be, but it's probably becoming popular because it's the best (only?) available option. English spelling isn't as user-friendly as it could have been, either, but we still muddle through all right! Angr (tc) 22:07, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Philippine name[edit]

The surname Bustamante is quite common in the Philippines. What does it mean? Is it from the Latin? 17:28, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

It's a Spanish name. (Bustamente is also a variant) In this case I think it's from the late Latin "bustum" meaning "pasture". (It is used as such in several Fueros). "Bustum" can also means "tomb" (in both cases from the past participle of "burere" = "to burn"). It was that meaning which appears to have morphed into the English "bust". --BluePlatypus 17:56, 16 May 2006 (UTC)


what is the hausa metaphor of the murfu?

The Hausa are a West African people (who speak, unsurprisingly, the Hausa language). Google tells me that a Murfu is a rudimentary stove based on a cut-apart oil barrel. Anything can be considered a metaphor for almost anything else, so with no context, that's the best I can do. --ByeByeBaby 00:33, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

May 17[edit]

May 18[edit]


Can a Canadian person please tell me how he or she prnounces the word "internship"? Do most Canadians place the accent like "in'-tern-ship" or do you place the accent "in-tern'-ship"? J. Finkelstein 01:36, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

The first way. (Assuming I'm reading the two variants as you intended) Loomis51 02:44, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
I think I've heard it both ways, but I personally stress the first syllable. INternship, not in-TURN-ship. (FYI: I'm from Calgary.) --ByeByeBaby 06:31, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
Toronto and Vancouver are also INturnship. 06:40, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

Now that we seem to have a consensus amongst us Canadians, who pronounces it the other way? From what I understand, Americans pronounce it the same. But Brits...I don't know...Loomis51 23:31, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

As a Briton, I pronounce it INternship and have never heard the emphasis anywhere else. Skittle 14:42, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

Actually, come to think of it, (and this is both an interesting and odd discovery I just had,) the word "intern" can mean two completely different things, depending on how it's pronounced. One definition would be "an arrangement where a person new to a particular field gets on the job experience through a cooperative arrangement with the employer" and the other would be "the forced confinement of an individual by the state (usually by a totalitarian state, or at least in a totalitarian fashion, without due process of the law, due to one's political beliefs, ethnicity etc...)". In other words, "whereas I may get a job as an "INtern" at a Soviet television station, due to my dissident beliefs, the authorities may "inTERN" me in a special inTERNment camp." Loomis51 20:05, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

Meaning of a phrase[edit]

Can some one please help me with the meaning of the phrase "Rust never sleeps".

Was the phrase used before Neil Young used it as an album title? I suspect not, in which case you're into the realm of interpretation. The literal meaning is that there is no way of stopping something from rusting once it's begun. I guess Young might have meant that the same applies to life - that things are inexorable. Or something. --Richardrj 10:38, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
That's not the literal meaning- it's a metaphorical meaning. The literal meaning is that rust never sleeps. HenryFlower 12:12, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
Depends on your definition of sleep. Are you saying that 'sleep' in this case is a metaphor for 'stop'? If so, I have to disagree. 'Sleep' and 'stop' can be synonyms. --Richardrj 12:16, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
If you use 'sleep' to mean 'stop', then you are using a metaphor. Sleep is the regular state of natural rest observed in all mammals, birds and fish. Any other use of the word is a metaphor. HenryFlower 15:29, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm - according to Rust Never Sleeps, the title was borrowed from an advertising slogan for an anti-rust paint. The above interpretation might still work, however. --Richardrj 10:42, 18 May 2006 (UTC)


Can anyone please tell me what is the word that describes a word that begins and ends with the same letter,eg Norman.

Thank You

Norman Martin

I'm pretty sure there's no word for this. A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same forwards and backwards, like deified, but Norman is not a palindrome. —Keenan Pepper 15:36, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
There must be a name for such thing in verses (poetry). If one verse is made of only one word, you have your denomination. --DLL 20:52, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

Learning a language[edit]

How can I learn this language —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

What language? —Keenan Pepper 15:10, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
what is the meaning of abigna?
What language? --Shantavira 18:42, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

Does French have retroflex consonants?[edit]

Does French have retroflex consonants? —Masatran 16:34, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

No. Check out French phonology, which has an IPA chart. -user:rasd
And what about the other Romance languages? —Masatran 16:14, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
I've heard that Sardinian has retroflex consonants. And Romansh is described has having the phonemic opposition /tʃ/~/tɕ/, which under some theories is always actually /ʈʂ/~/tɕ/ (as in Mandarin and Polish), though I don't know if the claim has ever been made specifically for Romansh. Angr (tc) 17:20, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
So Latin, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese do not have retroflex consonants? —Masatran 21:14, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Not to the best of my knowledge, no. Angr (tc) 21:25, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
IIRC, Latin did early on. The s/r alternation (honos, honoris) is, I think, usually a transition from a voiced intervocalic /s/ to a retroflex /r/. But that would have been very early Latin - 2nd century BC or earlier. --Diderot 21:54, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
The /r/ needn't have been retroflex, it could have been alveolar, like the [z] allophone of /s/ it came from. Angr (tc) 22:20, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

meaning of Abigna[edit]

could anyone knows the meaning of Abigna?

thank you, Guru

In what language? It is not an English word. --Shantavira 18:44, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
A quick google seems to indicate that it's a place name; a town in Guinea-Bissau. It's also a term in Redneck English, meaning roughly "of sufficient size". For example: "Hey, Bubba! Why'd y'all get stuck in tha mud holler?" "Well, Billy-Bob, it's 'cause I ain't bought abigna truck. Y'all gimme a tow?" --ByeByeBaby 04:36, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Contraction of "a big enough".

"Trenchtown Rock" lyrics[edit]

Okay, according to various lyrics websites, these are the lyrics to "Trenchtown Rock" by Bob Marley and the Wailers: [13]; [14]. So, can anyone tell me what "No want you fe galang so" means? What about "You want come cold I up"? Thanks, — BrianSmithson 18:37, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

According to this site, the lyric "No want you fe galang so / You want come cold I up" is in Jamaican patois and means, approximately, "I don't want you to act like that / You're trying to keep me down". The same meaning as about 50% of the rest of Bob Marley's lyrics, now that I think about it. I hope you like jammin' too, --ByeByeBaby 04:31, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. And I hope this jam is gonna last. — BrianSmithson 12:10, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Diaphragm etymology[edit]

I have a question about the history of the word diaphragm. I recently expanded the diaphragm page (a disambiguation page) to include many other uses of the word diaphragm. That got me interested in the history of the changing use of that word, and wondering which uses came first, and how each use relates to the other. It is fairly easy to look up the etymology of the original diaphragm word, but how could I get the dates of first use of all the other terms, and find oout how they are related to each other? Carcharoth 20:02, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

The OED is usually quite good about giving date of first appearance of each different meaning of a word. Angr (tc) 21:27, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
I really must get a subscription... The cheapest option seems to be £7.50 for a week. Either that or go to a library. Is anyone with access able to at least say whether their coverage of diaphragm is what I'm looking for? Carcharoth 21:58, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
I think so. The meaning of "muscle in the abdomen" dates back to 1398, the meaning "anything resembling the diaphragm in form or funtion" back to 1660, the meaning "contraceptive cap" back to 1933, the meaning "septum or partition in shells or plants" back to 1665, the meaning "thin lamina or plate serving as a partition" back to 1665, the meaning "porous cup of a voltaic cell" back to 1870, the meaning "membrane stretched in or on a frame, esp. a vibrating membrane in an acoustic instrument like a telephone" back to 1853, the meaning "assemblage of lines of reference in a telescope" back to 1829. Angr (tc) 22:14, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
Wow! Thanks. That telescope reference, which I thought was a new meaning, seems to be the origin of diaphragm (optics). Now, about the dates you've provided, is it OK to put that in Wikipedia somewhere? Do I reference the OED? It might look something like this:

The ones that aren't dated (not shown) seem to be all the modern engineering uses of the term diaphragm. Presumably the OED hasn't got round to those yet. Carcharoth 22:51, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

Another note: over on the Science Reference Desk, I was also asking about diaphragm, but in relation to septum and septa (biology). That last one seems particularly relevant to the OED quote above concerning "septum or partition in shells or plants". Is there any way to confirm whether septa (biology) is indeed the same as this diaphragm meaning "septum in shells or plants"? Carcharoth 01:54, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
Basically, they're all about the same: a membrane supported around its edges. The only good question for this page is how or whether to use such detailed citations from the OED, which is not public domain. Let's take the specific word etymology discussion back to the specific talk page. And yes, septa is plural for septum; who knows why the septa article uses the plural title??? Dicklyon 06:06, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

In ancient Greek, the word diaphragma (pronounced diap-hrang-ma with aspirated "p") meant "partition wall" or "membrane which divides the lung from the stomach" (Reference: lesser Liddell and Scott). 05:58, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

I can't find my Liddell, because I was going to parse the word properly = dia+phragma; I'm very surprised to see p-h/aspirated 'p' in the previous comment; I would have expected -phragma to be written with a phi (f); on the other hand come to think of it the addition of the dia- prefix would aspirate an initial p- on the root....pragma coming from praxis, action; so the etymology is "between/within/through action" (i.e. life?...and I've probably mussed up possible meanings of "dia" ); or whatever other meaning pragma can derive from praxis. Or not?Skookum1 07:42, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
I wasn't parsing the word morphologically, but giving a rough pronunciation guide. Aspirated "p" was always written with the letter phi in ancient Greek (except that some would say that the stop sound in the "ps" combination written by the letter psi was also aspirated). AnonMoos 18:37, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't have my Liddell and Scott to hand, but I can say with some certainty that dia- does NOT aspirate a following stop, so this word cannot contain the root prag-. Its root must be something like phrag-, phrak-, or phrakh-. Perhaps something related to break/Lat. frangō? Angr (tc) 08:17, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
The root is phrag- and the 1st. person singular active present indicative verb form is phrassô "to fence". AnonMoos 19:28, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
Phragmite is a kind of cane. Is there a link with "layer", "foil", which was the papyrus use ? --DLL 19:17, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
Phragma (in ancient Greek pronounced p-hrangma) meant "a fence" (or more abstractly, a protective measure). AnonMoos 19:28, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
So the anatomical sense would be "fence between (the abdominal and thoracic cavities)"? Sound right.Skookum1 21:29, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

May 19[edit]

Lunchbox in Portuguese[edit]

Hello, I'm looking for the original of the Thai word ปิ่นโต / (lunch box). I've learned before that the original word came from the Portuguese word. However I could not find the reference for that. The only word that I found is "pinto" meaning chicken.

Thank you for any question. I searched on the Internet and found one lunchbox that similar to Thai lunchbox [15], but it's written in English not the Portuguese --Manop - TH 03:52, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Are you sure it's not from the Japanese bento? HenryFlower 09:44, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Very likely from the Japanese (the Thai ป isn't really a p, but sort of half way between p and b).

That said....

The Portuguese past participle bento, related to the Portuguese verb bendizer (to bless), stems from the Latin benedire, "to bless" (literally "to say well").... as in benedictus.

The Japanese word bento (弁当, べんとう) is said to have originated from a 16th Century military commander called Odo Nobunaga [16]. Odo Nobunaga had close links to the Jesuits [17], so it's possible that he borrowed the word from a Portuguese blessing.

If that's the case, then the Thai tiffin carrier might have same root as the name of the Pope. TheMadBaron 11:02, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Thank you all. --Manop - TH 16:30, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Bento is also a very common Portuguese name (forename, surname and placename, and the name of at least one ship, São Bento (named after Saint Benedict, lost in 1554 [18]). Interestingly, Bento Fernandes, one of the "great missionary personalities of the time," was a contemporary of Odo Nobunaga, and active in Japan [19].... so maybe it was his lunchbox.... TheMadBaron 20:48, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

I don't have my kanji dictionary at hand but I'm quite sure the kanji for bentō are ateji (as opposed to it being a Sino-Japanese compound, or a fully Japanese word), which is an instant indicator of an old Japanese word not of Japanese origin. Since Portuguese words are abundant in Japanese (second only to English), it's a pretty safe bet that that's where it came from.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  16:08, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

It's entirely possible, I suppose, that "bento" might have been a Portuguese term for a food carrier at the time, even if no longer used in modern Portuguese. If that's the case, the Thai word is perhaps as likely to have been borrowed directly from Portuguese traders, without Japanese influence. Either way, assuming that Freshgavin is correct, all signs indicate a Portuguese origin. TheMadBaron 21:09, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

According to a Japanese etymology site, the term bento has been used sinse Kamakura period[20], which predates Japanese contact of Portuguese. It says the term is derived from Chinese 便当, meaning convininent. Another theory is it may be derived from 面桶, meaning 'a bucket for a meal' but the site rejects this theory because pronunciations of 面桶 and 弁当 differs in classical Japanese. --Kusunose 03:23, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
That's a very nice site. I'll look at that one again.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  17:14, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

According to my understanding pintoh (ปิ่นโต)is a kind of lunch box consisting of a stack of typically three to five cylindrical containers, strung one above another by metal strips, that also form a handle on top, sometimes called a tiffin carrier, an expression derived from an Indian word meaning 'light meal' or 'snack' and sometimes referring to 'lunch'. It is used for carrying food, usually light lunches prepared for schoolchildren by their mothers. The word pintoh literally means 'top-grow' and might be translated as 'to grow to the top'. This probably refers to the 'stack' in which the containers are placed on 'top' of each other and hence 'grows' to a certain height, although it might just as well refer to the fact that children grow as they eat. Yves Masure (autor Thailex, Thailand Lexicon).

Wiki language codes for "Chinese simplified" and "Chinese traditional"?[edit]

I am creating a wiki using some of the content of

I would like to know what interwiki language codes to use for the content of:

I am getting the codes from

For example, the interwiki language code is "fr" for:

I imagine one of them will use "zh"

Which ones do I need for Chinese Simplified and which for Chinese Traditional:

  • zh
  • zh-yue
  • zh-min-nan
  • something else?


Brusselsshrek 09:35, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

I don't think we have separate traditional and simplified Wikipedias: they're both the same language, so they're both covered by zh. I suspect that zh uses unicode characters which you can view in either traditional or simplified fonts. Yue and Minnan are for the Yue (Cantonese) and Minnan dialects/languages respectively, and are definitely not what you want. HenryFlower 09:42, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

OK, thanks. Hmmm. Let me ask a follow-up question then. If I map BOTH dmoz Simplified AND Traditional pages to wiki "zh" pages can you see a problem with overlapping? i.e. will pages, as far as you can see, end up with the same wiki name? I don't know enough about the two systems to know if the URL strings would be distinct. Let me give an example: If I start with the English page (phew!) I can see that it has a link to language versions in both Chinese (Traditional) AND Chinese Simplified. These pages are:

Since the suffix of these two is different, I could render these two pages in a wiki as (I suppose):


BUT, is it 100% safe to assume that they will ALWAYS be different in the suffix of the URL? Thanks again! Brusselsshrek 09:59, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

No, I don't think they will be different. Compare this one and this one: these use the same characters in simplified and traditional forms, so the suffix is the same. I think you would need to either merge them, or add something to the suffix to distinguish them. HenryFlower 10:09, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Hmmm, thanks, this is all very helpful to a non-Chinese speaker with the task of sorting this out. Since wiki seems to think a single "zh" suffices, is this Simplified/Traditional Chinese rather like the American/British English thing that a wiki page could be written in either as long as a whole page is consistent? (Sure, I understand traditional chars a lot more complex). My thought would be just to take ONLY the Dmoz Simplified pages into the wiki. In your view, would that lose a lot of valuable Dmoz info, or is the Simplified/Traditional content basically just a duplication but in a "different" language? Brusselsshrek 10:27, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

As I understand it, a page can be written in simplified encoding, traditional encoding, or unicode. The simplified dmoz will list simplified and unicode pages, while the traditional dmoz will list traditional and unicode pages, so there will be some duplication. I don't know how popular unicode is versus the specialised encodings, so I don't know how much duplication there would be. Using simplified only is probably the best easy solution, although you'll certainly end up with content which has a lot from the PRC and not much from Taiwan. HenryFlower 10:53, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
Simple and traditional refers primarily to the writing system, only secondarily to the encoding. I suspect that the simplified dmoz will try to list only Unicode pages written in Simplified Chinese. It's not merely American/British, where it's 99% mutually intelligible; it take more education, but I don't know if most Chinese get that education.--Prosfilaes 16:35, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Slovensko and Slovensky wiki language codes?[edit]

I am creating a wiki using some of the content of I'm making good progress with finding each of the wiki language codes to use, but I would like to know what interwiki language codes to use for the content of:

I am getting the codes from

For example, the interwiki language code is "fr" for:

My Slovensko and Slovensky is even worse than my Chinese (which itself is limited to "Special Fried Rice").

Thanks! Brusselsshrek 11:00, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Slovensko is Slovenian, Slovensky is Slovak. Slovenian is sl, Slovak is sk. :) HenryFlower 11:09, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
Wikis here use country codes (see ISO 3166-1) as language codes. There must be inventions sometimes (aulde english, pidgin ...) --DLL 19:12, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

That is strange, because "Slovensko" is also the native name for Slovakia. You can see how George Bush confused these countries. -- Mwalcoff 00:00, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

Actually I rather suspect that the etymological similarity had nothing at all to do with why he confused these countries. Plain ignorance, more like. Arbitrary username 17:59, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
How's that strange? The countries have the same name, etymologically. --BluePlatypus 08:40, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

Taiwanese wiki language code?[edit]

Thanks User:Henry_Flower, you're great at this! (How come you know all this stuff?)

Finally, what is the wiki language code (see above questions) for Taiwanese:

Ah, that's an easy one. Taiwanese is Minnan, so zh-min-nan. HenryFlower 12:12, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

"ye high"[edit]

Where does the expression "ye high" come from? Old English?

I've been looking for a good definition, but there's just none to find (somebody add it to wiktionary, please).

Usage (I think): "He's about ye high (holds up hand to indicate the height of a person)" -Obli (Talk)? 19:39, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

I would have spelled it "yea" or "yay"; here is one page with some information seeming to indicate that it's a fairly recently coined slang term or idiom. --LarryMac 19:53, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
According to Google searches, "yea" is only slightly more popular than "ye", I guess that's what happens to new words that are only used in speech. Thanks for the emytology, I'll add it to wiktionary, myself. -Obli (Talk)? 20:01, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
Actually, it's substantially more popular; searches for just "ye high" or "yea high" or "yay high" by themselves are loaded with false results. Googling for "about [yea/yay/ye] [high/big/tall]" shows that yay is more popular than yea, which tends to be about four times as popular as ye. —Zero Gravitas 20:20, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
In older English there's "ye" as in "all ye", meaning "you". Then there's "ye" for the definite article "the", where the "y" is actually a thorn (þ), and which is pronounced just as "the". Then there's "yea" as in "yes". But that's it, AFAIK. --BluePlatypus 08:34, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
I've heard it used a lot in the Irish Republic - so probably dialectal as well as archaic. Greatgavini 17:25, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
A nuance I don't see mentioned in any link so far is that it tends to indicate a bit of estimation is going on. I don't know where it came from, but for what it's worth, I first heard it from my big brother, and the only other time I came across it was in a comic strip, which argues well for the 'recent slang' interpretation. Black Carrot 19:28, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
It was certainly around in Britain when I was young. Which was some time in the 80s. HenryFlower 19:36, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
The OED uses the spelling "yay", and the first quotation they have is from 1960. Lesgles (talk) 20:16, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

speech synthesiser[edit]

Does anyone know of a speech synthesis program (preferably free or maybe commercial, and for either Windows or Linux) which lets you input the required sounds phonetically in IPA or maybe say SAMPA / X-SAMPA rather than as orthography? It seems that most packages do "text to speech", but it would be nice to have a bit more control. Thanks. Arbitrary username 21:13, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

I doubt it; IPA phonetic notation doesn't convey enough information for a speech synthesiser to do its work. MBROLA uses a .pho format, which is SAMPA with numbers for length, tone, pitch, volume etc. -- EdC 16:35, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
Many thanks for the tip. That makes sense; I don't mind providing more specific information. I'll have a look into MBROLA. Arbitrary username 17:50, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
There's this from Microsoft. I haven't read about it, though. Ardric47 02:01, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
Many thanks, though I fear that that one may be a few too many steps removed from the end-user for me to cope with. Arbitrary username 17:52, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

So far to date[edit]

Is it corret to say "So far to date" or should one stick to just either "so far", or "to date"? 00:04, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes, it does appear redundant. However the two phrases have different nuances. It would be best if I heard the entire sentence to choose which of the two sounds better. Loomis51 00:25, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
I could imagine someone saying "Our company found the sources of 12 items so far to date." I wouldn't use the "so far" and I really don't like the sound of that sentence but it does get across the additional meaning that they expect to continue to find more sources in the future.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  16:00, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
It still sounds redundant. Only one should be used. Perhaps this is oversimplifying, but "so far" seems to me a more "casual", while "to date" seems to be a more "technical" expression. In many cases both would be acceptable, but I'll give a few examples of where one is clearly more appropriate than the other:
If you're waiting for a friend to call, and she hasn't yet, you'd definitely say "She hasn't called so far" and NEVER "She hasn't called to date" (with a few exceptions, for example if she's gone missing for many years, it might sound appropriate to say "she hasn't called to date.")
For more scientific statements, "to date" is more acceptable, but "so far" seems acceptable as well. For example: "To date, we have no hard evidence of extra-terrestrial life." But, as I said, so far can be used as well, but with a less "professional", "scientific" sound. "So far, we have no hard evidence of extra-terrestrial life."
Bottom line, when in doubt, use "so far" and you probably won't go wrong. Loomis51 23:26, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
Another variant I like is "up until now". JackofOz 02:33, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

May 20[edit]

Hung for a sheep as a lamb[edit]

While reading Sex Drugs and Economics, written by a British author, I came across the above phrase and I thought it was lovely but it was a novel expression to my American eyes. A few hours later I was listening to Neil Gaiman read on of his stories where an American tourist used the phrase and I realized it was nothing an American would have used as far as I know.

I would love to know how, where and when this phrase originated or at least a site that will not give me the run around while I'm trying to search for it.

Thanks so much for any assistance. - Kubzz 07:10, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

The first result on Google UK: [21]
The Oxford English Dictionary has a quotation from Richardson, "Clarissa" (1748): "In for the lamb, as the saying is, in for the sheep." The saying must be older; I don't know by how much.
'I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.' If the consequence of failure is the same in either case, then go for the option that yields the greatest reward if the venture succeeds.
Suggested origin:
Until at least 1800 in England, the penalty for stealing sheep, irrespective of the animal's age or gender, was execution or deportation. Since there is more meat and wool on a fully-grown sheep, why bother putting the same effort into stealing a lamb if the consequence of being caught for either crime was the gallows?
Someone might see their way to adding this to Wiktionary. -- EdC 16:43, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't think there is anything exclusively British about this phrase. Perhaps it has passed out of use in the USA, but it is generally understood in the UK today. A little search shows that US author Horatio Alger used the phrase in this book. Notinasnaid 18:40, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
It is also generally understood in Australia. Not surprising, since we've had more than a bit to do with both penal transportation and sheep. JackofOz 22:51, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

Thank so much for the quick responses. :) - Kubzz 07:32, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

According to the Everyman Dictionary of Quotations and Proverbs it was listed in John Ray's Collection of English Proverbs (1670). MeltBanana 14:59, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
I,ve always understood it to mean that, having already stolen a little lamb, you might as well go on to steal a big sheep as well, because the punishment is going to be the same - ie having committed one offence you might as well carry on and commit others. Jameswilson 00:45, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
In for a penny, in for a pound. Basically the same I always felt. Thought: English usually has opposite proverbs and sayings. Is there one for the opposite of this? I can't really think of one, apart from "stop digging" which doesn't really count. Skittle 09:37, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
I just re-watched Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, so I thought it meant hung--as in having large...genitals...but that's just me. --M1ss1ontomars2k4 (T | C | @) 00:10, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Same pronunciation[edit]

This line from Canadian raising puzzles me: "So, whereas the General American pronunciations of "rider" and "writer" are identical [ɹaɪɾɚ], those whose dialects include either the full or restricted Canadian raising will pronounce them as [ɹaɪɾɚ] and [ɹəɪɾɚ], respectively."

One of those words has a d in the middle, the other a t. I don't pronounce them the same and I grew up not far from the "classic" General American" region. Is this really correct or are only the vowels the same in both words. Rmhermen 22:43, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

It looks like my cut-and-paste of those useless IPA characters didn't work. We need sound more samples! Rmhermen 22:45, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
They're useful to me... I pronounce them exactly as shown in normal speech. —Keenan Pepper 00:48, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
I added in Template:IPA, so they should show up now. Ardric47 02:04, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
I think it was also noting "the North American English process of flapping, which merges /t/ and /d/ in [ɾ] before unstressed vowels", but I see someone has now changed "writer" into "spider" and the reference to sounding identical to a reference to rhyming. To a Briton, the "Classic" American accent involves pronouncing 't' as 'd' in many places, and I think this is the accent it is refering to. ie "Warder" instead of "water". Skittle 13:49, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
As a Canadian, although I might pronounce the "d" and the "t" differently, by far, the more noticeable difference would be in my pronunciation of the "i". The "ri" in "rider" whould be pronounced like the grain "rye", whereas the word "writer" would rhyme with "fighter". Is it actually any different in American English? Loomis51 23:10, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
So, you're saying the article is right? But now I'm really intrigued because I pronounce the vowel in 'rye' the same as the vowel at the beginning 'fighter'. What's the difference to you? Skittle 23:17, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
Another Canadian here. I pronounce them like the first example. Can't input IPA here so "rai" and "fuy". The article is right (ruyt), and I remember hearing about this (along with cot, caught, and all that) on a TV show about the Canadian accent a couple years ago.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  17:05, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
Oh, and about the t and d. Both are flapped for me and would probably be written identically in IPA, but because the dipthong of "rider" is a little bit longer than "writer", the flapped "d" from "rider" is a little bit stronger than the flapped "t".  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  17:08, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
In North American English, the vowel in rider is often longer than that in writer. That is the only difference. I'm no expert on Canadian raising, but as I understand it, the rule is that before voiceless stops, the diphthong nucleus of (ay) and (aw) begins higher at [ʌ] (in the article, it says [ə], but never mind) and in other contexts remains lower at, e.g., [a]. This is the same phenomenon that leads to the stereotyped pronunciation of about. The case of writer shifting but not rider would, to my mind, suggest that the mechanism in question is not really the following consonant directly, but diphthong length. mnewmanqc

May 21[edit]

Help needed[edit]

Following are lyrics (Persian) of Shakila's song Yegaaneh, which I completely love. It would be *awesome* if someone can translate it for me. Thanks a ton!

تا کی به تمنای وصال تو یگانه
اشکم شود از هر مژه چون سیل روانه
ای تیره غمت را دل عشاق نشانه
خواهد به سرآیدشب هجران تو یا نه
جمعی به تو مشغول و تو فارغ ز میانه
هر در که زنم صاحب آن خانه تویی تو
هر جا که شدم پرتو کاشانه تویی تو
در کعبه و در دیر چو جانانه تویی تو
منظور من از کعبه و بتخانه تویی تو مقصود تویی ...کعبه و بتخانه بهانه
ای تیره غمت را دل عشاق نشانه
بلبل به چمن زار گل رخسار نشان دید
پروانه در آتش شد و اسرار نهان دید
عارف صفت حمد تو از پیر و جوان دید
یعنی همه جا عکس رخ یار توان دید
دیوانه منم ..من که روم خانه به خانه
ای تیره غمت را دل عشاق نشانه
جمعی به تو مشغول و تو فارغ ز میانه
عاقل به قوانین خرد راه تو جوید
دیوانه برون از همه آئین تو پوید
تا غنچهء نشکفتهء این باغ که بوید
هر کس به زبانی صفت حمد تو گوید
بلبل به غزل خوانی و قمری به ترانه
رفتم به در صومعه زاهد و عابد
دیدم همه را پیش رخت راکع و ساجد
در بتکده رهبانم و در صومعه زاهد
گه معتکف دیرم و گه ساکن مسجد
یعنی که تو را می طلبم خانه به خانه
ای تیره غمت را دل عشاق نشانه
بلبل به چمن زان گل رخسار نشان دید
پروانه در آتش شد و اسرار نهان دید
عارف صفت حمد تو از پیر و جوان دید
یعنی همه جا عکس رخ یار توان دید
دیوانه منم ..من که روم خانه به خانه
ای تیره غمت را دل عشاق نشانه
جمعی به تو مشغول و تو فارغ ز میانه

deeptrivia (talk) 00:35, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

In case no one answers here, you could try browsing Category:User fa-N for a friendly face. The only person listed at Wikipeida:Translators available for Persian-to-English is User:Nima.nezafati, but s/he hasn't been here since March. Angr (tc) 10:05, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
  • If the stupid mullahs hadn't seized power in Iran, the maybe an Ataturk would Romanize the Persian script which would make it easier for people to learn Persian and look up words in a Persian-English dictionary.Patchouli 01:20, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
ROTFL! As I've said on this page before, Romanization will be a stupid idea, because the Roman script is one of the dumbest, and doesn't make any sense at all. In fact the whole world should switch to a real phonetic Brahmi-based script. [^_^] Oh no! I'm talking about it again! deeptrivia (talk) 03:49, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Right word[edit]

What word refers to the process by which a company expands too fast and therefore loses its focus? For example, Yahoo! was created as a collection of favourite pages, and now they offer everything under the sun, and seem to have lost their focus. Google used to offer only search, but now they offer social networking and other services that have nothing to do with search. These services usually do not reflect the usual Google quality and corporate culture/values.

Another example could be an company initially offering high-quality online communication services, which clearly reflect their corporate culture and values; but then expanding into online games, then software, then telecommunications, etc. and their products in these new markets do not reflect the quality of their online communication services or their corporate culture/values.

This process does not occur if a company expands quickly, but still retains their focus, quality and corporate culture/values. --J.L.W.S. The Special One 00:40, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

Selling out? Black Carrot 02:12, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
Peter principle? User:Zoe|(talk) 03:18, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
Diworsification? ByeByeBaby 09:28, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
Conglomeration, maybe... AnonMoos 16:03, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
It can be a precursor to the company "reinventing itself". Although that would come later, after they realised they'd lost their focus. JackofOz 02:32, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

How is "re" pronounced?[edit]

How does one pronounce "re," the short form of "regarding," as in To: John Doe From:Jane Smith Re: The pronunciation of the word at the beginning of this line!

Since it is a short form of "regarding" it seems "re" should rhyme with "tree."

I have had a boss who is sure it's pronounced as if it were spelled "ray," as in the musical notes "do, re me...," or as if it were Latin such as in the phrase "in re your estate," for example.

I don't like mispronouncing words and would love a definative answer!

Thank you.


AFAIK, it's not a short form of "regarding", it is Latin, the same word as in "in re your estate". Nevertheless, the word can be pronounced either way ("ray" or "ree"), because Latin words used in English often get anglicized pronunciations (such as pronouncing c like /s/ in et cetera, or pronouncing the first syllable of habeas corpus "hay"). Angr (tc) 10:03, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
See IETF (RFC 3834) : "Just as the (Latin-derived) prefix "Re:" that is commonly used to indicate human-generated responses ..." --DLL 17:57, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
Re: is derived from the Latin word rēs, meaning thing or matter, and rē is the genitive form, translating roughly as of or concerning the matter. So while ray is close enough to the way the Romans would've pronounced it, I think it's safe to say that people will understand you regardless of how it's pronounced.Straughn 20:42, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Ablative case, with the preposition in, meaning "in the matter [of]". The "ree" pronunciation, I'd guess, is people falsely assuming that it derives from "regarding". Sam Korn (smoddy) 15:28, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't think so. As I said above, I think it's part of the centuries-old tradition of anglicizing the pronunciation of Latin words. I gave the examples of et cetera with /s/ instead of /k/ and habeas corpus with /eɪ/ instead of /a:/. Other examples are Venite and Benedicite pronounced /vɪˈnaɪti/ and /ˌbɛnɪˈdaɪsɪti/. It's really only since the 20th century that it's become fashionable to use Classical Latin pronunciations. Angr (tc) 15:42, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I've always heard it as "ray". Although I think the only place I've heard it is the Jeeves and Wooster TV series, "in re" being one of Wooster's typical phrases together with "right ho!". (I seriously recommend Wodehouse to anyone who loves the English language, BTW) --BluePlatypus 22:39, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
I've never heard anyone say it as "ray". Then again, I've never heard anyone say it at all...--M1ss1ontomars2k4 (T | C | @) 00:07, 26 May 2006 (UTC)


What is the difference between Pakistani Punjabi language and Indian Punjabi language?

See Punjabi language. There are many dialects of Punjabi, but these don't correspond to the India/Pakistan border. HenryFlower 14:48, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

Rules for syllable counting (in English)[edit]

What are the rules for counting syllables in English? Does a syllable necessarily contain a vowel (phoneme)?

In the examples below, how many syllables do you count?

  • roster
  • glide
  • slack
  • mirage

Based on some simple (simplistic?) rules I've seen, I got 2, 1, 1, and 2 respectively. The thing that I'm not sure about is in words like "slack", whether the whole word is one syllable or whether the "s" is in a separate syllable by itself. -- 16:08, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

You do not need a vowel in an unstressed syllable in English. Any sonorant consonant will do, but there is a tendency to favor nasals as syllable nuclei over liquids. So, for instance Kevin and possum are more likely to be pronounced with a syllabic consonant than Michael or butter. All these words will have vowels pronounced in careful pronunciations.
As for your examples, you are correct except that in mirage the vowel can be deleated in rapid casual speech, and in that case there would be one syllable: [mɹɑʒ] in my pronunciation. As for the case of slack, the pronunciation of an empenthetic vowel before the s is a feature of Spanish influenced learner English. mnewmanqc
(Hope you don't mind, I used {{template:IPA}} on your IPA). I think it's an interesting thing, this syllable counting. For example, even if I try to pronounce 'mirage' quickly and casually as Mnewmanqc's IPA indicates, I end up with what I would count as two syllables. m+schwa-rahj (with the 'j' indicating soft french ending. I'm no good at writing IPA). Maybe syllable has some guidelines, since I can't believe linguists would leave it subjective. Skittle 16:53, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
First off, I think Mnewmanqc has it backward: liquids are more likely to be syllabic than nasals. Michael is much more likely to be [ˈmaɪkl̩] than possum is to be [ˈpɑsm̩], and butter is pretty much never [ˈbʌtəɹ] but rather [ˈbʌtɚ] (or [ˈbʌtə] in nonrhotic accents). Both l and n are pretty uniformly syllabic after other alveolar sounds though: [ˈbɑtəl] for bottle and [ˈbʌtən] for button sound distinctly odd. As for how to count syllables objectively (i.e. purely on the basis of some acoustic or articulatory property as opposed to an instinctive gut feeling), it's actually very difficult. Consider the difference between the name Bowie (as in David Bowie, two syllables BOE-ee) and the word boy (one syllable). If you look at spectrograms of the two, you're going to have a very hard time telling them apart; whatever distinctions there are will be incredibly subtle. But every native speaker knows "instictively" Bowie is two syllables while boy has one. It's sad but true, the most reliable way of finding out how many syllables there are in a word is usually to ask a native speaker. Angr (tc) 17:27, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps Angr is right about liquids being at least equally likely to be syllable nuclei. I was going by what I think I read in a textbook I used Kreidler's Pronunciation of English. A Course Book in Phonology, I may be wrong in my memory, but the thing is I do both and have no intuitions there. If so, I apologize.
As for syllable structure, I think you might not look at the spectrogram but the waveform itself. I just did it myself using Praat, and I saw two peaks much more clearly both in the intensity and visible waveform itself in Bowie than Boy. As for Mrage. I do get the complete reduction, but I'm from NYC, and I've done almost all my phonetic analyses of this kind of speech from NYers. I wouldn't be at all surprised that others have less than full reduction in this context. [mɹ] is not normally phonotactically permissible in careful English; so it may also not be in rapid casual speech for many speakers. mnewmanqc
That's cool about the waveform. I have heard that clusters impermissible in careful speech are often permissible in rapid speech; the canonical example is [ˈpteɾo] for potato in two syllables. Angr (tc) 22:47, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

EnglishLanguage - singular/plural[edit]

How many words in the English Language are the same in the singular as the plural (for example: sheep, fish)? - Jayuu

Not sure how many, but "craft" (in the sense of a vessel) and "aircraft" are two more examples. -- 18:03, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
And "offspring" and "species" are yet two more examples. Is there a term for words like these?-- 18:09, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
Read the article on mass nouns. You will see that forms like sheeps and fishes do exist.--El aprendelenguas 19:44, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm not a native English speaker, but surely sheeps must be incorrect, whether it be used as a count or a mass noun? Google returns 19 hits for "several sheeps" and 29,300 for "several sheep". I did find one mention of sheeps on the BBC's web site but still... --Vibo56 20:10, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't agree with the way sheeps was used in that BBC article, but the forms do exist, though rare. A good example would be "fishes of the coral reef". If you just say "fish of the coral reef", you are referring to the masses of fish in the reef, plain and simple. "fishes" puts the emphasis on the different types of fish, rather the fish (plural) of each species. It's a very vague difference and not all native speakers will use the words in that way.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  16:56, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
Isn't this again an example of the distinction between count nouns and mass nouns, as mentioned by El aprendelenguas above? "Fish" is mentioned on the mass noun page as an example of a word which confuses the distinction because both "fish" and "fishes" are acceptable plural forms. My point was that "two fish" or "two fishes" is a matter of personal preference, but there is no such thing as "two sheeps". --vibo56 21:38, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
It could be but I don't think so. If had a bunch of different breeds of sheep in a room, I think it would be correct to call them sheeps, but maybe that's just me.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  13:30, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
I think you've uncovered a shocking gap in our coverage: List of English words with identical singular and plural forms does not exist. 'Deer' is another, by the way. There must be some reason why animals are disproportionately represented. Many words of foreign origin are (or can be) the same, though: yen, kimono, baht, etc. HenryFlower 20:14, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
That's because they're from neuter nouns. Old English used to have lots of animal names that were neuter, and neuter singular and neuter plural looked the same. I can't remember the details, but I guess you can start some research of your own by looking at History of the English language and Old English language. --KJ 00:47, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
I can't seem to find anything relevant on Wikipedia. Here are some links to get you started: [22] [23] --KJ 00:56, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
It is certainly complicated. For instance, cattle is a mass noun but unlike fish, you cannot have a cattle. In fact there is universally accepted no word representing one member of the species. On a related notes, I saw this in the mass noun article:

"Thus, the following are all correct:

"There are sands in the hourglass." (count)
"There is sand in the hourglass." (mass)
"There is a sand in the hourglass." (count)"Rmhermen 00:38, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

The second is certainly correct, the first could be correct if there were say black, white and green sands in the hourglass but I don't see how the third could ever be correct. Rmhermen 00:38, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

I think if I saw the 3rd sentence in an article, I would probably edit it to read either as the 2nd sentence or as "There is a grain of sand in the hourglass," depending on the context. --DavidGC 08:27, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
It's possible. I want to buy a type of sand for some purpose. I look at the ones you offer me, but I don't like them. I ask, "Do you have any other sands?" You say, "There is a sand in the hourglass". HenryFlower 09:25, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

May 22[edit]

What does this mean?[edit]

What does the word "Debauche" mean? I've looked it up on WP but to no avail. Help me. I hate words that aren't familiar.

I think you mean 'debauch'- as a verb, 'seduce'; as a noun, 'orgy'. The spelling with an e seems to be unusual. HenryFlower 08:48, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
The noun form is debauchery, isn't it? СПУТНИКССС Р 15:37, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
Two different words: a debauch is one instance of debauchery. HenryFlower 18:24, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
There's also "debouch": To emerge, issue". Generally from a small confined area into a wider, more open area. User:Zoe|(talk) 18:15, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

Debauch as a transitive verb means to corrupt, to reduce the value of. See's page on the word. The give the etymology as old French de+ bauch - apparently bauch is a sort of beam, so I take debauch to mean "to steer away from the straight and narrow". --Hughcharlesparker 19:15, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Words are not enough:) Thanks for the help guys. I can now use it in my english assignment without looking stupid when my teacher asks me what it means. --AQjosh 13:36, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Film Review Format[edit]

Is there any specific film review format? What I can find from the web is about what can be include in a review, but this is not exactly what I want.

When you write a film review for a magazine, newspaper or review web site, they will probably have a "house style" for you to follow. If you are writing an essay for school or for your own entertainment, you can write any format you wish. Wikipedia does not carry film reviews, if that was the question. Notinasnaid 13:33, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

This is a school assignment. In my rubric, there is a row which is called "genre format," so it is probably just about the style I write but not any specific format, is that right?

I may be taking it out of context, but film genre is an important aspect of writing about a film (because the expectations and conventions that flow from the choice of genre). Notinasnaid 18:11, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
  • See Cinematic genre. While you're there, check out the "See Also." I suppose reviews of different types of films might have different formats. --Halcatalyst 01:37, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

I don't know Latin[edit]

How do you say "In spirit and in truth", "Way, Truth, Life" and "In the Light of the Lord" in Latin? I have looked up various dictionaries but there are just too many options they offer, and I don't know which ones are the best words to use! Thanks a lot!

In my rough knowledge of Latin, I would guess that In anima et in vero would be "In spirit and in truth", "Way Truth and Life" would be Via, Verum, Vitaque (I particularly like the ring of that!) and "In the light of the Lord" would be In Luce Domini. СПУТНИКССС Р 15:33, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
If any of these are direct quotes from either the Bible or the traditional Catholic liturgy, it would be better to find the original Latin than to translate it back into Latin from English. And "truth" is Veritas, not Verum. Angr (tc) 15:36, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, it sounds like they woudl be from the Catholic liturgy. And as for truth, the first word that popped into my head was veritas. I wrote that, but I wasn't sure, so I checked in my Latin textbook, and it gave verum instead. However, my textbook is rather unreliable and I assume that you are more correct. In that case, it would be Via, Veritas, Vitaque, but would it be In anima et in veritate"? СПУТНИКССС Р 15:47, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
Okay, "in spirit and in truth" is from John 4:24 "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth", which is Spiritus est Deus et eos qui adorant eum in spiritu et veritate oportet adorare in the Vulgate. "Way, truth, life" is from John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life", which is Ego sum via et veritas et vita. "In the light of the Lord" is from Isaiah 2:5 "O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD", which is Domus Iacob venite et ambulemus in lumine Domini. So, the answers are:
  • In spirit and in truth = In spiritu et veritate
  • Way, Truth, Life = Via et veritas et vita
  • In the light of the Lord = In lumine Domini
Angr (tc) 17:01, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
I was close. СПУТНИКССС Р 18:41, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

Thank you guys a whole bunch! This really helps me a lot :)

U.S. piano tuner strikes chord against embargo, doctors instruments in Cuba[edit]

'Strike chord' or 'Strike a chord have been used often to discribe being touched by something, correct? What is the imterpretation of the subject/headline in layman's term?


It's a pun. "Strike a chord" is an idiom that means something like "make a point". It's a pun because "strike a chord" literally means to play a chord, for example on a piano, which makes sense because it's a piano tuner. —Keenan Pepper 18:55, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
The odd thing is that the idiom "to strike a chord" means something more like "to cause a feeling of familiarity." The writer of the headline seems to have conflated "strike a chord" with "strike a blow [for freedom]," for which Google reports 11,000 results. Thus, my interpretation, as a layman, is that the headline writer needs a good editor. --LarryMac 20:25, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
(Edit conflict)I thought 'strike a chord' idiomatically meant something more like 'seems true to the other person/is in accord with their feelings' than 'make a point'. So The Matrix 'struck a chord' with people who felt there had to be more to the world. But I'm guessing it is used in Keenan Pepper's sense, in America, hence perhaps SY's confusion. Sounds very odd to me. Skittle 20:31, 22 May 2006 (UTC) Reading LarryMac's comment, maybe it is just as wrong as it feels. Skittle 20:32, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
  • "To strike a chord" is a musical metaphor suggesting a somewhat sudden, harmonious, and pleasing connection or resolution. --Halcatalyst 22:07, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
Here's a reference, not that distinguished IMHO. --Halcatalyst 22:14, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

Voice Jitter and Shimer[edit]


In the Praat program for Audio/Voice analysis they use Jitter and Shimer to describe pulses in the Voice.

Is it a standard experssion? since I didn't found any reference outside.

What is the meaning of high or low jitter and shimer? In the sense of what causes it? what is it reflecting?

Thanks, Mushin

  • Here's a technical tutorial reference. "Jitter" and "shimmer" are also everyday English words. --Halcatalyst 21:57, 22 May 2006 (UTC)


If the prefix "octo-" means eight, then why is october the 10th month of the year? 20:54, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

Check out our article on October - the answer's in the third paragraph. Matt Eason 20:57, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
Same reason September, November and December have prefixes referring to the numbers seven, nine and ten, respectively. Loomis51 09:34, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Reading Quotations[edit]

  1. Iranian President Ahmadinejad said quote the Iranian nation doesn’t give a damn about such useless [U.N.] resolutions unquote.
  2. Iranian President Ahmadinejad said quote-unquote the Iranian nation doesn’t give a damn about such useless [U.N.] resolutions.

Which one is preferable in American English when a person is speaking, quote "..." unquote or quote-unquote "...?" Patchouli 20:56, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

None. Iranian President Ahmadinejad said quote the Iranian nation doesn’t give a damn about such useless [U.N.] resolutions. (Slightly lengthened pause). Otherwise, the first is less objectionable. --Diderot 21:09, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
If I wanted to immediately proffer my opinion without pausing before another person in a discussion interjects, then it would be permissible for me to say unquote, right?Patchouli
  • What might be called a someone-said statement can be followed with the expression "quote unquote" for emphasis (often uttered semi-belligerently, so with no fine touch for accuracy of quotation!). --Halcatalyst 21:45, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

I believe that it is incorrect to say "unquote" and that "end quote" is preferable. -- 18:28, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

'Racism' Inside a Race[edit]

Is there a word for someone who favors one ethnic group over another? For instance, if a Hutu discriminates against a Tutsi or if a Japanese discriminates against a Korean. I can only come up with the word racist, but here the discrimination is inside the race.

I know that there is no ethnicist; is there another single word?Patchouli 20:59, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

I routinely use ethnocentric when referring to such behaviour. --Diderot 21:04, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
Maybe ethnophobe? --Halcatalyst 21:38, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
Race is such a slippery term that racist applies perfectly well. EdC 23:20, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
Or, you could go even broader and just call them a 'bigot'. Black Carrot 02:32, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Or, since "race" doesn't have a scientific meaning, just call them racist. I accuse my West German husband of being a racist when he makes derogatory remarks about East Germans. Angr (tc) 07:58, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
At a pinch, you could also use the word partisan, though that usually has the meaning of supporting one cause over another. Grutness...wha? 12:03, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

It's called nationalism (one of two senses of the word) or chauvinism. Zocky | picture popups 16:53, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

There's actually no biological distinction of race. It's purely a social construct. And being a social construct, it's going to vary from culture to culture, so the distinctions of seperate races will differ between Japan, Germany, The United States, Brazil, South Africa, etc. So a person from a certain culture may find the racial distinctions in another culture bizarre or illogical. I hope that helps.-- The ikiroid  17:00, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

May 23[edit]

Sentence Challenge[edit]

In a coffee break at work, my colleagues and I debated the possibility of coming up with a valid English sentence of at least four seven words, where every word has exactly 9 letters. Can this be done? A barnstar (or maybe a brainstar) for the longest sentence. JackofOz 02:08, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

How about "Everybody considers elephants necessary"? Does it have to make sense logically or just grammatically? This shouldn't be too difficult, you just won't be able to use any of the most frequently used Germanic-based words. Adam Bishop 02:24, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Ideally it would be a sentence that nobody would take any exception to at all. But we don't live in an ideal world, so ..... (not sure if that answers your question or not). JackofOz 03:03, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Extending that, "Everybody considers Ukrainian elephants necessary." Or "Everybody considers Ukrainian elephants necessary drawbacks." Although, that last one's stretching it, there should really be a "to be" in there. Black Carrot 02:30, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

No, that's fine, Black Carrot. I wouldn't have let "consider to be" through. I consider it a tautology. :--) You're the leader at the moment. Or you would be, if I hadn't taken the view that four words (and even six words) was too easy, and hadn't retrospectively raised the minimum number of words to seven. (Such is the magic of Wikipedia). JackofOz 03:03, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Let's make it nineten. "Virtually everybody available privately considers untrained Ukrainian elephants necessary drawbacks." I'm not sure it can get any longer without stacking adjectives... —Zero Gravitas 04:32, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
But an extra adverb could work: "Normally, virtually everybody available privately considers untrained Ukrainian elephants necessary drawbacks" (eleven) JackofOz 01:32, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Hah! "Virtually everybody available helpfully considers verbosely formatted sentences, tautology following tautology, validates immediate deletions forthwith." That's 15! Proto||type 12:25, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Excellent. Impressed. JackofOz 12:27, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Ah, but 'sentences' requires 'validate', making it too short. Sadly, as it is a wonderous creation. Skittle 17:41, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Condoleez' consider'd hammering Uzbek'stan ? (4*9) --DLL 18:53, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
"Normally, virtually everybody available helpfully considers verbosely formatted sentences, tautology following tautology, abhorrent misusages requiring immediate deletions forthwith." 18! —Zero Gravitas 02:42, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Just thought I'd point out that normally has only eight letters. —Bkell 19:50, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Everybody considers aluminium elephants following tortoises unusually abhorrent. -- LarryMac 19:57, 24 May 2006 (UTC) (an American who used the funny non-USian spelling for "aluminum")
OK, scrub "normally". (Thanks, Bkell). ZeroGravitas is still in the lead with 17: "Virtually everybody available helpfully considers verbosely formatted sentences, tautology following tautology, abhorrent misusages requiring immediate deletions forthwith". I could quibble and say that "immediate" makes "forthwith" redundant (and vice-versa), but given the content of the sentence I think it is fitting. In my infinite discretion I hereby award the inaugural "Brainstar" to ZeroGravitas. If anybody can better 17, they're welcome to try. Thanks to all those who gave a damn about this truly Earth-shattering subject. JackofOz 22:46, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
I think I've got an even longer one! "Generally, responses answering extremely eccentric Reference questions regarding pastatute emphazing, welcoming incessant weirdness, generated confusion; everybody endlessly misspells "emphasize"." That's 19, and it's Reference Desk-themed, too! I don't know if it's entirely grammatically correct, though, because it suddenly jumps to the present tense, but it's the best I could find. I'm not sure about the spelling of "emphazing", either, but emphaziing is too long."JackOfOz's difficult, extremely enjoyable brainstar challenge generates prolonged sentences." works too, but it's a bit shorter -- only 9 words. (These sentences are fun!) --Cadaeib (talk) 21:07, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

verb form of "Wikipedia"[edit]

What is the verb form of "Wikipedia," if there is an accepted or prevailing form? Aside from contributing to the decay of the English language, a verb would be of great convenience. I would no longer have to say, "I want to look up an article on [topic] in the Wikipedia," simply, "I want to [verb] [topic]."

I use the word wikipedia itslef, as in "I'm going to wikipedia English verbs." This construction is analogous to Google's, as in "He googled a famous celebrity," which is now more established or accepted.--El aprendelenguas 02:17, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Definitely. When in doubt, wikipedia it. —Keenan Pepper 03:42, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
One thing I have always liked about English is that it sounds better the more originally you use it. That's why I "hit the 'pedia", "WP it up", or maybe even "give it a wik'" if I'm in high spirits.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  13:14, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Then what is the gerund form? I usually use "wikipediing," but perhaps there is another form that would be more aesthetic. (While someone's at that, find a nice form for the participle too.)

I would usually shorten the root to 'wikiped-', as it makes things easier and smoother, but others may differ on this. Hence, "I Wikipede, You wikipede, He/She/It/Sie wikipedes", "wikipeding", "wikipeded", "wikipode (?)". Not so sure about this for the pluperfect. "He'd wikipode all day, but still had the urge for more wikipeding." Skittle 09:29, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Am I the only person to find such gratuitous usage hideous to the ear? And the idea that any would be preferred like standardising toothache? Maybe there's a word for unreasonable fear of verbing? Notinasnaid 09:37, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Maybe we should make an end to making use of any excessive verbs. How many verbs is there a need for a language to have anyway? I will be sure to have limits on my verbs in the future :-) Skittle 14:52, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Boy, I sure wish that this site had chosen a name which rolls more easily of the English-speaker's tongue. Like RMS (GNU???), the founders gave little thought to a marketable name. -lethe talk + 15:57, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Detroit, Michigan - using IPA[edit]

I recently was told that the IPA spelling for Detroit is off. However, I am not sure exactly what it should be and would appreciate some feedback on this. PentawingTalk 04:31, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

What specifically do they say is wrong? I'd say it's fine. Of course, pronunciations vary. For example (depending perhaps on my mood, setting, surrounding words, who knows?), I myself use |i| and |ə| interchangeable for the e (maybe even |ʌ| on occasion and |e| in a "Frenchish" setting but speaking English). -user:rasd
The message concerning the IPA spelling was left at Wikipedia:Peer_review#Detroit, Michigan. PentawingTalk 22:24, 23 May 2006 (UTC)


What does /x\ mean or stand for? I have searched wiki and google and have only come up with unrelated results.

/x/? Do you mean voiceless velar fricative? --KJ 06:17, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
It could be a smiley face. Looks to me like a smiley face expressing grief, not unlike >_<.  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  13:06, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
A guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, "Ya gotta help me, doc. I keep dreaming about teepees and wigwams. It's driving me crazy." "Take two of these," the shrink replies. "You're two tents."
So, with the right font, maybe /x\ is a smiley for tense? --Halcatalyst 15:10, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
If we're talking IPA, it's probably X-SAMPA for voiceless palatal-velar fricative.--Prosfilaes 05:44, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Mind you, it could be Leet for a capital M... Grutness...wha? 12:06, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

The trend of Japanese writing[edit]

When I visited Japan recently, I was astonished by the prevalence of the use of Katakana which replaced a lot of Hiragana or Kanji. I wonder where can I find official or academic survey about this phenomenon.

"Replaced" is a little bit presumptuous, the official spelling will probably never change. There is a misunderstanding about katakana that it is only used to signify borrowed words. Katakana has also been used historically in a manner similar to italics in English. Though it is true that katakana are often used for style (いいネ!) as opposed to italic emphasis (スゴイ!), it would be extremely difficult to determine which case is which, so I doubt there's any possibility of finding any academic papers on the topic. I have seen a few papers on popular writing style though, so there might be some information about katakana use there. Another thing to remember is that animal names are almost always written in katakana (カエル, イルカ) and this is standard style. Kanji for animal names are generally quite complex (キリン, giraffe, is 麒麟) and as most of them come direct from Chinese, while the words themselves generally don't, it's difficult for Japanese people to remember which kanji to use, so it's understandable that they are rarely used anymore (though names like 海豚, meaning "sea pig", or dolphin, are popular for quiz shows).  freshgavinΓΛĿЌ  13:05, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

origin of a phrase[edit]

Hi everyone

What does 'to lose one's thread mean literally and what is the origin of the phrase. Thank you v much.

"To lose the thread" means to cease following (or understanding) how different parts of a story or argument are connected. I think the origin is the myth of Ariadne, Theseus and the Minotaur. David Sneek 10:25, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Good ol' Theseus did not lose his. It could be, more flatly, a weaver's fault. You have to find the thread and make a knott and roll it back in the shuttle. Or a spinster's ? --DLL 18:46, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure it has to do with Theseus. We have the same way of saying in Italian, but to refer to a topic thread we also use "filo conduttore", which means "conductive wire" (as "filo" means either "thread" and "wire"). And "filo di Arianna" (Ariadne's thread) means "a way/expedient to get out from a difficult situation". I tend to think the way of saying the OP points out just originates from the "means to connect things" sense which is intrinsic in the word "thread". This is just my hypothesis. —Gennaro Prota•Talk 15:24, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

holus bolus[edit]

I am trying to find the correct spelling for "holus bolus", as well as, the original language, and, the English translation. It seems to be a less popular phrase these days. 13:48, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Probably unrelated, but I can't stop thinkin hocus pocus.  freshofftheufoΓΛĿЌ  15:27, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm skeptical that this was intended to have any very definite meaning, but in Latin "holus" is a vegetable and "bolus" a throw, while in early modern English a "bolus" was a pill. AnonMoos 16:16, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
"bolus" is still a pill in medical circles. User:Zoe|(talk) 19:59, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Or a large dose of liquid medication given through an IV or nasogastric tube.... - Nunh-huh 07:18, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
What does it mean anyway? Jameswilson 22:27, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
When I want to know how to spell a word, I look it up in a dictionary. Mine says the word is spelled "holus-bolus", is first attested to in 1857, that its etymology is probably reduplication of "bolus", and that it means "all at once". - Nunh-huh 07:21, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
"holder-bolder" and "holderste-bolder" are phrases found in Flemish and Afrikaans. Both languages still use it, in a humorous sort of sense. The earliest reference I find is in 1880, 25 years before Afrikaans even became recognised as a language! It means something like "all bundled together" "head over heels" "a rushed tumbling together". The early reference, in a developing Dutch derived language, makes me think it must have corresponding phrases in Dutch or German, but it could even be English, or derived from a Scottish phrase. The English phrase I have not heard before, but if I did I would understand it as meaning something similar to the Flemish/Afrikaans, given Nunh-huh's explanation. I will see if I can find something in the library. --Seejyb 23:47, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
He he. "holder-bolder" reminds me of the alternative name for a brassiere, "over-shoulder boulder-holder". JackofOz 00:18, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Hence the German, BH? :-) Skittle 09:24, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Backwards story[edit]

What is the name for a story which begins with the ending, and then travels backwards in order to show how the events shown happened? smurrayinchester(User), (Talk) 14:25, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

You mean like Memento? The only term I can think of is "confusing". The article on Memento, though links to Reverse chronology. Angr (tc) 14:31, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
One of the Wayside stories was written backwards, with each paragraph following the one that should have come before it. Then it kind of loops back on itself. Black Carrot 02:35, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks! I was thinking of the music video for Coldplay's The Scientist, where Chris Martin lives a day backwards, ending/starting with a car accident. SMURRAY|IN|CHESTER 19:35, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Correct pronunciation[edit]

I've heard umami pronounced several ways. Who knows? --hydnjo talk 17:36, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

If you're Japanese, then /umami/. --KJ 17:50, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Not quite, Japanese "u" is unrounded: [ɯmami]. —Zero Gravitas 18:36, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Close back unrounded vowel says it isn't quite the same. --KJ 05:30, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Could you explain as "sounds like" or "rhymes with" -- thanks. --hydnjo talk 18:42, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Is this correct? --hydnjo talk 19:37, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

You may want to check out the article on the International Phonetic Alphabet. "Sounds like" and "rhymes with" isn't that helpful because English is pronounced differently in different parts of the world. That said, the wav file you linked two is roughly saying [juː.mɑ.mɪi]. The vowels would be promounced differently, and the opening sound is wrong. (If anything, "tsunami" would probably be the closest "rhymes with", assuming Japanese pronunciations).--Andrew c 23:27, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

If it helps at all, I've always heard it as 'oo-ma-mee', with a short 'a' like in cat, and the vowels fairly short ('oomammy'?). But this is in no way definitive or correct, as far as I know. Skittle 23:32, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Many people pronounce "cat" with the vowel [æ], which is not the same as [a] in most parts of the United States (in which I think most people perceive [a] phonemically as /ɑ/). Ardric47 23:51, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Damnit! Why can't the simple example be simple? Now I think about it, the stereotypical American accent in my head doesn't pronounce 'cat' with a short 'a'. In fact, almost with a diphthong. Skittle 09:21, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
In many methods of teaching literacy, [eɪ] is considered a "long a" and [æ] a "short a." I do not like that terminology at all from a linguistic stand point, but when teaching a person how to read, the instructor has to simplify names for vowels sounds. Explaining the sounds as "long a" and "short a" can be useful for teaching literacy since they are usually represented by the same grapheme, i.e. <<a>>.--El aprendelenguas 02:22, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks to all for your responses.  :-) --hydnjo talk 11:50, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
It might be too late but I prepared a soundbite of umami for you in various speeds (the latter half of them are natual) - try Ogg or MP3. Hope this helps. (the soundbite of is not umami(うまみ) but yumami(ゆまみ)...) - marsian 15:08, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

A word to describe...[edit]

Is there a word that is used to describe a word which describes itself. I cant think of any examples but say, for example:

the meaning of the word" elaplozaba" is simply "elaplozaba"

Heh, I know it sounds like a silly question but yes.

Thank you

self-referential? --hydnjo talk 21:09, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
The word pentasyllabic is self-descriptive because it means "having five syllables" and it has five syllables. I don't know what elaplozaba means (or even what language it is) so I don't know if you're talking about the same thing. —Keenan Pepper 21:18, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
It was a made up word they were using as a place-filler Skittle 09:18, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
How about autological. Also take a look at List of autological words. --hydnjo talk 22:08, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
I like the autology heteroradical (having mixed roots). smurrayinchester(Talk) 14:34, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Question: Word/phrase meaning "it proves itself"[edit]

I am trying to find a word/phrase that means something that proves itself... Such as the fact that such and such exists is proof enough of its right to exist. It's not syllogism, or Q.E.D. but something in that ballpark. Thank you for any help (Annie).

I don't understand what you mean. It's logically invalid (begging the question) to assume the thing you're trying to prove. "Right to exist" isn't a mathematical or logical concept. —Keenan Pepper 23:19, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Are you thinking along the lines of 'Raison d'etre'? Or tautological? Or something more akin to circular logic? Skittle 23:25, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Res ipsa loquitur? HenryFlower 23:29, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Although this is a specific real-life example, there are things called self-authenticating documents. Ardric47 23:40, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Ipso facto? Adam Bishop 01:56, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

  • Self-evident?--Jondel 02:24, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
I think ipso facto is what you're looking for; it means literally translated from Latin, "by the fact, itself" or "because of the fact itself". J. Finkelstein 02:29, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Ipso facto is an adverbial phrase (or something like that). I'm not sure that this is what we're after. Ipso facto is used to describe how something means what it means or how the mere existence of one fact leads immediately to another fact (eg. I am an Australian citizen, and ipso facto I am subject to Australian law). But it is not used to refer to something itself, in a pronominal or adjectival sense (eg. we never talk about "an ipso facto", or "an ipso facto expression"). I'm leaning towards Jondel's self-evident, or even obvious. JackofOz 10:36, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Can I use the word Solipsism (n.) in this way? (Annie)............"c'est le va sans dire"??hotclaws**==( 13:25, 24 May 2006 (UTC))

Mathematically one would say axiom / axiomatic. To what extent does that concept apply to your requirement? --Seejyb 20:12, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Self-illuminating ? Cela va sans dire .. mais cela va tellement mieux en le disant. (Goes without telling ... so much better to tell anyway).
Even G...d won't try to prove himself. .In today's world, either something is evident, either it's not. In maths, either is is an axiom inside a specific corpus, either it must be proven. --DLL 22:01, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

May 24[edit]

Pedometer lovers[edit]

(moved from Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities)

A pedometer or step counter is a device, usually portable and electronic, which counts each step a person makes.

So what are people who likes pedometers a lot called? Ohanian 00:25, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Pedometer fans. Or, to give an answer as close as possible to what you're hoping someone will say: pedometerphiles. So you're close to getting your punchline, but not close enough. --DavidGC 01:09, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
This should be in the Language section, but OED says the "pedo" in "pedometer" comes from the Latin prefix "ped-", meaning "foot." The "pedo" in "pedophile" comes from the Greek prefix "paido-", meaning "child." -- Mwalcoff 01:21, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
So it could mean a person who loves to measure children?schyler 01:42, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Extrapolate from "podiatrist." It would be, podimeterophile, while the foot fetishist might be a podiphile, and people very fond of certain sea creatures might be pseudopodiphiles. Geogre 02:43, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
A bit of the problem for the confusion lies in the annoying habit in American English of leaving out useful and necessary vowels. It would be muich more clear cut talking about pedometers and paedophiles. Grutness...wha? 03:14, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
I agree, Grutness. I assume your vowel restoration campaign has already started (or is "muich" an established Enzedism?)  :--) JackofOz 04:20, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
On the other hand, I don't think the American English language suffers much from being unable to find a single word to describe pedometer aficionados. --DavidGC 03:39, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Now if English had been more true to its Germanic roots, you could simply form "stepcounterlover" or similar. But ever since it fell head-over-heels in love with Latin and Greek, it seems it's been trying to forget its roots and family. :) Well I'm just going to say "schrittezählerfreund", damnit. ;) --BluePlatypus 06:47, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Count is Romance too, I'm afraid. It would have to be "steptellerlover". Angr (tc) 07:14, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

I knew it! Newspeak had a real-life counterpart! schyler 10:23, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Shouldn't a foot fetishist be a podophile?

Strange script[edit]

Which script is this, in which this Pali bible is written ? deeptrivia (talk) 04:15, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

So, burmese it is, then. Thanks! deeptrivia (talk) 13:36, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes. The language is Pāli, but the alphabet (or strictly abugida) is the Burmese one rather than Devanāgarī (which is what Pāli is more usually written in). Angr (tc) 14:34, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

10,000 year period[edit]

The following are well known: 10 years = 1 decade, 100 years = 1 century, 1000 years = 1 millenium. Does anyone know if there is a name for a 10,000 year period? (if not, lets invent one) Thanks

Wànsuì, manse, banzai. See ten thousand years. Notinasnaid 15:26, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
The Latinate word would be decamillennium, although I've never seen it used. —Keenan Pepper 20:02, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
A myriad is 10 000 of anything, in Greek. Adam Bishop 05:06, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
I'll take two. --DLL 12:16, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

How about biitbibibiidithexsolloop or bi'tbibibi'dithexsol'oop ;-)
Which transalted from Sigsumedsi(Portal) as '2710 star cycles'?
10,000(hexdecmial) 65536(decimal) star cycles would be hexitititsol'oop BTW
Hmm maybe hexititita in english for 10,000 years?
ShakespeareFan00 14:04, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Next time Shakespeare, try breaking the pills in half. Loomis51 02:35, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Arabic transliteration[edit]

I am making a map of Sudan in the SVG format. The map I'm using as a base (Image:Sudan political map 2000.jpg) uses a system of Arabic transliteration that includes the characters H with cedilla (Ḩ), D with cedilla (Ḑ), and T with cedilla (Ţ). None of these characters show up properly when the SVG is uploaded to Wikipedia, probably because the Wikimedia servers don't have fonts installed that include these characters. I could, of course, disregard the cedillas, but I want to be as accurate as possible. The Encyclopædia Britannica seems to use a dot under the letters instead of a cedilla, but the dotted versions don't work either. Is there another recommended system of transliteration for AL BAḨR AL AḨMAR, AL QAḐĀRIF, and AL KHARŢŪM? —Bkell 19:36, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

I put Template:Unicode around your uses of those characters. It helps the software select appropriate fonts...I have absolutely no idea whether this is applicable to your image, though. Ardric47 02:11, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Oh, thanks. Unfortunately I can't do something like that in an SVG image. —Bkell (talk) 02:15, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

There are quite a few transcription systems for Arabic, but almost all of them that properly distinguish between separate Arabic letters use diacritic combinations which are not in ISO-8859-1, so if you can't use characters outside of ISO-8859-1, then switching transcription systems won't really help. The dots are more common than the cedillas in most fields -- in this case, I would just manually position the dots underneath the letters using an ordinary non-diacritic period or stop character. AnonMoos 02:41, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Or you could just translate them -- al-Baħr al-Aħmar is Arabic for "red sea", Shamal Darfur is "north Darfur", Gharb Darfur is "west Darfur", Janub Darfur is "south Darfur", ash-Shamaliyya is "North (region)" etc. ... AnonMoos 02:44, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Some characters outside of ISO-8859-1 work just fine, such as Ā and Ū; see Image:Bkell-test.svg, for example. I've considered using the translations of the names of the states, too, but then the problem would surely arise again in the names of some cities. —Bkell (talk) 03:05, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
My understanding is that Wikipedia can display them, but it is a matter of having the right fonts on your machine to see them. For example, the table in Arabic transliteration: at my computer at home I see all the letters nicely because I have fonts that can show them, but here at work I see squares for a lot of the letters. --Cam 19:37, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
We're talking about the built-in SVG (vector) to PNG rasterizer, not multilingual HTML (which is displayed differently by different browsers). AnonMoos 19:51, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

This problem is really annoying. I had a teacher who would type out the velearized H, D, S, and T in capitalized form and the nonvelearized ones in lowercase form. I prefer the dots, but... You could just write it out in a made up transliteration that would be easy to follow for those who are unfamiliar with Arabic transliterations, and in this case you would omit the distinction. You would then make up for this by supplying the IPA version alongside it. -LambaJan 14:07, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Can you add something to your slam poetry page?[edit]

I was pleased to find that on your slam poetry entry there was Regie Gibson, a slam poet. He came to our school and we all loved him very much. I was wondering if you could find out a little more about him and post it on this site. I think that he would appreciate this very very much. He has a very kind soul and loves kids. This would mean a lot to him. Regie taught our classes a lot including, slam poetry, how to make your own poems, the sound of language, the rythm in language and many others. Thank you very much.

Be bold : gather data and add them to the page, it's easy. No personal souvenirs please. --DLL 21:54, 25 May 2006 (UTC)


In your opinion, what is the easiest, least confusing, and successful method of teaching for a student learning English as a second language when the student and the teacher share a common language by which to communicate? If you do not have the name of the method, please mention some of the techniques, such as using many pictures to represent words. Thank you.--El aprendelenguas 21:12, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Cohabitation. If that's not an option, you would need to specify (at least) whether they are operating in an English-speaking country, and whether we're talking about classes or one-on-one tutorials. HenryFlower 21:17, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Emmersion. The teacher should not use the other language as a crutch. --Nelson Ricardo 02:28, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Is that an electronic version of immersion ? :-) StuRat 22:39, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the feedback so far. To clarify further, I am looking for a method to teach English as a second language to a Spanish-speaker in the United States. Therefore, the student has already been emmersed in an English-speaking environment. I have been instructed to use the Laubach Method to English as a teaching basis, but I can include other teaching methods as well to better cover the required material. I speak Spanish, but the Laubach method is designed enable a instructor to teach a student English with no means by which to communicate. For example, the Laubach method says to use universal gestures for "listen" and "repeat." Is it okay for me to use Spanish when I am teaching the student, at least for these gestures? How about to explain English grammar? To provide a definition for English words that are unfamilar to the student?--El aprendelenguas 01:43, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

It certainly won't do any harm to occasionally use Spanish. Having said that, the reason we generally try to avoid using the L1 is that there's a lot of temptation to overuse it. Explaining grammar points is one case where L1 use makes it easier for lower-level learners (although intermediate and higher learners should be capable of understanding explanations in English). It's generally best to explain words with examples rather than definitions- they are easier to remember, and definitions are hard to formulate accurately. For commonly used instructions, neither L1 nor gestures are going to help the student learn; I'd suggest that the words you use most frequently in language instruction are precisely those ones it's best to give in English. If possible, you should also encourage the student to make the most of being in an English-speaking environment- give him some kind of homework tasks which make him interact with English-speakers. HenryFlower 18:58, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Thank you, Henry. Your response will be a big help to me.--El aprendelenguas 22:17, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Theory for language syntax determining thought patterns[edit]

A friend of mine studying language in France mentioned a theory to me that holds that the syntax of a language plays a role in determing the thinking patterns of those who grow up with that language as their primary language. For example, if your language has no word for numbers higher than 100, you will likely have difficulty conceptualizing large numbers of things. I remember this theory from my university studies too, but have completely forgotten the name of the person who originally proposed it. However, I'm certain that it's not who my friend is studying, as that person only wrote his thesis about 50 years ago, and I think the theory is older than that. Can anyone offer any leads as to who originated this theory? I would run a search for the name of the theory, but I've forgotten that as well. Thx. --DavidGC 23:40, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

It might be related to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. —Bkell (talk) 23:44, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
That's it exactly! I remembered the name as soon as I read it... annoying how that works. :) Thanks for your help! --DavidGC 23:49, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Another name for this theory is "total bollocks". Angr (tc) 11:12, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes, because the correlation between language and genes is clearly strong. --DLL 21:51, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

May 25[edit]

Cursing at buddies[edit]

I've noticed some American english and Mexican/American Spanish speakers use swear words as terms of endearment between friends (i.e. ¿Qué pasa güey? or 'Tsup, bitch?). Do any other languages do this? I'm guessing it's cultural, but I'd be interested to know if such a thing exists in any other european or asian languages.-- The ikiroid  03:00, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

In Japan, the closer people are, the more offensive the pronoun they use when referring to each other, though it's probably not as common as it is in English. It's difficult to classify them as "swear words" because they have no real literal meaning, but the effect of the words (for example, omae, koitsu, konoyarō) is identical.  freshofftheufoΓΛĿЌ  06:05, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
a'Strayin, the native language of Australia, often encompasses swear words as terms of endearment between friends. For example "How ahh ya today ya f&*cking badger?" or "how's it goin', boxhead?". --AQjosh 13:54, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, this also happens in the Spanish from Spain (among males mainly), provided it's an informal circumstance, there's enough confidence between the friends and a certain intonation/body language is used. --RiseRover|talk 17:51, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Same in Thai, although for females as well as males. HenryFlower 18:46, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

My friends don't, but my mum's friends do. We're Korean. --KJ 01:33, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

In the Midlands of England, "Cock" is used a lot (see #6).
Slumgum | yap | stalk | 01:43, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

I've even heard Spanish women address each other as "coño" (ie the C-word). Jameswilson 22:51, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

What word describes someone who can't stand the sight of blood and gore?[edit]

What word do you use to describe someone who can't stand the sight of blood and gore? The only one I can think of is "squeamish". Do you know of another (and perhaps better) one? -- 04:33, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

  • If you want to sound all psychological, you can say "hemophobia", meaning the fear of blood. But "squeamish" is certainly better for most purposes.--Pharos 07:19, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

An Utopia[edit]

I came across this while writing an essay. Usually, all words that begin with a vowel are preceeded by "an" instead of "a". However I noticed I didn't write this in the sentance "How do we achieve these goals of a utopian future". Why don't I write "an utopia" - it doesn't sound right, I know, but why is it an exception to the rule? What other exceptions are there? --DanielBC 06:53, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

That's not really a vowel, it's the consonant Y. Adam Bishop 06:58, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
"An" is used with words beginning in a vowel sound, not merely spelled with an initial vowel letter. As Adam Bishop noted, it's a consonant, the palatal approximant, [j] in IPA. —Zero Gravitas 07:51, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
See a, an for more information. —Bkell (talk) 08:38, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
The same being true for when a word begins with a consonant but sounds like a vowel, thus is preceded by "an", as seen in "An historical event". Although apparently "a historical event" is acceptable too.
"A historical event" is correct in the U.S., since we pronounce the "h". --Nelson Ricardo 14:08, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
"Historical" is weird one. If someone asked me how I pronounce it, I'd probably include the h. However, when actually using it in conversation, I think I skip it. I think that may be true of a lot of 'h's, although they're not always completely inaudible. I think that's why it's so hard to decide, and neither 'a' nor 'an' sounds quite right (to me). Skittle 14:41, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't think the H in honor is ever pronounced by anybody, so honor is usually my example word: An honor.Bkell (talk) 18:18, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
The choice of indefinate article depends on your pronunciation. In some English dialects, "an 'orse" is perfectly valid, but for non-native speakers, "a horse" would be more appropriate. --vibo56 20:18, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
That iz definately rite. :--) JackofOz 02:24, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Several "u-" words are the same way, as long as they begin with a y sound, like a uterus or a usurper. - Draeco 18:33, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

The "an historical" phenomenon developed in dialects of English in which initial /h/ was dropped in unstressed syllables, so "historical" was actually pronounced "istorical" and thus warranted an an. Some people mistook that for a rule saying "use an before /h/," but in those dialects no one ever said "an history book." In American English it's mainly an overcorrection by people who are insecure about whether their princiation sounds high-class enough. · rodii · 21:07, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Encourage to speak in English[edit]

What is the most effective way to encourage my fellow students to speak in English. I live in the Philipines and English is the second language here. thanks.

