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Author Topic: Show AND Tell: The Importance of a Happy Median  (Read 10228 times)
Quinn Yellowfox
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« Reply #45 on: May 24, 2011, 12:51:45 AM »

Hmmmm...for some reason I crave prune juice and sushi.
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Altivo
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« Reply #46 on: May 24, 2011, 12:55:01 AM »

Quinn, it's not called "prune juice" any more. It's "concentrated plum juice" and prunes are now "dried plums." Apparently some marketeer is not happy with the public image of the prune.
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Erkhyan
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« Reply #47 on: May 24, 2011, 07:54:01 AM »

… or some French guy was getting annoyed that you keep using "prunes" and "raisins" for the dried fruit when the same exact words describe the fresh fruit in French. Roll Eyes
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Altivo
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« Reply #48 on: May 24, 2011, 10:36:12 AM »

Don't tell him then that we also use "raisins" to describe rabbit droppings.
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Erkhyan
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« Reply #49 on: May 24, 2011, 01:25:04 PM »

*pouts* You English-speaking people and your misappropriation of French words… Quel outrage!
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Altivo
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« Reply #50 on: May 24, 2011, 01:59:39 PM »

Hey, if the Normans had minded their own business and stayed out of England, we'd still be speaking real English instead of this hodgepodge of French, Dutch, and German.  Wink

We use French for cooked foods and English for the raw ingredients, too. (Pork vs. hog, Beef vs. cow, etc.) That's because the snooty Normans brought their own cooks who spoke French but the serf-farmers all spoke Anglo-Saxon.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2011, 02:01:58 PM by Altivo » Logged

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Erkhyan
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« Reply #51 on: May 24, 2011, 02:39:35 PM »

I don't actually mind foreign words used in the correct meaning. After all, Malagasy itself has an enormous percentage of words of foreign origin (porofo/proof, gisa/geese, baiboly/Bible, ...). My problem is with words that end up meaning something different than their original meaning. Raisin and prune are two minor examples. Entrée and matinée are other examples that were once used in their correct meaning but not so much anymore. However, one of the biggest and most embarrassing offenders, for me, remains douche. Je me douche régulièrement!
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« Reply #52 on: May 24, 2011, 03:19:40 PM »

Altered meanings for loan words and cognates don't bother me so much, but I do find the reasons (like the one I gave above for food words) very interesting.

One of my very favorite examples occurs in French as it happens. You know, I'm sure, that vasistas is a fanlight window, the semicircular fan of glass sometimes placed at the top of a door or tall rectangular window. That word is from German, and is a corruption of Was ist das? meaning "What is that?" It seems a Frenchman asked a German what a fanlight window was called, and the German, not sure what the question was, asked for confirmation. "Was ist das?"

So you see, the French can be guilty too. Words like "pick-up" for phonograph help to make my case.  Grin
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« Reply #53 on: May 24, 2011, 03:43:13 PM »

Well, two of Madagascar's largest cities got named after misunderstandings Grin

There's Toliary/Toliara, named because some merchant asked what was the name of the bay they arrived in, and the crew of his ship, not understanding his question, replied "Toly ary isika!" (We have arrived!)

There's Toamasina, so named because it was the place where King Radama I tasted seawater for the first time and remarked "Toa masina!" (Hey, it's salty!)

And there's the two names used for the cat, saka (mostly in the highlands) and piso (mostly everywhere else). Apparently someone misheard the French "sac à puces" (fleabag)…
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« Reply #54 on: May 24, 2011, 03:53:20 PM »

Of course those things can happen within the same language too. In my home state of Michigan, there's a town called "Novi" not very far from where I grew up. This is pronounce as "NO vai" where "vai" rhymes with "why." It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I learned the origin of the name. I'd always assumed it was from Italian or some other Romance language and meant "new," but that isn't the case at all.

It seems that there was an early stage route that passed through the area when it was still quite rural. The stop was just a flat place by the road, with no name, so it was indicated on the charts as "No. VI" or "number six" using Roman numerals.

Which reminds me of General Motors' failure to sell the Chevy Nova in Mexico. It seemed a good candidate, being small, inexpensive, and fuel efficient. But no one told them that "no va" means "won't go" in Spanish.
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« Reply #55 on: May 25, 2011, 01:16:23 AM »

Well, it does make sense, at least in America. Truth is, I recall reading how american english is actually closer to the old english due to the importation of it during the colonial era.

Anywhoo, America is the bastard son of the world, and hence, we speak a bastard verision of the world's tongues.
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« Reply #56 on: May 25, 2011, 01:33:16 AM »

Heh, not really. I spent significant time in graduate school on Old English (Anglo-Saxon) and honestly, it bears little resemblance to either modern British or modern American speech.

There may be some closer connection in pronunciation between some Appalachian dialects and Middle English than there is with those of southern England, but that's because a large portion of the settlers in that region were Scotch-Irish and the dialects of the far north are more archaic than today's standard British. Chaucer and a Scottish Highlander just might be able to understand each other more easily than Chaucer and a native of Sussex would. King Alfred or the Venerable Bede would have to cross the channel and visit some part of the Low Countries or maybe Denmark to find anyone to talk to.
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« Reply #57 on: May 25, 2011, 05:03:38 AM »

Ya, that is what I meant.
http://www.englishclub.com/english-language-history.htm
It mentions words like trash was originally British, went to the colonies, then shipped back as  an "Americanism"
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« Reply #58 on: May 25, 2011, 06:09:43 AM »

The language they spoke at that time is actually considered Modern English, strange as it may seem.
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« Reply #59 on: May 25, 2011, 10:13:45 AM »

Everything from about 1400 onward is "Modern" yes. So even the earliest English colonists spoke modern English, but some were more old-fashioned than others.
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