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Translation and language comparison

 
Wanderer
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One of the humorous things he talks about is how Tortoise's sex changes from translation to translation.
He talked about this in the preface to the current edition of GEB as well. Which is where Map read about it before she discussed it back on page 1 of this very thread. But you probably knew that; this wouldn't be a proper GEB thread unless it were self-referential after all.
 
Jim Yingst
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you would never say:
"French are known for their wine."
The French need "the".

Interesting. It seems to be because "French" isn't really a noun most of the time, just an adjective. But "the French" is a special case that's short for "the French people". The same trick works for any nation-identifying adjective I think. However "German" is a standalone noun just as much as it's an adjective, so it functions perfectly well when you add "s" and omit "the".
Let's see... examples of words that fit the German pattern (used as noun and adjective):
American
German
Russian
Italian
Examples of words that are predominantly used as advectives only:
French
Swiss
Japanese
Chinese
While you will sometimes hear people use these as nouns, usually they require a real noun after - e.g. "Frenchman", "French person", or "French national". The pattern seems to be that any national adjective ending in "-an" is also a noun; others are not. But there are probably other exceptions to this...
[ December 17, 2002: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
While you will sometimes hear people use these as nouns, usually they require a real noun after - e.g. "Frenchman", "French person", or "French national". The pattern seems to be that any national adjective ending in "-an" is also a noun; others are not. But there are probably other exceptions to this...


"Swedes", "Spaniards", "Czechs"
I think it's anything that can end with an "s" can be used without "the".
 
Thomas Paul
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"Swiss is a tasty cheese." <-- that's OK
"Swiss make great cuckoo clocks." <--- doesn't sound right
In the first case, "Swiss" is really an adjective so it doesn't need "the". In the second case, I am trying to use "Swiss" as a noun and it requires "the" to sound right. There's really no easy way to turn "Swiss" into a noun as I can do with "German" by just adding an "s" to the end. I need to make it "the Swiss" to get a noun.
 
Jim Yingst
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"Swedes", "Spaniards", "Czechs"
The first two are a slightly different than the pattern I discussed - they are nouns only. Adjective forms are "Swedish" and "Spanish". "Spaniards" is analogous to "Frenchmen", as far as rules of usage are concerned.
"Czech" is indeed a direct exception to the rule as I had envisioned it. Though it doesn't end in "-an", it's both noun and adjective, and "Czechs" can be used just as well as "the Czechs" when not speaking of a previously-identified subset of the Czech people. Come to think of it, "Slovak" seems to fit the same pattern.
I think it's anything that can end with an "s" can be used without "the".
"Swiss" seems to belie this. I'd say, it's anything that's a noun (whether or not it's also an adjective). Make it into a plural form (which usually involves adding s) and it can be used without "the". Hmmm... are there national nouns whose plurals are not formed with s? Probably, but I'm drawing a blank...
There's really no easy way to turn "Swiss" into a noun as I can do with "German" by just adding an "s" to the end.
Another way to look at is that "German" already is a noun, while "Swiss" is not. I can say "a German" but not "a Swiss". Or at least, the latter doesn't really sound right to me - it's like a lazy shorthand for "a Swiss person". These shortened forms are more acceptable when used as plurals, IMO - "1 million Swiss" sounds better than "a Swiss", though it's still not really right I think.
Hurm... my brain hurts. Good thing I don't have to study English as a second language.
[ December 18, 2002: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
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Originally posted by G Vanin:
There is no need to distort my name! I am sorry if you feel offended.


I did not feel offended. In one of your previous posts you spelled my name in Russian, so I was going to do the same with your name, just for fun, without any bad intentions. However, the problem with genuine Russian letter is that I am afraid for many people they may look like rubbish - if proper fonts are not installed etc. So I used similarly looking English letters instead. However, you know that some Russian letters, such as "i", do not have visual twins in English, so I did not finish my plan and only changed "V" to "B". It did not make your last name sound obscene, just another last name. Sorry for that, though.
Before your hijacking the string "seven" uniquely identified UNIQUE context. I did not know that you do not remember even your own writings, just before.
Guennadii, you probably assume that we all here read your posts as soon as you submit them. We do our best, but sometimes there is a delay in time. If you look at any post, there is a time stamp that informs when this post was made. Your post was made December 13, 2002 08:01 AM, my response December 14, 2002 12:07 AM - the next day. It *was* hard for me to keep in mind what "seven" should uniquely symbolize. I read/made quite a few posts that day, plus Dec. 13 was my husband's birthday, which also did not help to concentrate my thoughts on my question about seven basic patterns of intonations in Russian language.
Another reason, I failed to connect your "It seems to me that those seven are called cases (inclinations) is that I failed to see how cases are related to inclinations, and the word "case" has some other meanings, so I did not understand you mean "padeg". Then, perhaps subconsciously, the idea that Michael Matola 1) just confused intonations and cases 2) forgot how many cases are there in Russian, did not look too plausible to me, since he's never been noticed in such poor memory before.
Guennadii, it would help if you started your explanations with something like "as to seven basic patterns...", or, perhaps, used the "quote" feature - that's what people usually do to provide their interlocutors with some clues regarding what they are responding to.
Now, may I ask how, you think, the fact that there are seven cases in Serbo-Croatian should help Michael Matola to claim that there are seven basic patterns of intonation in Russian? Do you have reasons to believe he studied Serbo-Croatian also? I am just curious.
That is interesting that even Russian in Arizona thinks that all the world's libraries are filled by american books!!!
Guennadii, have you ever finished reading my post? I said "I am kidding" and put smile. This means I was not serious about the advice to borrow books in your library. We often exchange such kind of jokes here, and normally they aren't considered offensive and I did not intended it as an offence either. Sorry that it made you feel bad.
 
