December 17th, 2007


The new Miss Belgium doesn't speak Dutch

I just saw an AFP news story that I thought might trigger some interesting commentary in this community... she does speak 4 languages... but not the other official language of her own country... it seems bizarre but not critical to me... but as I'm not from Belgium I'm sure I'm missing the point.  

<<New Miss Belgium gets Flemish tongues wagging 2 hours, 19 minutes ago
BRUSSELS (AFP) - Belgium's political tensions entered the glamour stakes after it was revealed that the new Miss Belgium does not speak Dutch.
Poulicek, a 20-year-old language student, speaks French, Czech and English,...

Full story online at

Have at it, folks!

BedDi let&#39;s have a staring contest
  • gordond

pain in other languages

As I hit my hip on a drawer in the kitchen and yelled "ooow!", I started to wonder if saying "ow" was a learned pain expression or if it was something that people say from birth.

If not, do people in other parts of the world say things other than "Ow!" ?
Richard Haddon

Malandr(in)o -- Italian etymology query (with Catalan, Portuguese, & probably Sicilian thrown in)

Righto. Following this link from this thread I came across the following sentence:
Gradually the delitto di mafia came to mean more the offence of manutengolo, of being a fence or planner of crimes, and not so much the offence of malandrino, of banditry, of being an executant criminal.
Now, my girlfriend had explained the word malandro to me as meaning, in a Brazilian Portuguese context, a kind of lovable rogue, someone a bit dishonest but not basically bad, who does what they need to in order to get by. So I noticed the word malandrino and wondered...
Following malandrino up on I got this:
malandrino (cattivello) adj naughty (with sexual hints)
Compound Forms/Forme composte:
malandrino, che si comporta male adj naughty (of children)
Now, the preceding entry is for a word malandato -- "tatty", apparently -- which makes clear sense to me in terms of having "gone bad" etc. -- presumably mal- + andare. So I then wondered if there were any related words in Catalan. Looking in the Gran Diccionari I found malanat sure enough (defined as 'desgraciat' and derived either from mal- + anar or mala + nat) and also malandrí ('lladre de camí ral; bandit'). However, the etymology cited for the latter isn't what I expected: "de l'it. malandrino, íd., i aquest, del ll. malandria 'mena de lepra'."
But googling malandria doesn't then give me leprosy (fortunately) -- instead something rather dense apparently about black oaks and horses' knees.

I am none the wiser.

So: does anyone have any clear or reasonably authoritative account of where malandro etc. come from; and is the connection I made with mal- + andare spurious, not to say an eggcorn?

Help with translation!

I desperately want to buy something from but I've only just started learning german so I really need help in asking the seller questions.  Could someone help me translate the following?

"Could you please do me favour and ship the item to Singapore? I can pay using paypal. If that's possible, how much would postage cost?"


descend on Mecca? why?

Millions descend on Mecca for the start of Haj

This is a sentence from Euronews. Can anyone explain to me, why people actually descend on Mecca, not go there, arrive there or any other verb, but descend. Descend has an odd meaning in my English-Russian dictionary as "going down". Can one use the verb to descend with a meaning of "going on pilgrimage"? Can anyone descend on Jerusalem, Santiago di Compostella, Lourdes, etc.?
rovás, varpho
  • varpho

Mokshan logographic script?

have you heard about the Mokshan logographic script? [Moksha is a language of the Mordvinic branch of the Finno-Ugric languages.]
i have found some information on Wikipedia, but not elsewhere, so i'm not sure if it really was a fully developed writing system... maybe it was just a set of tamgas? anyway, it seems very interesting. the Wikipedia article has Collapse )

[x-posted to , F-U & my LJ]