January 17th, 2008

Czech/Unbearable Lightness of Being

I am currently reading Milan Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being translated into English and came across something interesting: the main character buys a female dog for his wife, and then when the two are contemplating what to name the dog they decide on a male name, Karenin. Although the book refers to the dog as a bitch a couple of times, whenever it mentions Karenin it always says something like "and then he did such and such".

I don't know anything about Czech and genders, but I have studied Icelandic and I know that pronouns need to align with [proper] nouns in genders, so since in Icelandic words such as "president" are masculine, even if the president is female if there is something written about "the president" the pronouns preferring to her must actually be masculine. And I'm wondering if something like this is going on with the Czech, since the dog is female but has a male name it is referred to with masculine pronouns, and the translator didn't translate them to female pronouns for some inexplicable reason. Or if it's just an idiosyncrasy of the book.
  • aurynne

Me again with the children's book

But actually this is a Zoology question. Do we capitalize animals' names in English?
Particularly when the exact name of the species is mentioned. I have an Emerald Boa  and a Red and Green Macaw for example (Red and Green being part of the name, not a description of the color). What do I capitalize, if at all? And if I capitalized the Red and Green Macaws (R G and M or just R or whatever), so I capitalize the lion and shark as well or...?

This is a children's book we're talking about...  


Edit - I see this is getting a bit complicated so here are a few examples, to help clarify things:
This morning was no different than any other. The large Red-and-green Macaw parrots whose feathers are red, turquoise and blue, were waking up in their home amidst the branches of the Ceiba tree. 
From the top of the Ceiba tree, the flight of Macaw parrots could see all the way to the horizon...
"We should hide and keep quiet!" answered the Blue-and-yellow Macaws.
"This is the toucan's tree", answered the toucan.

All these cases are not the same are they?

Pardon, do you speak Hobo?

Since the folks here have been so good at esoteric translations, perhaps someone here can help me with one that's been puzzling me.

Hobo or tramp markings at Algiers entrance to Canal Street Ferry across Mississippi River, New Orleans, USA.

Ferry is free for pedestrians or on bicycle. From searching online sources about Hobo markings, "X" means "OK", slashed circle "Good way to go".

I don't know what the other symbols mean, despite some internet searching. So far, the Hobos have outwitted the Internet.
donna cannone

A quick question on child language acquisition

I just need to back up my facts - and whilst I love me a bit of the ol' Wikipedia for internet TRUFAX, I just want to make sure that I am correct.

When a child starts to babble, what order do the sounds come? I'm arguing that it's m, b, p, first followed by d, g, t, etc. However I've been called out, because apparently some baby book says it's 'd' first.

Is there are general order?
I can has a grammar now?

Is there a common order to how babies start to make noises?

Question about a Swedish word

 Hello everyone!

A very quick question : I'm learning Swedish (just started in September) and on Saturday we're having exams of it so I'm studying very hard right now *cough*

Anyway, I wondered what the bestämd form of ett nummer is. Is it "numret" or "nummret". I've seen it written both ways on the internet etc, but I wonder which is the right one. With double -m or not?

  • Current Mood
    curious curious
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Online Finnish teacher

Hello all. The company I work for, Berlitz International, is looking for an online Finnish language instructor. They need someone who is fluent in Finnish and lives in the United States. If you're interested and available, please e-mail me (because I'd sooner put up my e-mail address than someone elses) at jamesbongey [at] yahoo [dot] com, and I'll send you the address of the person you need to contact.
Imai Kira - Twinkle Mermaid

Le Petit Prince

Quick question I was thinking about.
I am currently reading "Le Petit Prince" in french
and I was wondering if anyone has read both the french version and the english version and if there are any major differences.

Because the book in french sounds like it could be both for children or an older audience.
And I havent read the english version, so I dont know if they translate everything literally.
Is the english version more of a childrens book?
  • Current Mood
    curious curious
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  • gooofy


Does this say "for information about your property tax bill in English, please call 416 338 4829"?

ਆਪਣੇ ਘਰ ਦੇ (ਰੀਅਲਟੀ) ਟੈਕਸ ਬਿੱਲ ਬਾਰੇ ਇੰਗਲਿਸ਼ ਵਿੱਚ ਜਾਣਕਾਰੀ ਲੈਣ ਲੲੀ 416 338 4829 ਤੇ ਫੋਨ ਕਰੋ ।


here's the whole flier.


I recently learned of the existence of gikun (義訓) words in the Japanese language. Basically, these are words that only have a semantic connection with the characters used to write them. As an example, the Japanese word for jellyfish can be written with as 海月 (sea + moon) or 水母 (water+mother) - but neither variant utilizes the characters' usual readings.

Has any research been done regarding this category of words? It seems strange to me that these words should have kanji assigned to them that have no phonetic connection. The only reason I can think of is that the Chinese writing system lacked the characters needed to express noun concepts such as jellyfish or starfish (another gikun word), but the original words were too widely used to make up and adopt new ones based on the on readings of the characters.