Are you Filipino? There is peer pressure to not speak English. But I don't know if this normal. (I imagine in France, they don't want to speak English even if they could )Sometimes you get misinterpreted as being pretentious or elitist despite the fact that English is one of the most spoken languages. Speaking English is construed as pretending to be 'rich'. The truth is almost everyone , even waiters, jeepney drives, etc can (but won't )speak English. They (we) get conscious. It is only for the media, TV , government, church, school, etc.--Jondel 07:51, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Encouragement will almost never work. If you’re a teacher, the most you could probably do is expect that they talk to you in English in classroom situations. It might get most of them pissed, but it works, and they’ll probably respect you for that. Trying to get a Pinoy, even one who is an Anglophone, to speak English colloquially among his schoolmates (or in university) is hopeless. Going at it alone (i.e. speaking English regardless of what language they respond to you in) is also not recommended (unless you’re a woman, it seems, then it’s okay; but you’ll appear snooty and unapproachable).
But I guess the key here is to expect, and not merely encourage.
Why should they speak English? As Filipinos, it is only right that they should speak in Tagalog, much as Americans should speak English. --Nelson Ricardo 14:06, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Preference. Many, but definitely a tiny minority of, Filipino families are Anglophone, and whole communities of these exist throughout the country (or at least in the Manila metropolitan area).
If it is in an English class, it's up to the teacher, not a student, to figure out how to encourage English use in class. I tried the old coffee-can trick a couple of times (coin in the can for every time you speak Spanish, Catalan, whatever--money to be spent on a party in the end).
If you want English conversation practice, you are better finding a group that does this kind of thing, or starting one yourself. An English lunch group, or something like that. But I don't think it's too much to say that it is a unversal desire for people to speak their native language preferably to other native language speakers. French, Tagalog, or English as the case may be. mnewmanqc
Or participate more in media, TV , government, church, school, etc.(?)--Jondel 02:29, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

There was a Malaysian(they look like filipinos),where I studied who was scolded(in (Tagalog)) in the library for speaking in English. The librarian apologized after finding out his nationality. There are Anglophone southeast asians, balikbayans(returnees from other countries),chinese etc who speak English. However, they are made to feel ashamed for speaking English and 'pretending to be rich'. Tagalog is to be highly esteemed. But a person shouldn't feel ashamed to speak English. Here in Tokyo , many filipinos are so proud of their English ability specially when they see non-Anglophones struggling to communicate in English.--Jondel 02:29, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Man, that’s pretty extreme. I suppose that’s what many Filipinos mean when they say they feel an aversion towards being identified as Pinoys anywhere outside the Philippines. I would guess that they’re made to feel the pressure to conform once the local overseas Pinoy group finds them out.
As for “pretending to be rich,” well, it is true that many Filipinos speak English among themselves only to impress, like the language was some sort of status symbol, and one which [sadly] they couldn’t wield properly, at that. Of course people living in the Philippines reading this know what I mean.

What is the name for the backside of a sunset[edit]

Like when you're looking to the East as the sun is setting, and it's all different colors and a different sky than the one at sunset. Whats that Called?

Don't know if this is the correct word for "the back of a sunset", but... if you see suns rays around the sun at sunset, they're known as crepuscular rays. On rare occasions, you can see them appear to converge on the side of the sky directly opposite the sun. When you see that, they're called anti-crepuscular rays. I'd say that, by extension, you'd be looking at the anti-crepuscular view of the sky. Grutness...wha? 12:12, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

I submitted your question to The Stanford Solar Center yearly this morning, and received their reply about 2:30 PM (pacific).

According to The Stanford Solar Center, the other side, or "backside" of the sunset is called the "far-side". If you want to explore the science of looking at "the other side", or far-side, of the sun, you can look at;


Katiebugggg13 04:28, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Riding shotgun[edit]

I seem to recall hearing this expression when I was younger - does anyone know what it means? — QuantumEleven 08:18, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

It means you're in the front passenger seat of a vehicle. —Bkell (talk) 08:32, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
You can also call shotgun, which is to stake a claim to the front passenger seat (if a group of friends is going somewhere in a car, for example). —Bkell (talk) 08:33, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase first meant acting as an (armed) guard in the seat next to the driver of a vehicle. —Bkell (talk) 08:36, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
We even have an article on it: Calling shotgun WP 09:37, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Wow, the things you find on Wikipedia - thanks everyone! — QuantumEleven 09:25, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Think back to the days when stage coaches played a important role in transporting people, mail, goods, and currency, across the U.S.. It was necessary to employ drivers and security. The person who sat up front with the driver, was commonly armed with a shotgun. He wasn't driving, he was "riding shotgun".

Katiebugggg13 04:47, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

El Filibusterismo, or El filibusterismo?[edit]

What is the correct capitalization of titles of novels in Spanish? I’ve always been told that only the first letter of the title (excluding names of places, people, etc.) is capitalized, but then I’m not really sure as I’ve never had to write a book report in Spanish.

According to this website in formal writing you only capitalize the first letter and any proper nouns, so El filibusterismo would be correct. --Think Fast 13:09, 25 May 2006 (UTC)


Many of the wikipedia articles on biology use latin terms. One common usage is

The Viperinae is a subfamily of venomous snakes commonly known as true vipers, although the term viperines is more specific and distinguishes them from the larger viperid family.

I understand that the Viperinae could be treated as a collective noun or as a class like how one would use birds. I imagine that the correct usage should be the

The Viperinae are a subfamily of venomous snakes commonly known as true vipers<snip>

Can someone confirm the correct usage. Shyamal 11:44, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

There are a few differences between US and British English when it comes to the agreement in number between verbs and their subjects (British English is more flexible). However, in this case, although Viperinae is a Latin plural, it signifies a unitary sub-family. Also, note that, when the verb be is used thus, the sentence is an equation: Viperinae is on one side, and the singular noun subfamily is on the other. — Gareth Hughes 12:14, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't write biology articles, but I would probably omit the definite article, writing "Viperinae is a subfamily of venomous snakes…". Even though I'm from the United States, "the Viperinae" sounds too plural to use is. If I omit the definite article, then Viperinae sounds like just a Latin name for the subfamily, rather than a name for all the animals within the subfamily. —Bkell (talk) 18:23, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Help with some Latin?[edit]

Got two phrases that I would like to render in Latin. I haven't taken it in uh, a decade so its a little rusty.

1. "I came, I saw, I snooped". I can't find a good synonym for snoop in the Latin dictionaries online, so right now I've just got "vini, vidi, ..."

2. "They shall not hide". Would "non abscondobunt" work?

Thanks! Namlemez 23:57, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

with 1, speculari means "to spy". I know it spoils the scan, but would that do? Grutness...wha? 01:52, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Isn't it "veni, vidi..."?--El aprendelenguas 02:00, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
It is "veni", yes, and if you want to use "speculari", it would be "speculatus sum" because it is deponent. For "they shall not hide", if you want to use "abscondere", it is third declension, so it would be "non abscondent". Adam Bishop 02:15, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Couldn't you also use celare for to hide? And if so, would it be "non celabunt"? СПУТНИКССС Р 02:39, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Sure, that would be celabunt. You could use condent too (which is basically abscondent without the abs-prefix, but it also means a lot of other things that way). Also, you should probably specify what they are not going to be hiding - presumably themselves, so "non se abscondent/celabunt". (But there is probably another verb for hiding that doesn't need an object, I don't know.) Adam Bishop 02:49, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
It is something of a parody of the motto of L'Osservatore_Romano, so I wanted to avoid the object. Adam, do you know of another synonym for snoop that isn't deponent? Namlemez 16:26, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

While everyone's translating things into Latin here... A few months ago I wondered how to say "which implies" in Latin, as in "We know that 3x = 6, which implies that x = 2." —Bkell (talk) 02:57, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

I suppose that would literally be "quod implicit" (like maybe "scimus 3x esse 6, quod implicit x esse 2") but there is probably a neater way of rendering that whole sentence into better Latin :) Adam Bishop 03:40, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Actually the reason I ask is because I thought it would be nice to have an abbreviation for it, like q.v. for which see, or i.e. for that is. So if I were to use it, it would be in scribbling math notes, something like "3x=6, q.i. x=2". Often mathematicians will use a double right-pointing arrow for this (3x=6 ⇒ x=2), but when one implication implies another things start to get messy: (xy=6 ⇒ x=2) ⇒ (yz=18 ⇒ z=6). So I want to drop the middle double arrow completely and just write xy=6 ⇒ x=2, q.i. yz=18 ⇒ z=6. —Bkell (talk) 04:05, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
They also (to me at least) seem to have slightly different meanings: the double arrow means "if the first thing is true, then the second thing is true", whereas q.i. would mean "we know the first thing is true, and therefore the second thing is true". I guess if I were normal I would just use three dots (∴), which mean "therefore". Oh well. —Bkell (talk) 04:07, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Well I have no idea about that...that's why I hang out here and not on the Mathematics desk...Adam Bishop 04:54, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, sorry about that. I guess all I wanted was q.i. Thanks for your help. —Bkell (talk) 05:29, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
ergo. -lethe talk + 15:51, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

It is veni, vidi, vinci (I won)—Argentino (talk/cont.) 17:47, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

If you're still talking about what Julius Caesar said about Britain (I conquered), that's "vici", not "vinci". Leonardo da V came along 1500 years later. If you're talking about Dan Brown's legal battle, you may well be right. If you're talking about something else, I have no idea what you're talking about. :--) JackofOz 00:08, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
veni, vidi, circumspexi: has a sort of rhythm? While not quite snoopy, the English reader may get the idea of looking cautiously / discreetly / with circumspection. --Seejyb 18:19, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
excussum sunt: Something like they will be papparazzied, reversing the "not/non"? Umm, may weaken the parody. --Seejyb 18:54, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

May 26[edit]

i would like to add a new word to the world[edit]

i would greatly enjoy adding this word to the english language...

narcissexual - one who exhibits sexual attraction to his or her self.

why is this not a word? why is this not a prodominant insult? i will never know the answer to this question. but maybe, with a little help, it will become one.

- tyler wilson

You're a bit late - Google turns up a few results for your 'new' word already. Besides, isn't this covered by autoerotic or autosexual already? --Ouro 07:44, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes, IMO the correct word here is autosexualism. Narcissism (or narcissistic personality disorder) refers to a very different psychological condition, and attempting to converge narcissism with sexualism is not as accurate for what you are describing as autosexualism. --DavidGC 04:50, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

please wikisign your comments, not just your name, Tyler! MαRΤiαΠMoon-Mdf-2005.jpgĿostiηSPΛĊΞ2005-1103mars-full.jpg 17:21, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
If you're interested in words, perhaps you'd be more interested in the Wiktionary project. [PS: Martian, for an unlogged in user, typing the name is far preferable to getting the IP address you'd get by using four tildes. And if everyone used four tildes to produce a signature like yours, this page would become extremely ugly extremely soon. Just a thought to consider]. — Asbestos | Talk (RFC) 19:20, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
User anonymous
The practical definition of "narcissexual" is not "autosexual" but "someone who is erotically attracted to someone else based on either the two people seeming very much alike to the first person or the second person seeming to the first person like an idealized version of the first person." In either case, the attraction comes out of emotionally relating to another part of oneself instead of relating to a separate entity altogether. Very few narcissists are actually narcissexual as this would require having the rare form of idealized narcissism in which all people are seen as part of the same self. It's very important here not to confuse healthy narcissism with unhealthy narcissism. Narcissexuality only applies to healthy narcissism. The sexual attraction would only develop with those who are seen to be reflecting the original self particularly well. It's very easy to confuse masturbation, homosexuality and autosexuality with narcissexuality but there are clear distinctions. For a narcissexual, physical appearance is still the initial attractor (the "other" looking like the self) but equally relatable intellect and emotionality are also necessary for profound narcissexual attraction. Narcissexuals tend to work hard to become bodybuilders themselves and are emotionally excited by meeting what they see as idealized versions of themselves, i.e., more physically developed versions of themselves. Again, this attraction through idealization tends to wane if the two people get to meet in person and the first sees that the intellect and emotionality of the "other" is not particularly reflective of the first self in any exceptional way at all, much less in an idealizable way. For this reason, narcissexuals can be sexually titillated by huge bodybuilders from a distance but to develop an actually profound sexual relationship would most likely first require intellectual/emotional mutual identity and then the two people working together to look more like each other while also developing their bodies to extreme proportions together. The more the two look alike, the stronger the attraction will become if there is also strong attraction on the intellectual and emotional levels. All narcissexuals would love to be identical twins or identical triplets, etc. because all these connections and transformations would then be so much easier to make. Some have speculated that all human clones of the same "parent" brought up together would be narcissexuals but I doubt that generalization myself. Narcissexuality requires a rare genetic predisposition and cloning alone is not enough to set that up. As you might suspect, narcissexuals have tended to not to ever find real compatibility, both because the phenomenon of narcissexuality is basically unknown and also because narcissexuality has remained relatively quite rare. Also, getting two narcissexuals together does not necessarily lead to sexual attraction by either because they still have to seem enough like each other for the narcissexuality to be evoked. Even in a convention of a thousand narcissexuals where everyone met everyone else, it could be that none would develop sexual attraction for any of the others because profound narcissexual attraction requires rather extreme compatibility demands. Of course, as with heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, etc., narcissexuals also have the right and need to find others of their kind. Even autosexuals and asexuals have needs to find others who understand and with whom to develop profound intimacy. As I hope you know, profound intimacy does not have to involve anything physical at all. For further discussion of actual narcissexuality, write to

Irish slang[edit]

What does the phrase "fake muppet" mean please?

maybe you could try contacting an Irish wikipedian to answer your question. Go to an Irish talk page or something, or Irish language talkpage, etc. Also, please sign your comments! Use the signiature button on an editing page, if you have the java toolbar enabled. Like this: MαRΤiαΠMoon-Mdf-2005.jpgĿostiηSPΛĊΞ2005-1103mars-full.jpg 17:17, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

My, that's a... colourful signature. I'm not sure I prefer it to no signature at all. -- 01:51, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
It's painfully unreadable -- my eyes keep trying to read that dark blue on black and start to ache within seconds. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 17:37, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
and to think that people complained about my sig when it looked like this :(. To answer the original question with a guess, "muppet" is British and irish slang for an idiot, especially someone who speaks without thinking. Could it mean "pretend to be an idiot"? What's the context? Grutness...wha? 00:43, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
  • 'Muppet' in Irish slang means a dimwit or moron. I've never heard the variant 'fake muppet' before, though. --Kwekubo 00:25, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

May 27[edit]

as well[edit]

Seeing as well (for also) at the beginning of a sentence makes me shiver. Can this usage be justified? --Halcatalyst 00:47, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

I think the Brits use it. It looks wrong to my American eyes. --Nelson Ricardo 03:05, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
I am British (Scottish) and I can see "as well" being used at the start of a sentence, but not "also". An example being "As well as being [attribute a] the object is also [attribute b]" or something similar. I may be entirely wrong but that is my 2 pence.
Actually, that usage is okay in the States. Something like the following would not be: "John is very intelligent. As well, he is wealthy." "As well as" is not the same as "as well" on its own. --Nelson Ricardo 15:01, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
"As well, he is wealthy" is certainly not acceptable in British English. HenryFlower 15:07, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
To my ears, "He is also wealthy" sounds much better.
Agreed that Also to begin a sentence is awkward usage, though I suppose in some circumstances it provides emphasis. John is very intelligent. Also, he's a jerk compared to John is bery intelligent, but he's a jerk. The also in place of but conveys irony. --Halcatalyst 17:56, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Here's an example of what I don't like: John is a master angler. As well, he enjoys hiking and camping. I don't know that I'd call it improper usage, because people who ought to know better use it, but as I said it doesn't seem right. I prefer He also enjoys hunting and fishing or He enjoys hunting and fishing as well. I guess my problem with the usage is that it puts too much emphasis on what is really only the equivalent of a transitional connective. As if the person wanted to say, John is a master angler. AS WELL, he enjoys hunting and camping. --Halcatalyst 18:05, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

I've seen a lot of transition words begin a sentence, such as in addition, moreover, nevertheless, however, thus, therefore, hence, but they don't sound as bad as as well at the beginning. Microsoft Word's grammar check explains, "Although sentences beginning with 'also,' 'too,' 'so,' or 'though' may be used informally, use the suggested replacement for a more formal or traditional tone." For also and too, it suggests in addition. Unfortunately, it doesn't do anything when as well introduces a sentence, but at least in my opinion, as well is in a group with words like too and though that sound better in the middle or end of a clause.--El aprendelenguas 21:56, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

