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Barszczow A. N. [userpic]

Does it make any sense in English to use Past Perfect in a sentence when you don't compare two past events:

I had never been to Europe. ?

How it's different from

I have never been to Europe.

I understand that you cannot use Past Simple in this sentence.

Current Music: Natacha Atlas "Etheric Messages"
Drama Shark [userpic]

Hey all,

I know this is not perhaps strictly on topic, but I hope it's okay to post the request here.

A few months ago, I finished an occult detective story set in 19th century Ireland and I've recently gone back to it to get it ready for publication on the Kindle. At the time, and even more so in hindsight, I'm a little hesitant about the Irish accents I set down. Put simply, I'm worried all the Irish people sound far too much like Hollywood leprechauns. Is there anybody out there familiar with the era (1891) and location (the coast of County Mayo) who'd be willing to go through the text and offer some suggestions? I'd be greatly in your debt. Let me know, please and thank you!

rusquen [userpic]

Hello Linguaphiles! I come seeking help. This is probably a long shot, but I figured I'd ask anyway =)

I'm writing a fantasy novel set in a somewhat parallel world with a bunch of (mashed-up) fantasy-counterpart cultures. Specifically in this case I'm dealing with a culture that, lingustically, borrows heavily from Brittany. Because I happened to hear some Breton folksongs a few years back and fell head over heels in love.

Now, I'm bilingual English/Russian, semi-fluent in French, Spanish, and Esperanto, and know the basics of German grammar (yes, I'm a bit of a language geek. I blame Tolkien.) However, I never really studied Breton beyond picking apart song lyrics. I've seen Russian used awkwardly/improperly in fiction, and, while I personally don't find it offensive, just funny, I'd like to avoid it with Breton if at all possible. It's a beautiful language and I'm afraid to maul it - while at the same time I like it so much I'm not afraid enough not to use it at all. If that makes any sense.

So, if anyone out there knows Breton or resources on Breton - please help? I would generally love a good grammar-based "teach yourself Breton" resource if it exists (I seem to be stuck with this culture for at least a trilogy), but, more immediately, I need the following three things:

1. Titles
How do noble titles work in Breton? I know there are aotrou / itroun, but I don't get what exactly those titles are, since there also seem to be regular titles' equivalents (dug, kont, etc). Are those just generic lord/lady denoting nobility? Can you have a lot of people titled aotrou at the same time, or is it only applied to the current overlord, like the Duke of Brittany (an aotrou Yann from "An alarc'h")?

2. A snippet of conversation
A (female, if it matters): It cannot be, my lord. It simply cannot be. [As in, he just told her something and it's freaking impossible.]
B (male, if it matters): I know. [As in, yeah, it sounds impossible, but...]

After raking the internet I came up with the following:
A: Ne’m eus ket, aotrou. Ne’m eus ket nemet.
B: Gouzon.
Is that correct? Also, is it ne'm or nem?

3. A battle cry
Something like "to arms" or "arise, X" (X being the name of the country, so 2nd person singular, "you"). Glosbe.com, which is the best online Breton dictionary I've managed to find,  has nothing certain for "arise" or "to arms", but it gave me dihuniñ for "awake". The Wiktionary seems to show that singular "you" imperative of -iñ verbs cuts off the ending. I'm still not sure, however, if "Dihun, X!" sounds like a call to arms or like "wakey-wakey, sweetie". Besides, for all I know, dihuniñ might be irregular and do something completely different in imperative.

There's also the phrase d'an emgann (dan emgann?) in "An alarc'h", which, insofar as I could figure out, means "to battle". Which would work beautifully, except I wouldn't want to lift it wholesale if it's already a traditional battle-cry.

I hope I'm not too off-topic here. Any help is greatly appreciated!

whswhs [userpic]

One of my clients for copy editing asked me a question about English grammar: When is the definite article required with ordinals? My first approximation to an answer was that you use it when the ordinal refers to an entity, either concrete or abstract: The last to depart should turn off the lights or I stopped after the fourth martini. If it's being used adverbially it doesn't need and shouldn't have an article: I left last, so I turned off the lights.

But what about this sentence: We approximate the temperature change over the past century to third order/the third order? The word "order" seems to be a noun (if an abstract one) and by the general rule I came up with ought to have a definite article. But it seems to be common for mathematicians just to write "to Nth order" with no article. Is there some grammatical principle that explains this difference of usage? Or is it just an idiomatic usage that doesn't fit the standard pattern and has to be taken as a separate thing? I can't see any rule that obviously fits, and I'm not sure how to search for one.

asher63 [userpic]

Fellow Anglophones - native and otherwise - this one is just for fun.

What is your favorite intensive expression in colloquial English?

I'm nominating "from Hell" and "on steroids".

(True story: a local political message recently condemned a proposed ballot measure as "a sales tax on steroids". I actually wondered for a moment whether steroids were among the substances now declared legal in Oregon.)

Garonne [userpic]

There are lots of people who are fluent in multiple languages because language learning is a hobby or passion for them. My question is about a different group of people. Among your acquaintances, what's the highest number of languages spoken (fluently) by someone who isn't very keen on learning languages or even actively dislikes it?

Define fluently however you like.

My maximum is 5. I know someone who grew up trilingual (and still retained the use of all three languages as an adult). He became fluent in a fourth language by living for many years as an adult in a country where it was spoken. Then he moved to a country which spoke a fifth language, and was forced to learn that. He managed to become quite fluent, but was always complaining about it, and ended up moving back to a country speaking one of his other four languages.

I also know quite a few people who are "unwillingly" fluent in four languages. But I'm sure the record is much higher than four or five!

What is the word for what Virgil is to Dante? It's "guide" but fancier; there's a specific word I'm blanking on. I don't think it's "psychopomp": that might fit but I kind of feel like I'll have a light bulb moment when I see the right word and "psychopomp" does not light me up.

Barszczow A. N. [userpic]

I am looking for a logical and simple, and yet exhaustive French grammar self-study book. I am quite desperate, I've tried different approaches, different study books, but they were all на фиг, and I haven't learnt anything. I've exhausted my resources, I have no one to ask anymore, and I myself can't find anything close to satisfying. I have one more year to try and learn French (up to C1, I believe).

I like very much Gaston Mauger's "Cours de Langue et de Civilisation Françaises", but it was published some 50 years ago and it's not a grammar book, so.

The English grammar book that I would recommend to anyone is Murphy's Grammar In Use. There are explanations, exercises, and keys so that anyone could check his/her own progress. Do you know anything similar for French grammar?

I give you Aleksey Kuznetsov's (the old one's) beautiful interpretation of "Petite Fleur" to mellow your hearts:

Current Music: Aleksey Kuznetsov "Petite Fleur"
Barszczow A. N. [userpic]

I have a question: why do you use an article in the first sentence and in the second--not (if the sentences are correct, of course):

1) She wears a white blouse.
2) She wears black shoes.

Thank you.

scottks [userpic]


Just wondering what the text says on this wrapper. A co-worker brought me this back from Belarus, Minsk. She says it's like a ginger cookie.

Andrew [userpic]

I'm volunteering next week for an informal interpreting gig for some francophones from Africa. I'm a Spanish interpreter, studied French at university, but have never formally interpreted EN<>FR. Does anyone have any media recommedations to get some good exposure to spoken African French this next week? E.g. documentaries, online news, films etc.? I'd be very grateful for any suggestions. Thank you!

Garonne [userpic]

Does anyone know an online resource/chart/table that shows the correspondence (even if it's sometimes only approximative) between the alphabets/writing systems of different languages, either directly or via IPA, e.g. there's a correspondence between the sound written u in French, written ü in German, or between ch in French and sch in German.

I thought this would be easy to find, but actually I've been googling for ages. The closest I've come is on these pages, where there are images called "Russian pronunciation", "Hungarian pronunciation", "Basque pronunciation" etc.
If I had this information as a downloadable or copy-and-paste-able file instead of as an image, I could make my own correspondence tables.

La Reine Misère [userpic]

I keep passing this car on my way to the supermarket and wondering what the non-English text on the sign says. I'm based in London, UK, so the language could be almost anything. (To my non-expert eye, the script looks more Arabic than Urdu, but since I'm not at even survival level in any non-European language, I can't even be sure of that.)

The one thing I can explain which is area-specific is that 'N12' is the postcode for the area where the car is parked.

So, dear Linguaphiles, is it advertising driving lessons? Food delivery? Or something less common?

Barszczow A. N. [userpic]

could you please tell me what she says: https://youtu.be/TC3AAsefZAo?t=21m42s

What I understood: Oleg Yefremov was telling Yevgeniy Yevstigneyev that he wanted to play "Gorye ot uma" in his theatre, gave him the play, and later Yevstigneyev went back and said something funny, which I didn't understand.

pronker [userpic]

To me, it's a mildly obscene phrase.Collapse )

EAD 100416: Urban Dictionary contains 'down to the short strokes' with similar meaning. I am certain I heard/read 'digs' and am willing to call case closed, but not 'found.' Thanks for all the contributions. I've asked on whatwasthatone as well, so we shall see if anyone answers.

Happy World Animal Day, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.

Tags: ,
Current Location: in my bower
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: squirrels
lamperouge_0 [userpic]

I am having problems with this Japanese sentence: あの子は本来ならまだ愛されていて然るべき子供だけど、もう、他人を愛せる程には大人なんだよ.

The context is two adults are talking about a teenager who is struggling with his romantic feelings. To my understanding the speaker seems to make a distuinguishment between children who should be loved and adults who have the ability to love other people, but I am still confused about what the speaker is trying to imply. Could someone help me translate the sentence and explain the meaning? Thank you.

Г-н Фаршеклоакин [userpic]

Today I learned that the French word "gens" (people) takes masculine or feminine forms of adjectives depending on several factors: http://platea.pntic.mec.es/cvera/hotpot/gens.pdf
Most of the time the masculine forms are used; the notable exception is when the word "gens" is preceded by an adjective: "les bonnes gens", but not when "gens" is part of a noun phrase: "De courageux gens de guerre".
I'd like to ask the Francophones of the community, how jarring would it be to hear a masculine form when a feminine form is required, like "les beaux gens"?

What is the correct way to punctuate the following sentence in terms of hyphens and en dashes? Never mind the awkwardness of the word order; I am asking how you would punctuate this construction as it is:

She is brand*name*school*educated.

Some thoughts and questions on my part:

1) Brand and name get a hyphen between them; an analogous usage would be (as in my dictionary) younger writers who clamber toward brand-name status.

2) Do brand-name and school get a mark between them? I am thinking not, because you would just say (as the sentence really should) she went to a brand-name school.

3) Brand-name*school (however you mark it) and educated get a mark between them, because you would say she is Stanford-educated.

4) But! Should the mark referred to in #3 actually be an en dash, because that mark is indicating hyphenation between terms one of which is already hyphenated?

My best guess given points 1-4 is: She is brand-name school–educated. That is, I would put a hyphen between brand and name, nothing between brand-name and school, and an en dash between school and educated.

But I really have no idea what I'm talking about. What do youall think?

Mallory Cerise [userpic]

For those of you tutoring or being an advanced student of the Russian language: Would you care to share the readings you use? Articles, short stories, excerpts from longer pieces, any titles or PDF’s (kvlebedeva gmail)? Intermediate to advanced level. No English translation/glossary needed. I'm a native speaker and my current students are advanced enough.

I’d happy to share the few reading materials I’ve found as well. I do have this reader. The texts are too long and quite boring, in my view.

The stuff I've encountered is often either too simple/crayon or boring/dry/outdated.

How’s The Routledge Intermediate Russian Reader?

Thank you.

Barszczow A. N. [userpic]

I'd like to ask about the plural genitive of "мгла". Is it possible to create a sentence like this one, using the word "мгла"?

Невозможно не заметить утренних туманов(/мгел???).

Thank you.


Which is correct, or are they both?

1) Because of the heat, I sauntered rather than strode.

2) Because of the heat, I sauntered rather than striding.

What if for "rather than" you substitute "instead of"?

3) I sauntered instead of strode.

4) I sauntered instead of striding.

topum [userpic]

Can somebody translate what is written on these ginger jars into English please?

Thank you.

Barszczow A. N. [userpic]

I'd like to ask about those constructions where in English "you" is being used, meaning "all the people", "most people" or some "they".

For example: (You) throw away what you don't need. (or maybe "what is not needed is being thrown away"

Is it: (1) выбрасывают/(2)выбрасывается то, что ненужно

asher63 [userpic]

Native American English speaker, over 50.

Is it just me? It seems like there is a trend toward disregarding the convention that phrasal verbs are written as two words (work out) while their corresponding nouns are written as one (workout).

For example, the traditional forms are:

I am going to work out at the gym. (verb)
I was tired from a long workout. (noun)

You must log in with your username and password. (verb)
The IT department will give you your login. (noun)

Remember to back up your files. (verb)
Always save a copy as a backup. (noun)

Lately, I think I've been seeing the phrasal verbs written as single words more often, i.e. "backup (verb) your files". I'm wondering whether it is a trend. Has anybody else noticed this?

zurita2015 [userpic]

Dear linguaphiles, is there anybody among us who can understand spoken Basque and translate a few phrases into English or Spanish for me?

Barszczow A. N. [userpic]

...should be used with subjonctif. But I came across a sentence that uses conditional:

Il est à craindre que les mineurs ne seraient pas prêts à accepter de différentes restrictions qui leurs impose le ministre.

