February 29th, 2008

musunde hiraite

Er. Hello! Maybe.

I just clicked to join this community, having stumbled across it in an interest-based search, and was informed that I was already a member. Whoops.

So...in case I didn't introduce myself last time (?), I'm a novice at several languages and master of none but my native English. I'm also fascinated by the structure of languages, which is probably partly due to having had a linguist for a parent. Certainly, I drive my language teachers nuts with it.

I studied French in high school, and you'd think I'd have completely forgotten it by now, that having been a long time ago, but somehow quite a bit of it sticks with me. Not sure how that happened, except perhaps by the effort of translating letters from Dorothy Sayers novels for my friends. Anyhow, I became school-proficient, but never truly fluent.

I studied Russian for one year (it was intensive, so the one year was supposed to cover all the grammar and most of the vocabulary, leaving one fit for literature after that) and remember nothing. I seriously cannot even sound out simple words.

I studied Latin twice - classical Latin in high school (at a university class), and then ecclesiastical Latin in graduate school, and in the latter case even progressed far enough to be translating some famous, if simple, sermons and so forth from centuries back...but I don't remember anything beyond a hazy addition to my comprehension of etymology.

Several years ago, I commenced teaching myself Japanese, and have returned to it off and on ever since. The language itself absolutely fascinates me, but I know I won't become proficient unless I take classes and then get some immersion.

And I may not get that because I recently made the choice that, professionally speaking, it was much more important for me to know Spanish than Japanese, and so I've begun studying that by myself as well. I'm still an absolute baby in it - I don't know anything except the present tense, and so forth - but I'm working on it. A lot of the questions I have these days are related to Spanish.

Given worlds enough and time, I would also like to learn ASL, Haitian Creole, and Vietnamese, and attain proficiency in all the languages I have a toe-hold in already. I don't know how much of that will happen, but ambition can be good.

One question. I don't see anything about Macs in the community info about making accent marks. I'd be very grateful if people could tell me whether the accents I can make using the Mac's innate options show up on their computers or not.

So, for instance - "Ce café là--" do the accents show?

Also, おねがい します。 Can you see the hiragana characters, or no?

Thanks, and hello, and sorry if I already did all this and somehow forgot.
Severus Snape L'oreal

Word help?

Does anyone know what an interrom door is? I mean, what is the difference between a normal room door and an interroom door? If someone can even tell what it is in Turkish, it will be appreciated.
musunde hiraite

Mild curses and other interjections in Spanish?

There are a lot of sites dedicated to obscenities and slang in Spanish, but even outside of the question of their reliability, they're way more hard-core than I want to get. A lot of them are actually kind of disturbing. But I do find that I 'stay in the language' when I'm studying one - continue trying to phrase things that I know how to say - if I can use the kind of brief interjections one might well say to oneself.

So, here are the kinds of things I would like to be able to say in Latin American Spanish:*

1. "Drat" or "Dammit." Say I make it halfway up the stairs and realize I've forgotten the papers I need to bring with me, and so must go back to get them, or I discover that my library books were due yesterday. What would be the appropriate exclamation(s) expressing irritation?

2. "Oh, good," or "Thank goodness." I said to my friend the other day that I sort of feel that when I speak Spanish, I am Catholic - though I'm not any kind of Christian most of the time. Both religion and politics seem very firmly embedded in the culture, and that shapes the language. So I realize that the most idiomatic version might be "Thank God," although if there are non-religious idiomatic alternatives, I'd like to know them.

3. "Wow" or "That's incredible." In Japanese, I'd use maybe "Sugoi!"**

4. "Quit it!" "I wish this person would stop doing this!" "Augh!" Expressions of frustration, to say to oneself or a sympathetic listener, rather than to the person in question.

5. "Oh, hush," or "Be quiet." I'm looking for the equivalent of "Tait toi," more than "Fermez la bouche" - "shizuka" rather than "urusai."

6. "Seriously." "Yes, totally." "I agree." "Yeah."A fervent though sometimes meaningless conversational interjection.

7. Similarly, "Really?" "Seriously?" "You're kidding!" In Japanese, it could be "hontou ni?" Another interjection, but made in a mildly incredulous egging-on kind of way. People in England often say, "Did you really?" where people in the States would say, "Uh-huh?" just to show that they're still listening and engaged. I mean something a little stronger than "Uh-huh?" but not an actual contradiction.

8. "I'm tired." I know it's not an interjection, but, gosh, if I knew how to say that, I'd be using it a lot.

9. "Damn, I'm tired" (or happy, or whatever.) An interjection or intensifier which just emphasizes a brief statement. In French, I'd say, "Comme je suis fatiguée!"