The use of "As well" with a comma at the beginning of a sentence is not used in American English but is very common in Canadian English for some reason. The article Richardson family murders contains a sentence starting with "As well." The contributor was User:Yank4323. The editor must want people to think he or she is American, since it's technically illegal for Canadians to write what he did on the Internet. But the person's language belies his or her nationality. -- Mwalcoff 03:38, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

"Goodbye but not farewell" or "Farewell but not goodbye"?[edit]

Which of the two titular phrases is the one commonly used by someone experiencing a temporary departure? Google searches do not seem to provide me with the answer and it is proving confusing. Help would be much appreciated. --WarpObscura 04:22, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

The latter. The former is equivalent to "goodbye and drop dead". The sentiment you want is presumably "Fare (do) well, and see you later", not "goodbye and good riddance". - Nunh-huh 05:22, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Did you use quotes in your Google searches? "Farewell but not goodbye" yields 11,700 results while "goodbye but not farewell" yields only 122. Quotes are crucial if you need the words in a certain order. —Keenan Pepper 06:54, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Why give one good wish, then negate another? It does seem strange that one first wishes another a good journey, but then withdraws the wish for God's going along, so to speak; or that one says: "God-be-with-you but don't have a good trip". It seems as if the second part of this ill conceived phrase (which ever way round one constructs it) would be better expressed as "auf wiedersehen", "until we meet again", "till then", "seeja (again)", "'til next time", and so on... In which case it does not matter which wish/blessing one uses initially: "Goodbye / godspeed / farewell, see you again (or eq)" seems to be what is meant. In my country native English speakers still use the phrase "God be with you" as a parting wish, and it is not looked upon as archaic. --Seejyb 11:05, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
The etymology of the parts does not say much about the meaning of a phrase. In ordinary usage, the phrase would not be used. As a kind of stylized usage, you'd have to see how it's actually used. In fact, in the US, at least, you don't hear good bye very much despite what people think. The parting phrase is usually bye see you or good night. mnewman
Ah, sorry about the etymology bit. I shall note your opening sentence and quote it when I am stuck for explanations of phrases. So, what does bye, see you or good night mean, in ordinary use, without reference to etymology? And how often one does hear "goodbye" in the US, in fact - 10%, 36% or what. Do we know, for the whole US, what the figure is? And does that ordinary usage differ between say Texas and Alaska? In my country a common greeting is "I see you, my brother", the reply being "and I see you" - all in English --Seejyb 22:38, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
At the risk of planting a truly noxious earworm, ISTR the lyrics of "Blue Spanish eyes" also having some line about "this is just farewell but not goodbye". Grutness...wha? 00:46, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Thank you everyone for your assistance in this matter. It has been most helpful.
@Keenan Pepper: Well, I did do that, but I was looking for definitions and could not find them. Idiom dictionaries did not help either. --WarpObscura 02:17, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Okay, this is mostly OR... Goodbye has the deeper meaning of 'goodbye (permanently)', at least for some people. For example, older modern books (such as Mary Poppins) used to play on the difference between 'Goodbye' and 'Au revoir', the latter suggesting a return ('See you later') and the former not. 'Farewell' is simply wishing someone well on their journey; it doesn't necessarily mean you won't see them again, which 'goodbye' can mean. However, in practical terms thy are used with the same meaning. When I hear the phrase 'Farewell and not goodbye', I automatically translate the mini-meanings of these words into 'I wish you well, but refuse to concede that I am actually saying goodbye to you because I will miss you too much.' . It possibly, in context, may mean that the person will 'be with you always' (ie, die), or promise to return, or 'always be in your heart', or whatever. Hope this helps. Skittle 00:01, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
Ah, an interesting view on the matter. I shall take a deeper look at your perspective. It could prove enlightening. Though there is a question I must raise: What would you see "Goodbye and not farewell" as meaning? --WarpObscura 03:06, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
I would see that as something spoken by a cheesy villain to the hero as they're about to vanquish them :-) Basically, goodbye without the well-wishing, even though goodbye etymologically may include well-wishing. I would also expect to encounter it less often than 'farewell and not goodbye'.Skittle 12:27, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Non-use of IPA in articles and splitting articles[edit]

I have noticed that in the New York-New Jersey English article, people are constantly adding impressionistic dictionaryesque pronunciations such as the following incomprehensible (to me) case "House" is pronounced "huose," much as in today's Cape Breton accent, stressing the "u." When I know what they mean, I switch things like this to IPA, but I'm not sure what to do in this case. I am not familiar enough with the speech in question and I can only speculate what the person meant. Should it just be cut on the theory that if someone has no idea how to write it in IPA, they are probably just operating on unreliable hunches?

Referring to the same article, it seems to me that NY and NJ should be entirely different articles. The first refers to NYC dialect, which is spoken mainly by European Americans in the NYC dialect region ranging from extreme NW Jersey to the middle of Long Island. The second refers to all the dialects spoken in the state of New Jersey, of which NYC dialect is only one. I'm not immersed enough in the ways of the Wikipedia to do anything about it, but I am worried that the matter will only get worse, if for example, people start adding upstate NY speech, which is entirely different again. Anyone who's an admin can help? mnewman

I wouldn't say that the person's lack of knowledge of IPA means that the person doesn't know what he or she is talking about. There are millions of people who know what a New York City accent sounds like, but few of them know IPA. On the other hand, the excerpt you provide is quite ridiculous. I prefer non-IPA pronunciation guides when the result is clear, but I have no idea how "huose" would be pronounced, nor how Cape Breton people say "house." I would cut it for the time being and discuss it on the article's talk page. -- Mwalcoff 03:35, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
You could put the {{Cleanup-ipa}} template on the article and/or talk pages to requeset help. --KJ 16:52, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
I'll put the {{Cleanup-ipa}} on, but I doubt it would do any good. I have tried the talk pages. That's no help. As for Mwalcoff's comment. I don't think it's as simple as "knowing what it sounds like." A lot of people know what a lion looks like, but they don't have expertise to write anything about it on an encyclopedia. If you don't have the expertise, then you create the kind of confusions and spread innaccuracies that have appeared over and over again on the NY-NJ page (including the person who started by putting them on the same page). You don't have to be a sociolinguist, but if you just put up what sounds right to you without bothering to research, you're not providing useful information. mnewman
I put it at the top of New York-New Jersey English, since there are quite a few places that need to be revised. BTW, it seems cleanup request templates go on article pages, not talk pages. --KJ 01:55, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Boly: Icelandic slang?[edit]

When I was a child my parents used to say boly (IPA [ˈboʊli]) instead of bed, for example, time for boly. My grandmother is from Iceland and speaks better Icelandic than English, so that's probably what language it's from, but I haven't been able to find it in an Icelandic dictionary. I guess it's also possible it's Hungarian, from the other side of my family. Anyone know where this word comes from? Any clues would be appreciated. —Keenan Pepper 07:18, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Knowing a bit of both those languages, it's not a word for bed I know of in either. The generic Scandinavian word is "sæng/säng/seng", and Hungarian is "ágy", neither of which sound like 'boly' at all. It could of course be a colloquialism, but in Icelandic "boli" means "bull", so it doesn't seem so likely to me it'd be an Icelandic slang word. --BluePlatypus 20:01, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Assuming the Icelandic connection is correct it is almost surely a corruption of ból (IPA [ˈpoʊl]) or bólið (IPA [ˈpoʊlɪð]) meaning bed and the bed respectively. I should note that rúm is the most common word for bed in Icelandic (sæng in Icelandic means duvet, unlike the mainland north germanic languages). The word ból is not a slang, but it has a slightly different flavour from rúm but I would have difficulty explaining the difference, "I have bought a bed" would always use rúm for the bed but "I am going to bed and read a book" might use ból for the bed, although it might just as well use rúm for the bed again. Stefán Ingi 14:04, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Wow, thanks! —Keenan Pepper 00:43, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Hebrew alphabet template[edit]

Content of this section transfered to Category talk:User alef.


Can anyone explain why or what causes people to have different regional accents depending on where they come from.

Think about it. How do you learn to speak? First from your parents, and then from other people you interact with. If they all pronounce some word a certain way, you're going to pronounce it that way too, because you've never heard it pronounced any other way. —Keenan Pepper 21:17, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Of course, Keenan moves the question about why you speak differently from your neighbor to a question about why your parents speak differently from their neighbors, which doesn't really answer why the difference exists. Visit the article sound change, which says

Nobody knows why, but all languages vary from place to place and time to time. Writing does not keep languages from changing. This would be true if we learnt languages from reading books. We do not. We learn our native tongue by imitating the speakers in our environment. Only dead languages are immune to sound change. Perhaps the best explanation is to note that everything changes, and language is one part of everything.

which sounds like a load of original research hooey to me. Well, I'm sure no one theory can account for all sound changes, and evolutionary linguistics doesn't have a well-established micromodel. But surely there are theories as for why languages change. One obvious stimulus that has been observed many times is juxtaposition of disparate languages due to migration. Thus English as spoken in India is quite different from English in the US due to the presence of other Indian languages. -lethe talk + 21:37, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
I think it's pretty simple, at least the basic concept. You don't speak to your friends the way you speak to your mother, do you? And within your group of friends you probably have some expressions and even pronunciations which are unique to your group, or at least more common among them. This is because those kinds of little unique things serve psychologically to strengthen the group. People naturally imitate their friends. So that's how dialects and even entire languages basically get started, just on a bigger scale. I myself switch between several different accents and dialects completely depending on whom I'm talking to. Most people who've moved around discover the same thing. --BluePlatypus 21:55, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
I think the explanation from sound change seems reasonable. To the original poster: You might want to check out historical linguistics. Language change does not occur for a reason, although sometimes the changes can be explained as being part of a natural tendency. (Front vowels causing umlauting, for instance.) --KJ 17:48, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Language change is not universal, so change may or may not spread. One factor contributing to the formation of regional dialects is, not surprisingly, regional borders. If you look at dialect maps, mountain ranges will likely cause isoglosses. --KJ 17:48, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Actually, not everyone agrees that language change doesn't occur for a reason. Take a look at Functional load. A generalised formulation of it, one that looks at other elements like morphology and syntax, and that takes noise robustness into account is a pretty good functional hypothesis for why languages change. It also explains grammatical gender. --Diderot 18:12, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Gender is a hard one for functionalists. In any case, in my opinion the best all around answer to the question can be found in Labov's two (of three) volume's of Principles of Linguistic Change. Of course he doesn't come to the kind of definitive short answer the original questioner was hoping for, but the argumentation and evidence he puts there makes it absolutely necessary for anyone who really wants to understand the question.
No, gender's simple for functionalists. It's a noise reduction strategy. If you miss some of the sounds in a word, but you hear the gender, the gender decreases the number of possible words the context could allow by a factor of one over however many noun categories are applicable in the context. Storage costs for gender, in contrast, are very low: less than log2 of the number of noun classes, assuming there is some regularity to gender assignment.
Labov's approach is sociolinguistic, and it is helpful to understanding speakers choices of speech patterns and vocabulary. But Labov doesn't really explain - unless I've forgotten something - where the variation comes from in the first place. His model is useless, for instance, in explaining why Cantonese is losing the /l/ - /n/ distinction in the Pearl delta dialects. Looking over Labov's papers, he explains the American vowel shift by simply reversing Martinet: Instead of focusing on evenly distributed phonemes based on articulation, he focuses on comprehension.
Functional load is the only hypothesis I know of that actually tries to address the source of internal, unpredictable language changes like in Cantonese, where no contact situation seems to offer a plausible explanation and the sociolinguistic variables tend, if anything, to weigh against the change. Functional load implies - although admittedly not in the original form put forward by Martinet - that language change is principally motivated by communicative needs under conditions of varying noise. When a distinction does little to help disambiguate unclear speech under real-world noise conditions, speakers are already compelled to use disambiguating strategies: to pick different words, use different structures, add words or morphemes, or pronounce things differently. Otherwise, they risk being misunderstood. Once those strategies to compensate for noise are widespread, the distinction they compensate for no longer has any communicative value. It can be dropped without difficulty because it adds no information to the message. This solution readily encompasses the Labov's migration and sociology driven approach, since the noise landscape shifts when dealing with speakers of different dialects and non-natives with varying competencies.
Labov's paper at the 2002 International Conference on Korean Linguistics suggests some of the same things. --Diderot 20:35, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

I guess I should have counted on a functionalist vs. formalist war being started by my comment. I'll leave it because these things just never find a resolution. Still, I think Labov's discussion of internal factors in his 1994 (first volume) are a lot more than sociolinguistic, and (for others) he's become a bit of a bete noir for functionalists since he came out in favor of a generally formalist component. mnewmanqc

German Musical Instructions[edit]

I have a copy of the first trombone solo from Mahler's symphonie 3. It is really cool sounding, the only problem is that I don't know what is written under the staff in German. I tried using a n online translator but it either totally misinterprets the sentence or doesn't even translate the word. I need some help. At the top of the piece it says to play it, "Langsam, schwer; Bei den gehaltenen Tönen Schalltrichter in die Höhe!" Then a little after the solo starts it has Triolen nicht schleppend in parenthesis. About half-way through the solo it says Weider schwer. Right after that it says wild which I am going to assume means wild in English also. About 10 measures from the end it says Vorwärts. Two measures later Pesante. And finally in the last two measures it says mit Dampfer but there is a diaersis over the a and m in Dampfer. It probably goes over the a and my printer just messed it up. Any help would be great. Thanks. schyler 23:58, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Okay, let's see.
  1. "Langsam, schwer; Bei den gehaltenen Tönen Schalltrichter in die Höhe!" = "Slowly, heavily; raise the bell up during the long notes."
  2. "Triolen nicht schleppend" = "Don't drag the triplets"
  3. "Wieder schwer" = "Heavily again"
  4. "Wild" = "Wildly"
  5. "Vorwärts" = "Forwards" (i.e. keep it moving)
  6. "Pesante" = "Heavy" (Italian, not German)
  7. "mit Dämpfer" = "with mute"
Angr (talk) 00:46, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Thank you very much. I did have a feeling that pesante wasn't german and was a traditional music word like forte. schyler 01:19, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

I think Mahler's rather famous for writing musical instructions in German rather than Italian. Very nice and direct for German-speaking musicians, but a pain in the ass for, say, English-speaking musicians who have dutifully learned Italian phrases like lento, pesante, and con sordino, only to be confronted with a different language when they play Mahler. Angr (talk) 08:34, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Beethoven did it quite a lot too. The nerve of the man! JackofOz 09:25, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Percy Grainger not only wrote all his musical instructions in English but refused to use any "foreign" (i.e. non-Germanic) words, which makes his language somewhat ... interesting. —Blotwell 21:47, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

May 28[edit]


I have two questions. Does r in the title have to be capital or lowercase according to the rules of standard American English?

Next, I want to know whether debt-ridden means someone with a huge debt who has just gotten rid of the debt through bankruptcy or other means ,or does it mean someone who has much debt at the present?Patchouli 03:27, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

For Wikipedia, lowercase (though if the term appeared in a book title or something it would be a capital R), and it means someone who has a lot of debt. —Zero Gravitas 03:35, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
I wonder what the etymology of this form of ridden is? --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 03:40, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
The Online Etymology Dictionary says: c.1340, pp. of ride (q.v.). Sense evolution, via horses, from "that which has been ridden upon, broken in" (1523) to, in compounds, "oppressed, taken advantage of" (1653).Zero Gravitas 03:48, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
My confusion arose because I thought the past participle of rid is ridden which isn't true.Patchouli 07:27, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
There is some ambiguity, because describing someone as "debt-ridden" could mean they have a great debt, or that they got rid of a great debt. Whenever i see this kind of ambiguity, i always think of the label "Shelled Peanuts"; with or without shells? СПУТНИКCCC P 04:45, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
  • I changed the case of r.Patchouli 07:16, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Here is something funny: When I first came to the United States, I thought smoke free signs in restaurants meant that people were free and permitted to smoke.Patchouli 07:21, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Actually, that very thing sometimes crops up in languages that don't distinguish between adverbs and adjectives, and thus have the same word for "free" and "freely"; for example, in Norwegian, røykfritt (one word, "smokefree") means no smoking, while røyk fritt (two words) means "smoke free[ly]". —Zero Gravitas 07:42, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Although the examples are correctly translated, Norwegian certainly distinguishes between adjectives and adverbs. Røykfritt is an adjective, and therefore changes its ending depending on the gender of the noun that it refers to: One says et røykfritt rom (a room where smoking is prohibited), but en røykfri restaurang (a restaurant where smoking is prohibited). Fri is always an adjective. Fritt may be an adverb (tenk fritt - think freely), or an adjective referring to a neuter noun. --vibo56 11:23, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Oops! I must have been conflating it with German and Dutch, then. Sorry! —Zero Gravitas 19:32, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Surely debt-ridden was formed by analogy with flea-ridden (cat), mosquito-ridden (swamp), disease-ridden (slum), etc - ie full of something nasty and difficult to get rid of. Jameswilson 22:25, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
According to the OED, the past participle of to rid is ridded, but I've never heard that used in modern English. The latest citation in the OED is from 1891. --Heron 10:39, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
According to my dictionary, it is ridden as in "to ride" - in an archaic sense meaning to dominate, control, which sort of makes sense. Jameswilson 22:41, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Bene Tleilax[edit]

What is the real etymology of this name (coming from Dune by Frank Herbert) ? 12:38, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Who knows on Tleilax, but "Bene" is the Hebrew word meaning "sons of", as sometimes used in tribal names (this word is closely cognate to Arabic Banu / Bani). AnonMoos 15:23, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Bene is also Latin for "well". See Bene_Gesserit#Origin_of_the_name. -lethe talk + 15:50, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
etymology is great fun, but it is also bound to be a vain undertaking in most cases. What we can't be sure of always outweighs what we are certain of.--K.C. Tang 16:07, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Languages used two thousand years ago[edit]

What languages were used two thousand years ago? —Masatran 14:29, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

There were thousands. Do you have a particular place in mind? HenryFlower 15:15, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Every natural language spoken today had a linguistic ancestor spoken 2000 years ago... AnonMoos 15:20, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
You might be interested to read our articles on the origin of language and Proto-World language. --Shantavira 15:26, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Latin, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, Proto Germanic, Biblical Hebrew language (silver age), Old Chinese, Demotic Egyptian were all spoken about 2000 - 3000 years ago. Proto Celtic might be a bit earlier and Old Church Slavonic might be a bit later, check those articles, I don't know. As others have mentioned, every language on Earth today other than conlangs had a precursor 2000 years ago. However, many ancient languages were not written down, or all records were lost. Many ancient languages can be reconstructed if the descendent languages are well attested throughout history, this is where all knowledge of Proto Germanic comes from, for example. It's reconstructed based on its descendants. This method doesn't work for languages with no written history and no established genealogy. Thus I don't know how possible it would be to reconstruct ancient Native American or Khoisan languages of 2000 years ago. Probably not at all possible. -lethe talk + 15:41, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