Mapraputa Is
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
One of the interesting things he talks about in "Le Ton..." is the difficulty of translating GEB into foreign languages. GEB has so much word play that it was extremely difficult to do the translation.


I know that a lot of wordplay and other subtleties were lost on me when I read GEB, and I thought that this book would require high level of competence in *both* languages from the translator. It would help if the author himself marked the book with where he intended what kind of ploy "for dummies". And in "Le Ton..." he said that in fact he did! I did not read the Russian translation myself, but I got the book for my friend in Russia, so next time I'll be there, I'll compare. So far my friend complained that the translator wasn't accustomed with standard terminology in logic, so it was sometimes hard to figure what she meant.
 
Mapraputa Is
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
Consider "Tchaikovsky" (or however else you prefer to transliterate it; I've seen many variations). Focusing just on the initial sound(s) "tch" - it's just what we would normally represent in English as "ch", right?


I think so.
I'm not sure why it's typically rendered as "tch"; my guess is it's inherited from other European languages like French, where a lone "ch" would mean what we call "sh" (as in "share").
Hm... Am I mistaken, or French is still official language of international documents? I got an idea that while my passport has signs in English, all what was typed in is in French. Let me check, Russie, URSS... (URSS in "Date of Issue" column ) yes. And my last name is spelled as "Issaeva". (what this diplasiasmus should symbolize?) What is interesting, that the same last name was spelled "in English" in my visa, so customs officer asked what the heck it means and when I tried to suggest that it can be my name spelled in French, he responded in a very sarcastic tone "French?". So perhaps Russie is the only country who believes that all international official papers should be filled in in French???
The simple fact is that even in English, the "ch" sound is a "t" followed by an "sh" sound, run together quickly.

Then we have a different kind of "ch" in Russian. Certainly not a "t" followed by an "sh".
Back to "Skrzetuski"/"Skshetuski" - I heard Poles pronounce it (I made them repeat it several times), and I could clearly hear the S-K-SH sounds, all run together quickly. It's a pretty accurate representation. I just have a hard time training my own mouth to do it.
But you did learn?
I can imagine that Poles did not find it difficut, because Michael's example with "vzglyad" -- I did not find any significant difficulty in it. In fact, if you asked me to come up with some example of something difficult in prononcuation in Russian, I do not think "vzglyad" would come to my mind. But I cannot comfortable pronounce "Skrzetuski"/"Skshetuski" either, which proves my thesis that "easy/difficulty" is learnt
Kh is a different sort of construct
I've just been listening to how my dictionary pronounce "hotel", and it's probably not 100% the same with Russian, but very close and I think, better than "kh". Ah, nope, "Khabarovsk" sounds better, except that then a lot of words that starts with "kh" are pronounced as "k", not as "h"! If this is a foreign last name, for example, how do you know whether it's "h" or "k"?
And is there some other way this would be better rendered using the Roman alphabet?
No way.
I've heard the "shch" sound, and it does decompose into "sh" and "ch". It just takes practice to run the sounds together quickly enough to pretend it's a single sound.
"to pretend" :roll: It *is* a single sound! I understand that if you are not used to it, then there is... Hm. It somehow seems to me that when you say "shch" sound your tongue is right between it would be if saying "sh" and "ch".
--- sh--- "shch" --- ch -----
It's probably hard for a foreigner to position a tongue precisely, because "sh" and "ch" are so well learned that it's hard to imagaine where the heck is between, so you have to move from "sh" to "ch" to get the effect.
I know what I am talking about, because I myself have never been able to say anything remorely close to "th"
[ December 18, 2002: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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Originally posted by Michael Matola:
For example, provide a dry, dispassionate explanation of why the little girl is more likely to say Ia ee boius' than Ia boius' ee'


Ha! You will laugh, but I know for sure why *I* would say so! Because the poetry she quotes as a good example of modeling a child's speech was my favorite reading when I was a child! This phrase is carved so deeply in my mind, so I repeat it with pleasure every time. But wait, wait... You asked for "a dry, dispassionate explanation"... ix net u menya ("I do not have them" with Odessa's accent, have you ever heard "vy xochete pesen? Ix net u menya"?)
Also, in general -- before launching off onto discussions about letter/sound frequency etc., make sure that you don't fall into the trap of too closely equating sounds and the letters that (imperfectly) seem to represent them.
Well, that's a valid concern, yet Jim's approach to think about sounds rather then letters still looks right. We are making very rough estimates, and fine details shouldn't change the picture radically.
Maybe I'm missing the point of this kind of observation? Russian "letter O" represents at least 3 different "sounds" (arguably 4, but I'm not arguing that point) and the Russian sound "O" can be represented by 2 different letters.
What are your "arguably 4 sounds"? What do you mean "the Russian sound "O" can be represented by 2 different letters"? If you mean hm... "yo", well, the letter after "e" in alphabet, you think it represents the same sound as "o"? This is, by the way, an example of when the sound *is* made out of two - I am not going to argue with that. I first make one sound and then quickly another, not the case with "shch".
(And Russian has (at least?) two sounds for which it has "no letter" to represent them...)
This is an interesting concept, by the way! I am not sure if it can be found in some other languages, perhaps... But this are not "sounds without letter", these are "letters without sound" - "soft sign" and "hard sign". (Unless you mean something totally different). When you add "soft sign" after a consonant, it means this consonant should sound "softer" then usual. With "hard sign" it is different, I do not think it makes any consonant harder, it's just a few cases of idiosyncratic spelling, but I can be wrong here. Michael must know better, he was taught these things, and I only listen to my inner (possibly wrong) voice.
 
