I learnt a new word in French today: bouder, which means to sulk; to pout; to avoid; to turn one’s nose up at (sth); to refuse to have anything to do with (sb).
Related expressions include:
- boudant = sulking; pouting
- bouder son plaisir = to deny oneself a good thing; to sulk one’s pleasure (never heard this one before – have you?)
- ne pas bouder son plaisir = to enjoy fully; to enjoy without restraint
- se bouder = not to be on speaking terms
- on ne boudera pas = we shall not complain (about); we shall not avoid
It came up in my Breton course – the Breton equivalent is mouzhat – and appears in the sentence, Perak ‘ta, klañv eo pe o vouzhat emañ? (Why? Is she sick or is she sulking?).
The origins of the English words pout and sulk are unknown, according to the OED.
Are there any interesting expressions featuring the equivalents of these words in other languages?
Last night I discovered the Spanish word pavo real, which means peacock, or literally ‘royal turkey’, and which conjured up an image of a turkey in ermine robes wearing a crown.
It also reminds me of the Mandarin Chinese word for swan, 天鵝 [天鹅] (tiān’é), which could be translated as ‘heavenly/celestial goose’. The Mandarin word for peacock is 孔雀 (kǒngquè) or ‘great sparrow’. [source]
The word pavo comes from the Latin pāvō (peacock), from the Ancient Greek ταώς (taōs), and thought to be ultimately from Tamil தோகை (tōkai).
The words for peacock in many European languages come from the same root: Aromanian: pãun; Breton: paun; Catalan: paó; Cornish: payon; Dutch: pauw; French: paon; Friulian: pavon; Galician: pavo, pavón; German: Pfau; Italian: pavone; Occitan: pavon; Old English: pāwa; Portuguese: pavão; Romanian: păun; Romansch: pavun, pivun; Sardinian: paboni, paone; Serbian: paun; Welsh: paun [source]. However in Manx a peacock is a kellagh aalin (‘beautiful cock(rel)’) or a kellagh eairkagh (‘peaked cock(rel)’) [source].
Are there interesting words for peacocks, or other birds, in other languages?
The word pavo has quite a few other meanings in Spanish, including:
- silly thing, idiot; five peseta coin; sucker (in Spain)
- stowaway (in Chile)
- large kite; big shot; evil-looking person (in the Andes)
- youngster, kid
- cold turkey
- silly – e.g. ¡no seas pavo! = don’t be silly!
I thought that almost all the world’s writing systems were on Omniglot, but today I discovered another one: the Iban alphabet, which was invented in 1947 by Dunging Anak Gunggu.
It’s a partly syllabic, partly alphabetic script that never really caught on, mainly because there was no tradition of writing among the Iban-speaking community. During the past few years there have been efforts to revive it mainly by Dr Bromeley Philip at the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in Sarawak, Malaysia – I’ve written to him to ask about the current situation.
Iban is a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, but I’m sure you knew that.
For me it’s always exciting to discover a previously unknown (to me) writing system like this.
Your challenge this week is to identify the con-scripts on these signs, all of which appear on Omniglot, and to decipher each one. Do you also know what the original texts were on these signs? Or can you suggest amusing alternatives?
Three of the signs are in English, the other one is in Chinese.
Yesterday I discovered the interesting French word pantoufler /pɑ̃.tu.fle/, which, according to Reverso means to “switch from civil service to the private sector (French elite jargon, usually to make more money)”.
According to Wikpedia the related word pantouflage refers to high-level French civil servants, usually former students of the École Polytechnique or the École nationale d’administration, going to work in private enterprise. It also applies to politicians doing the same thing. Someone who engages in pantouflage at known as a pantouflard, which is also translated as stay-at-home.
The word pantoufler come from pantoufle (slipper), which combines pan (a piece of cloth) with the suffix -oufle, which denotes mbloated objects and muffled sounds. A pantoufle was originally a cloth shoe [source].
Apparently the term revolving door is used for this practice in the USA.
In Japan this practice is known as 天下り [amakudari] (“descent from paradise or the sky”).
Are there similar expressions and practices in other languages?
It’s generally a good idea to do a bit of warming up before physical activity, especially sport. It also helps to do some warm up exercises before playing a musical instrument – I usually play a few scales before launching into other pieces on the guitar and piano, for example – and vocal and physical warms up are a good idea before singing.
I wonder if there are equivalent exercises you could do before using a language you’re learning. Speaking is a physical, as well as mental, activity, so some warming up might be useful. Maybe this could involve practising the sounds of the language at different pitches and speeds, putting them together in various combinations and just playing about with them a bit. You could focus on particular sounds or combinations that you find challenging. It could also involve going over very familiar phrases and having mini conversations with yourself. Maybe it could also involve playing with inflections, playing with verb tenses, noun cases and so.
When I was learning the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), I found it helped me to sing the different vowel sounds at different pitches. I haven’t tried this with particularly languages yet, but might give it a go.
Do you do anything like this? Do you think it is / would be helpful?
March 14th,2013 Language
Today a friend told me about an app he’s developing that shows you where other language learners are in your vicinity and enables you to contact them to suggest a language exchange. You enter your details, including your native language(s) and the language(s) you’re learning, and it shows you if there’s anybody around who speaks the language you’re learning and is learning the language you speak.
It sounds like a great idea to me, and I thought something similar might be useful for speakers and learners of minority languages to find others who speak the same language. My friend, who is based in Zurich, is planning to develop such an app for Romansh speakers, and we might develop one for other languages like Welsh as well.
Does anybody know if any such apps already exist?
March 12th,2013 Language
Here’s a recording in a mystery language.
Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken?
Yesterday I came across an idea of writing very short stories in just six words. Here are some examples from Wired Magazine written by sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers:
Dinosaurs return. Want their oil back.
- David Brin
Lost, then found. Too bad.
- Graeme Gibson
Lie detector eyeglasses perfected: Civilization collapses.
- Richard Powers
TIME MACHINE REACHES FUTURE!!! … nobody there …
- Harry Harrison
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
- Ernest Hemmingway
The last one was written by Hemmingway in the 1920s after his colleagues bet him that he couldn’t write a complete story in just six words. They paid up. Hemingway is said to have considered it his best work. So this certainly isn’t a new idea. There are many more on Six Word Stories.
On discovering this, I started wondering whether such stories could be written in languages other than English. I thought it might be easier in some languages than in others. So can you come up with any six word stories in any language or combination of languages? If it’s not possible in six words, maybe ten words would work better.
Today is St Piran’s Day and a special day in Cornwall as Piran is regarded as the patron saint of Cornwall (and of tin miners), along with Saint Michael and Saint Petroc. Piran or Perran was an abbot of possibly Irish origin who lived in Cornwall in the early 6th century and later became a saint. His flag (see top right) is a symbol of Cornwall.
Here are a few Cornish phrases related to today (provided by Sam Brown)
- Goel Peran Lowen – Happy Saint Piran’s Day;
Gŵyl Peran Llawen (Welsh); Gouel Peran laouenn (Breton)
- Dydh da ha goel Peran lowen dhis! = Hello and happy Saint Piran’s day!
- A vynnydh ta pasti kernowek? = Would you like a Cornish pasty?
- Gwell yw genev pasti keus hag onyonenn = I’d prefer a cheese and onion pasty.
I haven’t started learning Cornish yet, put have picked up odd bits and pieces of the language and can understand it to a limited extent thanks to my knowledge of Welsh and Breton.
Are any of you learning Cornish?