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  1. - Top - End - #481
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Wow. I think this is one of the few times I've seen two posts after one another where there are more words I don't understand than words I do.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    I want more mwa-ha-haaa and much less boo-hoo-hoo.

  2. - Top - End - #482
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    Does anyone here what the linguistic term is for the unit of sounds between morphem and word?

    - A sound is a phone.
    - Sounds that are treated as being interchangable and are represented by the same letter are allophones of each other, even though they are different sounds. (Like how a rolled R and not-rolled R are both just an R for most of us.)
    - A group of allophones is called a phonem. (Like D'oh! )
    - A set of phonemes that carries information is a morphem. (Like "walk" is made from one morphem and "-ing" from one morphem, and "walking" is made from two morphems.)
    - A set of morphems (though it can be a set of just 1) combined with a meaning is a word.

    But if we have someone who for the first time hears the word "cedit card" yet for strange reason is able to ask us in English "What does [credit card] mean?", he is asking what information this string of phonemes has for us. What is the lingustic term for such a string of phonems?

    (Smartassery: Yes, you could says credit card is two word but someone who doesn't know how it is written could not tell the difference.
    Bonus Points: Yes, credit card has to morphems "credit" and "card", which each mean something by themselves.)
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  3. - Top - End - #483
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Wouldn't that be just a word? I mean, the person asking likely recognizes that it IS a word, s/he just doesn't know what the word means. There IS likely a special term (compound word? Is it a compound if the words are written sperately but are used together to convey on information?), but I'd just use word.

    Sound, maybe the sound that happens when somebody says credit card. If the person asking doesn't realize it's a word, but did realize that credit and card go together, wouldn't that just be a sound?

    I mean, if she recognized that credit card has some meaning, the person asks for the meaning of the words credit and card, used together (or creditcard if the person understood it that way, which doesn't really change the meaning). If the person doesn't realize credit card is a word, the person would just have heard a sound, the sound of credit card.
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  4. - Top - End - #484
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    What about word combinations that can't be split in half? Like vice versa, or deus ex machina?

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  5. - Top - End - #485
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    A phrase, maybe? Or just a word? Would you say things like "What, you don't know what the word vice versa means?" Likely not. Hm...
    Si non confectus, non reficiat.

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  6. - Top - End - #486
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    There might be a word for it, but not one I've heard. I'd just call it a word … or if I really wanted to stress the fact that the sounds are divorced from the meaning: a "series of phonemes".

    ETA: @Yora
    Last edited by Inglenook; 2012-09-30 at 12:42 PM.

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  7. - Top - End - #487
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Actually, I probably would. Vice versa and deus ex machina might be made up of multiple words (that don't exist in English if said separately), but they are still a word. It's funny like that.

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  8. - Top - End - #488
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    へ > べ > ぺ (he > be > pe) doesn't follow it completely straight, but it helps learning all the letters a lot, since it reduces the number from 136 down to 88.
    Historically, a lone (not doubled) p turned into h through an intermediate f-ish sound (which still remains before u). I've found a little bit of history of the language goes a long way when figuring out why things are spelled the way they are

    I can't imagine what a nightmare Chinese transcriptions are. Isn't an "X" much more like a "Sh" and a "Q" almost like a "K"?
    It's actually pretty straightforward.
    k/g/h - Pretty much matches English, except the last one is Russian kh, Scottish ch, etc.
    z/c/s - dz/ts/s. It makes more sense when you know that ts-like sounds are often spelled with a z (German, Italian) or c (Slavic languages) (or both, in the history of Spanish).
    zh/ch/sh - Like the above, but with the tongue tip pulled back in the mouth to around the place where the roof of your mouth goes smooth. They end up sounding like a "harder" (lower-pitched) English j/ch/sh.
    j/q/x - These are the "soft" versions of all three of the previous, like how English and Romance languages vary c and g based on the next vowel, or how Japanese ti turns into chi. These are pronounced by placing the tip of the tongue behind the lower teeth and raising the body of the tongue to make a sound similar to a higher-pitched j/ch/sh. They only exist before orthographic <i> and <u> (in which case the <u> is pronounced like French u, German ü, etc).
    So you have a low-pitched series pronounced with the tongue tip (zh/ch/sh) and a high-pitched series pronounced with the tongue body (j/q/x). Slavic and Indian languages often have the same.

    The problem with Latin is the limited number of letters; j/q/x are are the three that you can count on having unexpected pronunciations. Though these are not without precedent, j we know from English, q is used for a similar sound in Albanian, and x is similar to Medieval Spanish and Portuguese, and by extension Mesoamerican Latin alphabets and Vietnamese (though thanks to sound shifts, Vietnamese x and s basically switched pronunciations ).

    EDIT: Woops, missed that it rolled over to another page!

    I'm pretty sure things like "credit card" are compound words.

    What about word combinations that can't be split in half? Like vice versa, or deus ex machina?
    Set phrases tend to act as single words, and eventually undergo sound changes, phonological reduction, etc as if they were single words, no matter what their component words are. This is how we get "goodbye" from the saying "God be with you." I'd also guess this is how "I could care less" came about - the saying itself has been divorced from the meaning of its constituent words, and it just so happens that the first reduction has been something that when you analyze it as individual words, means the opposite of what was intended.
    Last edited by lsfreak; 2012-09-30 at 03:54 PM.
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  9. - Top - End - #489
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    italian has a few of those too.. like cassaforte..which translates as strong-box and is in fact a safe.. it is in fact two words compounded into one..yet doesn't work the way a single word does..because the plural consists in the plural forms of both words..and is cassEfortI..
    Last edited by dehro; 2012-09-30 at 06:30 PM.
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  10. - Top - End - #490
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    German uses a lot of compound words, but luckily, since they're always written together, they are considered one word, and only the last word matters for gender and declination.
    Si non confectus, non reficiat.

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  11. - Top - End - #491
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    I hate hate hate English compound words, because there seems to be no rhyme or reason behind which are joined together, which are hyphenated, and which are separated and just work together as a "phrase".

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by historiasdeosos View Post
    I hate hate hate English compound words, because there seems to be no rhyme or reason behind which are joined together, which are hyphenated, and which are separated and just work together as a "phrase".
    In general, hyphenated words are adjectives and non-hyphenated or compound words are nouns. The difference between a hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated phrase is that hyphenated words are those in which their constituent parts can't act individually while phrases do have constituent parts that all act individually.

    Hyphenated words such as in, say, "man-eating shark," are compound modifiers, two words that, when used in conjunction, modify their object in a way different from the way they would individually; the shark isn't a man shark, and it isn't an eating shark, it's a shark that eats men and thus a man-eating shark. An egg beater, by contrast, is a thing that beats eggs, and so doesn't need a hyphen because both words are using their individual meanings.
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  13. - Top - End - #493
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    I've been working on translating Old English a bit recently, including the poem The Dream of the Rood. It has a delicious compound verb in it, þurhdrifan, used in the phrase "þurhdrifan hi me mid deorcum næglum" which translates to "they drove (with) dark/black/iron-colored nails through me" - interesting because the verb in modern English requires separation to clearly express the instrumental.

    But the preposition of the phrasal verb is a full part of the verb itself - it's a true compound as opposed to the modern phrasal that's taken its place - "To drive through" as opposed to "to throughdrive."

    I rather like the old-fashioned verb, so I like to translate it as "they throughdrove me with blackiron nails," which gives the original compound and compounds a couple of senses of "deorcum" into the translation as well.


    Basically, I love compounds. They're fun to play with.
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  14. - Top - End - #494
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    That still exists in German. Durchschlagen, durchdringen, several others, probably. With "durch" meaning "through", here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    In general, hyphenated words are adjectives and non-hyphenated or compound words are nouns. The difference between a hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated phrase is that hyphenated words are those in which their constituent parts can't act individually while phrases do have constituent parts that all act individually.

    Hyphenated words such as in, say, "man-eating shark," are compound modifiers, two words that, when used in conjunction, modify their object in a way different from the way they would individually; the shark isn't a man shark, and it isn't an eating shark, it's a shark that eats men and thus a man-eating shark. An egg beater, by contrast, is a thing that beats eggs, and so doesn't need a hyphen because both words are using their individual meanings.
    I know about the adjective thing, but it's the nouns and verbs that get me.

    Why schoolwork but not school work or school-work? Why is well-being the preferred form, not wellbeing or well being? Why help desk but not helpdesk or help-desk?

    Occasionally I can suss out some sort of reasoning between the three types of compound nouns, like the hyphen in re-elect making it clear that it's not pronounced "real ection". But then you get silliness like "preempt" which obviously doesn't follow the add-a-hyphen rule.

    I wish English compounds worked like those in German, and we could just string them all together into one word and be done with it.

    ETA: And I think the re-elect and preempt examples don't even count, since they're not proper compound words but rather words with prefixes. So my understanding of the reasoning is back to 0.
    Last edited by Inglenook; 2012-09-30 at 09:25 PM.

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by historiasdeosos View Post
    Why schoolwork but not school work or school-work? Why is well-being the preferred form, not wellbeing or well being? Why help desk but not helpdesk or help-desk?
    Having spaces or lacking them depends on whether a given collection of words can have an ambiguous meaning.

    Take the musical genre bluegrass, for instance. As separate words, "blue grass" can mean the literal plant grass that is the literal color blue, so you need to stick the two words together to differentiate it. Same with back slash (backwards cut with a weapon, slash someone's or something's back, etc.) vs. backslash (the specific symbol "\"), black bird (a raven or crow) vs. blackbird (a specific species), copy right (correctly reproduce something, the privilege to copy something, etc.) vs. copyright (the specific legal system covering copying privileges and fees), home work (painting your house, working from home, etc.) vs. homework (assignments a student is given to complete outside of school), and so forth.
    Last edited by PairO'Dice Lost; 2012-09-30 at 11:57 PM.
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  17. - Top - End - #497
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Even in German there is some confusion about it. The last spelling reform introduced the rule that in the case of nouns you either write it as a single word or with a hyphen, depending on wether or not it seems a good idea to maintain readability.

    Kühlschrank (refridgerator; "cooling locker") is quite short for a German word and so common that everyone recognizes it instantly, so no hypen.
    Kühlschrankhersteller (refridgerator manufacturer) is considerably longer and not a word you encounter with any regularity. You can get away with Kühlschrankhersteller but this is really one of the cases where Kühlschrank-Hersteller might be the better way to do it, but it's not completely neccessary.
    Kühlschrankherstellerversammlung (refdridgerator manufacturer convention) is clearly too long. This really needs a hypen and be written as Kühlschrankhersteller-Versammlung.

    (However Kühlschrank-Herstellerversammlung would be wrong. That would kind of look like a "manufacturers convention of refridgerators", which doesn't make any sense.)



    Anyone here speaking Danish or might be helping out with Swedish or Norwegian, possibly even Icelandic?
    What are the constituents of the word Edderkop? In German we have the word Spinne for spider, similar to English. But still my gut tells me that Edderkop is a compound word made from Edder and Kop. What do those mean? Adder Head? Because it's poisenous like a snake but just as big as a snakes head plus legs?



    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    That still exists in German. Durchschlagen, durchdringen, several others, probably. With "durch" meaning "through", here.
    That's actually somthing that is very common in German. It's not even special, it's really one of the most basic gramatical elements to make new words. It's something I really love about German. Not because it sounds great or it is effective in transporting information, but because it's just a bit odd and funny.

    There's a load of prefixes which can be added to almost every verb.
    durch- (through)
    auf- (on, upon)
    bei- (by, with, next to)
    um- (turning around)
    über- (over, above)
    unter- (under, below)
    mit- (with)
    an- (next to, connected)
    zer- (dividing)
    ab- (seperating, removing)
    weg- (away)

    And probably quite a number more. Unfortunately, knowing the two parts doesn't tell you much about the meaning.
    For example legen (laying, placing, putting):

    auflegen (putting a venyl record on the player)
    Anlage (an industrial facility)
    Anlage (documents put into the envelope with a letter)
    Anlage (a music center) [that's what wikipedia calls them]
    anlegen (investing)
    anlegen (mooring a ship)
    Anleger (investor)
    Anleger (a pier to moore ships)
    anlegen (getting a gun in ready position)
    anlegen (provoking a fight)
    ablegen (removing something, like a coat or hat)
    ablegen (a ship leaving the pier)
    beilegen (the act of putting forms or documents into the envelope with a letter)
    beilegen (to end a conflict)
    Beilage (side dishes)
    festlegen (commiting to something)
    unterlegen or drunterlegen (putting something like a pad or cloth under a hard thing that might scratch the table)
    Unterlage (something to put under something else to protect a table for example)
    Unterlage (document) [No clue why?!]
    überlegen (thinking about something, considering, pondering)
    durchlegen (wearing through a matress or couch from lying on it over many years)
    umlegen (to move something to a different location)
    umlegen (killing someone)
    erledigen (getting something done)
    zulegen (adding speed)
    zurücklegen (putting something back to it's place)
    zurücklegen (saving something for later)
    weglegen (putting something away)

    That's probably most of them. Like 60% or so.
    And that's just a single verb. You can do the same thing with gehen (walking, leaving), kommen (coming), laufen (running), schieben (pushing), ziehen (pulling), schreiben (writing), sagen (saying), sprechen (speaking), reden (talking), fahren (driving), fliegen (flying), brechen (breaking), biegen (bending), fallen (falling), drehen (turning), sehen (seeing, watching), lesen (reading), hören (hearing), treten (kicking), schlagen (punching), heben (lifting), rufen (shouting), schreien (yelling), geben (giving), and probably some more.
    Interesting that all that come to my mind are about moving, transforming, communiction, and perception.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-10-01 at 05:00 AM.
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  18. - Top - End - #498
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Attercop is actually a word in English too, although really really antiquated. The only time I've seen it used is when Bilbo was taunting the spiders of Mirkwood in The Hobbit.

    The OED (not that OED) says that the English etymology is from Old English "attorcoppe", with "ator" meaning poison or venom, and "copp" meaning head, round, summit.

    Cop also has some relation to the word spider in general, like in "cobweb".

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    But still my gut tells me that Edderkop is a compound word made from Edder and Kop. What do those mean? Adder Head?
    Fun fact: the original word isn't adder, it's nadder, related to Sanskrit (or was it Hindi?) naja, also meaning snake. However, "a nadder" and "an adder" sound the same, and it was reinterpreted from the former to the latter. "A nickname" from "an ekename" is the opposite.
    EDIT: Got my etymologies confused. Naga/naja and snake are cognates, not nadder
    Last edited by lsfreak; 2012-10-01 at 02:35 PM.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by lsfreak View Post
    Fun fact: the original word isn't adder, it's nadder, related to Sanskrit (or was it Hindi?) naja, also meaning snake. However, "a nadder" and "an adder" sound the same, and it was reinterpreted from the former to the latter. "A nickname" from "an ekename" is the opposite.
    EDIT: Got my etymologies confused. Naga/naja and snake are cognates, not nadder
    Did not know about the origins of nickname. Very nice, and makes why nickname means what it does make more sense. Eke (also) + name = ekename (alsoname).
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    The German for adder is Natter. *smartass*
    I think there are a number of English words that lost their initial an. Because people started to feel that "a nadder" should be "an adder". Or so I heard, I wouldn't put my hand into the fire for that. Might have been on that BBC show, so it would probably be true.

    A new subject I want to to talk about: I was just playing Skyrim and searching for an arrow I accidentally shot in the ground, and always watching and playing everything in English or Japanese, my talking to myself was in English and so said "Ah, there he is." Which for an arrow in German makes sense, but is nonsense in English.
    So I was wondering and asking those who speak English well as a second language. What mistakes are there that native speakers of your languages often make when they are speaking a kind of broken English?

    Assigning gramatical genders to objects would be one that Germans probably do a lot. In English it's only done with ships or rarely countries. (Interestingly, in German specific ships are also feminine, while neither the words ship or boat are. Probably a tradition that doesn't have anything to do with grammar.)

    One my mother told me is that Finns tend to mix up he and she for people, apparently because Finnish doesn't have that distinction. She's something like on the pannell for an annual baltic film festical and said she met a number of Finns who made the mistake.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    All the time. All of it.

    I really have to watch out so I don't genderize* things when I talk. I've done called trees "he", the sun "she"... quite often, really.


    *Shuddup, firefox, that's a word now.

    Interestingly, since I do all my writing in English, it also seeps back into my German. "Right?" or "Okay?" at the end of sentences is one. "Well..." as a filler word. "Nonsense", if I don't believe something.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2012-10-10 at 08:57 AM.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    All the time. All of it.

    I really have to watch out so I don't genderize* things when I talk. I've done called trees "he", the sun "she"... quite often, really.


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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Assigning gramatical genders to objects would be one that Germans probably do a lot. In English it's only done with ships or rarely countries. (Interestingly, in German specific ships are also feminine, while neither the words ship or boat are. Probably a tradition that doesn't have anything to do with grammar.)
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    My location is four months out of date now, I'm European originally.
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  26. - Top - End - #506
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Greek speakers are utterly confounded by English words of Greek origin, whose meaning in English is radically different than their modern Greek counterparts.