Jim Yingst
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[MM]:
Also, in general -- before launching off onto discussions about letter/sound frequency etc., make sure that you don't fall into the trap of too closely equating sounds and the letters that (imperfectly) seem to represent them.

Very true - I think that's the next-order effect to consider, after sound frequency. For example a substantial part of the popularity of 'e' in English is not for its own sound(s), but for its effect as a modifier at the end of a word - "date", "kite", "hope", etc. And much of the popularity of 'h' is from its use in creating composites like ch, th, sh, which really have meanings quite unrealed to the significance of the individual letter. These are significant effects, but they don't invalidate observations regarding sound frequencies - they just add to them.
[MI]:
Hm... Am I mistaken, or French is still official language of international documents?

I suppose it depends who you ask. It's certainly not the official language (not worldwide anyway, not any more), but it's a popular choice. I expect it's more popular in those countries that historically had more French influence than English, or those that have reason to avoid promulgating English as the "standard" international language.
Then we have a different kind of "ch" in Russian. Certainly not a "t" followed by an "sh".
Well you have much more exposure to the English "ch" than I have to the Russian version (if it's in fact different), so let's stick to the English one for the moment. I think many English speakers would also question my assertion that "ch" is equivalent to "t" + "sh" run together quickly. But try saying a "ch" sound very slowly. At the beginning the tongue touches the hard palate - then contact is broken. It's nearly impossible to slow down this part - the breaking of contact here is what starts the sound, and is basically identical to how we form a "t" sound. After that, you're making an "sh" sound, which you can extend as long as you want. Don't believe me? Try making a "ch" without the initial touching of the tongue tip to the palate, and try to convice any listeners that the sound you're making is anything other than an "sh". There may be a very subtle qualitative difference as the tongue in "ch" is generally closer to the palate than in "sh" - but that's covered by "running the two sounds together quickly" as I've been saying.
Consider it another way. What if you met someone whose native language did not use a "ch" sound, and you were trying to teach them how to pronounce it? Assuming that they do use "t" and "sh" sounds - can you think of a better way to teach them "ch", other than to make a "t" followed by "sh", and run them together quickly?

Re: "Skshetuski":
But you did learn?
Sort of. I can make the sounds, but it's still slow and unnatural. I have to pay careful attention or I get it wrong. In fact I spent so much effort on the "sksh" that I accidentally morphed the remainder into "tutsi" while I was practicing, and now I must unlearn that.
But I cannot comfortable pronounce "Skrzetuski"/"Skshetuski" either, which proves my thesis that "easy/difficulty" is learnt
Ahem - whose thesis? I brought this up in the same post in which I started talking about sound frequencies.
If this is a foreign last name, for example, how do you know whether it's "h" or "k"?
You mean, whether "kh" represents a hard "k" or the vaguely-"ch"-like sound found in other languages? We don't really - just got to guess. Usually I would assume that it originally meant "kh" rather than "k" (else why bother putting the "h" there?) but this may have later been replaced by a hard "k" sound. Especially once the name or word came to English-speaking territories. Most people here just don't know how to make a proper "kh" (myself included really, though I have some idea) so substituting "k" (or perhaps a "ch" sound) is just the most practical solution.
Now, if you're saying that "kh" sometimes means "kh" and sometimes "k", in Russian (using whatever the equivalent letters are), then I have no idea why this would occur, and would be interested to hear theories.
[JY]:
I've heard the "shch" sound, and it does decompose into "sh" and "ch". It just takes practice to run the sounds together quickly enough to pretend it's a single sound.

[MI]:
"to pretend" It *is* a single sound! I understand that if you are not used to it, then there is... Hm. It somehow seems to me that when you say "shch" sound your tongue is right between it would be if saying "sh" and "ch".

Well perhaps I should retract my statement here, as to be honest it was a long time ago that I heard the "shch", and my memory or hearing may well be faulty on this point. (Much moreso than for the Polish "sksh" which was much more recent and carefully studied by me.) However I suspect the situation may well be similar to the English "ch" = "t" + "sh" paradigm - it's not obvious at first, particularly to native speakers, but still true IMHO.
Can you "slow down" the "shch" sound at all? How would you teach it to someone unfamiliar with it? Would it be any more or less accurate to transliterate it as "chsh" instead? The latter part seems key to me - if "chsh" is equally valid, then yes, you're just making an "in between" sound. But if "shch" is better than "chsh", then it's probably more that you're making an "sh" follwed by "ch", and doing it very quickly.
[ December 18, 2002: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Hm... Am I mistaken, or French is still official language of international documents? ... So perhaps Russie is the only country who believes that all international official papers should be filled in in French???


Who makes anything "international" "official"?
For what it's worth, my most recent US passport is in 3 languages: English, French, and Spanish. Except for a bit in English only about what to do in an emergency abroad, being subject to the laws of foreign countries, etc. And except for my name and other personal data, which is in "English."
My older expired US passport is in English and French. (With the same exceptions as above.)
My experience with Soviet/Russian passports (zagrany) is that they give the French transliteration of the bearer's patronymic and surname, and the French equivalent of the given name if a French equivalent exists and is fairly similar and a French transliteration otherwise.
So Elena Ivanovna Tarkovskaia becomes Helene Ivanovna Tarkoffskaya. Iurii Pavlovich Orusov becomes Iouri Pavlovich Orousoff. Or something like that.
Is Map "Margarita" in her passport or "Marguerite" (or whatever the French is)?
 
Michael Matola
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Still catching up...

Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
[MM]:Also, in general -- before launching off onto discussions about letter/sound frequency etc., make sure that you don't fall into the trap of too closely equating sounds and the letters that (imperfectly) seem to represent them.[/b]
[JY]And much of the popularity of 'h' is from its use in creating composites like ch, th, sh, which really have meanings quite unrealed to the significance of the individual letter.
Be brave and say it, Jim -- "h" functions as a diacritic in those contexts. (Whoever told you English doesn't use diacritics?...)
[MI]Then we have a different kind of "ch" in Russian. Certainly not a "t" followed by an "sh".
Yes and no. Russian and English do have different "ch" sounds. But both can be validly decompsed into a "t-like" part and a "sh-like" part. (But Russian and English have different t-like parts and sh-like parts...)
[JY]I think many English speakers would also question my assertion that "ch" is equivalent to "t" + "sh" run together quickly.
But they'd fall into the category of people I describe as "not being aware of their tongue" or "in need of a Q-tip."
Jim's right. "ch" in both languages is an affricate. The sound starts as a stop and ends as a fricative. But things a bit more complicated. The Russian "ch" is pronounced farther forward in the mouth than the English and with a much greater mass of the tongue bunched up higher. (I even cheat by pressing the blade of my tongue against the alveolar ridge.) English "ch" is farther back, and the back of my tongue hardly raises at all. (English "ch" isn't as far back as, say, Chinese, though. Er, the Chinese "ch" and not the Chinese "q.")
Then there's particular trouble with the "sh" part. Because the Russian uses not the "sh" sound Map is probably thinking of, but the "sh" sound that is at the beginning of the "shch" sound.
The "normal" Russian "sh" is different from English "sh." The general manner of articulation is similar (fricative), but in English the tongue is relatively flat in the mouth and in the Russian the tongue is retroflexed (and lips protruded). In other words, the tongue is retracted back a little, with the middle part of the tongue lower than the tip and the back -- often described as shaped like a saddle or a spoon. (Many speakers of American English retroflex postvocalic "r" -- so that might those speakers an idea of where Russian "sh" is pronounced.)
The Russian "sh" that's the first part of "shch" is closer to English "sh," but the back of the tongue is higher and the front of the tongue is lower. (And it's pretty long.) It's this sound (shortened to a fraction of its length) that gets used in Russian "ch" -- the tongue's already in high position at the start of the "t" then just falls down a little into place for the "sh(ch)".
[JY]:
I've heard the "shch" sound, and it does decompose into "sh" and "ch". It just takes practice to run the sounds together quickly enough to pretend it's a single sound.

[MI]:
"to pretend" It *is* a single sound! I understand that if you are not used to it, then there is... Hm. It somehow seems to me that when you say "shch" sound your tongue is right between it would be if saying "sh" and "ch".

[JY]Well perhaps I should retract my statement here, as to be honest it was a long time ago that I heard the "shch", and my memory or hearing may well be faulty on this point. <...>
Can you "slow down" the "shch" sound at all? How would you teach it to someone unfamiliar with it? Would it be any more or less accurate to transliterate it as "chsh" instead? The latter part seems key to me - if "chsh" is equally valid, then yes, you're just making an "in between" sound. But if "shch" is better than "chsh", then it's probably more that you're making an "sh" follwed by "ch", and doing it very quickly.[/b]
"shch" -- it's probably spelled that way more for historical reasons. For some speakers and in certain positions, it *was* a combination of "sh" (the "sh" that "goes with "ch"" -- not the other one ) and "ch." (That pronunciation still exists for some speakers. Gringos like me are usually taught not to emulate that pronunciation.)
Here's the easiest way to think of it: English "sh" is sort of between Russian "sh" and "shch."
More than you ever wanted to know...

 
Michael Matola
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Just thought of something. I think if you go by the names of saints, "James" is "Dmitryi."
So, Map -- Is Jim Yingst a Dima or a Mitia?
 
