xiphias: (Default)
I just found a claim that the quote "Jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today," from Alice's Adventures Through the Looking-Glass, is actually supposed to be a mnemonic to help remember the distinction between the Latin words "nunc" and "iam".

Can someone who actually KNOWS Latin sanity-check this claim for me?
xiphias: (Default)
So, Spanish distinguishes between "tu" and "usted". French has "tu" and "vous". German has "du" and "sie", and Japanese has something similar, I think.

English USED to use "thou" and "you" the way French uses "tu" and "vous", but eventually dropped "thou".

So, which is more common: for a language to HAVE this second-person-pronoun formality distinction, or to LACK it? What are some other examples in other languages?

I figure, I've got a bunch of linguistic geeks on my friends list who might be interested in this question.
xiphias: (Default)
Have I ever mentioned my favorite food label? It's on the store brand evaporated milk of the local supermarket chain, Stop&Shop.

On the side of the can is written:

Add one part
of water to one part
of the milk in this can
to result in a milk product
which is not below
the legal standard
for whole milk

I LOVE that. I'm trying to imagine the person who wrote that. And I think that I would really get along with that person.
xiphias: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] aranel is really good at it. So, if you remember, we're looking for pairs of English words which are synonyms, in which both of the words are created from root words in which, in ONE of the pairs, all the roots are Latinate, and in the other pair, they are all Anglo-Saxon/Germanic.

[livejournal.com profile] aranel came up with "foretell and predict", "forerunner and precursor", and "overseer and supervisor" (and therefore "oversee" and "supervise").

So, the further question is, is there a connotative distinction between the words "hindsight, foretell, forerunner, overseer/oversee" and "retrospect, predict, precursor, supervise/supervisor"? Does ONE set FEEL different than the other set?

For me, the sets do feel different. One way I was trying to put it into words is that the first set feels like it would fit in a fantasy novel, while the second set would fit into a science fiction novel.

Also, the first set feels more "blue-collar" while the second set is more "white-collar".

In some sense, I feel that English still has that Saxon/Norman cultural split
xiphias: (Default)
I dreamed that someone was asking me trivia questions about languages, and the question was how you say "please" in German.

And I totally couldn't remember. I went through por favor, permisso (which may actually be "excuse me"), si vous plait. And I couldn't remember. So I turned to Lis and said, "I'm remembering various Romance language things, but not Germanic ones. Can you think of any English words of Anglo-Saxon origin that have a meaning similar to 'please' that might give a clue?"

Lis came up with "beg". I started rolling that around in my mind, with typical sound changes. "Beg" to "bed" to "bet" to "bit", to Bitte.

I have no idea if my brain actually worked something out, or if it's just a coincidence.

Anyway, when I woke up, that dream reminded me of something ELSE that I have been rolling around in my mind occasionally.

One day, I just started thinking about the words "retrospect" and "hindsight". Those two words are synonyms, and they are both compound words, made from two roots, one might "sight" and one meaning "backward." It's just that in one word, both roots are Latinate, and in the other, they're both Germanic.

And so, since then, I've been occasionally trying to think of other pairs of words that have that same relationship: words made from more than one root, in which, in one word, all the roots are Latinate (or Greek, I guess -- let's open the game up further), and in the other word, they're all Germanic/Anglo-Saxon/Old English. and in which the two words are synonyms. I haven't really come up with any good ones besides that first pair that inspired the thought.
xiphias: (Default)
I can't remember if I mentioned this before, but, if I want to express to a friend the idea that the argument that they are making is going to be too hard for someone else to follow, because the examples and analogies which they are using are obscure, and therefore, to understand the argument, you need to have a whole lot of cultural context in common, and you just can't assume that people HAVE that level of cultural context in common, I just say that all in one word: "Darmok."

I find this vaguely ironic.
xiphias: (Default)
When I was a kid, my parents would watch All in the Family. One of the main things I remember about it was how much the opening impressed me.

See, it stated that "All in the Family is filmed before a live audience," and I thought that was amazing.

See, I understood that people had evolved millions of years ago, and so I couldn't figure out who was making the show if it had been filmed before there was a live audience. I mean, I figured that, okay, the writers and cameramen and stuff might be dinosaurs, but how did they get actors who looked like humans? And, for that matter, how did they know what humans would LOOK like?

Eventually, I figured that it had just been filmed before anyone had come up with the idea of a "live audience", and, back when they were filming All in the Family, they just packed the auditorium with corpses for some reason. I couldn't figure out WHY they would do that, but it made more sense than the "dinosaur" theory.
xiphias: (Default)
Every once in a while, I talk about opening a restaurant called "House of Chateau Maison", which would serve things like shrimp scampi, chai tea, and chicken-fried chicken; there would be a soup du jour of the day; you could get salsa sauce to put on things; there would be an ATM machine in the corner if you needed cash.

I think it could be popular with the hoi polloi.
xiphias: (Default)
[This isn't a humor post, or a political post. This is a history/theology geeking post. Just so's y'all know what to expect.]

First off, as you all know, the Number of the Beast is "616", not "666" -- the whole "666" thing is a transcription error. The earliest versions of the Book of Revelations have "616".

Second, as you all know, in Hebrew, every letter also has an associated numerical value, and Hebrew numerology is based around the numerical values of words.

Hebrew LetterValueNameEnglish Approximation of Sound
א1AlephSilent
ב2BetB or V
ג3GimmelG (historically, also could sound as j)
ד4DaletD (historically, could also sound as djz)
ה5HayH
ו6VavV, or oo, or oh (historically, sounded as "w", "oo", or "oh", and was called "waw")
ז7ZayinZ
ח8Chetkh (as in "Bach")
ט9TetT
י10YodY
כ20KafK or kh
ל30LamedL
מ40MemM
נ50NunN
ס60SamekhS
ע70AyinSilent, basically
פ80PayP or F
צ90Tzadets, as in "pizza"
ק100KufK or Q (a little more gutteral than K)
ר200ReshR, more or less
ש300ShinSh or S
ת400TavT, T or S in some dialects, T or Th historically


As an aside, I find it interesting that, historically, the following letters had two sounds:
Bet, B and V (no English equivalent of which I know)
Gimmel, G and J (the English letter "g" maintains both sounds)
Dalet, D and djz as in the French "gendarme" (no English equivalent that I know of)
Kof, K and Kh
Pay, P and Ph
Shin, S and Sh
Tav, T and Th

So, a fair number of the Hebrew two-sound letters made it into English. . .

Anyway, that's not what I'm posting about.

The Book of Revelations is clear that "616" refers to a person's name. So you need to find a name, or name and title, which adds up to 616.

How about קסר נרו ? That's 50+200+6 + 100+60+200 = 616. What are the English equivalents of those letters? NRV QSR. Of course, that "V" may be a "W", a "U" or an "O", and we need to add vowels.

NRO QSR. NeRO CaeSaR.

Hard to argue with that one. Emperor Nero pretty much deserved the title of "the Beast", and, for that matter, was the Emperor when the Book of Revelations was written.

So, my point is to just plain relax about the Book of Revelations. We KNOW what the "number of the Beast" is, and who it refers to, and why. It's not a great End-Times Mystery or anything.
xiphias: (Default)
An anonymous commenter in my LJ claimed that, when the word "octopus" was taken into Latin from Greek, it was made into a regular third declension word.

That would make its plural "octopera".

Now, I don't know if that'd true or not -- I'm sticking with the Greek-based "octopodes" and the English-based "octopuses". I thought that "octopus" remained irregular in Latin and kept its Greek form, but I don't know that for sure. I'm pretty certain that "octopi" is a mistake, though.

But my point is that, if "octopera" is the actual plural, then somebody HAS to write "Octopera: A Rock Opera". It's a moral imperative.
xiphias: (Default)
This is something of a pet peeve.

