Random language thread 6

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-31, 15:00

Vlürch wrote:Because at least in (most?) European languages "right" means both "correct" and the direction, as well as the right wing in politics, I started wondering if there's any language where the word for "left" also has the meaning of "correct" and/or the word for "right" also has the meaning "wrong"?

I'd be extremely surprised given that the reason for these metaphoric extensions is the fact that the majority (between 70% and 95%) of humans are right-handed. There could be communities in which lefthandedness dominates, but I wouldn't expect them to develop a speech variety which reversed the common metaphor.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-10-31, 16:27

Vlürch wrote:Because at least in (most?) European languages "right" means both "correct" and the direction, as well as the right wing in politics, I started wondering if there's any language where the word for "left" also has the meaning of "correct" and/or the word for "right" also has the meaning "wrong"?


Which languages are you thinking about? Because none of the Romance languages which I have some familiarity with have that.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Osias » 2018-10-31, 16:54

Uh ... Portuguese?
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby ceid donn » 2018-10-31, 21:56

I was doing lessons in the Duolingo Catalan<Spanish course and it asked me to translate "Les meves paraules són la llet." I was like, "dude, wha?" Then I saw that the discussion had 53 replies, so apparently I wasn't the only one confused. Apparenly "ser la leche" is a colloquialism in Spain for saying something is really good.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-31, 21:58

ceid donn wrote:I was doing lessons in the Duolingo Catalan<Spanish course and it asked me to translate "Les meves paraules són la llet." I was like, "dude, wha?" Then I saw that the discussion had 53 replies, so apparently I wasn't the only one confused. Apparenly "ser la leche" is a colloquialism in Spain for saying something is really good.

I guess they're teaching you Barcelona Catalan...
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-11-01, 0:37

IpseDixit wrote:
Vlürch wrote:Because at least in (most?) European languages "right" means both "correct" and the direction, as well as the right wing in politics, I started wondering if there's any language where the word for "left" also has the meaning of "correct" and/or the word for "right" also has the meaning "wrong"?


Which languages are you thinking about? Because none of the Romance languages which I have some familiarity with have that.

Maybe not exactly, but French for example connects "right" to dexterity and skill with adroit. And gauche means "awkward" or "clumsy". I think it would've been more accurate to say that many European languages' words for "right" have positive polysemies, while their words for "left" often have negative polysemies.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Vlürch » 2018-11-01, 14:10

linguoboy wrote:
Vlürch wrote:Because at least in (most?) European languages "right" means both "correct" and the direction, as well as the right wing in politics, I started wondering if there's any language where the word for "left" also has the meaning of "correct" and/or the word for "right" also has the meaning "wrong"?

I'd be extremely surprised given that the reason for these metaphoric extensions is the fact that the majority (between 70% and 95%) of humans are right-handed. There could be communities in which lefthandedness dominates, but I wouldn't expect them to develop a speech variety which reversed the common metaphor.

Yeah, true. I was thinking maybe Quechua could've had something like that since the Incas apparently had (and their modern descendants have?) a positive view on left-handedness, and Wikipedia does say the word for left(-handedness) has positive connotations, but it doesn't seem like the word for right(-handedness) has negative ones. I'm also not sure if they're even used for the political left and right?
Dormouse559 wrote:I think it would've been more accurate to say that many European languages' words for "right" have positive polysemies, while their words for "left" often have negative polysemies.

I guess. I was honestly only thinking of English, Spanish, French and maybe German or something, and generalising. Of course Finnish, too, even though in Finnish it's actually not the exact same situation (we have oikeisto for the political right wing and oikea for the direction and "real"). But yeah, I didn't really think the question through and it should've been whether there's any language where the connotations are reversed, especially regarding the political terms.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-01, 14:26

Vlürch wrote:But yeah, I didn't really think the question through and it should've been whether there's any language where the connotations are reversed, especially regarding the political terms.

I don't see why they'd be reversed for politics since that usage has nothing to do with handedness, instead deriving from seating arrangements in the Assemblée nationale.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Vlürch » 2018-11-01, 19:13

linguoboy wrote:I don't see why they'd be reversed for politics since that usage has nothing to do with handedness, instead deriving from seating arrangements in the Assemblée nationale.

Interesting, I didn't know that was where they came from. Well, I'd never even thought about it or thought to look it up because I'd just assumed it was something like "hurr durr left bad". Makes me wonder why even languages like Chinese use terms like "left" and "right" rather than having completely unique classifications, except maybe if it's because there weren't such concepts in China before interaction with the west as there was only monarchy?

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-01, 20:52

Vlürch wrote:Makes me wonder why even languages like Chinese use terms like "left" and "right" rather than having completely unique classifications, except maybe if it's because there weren't such concepts in China before interaction with the west as there was only monarchy?

Because they borrowed these terms from Western languages.

If you look at Chinese political science terminology, you'll find it 90% calqued on languages like German, French, and English. It should be obvious why: when they imported Western institutions and practices, they imported the corresponding vocabulary as well.

For sure they had their own native terminology for factions, ideological differences, and so forth, but most of that became outmoded when they ceased to be an empire.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Yasna » 2018-11-01, 21:22

linguoboy wrote:If you look at Chinese political science terminology, you'll find it 90% calqued on languages like German, French, and English.

Much of Chinese political science terminology was borrowed straight from Japanese, which in turn was inspired by Classical Chinese in the creation of many of its own calques from European languages.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-01, 21:37

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:If you look at Chinese political science terminology, you'll find it 90% calqued on languages like German, French, and English.

Much of Chinese political science terminology was borrowed straight from Japanese, which in turn was inspired by Classical Chinese in the creation of many of its own calques from European languages.