Is it correct? If so, how it should be translated into English?

Barszczow A. N. [userpic]

In some cases I have no doubts which form I should use, but in this supposed proverb: 'a wedding is often an end of a friendship' I'm not sure. Which one sounds better to a native speaker: "of a friendship" or "to a friendship"?

Barszczow A. N. [userpic]

Recently I came across a few songs sung by Aleksei Kuznetsov. I fell in love and I tried to understand the texts. Could you please say if I'm right or wrong?

большой контрабас и тромбон с кларнетом
вздыхали по флейте зимой и летом
за витриною пыльной они проживали
о пустяках по вечерам толкoвали.

а флейта никак не могла решиться
не знала в кого из троих влюбиться
но когда звучал их квартет то поверьте
казалось звёздам что они на концерте

однажды пришёл покупатель старый
и тоненькой флейты с тех пор не стало
но не надо грустить, позабудьте про жалость
ведь нам на память эта песенка осталась

Current Mood: glad
Current Music: Алексей Кузнецов "Песенка таксиста"
jinantonix [userpic]

Hello!  Can someone who knows Swedish please translate what's being said in the video clip below, starting at the 38-second mark?


Tack så mycket!!

steepholm [userpic]

I've been trying to think of other contemporary English constructions that work like "to blame" in the sentence, "Who is to blame for this mess?" - where there is an implied passive (i.e. "who is to be blamed?").

So far, I can't think of any good examples. The nearest I've got is "to thank", albeit it sounds a little archaic: "Who is to thank for this mess?"

Interestingly, while this sounds semi-acceptable where "thank" acts as an ironic synonym for "blame", as in the above example, to my ear it sounds less so when used unironically: "Who is to thank for the lovely bouquet I found on my desk this morning?" This leads me to wonder whether its semi-acceptability in the negative example derives from a kind of semantic resonance with "to blame".

Anyway, I'd be interested in further examples or thoughts on this in general.

zurita2015 [userpic]

I'm translating an interview where the novel "Finnegan's Wake" is discussed.

Isn’t Joyce’s attempt to devote virtually an entire novel to the Unconscious more than a purely linguistic experiment?
Yes, of course. The wakeworld is only narrow in that it’s asleep, fixed on one set of impulses only, has too few characters.

I'm almost sure that Anthony Burgess meant by the "wakeworld" the world that one perceives while one is awake, as opposed to the world of dreams. Still, what if Burgess wanted to make a pun on "wakeworld" and the name of the novel? Does it seem to you it even remotely likely?

Brandoch Daha [userpic]

I've run into a few people from southwest Michigan who use "in a minute" or "for a minute" to describe a fairly long time. Has anyone else run into this?

Example, from a group that discusses local restaurants: "I haven't been there in a minute. I'll have to go in, get my fix and ask!"

Example, from a personal online chat with a different person: "U been doing the radio thing for a minut now"

Natasha Ivanovna Manteca Van Spluut [userpic]


Could someone translate 'Leopard's dream' (dream of the leopard) into Zulu for me? Thank you in advance :)

5x6 [userpic]

The question is: how likely is it that a sentence with an indefinite article in English would translate into Spanish with a definite article?

Specifically, consider the following situation. A book about medieval Spain describes how a local Jewess, in violating the contemporary norm, visits the town market (I am not discussing whether this is historically true, only the linguistic part). Somebody recognizes her, and yells "Look, there is a Jew here!". If that passage is translated into Spanish, should the indefinite article, like in English (una) or definite (la judia) be used? This is the first time this person appears in the market (and in the text), and there are no other Jews around in the market at that moment.


Юлия Гофри [userpic]

A friend who is trying to learn English through Duolingo surprised me today by mentioning that "mouse" has a colloquial meaning I never heard before - a black-eye.
I was wondering how common the usage is and why I never heard it  before (I live in the US Midwest region). The examples I've found online mostly mention it in a sports context, such as "a boxer is going to have a mouse there."  Is this the area where it's mostly used?  Or is it more specific to a geographical region?  Have you ever heard/used it?

kindmemory [userpic]

Is it "les petites pommes du juillet" or "de juillet"?

Pervy Nine Fancier [userpic]

Hi! I came across this community and am intrigued. I'm getting my MA TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) right now in a program that requires a lot of credits in linguistic disciplines. I've taken classes in phonetics, phonology, sociolinguistics, first language acquisition and second language acquisition. I also lived in Japan for a while and speak incompetent Japanese. I'm looking forward to seeing what this comm is all about.

