March 22nd, 2009


Chinese tilde signs

Hi all! Lately I've been corresponding with people from China on a postcard exchange project, and I noticed that Chinese people use the tilde character (~) in all kinds of different contexts (here's an example). I'm having trouble understanding what it means exactly. It's not the same as a period, because periods are also used occasionally. Anyone cares to explain?
Always listen to Buck

English question. Perfect vs Past Simple

 Hi guys,

In a German grammar book I've read the following explanation of German Perfect:

As often in English, the true perfect is used to speak of something that happened in the past and has some bearing on what is being talked about in the present:
However, German uses the perfect in this way much more rigorously than English does:
Bismarck hat die Grundlagen des heutigen deutschen Staats gelegt, Bismarck laid the foundations of the present German state.

I was sure that it is English and not German that is highly rigorous about its tenses. Why "laid" and not "has laid"? Would it be possible to say "has laid" in the case above? If yes, is there any change in meaning between Past simple and Perfect in the above mentioned sentence?

Thanks in advance for your answers.
「pokemon」★ omgwtfbbq GET OUTTA HERE

"Dos palabras" by Isabel Allende

Does anyone have an English translation of "Dos palabras" by Isabel Allende? I recall finding one when I was studying it for AP Spanish Lit, but it seems to have disappeared now. It's a wonderful story that I'd love to share with my boyfriend, who can't read Spanish; if all else fails, I could take a shot at translating it, but I'd rather not butcher it... :P

Thanks in advance!

Sanskrit prayer

I really don't *need* to know this, but it's driving me nuts, not least because I've spent an hour and a half trying to reproduce the text in question using devanagari characters which I don't actually know, using a keyboard layout which, even in the QWERTY form, is still half guesswork for me, and three different websites. All this because although I could get the characters to show up on my screen, I couldn't cut and paste them.

Finally, I gave up and took a screenshot. It's from this page which uses the Shushi TT fonts, and it gives a lot of prayers, giving the I-assume-Sanskrit, a transliteration, and a translation.

Screenshot here. Moderately large picture.

Explanation, in case you don't want to click through: in this particular case, it's the "ya devi sarvabhuteshu" slokas. The web page author gives a few examples to show the form, and then just gives the word which is inserted in each new phrase. E.g., "Ya devi sarvabhuteshu chetanetyabhidhiyate, namastasyai, namastasyai, namastasyai namo manah [sic]. -- Salutations again and again to the Devi who abides in all beings as consciousness." Then there's "Ya devi sarvabhuteshu buddhirupena samsthita, namastasyai, namastasyai, namastasyai, namo namah. -- Salutations again and again to the Devi who abides in all beings in the form of intelligence."

After that, there's just a list of attributes, which are supposed to be, "inserted after the 'ya devi sarvabhuteshu.' All of them, I notice, end in '--rupena.' I can't find this in the online dictionary I've got for Sanskrit, but I'm guessing that's what's getting translated as 'in the form of.' I also can't find 'sarvabhuteshu' (presumably I'm not finding these things because they're not in their root forms, although other possible answers also exist) but my dictionary gives 'sarvabhuutaani' as 'all existing things.' So possibly sarvabhuteshu means 'within all existing things' or something like that.

There's a little too much 'possibly' and 'presumably' in all that.

Here's my actual question: in 'chetanetyabhidhiyate' and 'buddhirupena samesthita', is there anything which should be repeated when the new words are inserted - for instance the bit that gets translated as any part of 'who abides in all beings as/in the form of--'* - which should be retained? Would the next line of the prayer be "Ya devi sarvabhuteshu nidrarupena, namastayai, namastayai, namo namah"? Or is there a word/suffix/phrase/whatever missing that's needed to make that actually make sense?

* There shall be no Wonder Twins references, y'all. I have spoken.
colin pile

Standard transliteration?

Hey, guys. Sorry to post again so soon, but I've got a question about a Malayalam word. I've been reading about koodiyattam theatre recently, and I've seen it spelled multiple ways (koodiyattam, kuttiyattam, and kutiyattam so far). Which transliteration would be closest to the actual word? Is one of these transliterations considered to be standard? Thanks.


I'm becoming very friendly with a Dutch lady over the phone through my early music work. She speaks fluent English, but when we were talking this afternoon she brought me up short because she said she had lost my "co-ordinates" and needed them again. It turned out she meant my contact details. Being also something of a maths geek, I thought that was a great way to put it, but now I'm wondering. Is this a direct translation of a Dutch idiom, or is she just a maths geek too?