A more answerable question would be "What languages were written down two thousand years ago?". Angr (talk) 17:42, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes, or better two thousand or more years ago. More answerable and also IMO more interesting. Proto Germanic would not meet this criterion, nor Proto Celtic. There would be loads of middle eastern languages on the list, semitic and otherwise. Instead of making a list, we should just point ourselves at history of writing. -lethe talk + 17:46, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Meaning of sentence ( English )[edit]

What does this sentence mean ? Taiji is the co-substantial union of yin and yang .Thanks Hhnnrr 23:23, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

substantial is used in its sense as of substance. Thus, co-substantial means "of one substance". However, Merriam-Webster online fails to define co-substantial, as does and my OS X dictionary widgit. I only got a definition from another wikipedia page. The next question becomes does Taiji (or yin and/or yang) have substance. If not, then the word is misleading. Regardless, the word is not common, and, if replaced, could increase the comprehensibility of the article. — vijay (Talk) 23:32, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Well then will using the word union only give the same meaning ? Hhnnrr 23:52, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Your sentence seems to be applying Christian theological terminology developed and used in speaking about the doctrine of the Trinity to discuss non-Christian concepts -- I'm not sure how helpful this would be... AnonMoos 01:01, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
This is an excellent example of people attempting to use techincal words in a way that actually creates confusion, where using simple words would not only suffice but would also be more specific. It would be much better to say something like "the union of Yin and Yang, which still allows them to retain their own characteristics" or some other phrase that actually says what the author means, rather than leaving the interpretation up to the reader. --DavidGC 05:01, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
"Consubstantial" is a real word which is roughly the same, though it has a specific meaning in Christian theology so you might want to look it up in a theological dictionary to be sure you can use it in that situation. --George 06:14, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Is the use of Chinese forbidden in Indonesia?[edit]

I had ethnic Indonesian classmates here in Tokyo in 1986.(yess I'm old) During that time, they told me it was forbidden to speak or write Chinese in Indonesia. --Jondel 04:19, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

I was very surprised by your question, since I knew that Malaysia and Indonesia had significant Chinese populations. However, from looking at Indonesian Chinese, it seems that Chinese was forbidden by law at that time. The bans seemed to have been lifted since then. --KJ 04:36, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
I had a stopover in Indonesia in 2001, and was required to declare on a customs form if I had anything with Chinese writing on it. I believe the ban was overturned in 2004. --Canley 12:34, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Thank God! Hope it stays that way.--Jondel 13:03, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

May 29[edit]

an old manchu word...[edit]

the word may not be spelled exactly like this but sounds like this, "huh-beol," in Manchu. it is supposed to mean a part of a human body. is anyone familiar with this Manchu word?

Ask Nanshu or Laca. Wikipeditor 18:42, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

'so that' and 'such that'[edit]

Are these constructions interchangeable? 'Such that' seems to appear mostly in mathematical problems and the like, but I suspect these mathematicians are just being pseudy and 'so that' would do just as well. --Richardrj 07:41, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

No, they mean different things. "His extreme vegetarianism was such that he wouldn't even eat food that had been on the same platter as meat" vs "He moved the vegetables so that they wouldn't wind up on the same platter". "such that" describes the degree of some preceding quantifier, while "so that" indicates purpose. They're pretty much not related meanings at all, and so of course not interchangeable. -lethe talk + 07:59, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, but your first example - though correct - sounds very clunky to me. I would reword it to read "His vegetarianism was so extreme that..." I've also seen 'such that' used in problems, along the lines of "Think of a number x such that x is greater than 1" (bad example, but you get my drift). It's in this context that I'm wondering about the interchangeability of 'such that' and 'so that'. --Richardrj 08:08, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
They're not interchangeable. "Think of a number x so that x is greater than 1" means "Choose a number and think about it until its value increases", which is mathematically surreal and absurd. Your example could be reworded "There are certain numbers that are greater than 1. Think of such a number". You can't say "Think of so a number" because 'so' is an adverb and what we need here is a demonstrative adjective. JackofOz 09:27, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Clunky? Not to my ear. Those sentences sound perfectly natural to me. Anyway, you're correct. You could change the "such" from an adjective into an adverb "so", as you demonstrate. In that sense, "such that" and "so that" are almost the same, except for the part of speech. But note that in that case, "so" has to modify an adjective, so you don't have "so that", but rather "so ... that" with an "extreme" in the middle. I would agree that that construction is nearly the same as "such that", except for the part of speech, as I said. -lethe talk + 10:18, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
I read Wikipedia so that I can go to sleep at night with the knowledge that I have learnt some facts that I can use in conversations with intelligent ladies whom I wish to impress. Unfortunately, my reading of Wikipedia is such that I do not get any sleep, and have lost interest in social contact - intelligent ladies included. --Seejyb 15:41, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Languages with more vowels than consonants[edit]

I was reading that most languages have more consonants than vowels, so that sentences written without vowels can still be understood in context and with some effort, because there are fewer vowels (as opposed to consonants) to choose from when guessing. And I don't mean just Semitic languages. But are there any languages which actually have more vowels than consonants, where vowels carry the bulk of the meaning? PeepP 16:41, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Hawaiian has ten vowels (if you count long and short vowels separately) and eight consonants. Angr (talk) 16:55, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

You also need to decide if you're including diphthongs and triphthongs as separate vowels. If so, Thai has 21 consonants and 39 vowels. We have an interesting, but charmingly vague little article on the Sedang language, which has 24 pure vowels and, if you include diphthongs, "between 33 and 55 vowel sounds altogether". No word on the number of consonants, though. HenryFlower 17:54, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Arabic transliteration 2[edit]

I've read a few WP articles on the topic in English and German. They say a lot about, for example, what diacritics an alif can carry and where they must be placed, but little as to how the result is transliterated, transcribed and pronounced. I gather that an alif carrying a hamza above must be a glottal stop + short vowel a, pronounced as something like [ʔæ], but I'm still not sure what to do with alifs that do not carry anything. Are they always used to indicate a long vowel ā? If so, is my vocalised strict WP transliteration of سوق أهراس as Sūq ’Ahrās correct?

What is the transliteration for مداوروش by the same system? Should I place an apostrophe between the first and second letter when transcribing or transliterating it?

Are these two names normally vocalised (as above) when written in the Arabic script, or only in encyclopedias and the like?

If it is not clear from what I wrote above: I know next to nothing about Arabic, its writing system and its phonology.
Wikipeditor 18:21, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

If the alif doesn't carry anything, it's just a long vowel, unless it's at the beginning of the word, then it's a seat for a hamza and some short vowel, which are not usually explicitly written. I forget what the apostrophe does in the transliteration - does it indicate a hamza, or an ayn? Of course, you don't have an ayn there in the Arabic, just a short vowel. Adam Bishop 23:00, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

It indicates a hamza. Technically, it's not an apostrophe, but a quote – must be a peculiarity of the proposed WP system.

You say the hamza and short vowel “are not usually explicitly written” – I guess you mean when writing in the Arabic alphabet? Hence, سوق أهراس would normally appear as سوق هراس, right? Or do you mean I should omit the vowel in the transliteration (i.e. Sūq Hrās instead of Sūq ’Ahrās)?

No, if there is a hamza at the beginning of the word, you'd always write the alif, it just wouldn't really be an alif. The first example is right (because Sūq Hrās would be either something else, or nonsensical).

Is the second name (مداوروش) Mdāwrūsh, Mdawrūsh, or something else? I fail to find how ر between consonants can be ū in the rules, but Mdawrwsh must be wrong, so I guess it's ū.

Thanks for your reply. Wikipeditor 01:33, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

That would be "Mdāwrūsh" but there must be some short vowels missing, as an Arabic word wouldn't start with "Md". I would guess "madāwarūsh"...but what do I know, why am I even attempting to answer this, I only have two weeks' worth of Arabic knowledge. Sorry :) Adam Bishop 06:12, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
I'd guess the md cluster either comes from some Berber dialect, or a vowel has been dropped, which would account for the spelling M'd….
The transliteration system that the Library of Congress uses is here (the link is a PDF). It is a good place to start.
Hamza at the start of a word is never transliterated in all the common systems. It's only transliterated when it occurs in the middle or at the end of a word.
The big problem with transliterating a written Arabic word is the lack of vowel letters. If you don't speak Arabic you have to look up in some reference work to find out how the word is spoken in order to add vowels to a transliteration.
Another problem is the diglossia issue. One has to decide whether to transliterate as if the word were Literary Arabic or to render the local pronunciation. For place names in some Arab countries, for example, Algeria, it is common to imitate the local pronunciation in transliteration. One way to tell a "non-literary" transliteration is if it uses vowel letters other than a, i, and u.
If you want to transliterate place names I strongly recommend the NIMA Names Server which has huge lists of place names for every Arab country. --Cam 06:01, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
It seems that the NIMA transliteration of the town you mentioned is M'Daourouch (the site uses the standard NIMA spellings, which come from the BGN). --Cam 06:22, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks a lot, everybody. Wikipeditor 17:00, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Latin Translation[edit]

How would you say

Enduring Lie

in Latin?

I need to know for a project I am doing.

Thank you very much!

How about mendatium aeternum? NB: I have not consulted a dictionary, so please double check me.-lethe talk + 21:04, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
I looked it up in a dictionary to check, and it's "mendacium aeternum." Lethe was right except for switching c and t. Of course, I've made mistakes like this dozens of times. :) --El aprendelenguas 21:50, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
I think aeternum is too strong to translate enduring. What about mendacium permanens? —Keenan Pepper 00:24, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
I agree that aeternum is inadequate. The choice is IMHO between stabilis and firmus. It's not an easy choice though. You might find a hint in Cicero's Laelius de Amicitia: Sunt igitur firmi et stabiles et constantes eligendi; cuius generis est magna penuria :) —Gennaro Prota•Talk 09:44, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Well, Horace's Ode including "Exegi monumentum aere perennius / ... / Non omnis moriar...." is usually translated as" I have built a monument more enduring than bronze / ... I shall not completely die." or somesuch, so "perennius" might be a solution. - Nunh-huh 13:25, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Er, perennius is the comparative. Perhaps you wanted perenne? —Blotwell 19:34, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Morbid vehicular troubles[edit]

So - if a guy dies and he's confirmed dead by a doctor-guy - some other guy will come along and haul the dead guy off. Usually he will use a special dead-guy vehicle for this - painted black and long so the dead guy can rest comfortably in a horizontal position inside a wooden box. I only know the name of this vehicle from American movies - it sounds like "hearst" or "hurst" - whatever... but the search I need to do involving this word turns up all wrong and Wikitionary is like "wtf?" when I ask it. So what's the correct spelling/wording for this particular vehicle? Gardar Rurak 23:27, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

That's a hearse. Adam Bishop 23:37, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Indeed - thanks for the snap reply Gardar Rurak 23:27, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
No need for rehearsing before getting in. --DLL 20:18, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

May 30[edit]

French Wikipedia[edit]

I posted a question on what seemed to be the "French Wikipedia" version of the RD. First of all, I couldn't even log in. Is my username and password only good for English Wikipedia? Why wouldn't my account be good for ALL versions of Wikipedia? Second, as this was my actual question: Is the link to something called oracle in the French Wikipedia the same as the RD here? If so, we should all feel lucky that we're English speakers, as the French version, even though it's the third largest after English and German, leaves much do be desired. Loomis51 00:33, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

The different language Wikipedias are different websites, so the usernames and passwords are not shared between them. (Was there ever a plan to implement a "Wikimedia passport" or something?) fr:Wikipédia:Oracle is indeed the corresponding page to en:Wikipedia:Reference desk. You can tell because there are interlanguage links between them. —Keenan Pepper 00:47, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
The Spanish version is even worse. It is just a landfill of questions that rarely get answered. We are fortunate to have the nice, organized, and managed Reference Desk.--El aprendelenguas 01:45, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
m:single login specifications. Been talked about for long time. -lethe talk + 01:56, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
I'll bet the disparity between English and other language resources, even for second and third most spoken languages on Earth, is huge in all aspects of the internet. I.e. not just the wikipedia reference desk, but also the available help on usenet, mailing lists, message boards, everything, all probably sucks if you ain't speaking english. -lethe talk + 02:09, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Good point. I'm certainly grateful that my native language is English.--El aprendelenguas 02:25, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
On the other hand, I rather wish I had grown up in Geneve or Mumbai or Singapore so that my native language were something else, but I still spoke English fluently. -lethe talk + 07:03, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Having been born and raised in Quebec, despite being a native English speaker, my French skills are considerable. I gave it a "3" on wiki:babel out of modesty. It's really somewhere between 3 and 4. El aprendelenguas is right. Although I have no Spanish skills whatsover (aside from a few "Berlitz" level phrases), I checked out the Spanish version of the RD and was still able to pick up on the point that with a few rare exceptions, it's just a bunch of questions that no one seems interested in bothering to answer. I understand now why we seem to get such bad spelling and grammar at the RD. It's probably people with a limited knowledge of English posting a question here simply because the English RD is vastly superior to that of other languages (If the French and Spanish versions leave much to be desired, one can only imagine how limited the Dutch or the Polish versions, for example, are). In the future, therefore, in answering questions posed at the RD I'll try to keep that in mind and try not to nit-pick about questions posed in less than perfect English, and I suggest we should all do the same. Not everybody out there was raised speaking the most useful language on the planet! Loomis51 09:15, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Loomis, although I am speaking about the internet in general now, I also find a lot of mistakes by US'ers like :"Their you can find a car. There coming. They where angry." Mistakes like that are usually made by people who pronounce English properly but don't know how to spell, and not by people who learnt the language, as they had to read books for that. Well English is the most useful language, but sometimes I wonder whether it could have been different (remember Esperanto?). Despite usefulness, it isn't the most 'normal either' : you practically never use the simple present tense, and for negations you use an auxiliary verb (I do not work. We just say : I work not.) But I agree, it's a vicious circle, I KNOW if it's not a regional matter, English Wikipedia will be vastly superior, so I usually ignore the Dutch speaking Wikipedia, and I don't contribute to it a lot...Evilbu 10:48, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Saying you never use the simple present tense is a bit exaggerated. You used it 17 times in that post. —Bkell (talk) 16:03, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Evilbu, only towards the end of your mention did you allude to the fact that you're Dutch. At first I couldn't understand who you were talking about when you spoke of "you" and "we". Also, what specifically is a US'er? was that simply some sort of caps lock typo or are you referring specifically to Americans? I also disagree with your suggestion that most, if not all English mistakes that we see on wiki are made by native English speakers because the only way a foreigner can learn English is by reading books. From personal experience, "books" are perhaps the worst way to learn a language. True fluency (including good spelling) is much more readily achieved through real-life experience. For example I was taught French throughout school and like most other anglophone students, very little actually sunk in. It was only when I entered the work force that I TRULY began to REALLY attain some degree of fluency in French.
On the other hand, you're correct when you say that everything else being equal, it's rather odd that English, being a language with relatively confusing, illogical, incoherent and inconsistent rules somehow became the world's most commonly spoken language. For simplicity, coheherence and consistency, much better candidates would be Russian or Hebrew (of the languages I'm familiar with). In Russian, for example, it's virtually impossible to misspell a word because 99% of the time, the correct spelling is simply the phonetic spelling. On the other hand, these languages have nowhere near the richness English has. For example in Hebrew, there is only one word for "smart": "chacham". That's it. Whereas in English, depending on the subtlety and the particular nuance you wish to convey, you have a wide variety of options for what the range of attributes that "smart" seems to encompass (e.g. intelligent, bright, clever, sharp, astute, brainy, witty, knowledgeable, wise etc...). Loomis51 23:45, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

I am not Dutch. I speak Dutch though. The Dutch wikipedia is essentially there for Flanders, the Netherlands and Suriname. A US'er is someone with as nationality : from the United States. If there is a better word for that, please tell me. Actually learning from books is very good! I see that in school here, the generation behind me has to do all sorts of fun stuff "write poetry, do a little acting,..."...but in the mean time the fundamental elements of Dutch/French/English are neglected! But that is actually not what I meant. I meant : there are certain mistakes that someone who has learnt that language by reading (and then I mean, by a teacher writing it on a blackboeard) won't make. The French sometimes write "J'ai travailler. Vous mangé. Taiser-vous". When you pronounce it, there's no real difference. But I learnt to speak those words at the same time I learnt how to write them. (I on the other hand always guess the gender wrong and use 'subjonctive' when it's not necessary...) It's the same in Dutch, our verbs (usually) end in en/d/t/dt. That's how you get the dreaded d-t-errors in Dutch. I don't think someone who learnt the language will make these mistakes.

"American" will do for a person from the USA. But see an interminable debate at Talk:Use of the word American. There's one thread there that's indented 19 levels (!!). JackofOz 10:13, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Saint Peter's Square in Rome[edit]

What was the first name of this Square.

What does the word vatican means?

Thank you for your help.

Saint Peter's Square is the first name, actually, since it was only built in the 17th century. The name "Vatican" doesn't really mean anything in and of itself. It's the name of the hill the Vatican City is built on; as that article says, "It may have been the site of an Etruscan town called Vaticum", which would make the "Vatican Hill" basically "the hill where Vaticum was". Hope that helps. —Zero Gravitas 07:12, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
This site seems to conclude that Vatican means "City of Prophecy", and gives historical and linguistic reasons for this. Probably the real facts are lost. --Seejyb 20:41, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Greek translation[edit]

How do you write 'salt' in Ancient Greek? Thank you. 02:34, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Alternatively, what does this: "υμεις εστε το αλας της γης εαν δε το αλας μωρανθη εν τινι αλισθησεται εις ουδεν ισχυει ετι ει μη βληθεν εξω καταπατεισθαι υπο των ανθρωπων" say? 02:59, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
τό ἅλς or ἅλας is salt. το αλας της γης is salt of the earth. -lethe talk + 04:30, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Matthew 5:13 in Koine, in English (KJV). "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." -lethe talk + 04:58, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Yay! Thank you muchly! 00:45, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

meaning of the sentence[edit]

ساث هس ةغ لاثقسف بقهثىي ثرثق ه اشي pls give me the meaning of this sentence as soon as possible thjanks shahana

It's in Arabic script, but it isn't in Arabic, and there are some strange features (such as ta marbuta at the beginning of a word and alif maqsura in the middle of a word) which would seem to indicate that it's garbled in some manner... AnonMoos 21:32, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

It is English, typed on an Arabic keyboard layout. It says "she is my berst friend ever I had". I guess "berst" should be "best". --Cam 01:36, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
How ever did you figure that out, Cam? Daniel () 19:32, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Punctuation, Parentheses and Quotation Marks.[edit]

I've always had trouble deciding where to put the period in a sentence that ends with a closed parenthesis or closed quotation marks (or both). (or both.)? The correct placing of comas is also a bit confusing.

