January 20th, 2011


Italian to English

I got this Italian email and I don't speak Italian. I think they're just saying they processed my complaint, but I'd appreciate a translation! Thanks!

La presente per informarLa che la Commissione di Garanzia ha avviato il procedimento sanzionatorio nei confronti del titolare di licenza taxi segnalato nel suo reclamo.

Sarà cura dello scrivente ufficio comunicarLe il parere espresso alla conclusione del procedimento stesso.

Si ringrazia per la fattiva collaborazione
i'm so confused


I've been translating a fantasy novel from Japanese to English, and this sentence (in a scene depicting a home being destroyed by a fire) has me a bit puzzled:


I can't figure out what "minamihako" is supposed to mean here, and it doesn't seem to be any special word tied to the fantasy setting. The closest thing I could think of that makes sense is as an abbreviation of ミナミハコふぐ, yellow boxfish, where this is the type of stew in the dishes (I assumed the だいの is modifying シチュー in this context). Is it commonly abbreviated without the "fugu", or is there another translation that I am completely missing?
  • undre

Interrogative intonation

Sometimes I get curious about common validity of interrogative intonation in questions.

Are there any languages or cultures without intonational attributes of asking?
I. e. just interrogative syntax with "even talk".

In languages with tonal accents there should be some specific features of the topic.
tsuki no usagi

nani nooni

It's me again annoyingly asking native speakers to explain a few obscure lines from The Simpsons :)

I’ll be in my office going over the books on my Subway Sandwich franchise. You call a sandwich maker an artist, it’s like an invitation to steal. That guy’s going nani nooni bananas in there.
(the character saying that is a stage director, if that matters)

I can hardly make heads or tails of it. Why "invitation to steal"? Who's "that guy"?

Mayday, mayday! :)

The piece of cake is in Timbuktu.

It's time for the next edition of "How do you say ____ in your language[s]?"!


1. How do you say, idiomatically, that something is really easy?

Some examples in [at least American] English: a breeze, a snap, a piece of cake.

A native European Spanish speaker told me that they can say, "Está chupado," which literally translated might be something like "It's sucky" [right? my Spanish is far from awesome], which I think is interesting, since in English we might use that [in its idiomatic sense] if we're talking about something that's really hard.


2. Again idiomatically, how do you say that something is really far away [with or without the connotation of it being in the middle of nowhere]?

Some examples in [American] English: [out] in the middle of nowhere, [out] in the boondocks [which a friend told me comes from the Filipino word "bundok", which means mountain], [out] in the boonies [a short form of the previous one], in Timbuktu...hm, I'm not sure I can really think of any that don't have that "middle of nowhere" connotation...any ideas?

The one I know in German, with the same connotation: "am Arsch der Welt" [literally, at the ass of the world].

And the reason I'm interested in this is that the same Spaniard told me that, at least in southern Spain, they actually use Wisconsin - which tickles me pink, because that's where I'm from. Example 1 [except imagine it in Spanish]: "Man, he kicked that ball all the way to Wisconsin!" Example 2: "I don't want to go all the way to that bar - it's in Wisconsin!" [When I mentioned this example to a fellow Wisconsinite who's also a brewer, he got offended that they wouldn't want to go to a bar in Wisconsin.] Apparently they use it because "it sounds funny and it's far away" [a bit like our Timbuktu, I guess]. I forgot to ask other native speakers and confirm this while I was there, so I'm especially curious whether anyone here uses or has heard this.


Thanks, everyone!

[cross-posted to foreignlanguage]

ETA: Thank you to all of you for contributing! There are some really great ones out there...and some hilarious and scandalous ones...! For a few more [including a particularly, erm, beautiful one in French], see the comments on the foreignlanguage post. And please note that, according to a real Spanish speaker, "está chupado" is more like "it's licked."

E[again]TA: I forgot my other contribution to #1, the whole reason I started asking about it in other languages: in [at least European] Portuguese, I've been told you can say that something is "canja", which is a kind of chicken soup that kids really like.