Busy Relief

Nigiyaka

The Japanese word 賑やか / にぎやか (nigiyaka) means bustling, busy, crowded, lively, prosperous or thriving, and also loud, noisy, merry or cheerful​. I find it very satisfying to say, which is why I chose to write about it today.

Here are some examples of how it’s used and related words (from Jisho.org and Reverso):

  • 私の家はにぎやかな通りに面しています。 (Watashi no ie wa nigiyaka tōri ni menshiteimasu) = My house faces a busy street
  • 森は鳥でにぎやかだ。 (Mori wa tori de nigiyaka da) = The wood is alive with birds.
  • 夜になると屋台なども出て、たいへん賑やかです。 (Yoru ni naru to yatai nado mo dete, taihen nigiyaka desu) = At night there are food stalls and it’s very lively.
  • 賑わう (nigiwau) = to be crowded with people, to be bustling, to prosper, flourish, do thriving business
  • 賑わい (nigiwai) = prosperity, bustle, activity, crowd, turnout
  • 賑わす (nigiwasu) = to enliven, cause a stir, hit (the headlines), make prosperous
  • 賑やかさ (nigiyakasa) = business, liveliness
  • 賑々しい (niginigishii) = lively, merry
  • 賑あう (nigiau) = to prosper, flourish, be crowded with people

In Mandarin the character 赈 [賑] (zhèn) means to relieve or relief. It appears in such words as:

  • 赈济 [賑濟] (zhènjì) = to relieve, to give relief aid
  • 赈济饥荒 [賑濟饑荒] (zhènjì jīhuāng) = famine relief
  • 赈灾 [賑災] (zhèn​zāi) = disaster relief
  • 赈恤 [賑恤] (zhènxù) = relief aid

熱鬧

One Chinese equivalent of 賑やか is 热闹 [熱鬧] (rènao), which means bustling with noise and excitement, lively, to liven up, a spectacle, or literally “hot noisy”. Most Chinese people I know prefer places that are 热闹 to ones that are too 安静 (ānjìng – quiet, peaceful), and as most places in China and Taiwan are 热闹, this is probably a good thing.

Sources: LINE Dictionary Chinese – English, MDBG Word Dictionary

I generally prefer quiet, peaceful places, but occasionally don’t mind a bit of lively bustle. How about you?

High Costs

I am currently (re)learning Japanese, and am noticing some differences between the meanings of characters in Japanese (漢字 – kanji) and in Chinese (汉字 [漢字] hànzì). In some cases the meanings are similar but subtly different, in other cases they’re completely different.

Tokyo Tower 東京鐵塔

For example, in Mandarin Chinese 高 (gāo) means tall or high (高的 gāode), or senior (高级的 gāojíde), while in Japanese 高 (taka), means quantity, amount (of money), volume or number, 高い (takai) means high, tall, expensive, above average or loud, and 高 (kō) means high (school).

The Chinese word for expensive is 贵 [貴] (guì), which also means valuble. In Japanese this character, 貴 (ki), means your, and indicates high rank, status, love or respect. Or when it’s pronounced mochi it means lord, god, goddess, and is used in honorific title for deities and high-ranking people. One Japanese word for you is あなた (anata), which is usually written in hiragana, but can be written with the kanji 貴方. In very formal written Chinese 贵方 [貴方] (guìfāng) can be used to mean you.

The Japanese word for cheap is 安い (yasui), while the same character in Chinese, 安 (ān), means quiet or safe. The Chinese word for cheap is 便宜 (pián​yi), which in Japanese is pronounced bengi and means convenience, accommodation, advantage, benefit or expediency​.

The character 便 is also pronouned biàn in Mandarin, and means convenient, convenience and to excrete. It appears in the word 便利 (biànlì) = convenient, to faciliate, which also exists in Japanese as 便利 (benri) meaning convenient, handy or useful.

The character 利 (lì) means sharp, advantageous, interest or to profit in Mandarin. In Japanese it’s pronounced ri and means advantage, benefit, profit or interest​. It appears in the word 利益 (lìyì / rieki), which means benefit in Mandarin, and profit or gains in Japanese, and also in 利害 (lìhai / rigai) which means terrible in Mandarin, and advantages and disadvantages in Japanese. Which should not be confused with 厉害 [厲害] (lìhai), which means terrbile, terribly or awesome, and is used as a general intensifier in Mandarin. The equivalent in Japanese is 素晴らしい (subarashī).

There are many more. Have you noticed any?

