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Hi all!

Please, could you enlighten me on what "desk diving scratches" means? As far as I understand these are scratches commonly found on the surface of wrist watches? But I would be thankful for further explanation. Why diving? And what does "desk" refer to?

Ei tea kust ilmunud nagu poleks midagi juhtunud [userpic]

Dear friends,
Please help me to translate or at least understand what is said here:
3. Keera rullile üks pööre ja murra seejärel äärmised tühjad küljed keskele.
4. Rulli tortilla lõpuni kinniste otsadega toruks.
Many thanks in advance!

Neverspeak [userpic]

Does anyone know how I might be able to type the symbol he? I'm on a laptop and I guess I don't have enough keys, maybe it is a key combination or alt-key? Here it is shown two keys to the left of the Backspace key:

but I don't have that key on my keyboard. I've tried Shift+ every single key, still can't find it. I also can't find small や.

John Kelly [userpic]

(Cross-posted to Library of Babel, but that community seems moribund.)

This is Italian, but clearly not standard Italian. It's the text of a madrigal by Orazio Vecchi (1550-1605). Here's the original--my attempt at improving on Luigi Cataldi's translation follows. The part that puzzles me most is the last line: "Nuo per nuo". Many thanks, and I hope you enjoy this piece.

Deh vita allabastrina
Rioseninetta damaschina
Perche tanto martir à chi si muore

Se ben sarò slonzao
Vi vorrò sempre ben
fin c'harò fiao

O viso in zuccara
Deh vien te priego al quia
Che me stilo il ceruello
E vago in bruo
Nuo per nuo


Ah, alabaster life,
Little damask rose,
Why do you torment so one who is dying?

Even if I get drunk
I will love you
As long as I'm conscious.

Oh, sugar-sweet face,
Ah, come, I beg you, here,
For I'm going mad
and breaking down
for us.

petrusplancius [userpic]

A Wasserkufen standing in the street in early 19th Century Nuremberg. What exactly would this have been? What would it have been used for? A passing stranger was observed to wash his hands in it. Would this have been unusual behaviour?

Hinc ille avium concentus in agris [userpic]

In David Prudhomme's "Einmal durch den Louvre" ("La Traversée du Louvre"; German translation: Ulrich Pröfrock) the narrator, overwhelmed by all the statues, quickly leaves the museum, "bevor ich's an der Murmel kriege..."

1.) I suspect it's supposed to mean something like "before I lose my marbles"?
2.) But surely it's not a common German expression? At least I've never heard it (Austrian, 39 y.o.). It turns out it is! (At least in some parts.)
3.) What can the original French have been?

Julie [userpic]

What do these mean?

Ironically, I probably made this, albeit over 15 years ago, so I don't remember what it means.

Firerose Arien [userpic]

I know it's an odd request, but I'm looking for how you would say lightning bringer, or 'one who brings lightning' in Hebrew. Vowels are appreciated, since I'm not familiar with the word for lightning or the various forms of the word 'bring'.

Todah rabah!

Eva [userpic]

I've come across an expression that I'm not familiar with.

Basically, I've been watching #BraGer in the BBC commentary, because I wanted to know what impartial commentators had to say (except for, I was surprised to hear, rather offensively misidentifying the German anthem). In the second half, when it's 5-0, the commentator says: "I think Germany might declare at any moment." Now, I'm familiar with a number of meanings of "declare" and expressions involving it, but I'm not fully sure what this is about except that I don't think it's something from football.

I found references to "declaring" having something to do with cricket matches being finished early - could it be that, or is it something else? My knowledge of cricket is non-existent except that people have to wear exactly the right kind of clothes (thank you, Dorothy L. Sayers), there are wickets, and people run around the field like in what is called "Brennball" in our schools.

Rai [userpic]

I have seen that for many languages there exist stories written with the express goal of giving beginners something to read--normally they limit the vocabulary to a certain number of words, and those words tend to be (for the most part) stuff you'd see in beginning classes, etc.