The word "doth" is pronounced "duth." It's the same word as "does", except that the "s" is pronounced as "th". You just pronounce it as if you were saying "does" but with a lisp.

This was beaten in to me, figuratively, when I was fourteen, by Ms. McCarthy of Arlington High School -- a holy terror of an English teacher, who didn't LITERALLY beat these facts into us, even though she was an ex-nun, because, as it was a public school, she wasn't allowed to whack us with rulers. Ms. McCarthy was one of the teachers I most hated in school, and respect most now -- I respected her then, too. She's the one that was claiming that "Merchant of Venice" wasn't anti-Semitic, and required us to write a term paper demonstrating that. I wrote a paper, with pages of endnotes and an appendix, showing that there was absolutely no way that Shakespeare COULDN'T have been anti-Semitic, and that OF COURSE the play was anti-Semitic.

This, of course, was a total defiance of what the teacher instructed us to do, and I was prepared to get an "F" on it.

Final page comment was "Excellent paper, well researched, well written, I disagree with everything you say, A-." The minus was for a couple typos and a subject-verb disagreement. Which were examples of TOTAL carelessness on my part, and she would have been well within her rights to knock it down to a B+ or even a B for that kind of sloppiness.

Anyway, in tribute to a hated English teacher whom I quite love, I pass along this pet peeve: it's pronounced "duth".
xiphias: (Default)
So, I was looking up information about gerbera daisies, and a site stated that they were "endemic to South Africa."

This sounded, to me, like someone didn't know what "endemic" meant.

But I was wrong. "Endemic" was precisely the word they meant to use. See, I knew that a disease was "endemic" if it was always present in a population. And I'd only ever encountered the word in epidemiology. But it turns out that it also means, in botany and zoology, "exclusively native". See, the difference between "native" and "endemic" is that a plant or animal can be native to more than one place. But a plant or animal that is native to exactly one place is "endemic" to that place.

Neat, hunh?
xiphias: (Default)
Really.

Article I, Section 10 includes the phrase "except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws". The superfluous apostrophe appears in both the handwritten and early printed texts.

How embarrassing.
xiphias: (Default)
This morning, as I was driving Lis to work, we were talking about the word "fish." I mentioned that I was surprised that there wasn't anything in English like "fisk" from the same root, except maybe a surname. (In Old English "sc" is pronounced as "sh" is in Modern English, so there are lots of words in English which came down as both "sh" and "sk" variations -- "shirt" and "skirt", "dish" and "disk", a "skipper" is one who runs a "ship", stuff like that. Since "fisc" is "fish" in OE, I was surprised that there isn't a "fisk" word of which I was aware).

Lis mentioned that, because of the f<-->p shift, "fisc" and "pisc" were the same word, which is neat. I don't know WHY f and p change into each other -- or b and v change into each other -- but they do. You can see it really obviously in Hebrew, but it's common among other Indo-European langages, too.

This evening, Lis looked up some of those words in the OED, and we found that "fiscal" comes from a word for a rush basket. I don't know that it has anything to do with fish.
xiphias: (Default)
. . . that the Eskimos have 200 words for snow. But the Scots do have about 40 words for "oatmeal".
xiphias: (Default)
Since someone on my friends list mentioned JUST figuring out what relationship my username has to my default user icon, I thought I'd tell a story about my username, and the one person ever who knew what it meant. (Okay, I assume that, for instance, classics_cat could figure it out instantly, but I've never met her in person, so I can still tell this story that way.)
The Story )
xiphias: (sigil)
Some background for people who don't follow football -- read "some Americans."
Background )

Anyway, this Slate article makes the comment that "Beckham could be the final piece that makes Madrid the top conglomerate. He will give Madrid a foothold in Asia, where he is literally a demigod."

I read this and instinctively did my "Oh, great. Yet another person who misuses the word 'literally'."

Then I went on to the next sentence.

Nope, they meant "literally".

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