10. "Jerk," "Twit." A word for a mildly annoying person, again not to be used in name-calling directly so much as in referring to someone not present: "And then this jerk cut in front of me in line, and I didn't say anything, I just kind of looked at him..."

These - and also any other things you think are similar - would be...probably more help to me in learning the language than most people seem to understand. I seriously am at beginner levels of Spanish. I know how to say that the children brush their teeth with the toothbrush every day, and that the bank is in front of the park, next to the hospital, and not a lot else. Still, I'm constantly trying to think in Spanish as much as I can, just on a narrating-daily-life kind of way. My internal running commentary will often go something like, "No quiero travajar en la mañana. No quiero travajar nunca. ...Antes de ir...al? a?...travahar, tengo que comer, pero, no se que qiero comer..."*** and so forth. Stupid stuff, but it keeps my head in Spanish instead of in English, which for me is a big part of how I learn, especially since I'm learning on my own. So being able to mutter to myself in Spanish would be an enormous help--that is, to mutter about something other than toothbrushes and alarm clocks and opening doors late but closing windows early.

Thanks in adva--

Oh! One more thing.

11. If I step on someone's foot, or forget something I meant to bring someone or, say, I don't know, write a HUGE long post the first day I join the community, do I use "lo siento" or "disculpe" or "perdonne me," or something else altogether?

Thanks in advance - muchas gracias - for any help at all on these things. It's the little things that matter. ¿No es?

*I do know that language use varies a great deal among the Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas. I think that what I'm learning is mostly Mexican Spanish, but I wouldn't swear to it. I'm actually fascinated by the regional differences, both of vocabulary and of accent, and am alway happy to hear, "In Peru, you could say ___, but in Colombia, they would look at you very funny if you tried that." On the other hand, there comes a point where one has to generalize, or nothing will ever get said, so for the most part I'm leaving it at "Latin American Spanish," unless someone has a strong suggestion that I do otherwise.

** Again, if anyone objects to my using romaji instead of kana when I write something in Japanese, let me know. It's faster for me, and I figure it's a little less alienating to people who don't know the language, but I don't know what the community's conventions on the subject are.

*** Aaaand please forgive any really terrible transcriptions or failure to get accents marked in Spanish. I'm learning from an audiobook only, and anyone who says "Oh, Spanish is easy, it's totally phonetic" has never really tried writing it when they've only heard it spoken. I'm going to be working on fixing this little problem.

Edited to add: Just thought I should say--when I write something down - this is especially likely in Spanish, but in whatever language - if I mangle the spelling or some other aspect of transcription, I would love to be corrected. It's not your job, obviously, but I'm definitely not going to be offended.

English English names

I know that throughout history there has been a lot of back-and-forth cultural borrowing between England and all her neighbors, but I'm wondering if any names exist that are particularly English and not, say, Scottish, or Welsh. Or does that distinction not exist? For example, I know "Edward" is an English name, but in England is it recognized that Edward is English and not Scottish or Welsh?

First or last names are fine, I'm just curious how it works...

Does that make sense? If not, just ignore me I guess. :P
Hudson 1

Person who does not speak French, stops at France.

I saw this posted in another LJ community, where they are having lots of fun discussing this individual. As it's language related, I thought it might be of interest here.


In summary this person decided to walk from England to India with no money, relying on people giving him free food and accomodation. He got stuck in Calais, because he couldn't speak French.

He's come back to the UK and is walking around the coast (presumably while still scrounging for free meals and accomodation). He says, "Whilst walking in the UK, I intend to learn French and to hit the continent again as soon as we feel we are ready."

The joke in the other community is that once he learns French, will he get stuck at the German border?

From the language point of view it seems incredibly arrogant, to the point of stupidity, to expect to be able to ask for free food and help from people when you don't even speak the language.

(This has been done before. I know some American was travelling around Australia with no money and using a website and blog, where effectively the payment for putting him up for the night was that he'd mention the people on his blog. However at least he went to an English speaking country.)
  • bonsly


Bonjour, todo o mundo! Na, wie geht's? Espero que bien!

I guess I don't need to really explain why the hell I joined this community, right? RIGHT? Well, I speak (so far) Spanish, since it's my native tounge. I should specify that I speak Mexican Spanish, meaning, I understand Castillian, but only so far. Althought I must say that Castillian curse words are just so, neat. Strong, to the point, and just so refined. Currently I'm taking both a German and French class, yes on the same day, and yes, I do want to say the German numbers in French. Sue me..... But, by my own account, trying to learn Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, Russian (which, by God, is just not, uh, help? anybody?), and some other one's. Not bragging, just hoping I can get people to teach me more.....



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