I was wondering if such a thing exists for Chinese and if so, if anyone knows where I could find it? Traditional characters are much preferred but really I'll take anything.

Thanks in advance :)

Trible [userpic]

I'm GMing a roleplaying game where Our Heroes (Brick and Glyph) will be fighting a pair of super-powered bank robbers, Blue Wombat (who isn't Australian, but *really* wants to be) and Wallaby (who actually is Australian).

More info than you probably need on everyone involvedCollapse )

Some specific things I'd like put in the most exaggerated Australian accent possible:
"Hey, that's not the old guy who usually comes to stop us [Anonymous]. That guy [Brick] looks like a brick wall, and the other bloke [Glyph] has glowing eyes"
assorted insults and taunts to said superheroes
"I'm not leaving yet, Wallaby, we can beat them"

And anything else you think might come up in a battle between a pair of bank robbers and a pair of superheroes. If there's anything in particular that you think Wallaby might say (that is different from what an equivalent American character would say), that would be helpful, as well.

(edited to give it a more accurate title)

Olga Yermishkina [userpic]


I have two question on Finnish language.

1. Is there a website where I can buy or download electronic books in Simplified Language (selkosuomi, selkokirjat)? They must be for adults. I found several books on, but they are not electronic.

2. I want to send postcards in Finnish language. I registered on, but soon I found out that I can't choose the country where I will send. Is there a way I can get addresses of people who are willing to receive postcards, limited to specific country? Any ideas?

Thank you very much in advance!

Julie [userpic]

Anyone know what this graffiti says?
(Not 100% sure that it's Bulgarian.)

petrusplancius [userpic]

I would be grateful if any Dutch-speaker could help me to interpret an unfamiliar expression in the following sentence from an old maritime narrative. We were trying to sail south over the equator, 'maer de windt en wilde ons niet dienen, leyden alsoo die beste Bough voor ende quamen temet om de noort.'

petrusplancius [userpic]

I need an immediately intelligible English equivalent for 'het Goereetsche gat' for a translation of an old Dutch narrative, would 'the Goeree Channel' be most appropriate?

Panda Girang [userpic]

Hello, I wonder if any Polish speaker who has some free time can translate this song?
I've been listening to this on repeat and it would be nice to know what the song is about :)

Nie bede tu póde dalej
karcmorecko winka nalej.
Nalej, nalej do puchara karcmorecko malowana. x2

Hej, Hanecko przerozkoszna,
gdzies Ty taka siumna rosła?
Rosła, rosła przekwitała i cerwone licka miała. x2

Dobrze temu jest Jankowi,
co się żeni przy łojcowi.
Przy łojcowi przy mateli ta mu serce rozweseli. x2

(I'm not sure why there's a polish translation of above lyric?)

Nie będę tu, pójdę dalej
Nie będę tu, pójdę dalej
Karczmareczko winka nalej
Nalej, nalej do puchara Karczmareczko malowana x2

Hej, Haneczko przerozkoszna
gdzie Ty taka wspaniała rosła?
Rosła, rosła, przekwitała i czerwone policzki miała x2

Dobrze temu jest Jankowi,
co się żeni przy ojcu
Przy ojcu przy matce ta mu serce rozweseli x2,gooral,karczmareczka.html

thanks in advance!

Oryx-and-Crake [userpic]

Dear linguaphiles,

I am working on translation of a book by Alice Munro and I have come across a sentence that I don't understand.
"The visitor who rose to be introduced was tall and thin and sallow, with a face that seemed to hang in pleats, precise and melancholy."
I don't understand how his face can be hanging in pleats (this, in itself, happens if there is a lot of extra skin) and be precise at the same time. Extra skin suggests a certain sloppiness or flabbiness, which, in my opinion, is incompatible with being precise. Either the word precise has some very specific meaning here, or I am missing something. Please help.

roselyndoll [userpic]