Sources: LINE Dict Chinese-English, jisho.org

The Pull of Pandas

An interesting Japanese expression I came across today is 客寄せパンダ (kyakuyose panda), which means a star attraction, draw card or crowd puller, or literally “visitor-gathering-panda” [source]. Originally it referred to pandas, which tend to be popular attractions in zoos and pull in many visitors, and came to refer to other crowd pulling attractions [source].

パンダ

客寄せパンダ is made up of words of Chinese, Japanese and English origin and is an example of 混種語 (konshugo), or a hybrid word that combines elements from several languages.

  • (kyaku) was borrowed from Chinese and means guest, visitor or customer.
  • 寄せ (yose) is a native Japanese word and means gathering, collection, coming together, or the last moves or endgame in chess, go or other games.
  • パンダ (panda) comes from English.

The English word panda was borrowed from French, which possibly comes from nigálya-pónya, a name for the red panda used in Nepal and Sikkim, which may come from the Nepali निँगाले (nĩgāle – a species of bamboo), and the Tibetan name for the same animal: ཕོ་ཉ (pho nya, or literally “messenger”) – quite a hyrid word [source].

panda

Chaise longues

When is a chaise longue not a chaise longue?

CHAISE_LONGUE_Customer_Own_Fabric_Romo

Well, in English the word chaise longue [ˌʃeɪz ˈlɒŋ(ɡ)/ˌʃeɪz ˈlɔŋ] refers to a long kind of seat, like the one pictured above, designed for reclining on. The word chaise longue was borrowed from French and literally means “long chair” [source].

In French the word chaise longue [ʃɛz lɔ̃ɡ] refers to deckchair, sunlounger, lounge chair or chaise longue (in the English sense) [source].

Deckchairs

Other kinds of chaise include:

  • chaise haute / chaise de bébé = highchair
  • chaise pliante = folding chair
  • chaise berçante = rocking chair
  • chaise roulante = wheelchair
  • chaise à porteurs = sedan chair

The word chaise longue appears in quite a few other languages, such as Italian and Portuguese, with the same spelling and the same meaning as in English and French. Another word for this type of chair in Italian is agrippina, named after Agrippina the Elder, the daughter of Marcus Agrippa [source].

Some other ways it’s written include:

  • Belarusian: шэзлонг (šezlonh)
  • Czech: šezlong
  • Georgian: შეზლონგი (šezlongi)
  • Japanese: シェーズ・ロング (shēzu-rongu)
  • Norwegian: sjeselong
  • Polish: szezlong
  • Romanian: șezlong
  • Russian: шезлонг (šezlong)
  • Swedish: schäslong
  • Yiddish: שעזלאָנג‎ (shezlong)

By the way, what is the plural of chaise longue?

The Most Popular Languages to Learn

Today we have a guest post by Taylor Tomita

Every year millions of people decide to learn a new language. Some do it as a hobby, while others brush up on their language skills before setting off on a travel adventure. And for many, learning a second tongue is the first step toward a brighter economic future.

So what are the most popular languages to learn? WordTips decided to find out. Its researchers created a map of the languages people are learning in every country across the globe. Here’s a closer look at their findings.

The most popular languages to learn around the world

You can find a large version of this map, and maps for each continent at: https://word.tips/multilingual-world/

North America
English and Spanish are among the most popular choices for second language learners in the USA. This is due to the USA’s large migrant population and its proximity to South America, where Spanish is widely spoken. But Japanese is the top choice for US and Canadian language learners. Japan has long-standing economic and cultural ties with both countries. North Americans account for 2.5% of all foreigners currently living in Japan.

South America
English is the top language to learn for people in six South American countries, including Brazil, Ecuador, and Columbia. People in Peru are more interested in learning Korean. It’s a strange choice, given the geographical distance and cultural disparities. But young Peruvians are crazy for K-Pop! Concert tours sell out within hours, and Korea’s biggest pop stars are welcomed by huge crowds whenever they step foot in the country.

Europe
English is the number one language to learn in over 30 European countries. In fact, it’s the top choice in all but seven European countries. The nations bucking the trend include Denmark and Slovenia, where German comes out on top. Portugal is a popular retirement destination for wealthy Scandinavians, explaining why so many Swedish people are learning to speak Portuguese.

Middle East and Central Asia
Learning English is especially popular among unemployed or poorly paid workers living in Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries. Speaking English proficiently is often a ticket to higher-paid jobs in the tourism industry. It’s also a vital skill for those who want to work in education, finance, or government. A recent survey found that English speakers from Iraq earn up to 200% more than those with no English language skills.

