Random language thread 6

This is our main forum. Here, anything related to languages and linguistics can be discussed.

Moderator: Forum Administrators

User avatar
Prowler
Posts: 1877
Joined: 2013-07-19, 5:09
Gender: male
Country: PT Portugal (Portugal)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Prowler » 2019-02-02, 17:12

I wonder how many people out there get Chinese characters and Arabic tattoos thinking they mean something but turns out they actually mean either something else or are wrongly written/drawn? Let's face it, most people in Europe, USA and Australia don't speak Chinese or Arabic or have a clue what they're looking at when they see something written in those languages.

When I was in HS I actually had a similar convo like this with a few classmates. One of them even jokingly said "it's possible a guy might think his Chinese tattoo says something cool or philosophical but it actually says 'I am an idiot' or 'kick me' instead".

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 22625
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2019-02-02, 18:24

The "vengeful tattooist" is something of an urban myth. I've yet to see a meaningful tattoo that meant something completely opposed to what the wearer intended. I've seen scores of bad Sinogram tattoos and the chief flavours seem to be:

1. Meaningful characters badly rendered.
2. Names spelled phonetically (often according to a fake "Chinese alphabet").
3. Mistranslations.

An example of the last is one I saw at the Highland Games that just baffled me until I realised the target was "no fear". But the guy just looked up both of those words separately so the result was nonsense.

I still find that easier to understand than (2). Transcriptions of Western names into Chinese tend to come out ugly, both visually and audially. If you care at all about Chinese culture, why wouldn't you use a proper Chinese version of your name?
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

User avatar
Prowler
Posts: 1877
Joined: 2013-07-19, 5:09
Gender: male
Country: PT Portugal (Portugal)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Prowler » 2019-02-03, 15:57

linguoboy wrote:The "vengeful tattooist" is something of an urban myth. I've yet to see a meaningful tattoo that meant something completely opposed to what the wearer intended. I've seen scores of bad Sinogram tattoos and the chief flavours seem to be:

1. Meaningful characters badly rendered.
2. Names spelled phonetically (often according to a fake "Chinese alphabet").
3. Mistranslations.

An example of the last is one I saw at the Highland Games that just baffled me until I realised the target was "no fear". But the guy just looked up both of those words separately so the result was nonsense.

I still find that easier to understand than (2). Transcriptions of Western names into Chinese tend to come out ugly, both visually and audially. If you care at all about Chinese culture, why wouldn't you use a proper Chinese version of your name?

This reminds me of this time a classmate of mine in 6th or 7th grade picked up a marker and wrote "no fear" on one of his hands... thing is, he meant to write "no fair". Let's say he wasn't exactly at the top of my English class.

When I was a kid, I went to EXPO 98 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expo_%2798) and visited many countries' halls/pavilions. One of them beign Saudi Arabia's. I no longer remember anything about Saudi Arabia's except for, at the exit, getting my name written in Arabic on a piece of paper for free. My brother got his as well. We no longer have them, but now this conversation made me think of it. Not gonna reveal our names here but I googled them and indeed there are Arabic versions of them. Guess that's bound to happen when you have rather biblical given names.

Now, out of curiosity, the guy writing them, I recall speaking Portuguese, or at least sounded so. I vaguely recall him asking my mother what my name was and don't recall him having a foreign accent. I was like 8 years old at the time, so my memory is a bit hazy. He was also Black. Admittedly I'm not sure about Saudi Arabia's demographics, but I've always noticed their football national team(usually they qualify for the World Cup, at least in my lifetime), always has a few Black players.

...or maybe the guy was from Guiné-Bissau or something. There's a lot of Muslims there. And he could have learnt Arabic. I'll never know, though. But this is a linguistics related forum, so now I wonder how many Muslims from countries where Arabic isn't spoken learn Arabic. I know translations exist, but I'm sure some read the Quran in Arabic at some point.

And speaking of Arabic, when I went to Tunisia with my family as a kid, the last hotel we stayed at offered Arabic classes as one of their entertainment activities to the guests. None of us took part in it, but it's cool they apparently offered those for free with no extra charge. I don't think someone who goes to a hotel near the beach with a nice pool will learn much of a foreign language, especially not a language like Arabic in a week, though. Maybe scratch the very surface of the basics? But I guess people who gave it a try might have then gone back home with an increased interest of keeping up with it for some years.And also, I wonder how many hotels offer such things? I cannot remember the name of the hotel at all, but that one did and I believe was the only hotel I've ever stayed at that offered language classes of the country it was in.

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 22625
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2019-02-04, 16:20

That post truly lived up to the promise of the thread title.

In any case, I found the characters for that munged "No Fear" calf tattoo I mentioned: 否怖. While I was looking, I turned up and even more perplexing example I saw on a stranger's neck: 煩魄魂. Good luck with that one!
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 23150
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-02-04, 21:19

I can't seem to distinguish most non-Brazilian accents in Portuguese from each other.
Prowler wrote:Anyway, I recall Wikipedia asking for donations a couple of years of ago, which made me wonder if they were in financial difficulties. After all their service is 100% free. And I don't believe they even have ads, do they?

No, they don't, which is why they're always in financial difficulties and then have to run their own ads asking people for donations instead. :P

User avatar
md0
Posts: 7413
Joined: 2010-08-08, 19:56
Country: CY Cyprus (Κύπρος / Kıbrıs)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby md0 » 2019-02-05, 6:06

On the other hand, it's not like they rely on small one-off donations - they (Wikimedia) also receive donations from corporations and funds
https://wikimediafoundation.org/support/benefactors/

Considering how many projects they have to host, I am sure the need all the money they can get.

Yet, the only corporate-related controversy I remember coming out of Wikimedia was about which license to use for Wikidata (which is now under CC-0, effectively in the public domain). Some contributors wanted Wikidata to be under a copyleft license like Wikipedia is. Under CC-0, its content can be (and is) reused by Google Search and all those voice assistants freely, without requiring attribution or adherence to the ShareAlike aspect of the Wikipedia license.
"If you like your clause structure, you can keep your clause structure"
Cypriot Greek (el-cy) | ○Standard Modern Greek of Greece (el)Assorted Englishes (en) | ↓France French (fr) | ⊖Police Procedural J-Drama Japanese (ja)Standard Turkish (tr) | ↑German Standard German (de)

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 23150
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-02-05, 7:49

What I've heard of the Central Dravidian languages so far is very limited but also sounds like Telugu. This is a bit tricky because language contact is a very common phenomenon in India and all of the are spoken in areas where Telugu is also spoken.

User avatar
Ser
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 7620
Joined: 2008-08-14, 2:55
Real Name: Renato
Gender: male
Location: Most Beautiful Vancouver / 醉美溫哥華
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Ser » 2019-02-05, 18:18

I posted a new regular BTG and FUBAR BTG in the Games subforum.

User avatar
księżycowy
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 12962
Joined: 2006-09-13, 23:51
Real Name: Paweł
Country: US United States (United States)
Contact:

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby księżycowy » 2019-02-05, 18:25

Depending on if anyone else joins, I'm up for another FUBAR. I think I'll sit the BTG out this round.

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 23150
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-02-06, 5:16

We shouldn't have both going on at the same time or else we'll just repeat the same disaster we just had with both games taking forever to complete.

kevin
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 1974
Joined: 2012-03-29, 11:07
Gender: male
Country: DE Germany (Deutschland)
Contact:

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby kevin » 2019-02-06, 14:44

I don't think having two games running at the same time was the problem. Nobody had two translations to do at the same time. The same disaster would have happened with only one game.

It's probably more important that people only take part if they actually plan to make time for it and don't give their personal TACs, study groups and whatnot higher priority.

User avatar
księżycowy
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 12962
Joined: 2006-09-13, 23:51
Real Name: Paweł
Country: US United States (United States)
Contact:

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby księżycowy » 2019-02-06, 14:50

Or, alternatively, they make it a part of their TAC/study group/whatever. But yes I agree with Kevin. I don't nessicarily think it was because both games were running at the same time.

User avatar
Prowler
Posts: 1877
Joined: 2013-07-19, 5:09
Gender: male
Country: PT Portugal (Portugal)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Prowler » 2019-02-06, 17:46

► Show Spoiler

False friends sure can lead to a lot of awkward moments...

Pó means dust. Polvo means... octopus in Portuguese.

User avatar
Naava
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 952
Joined: 2012-01-17, 20:24
Gender: female
Country: FI Finland (Suomi)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Naava » 2019-02-06, 18:51

Prowler wrote:
► Show Spoiler

False friends sure can lead to a lot of awkward moments...