Hello. I am an English learner and have a question related to English. I have been reading a book which was translated into (American) English in 1904. In the beginning the author is introduced. The introduction includes a clause that goes  "it is for humanity, pure and simple, that he stands". If I understand correctly, "pure and simple" defines humanity, which makes the clause "He stands for pure and simple humanity". Am I right? I am asking because for me it would make more sence (my native is Finnish) if it said "it is for humanity, purely and simply, that he stands". I am also not certain about the English language usage in the beginning of the 1900s.

asher63 [userpic]

It's my understanding that in Modern Hebrew, 'abba' [אבא] (which I think comes from Aramaic) is generally used for "father" rather than the older form 'av'[אב]; as in 'ha-abba shel David' for "David's father".

Is 'av' ever used in Modern Hebrew? And if so, in what context?

Similarly for 'ima' vs 'em'.

Also, what are the plural forms (regular and dependent) for 'abba' and 'ima'?

FNU NMN LNU [userpic]

I apologize in advance for a potentially very silly question: how realistic is the supposedly Arabic name transliterated as Gassan (or Hassan) Abdurra[c]hman ibn Chottab (or Hottab)?

What, if anything, can be said about its provenance based on the transliteration?

ASH [userpic]

If "sine metu" means "without fear", how would you say "with fear"?

Thanks in advance! :)


Dear linguaphiles,

could you please help me identify that phrase at the very beginning of an It's my life remix (the original version is by Dr Alban). You can hear it at the very beginning. What language is it, Spanish? And what's the meaning?

Here is a link to the video:

Thank you in advance!

little panda [userpic]

Is there any kind of research or explanation why some slang/nonstandard words go on to become part of our vocabulary while others are trendy for a while and then drop out of use almost completely?

mamcu [userpic]

Some of you might enjoy this Slate article discussing various theories of the ordering of adjectives in English phrases.

booq [userpic]

Hi everybody,

the text below has got something obscure to me:

This latent symptom is like a dark warrior, hiding behind a closed door, ready to attack when weakness is perceived.

The meaning is quite clear. The question, Is this very character of dark warrion, hiding behing a closed door something well-known or fabulous? Whence has the writer taken it from? Or is it just an author's fiction maybe?

Julie [userpic]

What are the plural forms of "haiku" and "senryu"?

Oryx-and-Crake [userpic]

Dear linguaphiles,

I have come across a sentence that puzzled me. It describes someone who has grown up in a rich family and led a protected life: "Jocelyn had been insulated in some ways, left stem and innocent." I have never seen 'stem' as an adjective before. It may be a typo and the real word may be 'stern' which makes slightly more sense in the context, but still not a lot. Any ideas?

sharplet_ed [userpic]


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Julie [userpic]

the guy sings in Russian and English
and i can make out "nazdorovye" (sp?) the "cheers" expression
but is there something else in Russian in there?

frozen fields [userpic]

Dear Linguaphiles,

I will greatly appreciate help translating the following into Russian:
I, [...], a Notary Public commissioned by the State of Illinois, USA, hereby certify that this document consisting of 16 pages, is a complete, true and correct photocopy of the original passport of [...]. 
Many thanks in advance!

Hinc ille avium concentus in agris [userpic]

Annemarie Schimmel in "Die drei Versprechen des Sperlings" says that the Arabic term for extreme hunger is ju' al-baqar, literally "hunger of the cow". She explains that the cow symbolizes insatiability and quotes a poem by Rumi: There is a small green island where one white cow lives alone, a meadow of an island. The cow grazes until nightfall, full and fat, but during the night she panics and grows thin as a single hair. "What will I eat tomorrow? There's nothing left!" By dawn the grass has grown up again, waist-high. The cow starts eating and by dark the meadow is clipped short. She is full of strength and energy, but she panics in the dark as before and grows abnormally thin overnight. The cow does this over and over and this is all she does. She never thinks, "This meadow has never failed to grow back. What should I be afraid every night that it won't?" The cow is the bodily soul. The island field is this world where that grows lean with fear and fat with blessing, lean and fat. White cow, don't make yourself miserable with what is to come or not to come.