    For example, a lot of people want to say "sanctuary" and they say "asylum" instead, because the Greek word for sanctuary is άσυλο - asylum.

    Or, the word apology in Greek (απολογία) is a special legal term for a defendant's statement/plea before the court. So if an Englishman says "the defendant apologized", he means that the defendant asked for forgiveness. But if a Greek says that, there's a good chance he got his terms mixed up, and simply means that the defendant gave his statement (which may very well be "I'm not apologizing, I'm innocent!").

    There's at least a dozen of such words which confuse people all the time, and many more that are less common.

    On the other hand, the gender thing doesn't happen that often, at least for those who speak English passably.
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  27. - Top - End - #507
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Oh yes. There's a ton of words that are written or pronounced the same way in English and German, but mean different things.

    The English word "Gift" is a present. It's also the German word for "Poison".
    Or the German verb "winken", which does not mean "to wink", but "to wave" (your hands at someone to say goodbye).
    Or even the small word "also", which is used commonly in both languages, but is just different enough in meaning to be annoying.

    There's tons of them. Blamieren (to embarrass, not to blame), bekommen (to get sth (i.e. a gift), not to become), dezent (unobtrusive, not decent), fast (almost, not fast), and so on (the last few from an online list, just a few chosen ones from the A-F section).
    "You raise your baton. The glass kettle drums pound out the the overture. Your vision clouds with blood. You wipe it away and continue. The xylophonist's hair bursts into a violet flame, but he continues playing. He's either a consummate professional or very drunk indeed..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    I want more mwa-ha-haaa and much less boo-hoo-hoo.

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by HeadlessMermaid View Post
    Greek speakers are utterly confounded by English words of Greek origin, whose meaning in English is radically different than their modern Greek counterparts.
    <snip>
    There's at least a dozen of such words which confuse people all the time, and many more that are less common.

    On the other hand, the gender thing doesn't happen that often, at least for those who speak English passably.
    Yup, that's fairly common. There's a specific word for the phenomenon in French - faux ami. It's particularly prominent with English-French translations or vice versa because of the volume of interchange of vocabulary, but Latin and Greek will presumably also be major culprits, and every now and again you come across some in just about every language.

    I think my favourite is from Spanish: if you're embarrassed, the word you're looking for is not "embarasada".

    I suspect in many cases the meaning was originally the same, but then changed through idiom. Many faux amis are not entirely unrelated in meaning (including the above), just not quite right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora
    I think there are a number of English words that lost their initial an. Because people started to feel that "a nadder" should be "an adder". Or so I heard, I wouldn't put my hand into the fire for that. Might have been on that BBC show, so it would probably be true.
    Yeah, there are a few of those. There's probably a list somewhere - I'm sure there's a name for the phenomenon. See "nickname", mentioned above, for the reverse.

    One that is commonly cited is "orange", from "naranja" via "norange". However, given that the word is the same in English and French, I think that might have been imported wholesale with the "error" already in place.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yora
    searching for an arrow I accidentally shot in the ground, and always watching and playing everything in English or Japanese, my talking to myself was in English and so said "Ah, there he is." Which for an arrow in German makes sense, but is nonsense in English.
    It's not complete nonsense - we do have a tendency to anthropomorphise things over here, so you wouldn't be looked at too strangely. The less mainstream the dialect, the more it seems to happen. In fact, the more the rules seem to break down altogether. I remember being once asked, in my hometown no less, "can you pass me some of they?".
    Last edited by Aedilred; 2012-10-10 at 11:27 AM.
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  29. - Top - End - #509
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    I love false friends! I was horrified when one of my students told me "Ayer me constipé," and all I could do was wonder why he was telling me about his bowel movements (or lack thereof). It was only later that I realized he meant "I caught a cold."

    I also love that Honda marketed the Fitta in Scandinavia.

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    I think my favourite is from Spanish: if you're embarrassed, the word you're looking for is not "embarasada".
    That's one of my favorites as well. The verb embarasar means "to impregnate," as my high school Spanish class learned when, during someone's presentation about her summer vacation, she tried to say that she'd accidentally bumped into (literally, they were both jogging) a male teacher over the summer and the experience "embarrassed" her.

    Our teacher's response was something along the lines of "I don't see how; it should have taken more than just one bump!"
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