March 27th, 2011


Sinhalese names

1. I've noticed a lot of Sinhalese names with 'Don' in them. A Sri Lankan Australian told me this originally comes from Portuguese, and tends to be seen in people of high-ish social status (I found a couple of websites which used it in a way that looked like a title) but didn't know much more about it. Can anyone clarify what 'Don' is and how it's used in names?

2. Are 'Sinhala' and 'Sinhalese' (which I've seen written with a 'g' between the n and h - is there an official or generally agreed-on romanisation?) more or less interchangeable? Which name for the language should I use in professional settings?

3. The use of the ge name has always confused me. When I talked to some Sinhalese speakers years ago, they said that most Sinhalese people now use the "given name + middle name + surname" structure, but that the traditional ge name (meaning something like "from the house of", and indicating profession or clan) may still be seen.

(a) What is the current status of the ge name? When phoneticising names on graduations lists recently (yes, still doing plenty of this!), I saw quite a lot of Sinhalese names which had them. Has there been a revival of this form recently or something?

(b) After scanning a few websites on naming conventions in Sri Lanka, I'm getting more and more confused about how names which include a ge name are structured. One site implied that "ge name + given name" is standard, whereas I seem to remember that my Sinhalese speakers said a lot more components are usually included (something like "ge name + father's family name + mother's family name + given name + surname"?). AAARG. Can anyone fill me in here?
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More Yes Minister

First of all, I'd like to thank everybody who commented on my previous post, you've all been tremendous help!

Today, I've run into another thing I'm not sure about (but I swear it's the last one).

I have a sentence: "Today, everything collapsed in ruins."
I found in a dictionary that "in ruins" is an idiom, which means "damaged." However, it seems to me that that idiom behaves more like an adjective. So my question is, does this sentence have anything to do with the idiom "to be in ruins"? Also, would "in ruins" be an adverbial in the sentence above, or did I get it completely wrong?
Thanks for any help!

Your name is?

Spawned from a point brought up in this post. What is the name order like where you're from. I usually think of a normal name order from where I'm from (Pacific NW USA) as first, middle, last or more formally given name, second given name, surname.

(no subject)

 I'm trying to understand the following lines in English:
Worse than the poorest mendicant alive,
the pencil man, the blind man with his breath
of music shaming all who do not give,
are You to me, Jesus of Nazareth...
What does "pencil man" mean in the context? Thank you in advance for assistance.

(no subject)

Thinking about any language you might know, what are some errors/mistakes/whatever that are typical of not an L2 learner, but a native speaker of that language?

For example: In my experience (which is limited), English speakers learning Spanish don't mix up B and V very often (if at all) since they represent distinct phonemes in English and not in Spanish -- I guess we have to get used to them having the same sound and it makes us less likely to mix them up, who knows. On the other hand, I know dozens of native speakers who tend to vacillate between "estava" and "estaba," "havía" and "había," etc. This particular spelling mistake is not one I see in people learning Spanish and usually tips me off right away that it's a native speaker. The same thing happens with LL vs. Y.
you can't kill kim jong il!

German to IPA transcription?

Could any German speaker/learner transcribe the following phrase for me in IPA, please? Standard German German if it matters, and as broad or as narrow as you please.

mechanische vervielfältigungsmaschine

I don't know any German and it's an inside joke, but I'd like to know how to pronounce it.

not insane--squirrel


So a few posts back, someone suggested in the comments that someone make an LJ icon to mimic "like"ing on facebook. Seeing as I have lots of important work to be doing and no desire to do it... I've taken on this project.

However, it made me curious: those of you who use facebook in other languages, what word is there next to the thumbs-up for you? Does it have a different meaning? I know I can change my page to any language and look, but I thought a discussion would be fun, plus I don't actually speak most of the other languages.

o rly?

Czech paper on Latin plants for Caucasian article

Evening all,

I have a rather large favour to ask. I'm currently in the middle of writing a paper on the etymology of a couple of botanical terms in the South Caucasian languages, but in tracing the etymology of one of the terms I'm looking at, I've come across a source that looks like it would be very helpful but I can't get hold of it. Would anyone be willing to find a copy for me? Any assistance will be duly acknowledged in the paper and rewarded with huge gratitude and a copy of the said paper should it be published.

The article is Collapse ) Ordinarily I'd post this to article_request, but since the article I'm chasing is in Czech I don't know whether I'd do any good over there.

Děkuji, გმადლობთ, and thanks in advance!

(no subject)

Hey all, short Finnish question

I came across this line

"Kokoomuuksen tilanne tietyllä tapaa hankala"

My problem here is that this sentence lacks the verb "to be". I know in many languages the verb "to be" is omitted often in the present tense, however in Finnish I have never seen this as the case. I asked my wife and she said that this is completely natural sounding however when I asked her if I could say something like "taivas sininen" or "me naimisissa" she said this was not allowed.

Could anyone explain this?

(oh and while I'm at it, in this sentence "se pitää tehdä", why isn't tehdä in the passive?)