Television and stinky badgers

What does television and stinky badgers have in common?

Well, there’s a kind of stink badger (Mydaus javanensis) that lives in Java, Sumatra, Borneo and the North Natuna Islands of Indonesia and which called teledu /teledu/ in Malay; sigung in Indonesian. The word teledu /tɛ’lɛdɨ/ just happens to be the Welsh word for television.

This is the stink badger:

Teledu - the Javanese Stink Badger

Found via this blog.

The word television of course comes from the Greek word τῆλε (tele), ‘far off / at a distance’, and the Latin visionem, ‘act of seeing, sight, thing seen’. Most languages call the television something similar. There a few exceptions though, including the German Fernsehen, ‘Far-see’, the Norwegian Fjernsyn, which means the same as the German; the Icelandic Sjónvarp, ‘vision’ + ‘throw’; and the Chinese 電視 [电视] (di

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

12 Responses to Television and stinky badgers

  1. elby says:

    In American English it’s been called the “boob tube”. “Boob” from foolish person . . . (not to be confused with the slang for a tube top, that article of clothing from the 70s that thankfully has lost its popularity).

  2. Polly says:

    I didn’t get why German was an exception.
    It seems like a pretty straightforward translation from the Greek/Latin.

    Other name for TV in English: Evil mind-control device

    TV in Armenian:
    հեռուստատեսային
    Herousdadesayin

    Which starts with “far”(herroo) and attaches something relating to sight (desayin)

    Most words that start with “tele” in English start with “Herr” in Armenian, which indicates “FAR.”

  3. doviende says:

    obligatory UHF quote (mocking the Blazing Saddles quote about “badges”): “Badgers? We don’t need no steeenking badgers!”

    nothing like a TV quote about stinking badgers in an article about how TVs are really stinking badgers ;)

  4. Caenwyr says:

    In Dutch a television is most oftenly called “televisie” or simply “tv”, but there’s also numerous other names for it: “kijktoestel” (looking device), “kijkkast” (looking closet), “kijkdoos” (looking box) and I even found the word “buis” (tube), referring to the cathode ray tube that forms images on the screen. It’s actually quite common to ask “wat is er op de buis vanavond?” (what’s on the tube tonight).

  5. TJ says:

    In standard Arabic, although it is common and usual to call it “television” with slightly different set of vowels (and V turns to F), there is another name also used in standard arabic and also derived from “television” and that is “Tilfaaz”
    Another noun attached to this is “Talfazah” which is a noun describing the action of broadcasting over TVs.

    In everyday life and dialects the foreign words are used mostly but in standard Arabic things has to be a bit more literal. Same thing for the Radio. Most commonly it’s radio but in standard Arabic and literature texts it’s most commonly address as “news broadcaster device” (Arabic: Miðyaa?) where ? is a voiced glottal stop (or pharyngeal stop? forgot about that!).

  6. Rachel says:

    I seem to remember that there is an equivalent for goggle box/idiot box in Spanish – la caja tonta (literally, the stupid box – tonto could mean idiot).
    I quite like the way Chinese has developed logical words for modern inventions without always borrowing e.g. English words, but i guess that just fits with the style of the language really – there are a lot of radicals and characters that have been combined to convey the meaning. Dianhua, the word for telephone, would be another example – electric speech.

    (Love the site by the way. I’ve been reading it for a while, always very useful to me as a language student and general linguistic fact collector!)
    xRx

  7. Ben says:

    Yeah, in Arabic, for the word in the Modern Standard dialect (تلفاز), the English word was borrowed and modified to match a 4-consonant grammatical pattern. From this, derived words can be created as if it was a native Arabic root.

    In Hindi, it’s दूरदर्शन (duurdarshan) officially, but just about everybody I’ve met uses टेलिविज़न (Telivizan).

    -Ben

  8. TJ says:

    Ben: yep quite true :)

  9. mumei says:

    My favourite in English is the jumping box, although pictocube is a close second.

  10. Stuart, London says:

    Jumping Box? Pictocube? Never heard either of those before. Where do people use those words for TV?

  11. Phil says:

    My personal favourite is ‘the idiot’s lantern’. I’ve never heard either ‘pictocube’ or ‘jumping box’ either but will endeavour to use these terms as often as possible.

  12. Magnus says:

    Nice to see that somebody actually looks at my blog from time to time. :-)

    Actually the friend who told me about the English word “teledu”, Jon, is a linguistics postgrad at Bangor, so you may have come across him.