Ramblage and recreation

A photo of the Douglas Head lighthouse

Today while exploring Douglas Head, an rocky headland just south of Douglas, I came across a sign that explained that the area was developed for ramblage and recreation, and other things, in the 1870s. The word ramblage attracted my attention as I hadn’t seen it before. Maybe it’s an old version of rambling. Have you heard it before?

There are quite a few words describe the action of moving along on foot, including walk, ramble, amble, hike, ambulate, march, wander, shuffle, perambulate, plod, run, saunter, stride, stroll, trudge and tramp. I’ve read that in some languages, such as Spanish and French, verbs of motion don’t usually indicate the manner of motion. Is this true of other languages?

This entry was posted in English, Language, Words and phrases.

13 Responses to Ramblage and recreation

  1. Ryan says:

    Russian has a basic lexical distinction between going by foot and by vehicle (idti vs ehat’) and it also makes a further distinction between a one-time action and repeated motion or round trips (idti vs hodit’, and ezdit’ vs ehat’). A system of verbal prefixes can give even more nuanced information about an action.

  2. Marc says:

    It’s a problem that I’ve been interested in for a long time.
    It is true that we don’t care much in French about the way of motion.
    When the idea of going is general, we use the verb “aller” = to go (just like you do in English, by the way), whether you go on foot, or drive, or fly, or sail… We can complete the information and say “aller à pied”, “aller en voiture”, etc.
    But we do have some verbs that imply some other information : “marcher” means “to walk”, and is necessarily on foot, “piétiner” (trample) also involves feet, etc.
    Slavic languages like to be precise with the way of locomotion. There are the distinctions that Ryan tells about, but also when you fly, for example, other verbs may be used.
    In German and in the Scandinavian languages, you cannot “go” unless you use your feet, but the situation in the remaining cases is less precise.
    An aspect that interested me some years ago is that the Germanic languages care much about place and situation (for example the position you have : you sit, or stand, or lie somewhere), meanwhile the Romance languages care more about time (you “are” somewhere, no matter in which position, but the order of things in time is more important for us, hence the complicated set of tenses we have). To give a simple example, we can say “il a fait cela après manger” (he did that after eating), but most of the time we feel the need to say “il a fait cela après avoir mangé” (he did that after having eaten).

  3. Luke says:

    Interesting to see this posted–a friend of mine is a PhD student in psychology at Harvard, and is doing research on math-manner bias in English-speaking and Spanish-speaking children (English supposedly being more of a manner-biased language, Spanish path-biased.) The difference apparently being, for example, that the Spanish equivalent of the English “the balloon floated into the cave” would be “the balloon went/entered into the cave floating”.

  4. Tommy says:

    In Japanese, you can use fun, colorful onomatopoeia, but this usually (but not always) conveys sounds or emotions associated with motion rather than the visible “way” someone moves. There are actual verbs sometimes, but I find these too direct and boring, less flexible and creative. Some onomatopoeia are versatile and can be applied to many situations(like “bura-bura”, lazily), but some are very specific.

    For example:
    aruku = to walk
    tobo-tobo aruku = to trudge along (like when you are weary or down)
    fura-fura aruku = to totter, wobble (when you a woozy, drunk etc)
    yoro-yoro aruku = to hobble, limp (when injured etc)
    sassato aruku = walk briskly (like to hurry up and get going)

    As onomatopoeia, the idea is conveyed through the sound and a vague “image” you can learn only through real usage. It was hard for me to get used to this at first (in fact, I was resistant), but after getting a sense of the nuance in Japan, it really brings the everyday conversational language to life.

    To talk about actual action (rather than sounds, emotions, image, etc), there are Chinese-origin Kanji verbs, and plenty of compound verbs, usually combining two Kanji for an action. This, of course, is more formal, direct, written, etc.

  5. Abbie says:

    I wonder if Thai is path or direction based. Direction words are incredibly common, especially มา (come) ไป (go) เข้ว (enter) กลับ (return). Methods of walking are usually (sometimes? always?) in compounds with เดิน. (เดินเบา walk + soft, walk softly).

    I believe เดิน only applies to walking, and that other words, like บิน (fly) ขับ (drive, operate) are used in their respective situations.

    I can only think of two ambulation words that don’t usually follow เดิน. They are วิ่ง “run” and รีบ “hurry”. I’m sure there are many more.

    I’m still studying so sorry if I’m mischaracterized it.

  6. Marc says:

    Some languages have declensions to distinguish rest vs motion, e.g. Russian “na voinie” (on the war, at war) / “na voinu” (to (the) war). Others change prepositions, e.g. English “on, at” / “to”, “in” / “into”; Spanish “en” / “a”, etc.
    Other languages like French can’t make the distinction by grammatical means, but do so by the context or by other lexical items. The Russian example “na voinu” cannot be translated as such : “à la guerre” would mean “at war”, not “to war”. We would need to say something like “sur le chemin de la guerre” (on the way to war) to make the sentence explicit.
    I will take Luke’s example. If we want to say “the balloon floated into the cave”, we cannot say “le ballon a flotté dans la grotte”, which would men “the balloon floated in the cave”. Indeed, we must say something like “le ballon est entré en flottant dans la grotte”, which is parallel to “the balloon went into the cave floating”, as Luke mentions for Spanish.
    The Romance ways of telling location are more concerned with verbs or verbal phrases than with other words. We lack adverbs / particles / prepositions like “into”, “away”, “back”, etc.
    Once again, it strikes me that we care more about time than about place.

  7. TJ says:

    Amazing photo! .. did you take it yourself? :)

  8. Alessandro Delgado says:

    >The Russian example “na voinu” cannot be translated as such : “à la guerre” would >mean “at war”, not “to war”. We would need to say something like “sur le chemin de >la guerre” (on the way to war) to make the sentence explicit.

    French could translate “à la guerre” as a motion statement depending on context. It is hard to transmit that in written form, but simple in speech. Think about the sentence with an exclamation point: “À la guerre!” (as said by a chief heading his troops) is clearly “to the war”.

  9. Simon says:

    TJ – I didn’t have my camera with me the day I went to Douglas Head, so I borrowed the photo from elsewhere. The photos I did take are now on Flickr.

  10. TJ says:

    These are amazing photos! :)
    I think it would be also nice to use HDR technique with some locations, specially the landscapes and the old architecture and buildings. HDR gives more details for shadow areas with some nice coloring.

    go raibh maith agat ‘s beannachtaí!

  11. Juan Shimmin says:

    Himon veen, would I be right in thinking you’ve been talking to Stephanie? I remember she did a lot of work on that.

  12. Simon says:

    Yuan veen – do you mean Stephanie at Bangor Uni? If so, I haven’t discussed this with her, but have been to seminars about it and talked to other students who are studying with Stephanie.

  13. Juan Shimmin says:

    Shen ish, Stephanie Pourcel – she was very keen on it when she was teaching at Durham.