May 19th, 2007



Dear Linguaphiles,

I have a couple of questions to ask, as well as a consistant interest in linguistics. I intend, with this post, to introduce myself, and ask my questions in separate posts shortly hereafter (like, within 5 or 10 minutes).

My native language is American English. I learned school French and can still remember some phrases. My current commonly-used language is German. I will never master the grammar, but I can certainly communicate.

Aside from learning languages, I've been interested in linguistics for several years, and have done some informal personal research. I also studied linguistics at UC Berkeley as a hobby. Mostly I'm interested in the similarities between languages.

Ok, please keep your ears (eyes?) perked for my questions, if you're willing! Thanks!


As a teen I was absolutely obsessed with the band Nine Inch Nails and the lead singer, Trent Reznor. I've calmed down since then, but I am still really interested in where the name 'Reznor' comes from. Every now and then, I try to google it. No luck! Any ideas? Sounds eastern European to me.

chinese characters needed!

Relatives needed gift ideas for me a while back and I asked for picture frames.

So, *of course,* I am gifted 5 small blank canvasses with silver and black paint and brushes.

I am not particularly artistic. I can do a symbol, but not a picture. I asked myself what symbols I would want hanging on my walls, then thought on it for a while. Currently in Germany, where I live, Asian themes are very popular. Dragons and such thrill me, but buying clothing and bedding with a language you don't understand has always scared me off. It probably says, 'Stop stealing our culture, stupid Gringo!' Well, maybe not.

MY POINT: To combine my skills with my gifts and humor and trends, I would like to paint a 5-figure sentence on these canvasses that says something silly. Preferably more complex characters, like Chinese as opposed to Japanese.

I would like to say something silly like 'fridge is broken,' 'next brothel 10 miles,' 'i want a hamburger,' 'water impotable,' 'i am a gringo,' or something like that.

If anyone could write a few sentences or phrases taking 5 complex Asian characters, tell me what language it is written in, and give the translation, I would be very thankful!

Turkish and Hungarian

In the last couple of days, I've come across two different books writing as though the link between Turkish and Hungarian were incontrovertibly proven. I was under the impression that this is one of those things that some linguists (and nationalists) like to think, but that it hasn't actually been established.
So which view is right?
teacup sunset

Awesome flamenco question (The flamenco is awesome, not the question)

So I've recently discovered Ojos de Brujo, an awesome Spanish flamenco fusion group (National Geographic World Music is the shits . . .), and got Barí from the library. I speak Spanish pretty well (I've been studying if for about five years), so I understand the lyrics to a certain extent, but when I read the lyrics in the liner notes, I notice some things that seem a bit unfamiliar, and I was wondering if they were non-standard or dialectal or Catalan-influenced or a way to represent how the words actually sound when sung (e.g. "singin'" in English) or what.

One big thing I've noticed is past participles, for example "Memorias Perdías" for "lost memories", "me has mandaito", and "me he echao", where I would have expected "memorias perdidas", "me has mandato", and "me he echado". (Slightly related: "me vuelto" for "me he vuelto".)

Another thing I noticed is "pa" for "para".

And some interesting things are clearly just typographical: a rather sparse use of upside-down exclamation marks, and ke (and ké) for que (and qué).

Lyrics here if anyone's curious . . .

Language Identification

"I pyyde I puhua te mikä I voida.

I kuin te, erikoisen nykyisin."

I am unsure of the language in the note someone sent to me...
if any of you linguaphiles could help identify and or translate the quotation above I would greatly appreciate it !

Thanks in advance.


First off, I enjoy listening to propaganda songs from the first half of the last century; it doesn't mean I adhere to what they say. Please don't Godwin on me.

I recently stumbled on the words of this song (Beware, the music starts when you click on the link, you might want to switch off the sound). Am I correct in assuming it is in Yiddish?

I understand the gist is that unemployment sucks and Russia's a far better place to live in, but I'm unsure about the details. Collapse )

Thanks in advance!

(no subject)


I'm a native English speaker, but right now I'm studying Italian and German at school (German for one year and Italian for two years). I also really, really want to study Hebrew, though the world seems against me for that one - the place I was going to take it at next year took the course away.

I have a friend who is a language nerd like me (she takes French and Chinese at school) and sometimes we'll sit around for awhile discussing different grammatical concepts. One topic that we talked about recently was about the passato remoto tense in Italian. I came across it when I was flipping through the appendix in the back of my book (yeah ..I do that in my spare time :P). The description in the book basically said it was a past tense that generally implied events that happened a long time ago, that was used mostly in writing. I asked my friend if there was something like that in French, which she didn't know, so she asked her teacher who told her that he wasn't aware there was anything like that in French, and that it was a tense that just Italian had. Well, a couple of weeks later my teacher ended up telling us what passato remoto was, and she said it was the equivalent of the simple past tense in English, and it was the most commonly used past tense in Spanish. So ...was my friends French teacher a little confused, or is mine? I'm inclined to believe that there isn't a verb tense that only Italian has, but I'm wondering if the equivalents my teacher gave were right.