Mapraputa Is
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MM: Yes and no. Russian and English do have different "ch" sounds. But both can be validly decompsed into a "t-like" part and a "sh-like" part. (But Russian and English have different t-like parts and sh-like parts...)
People, I already scared away all the mice in the house, but neither "ch" nor "shch" decompose into anything!
YI: ..."ch" is equivalent to "t" + "sh" run together quickly.
Jim, how did you get this idea? Have you read it somewhere, or you got it experimentally? Do you feel yourself that "ch" is a combination of "t" + "sh"? (the subsequent text deleted due to the sudden enlightening that follows...) I just got it! My mistake was I tried to decompose, and it did not work, but when I tried to compose, if to pronounce quickly, then yes, there is something like "ch"!
Well, it does sound close to "ch", but it is like my tongue cover all the place where "t", "sh", and "ch" are. But normally they all are located in smaller and separate areas (I do not know proper terminology )
Perhaps, this is how they were former historically? This can be, and perhaps now they are pronounced differently from how they used to be pronounced...
MM: The "normal" Russian "sh" is different from English "sh"...
The Russian "sh" that's the first part of "shch"...

Ah, so there are two different "sh"s? Then of course, one can be at the beginning of "shch" -- namely that "sh" that is at the beginning of "shch"... I would even be brave enough to conjecture that it *is* "shch"
Well, Ok, pronunciation was always the worst part of my language studying, and I always hated phonetics, so do not expect anything good from me.
Michael, you did not tell us whether you know Serbo-Croatian or not. And was that thing with suomea? :roll:
Jim, now when I successfully (almost) repeated your experiment, it would be fair if you repeated mine (running up- and downstairs using all four paws) and told us the results.
 
Mapraputa Is
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MM: Just thought of something. I think if you go by the names of saints, "James" is "Dmitryi."
What kind of saints is James?
So, Map -- Is Jim Yingst a Dima or a Mitia?
Hm... Has "James" any other variants? If not, then it's probably more like "Dima", because "Mitia" is more rare, but then considering the nature of the thing under examination, I would favor "Mitia" for that very reason.
Yet I prefer "Jim" to both.
[ December 18, 2002: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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Ahem - whose thesis? I brought this up in the same post in which I started talking about sound frequencies.
Hm... You probably mean this:
"Periodically it becomes necessary (or at least, more convenient) to start using new sounds or combinations, in order to create new unique words. Some of these sounds may have been perceived as "hard" initially. However once they're learned, people get used to them, and it's easier to incorporate them into other words. Thus, "hard" sounds can nonetheless become common in a particular language. Eg. the "th" sound many foreigners have trouble with in English."
But I was talking about a different thing. Responding to your "sounds that are easier to pronounce become more frequent" I said than the opposite tendency can take place, those sounds that we have to pronounce more often, become easier to pronounce. In fact, probably both tendencies has contributed to the resulting statistics.
Speaking of which...
Map> the most frequent letter is "E" and in Russian "O".
MM: Maybe I'm missing the point of this kind of observation?

Well, first, I was trying as hard as I could (as I usually do) to disprove Jim's thesis and it seemed to me that the fact that such physiologically close nations as the Russians as the rest of Europe have nevertheless different most frequent sounds would nicely undermine it. Is it that "O" is easier in pronunciation for Russians than "E"? Hm, maybe... But this was a weak argument, of course, and it would bring us into "sounds-letters" mapping problem that is too special and would require extensive further investigations, so I did not quite utter it.
There was another, more interesting moment. Hofstadter in "Le Ton beau de Marot" book talks about a novel of a French author that was written without a single "e". It was translated into English and probably into other European languages. Now here is an interesting question (that Hofstadter did not ask, not up to the point in the book where I am anywhere). If the novel is being translated into a language (like Russian) where the most frequent letter is not "e", should a translator still avoid "e", or it would be more up to the spirit of the original to avoid "o" (in case of Russian?). I suspect, the answer depends on whether the author himself knew that "e" is the most frequent letter and thus his idea was to establish the strictest level of constraints, or it was just something in the letter "e" that inspired him to avoid it.
There is more. The book organized around omission of "the fifth letter in the alphabet", for example, there is no chapter 5 in the book, after chapter 4 goes chapter 6. If in an imaginary Russian translation the letter "o" would be avoided, then it would be not the fifth, but fifteenth letter. Should the chapters be renumbered and the 15th omitted?
[ December 18, 2002: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Jim Yingst
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[MM]:
Marjatta puhut suomea?! Voi voi voi! Hyv� on -- emme puhu Meaningless Drivel:n viesteiss� ven�j��, mutta suomea.
Michael "matojen talolla, Michael puhelimessa" Matola

[MI]:
OMG...
What the heck it means? Very

Looks like Finnish to me, which would make sense given the context. Based on that assumption, I have it on good authority that it translates to:

Berry speak marshland?! Butter butter butter! Good is emme say Meaningless Veto viesteiss� russia , only marshland.
Michael " maggot farm Michael puhelimessa " Maggot


Which doesn't seem to tell us much, but I thought the supplied translation of "Matola" made the whole effort worthwhile.
[ December 18, 2002: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
Jim Yingst
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[MM]: Just thought of something. I think if you go by the names of saints, "James" is "Dmitryi."
That's what I was told.
[MI]: Has "James" any other variants?
Jim
Jimmy
Jamie
Jimbo
Also it's ultimately a variant of Jacob, which has other more direct variants:
Jack
Jackie
Jake
Just sticking to the common English forms of course...
[MI]: What kind of saints is James?
Well, two out of twelve Apostles were named James, both subsequently sainted of course. One of these even wrote an eponymous book in the Bible. There are also quite a few other saints named James. They don't give this name to just anyone, you know.
Hmmmm... the apostle who wrote the Book of James is sometimes known as James the Younger. Which gives me pause, since "Yingst" derives from the German for "Youngest". I may have to reevalute this whole religion thing now...
[ December 19, 2002: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
Jim Yingst
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[JY]: ..."ch" is equivalent to "t" + "sh" run together quickly.
Jim, how did you get this idea? Have you read it somewhere, or you got it experimentally? Do you feel yourself that "ch" is a combination of "t" + "sh"?

I came up with it myself some years ago by thinking about how sounds were related, and sounding them out to myself. Which is probably why my own explanations lack colorful terms like "fricative" and "diacritic" - I heard of them much later, and would have had to look them up to make sure I was using them correctly.
Actually the whole thing was brought on as I was reading The Silmarillion and came across the pronunciation key in the back, which noted (among other things) that "DH" was used (in that book) to represent a "voiced" th sound (as in "other"), while "TH" represented an "unvoiced" th (as in "math"). This made no sense to me, but this was before the dawn of the Internet and I had no other appropriate references handy, so I just sat and thought about it, and started noticing various relationships between various sounds, including the ch = t + sh (as well as the corresponding j = d + zh.
Interesting that you should have asked this question today, as at about the same time you were posting the question, I was in the theater watching The Two Towers (which, for the record, kicks butt - but probably isn't the sort of thing Map would like). Anyway, because I had recently reread earlier parts of this thread, I found myself noticing something as I listened to the various characters in the movie: they almost never use words that derive from latin roots. It's always good old Anglo-Saxon roots instead. (One exception I remember was "spirit"; there are probably others, but very, very few.) This is really extremely unusual for English speech, and seems like it can only be by conscious design on Tolkien's part. Which may be a little less surprising given his background as a professor in Anglo-Saxon languages - but I hadn't realized just how pervasively that background was used. Maybe not that interesting to the rest of you, but I was amused at how seemingly unrelated threads in my thoughts are now being connected by seemingly external events. And that's not even counting Tolkien's Finnish influences. (!) Cue "Twilight Zone" music...
Jim, now when I successfully (almost) repeated your experiment, it would be fair if you repeated mine (running up- and downstairs using all four paws) and told us the results.
I would, however at the moment I have neither cat nor staircase available for experimentation. For that matter, I believe you used your husband as a test subject, and I don't anticipate acquiring one of those any time soon, either.
[ December 19, 2002: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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Looks like Finnish to me, which would make sense given the context. Based on that assumption, I have it on good authority that it translates to:

Berry speak marshland?! Butter butter butter! Good is emme say Meaningless Veto viesteiss� russia , only marshland.
Michael " maggot farm Michael puhelimessa " Maggot


Well, suomea is "Finnish" in Finnish, I suppose I heard a similar word in Russian, I think it meant either Finnish or some close related language... But it can mean the country too. Puhut - speak, yes. "Voi" - butter??? Hm... And I am lost at the rest
 
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[MM]: Just thought of something. I think if you go by the names of saints, "James" is "Dmitryi."
JY: That's what I was told.
From what I was able to find, the name is Иаков (Iakov?) wich sound close to "Jacob"
Here is "Iakov the Younger", which as aim observing is better known as Iakov Alfeev. Here is the picture
They don't give this name to just anyone, you know.
Sure, only two. :roll:
I couldn't find anything that would suggest that "Iakov" and "Dmitry" is the same name. Strange, they sound totally different.
Jim
Jimmy
Jamie
Jimbo :roll:
Also it's ultimately a variant of Jacob, which has other more direct variants:
Jack
Jackie
Jake


Can we settle on "Jim"? But I liked "Jimmy" also.
 
Jim Yingst
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And I am lost at the rest
Sorry to hear that, my little Berry.
(Hey, that's much better than what I'm going to call MM from now on.)
Anyway, serves you right for bringing up Finnish out of the blue like that.
[ December 19, 2002: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
Michael Matola
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
Anyway, serves you right for bringing up Finnish out of the blue like that.


And that was the point of the exercise.
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Well, first, I was trying as hard as I could (as I usually do) to disprove Jim's thesis and it seemed to me that the fact that such physiologically close nations as the Russians as the rest of Europe have nevertheless different most frequent sounds would nicely undermine it. Is it that "O" is easier in pronunciation for Russians than "E"?

Even though "e" is the most common letter, that does not mean it is the most common sound in the English language. Many words have silent "e".
Hope
Lake
Bore
Break
Brake
The last two are interesting because in neither caseis the "e" pronounced even though they are in different parts of the word.
Also, "e" is sometimes pronounced as a different letter:
Neighbor <-- pronounced as a long a
And "e" actually has more than one pronunciation:
lease
let
So I don't think we can say that "e" is the most common letter because of its pronunciation. It seems to be the most common letter because... it is used the most.
 
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Even though "e" is the most common letter, that does not mean it is the most common sound in the English language.