The ancient Greeks had the same word: boulimia, again: "hunger of the cow". It's not a poetic metaphor, but e.g. sober Xenophon uses the term when his soldiers are too hungry to march on, Anabasis 5.4.7.

Strange that they both independendly picked the cow - and not the wolf or the locust or fire or whatever. Does anybody know why this is? And how do you say in your languages?

Maybe "cow" is just used to intensify the word that follows? Cf. German "Schweinegeld", "Schweinearbeit" etc. - literally "money of the pig", "work of the pig" - just means "a lot of money, work". Of course, this explanation doesn't satisfy my cow-hunger for stories.

Translator who loves her work [userpic]

Does anyone know the correct word for this stand: (item 10 - a kind of drawer)

Translator who loves her work [userpic]

How this round contraption was called ? I would call it a roller but maybe it had some special name?

UPDATE. And how do you call this big umbrella-like thing on top of a phonograph?

Marcus L. Rowland [userpic]

I'm writing some fanfic in which a character wants to end a storm that has been magically created by someone else invoking Poseidon. My character has a present-day classical scholar's working knowledge of ancient Greek, but isn't necessarily 100% accurate, and is making things up more or less as he goes along. Unfortunately my last exposure to ancient Greek was about fifty years ago and ended when it became apparent I have no gift for languages. As should be obvious, I have no idea what I'm doing.

I've written the English version of the spell as a modified version of an invocation of Poseidon (originally to help in casting a spell) I found on a Wicca web site, adding in the bit about horses since it's an important plot point. I have no idea how authentic the result is:

Poseidon, god of the sea, I pray to thee to aid me in ending this spell.
Almighty you are, yes indeed, with powers of the ocean at your command, you are the master of the sea. I pray the grace of your help to end this storm, and offer this gift of a horse, for you are their master.
So mote it be!
Long live Poseidon, the god of the sea!

I fed that into Google Translate - originally "mote" wasn't translated, so I changed it to "must", after which I got this:

“Ποσειδώνας, θεός της θάλασσας, προσεύχομαι για σένα για να με βοηθήσει στον τερματισμό το ξόρκι. Παντοδύναμος είσαι, ναι πράγματι, με τις δυνάμεις του ωκεανού στην εντολή σας, είστε ο πλοίαρχος της θάλασσας. Προσεύχομαι τη χάρη της τη βοήθειά σας για να τερματιστεί αυτή η καταιγίδα, και να προσφέρουν αυτό το δώρο της ένα άλογο, για εσάς είναι ο αφέντης τους.”
“Έτσι πρέπει να είναι!
Ζήτω ο Ποσειδώνας, ο θεός της θάλασσας!”

Does this look vaguely plausible, or is it nonsense? And is there something genuine that I could use instead, bearing in mind that the goal is to stop a storm via this sacrifice?

Later - the comments have convinced me to go with English text instead, the Greek won't add to the story. And I've found a suitable Homeric verse to quote/mangle here:

dorsetgirl [userpic]

Can anyone explain what the phrase "cheer for chalk" means?

I saw it (as "but people don't cheer for chalk") here in a tennis article at and I can't work out from the context what on earth it means.

I tried googling "cheer for chalk" and only got three hits, including the one above. The word "chalk" itself seems to have some sports-jargon meaning that I can't guess at - one result included the sentence "There is the potential of classic match-ups as long as chalk begins to grab the bracket and guide it towards destiny" which, seriously, couldn't make less sense to me if it were in Basque or Sanskrit.

So is this a sports term (and if so which sport?) Are speakers of British English familiar with the term from a particular sport? Or is it a common phrase in American English?

ain't no Houellebecq girl [userpic]

I may be asking for the moon on a stick, but is anyone aware of an intensive course in Somali (preferably Northern or Benadir) available anywhere in the world? Ideally I'd be looking for a course of up to about four weeks, perhaps something like four hours of lessons per day plus speaking practice - but would take anything I could get, as long as it's not a year-long one-day-a-week arrangement, which is all Google is turning up. I'm an absolute beginner.

Suggestions enormously welcome...

Eva [userpic]

I've spontaneously decided to go to Belgium for a few days next week. My French is rusty but should be sufficient for the French areas and will likely improve once I'm using it. Anything complex I hope I will be able to do in English and/or German. However, I'd like to at least have polite basics in Dutch so I can, say, say "good morning" when entering a room. My travel guide has Dutch words of that sort, but while I can read Dutch with a bit of imagination extrapolating from my other languages, the pronunciation is generally far from what a German like myself would go for from looking at it, and of course that guide came without pronunciation help.

Would anyone have a recommendation for online resources that give me such polite basics in Dutch as it occurs in Belgium as audio and/or video? I'd prefer a real speaker sounding them out for non-native learners to a dictionary in this case.

mavisol [userpic]



dorsetgirl [userpic]

I'm sorry, I know I sound like some crusty old reactionary here. It's just that this is something that for some reason I find particularly irritating, and I wondered how others feel about it. I generally find things easier to accept if I understand the reasoning behind them, so my question is:

When (and WHY for heaven's sake?) did the made-up word "Imma" start to be used for (as far as I can work out) "I'm going to"?

Quite apart from the fact that it doesn't make sense, even the spelling doesn't make sense, to me at least. I'm assuming that it's meant to sound like "EYE-muh", so why is there a double-m in there?

And if it's too hard to say "I'm going to need you to...", why not simply say "I need you to..." ?

As I start to look ancient-ness in the face, I find it increasingly difficult to know whether things that I find odd or alien are just natural changes in the language, or whether they're American usage, teenage catch-phrases or just internet-meme things. (Though I suspect that those last three are often all the same thing nowadays. We're so heavily outnumbered on the internet that our children don't even know many of the things they pick up aren't normal British usage).

So is "Imma" standard American usage? I've even seen educated middle-aged people using it. And does anyone know how and where this abbreviation arose?

Hinc ille avium concentus in agris [userpic]

In German we use the word "salopp" (casual, sloppy) absolutely innocuously, but don't you say "salope" to a French woman, because I'm told there it means something like slut or c*nt, really offensive. "Salope" originally is a "dirty hoopoe" (sale huppe), I like that.


The Bible names an unclean bird called dukhiphat (Leviticus 11:19, Deuteronomy 14:18), but we don't know whether that's a hoopoe. (It could be, though. It builds it nest in kind of uncleanly way and stinks. "Salope" wasn't called that for nothing.) We do know that Solomon's messenger bird, the hudhud, in the 27th sura of the Koran is one. And so is the leader of the birds in Attar's "Conference of the Birds". In the Islamic world the hoopoe is regarded as the king of the birds, clear-sighted and faithful (but, truth be told, also as a stinker). Henze wrote one of his most beautiful operas about it, "L'Upupa", and I think there will be a hoopoe in this year's "Zauberflöte" at the Bregenzer Festspiele, because that's the director's favourite bird. (At least that's what I think I've heard on the radio*. But for a long time I misheard a line from Bob Dylan's "Highwater" as: "The hoopoe is a pretty bird, she warbles as she flies", but he actually sings "cuckoo", and that's a quote as well.)

Long introduction, short question: Is the hoopoe seen as a "he", a "she" or an "it" in your language/s? German Wiedehopf is grammatically masculine, and I guess we see it as a "he" as well. Little Mr Tereus.
* I heard right. Here's Papageno and his hoopoe:

ほっこりしませんか? [userpic]

Why is it that American and Canadian (are there any others?) can be used as both adjectives and nouns e.g. "I am American." and "I am an American."? Is it something to do with the -an ending?