Basically, the Japanese calqued Western languages using Sino-Japanese elements starting in the Meiji. The Chinese then adopted most of these coinages wholesale in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so they are ultimately calqued on Western languages. Often the correspondences are morpheme-for-morpheme, e.g.:

極右派
extremity right faction
ultra right wing

社會經濟平臺
society economy platform
socio-economic platform

福利資本主義
welfare capital ideology
welfare capitalism
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby OldBoring » 2018-11-02, 9:16

How dare you not mention the main ideology of the People's Republic of China?

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Saim » 2018-11-02, 9:53

linguoboy wrote:福利資本主義
welfare capital ideology
welfare capitalism


"Welfare capital ideology" sounds like something you'd read in a Marxist screed against reformist social democrats.

I can see it now: "The left-chauvinist Sanders operates not on the basis of a truly Marxian, proletarian class politics, but one of welfare capital ideology, i.e. the domestication of revolutionary politics by Capital." :lol:

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby OldBoring » 2018-11-02, 10:00

Isn't welfare capitalism like Netherlands, Scandinavian countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc?

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-11-02, 10:20

I guess I have overestimated my knowledge of some of those languages lol.

---

So... Italian Wiktionary says that the destra/sinistra (right/left) distinction in politics comes from the misconception that the left side of the body is responsible for good actions and the right side for evil actions, which would be what you're looking for Vlürch... except that I couldn't find that bit in any of the references they give lol, and honestly, it seems so odd and improbable considering that the left hand was considered the devil's hand (or something of the sort) AFAIK, and the Italian word for left, sinistra literally comes from "sinister" (plus, what linguoboy said). So I don't know what the fuck is going on...

---

Also, I'm appalled by the way many dictionaries define destra (right) as the hand on the same side as the liver and sinistra (left) as the hand on the same side as the heart. Dafuq guys, never heard of situs inversus?

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Vlürch » 2018-11-02, 13:41

linguoboy wrote:Basically, the Japanese calqued Western languages using Sino-Japanese elements starting in the Meiji. The Chinese then adopted most of these coinages wholesale in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so they are ultimately calqued on Western languages. Often the correspondences are morpheme-for-morpheme

I would've never imagined that was the direction of borrowing, but rather that the Japanese borrowed them from Chinese as with so many other words. Well, it does kind of make more sense for historical reasons, though.
OldBoring wrote:Isn't welfare capitalism like Netherlands, Scandinavian countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc?

I think it's what Finland has, too. Or at least the government is mostly right-wing and they only care about profit (well, our current president is more like "meh" and the previous one was more like "we must help all those less fortunate than us in the entire world"), but we still have a functioning welfare system and all kinds of social support programs.
IpseDixit wrote:So... Italian Wiktionary says that the destra/sinistra (right/left) distinction in politics comes from the misconception that the left side of the body is responsible for good actions and the right side for evil actions, which would be what you're looking for Vlürch... except that I couldn't find that bit in any of the references they give lol, and honestly, it seems so odd and improbable considering that the left hand was considered the devil's hand (or something of the sort) AFAIK, and the Italian word for left, sinistra literally comes from "sinister" (plus, what linguoboy said). So I don't know what the fuck is going on...

Weird, maybe someone on Wiktionary is left-handed and got tired of the negative connotations and edited the entry? Or just someone who is right-handed but finds the negative connotations annoying. Anyway, regardless of whether that's an actual folk etymology or not, folk etymologies in general are pretty weird even if they sometimes make more sense than the actual etymologies. :P
IpseDixit wrote:Also, I'm appalled by the way many dictionaries define destra (right) as the hand on the same side as the liver and sinistra (left) as the hand on the same side as the heart. Dafuq guys, never heard of situs inversus?

Imagine if someone didn't know which direction is which for some reason and just saw that in a dictionary, then decided to cut their own torso open to determine which side is right and which is left? I mean, obviously no one would actually do that, but... :lol:
Last edited by Vlürch on 2018-11-02, 13:48, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby OldBoring » 2018-11-02, 13:46

Whaaat? I thought the political left and right came from the Estates General before the French revolution... because the conservative ones sat on the right of the king, and the radical ones on the left of the king.

Besides, in Italian there's also maldestro for clumsy, awkward, cognate with maladroit. I've rarely heard destro as an adjective for dexterous nowadays, but the derived words destrezza, destreggiarsi, addestrare are quite common.
Sinistro besides meaning sinister also means accident.

In Portuguese esquerda means left, and sinistro sinister, while in Italian these two words are both sinistro/a.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby OldBoring » 2018-11-02, 13:47

Vlürch wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Basically, the Japanese calqued Western languages using Sino-Japanese elements starting in the Meiji. The Chinese then adopted most of these coinages wholesale in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so they are ultimately calqued on Western languages. Often the correspondences are morpheme-for-morpheme

I would've never imagined that was the direction of borrowing, but rather that the Japanese borrowed them from Chinese as with so many other words. Well, it does kind of make more sense for historical reasons, though.

It's more similar to how non-Greek Europeans (and Australians and North/South Americans) coined scientific and political terms using Greek roots, and then those words got reintroduced in Greece itself.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Vlürch » 2018-11-02, 13:54

OldBoring wrote:It's more similar to how non-Greek Europeans (and Australians and North/South Americans) coined scientific and political terms using Greek roots, and then those words got reintroduced in Greece itself.

Interesting, I don't really know anything about Greek so for some reason I assumed it had very few loanwords at all and that new loanwords were officially banned, like in Lithuanian. No idea why I thought that, though...

(I also edited my previous post while you posted, in case you didn't notice.)


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