This is true that due to English spelling there is little hope to figure which sounds are hidden behind "e". But I noticed that the same letter is the most frequent in other European languages too, for example in German, which has far more regular spelling. But not in Italian, in Italian it's "i".
Anyway, another interesting question is a "meta-question", really: if we assume that two languages have different most frequent letter/sound, and we can safely assume that we can find two such out of 5000-6000 known languages, is it worth to ask "why"? Is there something deep behind which letter is most frequent and why, or is the effect purely random? It seems to me that there *is* something. The most frequent letter/sound was formed as a result of multitude of small factors, and integral characteristics are usually meaningful.
Either that, or just a natural tendency of a human brain to see meaning even when there is none.
[ December 19, 2002: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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To summarize.
1. Parasitic nature of articles.
The fact that some features in languages can be superfluous, is an acceptable scientific opinion:
"Others see agreement as less than essential. For instance, Jespersen (1922 [1959]: 335) remarks that verbal agreement is a superfluity and that languages would do well to get rid of it: "By getting rid of this [agreement] superfluity, Danish has got the start of the more archaic of its Aryan sister-tongues".
http://www.public.asu.edu/~gelderen/AGREE0.htm
Now I wont seriously claim that articles are superfluous, but I need to think about cases (aka "basic patterns of intonation") in Russian...
2. On economy
"Nevertheless, as inquiry into the nature of language has progressed, it has also become clear that something that might be called "principles of economy'' do play a significant role in determining the fundamental properties of language.
Since then, the role of economy in the entire system of grammar has been significantly increased and the nature of economy principles in language has been the focus of much recent discussion in the linguistic literature.
If the fundamental principle of language is shown to be stated essentially in this form, as I will argue below, it is a rather surprising discovery which indicates a remarkable similarity between the inorganic world and language, a similarity that is by no means expected, given the biological nature of language."
http://www.nuis.ac.jp/jcss/journal/vol03/0301fukui.html
3. French in Russian passports - used to be, and now they use English
(in unlikely case MM needs reference, here) is Russian text). And Jim was right about French nature of spelling of "Tchaikovsky" - the article said that he traveled to the US and in the prev... um, in XIX century French names migrated into English "as is". Now they are happy with "ch".

Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Perhaps, this is how they were former historically? This can be, and perhaps now they are pronounced differently from how they used to be


I had a vague idea that I wasn't ready to formulate, but now, when I got some proofs...
I read about an experiment when people were asked to recognize coins (D.Norman. The design of Everyday Things). Turned out, they cannot tell a genuine coin from one that looks rather different. Explanations was that people do not really need to recognize coins, all they need is to distinguish one from another. I thought that the same can hold for sounds. Our "ch" = "t" + "sh" example. After some practice, this synthesis does sound close to "ch", yet I have a strong feeling that "normal" ch is more "precise". When I utter "ch" made "synthetically" out of "t" and "sh", my tongue is in all three places -"t", "ch", and "sh". I can believe that this was how the sound "ch" was originally formed. Ok, but then I would imagine there was a tendency to make a new sound as different from both "t" and "sh" as possible - to prevent possible confusion, which arises every time there is some noise etc. This tendency would result in a "more specialized" or "more precise" way of pronunciation for "ch" then it was initially.
I was thinking that the fact that I can clearly feel that the letter "e.." (yo) is made out of "y" (well, bear in mind it's "Russian" y ) and "o", would mean that this letter/sound is relatively young. And today I read that this letter was introduced only in 1797, and it replaced old spelling "io".
(another reference for MM, just in case: here)

Originally posted by Michael Matola:
Is Map "Margarita" in her passport or "Marguerite" (or whatever the French is)?


Margarita

Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
I would, however at the moment I have neither cat nor staircase available for experimentation. For that matter, I believe you used your husband as a test subject, and I don't anticipate acquiring one of those any time soon, either.


Sorry to hear that, Jimmy.
Both a cat and a husband are cool, you do not know what you are missing...
But when I was talking about "experiment", I mean of course an experiment I conducted on myself. When I observed my cat's difficulties, I decided to check my hypothesis and repeat her movements as pecise as I could - using all my four paws.
If you do not have staircase available in your place, you can always use some public building, like a local library or something like that.
 
Jim Yingst
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But when I was talking about "experiment", I mean of course an experiment I conducted on myself. When I observed my cat's difficulties, I decided to check my hypothesis and repeat her movements as pecise as I could - using all my four paws.
But Ritka, that's only useful if you have a cat to compare the actions to.
If you do not have staircase available in your place, you can always use some public building, like a local library or something like that
Most of the libraries here (a) are single--floor, and (b) don't allow cats, even if I had one.
Plus I already pointed out in the other thread why the human body would be better at 4-legged uphill motion than 4-legged downhill motion, for reasons that would not affect cats. So your attempt to test cat dynamics using a human body is inherently flawed.
I'll tell you what though. If you send me a video tape of your experiment, I can use it as a model to repeat the experiment, and report back to you.
 
Mapraputa Is
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ROFL
But is "Ritka" a fair revenge for "Jimmy"? When would you use "Jimmy" anyway?
"Ritka" is both a slightly rude and affectionate form. Except that in an English sentence, after "but"... I cannot get rid of impression that it sounds informal and affectionate, like between close friends. I am sure, this is precisely the effect you wanted to achieve.
"attempt to test cat dynamics using a human body" - well, my main motive to use myself as a test material was to try to experience cat's way of feeling/thinking. This personal experience is very important. Why do you think all employers require n years of experience, ah? One cannot get away with "I've been watching a programmer who worked with EJB, JSP, Servlets, JINI, XML for 9 years..." as a substitute. Employers want personal experience.
More important: where this idea that "James=Dmitry" originates from? I finally found some info, and here we are:
DIMA (1) f Arabic
"downpour" (Arabic)
DIMA (2) m Russian
Pet form of DIMITRI
DIMITRI (DMITRY, DMITRII) Russian
Russian form of DEMETRIUS
DEMETRIUS m Ancient Greek (Latinized)
Latin form of the Greek name Demetrios, which was derived from the name of the Greek goddess DEMETER (1). Kings of Macedon and the Seleucid kingdom have had this name. This was also the name of several early saints
including a Saint Demetrius who was martyred in the 4th century.
http://www.behindthename.com/nm/d2.html
James is translated as "Iakov" into Russian, and the closest variant would be"Yakov", and pet forms not "Dima" or "Mitya", but "Yasha" or "Yashka" Interesting that those do not sound rude at all, due to idiosyncrasies of Rusian phonetic system, only affectionate
But then, the same place claims that YAKOV (Jewish, Russian) is
Hebrew and Russian form of JACOB, who has nothing to do with apostles... And there is no entry for Iakov at all.
[ December 20, 2002: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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Jim's observation that characters in "The Two Towers" use mostly words with Anglo-Saxon roots reminded me an article I read a while ago about the opposite phenomenon, how movies misuse typefaces.
"Chocolat (2000, Mirimax) wasn't a bad movie. It managed to get five Academy Award Nominations. But if they gave out Oscars for Best Type Direction, it would not have been among the nominees.
The movie is set in a small town in provincial France, mid-1950s. About halfway through the film, the town's mayor puts up notices forbidding anyone to eat anything but bread and weak tea during Lent (which of course coincides with the opening of the new chocolaterie). I almost laughed when they showed a close-up of the notice. The headline was set in ITC Benguiat, a typeface which debuted in 1978 and was mainly popular in the '80s. "
http://www.ms-studio.com/typecasting.html
I remember, I was amused how attentive to tiny details some people are. Jim amused me even more.
 
Michael Matola
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My wife often identifies china patterns in movies.
I remember thinking how Toronto is because so many signs there are in Optima (which is the most beautiful font ever, in my opinion).
I'm no font fanatic, but I do think many other countries use much better fonts in public places than here in the US.
The new airport terminal in Detroit is an exception. Outstanding font. I keep meaning to write them and ask what it is.
(There's at least one book I've never finished reading because of the font.)
 
Jim Yingst
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When would you use "Jimmy" anyway?
Well, it's generally (or originally) more like a "kiddie" version of "Jim". However plenty of adults have gone by "Jimmy" even in professional life. Generally people go by just one or the other - whichever they prefer or are used to.
I am sure, this is precisely the effect you wanted to achieve.

But then, the same place claims that YAKOV (Jewish, Russian) is
Hebrew and Russian form of JACOB, who has nothing to do with apostles...

...other than the fact that two of them were named after him, of course. (Indirectly, perhaps, but still...)
And there is no entry for Iakov at all.
Are you saying that Iakov and Yakov are two different names in Russian? Using two different letters? And different pronunciations? I had assumed they were just two ways of transliterating the same thing. I strongly doubt that the I in Greek Iacobos, for example, is actually prononced as a separate syllable - it's just there to make a Y-like sound, I expect. Or maybe my knowledge of Italian is getting in the way and confusing me here.
I was amused how attentive to tiny details some people are. Jim amused me even more.
Hey, I had to do pay attention to something in between battle scenes!
[ December 20, 2002: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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MM: (There's at least one book I've never finished reading because of the font)
I do not object book's font that much, but I refuse to type anyting more or less long, until I can set "Verdana 10 pt. bold"!
I am as much fan of fonts and written letters as Jim of spoken.
JY: Well, it's generally (or originally) more like a "kiddie" version of "Jim".
Then it's functionally close to "Ritka" -- I suppose one could use "Jimmy" as a mild insult...
MI: I am sure, this is precisely the effect you wanted to achieve.
JY:


...other than the fact that two of them were named after him, of course. (Indirectly, perhaps, but still...)
Ah, I did not know. This explains.
Are you saying that Iakov and Yakov are two different names in Russian?
Frankly, I do not know. Iakov is used mostly in Bible, I cannot remember anybody alive with this name... Yakov is more popular, mostly among Jews. Aha, I searched on the Internet and the only people with this name are Orthodox Church employees. (I think, they have to change a secular name into a clerical when being ordained).
Using two different letters?
Yes, "Iakov" is spelled like this, only with Russian equivalent for "i", and in "Yakov" the first two letters are represented by one Russian letter that looks like R rotated 180� along X-axis. So there are 5 letters in "Iakov" and four in "Yakov".
And different pronunciations?
I can be wrong, since I did not hear too many Christian texts, but I recollect that in "Iakov" "i" and "a" are uttered separately, they do not form one sound like in "Yakov".
I had assumed they were just two ways of transliterating the same thing.
Perhaps they are. I would expect Orthodox Church to reserve some "exclusive" spelling for their holy name not to be mistaken with those of a competing enterprise. It's like a trademark.
(So you think they show "The two Towers" in the Hell? Or am I supposed to arrive with my own stock of videos...)
 
Thomas Paul
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My brother-in-law is a Jimbo and my father-in-law is a Jimmy.
 
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