Asia and Oceania
English is the second language of choice for people living in Asian countries that attract a large number of western tourists, including Thailand and Vietnam. Oceania’s English-speaking countries (New Zealand and Australia) are interested in learning the native tongue of their closest neighbor, Japan.

Africa
Millions of Africans are increasing their economic opportunities by learning two of the world’s most important lingua francas, English and French. These languages are important for Africans who want to work in travel, tourism, or the booming tech sectors driving economic growth across the continent. The widespread adoption of European languages is a sign of Africa’s troubled colonial past. Thankfully, many Africans are ensuring their native languages are never forgotten. Zulu is the most popular language to learn in Malawi, while Swahili is the number choice for those living in Tanzania.

Learning a new language is fun and empowering. It also helps create a greater sense of global community. And that only can lead to better things for everyone.

In the Same Boat

All in the same boat

Over the past year, and before, we’ve often been told that we’re all “in the same boat”, at least in the UK. The intention is to suggest that we are all in a similar situation or predicament, and the expression is often used by those in positions of power, wealth and privilege.

The idea of being in the same boat meaning ‘having the same fate’ first appeared in writing in 1584 in Thomas Hudson’s translation of Du Bartas’ Historie of Judith:

haue ye paine ? so likewise paine haue we :
For in one bote we both imbarked be.
Vpon one tide, one tempest doeth vs tosse,
Your common ill, it is our common losse.

It appeared more or less in the current form in writing by Thomas Taylor, a British cleryman in 1629. He said:

He is in the same boate which is tossed and threatned with the tempest, and is someway interessed in the common cause, and quarrell.

Source: phrases.org.uk

Equivalents of this phrase in French include:

  • être logés à la même enseigne = to be lodged at the same sign
  • être dans le même bateau = to be in the same boat
  • être dans la même galère = to be in the same galley
  • être dans la même barque = to be in the same rowing boat
  • être dans le même pétrin = to be in the same kneading trough
  • être dans le même bain = to be in the same bath

Source: Reverso.net

Which of these, if any, is most commonly used?

In other languages, such as Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Japanese, you can talk about being in the same boat. Are there any languages in which this idea is referred to without mentioning boats?

Sōsharudisutansu

離れる (hanareru)

The Japanese word 離れる (hanareru) means to be separated, to be apart, to be distant​; to leave, to go away​; to leave (a job, etc), to quit, to give up​; to lose connection with; to drift away from​ [source].

It seems quite an appropriate word for this year, and the winner of this year’s kanji invention contest came up with a new kanji to represent these ideas (see the image). It’s pronounced hanarete suwaru or za and means ‘seated apart’ or ‘social distance’.

Social distancing is also ソーシャルディスタンス (sōsharudisutansu) in Japanese.

The new character is based on 座 (suwaru / za) with one of the 人 (hito – person) characters moved to be more distant from the other. 座 means seat, place; position, status; gathering, party, company; stand, pedestal, platform [source].

The kanji contest or, 創作漢字コンテスト (sōsaku kanji kontesuto), is sponsored by the Sankei Newspaper (産経新聞社) and the Shizuka Shirakawa Memorial Institute for Oriental Characters and Culture (白川静記念東洋文字文化研究所) at Ritsumeikan University (立命館大学). It has been held annually for the past 11 years. Over 26,000 entries were submitted this year – mainly from Japan, and some from Taiwan as well, and the winner was Akinobu Yamaguchi (山口明伸) from Yokohama. You’d think there were more than enough kanji already, but obviously not.

I heard about this via Facebook, and it got me wondering if I could come up with any new kanji or hanzi. Have you thought of any new kanji?

Duolingo Progress

I’ve been studying various languages on Duolingo for nearly four years now. My current streak is at 1,238 days today, and I had a 96 day streak before then, so for the past 1,334 days I have been studying at least a little every single day. This year I’ve averaged about 1 hour a day, and at the moment I’m focusing on Dutch and Spanish. Last week I came top of the diamond league – the highest you can get.

My 2020 Duolingo report

So far I’ve completed courses in Swedish, Danish, Russian, Czech, Esperanto, Spanish and Romanian. The courses and the app have changed quite a bit – more for some languages than others. New lessons, tips and levels have been added, especially for Spanish, which has at least 3 or 4 times more lessons than the other languages I’ve studied. That makes sense, I suppose, as there are currently 28.6 million people learning Spanish on Duolingo – far more than any other language. Today I noticed that there are new grammar lessons in Spanish, which are useful, and there are also Spanish podcasts, which I haven’t listened to yet.