For example, I'd greatly appreciate if someone could tell me which of the following puntuations are correct, and which aren't:

  • 1) She arrived at the party on time (and in good spirits).
  • 2) She arrived at the party on time (and in good spirits.)
  • 3) As Ted wrote in his letter, "she arrived at the party on time".
  • 4) As Ted wrote in his letter, "she arrived at the party on time."
  • 5) As Ted wrote in his letter, "she arrived at the party on time (and in good spirits)".
  • 6) As Ted wrote in his letter, "she arrived at the party on time (and in good spirits.)"
  • 7) As Ted wrote in his letter, "she arrived at the party on time (and in good spirits)."
  • 8) She arrived at the party in good spirits, (on time of course,) and fashionably dressed.
  • 9) She arrived at the party in good spirits, (on time of course), and fashionably dressed.

Thanks! Loomis51 12:03, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

The full stop/period or comma should be outside the parentheses. Quotations have a couple more subtleties depending on whether what is being quoted is a full sentence, or a quote within speech, Quotation mark explains it better than I can. Oldelpaso 12:31, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
  • 1 is correct, 2 incorrect. The way to check this is to take out the brackets and see if the sentence would still be properly punctuated, which 1 would be.
  • Make sure to remove not just the brackets but everything inside the brackets as well, otherwise both 1 and 2 would be ok and the test would fail. JackofOz 13:03, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes, sorry - that's what I meant (honest). --Richardrj 13:12, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
  • 3 and 4 - I'm never sure about this myself. It might depend on whether "she arrived at the party on time" is at the end of a sentence in the letter. If it is, then 4 might be correct, 3 incorrect. If not, vice versa. I would also be tempted to use a colon, rather than a comma, after 'letter'.
  • It shouldn't have to depend on whether the sentence being quoted is at the end of a sentence in the original. As "she" is not capitalised, there is no indication it's from the start of the sentence either. It's just a string of words take from the original text. I'd say 3 is right, and 4 is wrong. See below for my reason. JackofOz 13:03, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
  • 5, 6 and 7 - the same applies as above, I believe. 5 or 7 would be correct, but 6 incorrect (the full stop should be outside the brackets, as in this sentence).
  • I was taught the only things that can end a sentence are a full stop (.), question mark (?) or exclamation mark (!). Brackets and inverted commas are not ok. That would make 2, 4, 6 and 7 wrong. I would accept 5 as being correct. But I believe in the U.S. and probably Canada, it's considered ok to end a sentence with inverted commas, so 7 would be ok there. JackofOz 13:03, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
  • It's fine to end a sentence with a parenthesis. (But only if it's the whole sentence that's being parenthesized.) —Bkell (talk) 15:51, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
  • 8 and 9 - both of these are incorrect because the comma after 'spirits' is superfluous. Take it out, and 9 is correct. --Richardrj 12:34, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
  • I agree with most but not all of what Richardrj wrote. If the original quote included the period/full stop, then 4 and 7 are right no matter what. But if the original quote did not include the period/full stop, then 4 and 7 are right in the U.S. (and Canada?), while 3 and 5 are right in Britain (and elsewhere?) In 8 and 9 both commas have to be taken out: "She arrived at the party in good spirits (on time of course) and fashionably dressed". Angr (talk) 13:07, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't agree that both commas have to be taken out of 9. "She arrived at the party in good spirits, and fashionably dressed" is fine. --Richardrj 13:14, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
I would recommend removing both commas. If you choose to retain the comma for some reason, then you should write the following.
  • She arrived at the party in good spirits (on time of course), and fashionably dressed.
I think it's fair to say that a parenthesized phrase should never come immediately after a comma. Neither 8 nor 9 is correct, and neither is the following.
  • She arrived at the party in good spirits, (on time of course) and fashionably dressed.
The rules for using parentheses are pretty simple; everything inside the parentheses has to make sense as a phrase on its own (so it can't end with a comma), and the entire parenthesized phrase should be able to be treated as a "black box" that can be freely removed from the sentence. —Bkell (talk) 15:56, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Just as a parenthetical (ha ha) comment - if these were my sentences, I'd be tempted to leave out the brackets altogether. Not only do you avoid the above pitfalls, the sentences IMHO read better without them. Stuff in brackets should be a kind of aside, a secondary comment which is not as important to the reader. In these sentences, being on time, fashionably dressed and in good spirits all seem to contribute equally, and nicely, to the reader's sense of her state of mind. --Richardrj 16:10, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
I just wanted to say that I'm really glad this question was asked because it is also something that I'm never certain about myself. Somewhere along the way I learned I was doing it the wrong way, so then I would think "do it the opposite way of how you feel." It's always a bother to learn to correct yourself that way though, because as soon as you start doing it the right way the "do it the opposite way" thought pattern still kicks in and you start to get confused. Btw, it is correct to have quotation marks outside of the period/full stop; I even went ahead and checked The Call of Cthulhu on WikiSource and it does them that way. So #4 is correct. Might be regional differences though. --SeizureDog 06:46, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
4 is correct in the US, not in Britain I think. So yes, regional differences. Skittle 09:09, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
I feel that having the period or comma outside the quotation marks looks sloppy. I was taught - under the tutelage of a fine instructor - that the period and the comma are in the "inside gang," never to be put outside the end of a quotation. Reading left-to-right, up-to-down as we do, it seems like a more proper "bookending" of the quotation to have the marks encapsulate the periods and commas. So I really have to say, as far quotation marks are concerned, 4 and 7 are the most proper. Nothing personal against British English at all, certainly, but as most of us don't usually speak punctuation anyway (e.g., "I went to the store comma but they were sold out period") I would be firmly behind the tidier version which sweeps the commas and periods into the quote. Lemonsawdust 05:07, 5 June 2006 (UTC)
If you're looking for neatness, maybe you subjectively feel 4 is neater. I subjectively feel putting punctuation inside the quotes when it's function is outside is less neat, but that is probably my upbringing. If the question is correctness, 4 would be considered incorrect in Britain, correct in the US. Neither of our views on neatness matter if the person is looking for correctness in something important (such as a job application, piece of work, etc). In Britain, 1,3 and 5 are correct. In the US, 1, 4 and 7 are correct. If you're going for neatness, you can make your own mind up! Skittle 12:16, 5 June 2006 (UTC)
In US English only 1, 4, and 7 are correct. The correct version of 8/9 would be "She arrived at the party in good spirits (on time[,] of course)[,] and fashionably dressed." Whether to use the commas is a stylistic choice. Tesseran 22:27, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Valve/Washington accent[edit]

While listening to the audio commentary in Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, I noticed that many of the developers (Valve Corporation, based in Bellevue, Washington) share a similar accent, which notably has a long, "posh" 'o': as in "Lorst Cohst." As I don't know much about American accents, I was wonderingly idlely if this is a regional Washington accent or just a coincidence. Thanks! Sum0 15:34, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Hmm... in American accents that still distinguish between the vowels of cot and caught, lost usually has the same vowel as caught (and so would sound like lorst to an Englishman like you). However, most people in Washington don't distinguish the vowels of cot and caught, so I would have expected their pronunciation of lost to sound to you rather like RP last except with a shorter vowel. It is, of course, entirely possible that the voice actors used for that game are from the East Coast of the U.S., in which case their lost really should sound like lawst. Angr (talk) 16:06, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
I live in Washington, but people here pronounce it like lawst cost (ascii ipa: [lAst koU:st]). However, they are some people who say Worshington. --Chris S. 01:00, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

french genders[edit]


many eons ago my french teacher told us that in french, problems (le problem, le crime, etc) are generally masculine and solutions (la solution, la police etc) are feminine. is this actually true? if so, is it true for any other languages with genderised nouns? cheers! -- 18:50, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

What about "la maladie" and "le médecin"? Or "l'énigme" and "le chiffre"? You can probably find any feminine-masculine combination, since they don't necessarily have a single counterpart. Was your teacher a woman by any chance? Adam Bishop 19:01, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

OMG she was! i cant believe i fell for the one... thanks! 19:04, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

LOL, also very typical for female French teachers is to always write elle/il instead of il/elle, even though the latter is the convention. Evilbu 09:48, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Assault teams signs[edit]

Hello, sorry to bother you but i´m looking for the sings the military and police enforcement uso when there must be absolute silence and the meaning of them, i hope you can help me, thank you very much

I'm sure there must be an article somewhere... but till I manage to find it, here's a nice link: [24] (PDF) -- 07:59, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

May 31[edit]

adjective modified by adverb[edit]

we should say "the always growing speed" or "the always-growing speed"? any difference between American and British usages here?--K.C. Tang 02:48, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

I would say no hyphen (I'm British). --Richardrj 04:36, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
I wouldn't use that form of words. I'd say "ever-increasing", and hyphenate it. JackofOz 04:49, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
i guess "ever-increasing" is kind of a set phrase... so it doesn't count... indeed the "always growing" example is taken from the Formula One article (read the first paragraph)--K.C. Tang 05:59, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
Overuse of hyphens in such compound modifiers as this is something of which I'm guilty, but in this case I'd not use the hyphen (although I certainly think that Jack's locution is superior to "always growing"). Hyphen, which counsels that hyphens are generally not used in noun-noun or adverb-adjective compound modifiers [except where omission might engender confusion], and The American Heritage Book of English Usage [25] (Compound adjectives formed with an adverb plus an adjective or a participle are often hyphenated when they occur before the noun they modify...; however, when these compounds occur after the noun, or when they are modified, the hyphen is usually omitted.) aren't definitive and thus not of much help. We can't even Googlefight this one; Google necessarily omits hyphens in searches such "always-growing", such that "always-growing" and "always growing" (and in any event most of the returns aren't for the use as a compound modifier) return the same results. Joe 06:19, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

language origins[edit]

I am a new user so please bear with me. My question is: Did language originate from one place, i.e. africa and then travel colloquially throughout the world or did it spontanteously emerge/burst out of various regions, i.e. asian/arabic vs.latin/germanic, etc.

you may want to take a look at Origin of language--K.C. Tang 06:51, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Is flew a hyperbole?[edit]

Can a word be considered a hyperbole if its associated meaning has become so common that it is an actual definition of the word? To illustrate the problem, here's my example:

"Mary flew to the kitchen to put out the grease fire."

Now obviously, the main meaning of the word "fly" is "to move through the air". However, the very next meaning is "to move quickly". So can "flew" truly be considered a hyperbole? Or is it just a simple usage of the word?--SeizureDog 07:23, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Metaphor? -- 08:00, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
I was going to call it a metaphor, but it's not comparing anything.--SeizureDog 05:08, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
I think you're confusing metaphors with similes. JackofOz 05:13, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
I think the operative sentence in our article is, "One effect is that hyperbole becomes habitual until the word's force is weakened by overuse and the word gets to literally mean what it has been used as." Once we've reached that point, it's extended meaning rather than hyperbole. HenryFlower 10:05, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
Interesting. Thanks.--SeizureDog 05:08, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
It definitely started as a metaphor - it's implicitly comparing the motion of the woman with the motion of (literal) flying. Over time, though, it's metaphorical meaning has changed into simply a second meaning of the word. I'd still consider it a metaphor, though not everyone might. It's definitely not a hyperbole, though - those are deliberate exagerrations. If you had said that she broke the sound barrier running to the kitchen, then that would have been hyperbole. But I'm sure you've been told something similar millions of times before :). Grutness...wha? 06:33, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
If I've told you once, I've told you a billion times: "Don't exaggerate!" :--) JackofOz 09:23, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

History of words, terms, and expressions[edit]

History of words, terms, and expressions

My questions concern the origin and meaning of words/terms/expressions in the English language and English/Colonial America/American culture.

1. Including past and present uses and definitions of words, and words that are no longer included in current dictionaries

> What specific form of language study (or specific Etymology), breaks words (mainly vocabulary) down into sections, revealing the root of that word and its’ additional attributes, that when chained together (as in the word), find the literal meaning of/description of/influence on/origin of, that word ?


Fortnight Lily = ( Fortnight = { Old English f owert ne, fourteen + Old English niht, night } = { Middle English fourtenight, alteration of fourtene night, fourteen nights Old English f owert ne, fourteen; kwetwer + Old English niht, night; nokwt. } = { A fortnight is a unit of time equal to two weeks: that is 14 days, or literally 14 nights. The term is common in British English, Hiberno-English and Australian English, but rarely used in American English. It derives from the Old English feowertiene niht, meaning "fourteen nights". } = { A period of 14 days; two weeks. } )


( Lily = { Etymology: Middle English lilie, from Old English, from Latin lilium 1 : any of a genus (Lilium of the family Liliaceae, the lily family) of erect perennial leafy-stemmed bulbous herbs that are native to the northern hemisphere and are widely cultivated for their showy flowers; broadly : any of various plants of the lily family or of the related amaryllis or iris families 2 : any of various plants with showy flowers: as a : a scarlet anemone (Anemone coronaria) of the Mediterranean region b : WATER LILY c : CALLA LILY 3 : FLEUR-DE-LIS 2 } )

= Fortnight Lily

EXAMPLE: Vernal Equinox = ( vernal. Etymology: Latin vernalis, alteration of vernus, from ver spring; akin to Greek ear spring, Sanskrit vasanta 1 : of, relating to, or occurring in the spring <vernal equinox> <vernal sunshine> 2 : fresh or new like the spring; also : YOUTHFUL - ver•nal•ly /-n&l-E/ adverb )


( equinox. Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French or Medieval Latin; Middle French equinoxe, from Medieval Latin equinoxium, alteration of Latin aequinoctium, from aequi- equi- + noct-, nox night -- more at NIGHT 1 : either of the two points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator intersects the ecliptic 2 : either of the two times each year (as about March 21 and September 23) when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are everywhere of equal length The word equinox derives from the Latin word for equal night )

= Vernal Equinox

EXAMPLE: Autumnal Equinox = ( autumn. Etymology: Middle English autumpne, from Latin autumnus 1 : the season between summer and winter comprising in the northern hemisphere usually the months of September, October, and November or as reckoned astronomically extending from the September equinox to the December solstice -- called also fall 2 : a period of maturity or incipient decline <in the autumn of life> - au•tum•nal /o-'t&m-n&l/ adjective - au•tum•nal•ly /-n&-lE/ adverb )


( equinox. Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French or Medieval Latin; Middle French equinoxe, from Medieval Latin equinoxium, alteration of Latin aequinoctium, from aequi- equi- + noct-, nox night -- more at NIGHT 1 : either of the two points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator intersects the ecliptic 2 : either of the two times each year (as about March 21 and September 23) when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are everywhere of equal length The word equinox derives from the Latin word for equal night. ) = Autumnal Equinox

2. Expressions with historical roots > What is the term for the study of expressions and their historical origin and original reference, especially unsavory/demeaning/racial, gender specific, etc., used in the past and especially in the present (without regard to their meaning), in the U.S.A.?


Cotton Pick’n Hands

Indian Giver

3. Referring to questions and answers to above 1. & 2. > Can you refer some good internet sites that would be helpful as searches/references/collections for these topics?

I do hope that you are able to understand what I am trying to ask. Please let me know if you need any further clarification.

Thank you in advance for your time and concern. Sincerely, Katiebugggg13

While it's impressive you took the time to write all that, but you should've probably first taken the time to read the "Do your own homework" bit at the top of this page. --BluePlatypus 07:20, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for your guidance. I did indeed read the “Do Your Homework” section above. The only reason that I posted here, was that I was unable to find my answers on-line. I am asking for specifics that I was unable to find. Have no fear, “History of Words, Terms, and Expressions” is not associated to anything, but my own curiosity and want to explore. I thought I might get some help from someone who could point me in the right direction.

So, if you are out there, I would appreciate any constructive assistance you might share.

Thank you.

Katiebugggg13 01:56, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

I would say that it's just etymology, to be honest. I don't think there's a name for someone who looks at the origin of words and phrases more specific than that. Daniel () 19:30, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

word for someone who performs a property valuation[edit]


Is there a word that means someone who performs a property valuation? I have looked up valuer but it seems not to exist. Thanks David Vaughan

I think 'Appraiser', may be the term you are searching for. Katiebugggg13
According to Real estate appraisal, such a person is called a "property valuation surveyor". In Australia, we just call them "valuers". (Where did you look, btw? Google has over 1.5 million hits for "valuer".) JackofOz 09:57, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm a bit puzzled by this; Google shows only three hits for the phrase "property valuation surveyor", and two of them are Wikipedia...I think I'll wander over there. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 04:11, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
In South Africa, Property Valuator --Seejyb 02:25, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
In the UK, a "surveyor", strictly "Chartered Valuation Surveyor". Jameswilson 03:47, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
Or even just 'Chartered Surveyor'. CCLemon 11:44, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
For the U.S.A., I believe it depends on whether the person is employed by a government body or is independent. A person employed by a county to perform property valuation for the purpose of determining property taxes for said property is called an "assessor". The independent appraiser is used by realtors and prospective buyers to determine what the property is worth in the real estate market. I've heard that it is best for a prospective buyer to get at least 2 independet property appraisals before making an offer on the property. Often the county assessor's property valuation differs from the independent appraiser's. What happens then to the property value depends on local laws and regulations. DDGordon. -- 16:26, 1 June 2006 (UTC)


I frequently find myself in situations where someone asks me a question beginning with "Hypothetically..." and then they continue with a condition that is very improbable, or even preposterous. Is the a name for this "hypothetical" statement, or a fancy retort? Thanks!--El aprendelenguas 21:41, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

A hypothetical statement is a statement that is not true, but is posed for the sake of discussion and is usually followed by a question.
"Hypothetically, let's say I had not answered your question. What would you have done?"
Because I DID answer your question, the question is hypothetical. That is, I'm asking you a question about something that never happened. As for if it's a fancy retort, I think you must be really confused on the meaning of "retort". A retort is an ANSWER to a question, and has nothing to do with hypotheses.--SeizureDog 05:28, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
Most mundane hypothetical questions seem to be not only improbable and pointless, but they cannot take into account all the possible variables, so they are impossible to answer sensibly. "I would put a sock in your mouth," is often a good retort. But some of the more intelligent ones are useful as thought experiments. --Shantavira 08:39, 1 June 2006 (UTC)