Pó means dust. Polvo means... octopus in Portuguese.

Reminds me of these:

Jussi = first name
pussi = bag
► Show Spoiler

And similarly:
► Show Spoiler

I think die means 'this one'?
► Show Spoiler

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 22625
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2019-02-07, 20:22

I just learned that the Irish Dairy Board has changed its name to "Ornua", representing Irish Ór Nua "new gold". In Munster dialect, nua is pronounced /noː/ so when I said the name to myself, it sounded like "Oh no!" and I just started giggling.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 23150
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-02-10, 6:34

kevin wrote:The same disaster would have happened with only one game.

Except that the last time we actually did only one game, it didn't happen. The one game went just fine and did not take forever to complete.
It's probably more important that people only take part if they actually plan to make time for it and don't give their personal TACs, study groups and whatnot higher priority.

Which they're still doing anyway.
linguoboy wrote:I just learned that the Irish Dairy Board has changed its name to "Ornua", representing Irish Ór Nua "new gold". In Munster dialect, nua is pronounced /noː/ so when I said the name to myself, it sounded like "Oh no!" and I just started giggling.

One time, I posted a traditional Hmong song where part of the lyrics is literally the words "oh no!" (at 0:57, 1:53, and 2:47):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbkA9-uZwV0

Linguaphile
Posts: 1750
Joined: 2016-09-17, 5:06

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-02-10, 17:52

vijayjohn wrote:One time, I posted a traditional Hmong song where part of the lyrics is literally the words "oh no!" (at 0:57, 1:53, and 2:47):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbkA9-uZwV0

It's common as a refrain/filler in this genre, though, much like "ni yai" is common in Hmong war laments. For example each stanza in this song Hmoob Lub Neej starts with the syllables "oh no" too (at 0:39, 1:09, 1:39, etc). Some singers sing it as oib no instead. No surprise to anyone here that each language is different. :D The actual word "no" in Hmong is tsis.

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 23150
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-02-11, 4:03

Thanks, Linguaphile! I've been curious about what it actually means ever since I found that video. :)

Does it have a particular etymology, do you know? I don't believe I've ever heard a phrase that's very similar in any other Southeast Asian languages yet.

Linguaphile
Posts: 1750
Joined: 2016-09-17, 5:06

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-02-11, 6:25

vijayjohn wrote:Thanks, Linguaphile! I've been curious about what it actually means ever since I found that video. :)

Does it have a particular etymology, do you know? I don't believe I've ever heard a phrase that's very similar in any other Southeast Asian languages yet.

I don't know the etymology, but found this which explains the way these phrases are used a bit better than I did:
"The opening line of a song contains standard words that identify the type of song to come, as well as
the dialect of the singer.... The opening words may also be repeated at any time during the song, usually at the beginning of each verse and side, as the singer wishes.
" They are actually describing a different style of song there (kwv txhiaj), but the same idea applies.
I don't think most of the intro phrases have any real meaning in modern Hmong other than their use in songs. The fact that they have so many regional variations (and even individual variation) seems to support that, too. Usually the variations involve the same syllables in different tones, or sometimes with different vowels, i.e. oh no / oib no / oib nos [final consonants indicate tone] are all considered to be the same, which wouldn't be the case with a normal Hmong word.
For one of the other, very common opening refrains (nij yais / nib yai / nij yaiv / nim yaiv / nij ye / ne yais ) there are a couple theories about the etymology; one is that it may have come from the Hmong words niam yaiv (something like "mother, oh dear") and another is that it means "hey you" in some variant of Chinese (ni ye?). Anyway this gives an idea of type of etymologies involved... the phrases are designed to get the listeners' attention and the words have changed from their original forms so much that the original meaning is no longer known by the singers; they may have come from other languages; they are genre-specific and have regional variations. I think that oh no is a much more recent one than ni yai, maybe it comes from English after all! Who knows! :mrgreen: But it is definitely not used with the meaning it has in English, it just introduces the song/verse and is used to get the listeners' attention (and to give the singer a moment to collect his/her thoughts for the upcoming verse, because traditionally the songs were invented on the spot).

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 23150
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Random language thread 6

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-02-11, 7:08

Thanks again! That would be pretty funny if it turned out to come from English. :P


Return to “General Language Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest