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Lexical Gaps

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Postby Garzo » Sat Sep 24, 2005 3:04 pm

Vandalism wrote:You've given a perfect example; passion, guts, pride, gusto, humour and comedy are difficult to define succinctly. I have some notion that these things could be related but no clear idea of how. That's probably because we don't have a direct translation of 'hwyl' so I'm not used to the thought. Presumebly a Welsh speaker is happy enough to hurl this word around confidently. Great stuff. How would you use it in a sentence?


Because hwyl fills a gap, many Welsh people would use the word in an English sentence. In a bookshop in Wales one might see the bilingual sign Humour/Hwyl. A strong, skillful and determined rugby player would be said to play with hwyl. A passionately sung hymn would be said to be sung with hwyl.

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"Poetry is that which gets lost in translation" — Robert Frost
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Postby M. Henri Day » Sat Sep 24, 2005 3:56 pm

Brazilian dude wrote:... I think I've seen this phenomenon in the United States, people take pride in drinking and the more stoned they get, the more they broadcast it to their friends. If they had to be taken home by someone because they couldn't stand up and were lying in a puddle of spit and other bodily fluids at the kerb, then that's the utmost triumph they could ever have achieved.


This attitude toward drinking seems to be vastly more prevalent in northern Europe (and former colonies) than in the south of the continent, and my impression, like that of BD in the case of the English language, is that this is reflected in a plethora of words to describe the state of being plastered. I know such expressions are legion in Swedish, and it would not surprise me to learn that the same obtains in, say, Finnish and Russian. Perhaps the Slavists among us would care to comment ?...

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby KatyBr » Sat Sep 24, 2005 7:03 pm

Brazilian dude wrote:... I think I've seen this phenomenon in the United States, people take pride in drinking


some people, certainly not the majority, Those who live in trailer parks and love Jerry Springer, but certainly not the majority......

I wish some people in other cultures would not take TV shows as our norm.

Kt
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Sniglets

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Sep 24, 2005 10:27 pm

In fact, lexical gaps are what 'sniglets' are supposed to fill. While many sniglets are questionable, Rich Hall was quite adept at finding lexical gaps for them to fill.

Take a look at http://www.alphadictionary.com/fun/sniglets.html
for a collection.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Sun Sep 25, 2005 10:29 am

I wish some people in other cultures would not take TV shows as our norm.

Don't forget I lived in the States and have been back for a visit some five times since 1997.

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Re: Sniglets

Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Sep 25, 2005 10:48 am

Dr. Goodword wrote:In fact, lexical gaps are what 'sniglets' are supposed to fill. ...

Take a look at http://www.alphadictionary.com/fun/sniglets.html
for a collection.


Great site, Dr Goodword ! Even so morose a curmudgeon as myself couldn't read it without cracking several smiles. But the change in tense from the «sniglets» site to your posting above sounded omnious to me ; is Mr Hall (born in 1954) no longer with us in the flesh ?...

Henri
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Re: Sniglets

Postby Stargzer » Sun Sep 25, 2005 10:14 pm

M. Henri Day wrote: . . . Great site, Dr Goodword ! Even so morose a curmudgeon as myself couldn't read it without cracking several smiles. But the change in tense from the «sniglets» site to your posting above sounded omnious to me ; is Mr Hall (born in 1954) no longer with us in the flesh ?...

Henri


I think he's still around. IMDB.com shows him still alive (i. e., no date of death) and he had a TV special in 2004. I think the past tense refers to the fact that he developed Sniglets years ago when he was part of the cast of Saturday Night Live. A few books were published and people still create Sniglets, but, while they may be his claim to fame, I think he may have moved on in his material. Country singers seem to be the only ones who can make a career out of a single hit. :D

Wikipedia has an article on him, too. (I'm begining to wonder what the don't have an article on!)
Regards//Larry

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Postby Stargzer » Sun Sep 25, 2005 10:23 pm

KatyBr wrote:
Brazilian dude wrote:... I think I've seen this phenomenon in the United States, people take pride in drinking


some people, certainly not the majority, Those who live in trailer parks and love Jerry Springer, but certainly not the majority......
. . .
Kt


Depends on whether you're on a college campus or not . . . :wink: . . . and don't knock trailer parks. There's a lot of old people in trailer parks in Florida! Even with the "and" included in the equation you'll miss the Springer fans who don't live in trailer parks. :D

I'm sure that people take pride in their drinking in Brazil, too, just not in BD's neck of the woods (or at least his social circle). :)
Regards//Larry

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Postby Stargzer » Sun Sep 25, 2005 11:04 pm

Brazilian dude wrote: . . . Snow, what is snow? How do you pronounce it? Is it something you eat? :wink:

Brazilian dude


As a great man once said:

"[url=http://globalia.net/donlope/fz/lyrics/Apostrophe_(').html#Yellow]Watch out[/url] where the huskies go
And don't you eat that yellow snow."
-- Frank Zappa
Regards//Larry

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Postby Vandalism » Mon Sep 26, 2005 1:38 pm

Thanks again for all the interesting replies.