Hinc ille avium concentus in agris [userpic]

Can anyone recommend Arabic language singers to me? The most important things for me would be approximate use of standard language and clear articulation. Availability of lyrics would definitely be helpful as well.

Thanks in advance!

akimaslanov [userpic]

Hello, can you help me translate these 2 sheets of paper. It is Japanese possibly, but I’m not sure.

Síle [userpic]

my sister's wedding is near and i am in charge of getting wedding vases (for candles) inscribed for a memorial table (for the dead relatives to be honoured). one is in english, the other is in french, and another in italian. i was wondering if i got get help with a translation to fit the candle

it has to be 50 characters.. 25 per line


this flame is a symbol of
lives & love remembered.

it has to be the same amount of characters in french

any help?

Аксиома aka Эстель [userpic]

Hi, everybody!
Last time you helped me a lot (thank you, btw) so I decided to try my luck again.
While translating a book I came across some very unusual using of the word "gyros". Here's what I mean.

Read more...Collapse )

So here is my question. Is he talking about real gyros? Or is it some kind of metaphor? Because, you know, gyros is not the first thing you think about when talking about a racing car. At the same time I couldn't find any other examples of using "gyros" as a metaphor. English is not my native language, so I'm a bit confused here.
Any help appreciated.

Юлия Гофри [userpic]

I was wondering if you you could help me settle a small disagreement I had with my son today.
He had recently wrote a poem that starts with the following line:

"By the silver of the moonlight and the golden of the sun..."

Personally, I think this is not the correct usage of the word "golden."  When read separately, "the golden of the sun" does not seem to make sense (the golden what of the sun?).  One could think it refers to the word "light", but the word "light" is part of the "moonlight" here.  Then again, one could always spell it as "moon light".  Still sounds a bit off.

My son realized this is not quite a conventional use of the word, but seems to think it is OK in a poem.
On one hand, he is a native speaker, unlike myself.
On the other hand - well, he is a kid.  Elementary school age.

I know that in a poem you get away with (and even get praise for) some things you would not normally get away with in prose, and I was wondering whether this was one of those times.

Is it OK the way it is?
If not, will breaking the "moonlight" into "moon light" help?  Or should he search for a replacement? "gold light", for instance?

Like I said, it is a small thing, but it nags me.
Any input will be appreciated!

UPD.  Thank you very much!  I really appreciate all your responses. 

Cat [userpic]

It's an art print called Le Bonheur by Yves Henry.

Thanks in advance for any help."

ETA: Edited with links to not break anyone's friends' page. My apologies.

petrusplancius [userpic]

 photo IMG_0004.jpg

On a small lacquered box.

Аксиома aka Эстель [userpic]

Can you please help me to understand a strange phrase from a book?
It is about a Gran Prix driver participating in a rally.

"On the 40th, in Loch Achray, he crashed, inflicting severe damage on the Lotus Cortina. He then rolled into a ditch on the 45th, Glengap. «We tripped over the Border», he said, and so they had."

I really can't understand why the author uses the capital letter to write "the border"? Does he mean anything but the edge of the road?
The only thing I can think of is the Borders, a region near the Scotland border. It is where the driver was from. But it still doesn't make any sense to me.

Thanks a lot!

Barszczow A. N. [userpic]

I'd like to ask about the adverb 'cautiously' in Latin.

My schoolbook mini-dictionary says that 'caute' means 'cautiously'. But big dictionaries don't mention 'caute' (it's just a form of 'caveo'), and say that 'cautim' is 'cautiously', and that it's not comparable.

I've found here: a comparative and superlative form of 'caute'.

Could someone clarify it for me? Is 'caute' a correct form/does not exist? Is 'caute' (if it exists) and 'cautim' interchangeable? Is there any difference in use? How come that an adverb may not form comparable forms, when logically it's (at least for me) possible?

It all stems from this sentence, but is not closely related to it: Paulo post leo per silvam praedam parum caute investigans, in rete, quod venatores tetenderunt, incidit.

Thank you!

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