One aspect of Duolingo I’m not keen on is the hearts system. At the start of each day you have 5 hearts. Every time you make a mistake you loose one. If you run out of hearts, you can ‘buy’ more, refresh a topic you have already completed to gain more, or wait until the next day. Or you can subscribe and get unlimited hearts. Making mistakes is part of language learning, and not something you should have to worry about, as long as you learn from them. You sometimes get tips when you mistakes in Spanish, which are useful, but not in other languages.

If you’ve studied other languages on Duolingo, how do they compare to Spanish in terms of numbers and types of lessons?

I expect that there are more lessons, etc for French, German, Japanese, Italian, Korean and Chinese – the most popular languages after Spanish – than for less popular languages.

Yulemonth

As today is the first day of December, I thought I’d look into the origins of the names for this month in various languages.

December comes from the Middle English December/Decembre, from the Old French decembre, from the Latin december, from decem (ten) and the adjectival suffix -ber. December was the tenth month in the Roman calendar, which started in March [source]. The days between December and March were not included in the calendar as part of any month. Later they became January and February and were added to the beginning of the calendar [source].

hoar frost

In the Old English December was known as Ġēolamonaþ/Gēolmōnaþ/Iūlmōnaþ (“Yule month”) or ǣrra ġēola (“before Yule”). The word Yulemonth apparently exists in modern English, although is rarely used [source]. December is associated with Yuletide / Christmas in a few other languages: mí na Nollag (“month of Christmas”) in Irish, Mee ny Nollick (“month of Christmas”) in Manx, and joulukuu (“yule month”) in Finnish and Võro.

In many languages the name of this month is a version of December, but there are some exceptions.

In Aragonese December is abiento, in Asturian it’s avientu, in Basque it’s abendu and in Occitan it’s abén. These all come from the Latin adventus (arrival, approach, advent), from adveniō (arrive) and the suffix -tus [source].

In Belarusian December is снежань (sniežań) [ˈsʲnʲeʐanʲ], which comes from снег (snjeh – snow) [source]. The Cherokee name for December is also related to snow: ᎥᏍᎩᎦ (vsgiga) or “snow moon” [source].

In Proto-Slavic the month after the Winter solitice was known as *prosinьcь. There are a number of possible roots for this word: *siňь (gray), *sijati (to shine, glow – referring to the winter solstice) or *prositi (to pray – referring to Christmas). Descendents in modern Slavic languages include prosinec (December) in Czech, просинац (December) in Serbian, and prosinec (January) in Slovenian.

In Welsh December is Rhagfyr [ˈr̥aɡvɨ̞r / ˈr̥aɡvɪr] (“foreshortening”), because it’s a time when days get shorter [source].

December is “twelve month” or “month twelve” in Chinese: 十二月 (shí’èryuè), Japanese: 十二月 (jūnigatsu), Korean: 십이월 (12월/十二月/12月 – sipiweol), and Vietnamese: tháng mười hai (𣎃𨑮𠄩).

Are there other interesting names for December in other languages?

You can find the names of months in many languages here.

Language Puzzles

The Language Lover's Puzzle Book

Recently I was sent a copy of a new book by Alex Bellos – The Language Lover’s Puzzle Book: Lexical complexities and cracking conundrums from across the globe, and agreed to write a review of it.

According to the blurb:

Crossing continents and borders, bestselling puzzle author Alex Bellos has gathered more than one hundred of the world’s best conundrums that test your deduction, intuition and street smarts.

The first chapter focuses on computer-related puzzles, including a regex-based crossword, soundex codes and a bad translation puzzle. To find out what these things are, you could buy the book. I had to read the explanations several times to understand them.

Other chapters contain puzzles based various languages, writing systems and counting systems from around the world. Some give you some examples words or phrases in a particular language, and then challenge you to work out how to write other words or phrases, or to identify aspects of the grammar of that language. There are also number-based puzzles using a variety of number systems.

Ancient, modern and constructed languages and writing systems are included, such as Welsh, Irish, Esperanto, Toki Pona, Javanese, Inuktitut, Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Phoenician, Khipu, Ogham, Linear B, Old Norse, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Georgian, Greek and Cherokee.

Some of the puzzles look relatively easy to me as they involve languages and writing systems I’m familiar with. Others look quite difficult. Fortunately there are answers and explanations for all the puzzles at the back of the book. In fact the answer section takes up almost a third of the whole book.

I think I’ll have fun trying to solve them, and anybody reading this with an interesting in languages and writing might do as well.

You can also find a language quiz every Sunday on this blog, of course, and occasional writing-based puzzles on my Instgram.