Henri - Thanks for the welcome, I'm really happy to have found this place. Complicated things all those family connections. I know in Vietnam also they have a squillion and one different names to call all their friends and relations, it seems they've categorized it all better. Then it must seem a bit simple to them that we just have one word 'brother' for example, which gives no indication of whether he is younger or older or what position he holds in the family.

It's funny in China they make such a clear distinction between maternal and paternal lineage and the relative ages of people and then have only one word for the third person singular 'ta' which gives no indication whether this 'ta' is male, female or neuter. Never could get my head around this idea.

Brazilian dude - Where I come from people like to go out on a Friday night and get hammered, sloshed, wasted, trashed, smashed, paraletic, nailed, tanked, totalled, juiced, nailed and jugged up. I've never seen Jerry Springer and I think you might be right.

KatyBR - I've never seen it much on the TV but if all those squeaky clean soapie stars were getting hammered, sloshed, wasted, trashed, smashed, paraletic, nailed, tanked, totalled, juiced, nailed and jugged up I might watch the box more often. I don't live in a trailer but what the hell.

Dr Goodword - Great link, thanks.

Garzo - Thanks again for the explanation.

I'm getting kicked out of the internet now, it's closing time will finish this tomorrow.
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Postby M. Henri Day » Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:42 pm

Vandalism wrote:...

It's funny in China they make such a clear distinction between maternal and paternal lineage and the relative ages of people and then have only one word for the third person singular 'ta' which gives no indication whether this 'ta' is male, female or neuter. ...


As you probably know, Vandal, modern written Chinese does observe a distinction between these three, writing «他», «她». and «它», respectively. But my impression - nota bene, this is not something I know from my own studies - that this is a recent phenomenon, I suspect from the period after contact with the West was forced upon the country by defeat in the Opium Wars. As to just why - if I am indeed correct - no such distinctions were found necessary in the orthography earlier (and remember, the personal pronoun ta in any of its forms is not found at all in classical Chinese, the meaning of the graph «他» being, as it is today in Japanese, «other») many hypotheses, dealing with, not least, gender distinctions in Chinese society, could be adduced. Maybe some gender specialist has written a PhD dissertation on this subject - I note that a Google search on «他 她 它» turns up some 11000 websites - but again, this is more than I know....

Henri
Last edited by M. Henri Day on Tue Sep 27, 2005 4:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Vandalism » Tue Sep 27, 2005 4:14 am

Hi Henri, I haven't studied Chinese formally, I just lived in Taiwan for three years and picked the language up. I can speak but can't read or write much (yet). There's a difference in the written characters to be sure but in speech it's impossible to tell whether the'ta' in question is male or female. It's quite useful sometimes when you want to be ambiguous or mysterious about the 'friend' you were with last night for example but the question 'nan-sen, nu-sen?' to enquire 'male,female?' is extremely common.

I have no idea about the origin or reason for this. I'll ask around and see what I can find...

Vanda
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Postby M. Henri Day » Tue Sep 27, 2005 4:39 am

Vandalism wrote:... but the question 'nan-sen, nu-sen?' to enquire 'male,female?' is extremely common.

I have no idea about the origin or reason for this. I'll ask around and see what I can find...


While asking around, Vanda, could you also inquire about how that «-sen» in the query you mention above is written ? I suspect the query to be «男人 ?女人 ?» (in pinyin, «nanren ? nüren ?», but don't remember Taiwanese pronouncing «人» as «sen» during my brief visit to the island more than two decades ago. Of course, the people who spoke with me then were kind enough to speak (variants of) standard Chinese (国语, guoyu), as that was what I was capable of comprehending, but the island is filled with different dialects from southern Fujian (闽语, Minyu), as well as some non-Chinese languages....

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby Stargzer » Tue Sep 27, 2005 1:34 pm

I ran across this entry in a Wikipedia article:

Some English words or phrases would translate very poorly into Arabic for cultural reasons, for instance the English word "crusade" would most likely be interpreted as meaning "genocide", and "infinite justice" would most likely be interpreted as meaning "divine judgement" – adl in Arabic implying Allah's justice. Probably it is best to avoid such terms for anything one intends to translate into Arabic, or knows will be translated.
Last edited by Stargzer on Tue Sep 27, 2005 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Regards//Larry

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Postby M. Henri Day » Tue Sep 27, 2005 1:58 pm

Stargzer wrote:I ran across this entry in a Wikipedia article:

... and "infinite justice" would most likely be interpreted as meaning "divine judgement" – adl in Arabic implying Allah's justice.


Strikes me that even in English, terms like «infinite justice» come perilously close to poaching upon the domain of the divine. Most of us here down below are finite beings, who don't really have the kind of pipeline to the transcendent which would allow us to mete out «infinite» anything, much less «infinite justice»....

Henri
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