June 11th, 2008

Which language should I use?

Hello all!

In about a week and a half I will be heading to Croatia for the first time. I plan on learning a few simple phrases in Croatian before I head over, the typical "thank you" and "you're welcome" kind of stuff, but aside from any phrases like that when I get there I will be rather clueless when it comes to the language of the locals.

The only languages that I speak absolutely fluently are English and German, and I was wondering which would be the best to start using if I am anywhere and need to ask a question, or if anyone randomly talks to me. I also need to write an Email today or tomorrow to the hostel I will be staying at about their airport transportation and need to know what would be the best language to write that in.

Oh yeah! I will be in Dubrovnik...that may have an effect on which language would be better.

For writing the Email, English and German would be my only option, but when talking I could definitely pull of some Russian (very little, but some nonetheless)...I know that Croation is Slavic and all, but from what I have seen it looks to be quite far from Russian, am I right?

Verwirrung der Gefühle

I hope this little story of my linguistic confusion is not a complete offtopic here

Yesterday I was reading a book on German Grammar.
The topic was Cases after German verbs. An example of two accusatives after a verb was:
er nennte mich einen Dummkopf, meaning "he called me a fool", where mich (me) is the first accusative, einen Dummkopf (a fool) is the second one.

The authors commented this sentence as follows: the second accusative here is technically a complement. Of course after someone in a serious book on grammar called me einen Dummkopf I was einen Dummkopf enough to understand the comment as the second accusative here is technically a compliment. This idea stroke my mind with immense power. Yeah, German is really weird. Maybe I should write a continuation to Mark Twain's The Awful German Language on the way German people compliment each other (btw if you didn't read this great story please do, it's great!).

But my excitement didn't last long. I suddenly realized that a complement is not a compliment. Too bad.

So guys always pay attention to those little letters inside the words :)

And for REAL fans of language, for real linguaphiles: you could read the same story of my shameful confusion written in Ukrainian.

Could anyone give me a link to a story (probably the author is also Mark Twain) in which they tried to convince us that only the first and the last ltteres of wodrs were imoptrant and all the rest colud be mxied up? We don't pay too much attneiton to tehm anyawy. :)
  • ti_ana

Spanish translation issue

I figured this would be a good place to ask this question, seeing as there are many of you here who speak Spanish.

I am in the process of translating a short brochure for my office into Spanish and I'm having some issues with the translation of the word "referral". I'm originally from Puerto Rico and over there, I've always used and heard the word referido as a direct translation for this term. However, because it sounds like such a calque, I verified this word in the DRAE dictionary and it doesn't appear. I'm not sure if it would actually be understood by a more general target Hispanic audience. (For the record, many of our clients tend to be South American, but really, I have no idea who's going to be reading this.) I have been unable to find any other satisfactory solutions, though. A main problem is that the brochure format has already been designed and there's a limited amount of space to fit the phrase into, so, although it doesn't necessarily have to be a single word, it does need to be something relatively concise. (Yes, I am aware that Spanish tends to be longer than English by nature.)

I also found derivar and remitir/enviar for "refer", but none of these seem to work in noun form. How do other native speakers express this concept in their respective countries? Should I just turn it into a verb?

For context, I'll add that it's about a collaboration between a legal office and a medical center. The brochure is stating that the legal office can only see people who are referred to them by their healthcare provider. The phrase in question is "Appointments by referral only".

Any help would be much appreciated.
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