I was also hoping perhaps someone could help me out. I'm writing a story right now with an Italian character, and if there's anyone out there who speaks Italian, I'd love to pick your brain about some terms and phrases.


piperki [userpic]

Lately, I've been meditating on the word grab. It seems to have nearly replaced other verbs such as take, choose, lift etc.

Welcome to my office--just grab a seat.
Grab a card and scan it to join our program!
Could you grab some eggs out of the fridge?
Just let me grab a couple of dresses to try on.

My sense of grab is that it doesn't have a positive connotation--it's negative if someone grabs you by the arm, but I suppose these days my friend wouldn't just take my hand as we walk through the park, he'd just about have to grab it. One might grab the arm of a person about to tumble off the side of a ship, or grab the pitchfork from the leader of an advancing mob, and it would be a sudden, violent action. But no more?

When did grab lose its negative connotation? When did it completely substitute for other perfectly good verbs?

I'm trying to translate "The Dude Abides" to latin. The best I can come up with is "vir commorror" but I'm not sure of the proper case to use.

5x6 [userpic]

"Sue Perkins @sueperkins

@realdonaldtrump Scotland voted Remain, you weapons-grade plum."

What did she mean? Is it some sort of insult in UK? or in Scotland? If so, is there any plausible etymology?

Da [userpic]

How would you expand the Internet acronyms "smh" and "smdh"? And where do you remember first encountering them?

ringlat [userpic]

(Mods: Can you add a "pidgin" or "Chinook Jargon" tag?)

Hi, I've recently begun learning Chinook Jargon (Chinuk Wawa), I was just wondering if anyone else here is or would be interested in learning it so we can practise together? It was a pidgin (and is now a creole, but I don't have the book that teaches the modern language) that was extremely widely used near the Pacific Ocean around Canada, Washington and Oregon until around the 1930's, so much so that it actually still appears a lot in place names and product names today. There's a lot of example images, grammar and sentences on the Esperanto Wiki page, but the English page is more lacking.

I've been learning it all from this guy's blog here, but after watching the movie "Across the Wide Missouri" which has about half its dialogue in the language, I realized that the spelling-versus-pronunciation problem feels a lot bigger than I thought. I think part of the problem is, the spelling people have been writing down is based off natural-feeling English spelling and I was reading it as if for example, the vowel sounds were all set. So ideally I'd want someone to practise writing with and maybe to trade audio recordings with (I think voice chat is a bit too much to ask for).

I wanted to get good enough to hopefully be able to write stories in it, but I feel too awkward being in the Facebook group and really wanted a more "safe" and "normal" place to talk about it, like Livejournal! Also if anyone has any questions about it even if they're not interested in actually learning it, I think I understand enough of it now to be able to answer some.

rhiannon_black [userpic]

What language is this and what does it say?

Thanks for your help.

mystery box.JPG

Dyzzet [userpic]

Crimean Tartar language. What if a man wants to sing this? Should he change the lyrics?

Yaşlığıma toyalmadım
Men bu yerde yaşalmadım
Yaşlığıma toyalmadım
Men bu yerde yaşalmadım

Г-н Фаршеклоакин [userpic]

I'm trying to figure out what part of speech is "go" in an interjection "Go <team name>" (ostensibly, it is an imperative verb). Perusing online dictionaries, like here or here I couldn't find an appropriate definition. Any clues?

steepholm [userpic]

I was talking with a Japanese friend, and she used the expression "I got surprised", in reference to an unexpected event. I corrected her to "I was surprised", but she insisted that she had heard US friends say "got surprised."

My first question is, is that actually a common usage in the US? I'm from the UK, where I'm pretty sure it's not.

My second question is a more general one about the rules for choosing between "got" and "was" in such expressions. "I got depressed" sounds fine to me, but "I got happy" doesn't. Why so? And are norms in this area on the move?

whswhs [userpic]

( You are about to view content that may only be appropriate for adults. )

Garonne [userpic]

What does the English word 'weeknight' mean to you?

The word 'weekday' means Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs and Fri. That's clear.

According the dictionary.com, 'weeknight' means 'any night of the week, usually except Saturday and Sunday'. According to Miriam- Webster, it's 'a weekday night', with weekday defined as above. So it's Mon-Fri nights.

But I've just realised I always use it to mean Mon-Thurs nights, or Sun-Thurs nights, not Mon-Fri nights. As in:

"I don't go out on weeknights, because I have to work the next day."

Anyone else using it like that? And if not, can you think of some other expression for Sun-Thurs nights?

There's also "school nights", which does mean Sun-Thurs nights, but I've never liked using that except for schoolchildren.

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