August 4th, 2007


Surprising translations

In English the word "free" has two meanings - not costing any money, and being, uh, unfettered. In Chinese these are two different words, 免费 for the first meaning and 自由 for the second. When I was on the Chinese Wikipedia a few days ago I glanced at the sidebar and was surprised to see "维其百科:自由的百科全书" rather than 免费, since I'd always assumed it meant "free" as in gratis. But after seeing "自由" I realised oh yeah, Wikipedia is free in the other sense as well - in fact, it's probably more "unfettered" than "gratis". After checking out the main page in other languages I saw that they all went with the "unfettered" meaning as well (gawd, I need a better synonym).

What translations have you seen that have surprised you, or maybe even changed the way you see something?

Edit: If my Chinese looks kind of... disconnected, try refreshing the page. I'm not sure what's wrong with it but refreshing fixes it for me.
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abby genius

Words you Like, Words you Don't

I find lots of people have words they like and don't like, or words that they feel have a much more emphatic meaning in one language, even if there is a direct translation/correspondence in another language. So I wanted to ask all you linguaphiles about this... most people can name these, but I believe here we would be more descriptive about the phenomenon in general, hence my curiosity in this community in particular.

What are your favourite words, in any language? What do they mean (if they're not in English)? What is it that you like about them? Conversely, what words, in any language do you emphatically NOT like? What do they mean? Why?

Also, what phrases do you find more emphatic or suchlike in one language over another?

My personal answers: I don't like the Latvian words "iet bojā" or "tusēt". "Iet bojā" translates best as "to perish", but to me has always held the connotation of "to perish in a very horrible fashion", and hence the crass sound of the word has made me not like it since childhood, always preferring that people simply use words such as "mirt" (to die). The word "tusēt" is a colloquial term meaning "to hang out", and there's just something about the "tus" sound that I don't like the sound of. It also sounds fairly goofy.

As for emphatic phrases, I find the Latvian phrase "punkts un āmen" (period and amen) to be much more emphatic and authoritative than similar English phrases such as "Period. End of Discussion." or "Period. Amen.". I'm not entirely sure why, but it just sounds more final.
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Süleyman Demirel quote

Does anyone know what year Süleyman Demirel made his famous comment about political demonstrators in Turkey that "the roads will not be eroded by marching"? I'm trying to find it, but the problem is that without the original Turkish there are millions of different results, so I was hoping someone with the requisite language ability might be able to help out here.
  • foutu

hey hey you you je n'aime pas ta copine... err... blonde

i was looking for avril's french rendition of girlfriend for another thread (oy vey) and i found this gem.

bonsoir tout le monde et bienvenue à info-plus! avril lavigne était cent contre dix, la grande vedette du gala much music video awards. chez d'ailleurs something something l'occasion i have NO idea avec la jeune chanteuse canadienne, quelques minutes après sa répétition pour la spectacle (qu')elle a donnée lors de la soirée dimanche.

can someone help me out with the bolded parts? i've seen lors de before and i'm still not sure what it means.

she speaks french at 0:25, my gift to you. :)

eta: oh guess who's on snl.
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  • tisoi

Louisiana French

I found a clip of a 1948 film called Louisiana Story which is basically a film that has a lot of French in it. Thought you guys might be interested.

I'm interested to know what native French speakers think of the accent. Does it sound too diverged from yours, or...?

I've also found clips that were just uploaded today of various people in Louisiana speaking in French. Some are native speakers and some aren't. They are here: