HUNGARIAN YOU.

Back in the green youth of Languagehat, when it was still on Blogspot, I did a post on English second-person pronouns with comparisons to other languages, and the first comment (the first remaining, anyway—comments tended to vanish inexplicably in those days), by Mark, discussed Hungarian: “The story is that Count Szechenyi, their impatient and energetic reforming nobleman of the late 18th century, early 19th, was personally responsible for cutting the number of respect-related forms of address down from five to three (as it still is now) in his lifetime.” Now Hungarian-born poet George Szirtes (pronounced SEAR-tesh) elucidates the situation in a couple of posts on his blog (1, 2): “In Hungarian, I know of four forms and some twenty or so years ago had some problems with them….” There are some great anecdotes:

The great Hungarian poet, Ágnes Nemes Nagy, who died in 1993 at the age of 71, told me quite clearly on our first meeting in 1985, that she wanted me to to address her as maga and that she would address me in the same way. So it continued over the years. One day when I was visiting her (I always brought flowers), her ex-husband, the literary critic Balázs Lengyel called, and we were all in the room together. I addressed him as maga and he immediately told me to use te, because we were colleagues in the same field of work. Immediately, there were two relationships going on at the same time, and despite the fact that I had seen Nemes Nagy regularly and had never before met Lengyel, the relationship with her remained formal, with him they immediately relaxed.

Thanks, Pat!

Comments

  1. michael farris says:

    According to a Hungarian colleague who’s written on the topic, the ‘familiar’ forms te and ti don’t necessarily correspond with familiar pronouns in Indo-European. The Hungarian forms primarily denote shared qualities like “colleagues in the same field of work” and not necessarily special emotional ties.
    Also maga is polite for equals and inferiors and is not okay for use by students to a teacher (though a teacher can call a student maga).
    I’m told that at Hungarian universities familiar forms prevail among the staff (while formal address is the rule in Poland except maybe for younger staff with each other).
    Also, while Polish advertisements usually use familiar forms (easier than the sometimes awkward polite forms) the non-familiar forms are more common in Hungarian advertising (unless the ad is aimed at a specific group of people when familiar is used to create feelings of commonality).

  2. A.J.P. Crown says:

    When I lived in Germany in 1990 it was the same, I found myself in a Christopher Isherwood world. My German working partner I addressed as ‘du’, obviously. His mother, a wonderful woman with whom we stayed when we arrived, immediately told me the set-up as far as she was concerned (she was an old pre-Hitler lefty intellectual, not rich, very knowledgeable about Goethe): I was to call her ‘Sie’, or Gräfin (Countess) and she would call me ‘du’, or AJP. I mustn’t call her ‘Frau Gräfin’, because that’s a servant’s form of address. I admit I always slightly resented this foreign-style inequality being imposed on me, not least because it was apparent every time we opened our mouths. Another contemporary of ours (German), who routinely called her ‘du’ (but also ‘Gräfin’, not Elisabeth), was despised by the Gräfin, partly for this reason.
    Lots of otherwise left-leaning Germans we knew found the Gräfin situation perfectly acceptable; partly I think out of respect for her, but also perhaps because titles had been officially abolished in Germany after W.W.1, so it was only a courtesy thing anyway, no one was forcing you to use them (except the Gräfin herself).

  3. My initial experiences in Germany and Austria were during the 1960s and 70s. I of course always used Du with fellow students, but was respectfully formal with everyone else. When I taught in Austria, I was always per Du with colleagues withing ten years or so of my age, but per Sie otherwise.
    When I returned during the 90s (and since) in a business setting, I was shocked (not unpleasantly) by the widespread use of the familiar in most business areas. Out of fear of offending, I tended to retain Sie until I eventually asked and determined that the practice in a particular office was to use Du with all one’s colleagues.

  4. In French we have the tu/vous distinction.In my youth and student days (over 40 years ago)a younger person would always address an older one by vous unless the older one is a family member.It was not unheard of to have aa husband and wife address each other as vous -out of perceived respect-and their children as tu while the children used vous with the parents or tu ,a usage that varied from family to family.In business,one would always use the vous form for someone hierarchically superior unless both had graduated from the same grande ecole (Polytechnique,HEC etc) or one had a social/personal relationship that permitted the use of the tu.Even with colleagues the vous prevailed unless after a time,could be a few years or never,the parties decided to move to the more personal tu form.People called each other by their last names even in grade school although usind the tu form inter sese.It would not have occurred to one to use tu with one’s secretary or even to call her by her first name nor for her to call her boss by his first name.That has changed.Today in France,among colleagues the tu form and the use of the first name is de rigueur.In business relationships the use of the first name is spreading although a younger person would be well advised to sollicit at least a tacit permission from an older one to do so.My younger colleagues now tend to progress much more quickly than in my days to the use of the tu form with people they have only recently met something,I confess ,which does tend to startle me a bit ,having friens of 30 years standing whom I address still as vous on account of a 10-15 year age difference.
    The French sociology of the tu and vous clearly has evolved but the contextual clues have thereby grown poorer:it is no longer as easy as it once was to get a quick fix on interpersonal relationship by listening to the forms of address.

  5. Spanish has a distinction between tú/ustéd abbreviated Ud. Preferring to err on the side of formality, I have been calling my students ustéd, even the really, really young ones, and they have started calling me ustéd. But maybe I should ask.
    There is a form “vosotros” for second person plural, but very few of my students have heard of it–they volunteer “ustedes” (Uds.) for second person plural. I have only run across vosotros when reading Cervantes.
    First names:
    For several years I maintained a relationship with a professor I met when I signed up for one of his classes and dropped it–I went with some of his subsequent classes on field trips–but could never bring myself to use his first name. It was always “Professor” or “The Professor”.
    My students call me “Teacher” which seems to be the norm in the school for both ESL and adult education instructors (and in the Middle East too). The children of another tenant in my building use my first name even though I don’t know them at all and have had very limited interaction with them. For some reason this irritates me no end. Overly sensitive?

  6. komfo,amonan says:

    AFAIK vosotros is current in Spain, vos in Argentina (and maybe Chile & Uruguay), & ustedes in the remainder of Hispanophonia. This is what I’ve read; it’s probably more complicated than this.

  7. michael farris says:

    System in (standard) Iberian Spanish verb forms from hablar (to speak):
    familiar sg – tu hablas
    polite sg – usted habla
    familiar pl – vosotros habláis
    polite pl- ustedes hablan
    System taught in US as Latin American Spanish:
    familiar sg – tu hablas
    polite sg – usted habla
    plural – ustedes hablan (no familiar/polite distinction is made in the plural)
    In addition many Latin American countries find some use of vos (formerly plural but now singular) either mostly instead of tu (Argentina, Paraguay) or in addition to tu.
    The verb forms used with vos vary from country to country (sometimes speaker to speaker).

  8. John Emerson says:

    When I was studying Portuguese I found that in Brazil at least the second person forms are unbearably complicated, with at least two different systems (one old-fashioned and countryish, one urbanand contemporary). The book was published around 1960, so that may no longer be true. I’d love to hear someone who knows more than I do report on this. There may even be a third system used in Portugal.
    All I really remember is that the system was a mess and I never learned it well.

  9. John Emerson says:

    When I was studying Portuguese I found that in Brazil at least the second person forms are unbearably complicated, with at least two different systems (one old-fashioned and countryish, one urbanand contemporary). The book was published around 1960, so that may no longer be true. I’d love to hear someone who knows more than I do report on this. There may even be a third system used in Portugal.
    All I really remember is that the system was a mess and I never learned it well.

  10. John Emerson says:

    When I was in school 40+ years ago all teachers were to be referred to and addressed as Mr./Mrs./Miss X. One teacher had a nickname derived from his last name.

  11. John Emerson says:

    When I was in school 40+ years ago all teachers were to be referred to and addressed as Mr./Mrs./Miss X. One teacher had a nickname derived from his last name.

  12. “De” the V of Danish is in its deaththroes – it’s getting rare to hear it outside of interviews with royalty.
    But it’s been within my memory (so sometime in the past two decades) that the taxoffice and that sorta institutions have switched to using T (“du”).
    I taught myself to use De before starting uni, and promptly had to unlearn it again. Most professors were adressed by first name. A few with distinct last names were referred to by this.
    Helping out in a library now, I do try to switch to V when serving the elderly, but I doubt it makes any difference.

  13. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    Most people use ‘du’ with the younger members of the royal family here in Norway, except for tv interviewers. They use that weird third-person form that George Szirtes was talking about in Hungarian; like when they talk to the Crown Prince they’ll say, ‘And how did the Crown Prince enjoy the play?’.

  14. John Emerson says:

    Count von Desbladet, an occasional commentator here, is an expert on contemporary Norse princesses.

  15. John Emerson says:

    Count von Desbladet, an occasional commentator here, is an expert on contemporary Norse princesses.

  16. Yes, I miss Des and his princessor.

  17. michael farris says:

    The full Portuguese system IIRC goes something like (in ascending order of formality/politeness
    singular
    tu
    você
    o senhor / a senhora
    plural
    vos
    vocês
    os senhores / as senhoras
    And there might be more.
    IINM in Brazil the senhor(a) forms are out of date and vos is not used at all so that você and vocês are used almost all the time. Theoretically the object pronouns for both are third person but often the singular oblique te is used informally.
    In Portugal vos is mostly not used anymore (though tu is) and I think the senhor(a) forms used to be more used than they are now but maybe have been supplanted by você forms.

  18. John Emerson says:

    Des! Come back!

  19. John Emerson says:

    Des! Come back!

  20. And let’s not forget ön, which is an even more polite version of maga. The only time I ever heard it used was when my grandparents or my father spoke to the preacher who was a little older than my grandfather. When the preacher died and the congregation brought in a young kid from down South, he was adressed as maga. And of course there’s the Hungarian version of “Who wants to be a millionaire” – “Legyen Ön is milliomos!” (“Be you-HON too millionaire!”). My father always used maga when speaking to his parents and so did I, but when speaking to him, I always used the Slovak ty.
    As for the te/maga distinction, I remember a fight between two old men, both WWII veterans, that ended with the following exchange:
    “You will say maga to me, you fucking old guardist!”
    “Bazd meg, te kommunista marha!” (emphasis in the original; marha = piece of cattle)

  21. Wikipedia attempts to summarize tu vs. você for the various Brazilian dialects.
    Both o senhor and você (< vossa mercê, just like usted < vuestra merced) take third person verb forms. Tu should take second person, but in informal speech it too now takes the third person, more so in the dialects where it replaces você for wider social situations.
    At the same time, nós is being replaced by a gente, literally ‘people’, but used like Fr. on or Ger. man.
    All of which pretty much seals Brazilian Portuguese as non-pro-drop.

  22. There is a form “vosotros” for second person plural, but very few of my students have heard of it–they volunteer “ustedes” (Uds.) for second person plural.
    I guess your experience must be in Latin America, because in Spain (apart from the Canary Islands) vosotros appears to be alive and well. I have several colleagues in Spain who commonly write to me in Spanish (I usually write to them in English) and even if the word vosotros doesn’t come up very often in their letters the verb forms that go with it come up systematically, and they never writes ustedes.
    Another comment suggested that vos might be used in Chile, but I’ve never heard it in Chile, where ustedes is universal. I think vos is largely confined to Argentina and Uruguay (and I’ve read also in Costa Rica, but I have no personal experience there).

  23. michael farris says:

    “Another comment suggested that vos might be used in Chile, but I’ve never heard it in Chile, where ustedes is universal.”
    AFAIK vos in modern LAmerican Spanish is always singular and replaces tu (or both are used interchangeably or they have different connotations, depending on the country).
    It’s most common in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and in some (not all) countries of Central America. But there are vos pockets in some other countries as well.

  24. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Thank you for the Count von Desbladet link, that’s just my cup of tea.
    One thing about this tu/du+vous/Sie, business: irregardful of what we called our grandfather, God is always 2nd person sing. ‘du‘, isn’t that so? I’m sure this has been the subject of a sermon or two, but it would be fascinating if, for example, the Jansenists insisted on ‘Sie’. It seems to be something most sects can agree on. I always call Him ‘Sie’ when we converse in German.

  25. To add to what has been said above about 2nd person pronouns in Brazilian Portuguese: in some areas, such as Rio Grande do Sul, ‘tu’ is still widely used but with a 3rd person singular form of the verb (e.g. ‘tu fala’ rather than ‘tu falas’). ‘Tu’ can also be heard in other areas with the 2nd person singular verb form, but this is far less common.
    And the situation in Quebec: it’s not uncommon to be addressed as ‘tu’ in Montreal, even by strangers (native speakers), for example in shops, which can seem quite strange at first.
    I also found it quite strange on my first day at university during a semester abroad in Kyrgyzstan when the entire class (native Russian speakers, except for me) was told how to address the professor: by first name (no patronymic) and вы (vy) – although it meant there was no awkwardness about using an incorrect form of address.

  26. Christophe Strobbe says:

    In Dutch, we have the formal ‘u’ (sometimes ‘U’ in formal letters) and the informal ‘jij’/’je’ (emphatic and non-emphatic forms, respectively).
    In Flanders, there is yet another option, ‘gij’/’ge’ (emphatic and non-emphatic forms, respectively; the ‘e’ in ‘ge’ can also be elided when followed by a vowel), which overlaps with both ‘u’ en ‘jij’/’je’. It is sometimes used to address people that would be addressed with ‘u’ in more formal situations. In informal speech in Flanders, ‘gij’/’ge’ often replaces ‘jij’/’je’, especially in situations where the use of Standard Dutch vocabulary and pronunciation might be perceived as affected or aloof.
    What few people in Flanders know is that verb forms with ‘gij’/’ge’ rendered in writing are sometimes conjugated differently than the ‘jij’/’je’ forms: ‘gij hadt’ versus ‘jij had’, ‘gij kwaamt’ versus ‘jij kwam’, ‘gij zoudt’ versus ‘jij zou’, …
    ‘gij’/’ge’ also seem to be used in the Netherlands, judging by websites where this pronoun is discussed.

  27. A.J.P. Crown says:

    You should write more stuff here about Flanders and the Netherlands, they seem to be under-represented in the W. European posts. Do you know any Rubens jokes?

  28. Gij-ge is used in most of the dialects of southern part of the Netherlands (i.e. the provinces Noord-Brabant and the northern part of Dutch Limburg) in exactly the same way as in Flanders. But it is considered low status and it immedeatly identifies anyone using it as an uneducated country boy. Hence, it’s on it’s way out, like the rest of most dialects in NL.
    Interestingly, in the northern part of the Netherlands it is still used when adressing god.

  29. God is always 2nd person sing.
    Recall an earlier T-V discussion here; there used to be a Protestant / Catholic split, in, for example, French. So note the Europa Polyglotta map.
    Vatican II changed that, for instance, in the Pater Noster.

  30. told how to address the professor: by first name (no patronymic) and вы (vy)
    No patronymic? Really? I wonder if that’s because it was Kyrgyzstan rather than Russia itself.

  31. AJPC: I always call Him ‘Sie’ when we converse in German.
    I though it was Spanish to God and German to horses …

  32. His mother, a wonderful woman with whom we stayed when we arrived, immediately told me the set-up as far as she was concerned (she was an old pre-Hitler lefty intellectual, not rich, very knowledgeable about Goethe):
    Funny, I didn’t know Marion Dönhoff had children.

  33. “No patronymic? Really? I wonder if that’s because it was Kyrgyzstan rather than Russia itself.”
    I think it might have had more to do with the fact that it was the American University-Central Asia – perhaps an attempt to imitate perceived Western norms (although I had to address all my Russian teachers in Canada by first name and patronymic).

  34. John Emerson says:

    Ivan Ivanovich, I’d like to introduce you to John Johnson, Peter Peterson, Hans Hanson, Ole Olson…..

  35. John Emerson says:

    Ivan Ivanovich, I’d like to introduce you to John Johnson, Peter Peterson, Hans Hanson, Ole Olson…..

  36. A.J.P. Crown says:

    I didn’t know Marion Dönhoff had children.
    Yes, similar, except this woman was self-educated and worked for Spiegel, not Die Zeit. She told me some amazing stories about her life.

  37. A.J.P. Crown says:

    I though it was Spanish to God and German to horses
    No. It’s a little known fact, but it’s Icelandic to some horses. Norwegian works ok, though.

  38. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Thank you for those links, MMcM. I’d always, of course, thought of this being only a question of how close we ought to consider ourselves to be with God. I’d never considered the technical difficulties: how to translate the Devil’s and God’s addressing one another when we all know quite well the Devil’s bound to use ‘du’; or how using the V- form with God could be construed as a blasphemic plural, ‘Gods’. There’s not much discussion about which form God chooses in his addresses to us; it’s maybe taken care of by his only talking to groups.
    When there are so many choices in Hungarian, I wonder how they manage with God?
    Does God have a Christian name?

  39. John Emerson says:

    I was thinking of Kron when I linked Des. Both are exiles from Blighty, and both are thoroughly reliable in every way.

  40. John Emerson says:

    I was thinking of Kron when I linked Des. Both are exiles from Blighty, and both are thoroughly reliable in every way.

  41. michael farris says:

    John, have you ever seen the two together?

  42. When there are so many choices in Hungarian, I wonder how they manage with God?
    Our Father: Mi Atyánk, ki vagy a mennyekben, szenteltessék meg a te neved.

  43. John Emerson says:

    Michael, I have indeed asked myself the same question. But as far as I know, Des does not make his living designing cruise ships badly.

  44. John Emerson says:

    Michael, I have indeed asked myself the same question. But as far as I know, Des does not make his living designing cruise ships badly.

  45. michael farris says:

    “Des does not make his living designing cruise ships badly.”
    But according to some reports he once made his living designing merchant marine ships somewhat uninspiredly.
    Patterns, man, patterns! How do you hope to uncover the intricacies of dravidian influence on …. everything(!) if you miss these patterns?

  46. John J Emerson says:

    Perhaps Des is a younger version of Kron who happened to step into a quantum wormhole and then time-travelled to the present. That makes sense.

  47. John J Emerson says:

    Perhaps Des is a younger version of Kron who happened to step into a quantum wormhole and then time-travelled to the present. That makes sense.

  48. David Marjanović says:

    titles had been officially abolished in Germany after W.W.1

    O RLY? In Austria, they were really abolished then, together with the von in surnames, and the son of the last emperor (an EU parlamentarian, incidentally) gets called Herr Dr. Habsburg live on national TV. On German TV, you get commentators announced as Sybil Gräfin Schönfeldt, for example.

    Lots of otherwise left-leaning Germans we knew found the Gräfin situation perfectly acceptable;

    The asymmetry would creep me out.
    (Outside of school, that is, where it’s normal. Though by “school” I actually do mean “school” and not “university”.)

    IINM in Brazil the senhor(a) forms are out of date and vos is not used at all so that você and vocês are used almost all the time.

    That might explain why all the Portuguese spam I get is “para você”.

    I always call Him ‘Sie’ when we converse in German.

    Nobody except the French ever does that. Even Esperanto keeps its otherwise (English-style) extinct 2sg pronoun for that purpose.

    And the situation in Quebec: it’s not uncommon to be addressed as ‘tu’ in Montreal, even by strangers (native speakers), for example in shops, which can seem quite strange at first.

    Can I consider that an Americanism? After all, in Halifax (Canada) my thesis supervisor and I were addressed with “hi there” when entering a restaurant that belongs to an expensive-looking hotel, and last time I went to the USA, I was getting ready to say “good evening” when the immigration agent said “Hi, how are ya!”. Culture shock!

    by first name (no patronymic) and вы

    That’s another construction that creeps me out. I get a “does not compute” reaction — I find it grammatically wrong. It’s common here in France (as some kind of third, intermediate form of address) and apparently in northern Germany (Hamburger Sie — seen it used on TV several times).

    who happened to step into a quantum wormhole

    A quantum wormhole? Publish! Quick!!!

  49. David Marjanović says:

    Oh, BTW: while university professors and students are per Sie in both directions in Austria (with the exceptions of a few professors who prefer it otherwise), they can call students Herr Kollege/Frau Kollegin, but the students are not supposed to return that.
    Students have been universally per du since 1968. Before that, it was Hr. Kollege/Fr. Kollegin and Sie.

  50. John Emerson says:

    David, if you read any New Age philosophy at all you’d know about quantum wormholes. I’m really shocked.

  51. John Emerson says:

    David, if you read any New Age philosophy at all you’d know about quantum wormholes. I’m really shocked.

  52. marie-lucie says:

    MMcM, thank you for referring back to the previous T-V thread. I remember reading part of it, probably at a time when I did not have an opportunity to add my two cents’ worth. Commenters from here could benefit from reading it (it is also a gread discussion about some problems of translation).
    Most of the people here are English speakers. People who do not have the distinction in their language can say all they want about what happens in other languages, describing it from the outside, but it is different when you are a speaker for whom the distinction is crucial. I totally understand the reaction of the older lady in the original post, and a few others who try to set up the ground rules with a much younger newcomer of the opposite sex, just so there is no awkwardness.
    It is not just a matter of formality or informality as the difference is often described, or “power and solidarity” (a theory first presented in, I think, 1961 and still trotted out, at least in North America). To me it is a matter of psychological personal space: in France, although more and more people are using tu in more and more circumstances, for most people vous is neutral, the way you address strangers. You also use it with people you know but are either older or in an impersonal relationship, for instance people you may work with but who keep a certain distance, and of course with people in a superior position. In France it would be extremely rude to address total strangers with tu, and in most cases it would be considered as a putdown if not an actual insult. Anyone who thinks that they might be viewed unfavorably would be especially stung by being addressed by a stranger as tu. For instance, one of the complaints people from minorities have is that the police usually address them as tu, and after the riots that occurred in recent memory the police was issued orders not to do so. Speaking of the police, when they arrest someone they might at first use vous in a polite conversation, then suddenly switch to tu if the suspect is not cooperative enough. This is not to be friendly or informal but to disconcert and humiliate the suspect, who is certainly not expected to return the favour.
    As for vous and first name, this is quite common among people who know each other and even socialize, without becoming really close friends, but that also depends on the age, social class and personalities of the people involved.
    To me (I am not young), using tu with someone means a close relationship, sharing one’s psychological space with someone. The switch is especially likely if you and the other person are sharing or have shared a common emotional experience: for instance, people in emotionally demanding professions such as actors or people often exposed to danger are much more likely to call each other tu than those working in more sedate environments. Normally if you want to switch from vous to tu you should ask the other person, who will probably agree but might be reluctant to follow suit, for instance if a boss asks a younger subordinate (especially one of the opposite sex) to do so. The younger person might be uncomfortable in being expected to share their psychological personal space with an older person or a superior. For foreigners, the rule “use vous unless the other person tells you otherwise is still a good one. But if you are a student and another student says tu, of course you can reply in the same way, unless you pointedly want to cut the conversation short.

  53. David re: “Hamburger Sie” (love the name): while I don’t find it grammatically wrong, it doesn’t compute for me either. It’s very common in Slovakia, too, and sometimes it goes to ridiculous extremes, like when this female business partner of mine used to call me by the intimate version of my first name (name + the diminutive suffix,) that normally only my parents use, but still insisted on using the polite pronoun with the matching plural verbs. “Hamburger Sie” seems to be very common in professional circles and government where addressing someone as Mr./Ms./Mrs. Soandso would be perceived as too formal, but addressing them as ty would be inappropriate. Members of parliament are especially fond of “Hamburger Sie”.
    By the way, back in the not-so-good red days, everyone was supposed to be addressed as ‘comrade + last name’ and ty and this rule was strictly enforced, but only in the context of the Party or unions. Once everyone was out of the meeting room, it was back to Mr./Ms./Mrs.
    while university professors and students are per Sie in both directions in Austria (with the exceptions of a few professors who prefer it otherwise), they can call students Herr Kollege/Frau Kollegin, but the students are not supposed to return that.
    Same here. What about high-school? In Slovakia, high-school teachers (who are called professors) and students are per Sie as well.

  54. marie-lucie says:

    (I haven’t finished but I think I ran out of space).
    Here in Canada (where I am an immigrant) the rules are somewhat different. I have been living mostly in anglophone areas, so I am not in daily contact with the francophone population, but I can still make a few comments. On the one hand there is still a conservative, older part of the population for whom it is proper to address one’s parents (especially the father) with vous, as well as other adult strangers, and for older superiors to address their subordinates as tu. This is a carryover from the old pre-revolutionary French tradition (here the “power and solidarity” theory is justified). Another such continuation is the switch from vous to tu with the same person in moments of high emotion, reverting to vous once things are back to normal. I had encountered this only in 18th century novels, but in Canada this happens with medical personnel: for instance a midwife was describing how she uses vous with a woman before labour starts, switches to tu while the woman is in great pain, and goes back to vous after the delivery. This would never be done in France, where the midwife and the woman she assists would use vous to each other throughout.
    As for the effect of being addressed as tu when vous would be normal: when I first started teaching French to anglophone students, I had a very strong reaction every time a student used tu to me: I felt as if they were rushing at me across the room, putting their faces right close to mine. This has somewhat worn off but I am still annoyed by being addressed this way. I make a point of explaining to the students that no, I am not being unfriendly to them, but they are adults, can expect to be addressed as such, and should know how to address other adults in an appropriate manner, otherwise they might unwittingly insult people instead of being perceived as friendly. But some of my colleagues, even though they are middle-aged, use tu reciprocally with their students. I think that this is because many profs are eternal students, and at 50 think they are still 20. But in my opinion they are doing students a disservice by not teaching them the appropriate social customs.
    Another anecdote: when my daughter was about 7 or 8 she attended a school for French-speaking students (in an otherwise anglophone environment). A new teacher came and met with the parents before school started. One of her points was that she wanted the students to call her by her first name and use tu to her. The majority of parents were against it, precisely because most children did not know other French-speaking adults and were of an age to learn how to address them. One father from France reacted very strongly: if addressed as tu (unless by very close persons), C’est comme si je me mettais tout nu! (it’s as if I took off my clothes and stood stark naked). I would not have put it quite so dramatically, but I could certainly understand the feeling of invasion of privacy.

  55. Arthur J. P. Crown says:

    ‘On German TV, you get commentators announced as Sybil Gräfin Schönfeldt, for example.’
    It must get awfully confusing. I thought what happened in Germany was they abolished the titles, and so all the Grafs and Gräfins adopted their titles as names and continued to be Grafs and… Funny that they abolished ‘von’ in Austria, it sounds rather hard to do — oh yes, that’s right, the government sanctions parents’ proposals for their children’s names.

  56. michael farris says:

    A bunch of random points:
    I think marie-lucie is absolutely right that people without a t-v distinction in their own language never fully understand its importance for speakers who do.
    In my case, one unpleasant side effect is that I don’t put enough effort into remembering which to use with which person especially at work (where different competing factors come into play like age, title, nationality, frequence of contact, scope of job etc). Changing social mores in Poland also mean that some Polish speakers have trouble with the system too (fortunately Polish is rich in impersonal forms that can be used in a pinch).
    In Poland using the v-forms (Pan, Pani, roughly Mr/Sir, Ms/Ma’am) with diminutives is completely normal.
    Polish also has grey zones where the t-v forms mixed (though these are passing out of usage). Typically Pan/Pani require third person singular verbs. But they can also be used with second person verb forms for an ambiguous or maybe ironic effect. It used to be that Police could do that to simultaneously maintain formal distance and establish themselves as hierarchically above their interlocutor.
    For Americans, there’s another danger. Americans tend to coflate politeness and friendliness (whereas most Europeans coflate politeness with distance). I’ve encountered Americans who use T forms inappropriately because they think that being friendly is more polite.
    Also, the very seldom used Esperanto pronoun ci is not really used to address God, the standard phrase is “via nomo estu sanktigita” (hallowed by thy name). Ci came into being well after the language was established and primarily for translation purposes and most speakers never use it at all. The expressed desire of the language’s author was for no speaker to ever have to wonder what to call another and vi is not actually a V form but a neutral one.

  57. A. J. P. Crown says:

    To me it is a matter of psychological personal space
    Yes, this is word for word what I heard in Germany. It reminds me of my English grandmother who, for the same reason, called her neighbour ‘Mrs Irving’ when Mrs Irving always called my grandmother ‘Margot’ (that went on for about twenty years). That brings me to the translation of novels into English that they talked about in the comments MMcM linked to. I think the best way to translate a tutoyer situation into English is by switching from last to first names, and I’m surprised that no one mentioned that. It doesn’t work in the case of the man who is in bed with the maidservant, who would have been called by her first name anyway, but in most cases it seems the best equivalent.
    I see that agonizing about le tutoiement nowadays shows up in the blogging world. Should we call Language ‘vous’? I suppose so. Marie-Lucie is ‘vous’, she implies. I’m certainly not getting on ‘tu’ terms with John Emerson. He’d probably start trying to borrow money.

  58. A. J. P. Crown says:

    I see now that ‘God’ isn’t a name at all, it’s a job. Or perhaps we should say a profession, though I know of no licensing body, but there isn’t one for the oldest profession either.
    God’s away,
    God’s away,
    God’s away on business.
    Business.

  59. John Emerson says:

    I won’t lend you a dime, Herr Kron. I know your game. Ha!

  60. John Emerson says:

    I won’t lend you a dime, Herr Kron. I know your game. Ha!

  61. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Go on. I’ll let you call me ‘du’.

  62. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    my thesis supervisor and I were addressed with “hi there” when entering a restaurant that belongs to an expensive-looking hotel
    Really, I see nothing odd there David. What do you want? Some snotty maitre d’ who’s looking down to check that you’re wearing appropriate matching socks? In London or NY you’d probably get both ‘hi there’ and the sock check, admittedly. I would slightly understand your culture shock if they’d said ‘wassup, motherfuckers!’, but it’s only a matter of time until The Holy Roman Empire catches up. We live in a more informal, postmodern age; therefore, if you want sycophancy you can still pay for it, you just don’t have to. I use ‘hi there,’ all the time to introduce myself over the phone.
    The thing about those INS guys, in my experience, is it depends (both in the UK & US) whether you’ve been standing in the ‘Welcome Home!’ or ‘Foreigners!’ queue. In one line they are quite a lot nicer to you than the other, both countries.

  63. Spanish: “Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos, santificado sea tu nombre.”
    second person singular (informal)

  64. I’m more or less with David on this; I don’t mind informality in most areas of daily life, but I don’t like being addressed by my given name by doctors and their assorted hangers-on, and I’d really prefer a pleasant “Good evening” from a maitre d’ to an effusive “Hi there!” I didn’t come to your overpriced eatery to make friends with you, buddy.

  65. A. J. P. Crown says:

    I don’t like being addressed by my given name by doctors and their assorted hangers-on,
    Well, I certainly won’t put up with ‘Hello, AJP, I’m Dr House’, but if we’re both using first names, as happens in Norway, I’m all for it. I don’t see the problem, Language — or should I say Dr Hat.

  66. Incidentally, when they do say ‘Hello Arthur, I’m Dr House’ I tell them to call me Dr Crown, and they do. Doctors love calling each other ‘Doctor’ for some reason (not in Norway, it’s much more sophisticated than the US/UK in that kind of way).

  67. Prof. AJP Crown says:

    I didn’t come to your overpriced eatery to make friends with you, buddy.
    No, but neither did I come here for you to make judgments about my socks.

  68. von Kron, AJP says:

    Besides, anyone who’s watched House knows that doctors don’t care enough about you to want to patronize you. They just do the name-thing they’re told to do by the administration, otherwise you’re just a disease to them.

  69. Well, I certainly won’t put up with ‘Hello, AJP, I’m Dr House’
    Which is the default situation here in the U.S., at least in my experience. I respond by addressing the doctor by first name when it is known to me or visible on a nametag.

  70. marie-lucie says:

    I forgot to add about God in French: traditionally God was addressed as Vous by Catholics but as Tu by Protestants. The hymn Nearer my God to Thee was translated by Protestants, as Plus près de Toi, mon Dieu but was still adopted by the Catholics: I remember being puzzled as a child that this was the only hymn that used Tu and not Vous. But at some point (probably around the time that the Church abandoned Latin for its services) usage was switched to addressing God as Tu. I am not a praying person, but this usage seems unnatural to me. I am sure that older people have not made the switch.

  71. A. J. P. Crown says:

    When there are so many choices in Hungarian, I wonder how they manage with God?
    Bulbul:
    Our Father: Mi Atyánk, ki vagy a mennyekben, szenteltessék meg a te neved.
    Bulbul: 1. Is this Roman Catholic, or what? 2. I’d be interested to know if there would have been an opportunity to use a more formal but still singular form. 3. What do the Devil and God call each other?
    I think Hungarian may be the test of how we ought to think of God.

  72. A. J. P. Crown says:

    m-l: traditionally God was addressed as Vous by Catholics but as Tu by Protestants
    MMcM gave some very interesting links about this above, look at the Pater Noster one, but the others are also interesting (the Devil).

  73. A. J. P. Crown says:

    I must just point out to those people who won’t look up MMcM’s fantastic links:
    It’s not because the Protestants felt a more informal, cuddly connection to God that they use ‘Tu’ instead of the Catholics’ (until 1966) ‘Vous’, It’s because they thought it was blasphemous to use ‘Vous’. Protestants thought ‘vous’ (plural, as well as formal) implied that you were talking to ‘the gods’.

  74. Protestant/Catholic usage:
    In Spanish example I gave above, the Hispanics using the informal “tu” are most definitely Catholic, both in Spain and in the New World.
    And AJP, one of the points made above was that the informal usage was meant to reinforce the Protestant idea of direct contact with God as opposed to having to communicate with God through a third party (intercession, confession, reading the Bible in Latin, which only priests could read).

  75. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    Yes, as MMcM said (it’s in his links too) after Vatican II (1966) the Roman Catholics switched to using the ‘Tu’ form. His example is the French Wiki about the Pater Noster.

  76. A. J. P. Crown says:

    And where MMcM says ‘So note the Europa Polyglotta map’, if you use his link to look at the map (which you can enlarge) you will see the Pater Noster in the ‘Tu’ form in French and Spanish (amongst others)…

  77. A. J. P. Crown says:

    No, I wouldn’t want to go through a priest. Cut out the middle man, i want to pay wholesale.

  78. AJP,
    1. Is this Roman Catholic, or what?
    Reformed (i.e. Calvinist), actually, that’s what my father’s family is and that’s what I learned as a kid. Although I will have check our old family bible, it’s an 18xx edition and apparently uses very archaic language.
    2. I’d be interested to know if there would have been an opportunity to use a more formal but still singular form.
    Garden of Getsemane (Matthew 26:39). Jesus speaks to his father and still uses te, although as a good son of a Hungarian noble (which is what God is, after all), he is supposed to use maga.
    3. What do the Devil and God call each other?
    te, at least in Job.

  79. Well, I certainly won’t put up with ‘Hello, AJP, I’m Dr House’
    Me neither. I winced a little the other day when my new doctor called me a “young man” and I was about to protest. But then he saw my ID card and the academic title in front of my name, we were back to the familiar “pán magister”. Which, come to think of it, might be a little more respectful, but is just as silly.

  80. John Emerson says:

    If your doctors were as cute as mine, you’d be happy to be addressed by your first name. Indeed, there was no level of intimacy that I would not have welcomed.
    As it was, we had a highly formal prostate examination.

  81. John Emerson says:

    That sentence in Hungarian looks less mysterious than a Finno-Ugruic sentence should look, if you ask me.
    One of my favorite French literary figures is Clement Marot, probably best known as an aphorist and as the author of playfully suggestive poetry, but also an early porescriptive grammarian, an editor of Villon, and a Calvinist psalm-translator. If I’m not mistaken some of his translations are still used in the French Calvinist hymnals.

  82. John Emerson says:

    That sentence in Hungarian looks less mysterious than a Finno-Ugruic sentence should look, if you ask me.
    One of my favorite French literary figures is Clement Marot, probably best known as an aphorist and as the author of playfully suggestive poetry, but also an early porescriptive grammarian, an editor of Villon, and a Calvinist psalm-translator. If I’m not mistaken some of his translations are still used in the French Calvinist hymnals.

  83. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    It’s very important to have the prostate exam every year, gents. Now they’re doing it as a blood test here, so I’m surprised they aren’t in Minnesota.
    That sounds like an interesting bible. One of my ancestors whiled away the time in church by drawing family trees in a prayer book, which is very interesting for me now I’ve gotten hold of it.
    I don’t know much about the liturgy, but the Roman clergy have the best outfits, especially cardinals and nuns.

  84. Changes in Lord’s Prayer from 1966 Vatican council:
    The notes about French don’t apply to other languages.
    I looked in my Spanish Bible and saw it was a seventh edition published in 1967 with notes from a biblical scholar dated 1962. I know the date the book is written is quite a bit before the publication date, but if the Vatican II council had changed the Padre Nuestro in 1966, would they really allow the publication of an old translation the following year?
    Looking at this wiki of various Spanish translations of the Bible, and scrolling down to the chart that says “Padre nuestro de Mateo en diversas traducciones” (“Our Father in different translations”), the earlier Spanish translations of the Matthew version consistently used the informal estás and tu.

    Here is the map link again. Yes, I see you can click on the map to see it as a document then click on the map again for the little “+” that lets you magnify with successive clicks. But the Spanish part of the 1730 map also uses the “tu” form.
    For what it’s worth, in my Spanish translation, “tu” is also used by devil/God in Job as well as in the garden of Gethsemine prayer. My 1867 Dano-Norwegian New Testament uses “du” throughout.

  85. As David Marjanović said above (November 27, 2008 at 08:12 PM), pretty much everybody uses “tu” equivalents with God.

  86. marie-lucie says:

    A few years ago a friend paid one dollar for a book that was being discarded from the library, thinking it “might” interest me: the Pater Noster in 250 versions, including ancient and modern languages, a facsimile of a Vatican publication dating from 1870, with each translation in a different typographical style. So here is what is in the Romance languages section, besides Latin, and how they address God:
    Italian T; Sardinian, 3 dialects, all T; Piedmontese T; Genoese V; Venetian T; Bolognese V; Friulian T; Sicilian, 2 dialects, both T; Portuguese T; Spanish T; Gascon T; Catalan V; Provençal V; Rhône area (Occitan), V; Berrichon (in Central France, a French dialect) V; French, 13th century style (meaning a modern reconstruction), T; French, modern, V; Walloon (Belgium) V; Romansch (Switzerland), 2 dialects, both T.

  87. You have to wonder if The Deity ever gets as annoyed as we humans over being addressed too informally.

  88. marie-lucie says:

    Please, Nijma, it is not a question of formality or informality, it is a question of the nature of the relationship. Different cultures have different perceptions of how this is expressed by the pronouns of address.

  89. I managed to forget a few things (since my septuagenarian aunt talks about having “Alzheimer’s Light”, I guess I’ll have to settle for “Alzheimer’s Ultra-Light”).
    1) I thought this was a followup to “The Bookcase, I”. Next installment being “Razzmatazz, He”.
    2) The best thing about the German V/T distinction is the opportunity to dutsen one another.
    3) There used to be a sorta intermediary form of address in Danish (that I’ve never encountered outside of the occasional old film or book): du(T) together with familyname rather than first name. I guess that’s the reverse of the Hamburger Sie.

  90. Annoying familiarity
    A while back I copied a short excerpt of a book about language, gender, first names, power relationships, and reciprocity in the first part of this.
    Obama’s “sweetie” flap in the recent campaign also comes to mind. Said one journalist, “He can call me sweetie when I can call him boy”. In other words, it was not perceived as okay becasue it wasn’t reciprocal.
    My own attempts to dissect the power relationships in the sweetie thing came to a halt after I was called “sweetie” by a delicious sweet young thing bagging my groceries who was young enough to be waaayyy out of my league.

  91. Please, Nijma, it is not a question of formality or informality, it is a question of the nature of the relationship. Different cultures have different perceptions of how this is expressed by the pronouns of address.
    Yes, it seems to be a cultural imposition, especially since the original Greek text didn’t have a grammatical distinction. It seems especially cultural considering all the remarks about the formal Hungarian maga being used within families, but not with God (when AFAIK, the human/divine relationship is regarded within Christianity to be modeled on the family–why else would you say “our father”). Also I think there is a wide-spread perception within many English speaking groups that the English “thou” “thee” “thine” is formal and not familiar.
    But “the nature of the relationship”? Not to me. Many of the protestant persuasion take the sayings of Jesus to contain explicit instructions for how to observe Christianity (not taking the popes as authority). Denominations that are not literalists in biblical interpretation and seem otherwise laid-back and anything-goes can get persnickety when it comes to the exact words of Jesus.
    So when Jesus says “do this in remembrance of me” it is an explicit instruction to observe communion. And when he says “pray then like this”, it is an instruction directly from God about what form a prayer should take. Marriage?–no instructions, so with this topic we’re back to voting on it.

  92. John, AJP,
    suffice it to say the doctor in question is a urologist. Been there, done that, several times over.
    That sentence in Hungarian looks less mysterious than a Finno-Ugruic sentence should look, if you ask me.
    Perhaps because it’s a translation? I believe it was David Marjanović who once referred to Latin poetry as “the game of ‘find the verb’”. I feel the same way about anything Finnish, legislation in particular.

  93. John Emerson says:

    Yes, but my doctor was exceptionally cute. I really wish that I had met her in some other context.
    Thank you for restoring my confidence in Finno-Ugric. I’ll repost an old squib about Finnish:

    The Direct Object
    Most Finnish grammars are particularly easy to understand on this point.
    The basic idea is: In Finnish the direct object (commonly called the accusative object) may occur in the nominative, the genitive, or the partitive case. In order to make things easier to understand, nominative and genitive are called accusative. There is also a real accusative which is not called anything at all.
    Utmost care must be applied when interpreting the grammatical terminology. If you encounter the word ‘accusative,’ it can mean nominative or genitive, but never the real accusative. The term ‘nominative’ can mean accusative or, possibly, nominative. ‘Genitive’ can mean accusative or simply genitive, while partitive is always called partitive, although it may be accusative.

  94. John Emerson says:

    Yes, but my doctor was exceptionally cute. I really wish that I had met her in some other context.
    Thank you for restoring my confidence in Finno-Ugric. I’ll repost an old squib about Finnish:

    The Direct Object
    Most Finnish grammars are particularly easy to understand on this point.
    The basic idea is: In Finnish the direct object (commonly called the accusative object) may occur in the nominative, the genitive, or the partitive case. In order to make things easier to understand, nominative and genitive are called accusative. There is also a real accusative which is not called anything at all.
    Utmost care must be applied when interpreting the grammatical terminology. If you encounter the word ‘accusative,’ it can mean nominative or genitive, but never the real accusative. The term ‘nominative’ can mean accusative or, possibly, nominative. ‘Genitive’ can mean accusative or simply genitive, while partitive is always called partitive, although it may be accusative.

  95. John,
    I once had the pleasure of translating this particular piece of legislation. I shall never doubt Finno-Ugric again.

  96. John Emerson says:

    When I was in Taiwan someone told me that the most popular Chinese-English dictionary there (Liang’s, I think) switched the meanings of “insurer” and “insuree”. Finnish is reputed to like to compund words.

  97. John Emerson says:

    When I was in Taiwan someone told me that the most popular Chinese-English dictionary there (Liang’s, I think) switched the meanings of “insurer” and “insuree”. Finnish is reputed to like to compund words.

  98. Now they’re doing it as a blood test here
    The last I heard, they were still trying to get the bugs out of the test–either too many false positives or false negatives, I forget which. Either way would not make the insur ance co mpanies happy. But what about just enlargement? Then it’s dizzy-making medicine, as one person I know. I know one thing-no doc is going to go poking at me looking for stuff until I have health insurance–and unless there are some real treatment options available.

  99. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Bulbul,
    Even with your exceptional ability I don’t know how you managed that translation, what a job. I just did my first ever translation of an official text (six A4 sides on a series of competitions for the art at a new concert hall, it’s got fairly technical language) and I have found it unbelievably hard, and that was only from Norwegian into English. In my case, to weasel my way out of finding equivalent grammatical constructions it helped me a lot to use an English thesaurus, I found. Norwegian-English dictionaries were next to useless (actually, I curse those dictionaries, they’re all rubbish).

  100. michael farris says:

    “Norwegian-English dictionaries were next to useless”
    This is one of those counter-intuitive things that non-translators mostly don’t get. Most dictionaries (even specialist dictionaries) aren’t especially useful in most translation.
    Going into English google searches are often much more useful.

  101. John Emerson says:

    I have a HS friend who makes his living translating legal documents from Japanese to English. I’d love to talk to him about it but he hasn’t come around since his parents died.

  102. John Emerson says:

    I have a HS friend who makes his living translating legal documents from Japanese to English. I’d love to talk to him about it but he hasn’t come around since his parents died.

  103. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Well, you know, there’s this new thing called email…

  104. John Emerson says:

    It’s been about 30 years since I’ve seen him and at this point I’d feel a bit intrusive. He’s gone native over there and I don’t know how Japanese feel about that kind of thing.

  105. John Emerson says:

    It’s been about 30 years since I’ve seen him and at this point I’d feel a bit intrusive. He’s gone native over there and I don’t know how Japanese feel about that kind of thing.

  106. A. J. P. Crown says:

    How they feel about what kind of thing? Legal documents? Perhaps Peony would intercede on your behalf. No, I know: you should just go BOO! like Siganus does.

  107. Yes, Sig’s approach is extraordinarily stimulating.

  108. Tolkien used the phrase “ceremonious language” in Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings to characterize the function of T-forms in recent English, which I think is just about right. I posted the relevant passage, plus a classification of all the T-forms in the text into ceremonious, intimate, poetic, dialectal, and contemptuous usages.

  109. AJP,
    honestly, I don’t know either. And what surprises me even more that there were times I managed to translate about 8000 words of week of similar texts.
    michael,
    Most dictionaries (even specialist dictionaries) aren’t especially useful in most translation.
    Precisely. Google is your friend, but bi- and multilingual databases of texts are even more useful. Thank God for Eur-lex.
    And the other thing non-translators don’t get is how much actual work is involved in translating. For all they know, we just sit down, fire up Word and Trados and voila, there it is. There were many reasons why I quit translating full time, but this lack of respect for my work was number one.

  110. at this point I’d feel a bit intrusive
    Minnesotans always feel intrusive. I’ve been very glad to have some person from my past dig me out on a number of occasions. Then you realize you don’t really have that much in common, so then what. But it’s interesting. On the other had there are some people I would not like to dig me out, but they already know who they are.
    For some reason I never go digging out other people. Too many years in Minnesota, maybe.

  111. David Marjanović says:

    Same here. What about high-school? In Slovakia, high-school teachers (who are called professors) and students are per Sie as well.

    Well, highschool starts with an asymmetry that can’t be found anywhere else: the “professors”* are addressed as Herr/Frau Professor and Sie, but they use the first name and du back. Traditionally this ended after the fourth of the eight years (giving way to mutual Sie + last name, though the “professors” kept that title), but by 2000 all teachers carried the asymmetry on all the way to the end. A few teachers asked us at the beginning of the fifth year (at age 15/16) if they should switch, but we always declined by large majorities, simply because we weren’t used to it. It is, after all, unsettling enough when you get approximately 16 and random adult strangers suddenly use the polite form with you when you expected the familiar one.
    I suspect that’s where the Hamburger Sie comes in in northern Germany: as a sort of intermediate that pretends to take away the need to choose.
    Also, not just university students, but everyone their age is per du nowadays, except if one of them is a member of the university bureaucracy, in which case the polite address is used reciprocally.
    Apart from that, everything Marie-Lucie wrote holds for German, too.
    * When an actual university professor appears on TV, the subtitle therefore says Univ.-Prof.. Oops, no, it says Univ.-Prof. Dr. (most highschool teachers are not doctors). The politician Alexander Van der Bellen consequently never got space for his full first name.

    I thought what happened in Germany was they abolished the titles, and so all the Grafs and Gräfins adopted their titles as names

    Oh no. In fact, I was told that real counts are called Graf rather than Herr Graf because the latter would mean their surname is Graf (…apparently Baron does not exist as a surname…).
    Hey, 200 million people are called 王 Wáng, literally “king”! And Sir David King was Blair’s science advisor.

    Funny that they abolished ‘von’ in Austria, it sounds rather hard to do –

    No harder than abolishing the monarchy. :-|

    Typically Pan/Pani require third person singular verbs.

    How are imperatives handled, then?

    Ci came into being well after the language was established and primarily for translation purposes and most speakers never use it at all. The expressed desire of the language’s author was for no speaker to ever have to wonder what to call another and vi is not actually a V form but a neutral one.

    Oh. I used to think it was introduced right at the start by Zamenhof as a singular-plural distinction, but apparently Zamenhof had no friends, so all Esperantists wanted to use polite forms with each other and were, from their native languages, used to using the plural for that… So the lack of even a singular-plural distinction was deliberate?

    I use ‘hi there,’ all the time to introduce myself over the phone.

    OK, maybe what’s going on here is something else: the interaction of greetings with T-V and other politeness distinctions. For example, in German, Grüß Gott/guten Tag/Abend is V and practically all other surviving forms are T. In French, salut is T, but there is no strictly V greeting: bonjour/bonsoir is almost neutral — it took some time till I grasped that.

    I’m more or less with David on this [...] I didn’t come to your overpriced eatery to make friends with you, buddy.

    I didn’t actually say I don’t like it. I just said it was a considerable surprise. Apparently such greetings are neutral rather than T for some (…tens or hundreds of millions of…) people these days.

    But at some point (probably around the time that the Church abandoned Latin for its services) usage was switched to addressing God as Tu. I am not a praying person, but this usage seems unnatural to me. I am sure that older people have not made the switch.

    I didn’t know it had happened at all…

    dutsen

    Of course with z rather than ts. You can actually hear that: vowels in front of consonant clusters are almost always short, and ts is written for etymological consonant clusters, but z behaves as a single consonant and can have long vowels in front of it (and becomes tz when it doesn’t).

    There used to be a sorta intermediary form of address in Danish (that I’ve never encountered outside of the occasional old film or book): du(T) together with familyname rather than first name. I guess that’s the reverse of the Hamburger Sie.

    When combined with Herr/Frau, this is called Münchner Du, though it appears to be largely mythical.
    Some people use their last names as nicknames when there’s someone else with their first name around; that occasionally happens in school and should not be construed as anything but ordinary T.

    I believe it was David Marjanović who once referred to Latin poetry as “the game of ‘find the verb’”.

    Yes, though I was just citing someone who was arguing for the abolishment of Latin in school and called Latin lessons das beliebte Such-das-Verb-Spiel, “the popular ‘find the verb’ game”. It’s after all true: you take a sentence that spans perhaps 5 lines, you look for the verb, then, when you’ve decoded it, you look for the subject… In the simplest prose (De Bello Gallico) you can get away with trying to just read it, but when it gets to poetry, that procedure is the only way.

    I once had the pleasure of translating this particular piece of legislation. I shall never doubt Finno-Ugric again.

    And you really couldn’t have cheated and translated the Swedish version instead? :-} I mean, when I look at the Swedish version (“read” would be the wrong word), I almost get a vague idea of what the matter of the law actually is, and I have no idea of any North Germanic language beyond, say, the occasional Wikipedia phonology article.

    I just did my first ever translation of an official text (six A4 sides

    GOTCHA!!! ;-)

  112. David Marjanović says:

    It’s after all true: you take a sentence that spans perhaps 5 lines, you look for the verb, then, when you’ve decoded it, you look for the subject…

    The “popular” part, of course, comes from the fact that this takes half an hour per sentence. It’s excruciating and serves no apparent purpose.

  113. Michael Farris says:

    “How are imperatives handled, then?”
    With a particle niech which. It’s used with plain indicative verbs and is sort of a desiderative.
    Niech pan wchodzi. (come in!)
    Nie żyje languagehat! (long live languagehat!)
    It can also be used with first person singular
    Niech pomyślę…. (let me think…)
    “so all Esperantists wanted to use polite forms with each other and were, from their native languages, used to using the plural for that…”
    I think vi was influenced more like ‘you’ in English (neutral, not polite or familiar) but the form vi probably came from Russian. I personally would have prefered neutral singular and plural forms but Zhof was probably worried that people would use the plural with singular meaning, just one second person pronoun made that harder.
    Also, while I’m here, there are fashions in T-V languages and the spheres of usage tend to change over time.
    One interesting note is that three European countries (Spain, Poland, Hungary) whose languages separate number and politeness (using 3rd person forms for polite address) all saw a large expansion in the range of familiar usage following democratization after a repressive political order.
    I’m not sure if the same happened in Portugal (where the familiar second plural had largely passed out of use) or if it’s as noticable in countries that follow the French/Russian model.

  114. For me reading German is like reading Latin, not necessarily “find the verb” but just puzzling out very long, complicated sentence-paragraphs. I’m thinking of Kleist and Nietzsche.
    I like it because there are normally inflectional clues, but at my level it’s still puzzle-solving.
    I also have a theory that Nietzsche and Rimbaud profited from their intensive youthful study of Latin. At my URL.

  115. Are you sure about Augustine, JE? I can’t find what I did with my copy of the Confessions, but as I recall he ran off to Italy to AVOID marriage and his mother found out what ship he was on and followed after, still trying to hook him up with an appropriate match.

  116. David,
    the “professors”* are addressed as Herr/Frau Professor and Sie, but they use the first name and du back. Traditionally this ended after the fourth of the eight years
    That would be the start of high-school here. It is therefore, as I suspected, another common tradition.
    michael,
    Nie żyje languagehat! (long live languagehat!)
    Um, that’s not what you wrote, quite the opposite :)
    ‘Niech’ is your standard cohortative particle and it does sound a little rude to me. Wouldn’t “Proszę”* + infinitive be more appropriate?
    * Please

  117. John Emerson says:

    I’ll have to look at that again, Nijma.

  118. michael farris says:

    Yikes! All apologies to hat,
    Niech żyje!
    “‘Niech’ is your standard cohortative particle and it does sound a little rude to me. Wouldn’t “Proszę”* + infinitive be more appropriate?”
    Niech doesn’t sound rude to me and it’s considered perfectly polite with Pan/Pani.
    “niech Pani się nie denerwuje”
    “don’t be upset” or maybe “there’s no reason to be upset”
    In the countryside, it’s sometimes used without the Pan/Pani and that sounds rude to the citybound.
    “Niech mówi o co chodzi”
    ‘tell me what this is all about!’
    I’ve been told that proszę + infinitive (typically used to those with no power to refuse or with the slow-witted) is less polite than proszę + imperative but third person forms don’t have imperatives so it’s back to niech.
    I’m not sure about other Slavic languages but imperatives can sound perfectly polite in Polish and the rudest way of giving a command is to use a bare infinitive.
    in descending order of politeness (familiar singular)
    proszę zamknij drzwi
    please close the door
    zamknij drzwi
    close the door
    proszę zamknąć drzwi
    please close the door (don’t you know any better?)
    drzwi zamknąć
    close the door (you oaf)!

  119. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    David Marjanović, thank you for all that very interesting German stuff. The one time a Hamburger who lived in Stuttgart came into our office in Hamburg and said Grüss Gott, everybody just laughed, so I don’t have much experience with it, but I’d no idea those greetings only went with the Sie form (though I probably used them that way without realising it). Apart from the relentlessly and oppressively overly-formal Language, you’re right to imply that most native English speakers wouldn’t pick up on ‘hi there’ being paired with a familiar form. I find ‘Hi there, Mr Hat’ to be as normal a form of address — by say the boys and girls shoveling snow from the footpath in front of The Hattery — as ‘Hi there, Language’.
    As for poetry, isn’t German the language where you evoke tragedy or comedy by switching to a surprise verb at the end of the sentence? I only took Latin until I was given the opportunity to give it up for Physics and Chemistry (that was a bad move as well as a bad choice for a school to present — like making a zookeeper choose between lions and hedgehogs instead of between lions and tigers), but in those days (40 yrs ago) Latin often had the verb at the end, it was the first place to look.

  120. Thank you Michael and Bulbul for your translating tips. You’re putting fireworks in the hands of a ten-year-old, though.

  121. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    (And I know the correct metaphorical explosive is dynamite, but fireworks better reflects my level of dabbling.)

  122. German school address forms sure are confusing. Unlike Austrians, in Germany we don’t use “Professor” (that title is reserved for university professors), still, at the time I left high school, there were at least five different ways for students and teachers to address each other, depending on the teacher and on the class…
    - Teachers address students with du and first name, students address the teacher with Sie and Herr/Frau+last name.
    - Teachers address students with Sie and first name, students address the teacher with Sie and Herr/Frau+last name.
    - Teachers address students with Sie and last name, students address the teacher with Sie and Herr/Frau+last name.
    - Teachers address students with Sie and Herr/Frau+last name, students address the teacher as Sie and Herr/Frau+last name. (Some, mostly older, teachers insisted on addressing female students with Fräulein. This was a source of no small conflict as this form of address has come to be considered sexist.)
    - Teachers address students with du+first name, students address the teacher with du+first name.
    Anybody feel like writing a grant proposal?

  123. marie-lucie says:

    In Slovakia, high-school teachers (who are called professors) and students are per Sie as well.
    {In Austria], … A few teachers asked us at the beginning of the fifth year (at age 15/16) if they should switch [to Sie], but we always declined by large majorities, simply because we weren’t used to it. It is, after all, unsettling enough when you get approximately 16 and random adult strangers suddenly use the polite form with you when you expected the familiar one.
    Then imagine being barely 10 years old and addressed as Mademoiselle and vous. That was me when I started the lycée (a little earlier than the average student). On the first day of class, all students were lined up according to grade and section in the couryard and called by name, starting with the oldest ones. Each class then was marched up to their first classroom by the teacher. For some reason my name was not on any list and I ended up standing alone in the courtyard, in front of the principal or whoever was doing the roll call.
    Our school was basically a boys’ school but admitted girls because the girls’ school (in our small city) did not offer Latin and Greek. The professeurs called the boys by last name and vous (one Latin prof would use tu when mad at one of them, but then he often got mad) and the girls at first by first name + vous but Mademoiselle + last name (and of course vous) in slightly higher grades (we usually had different profs by then, except in English or German). The students all adressed each other as tu of course but boys were addressed by their last names, girls by their first names. A girl would not address a boy (or refer to him) by his first name unless he was her boyfriend.
    As an older teenager I attended an all-girl school. Most profs (all women) called us Mademoiselle + last name but one of them (who terrified us all) just by our last names. We had to sit in class in alphabetical order so she would remember where to find us (there were more than 40 students in the class). All of us (among ourselves) referred to our teachers by their last names only, but addressed them as Madame or Mademoiselle, depending on what we were told (nowadays adult, mature women are always called Madame). This school was in Paris, and most of us who were from the provinces boarded in one institution or another. One girl was in a particularly strict such place where the girls were forbidden to use tu with each other! so in order not to get mixed up, she had decided to use vous with all her classmates. She was the only one in our class to do so and not surprisingly that created a social barrier between her and the rest of us, who even if we had used vous at the very beginning, would have switched to tu in short order.
    All this was before the events of 1968 (which I did not witness, as by then I was in Canada) upset the usual order of things. Until recently my sister was a math teacher in a school in a “difficult” suburb of Paris. Like all the other profs, she used tu and first name with all her students, who were around 11-14 years of age. Many of them were extremely rude to her (often not realizing it as their vocabulary was limited), but they would never have addressed her as other than Madame and vous, the normal, neutral way to address adults.

  124. Arabic does not have formal/familiar grammatical forms. The last names are a bit different too. What you do is pile on the names of your father, grandfather, etc. up to about four names and ending with your tribal/family name. So a man might be named Hussein Muhammed Achmad Hassan Mansour, but the only name used in public would be Hussein.
    Teachers use titles with the first name. There is one for men, I forget what it is now, and two for women depending on age. I was Sit + first name (the older title). When students know the answer to a question, they snap their fingers in the air and yell “Sit!Sit!Sit!”

  125. One girl was in a particularly strict such place where the girls were forbidden to use tu with each other! …not surprisingly that created a social barrier between her and the rest of us
    The system seems so vulnerable to being taken advantage of by unpleasant people as well as resulting in the kind of thing you describe here. It’s extremely hard for me to see why someone, especially one as rational as you are and especially just in the name of maintaining one’s own personal space, is attached to it, marie-lucie!

  126. Too bad English doesn’t have a formal/familiar distinction. Then you would know with which people it was safe to discuss underpants with.

  127. marie-lucie says:

    AJP, it is not something rational like “in the name of maintaining one’s own personal space”, witness my earlier, visceral reaction when I first heard students use tu to me (in the first class too, when we were all strangers), or the reaction of the Frenchman who felt utterly naked if so addressed. Our own language and its constraints are ingrained in us from childhood. You can no more deny the strength of the pronoun opposition than you can deny the strong emotional connotations of certain words. That said, there are quite a few people that I know well and we use tu to each other, but we started with vous.
    On the other hand, English is liberating: you don’t have to worry about whether or not a switch would be desirable or not, there is nothing to switch to. I read about this reaction from some Asian students too, since they often have much more to choose from than jus two pronouns in their own languages, and the proper choice is sometimes agonizing.

  128. John Emerson says:

    I’ve also heard it said that, while a kind of closeness or intimacy is easy in the US, it doesn’t mean much. As I understand, in places where closer and more intimate relationships are hard to attain, relationships of that type are regarded as lifelong friendships. (Not every case of “tu”, obviously, but certain categories of “tu”.)

  129. John Emerson says:

    I’ve also heard it said that, while a kind of closeness or intimacy is easy in the US, it doesn’t mean much. As I understand, in places where closer and more intimate relationships are hard to attain, relationships of that type are regarded as lifelong friendships. (Not every case of “tu”, obviously, but certain categories of “tu”.)

  130. John Emerson says:

    Not in relationship to familiar/distant forms, but I’ve heard that comparison made between the American Midwest and the West Coast. In the Midwest “it’s hard to meet people but then you can’t get rid of them” whereas “on the West Coast it’s easy to meet people but hard to make good friends. Two nearly exact quotes from two different people moving in opposite directions.

  131. John Emerson says:

    Not in relationship to familiar/distant forms, but I’ve heard that comparison made between the American Midwest and the West Coast. In the Midwest “it’s hard to meet people but then you can’t get rid of them” whereas “on the West Coast it’s easy to meet people but hard to make good friends. Two nearly exact quotes from two different people moving in opposite directions.

  132. michael farris says:

    Well as I always say, the minimal definition of ‘friend’ in American English is + known – enemy.
    That is, anyone you know who’s not an open enemy can be breezily referred to as a ‘friend’.
    Polish on the other hand has at least four different non-interchangeable words that can be translated as ‘friend’ in (roughly) ascending order of intimacy.
    1. znajomy / znajoma
    2. kolega / koleżanka
    3. kumpel / kumpelka
    4. przyjaciel / przyjaciółka
    Usually English friend is unthinkingly translated as 4., which has strong emotional undertones bordering on love (asexual or not depending on context) completely lacking in English. It also has the unfortunate effect of bleaching out some of the intensity of the Polish when used of superficial kinds of relationships.

  133. Our own language and its constraints are ingrained in us from childhood.
    Yes, that’s what we’re talking about, and why change? At the same time aren’t French people bound eventually to relax their children’s social antennæ enough so that everyone eventually is ‘Tu’? That’s roughly what happened in Norway (I much prefer it to the French and German systems, as you might guess, and no doubt for the same reason as yours).
    One notable thing they do in Norway is that those who might in Germany or France be V-ing one another will say Emerson and Crown to each other, without any ‘Mr’ or ‘Mrs’ prefix. This is also a prewar English form not used much today, except for fun.

  134. John Emerson says:

    Thinking it over, I have four levels: “this guy I met” (once or twice), “this guy I know” (occasional interaction), “this buddy of mine” (frequent voluntary interaction) and “friend” (lifelong, like family).
    The quantitative part is a rough guide; someone I’ve met a whole bunch of times might be stuck in “this guy I met” category if the encounters were lacking in positive aspects (perhaps “this guy I see around a lot”).

  135. John Emerson says:

    Thinking it over, I have four levels: “this guy I met” (once or twice), “this guy I know” (occasional interaction), “this buddy of mine” (frequent voluntary interaction) and “friend” (lifelong, like family).
    The quantitative part is a rough guide; someone I’ve met a whole bunch of times might be stuck in “this guy I met” category if the encounters were lacking in positive aspects (perhaps “this guy I see around a lot”).

  136. In the future you will recognize these categories by seeing the people wearing different colored overalls: red, blue, yellow and white (for friends). Just a suggestion.

  137. John Emerson says:

    And then there are my “imaginary friends”, such as Herr Kron and everyone else here. Cyberplasmic beings that may or may not exist. Possible brains-in-bottles and Turing machines. I love you all!

  138. John Emerson says:

    And then there are my “imaginary friends”, such as Herr Kron and everyone else here. Cyberplasmic beings that may or may not exist. Possible brains-in-bottles and Turing machines. I love you all!

  139. A friend in Arabic is “sadeek”. But Arab women do not talk to Arab men, at least not much or not openly. There are two classes of Arab men, “not nice” and “fiancé”. Western women are of course exempt from all of that since our brothers are unlikely to kill us just for talking to a man, but just the same, referring to a male teacher or other acquaintance as “sadeeki” is not too cool. I was told instead to use the word “sahabi”.

  140. I forgot to mention you can talk to your finance and hang out with his family once the contract papers have been signed.

  141. John Emerson says:

    I forgot to mention you can talk to your finance and hang out with his family once the contract papers have been signed.
    Low-hanging fruit warning.
    In early Spanish and Portuguese poetry “friend” (amigo, amiga) pretty clearly means “lover”.

  142. John Emerson says:

    I forgot to mention you can talk to your finance and hang out with his family once the contract papers have been signed.
    Low-hanging fruit warning.
    In early Spanish and Portuguese poetry “friend” (amigo, amiga) pretty clearly means “lover”.

  143. Yeah, right, I’d love you if you really existed, that’s what they all say. And where does that young doctor fit into your scheme of things?

  144. marie-lucie says:

    aren’t French people bound eventually to relax their children’s social antennæ enough so that everyone eventually is ‘Tu’?
    Parents are not necessarily the teachers or examples when it comes to language norms, as adolescents are more likely to take the lead. It is quite possible that eventually everyone will be tu (it looks like a distinct possibility in Canada) but even if it does, it might take several generations.
    During the Revolution everyone was supposed to use tu and call each other Citoyen or Citoyenne, but after the kinship was restored people went back to their previous tu/vous habits, and the various republican regimes since did not change the linguistic status quo, at least not until 1968. French Canada was no longer under French control at the time of the revolution, so they preserved the 18th century uses, until after 1960 (“la révolution tranquille”) when society went through tremendous changes, some of them linguistic. And French is not spoken only in France or Canada: educated Africans also address strangers as vous and expect the same in return.

  145. michael farris says:

    As I mentioned before przyjaciel and przyjaciółka usually refer to same sex best friends and when used of opposite sex friends there’s a strong implication of a sexual relationship. I’ve also hear the words used for same sex couples.
    I’ve heard Freund and Freundin used in similar ways on German tv.
    For the record, I exist, I’m not entirely certain about the rest of you.

  146. “friend” (amigo, amiga) pretty clearly means “lover”
    I was taught “novio, novia”, but even that just means “boyfriend, girlfriend”. In the Arab world the English words boyfriend and girlfriend mean they’re definitely intimate. Maybe because of the Moorish influence in Spain, the cultures have so much in common–I do believe the Iberian señoritas are or were closely chaperoned as well. You would probably need some euphemisms to discuss the subject.
    It sounds like JE is at “du” while the doc is at “vous”. I say it’s all bark though. IME men are much more modest than women, unless they are talking.

  147. michael farris says:

    While we (and marie-lucie) are here.
    I’ve heard V-forms in “I love you” expressions in both French and Russian:
    je vous aime(?) and ja lûblû vas.
    What’s the logic there? Shouldn’t the act of proclaiming love move the object of said love into the T-realm? Or am I missing something?

  148. That’s a good point. What about that Voulez-vous couchez avec moi, ce soir? -song. Ridiculous. Just to get it to scan.

  149. Oh, and my Mexican students say the teachers use “tú” while the student use “usted”; at least one African country is likewise not reciprocal with teachers using “du” and students “vous”. The explanation is that Mexican teachers (you can almost hear an unspoken “those nasty Mexican teachers”) are something like big bossy dictators. Implying that I am not?
    Anyhow, wanting any error to be on the side of formality, I have been using “usted” with the students, even with the presumed 16 year old. My students assure me this is perfectly fine, and perhaps even to be expected in America. Let’s hope I do not lose face by this, as I did by not carrying a stick into my Arab classrooms.

  150. There was a song “Je t’aime” back in 1969 or so that was played about twice an hour before being banned from the air.

  151. In early Spanish and Portuguese poetry “friend” (amigo, amiga) pretty clearly means “lover”.
    I’ve always suspected the influence of Vulgata and Song of Songs – “Ecce tu pulchra es, amica mea…”.
    Shouldn’t the act of proclaiming love move the object of said love into the T-realm?
    Well there’s love and then there are social obligations.

  152. I’ve heard V-forms in “I love you” expressions in both French and Russian:
    je vous aime(?) and ja lûblû vas.
    What’s the logic there? Shouldn’t the act of proclaiming love move the object of said love into the T-realm? Or am I missing something?

    The V form does not only convey formality, but also respect. In courting a young noblewomen, you better show some respect if you want to get anywhere.

  153. There is also the tradition of courtly love of the troubadour variety–the object of affection was often an unobtainable noble woman and there was no expectation of consummation, just the hope of wearing her handkerchief into battle. Perhaps the v form reflects “courtly love”?

  154. John Emerson says:

    In courting a young noblewomen, you better show some respect if you want to get anywhere.
    So that’s why the young baronesses are always emptying their chamber pots on my head!
    But isn’t “lady” sort of a v-form?
    [As I've noted before, indie actress Maggie Gyllenhaal is a baroness or something.]

  155. John Emerson says:

    In courting a young noblewomen, you better show some respect if you want to get anywhere.
    So that’s why the young baronesses are always emptying their chamber pots on my head!
    But isn’t “lady” sort of a v-form?
    [As I've noted before, indie actress Maggie Gyllenhaal is a baroness or something.]

  156. Well, Wikipedia says: “Her father was raised in the Swedenborgian religion and is of the Swedish noble Gyllenhaal family; her last purely Swedish ancestor was her great-great-grandfather, Leonard Gyllenhaal, a leading Swedenborgian who supported the printing and spreading of Swedenborg’s writings.” I think “baroness” may be a stretch.

  157. John Emerson says:

    Go ahead, ruin everything, Hat.

  158. John Emerson says:

    Go ahead, ruin everything, Hat.

  159. marie-lucie says:

    I’ve heard V-forms in “I love you” expressions in both French and Russian:
    je vous aime(?) and ja lûblû vas.
    What’s the logic there? Shouldn’t the act of proclaiming love move the object of said love into the T-realm? Or am I missing something?

    You have actually heard that? Do you mean in the movies?
    Among present-day youth it would be unlikely that you would want to declare your love to a person with whom you were not already on tu terms, therefore je t’aime would be natural, unless the object of your love was distant and unattainable, such as a movie star, especially if older than you, or even your teacher! (not an advisable move).
    Apart from this, Je vous aime could occur between two older, old-fashioned people who had up to then been rather reserved with each other: if they were normally saying vous to each other, the one taking the plunge would not switch to tu for a declaration which might not be welcome, but if the love object reciprocated, then both would switch to tu as the relationship would now be on a different footing. Of course, in a movie taking place long before our time, even young people would have said vous to each other before acknowledging their feelings (and in the upper echelons of society, they could have kept up with vous for quite some time, at least in public).
    The song je t’aime from 1969 or thereabouts was actually je t’aime … moi non plus “I love you … me neither”. I heard it once (much later) and it seemed to consist mostly of a lot of heavy breathing, hence the ban.
    As for Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? (sung by a non-francophone, according to her accent), I find it an embarrassment. The singer seems to invite all and sundry to share her bed for the night. If she was close enough to anyone to make the offer, she would use tu.

  160. John Emerson says:

    Wiki:

    Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)? is a Creole version of a French phrase that has become well-known in the English-speaking world through popular songs. It means “Do you want have sex with me (tonight)?” and is perhaps best known from the song “Lady Marmalade,” written by the songwriting team of Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan and first popularized in 1975 by the group Labelle featuring Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash. The song was covered in 1998 by All Saints, and again in 2001 by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa, and Pink as a single for the Moulin Rouge! film soundtrack. This phrase also appears in Tennessee Williams’s 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire. David Frizzell and Shelly West recorded a country music song in the 1980s called “Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi” that was unrelated to “Lady Marmalade”. The origins of the phrase in English, however, can be traced back to a poem by E. E. Cummings published in 1922 and known by its first line “little ladies more”, which contains the phrase “voulez-vous coucher avec moi?” twice.

  161. John Emerson says:

    Wiki:

    Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)? is a Creole version of a French phrase that has become well-known in the English-speaking world through popular songs. It means “Do you want have sex with me (tonight)?” and is perhaps best known from the song “Lady Marmalade,” written by the songwriting team of Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan and first popularized in 1975 by the group Labelle featuring Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash. The song was covered in 1998 by All Saints, and again in 2001 by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa, and Pink as a single for the Moulin Rouge! film soundtrack. This phrase also appears in Tennessee Williams’s 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire. David Frizzell and Shelly West recorded a country music song in the 1980s called “Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi” that was unrelated to “Lady Marmalade”. The origins of the phrase in English, however, can be traced back to a poem by E. E. Cummings published in 1922 and known by its first line “little ladies more”, which contains the phrase “voulez-vous coucher avec moi?” twice.

  162. marie-lucie says:

    a Creole version??? the words are entirely French. I notice that all these versions are written or recorded by English speakers.

  163. AJP Crown says:

    This earliest version by e.e.cummings is quite interesting. He knew quite well what he was writing, which was about prostitution in Paris during or after the First World War. He knew some French. You can read about it here and I eventually found the poem from 1922 here.
    little ladies
    more than dead exactly dance
    in my head, precisely
    dance where danced la guerre
    Mimi à
    la voix fragile
    qui chatouille des
    Italiens
    the putain with the ivory throat
    Marie Louise Lallemand
    n’est-ce pas que je suis belle
    chéri? les anglais m’aiment
    tous, les américains
    aussi …. “bon dos, bon cul de Paris” (Marie
    Vierge
    Priez
    Pour
    Nous)
    with the
    long lips of
    Lucienne which dangle
    the old men and hot
    men se promènent
    doucement le soir (ladies
    accurately dead les anglais
    sont gentils et les américains
    aussi, ils payent bien les américains dance
    exactly in my brain voulez
    vous coucher avec
    moi? Non? pourquoi?)
    ladies skilfully
    dead precisely dance
    where has danced la
    guerre j’m’appelle
    Manon, cinq rue Henri Mounier
    voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
    te ferai Mimi,
    te ferai Minette,
    dead exactly dance
    si vous voulez
    chatouiller
    mon lézard ladies suddenly
    j’m’en fous des nègres
    (in the twilight of Paris
    Marie Louise with queenly
    legs cinq rue Henri
    Mounier a little love
    begs, Mimi with the body
    like une boîte à joujoux, want nice sleep?
    toutes les petites femmes exactes
    qui dansent toujours in my
    head dis donc, Paris
    ta gorge mystérieuse
    pourquoi se promène-t-elle, pourquoi
    éclate ta voix
    fragile couleur de pivoine?)
    with the
    long lips of Lucienne which
    dangle the old men and hot men
    precisely dance in my head
    ladies carefully dead

  164. It’s Jake Gyllenhaal’s godmother who is married to a lord – Lady Haden-Guest, better known as Jamie Lee Curtis.

  165. Duke of Crown says:

    It won’t get you much, being a lord or lady these days, but if anyone fancies it what’s stopping you? Nothing. The Earl and Countess of Hat. Lord John Emerson. Lady Nidgeworthy. Lord Farris of Paris. Sir James Sal. Graf Marjanović. Bul von Bul (except in Austria). The Hon. Marie-Lucie, Countess of Nova Scotia. Sir Luke As. Dona Roberta El Bruess…

  166. I fear, your Grace, that I am unable to accept an earldom, being already a Grand Kaimakam and Hospodar. My wife would prefer to be an empress, but the opportunity does not seem to be available in these degenerate times.

  167. michael farris says:

    “You have actually heard that? Do you mean in the movies?”
    The first example that comes to mind was the final scene in Alphaville when Anna Karina says just that.
    I suppose in that particular case the dysfunction and pervasive alienation of the society might have something to do with it (a nice nuance lost in translation).
    But I’m pretty sure I’ve heard/read it elsewhere as well. I could imagine it’s probably archaic. Still it gets over a million google hits….
    The Russian я люблю вас (assuming I spelled it right) only gets 189,000.

  168. John Emerson says:

    Here’s the rest of the wiki:

    However, the usage of the polite form voulez-vous may be consistent with high-class prostitution. Both “Lady Marmalade” and the poem allude to prostitution. In addition, using “vous” implies that the participants have just (or not yet) met, and forms an interesting juxtaposition with the intimacy of sex.
    Alternatively, vous can be simply a plural form, indicating multiple sex partners. (French uses the same form for denoting both plurality and politeness; see T-V distinction.)

    The GI version of the question was reputedly “Couchez avec?”

  169. John Emerson says:

    Here’s the rest of the wiki:

    However, the usage of the polite form voulez-vous may be consistent with high-class prostitution. Both “Lady Marmalade” and the poem allude to prostitution. In addition, using “vous” implies that the participants have just (or not yet) met, and forms an interesting juxtaposition with the intimacy of sex.
    Alternatively, vous can be simply a plural form, indicating multiple sex partners. (French uses the same form for denoting both plurality and politeness; see T-V distinction.)

    The GI version of the question was reputedly “Couchez avec?”

  170. Crown, formally known as Prince says:

    No, no no. You don’t turn down a title on the chance that a better one might turn up later. The whole thing’s cumulative: Prince Charles, Prince of Whales, Duke of Cornwall, etc, etc., blah, blah, blah. She can be a Countess or Marchioness until something better comes along. If I were her I’d take a look at Empress of India.

  171. Crown, formally known as Prince says:

    No, no no. You don’t turn down a title on the chance that a better one might turn up later. The whole thing’s cumulative: Prince Charles, Prince of Whales, Duke of Cornwall, etc, etc., blah, blah, blah. She can be a Countess or Marchioness until something better comes along. If I were her I’d take a look at Empress of India.

  172. michael: The canonical form is “я вас люблю,” which gets 368,000. Probably not much used these days except in quotations (“я тебя люблю” gets 1,450,000), but bear in mind that before the modern era well-bred young people did not have much opportunity to become familiar with other well-bred young people of the opposite sex, so professions of love did not take place in the atmosphere of intimacy we now take for granted.

  173. Crown: Surely you are not implying that the title Countess is superior to that of Kaimakami and Hospodarsha? I warn you that my targoman/gurzbardar, whom I send on errands of explication and/or chastisement, is not of an habitually cheery disposition.

  174. John Emerson says:

    I met one of the last of the Habsburgs back in Portland. He was a lesser Croatian Habsburg, and definitely not fertile. He had the jaw.

  175. John Emerson says:

    I met one of the last of the Habsburgs back in Portland. He was a lesser Croatian Habsburg, and definitely not fertile. He had the jaw.

  176. Siganus Sutor says:

    Ce soir la lune tutoie et Vénus et Jupiter…
    Those who have the opportunity to watch the Moon right now, just do it! It’s simply incredible. Jupiter and Venus have been getting closer and closer to each other these last days and tonight, while these two very bright objects are damn close to each other, the Moon is passing just between them. Magic!

  177. I know a woman in Moscow who married a much-older man. He had been her professor, I think. In any case, she addressed him as vy for the first 6 or 7 years of their marriage. This was in the 1990s and very weird, but she said “it felt right” to her.
    There are lots of variants in Russian and they change depending on mood, subject of discussion, etc. It is not unusual for people to address each other as vy and by name and patronymic for 30 years, but in a moment of tenderness use an affectionate nickname, like Vanya, but with vy.
    I’ve gotten used to and like this Russian system, and have a hard time in the US. I don’t like it when everyone calls me by my first name, automatically at fist meeting. The exception is diner waitresses — you know, the kind who call everyone, regardless of age, gender, whatever, “hon” or “dear.” For some reason that seems okay to me.

  178. she addressed him as vy for the first 6 or 7 years of their marriage.
    !!
    I agree about the diner waitresses.

  179. What happened after 6 or 7 years? No, I don’t want to know.

  180. AJP Crown says:

    Unfortunately it’s cloudy in Norway (snow).

  181. Portland, Maine? Gotta have that jaw, no one’s going to take you seriously without the chin and lips.

  182. Here is a moonrise calculator. Wonder if you can see it from the northern hemisphere.

  183. Lady? Hmmm. Sounds awfully white-glove. I prefer queenship, even if the country is smaller than Lichtenstein. Nordic queenship, though, of the “first among equals” type. One of the concerns of a queen is welcoming the guests/warriors properly, also making sure the stirrup cup is not neglected. I have found that if do not neglect the quality of the mead and spend a considerable amount of time testing it beforehand, any number of freeborn warriors are willing to help me test it and acknowledge my queenship.
    Eastern queenship is a bit different though. All those queens get to do is choose the wife of the next king, and even that has gone by the wayside lately. Depending on the malik, the malika might not have any fun at all. Much better to be an emeera, and the sister of the king.

  184. John Emerson says:

    I believe that Nordic queens were expected to stir up discord also.

  185. John Emerson says:

    I believe that Nordic queens were expected to stir up discord also.

  186. Discord? That would be Eris–way, way out past the domain of our King of Mars–and named for a goddess. If I couldn’t be a queen, I wouldn’t mind being a goddess.

  187. Siganus Sutor says:

    Unfortunately it’s cloudy in Norway (snow).
    A pity. For you of course, but also for me since you, in your Samik grass house, may be the northernmost commentator on Language Hat, and it would have been nice to compare our points of view (for instance on God, the dollar or Salvador Dali).
     
     
    the moon “tutoying” Jupiter and Venus
    Last night I asked Mrs Sutor how to translate “tutoyer” in English. “That doesn’t exist in English” was the reply. True. Not only doesn’t the action exist — what a relief in some cases! —, but the word itself cannot be translated. I wonder however if in other languages with a tu/vous distinction the verb for “tutoyer” can mean “to be close to somebody/something”.
    “Moi, Monsieur, je tutoie les prix Nobel !” That can show the level of familiarity one has with someone else, but what is funny is that the verb has started to be used for inanimate objects as well. I have no idea if it’s the case for other languages as well.

  188. Siganus Sutor says:

    “your Samisk grass house” — that no doubt you must be sharing with a (small) troll, even if the electricity is available there.

  189. John Emerson says:

    If I am not mistaken, Herr Sutor is as close to the American antipodes as almost anyone on dry land.

  190. John Emerson says:

    If I am not mistaken, Herr Sutor is as close to the American antipodes as almost anyone on dry land.

  191. what is funny is that the verb has started to be used for inanimate objects as well
    Sure. The Slovak equivalent – “tykať” (vouvoyer = “vykať”) – is commonly used to indicate familiarity. E.g.: “Ja si s linuxom tykám” = “I am very well acquainted with Linux”. Same goes for Czech.

  192. marie-lucie says:

    [ je VOUS aime]
    “You have actually heard that? Do you mean in the movies?”
    – The first example that comes to mind was the final scene in Alphaville when Anna Karina says just that.
    Precisely, that was in a movie. I saw it a long time ago and remember a man repeating in Russian tebya lyublyu (I did not know any Russian at the time), but my memory is very vague about the rest.
    But I’m pretty sure I’ve heard/read it elsewhere as well. I could imagine it’s probably archaic. Still it gets over a million google hits….
    If you have read it, no problem. French literature dates back a long time. But when would an anglophone living outside of France actually stumble on some intimate moment among French speakers of an old-fashioned bent? In Paris you might hear je t’aime on the subway, but je vous aime hardly. The kind of person who would say it would not say it on the subway.
    [About the woman who said vy to her much older husband for seven years]
    If he was her professor before they got married, and had awed her with his intellect, she might have had such a reverence for him (perhaps mistaking it for love) that it took her that long to shake the role of the little protégée of a great man and grow into her own personality, thereby achieving a more equal relationship with him.
    [Voulez-vous ...] I thought about the prostitute situation as about the only one where the sentence would be OK, as in the e.e.cummings poem (very well done bilingually), but the song I have heard does not suggest prostitution. I find it noteworthy that the song has been recorded by various English-speaking singers rather than French-speaking ones. It sounds to me like a situation where the words being in a different language do not have the same emotional connotation as their equivalent would in one’s own.

  193. John Emerson says:

    I think that Marie-Lucie is right about the song. Songwriters pick up ideas from everywhere, and apparently these (American) guys knew a little bit of French. The singers probably had nothing to do with writing the song and just sang what was put in front of them.
    This just reminds me that the American singer Eartha Kitt had a music career in Europe and seems to have learned to sing in French fairly well. She was in a kind of exile after having denounced LBJ to his face during the Vietnam War.

  194. John Emerson says:

    I think that Marie-Lucie is right about the song. Songwriters pick up ideas from everywhere, and apparently these (American) guys knew a little bit of French. The singers probably had nothing to do with writing the song and just sang what was put in front of them.
    This just reminds me that the American singer Eartha Kitt had a music career in Europe and seems to have learned to sing in French fairly well. She was in a kind of exile after having denounced LBJ to his face during the Vietnam War.

  195. Siganus Sutor says:

    If I am not mistaken, Herr Sutor is as close to the American antipodes as almost anyone on dry land
    Yes, we have a 12-hour difference with the USA’s West Coast. That’s for the longitude. Regarding latitude we’re a bit too close to the equator. However, between us and the South Pole there isn’t much dry land, so that should do it.
    But you shouldn’t trust me too much since we, rabbitfishes, haven’t grown legs yet (not to mention hands) and so far we haven’t been able to get out of the blue to check such assumptions.

  196. Michael Farris says:

    My Lady Marmalade story: I bought the album it was on (Nightbirds by Labelle) well before the song was a hit.
    Having no idea what the phrase meant, I copied it down from the album and took it to school to ask the girl who sat behind me in English class (who was in the French club) what it meant. After showing her the phrase the silence just kind of lasted while she plotted strategy.
    She was from a very conservative family and clearly mortified and suspicious about my motives. She declined to translate the whole phrase but rather piecemeal translated each word separately) and left me to put it together while the unsaid words “let us never speak of this again” hung heavy in the air.
    Within a couple of months, of course, the song was everywhere and I hoped she’d realized I was just ahead of the curve musically, but I didn’t have the nerve to ask.

  197. michael farris says:

    Polish doesn’t have a verb like duzen or tutear (spanish).
    Instead there are two adverbial phrases used with verbs of communication:
    per ty : older and more stuffy sounding, I’ve never heard it said) but I’ve come across it writing
    na ty: what people say (and now write)
    I can’t say I’ve heard the reverse but ‘na Pan’ gets some google hits.
    Despite the look, I wouldn’t classify them as prepositional phrases for three reasons:
    1. per pretty much doesn’t otherwise exist in Polish
    2. it would be the only case of a preposition governing a nominative in Polish (
    3. the stress in ‘na ty’ is wrong (more on ty rather than on na) where as a preposition followed by a single syllable pronoun is stressed on the preposition (NA mnie, NA nią but na TY)

  198. Siganus Sutor says:

    actress Maggie Gyllenhaal is a baroness or something
    And one of the two girls singing in ABBA is now a princess (though a widow, her princely husband being dead). I just wonder how she asks people to call her. ["Does it feel the same, when you call my (old) name?"]
    BTW, this tu/vous distinction is very often a pain in the neck. All the time I get myself into situations where both tu and vous seem out of place and there is no easy way out of them.
    Once upon a time I had decided that whoever “tutoied” me should expect to be tutoied back, and it was obvious to me that it should work the other way round too. However, most young draughtsmen in the office say “ou” (“vous” in Creole) to me, and they apparently couldn’t say “to” (“tu” in Creole), even if I insisted. I therefore started to say “ou” to them, but since I was the only one “ouing” them, it quickly felt particularly awkward, so I dropped the “ou”. Now I see myself like a kind of paternalist type of colleague, saying “to” to people who reverently say “ou” to me. Maybe I should just learn to live with it, and grow myself a beard…
    My bosses are another problem too. They are older than me and they say “to” to me — and I say “to” to them. But other colleagues who are higher in the hierarchy and who were in the office long before I joined say “ou” to them, and because of that it often feel abnormal for me to say “to” to the most senior bosses. On top of all that there are ethnic considerations that make things even more difficult. Funny society…

  199. AJP Crown says:

    It’s certainly not clear the songwriters had read the e.e. cummings, but maybe the phrase was known via G.I.s who had heard it in Paris.
    I think you were quite right not to mention it again, Michael; it’s a great story for your next novel.

  200. AJP Crown says:

    Here’s the reason people become astronomers, it’s so you can start naming planets after the kids’ pet hamster (from Nij’s Eris link):

    Mike Brown, the moon’s discoverer, chose the name Dysnomia (Greek Δυσνομία) due to a number of resonances it possessed for him. Dysnomia, the daughter of Eris, fits the general historically established pattern of naming moons after lesser gods associated with the primary (hence, Jupiter’s largest moons are named after lovers or servants of Jupiter, while Saturn’s are named after his fellow Titans). Also, the English translation of “Dysnomia”, “lawlessness,” echoes Lucy Lawless, the actress famous for starring in Xena: Warrior Princess on television. Before receiving their official names, Eris and Dysnomia were known informally as “Xena” and “Gabrielle” respectively (Gabrielle being Xena’s sidekick), and Brown decided to retain that honour.
    Brown also notes that Pluto owes its name in part to its first two letters, which form the initials of Percival Lowell, the founder of the observatory where its discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh, was working, and the person who inspired the search for “Planet X.” James Christy, who discovered Charon, followed the principle established with Pluto by choosing a name which shared its first four letters with his wife’s name, Charlene. “Dysnomia”, similarly, has the same first letter as Brown’s wife, Diane,[8] and Brown uses the nickname “Dy” /ˈdaɪ/ for the moon, which he pronounces the same as his wife’s nickname, Di. Because of this, Brown pronounces the full name /dаɪsˈnoʊmiə/, with a long “y”.

  201. 2. it would be the only case of a preposition governing a nominative in Polish
    And how about “na chuj” (prick-NOM) instead of “na chuja” (prick-ACC)?

  202. michael farris says:

    Grammatically, chuj is inanimate so the accusative is the same as the nominative.
    On the other hand facultative animacy can apply, in case it would in fact be “na chuja”, both get google hits (the acc=nom about twice as many as acc=gen, which is about right for facultative animacy).
    Also interesting (while here) the slang phrase ni chuja “no fucking way!” (strong refusal, not disbelief) is usually stressed on the final syllabe (ni chuJA) as is “w pizdu” either “(I’m) out of here” or “no fucking way” (disbelief) (w pizDU)

  203. 2. it would be the only case of a preposition governing a nominative in Polish

    Can’t za govern a nominative in some cases, as in co za szkoda and similar constructions? It might me some other Slavic language I’m thinking of though.

  204. Great, we start out talking about Hungarian pronouns and wind up with pricks. I can’t take you people anywhere.
    But since we’re here: could those phrases be borrowed from Russian? Ни хуя (ni khuya, with final stress) is an extremely common Russian phrase.

  205. As is в пизду (v pizdu, with final stress).

  206. Siganus Sutor says:

    Bulbul: “tykať” (vouvoyer = “vykať”) – is commonly used to indicate familiarity. E.g.: “Ja si s linuxom tykám” = “I am very well acquainted with Linux”.
    Thanks for the feedback. But in Slovak can an object ‘tykať’ another object?
    By the way, what kind of word is ‘s’ in “Ja si s linuxom tykám”? The other day, on another thread, Kron wrote “To si myslíš ty a pár ľudí v Moskve!” and at that time I wondered what this single-consonant word could be and whether that was common in Slovak.
    (And by the by, the Semitic expert that you are wouldn’t tell me whether bulbul is word of Arabic or Persian origin?)

  207. Siganus,
    But in Slovak can an object ‘tykať’ another object?
    Sure, why not? Just the other day I heard something along the lines of “Náš frejmvork si s AJAXom tyká”. (“náš” = “our”).
    “Tykať” can be a straight verb with a Dative object or a reflexive/reciprocive – just add “si”, but in that case, the object takes “s” which is a preposition meaning “with”. “V” (in His Highness’ example) is another preposition meaning “in”. There’s also “k” = “to, next to (direction)”, “z” = “from” and I think that just about covers all single consonant words, all prepositions. For euphonic reasons “-o” is added to all of those when the next word begins with the same consonant or its voiced/voiceless counterpart. The only exception is “k” which turns into “ku”.
    As for bulbul, I really don’t know. Show you how much of an expert I am…
    hat,
    I can’t take you people anywhere.
    But he started it!
    could those phrases be borrowed from Russian?
    I’ve always assumed that – well, perhaps via Ukrainian, but definitely from Russian. After all, we have our own “kokot” and the Poles have their “kutas”.

  208. this tu/vous distinction is very often a pain in the neck
    You’d better not let Marie-Lucie hear you say that. In fact, besides you Sig the only other one nurtured in V+T who doesn’t like it seems to be God (ang I’ve even got doubts about him).

  209. Yes, I think Marie-Lucie is right about my friend — she thought of her husband as being “above her” — keep your minds out of the gutter — for a long time. Other Russian friends remembered great aunts and uncles who addressed each other vy and by name and patronymic after 50 years of marriage, much like the way the O’Haras in Gone With the Wind called each other Mr and Mrs O’Hara. And in merchant families (19th century) the wives often addressed their husbands by the patronymic alone, as a sign of (patriarchal) respect. Now when one refers to one’s spouse in very polite or formal company, one uses name and patronymic. If Mrs Medvedev were giving an interview, she wouldn’t say, “As Dima was saying last night…” but “As Dmitry Anatolievich was saying last night…” For some reason it’s also less polite to say “As my husband was saying…”
    In Russia when you switch to ty (and there is the lovely verb tykat’ to describe that form of address), you traditionally drink brudershaft to kind of seal it. Or celebrate it. Or just for the heck of it.

  210. michael farris says:

    It’s probably best to think of “co za” (what a!) as a single unit of some kind rather than a preposition. It doesn’t govern the nominative, it’s transparent in terms of government (like niż “than” or jako “as” the case of the following noun is determined elsewhere.
    I’d also assumed the Polish expressions in question were borrowed from Russian, partly because of the stress and partly because -u isn’t an ending for feminine nouns at all in Polish (the accusative is -ę). I’d always assumed chuj (usually mispelled ‘huj’ in grafitti) was Polish and not a borrowing but that’s a guess. In addition to kutas, there’s also fiut.
    Finally, while the vocative case in Poland is mostly not used very often there’s a kind of alternative with the stress shifted to the last syllable (only works with names of two ore more syllables; HanKA, JaCEK.

  211. michael farris says:

    Poles do the bruderszaft thing too when changing to familiar address (linking arms and drinking a shot of something strong). At parties people may drink bruderszaft and then think better of it later and pretend it never happened.
    Alternately there’s a handshake and exchange of first names each wishes the other to use (“Przemo” “Tomek”).

  212. marie-lucie says:

    this tu/vous distinction is very often a pain in the neck
    - You’d better not let Marie-Lucie hear you say that.
    I heard!!! but I do agree with Siganus. What I object to is people (usually foreigners) addressing strangers or near-strangers, especially much older ones, with tu. But there is a touchy “grey area” between the situations where the appropriate pronoun is clearly one or the other (eg tu with all children), when you wonder whether it might be appropriate to switch (always in the vous to tu direction). It sounds like Siganus’s working situation is unusually complex in this regard.

  213. Finally, while the vocative case in Poland is mostly not used very often there’s a kind of alternative with the stress shifted to the last syllable (only works with names of two ore more syllables; HanKA, JaCEK.
    That’s the same in English, isn’t it? : FaRRIS

  214. English has a similar ritual with first names. You saw it in the Obama/McCain debate when Obama kept talking about “John” and McCain kept talking about “the senator”.
    When Palin came out for the VP debates the first thing she did when greeting Biden was to say something like “we’re calling each other by first names, aren’t we”. If you were doing this in conversation you would say “call me Sarah”. Then there is no wondering about hard feelings and no perception of anyone being disrespectful.

  215. marie-lucie says:

    referring to one’s husband formally:
    I once attended a lecture by a potential recruit to the department I was working in. Among the people who stayed behind to ask questions were a couple, the female half of which was a member of the department, while the male half was at another institution. The question period lasted quite a long time. The wife would often preface her questions by a comment on something her husband had just said: “Comme disait mon mari …” (as my husband was saying …). I found this jarring. This was a professional situation in which the fact that she was married to the man was totally irrelevant, so if she wanted to quote him she should have used the same style as when quoting any other member of the group, leaving references to “mon mari” for social occasions where the relationship would be very relevant.
    On the other hand I knew another faculty couple, working in the same department, in which the much younger wife always referred to her husband by his full name (and never by “my husband”), including on social occasions where everyone else called him and referred to him by his first name. I thought that it showed that all was not well in the marriage: she seemed to want others to forget the existence of the relationship.
    In the case of the couples referred to above (eg the Medvedevs), using a formal reference for one’s spouse emphasizes the public, social aspects of the marriage rather than its intimate aspects, which are not for public consumption. How much of those aspects can be glimpsed from the couple’s public presentation and the way they refer to each other differs according to cultures (and times).

  216. marie-lucie says:

    When Sarah Palin started speaking to the crowds, she often said “John and I” which made it sound as if they were a couple. Someone must have told her to use his full name, as she did so more consistently later in the campaign.
    I remember that when Ronald Reagan became president and was about to meet for the first time with the prime minister of Japan, he declared that they would be very informal and call each other by their first names. Obviously he had not consulted the Japanese Embassy about what would be the appropriate way for the two to address each other. I don’t know how the first meeting went, but there must have been some direction given by the appropriate diplomats. Translators were probably also present and would have discreetly rendered the replies in appropriate form even if they were not spoken that way to begin with.

  217. I’ve always thought the overuse of “my husband” or “my wife” sounded a bit possessive, like marking territory, or not allowing them their own professional life, or telling them to shut up, or maybe warning any amorous person in the vicinity to set their sights on an easier target.
    I asked my Mexican students about tú/usted and first names. It seems like the Argentinian (?) use of second person plural “vos” hasn’t made it into Mexican vocabulary at all, although a couple had heard of it.
    Then they told me in Mexico everyone uses first names with everyone; even president Felipe Calderón would be just “Felipe” without even a Señor in front of it. When I told them George Bush would have to be either Mr. Bush or Mr. President, they said okay, yes, Señor Presidente would be more appropriate.
    Teachers in Mexico use first names with “teacher” maestra/maestro in front. So I would be Maestra Nijma. Another class told me “Your name is Teacher”. Some things seem to be cross-cultural.

  218. michael farris says:

    “It seems like the Argentinian (?) use of second person plural “vos””
    It’s singular. While etymologically it was once a plural, it hasn’t been plural for a couple of hundred years. Vosotros, used in Spain, is plural.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voseo

  219. I seem to remember learning vos as second person plural, was it from reading Cervantes?
    http://www.languagerealm.com/spanish/pronounsinspanish.php

  220. David Marjanović says:

    Then imagine being barely 10 years old and addressed as Mademoiselle and vous.

    ZOMFG. I knew the Etruscans considered each other men at the age of 10, but… but… :-o
    That said, in that kind of institution in France before 1968, I can imagine it.

    boys were addressed by their last names, girls by their first names. A girl would not address a boy (or refer to him) by his first name unless he was her boyfriend.

    Surprising.

    Many of them were extremely rude to her (often not realizing it as their vocabulary was limited), but they would never have addressed her as other than Madame and vous, the normal, neutral way to address adults.

    Unsurprising.

    All of us (among ourselves) referred to our teachers by their last names only

    Same over here (except in the very few cases when a nickname — not derived from the first or last name — existed).

    Polish on the other hand has at least four different non-interchangeable words that can be translated as ‘friend’ in (roughly) ascending order of intimacy.
    1. znajomy / znajoma
    2. kolega / koleżanka
    3. kumpel / kumpelka
    4. przyjaciel / przyjaciółka

    And two of these are loans! Evidently they felt two weren’t enough!!!
    Incidentally, in German, Kumpel lacks a feminine form.

    As I mentioned before przyjaciel and przyjaciółka usually refer to same sex best friends and when used of opposite sex friends there’s a strong implication of a sexual relationship. I’ve also hear the words used for same sex couples.
    I’ve heard Freund and Freundin used in similar ways on German tv.

    Not just on TV. These are the normal uses.
    BTW, why does Polish have apparently native words with /f/, not just fiut, but also the surname Fostowicz-Frelik and… I forgot… the name of a place that is admittedly in Silesia, but in Upper Silesia, and doesn’t look remotely German?

  221. Siganus Sutor says:

    Bulbul: Just the other day I heard something along the lines of “Náš frejmvork si s AJAXom tyká”.
    Hum, I suppose I need to ask what frejmvork and are.
    (BTW, for us tyka would rather be the spot Hindu women put on their forehead, a red one when they are married.)
    Just too bad for the bulbuls — which were doing carnage with my (sanguine) litchis this morning. Bloody birds!

  222. Siganus Sutor says:

    Oopsie! a mere tag error and a word simply disappears…
    ► Hum, I suppose I need to ask what frejmvork and AJAXom are.
    (These HTML tags are somewhat cumbersome. Isn’t there a possibility to have clickable buttons for italic, bold, etc.?)

  223. Hum, I suppose I need to ask what frejmvork and AJAXom are.

    They are computer programming terms imported from English.

  224. These HTML tags are somewhat cumbersome. Isn’t there a possibility to have clickable buttons for italic, bold, etc.?
    Bitch, bitch, bitch. You’re lucky to have a comment box at all. You’ll eat your gruel and like it!

  225. Uh, I was just trying to “think out of the box”.
    (When are we going to have a post on the expressions à la con? Or maybe I have missed it?)

  226. Siganus Sutor says:

    I don’t know out of which box I should post this, but since “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir” has been part of this discussion it might as well be out of this one.
    Last night I was reading a short story by the excellent William Boyd* and even if strictly speaking this isn’t a kronism I thought of a king of mine when I came across this passage:

    [...] Jesus how much did we drink I kick off a shoe and hear the zip on Claudia’s jeans zing open she weaves away to the bathroom I haul the rest of my clothes off and slide under the duvet bollock naked I think bollock naked she comes in damn still in the bra thing blue panties not matching she whips the duvet back laughing and shouting at me in Italian preservativa preservativa.

    What amazed me most was to see an Englishman use the p- word. Not long ago a bunch of natives from that northerly island assured me that it was more an American word, the proper English one being pants.
     
     
     
    * I don’t know if he deserves more the Nobel Prize than some others, but so far I’ve greatly enjoyed each one of his books I’ve read.

  227. Bitch, bitch, bitch.
    This doesn’t seem like a good time to mention comments RSS feed.

  228. AJP Crown says:

    Hmm. I think ‘bra and panties’ is a common phrase for someone dressed in their underwear that wouldn’t be said as ‘bra and pants’, or any other synonym. If you listen to the linguists, anything that you can’t get evidence of as google hits is ‘anecdotal’ (read: worthless) and this could well be true in the case of my panty theory. At this point the theory is, frankly, in ruins. I’d be happy to get out of here with an indication of which way the spelling is headed: is it panties, or pantys, and does the word ‘panty’ or ‘pantie’ even exist, and if so, why?
    By the way, where did linguists get their evidence before google came along?
    As for William Boyd, I’ve enjoyed all his books I’ve read too. I don’t remember the bit you’ve quoted, but I’ve got a terrible memory for that sort of thing.

  229. By the way, where did linguists get their evidence before google came along?
    I’m glad you asked. There was a little store just off Times Square that sold newspapers, magazines, lottery tickets, and linguistic evidence. Charged an arm and a leg, too. Can’t say I’m sorry the internet put them out of business.

  230. AJP Crown says:

    That was before they ‘cleaned up’ Times Square, I suppose. You could have got a lot of opinions about ‘panties’ in them days. Or even about panties.

  231. Siganus Sutor says:

    There was a little store just off Times Square that sold newspapers, magazines, lottery tickets, and linguistic evidence.
    What kind of “evidence” was it? You would ask for instance for the true meaning of the Arabic name sijān and the guy would put on his half-moon spectacles before diving into a dusty pile of paper and coming back with “the linguistic evidence” and charging you twenty dollars? If it’s the case, it might be better than Google.

  232. Siganus Sutor says:

    I’ve got a terrible memory for that sort of thing
    What sort of thing? Tutoying strangers’ panties that don’t match their bra?

  233. “Panties” appears in this thread about nasty words.

  234. AJP Crown says:

    No. However familiar, it makes sense to use ‘vous’ with panties. They are considered as plural: ‘where ARE your matching panties?’. Or can you tutoyer a plural object?

  235. can you tutoyer a plural object?
    In the above example, it is not “a” plural object, it is “some” plural objects, since the word “strangers’” is plural. If you want to use parallel construction, you really should repeat the plural. Example: “strangers’ tighty whities and wife-beater shirts” (Or is it “tidy whities”?)

  236. AJP Crown says:

    It’s the panties that are being tutoyered, not the strangers (see to tutoyer objects, above).

  237. David Marjanović says:

    Or can you tutoyer a plural object?

    There’s no distinction in the plural in French.

  238. Preposterous. How can you “tutoyer objects”? This is the example, right?:
    No. However familiar, it makes sense to use ‘vous’ with panties. They are considered as plural: ‘where ARE your matching panties?’. Or can you tutoyer a plural object?
    First of all, although I’m sure you guys aren’t just trying to be mischievous or anything since The Hat vouches for you and all, still I think your choice of nouns is clouding your judgment, and if you would change the noun, the grammar would become much more obvious. Try it with “boxers” or “briefs” or “skivvies”.
    Say you have one male with mismatched undergarments, and you are both sober enough and undistracted enough by his state of dishevelment to notice and remark on the design of the fashions. Okay, that’s example number one. Now. In example number two, for some unfathomable reason, you now have two males in the room with the same preconditions. So. In English (example number one) you would say to the one guy, “Where are your matching boxers?” Then, (example number two), you would say to the two guys , “Where are your matching boxers?” The same. Because in English “your” is the same in both singular or plural. Now if you change the objects, you would say to the one guy, “Where is your matching muscle shirt?” and to the two guys, “Where are your matching muscle shirts?” “Your” doesn’t change.
    So in French (and I’m just making this up) you would say to the one guy where are ..wait wait, I’m not going to attempt the French even with google, let’s say in Spanish you would say to the first guy (familiar), “Where are tus matching boxers,” and for the two guys you would say (familiar) “Where are vuestros matching boxers?” (assuming the Spanish word for boxers is masculine.) Except I’m pretty sure vuestros is old Castillian Spanish and they don’t use it anymore, except for Don Quixote. So you would use the formal/plural “sus boxers”.
    In Sig’s example above we know the guy (if it IS a guy) is on first name basis with this Claudia person who is in possession of the aforementioned underwear, but say you were strangers. Then to the one guy you would say (formal),”Where are sus matching boxers” and to the two guys you would still say (formal), “Where are sus matching boxers?”
    So with the two guys you wouldn’t be able to send a tu/usted coded message, but with the one guy you could use either formal or familiar.
    See how much easier it is to understand with boxers?

  239. Siganus,
    Hum, I suppose I need to ask what frejmvork and are.
    Frejmvork = framework
    AJAX is a programming environment, a collection of languages and technologies used to create web applications.
    The meaning of that quote is “AJAX can be easily/effortlessly used with our framework”.

  240. AJP Crown says:

    Or can you tutoyer a plural object?
    David:There’s no distinction in the plural in French.
    Nij:Preposterous. How can you “tutoyer objects”? This is the example, right?:
    Wrong, Nij. You guys have to read the discussion if you’re going to start correcting people. This is what we’re talking about, what Sig said about a quarter of the way up the thread:

    “Moi, Monsieur, je tutoie les prix Nobel* !” That can show the level of familiarity one has with someone else, but what is funny is that the verb has started to be used for inanimate objects as well. I have no idea if it’s the case for other languages.

    *(I’m on first-name terms with the Nobel Prizes)

  241. Was that on this thread, Kron? I’ll never find it now.
    If a sentence with an unclear antecedent has a dangling participle, what is the name when it happens on a thread on Teh Interwebs?
    I’ve never heard of Spanish having a word for tutoyer–I’ll have to ask my students.

  242. marie-lucie says:

    The Spanish equivalent of French tutoyer is tutear.

  243. David: There’s no distinction in the plural in French.
    If it’s true that one can “tutoyer les étudiants” for instance, it only means that he would say tu to each student at a time, not to the group collectively. I cannot remember a single noun in French that is plural in itself. So I think that Kron’s question was actually a good one. (“Vous, les panties, lâchez-moi un peu la grappe.”) However, it could mean that one tutoyed each panty at a time. For example the left one first, then the right.
    But I’d say that panties can be tutoyed nonetheless, especially by those for whom English is the native language, this t/v distinction being usually far less ingrained in them than in some other people. And you expect things to work this way. The first time Noetica or Steve say “tu” to me in an e-mail, the surprise lasts a few seconds. If Marie-Lucie ever does the same, I would probably need a month to recover (in intensive care unit).

  244. AJP Crown says:

    She’s very unpredictable, though. Did you know she’d been a lion tamer?

  245. Did she address the lions as tu? (Individually, obviously, not collectively.)

  246. You can’t tutoyer or do anything else to one article that is treated a plural in English. For example, glasses–the kind that sit on your nose. If you wanted to say you “knew” them or “were familiar with” them, you could not say “I know that glass,” because now you have changed the word to the kind of glass you can pour beer into. If you want to verb the kind of glasses that go with vision, (or any other singular noun treated as plural) you have to do it with a pair of glasses.

  247. As far as Spanish, my students tell me you cannot tutear things, only people. For example in the class, of course you have to use usted with a teacher (the thought of anything else is unthinkable), but the teacher is free to use or usted. This was amended in one class to say with adults usted is better, after about the age of 18. After the class this can change–after two beers, I suggested–and they nodded vigorously and said in that case “nos tuteamos” (we would say to each other). When I suggested the Nobel prize example “Yo tuteo el premio Nobel,” Or “Yo tuteo computadores,” they said no, there is no such usage in Spanish.

  248. You can’t trust self-reporting. They might firmly believe it doesn’t exist, and yet if you followed them around you might catch them telling their computer “Tú eres un [insert current insulting term here].” Compare the belief some of them have that they pronounce b and v differently.

  249. marie-lucie says:

    Siganus, don’t worry, no need to book the intensive care unit yet.
    Alas, none of my great-great-grandfather’s descendants inherited his exotic taste in moonlighting activities. But he no doubt used tu with each of the lions.
    Je tutoie les prix Nobel: without further clarification I assume that this must refer to the recipients of the prizes, not the prizes themselves, but I could be wrong according to some comments above.
    As for addressing inanimate objects, Nijma’s students can say that you can’t use tu with a computer, but I am sure that they wouldn’t use usted either, because they simply would not address a computer at all (or they think they wouldn’t). With a person it would have to be one or the other. But many people refer to their cars by name, and address them too, especially if a car proves temperamental and needs to be urged and coaxed up a slope. In such a case tu would be the appropriate form in French (and in Spanish), unless the car had a title, such as Madame X or la duchesse or whatever name you had bestowed on your car.

  250. marie-lucie says:

    intrinsically plural nouns in French: there are several, for instance les gens, les moeurs, les us (et coutumes), and a few others.

  251. AJP Crown says:

    Did you inherit any chairs with tooth marks in the legs?

  252. Uffda, need the antecedent again:

    “Moi, Monsieur, je tutoie les prix Nobel* !” That can show the level of familiarity one has with someone else, but what is funny is that the verb has started to be used for inanimate objects as well. I have no idea if it’s the case for other languages.
    *(I’m on first-name terms with the Nobel Prizes) Posted by: AJP Crown at December 5, 2008 03:32 PM
    In the case above (it was originally from Siganus), at least the way I’m interpreting it, someone is talking about “being familiar with” or “knowing” something (“knowing about”?), not that they are literally conversing with inanimate objects.
    The underwear example is probably not the clearest one to use, since it’s too easy to start unconsciously punning on the biblical sense of “know” from the KJV. I tend to use food examples when I want students to engage.
    As far as b and v in Spanish, once we had a couple weeks to get acquainted and took the time for examples and minimal pairs on the board (while some of the students were still finishing a placement test) my students were pretty clear about that, and all in agreement–with each other and with Hat–it was on this thread:
    http://www.languagehat.com/archives/003312.php November 20, 2008 04:04 PM
    At first I was a little hesitant to bring the students into the discussion, but they seem to enjoy it.

  253. Students tend to enjoy anything that gets them away from the textbook.

  254. Heh.
    It was during break and/or after class though. Just because we’re relaxing doesn’t mean we stop talking about language. But I do firmly believe in the power of coffee and animal crackers as an aide to language retention.

  255. typo: aid

  256. Siganus Sutor says:

    Nijma: the way I’m interpreting it, someone is talking about “being familiar with” or “knowing” something (“knowing about”?), not that they are literally conversing with inanimate objects
    Yes, you’re right, that’s the way I meant it. I believe in every language you can “speak” to an object, encouraging the car that doesn’t want to start or cursing the hammer that hit your finger. And in languages that have t/v forms, I don’t expect anyone to curse the hammer by saying “Falu ou mama marto !” (I’d rather not translate this one. One just need to know that in this case the hammer was addressed in the v- form.)
    But you were absolutely right: I was talking of using the verb tutoyer, not actually doing the action of tutoying. If according to your students one cannot tutear things, only people, that’s not the case in French, where not only people can tutoyer things, but one thing can also tutoyer another thing. For example:
    ♦ Richard Branson veut maintenant tutoyer les étoiles (RB wants to “touch the stars” or “reach the stars”);
    Tutoyer les icebergs, aller frôler Terre-Neuve, arriver à Newport, sans quitter son transat. (Sailing next to icebergs, brushing past Newfoundland, arriving in Newport…).
    But also:
    ♦ la tour Majunga devrait tutoyer le ciel de La Défense (the Majunga tower should scrape La Défense’s sky);
    ♦ à l’exception d’Alcatel reparti tutoyer les abysses avec une chute de près de 17% (Alcatel’s shares falling down into the abyss);
    ♦ le majestueux mont Kangchendzonga, qui tutoie l’Everest et le K2 par son altitude (Mount Kangchendzonga is in a position to say “tu” to Mount Everest and K2);
    ♦ une nouvelle fois le mât qui tutoie l’océan (the boat capsizes, i.e. the mast “kisses” the ocean).
    Even a plural United States can apparently be tutoyed by a very singular France:
    ♦ Il va falloir enterrer la vieille idée que l’Europe sert avant tout à donner du poids à la France pour lui permettre de tutoyer les Etats-Unis (We should get rid of the old idea that Europe’s primary purpose is to give France a position to tutoyer the United States).
    Of course such use of “tutoyer” is metaphorical. (And personally I don’t particularly like it.) But a plain descriptivist cannot just ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist.

  257. Siganus Sutor says:

    Marie-Lucie: don’t worry, no need to book the intensive care unit yet
    That’s okay. I wasn’t too worried. :-) I know how difficult it can be for people like us to swap from v- to t-. (Funnily enough the other way round is simply impossible, or almost, when tu has been used for some time.)
    Many years ago I got in touch with someone through e-mail (it was actually the first time Siganus Sutor ever wrote to somebody). We just talked and talked, sending sometimes several e-mails a day, some of them fairly long. We also met IRL (cf. Kron’s “imaginary friends”). I went to his place, where I met his family. They came to our place, where they met my family. And everybody got along pretty well. We became friends [I just remembered that they are the ones who recently offered me the William Boyd volume of short stories]. We saw each other frequently, but we were still vouvoying each other (except the children of course). It went on like that for quite a long time. One day, while I was at their place, he popped in our place to drop or pick something. When he came back to their place, where I still was, he informed everyone around that Mrs Sutor and he were now on tu terms. My wife, though born of French-speaking parents, didn’t grow up in a French- or Creole-speaking country, and every now and then she gets confused with this damn “tu or vous” thing.
    Thank God she did it at that time, because today I would find it quite odd to be vouvoying these dear friends. (On that day everybody happily converted to tu and, though it was bizarre in the beginning, it felt completely natural after a month or two.)
     
     
    intrinsically plural nouns in French: there are several, for instance les gens, les moeurs, les us (et coutumes), and a few others.
    You are right. (Alzheimer?) However, I would make a difference with the p-object for instance: here even if gens, mœurs or us are always in the plural, they are seen as a group of persons or a collection of things. Even if linguistically one cannot separate one “gen” from the next, one can do it with regards to logic: these people (plural) are formed by a certain number of individuals. I cannot think of a single object or concept that would always be plural in French, just like our now (in)famous panties.
    (I’m just waiting for you to prove me how wrong I am… :o))

  258. AJP Crown says:

    Sig: …but we were still vouvoying each other…
    This is a shocking story, Sig. I cannot decide, not having been part of a society that does this (except, in France and Germany, as an outsider), whether I am missing out on an interesting and useful social convention …or if, after all, it isn’t simply an appalling, fuddy-duddy waste of time and effort. Both and neither, probably, like many social conventions. They each have their time — tick-tock.

  259. Siganus Sutor says:

    This is a shocking story
    Is it? Then you’ll be even more shocked to learn that there are people roughly the same age as me, that I’ve been knowing for years, that I appreciate (and vice versa I presume/hope) and that I still vouvoye, and vice versa.
    Maybe it’ll disappear one day (in Quebec first as Marie-Lucie suggested), but not before I’m sent up there to tutoyer God and his angels, I can be damn sure about that. (I think in the past Dieu was vouvoyed in Christian prayers. Now he is tutoyed. So you shouldn’t lose all hope.)

  260. Siganus: how about lunettes, ciseaux and menottes? Granted, they are pairs of things, but do native speakers of French conceive of them as plurals? Others that come to mind are funérailles, obsèques, ténèbres, arrhes.

  261. AJP Crown says:

    … Dieu was vouvoyed…
    Yeah, you missed that discussion above, before you arrived. Catholics vouvoyed until 1966, when the Pope said it was ok to say ‘tu’ (to God, not to him obviously), but protestants always tutoyed because of the implication that ‘vous’ meant you were maybe talking to plural gods. It’s wonderful material for social anthropologists and novelists.

  262. marie-lucie says:

    (tutoyer les Etats-Unis, les montagnes se tutoient, etc)
    Of course such use of “tutoyer” is metaphorical…. But a plain descriptivist cannot just ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist.
    As a linguist I am a descriptivist, but having lived away from France for a long time (even though I go back regularly and keep in touch somewhat with the French press) this metaphorical usage is quite new to me. I simply have not run into it before, and its proliferation must be quite recent.
    But I note that the verb tutoyer here expresses closeness, especially psychological closeness, as in the customary interpersonal use of tu. As such it reminds me of the metaphorical use of the phrase get into bed with meaning get politically closer to in English, as in (for instance) Nicolas Sarkozy wants to get into bed with George Bush (not an actual quote).

  263. AJP Crown says:

    There may be a slight difference (though actually you didn’t say there wasn’t). As you say, tutoyer implies closeness, whereas I think of ‘to get into bed with’ as meaning to form an alliance, potentially one of compromise and possibly comprising two or more groups with a history of hostility to one another. ‘The Liberals were in bed with the Labour backbenches’ is the kind of thing and it reminds me of something else. When do lexicographers decide that a metaphor like backbench has actually established itself as… whatever: a collective noun, I suppose, in this case?

  264. AJP Crown says:

    Not collective noun, that would be ‘a stack’ of backbenches. Group noun? Summat like that.

  265. marie-lucie says:

    As you correctly say, AJP, I did not mean that the two cases were equivalent, only that they were reminiscent of each other in using a word or expression implying closeness, whether physical or psychological.
    When do lexicographers decide … whether to add a metaphorical meaning to the definition of a word? You would have to ask a lexicographer. Different dictionaries may have different criteria. Ben Zimmer of Language Log is the expert here.

  266. AJP Crown says:

    implying closeness, whether physical or psychological.
    Gosh, I hope not physical. Horrible thought (in most cases).

  267. Just came across a wonderful example of objects tutoying other objects in Slovak, this time implying an equal relationship. It’s a review of “Killzone 2″, a PS3 game, and here’s the passage in question:

    Ťažko sa tomu verí, avšak po grafickej stránke máme pred sebou skutočne next-gen pokračovanie, ktoré v pohode zadupe nemastné a neslané Resistance 2, pokojne si potyká s Gears of War 2 a nakope Call of Duty 5 do zadku…

    It is difficult to believe, but graphically, we’re really dealing with a true next-gen sequel which leaves the wishy-washy Resistance 2 far behind, can dare to tutoyer Gears of War 2 and will kick Call of Duty 5′ ass.

    Note the use of the adverb “pokojne” = lit. “calmly, peacefully, in a calm / relaxed manner” which implies that the action in question can be performed without any adverse effects or negative consequences.

  268. Siganus Sutor says:

    > Lukas
    You are absolutely right. There are also fiançailles (engagement), ébats (cf. the Bush/Sarkozy story), archives (archives), oreillons (mumps, plural as well, like a lot of diseases I believe), and no doubt some others. I definitely need to get my memory checked, maybe by Bulbul who seems to know a few things about these delicate electronic devices.
     
     
    > Marie-Lucie
    And I have been living away from France for (almost) all my life. Actually the last time I saw Europe was about fifteen years ago. But that (bad) habit of tutoyer everyone and everything has spread like a plague in the media and it’s been difficult escaping it. I agree with you: it mustn’t be too old. But how old, or how new, I don’t know (it would be interesting to find out).
    In my view it doesn’t necessarily imply physical or psychological closeness in some cases, but, as for the mountains, it suggests that one isn’t really superior (understand ‘high’ here) to the other.
     
     
    > AJP
    I missed God, sorry. I suppose switching from v- to t- while speaking to the Supreme Being must have had deep consequences for some people. I’m not sure I like the idea of God being just another buddy. In my view he must be feared to some extent, otherwise little kids will never finish their soup.
     
     
    > Bulbul
    In your example what exactly is tykaťing who?

  269. Siganus Sutor says:

    PS: It didn’t strike me before, but why on earth is engagement (fiançailles) plural while wedding (marriage) isn’t? Anything to do with “vous” (vous, les fiancées [possibly several]) and “tu” (toi, ma femme [always unique])?

  270. Siganus Sutor says:

    PPS: mariage (in Greek gamos, not “over” Bulbul) with just one r- in French, which has nothing to do with the English marriage and its mute a-.
    Okay, I’m off…

  271. AJP Crown says:

    Two individuals are engaged, but become married into one couple? An old-fashioned view — and not my own, of course.

  272. While mariage is singular, the quainter noces and épousailles fit right in with fiançailles.
    The TLF writes: dès le lat., le suff. -alia sert à former des coll. désignant des cérémonies de caractère familial ou relig. : initialia « initiation aux mystères [de Cérès] », sponsalia « fiançailles, fête de fiançailles, repas de noces, cadeaux de noces ».
    Cet emploi s’est continué en lat. médiév. : funeralia (début XIVe s.).

  273. Yes, I was going to suggest it was a remnant of the classical plurals for festivals; I’m glad to see lukas’s cite backs up the idea.

  274. Siganus,
    pokračovanie (= “sequel” i.e. Killzone 2, the game) tutoye Gears of War 2.
    The verb here is actually “potykať” – the prefix “po-” turns the imperfective “tykať” into a perfective verb and present tense into future tense. It also indicates a single action resulting in a change of state.

  275. I definitely need to get my memory checked
    Hm, sounds like a chronic overload to me, you will need to get rid of the junk that’s accumulated over the years, prune the braincells etc.. Luckily, I have just the remedy for you.

  276. Wikipedia says “(pronounced [ˈbɒrɒwɪtʃkʌ])” — is that true? For what language?

  277. Oh dear Lord, I didn’t even notice that. I very much doubt anyone in these parts pronounces it this way – [ɒ] is very distinctly Hungarian, but there is no [w] in Hungarian, nor in Czech, Slovak or Polish. And that back unrounded [ʌ] doesn’t sound Slavic, either.
    [ˈbɔrɔvit͡ʃka] is what it probably should be.

  278. michael farrism says:

    “but there is no [w] in …. Polish”
    what about ł?

  279. Agh, proofread, you beaked frequently-in-Persian-poetry-occurring Siganus’-litchis-destroying idiot:
    but there is no [w] in Hungarian, nor in Czech, Slovak or Polish
    Of course there is a [w] in Polish. I’m not sure about Slovak, though: what’s written as ‘v’ in, say, the masculine Gen. pl. suffix “-ov” (“otcov”, “strojov” etc.) is a semivowel, so it’s probably [ʊ̯]. If ‘v’ is followed by [n], [ŋ], [l] or [λ], it should be – according to normative reference books – pronounced as a voiced labiodental fricative or a bilabial approximant. So “hovno” can be either [hɔvnɔ] or [hɔβnɔ]. Hm, weird.

  280. michael,
    what about ł?
    Don’t mind that, I’m an idiot and should be disposed of in a safe manner.

  281. marie-lucie says:

    “(pronounced [ˈbɒrɒwɪtʃkʌ])”
    It sounds like this is given as the English pronunciation for the exotic liquor, which must be equivalent to the French genièvre (= juniper).

  282. David Marjanović says:

    I cannot think of a single object or concept that would always be plural in French, just like our now (in)famous panties.

    Les culottes, quoi !!!
    In contrast, southern German really does use singulars for all such words. To wit, Unterhose. Also “glasses” Brille, “scissors” Schere

    And that back unrounded [ʌ] doesn’t sound Slavic, either.

    That’s exactly what the Russian unstressed o is. That sound doesn’t occur elsewhere this side of China, though, and the rest of the word as transcribed doesn’t sound Russian at all.

    what about ł?

    While that’s [w] most of the time, it isn’t always. Sometimes it’s more like [u], at other times [ɰ] (the velar, as opposed to labiovelar, approximant).

    pronounced as a voiced labiodental fricative or a bilabial approximant.

    Bilabial? Weird.
    Incidentally, while we’re at the topic of strange things that /v/ can become, my own is so nasal that you can’t hear any friction even though it’s articulated as a fricative and sounds quite distinct from the labiodental approximant that an astonishingly large number of Austrian TV journalists produced during the BAWAG /baːvag/ scandal.

  283. David,
    That’s exactly what the Russian unstressed o is.
    Really? I’ve always thought it was [ɐ] and [ʌ] was (at least this side of China) exclusive to some varieties of English.
    Bilabial? Weird.
    I hear ya, but that’s what it (=’The Atlas of Slovak Speech Sounds’) says.

  284. marie-lucie says:

    Les culottes, quoi !!!
    David, a single such garment is called une culotte, a singular word. The plural is used for two or more.
    The word does not just refer to female undergarments but also has the older meaning of “(knee) breeches” (that is, a garment from the waist to the knee, such as worn by men in the 18th century), including those still worn for horse riding. When I was a child and young teenager, boys until the age of 13 or 14 still wore des culottes courtes, that is short pants (to about mid-thigh).
    The proletarians who participated in the French revolution wore long, shapeless trouser-like garments rather than the more form-fitting culottes, hence their nickname of sans-culottes.

  285. michael farris says:

    “Incidentally, while we’re at the topic of strange things that /v/ can become”
    A phonetician colleague assures me that in some (low prestige) kinds of Polish in some environments /v/ becomes a labio-dental _stop_ (I have no idea what the IPA would be for that).

  286. A.J.P. Misinformation says:

    In America they say ‘a sissors’, whereas England they say ‘a pair of scissors’. (This may be wrong. Ask Language, he says he’s met Americans.)
    Too bad about marie-lucie’s sans-culottes explanation. I’d always thought that going around without trousers in the summer was a revolutionary fashion statement worthy of its Parisian origin.

  287. michael,
    a labio-dental _stop_
    [p̪] ? [b̪] ?

  288. marie-lucie says:

    a revolutionary fashion statement worthy of its Parisian origin
    A stereotype common among foreigners. Going about naked would be the opposite of a fashion statement (not to mention the potential danger to oneself in occupations requiring heavy physical labour). But the 18th-century culotte became a symbol of the old regime: the typical 19th-century European or American male wore long pants, and the culotte has never come back.
    However, the expression porter la culotte is still in use, to refer to a wife who is dominant in a marriage. The English expression “she wears the pants” misses the archaism: it should have been “she wears the breeches”.

  289. P de Ravel says:

    Lukas and Siganus
    The collectives in French are interesting.Do we think of lunettes as a plural or as a singular?A singular question:lunette as ciseau have a different meaning in the plural and in the singular .The plural form reflects the fact that the object was created by joining 2 singular objects.Lunette is originally a single round window in the form of a little moon through which one looks (or by extension a spyglass) hence les lunettes,ie,2 lunettes or little windows in the form of a lune (=moon).Similarly ciseaux is the instrument fashionned by putting together 2 chisels (chisel=ciseau).For us,when we want to emphasize that we are dealing with a singular object we say “une paire de lunettes or une paire de ciseaux”.A contrario,”a pair of trousers” does not translate as “une paire de pantalon” but as “un pantalon”( borrowed from the Italian pantalone) since the pantalon refers to both legs.Fiancailles is in the plural because it represent mutual promises of trust and fidelity( original meaning derived from the verb “fier” =avoir foi en=have trust in,same root as fidelity) between the affianced couple.

  290. A.J.P. Crown says:

    A stereotype common among foreigners.
    I’m not a foreigner, I’m British.
    The English expression “she wears the pants”
    American expression.

  291. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Lunette is originally a single round window
    Still is, to architects.

  292. Siganus Sutor says:

    I’m not a foreigner, I’m British
    Liar, the other day you confessed being American, which is extremely foreign.

  293. — Lunette is originally a single round window
    — Still is, to architects.

    To manufacturers of sanitaryware too.

  294. Siganus Sutor says:

    > P de Ravel [de l'Argentière?]
    Fiançailles is in the plural because it represent mutual promises of trust and fidelity
    And, er, it is not the case for le mariage? Lucky me: I got married but never engaged. So, I’m running free, yeah!
    A contrario, “a pair of trousers” does not translate as “une paire de pantalon” but as “un pantalon”
    If I’m not mistaken, pantalons was frequently in the plural in the past (a bit like Marie-Lucie’s culottes above). It was a woman’s underwear too. And if I’m not mistaken again, moustaches were also sometimes plural in the past. Maybe they were bigger than now. Now the plural is mostly used for animals like seals, cats or lions.
    (Has anyone on this blog ever imagined than Kron may have huge moustaches that he twists between his fingers when he is about to write something funny on LH, which happens several times per day? Such enormous moustaches, if they exist, couldn’t be tutoyed of course. Much too awesome.)

  295. Has anyone on this blog ever imagined than Kron may have huge moustaches that he twists between his fingers when he is about to write something funny on LH
    No, but I like the image. I think maybe you’ve topped Kron for the day.

  296. Siganus Sutor says:

    Has anyone on this blog ever imagined that Kron…
    But I don’t mean “that Kron over there”, the imaginary friend that was created out of thin air, just like Vernon created his friends in “Giant’s Bread” (among whom one Mr Green).

  297. Siganus Sutor says:

    “Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content: pharmacỳ”
    Do not want to get involved in the drug bizness, Hat?
    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
    > Bulbul
    Your remedy against memory loss reminds me of that beverage some friends brought back from Yugoslavia when I was a student in France. If my memory serves me right, which obviously shouldn’t be taken for granted, its name was something like “slivovicka” (pronounced sli-vo-vitch-ka?).
    Unfortunately it will be very difficult for me here to find a pharma… a medicine-man selling your good potion. But “tutoying the bottle” can become a dangerous business indeed.

  298. Siganus Sutor says:

    Lukas: le suffixe -alia sert à former des coll. désignant des cérémonies de caractère familial ou relig.
    One who couldn’t sleep last night was able to come across something about this while reading a book called “Fascination”:
    « My fantasy of celebrating Christmas is to stay in bed asleep for five days. What would Jesus Christ make of this commercial bacchanalia established in his name? »
    (Page 102.)
    It was funny because in French bacchanales are often in the plural (at least the classical meaning) and that seemed to be a perfect example of what you were saying.

  299. In America they say ‘a scissors’, whereas England they say ‘a pair of scissors’.
    I think it’s the same in both dialects: scissors is normally plural and a pair of them is perfectly normal American.

  300. A.J.P. Science-Buff says:

    Lunette menstrual cup is an innovative menstruation barrier made in Finland. Easy to use, safe and sanitary alternative to disposable sanitary towels. Amazingly, by performing radio ranging between the subsatellite and the electronics package left behind on the parent, it is possible for Lunette to map the irregularities in the Lunar gravity.

  301. A.J.P. Crown says:

    How do you know about my white moustaches? I shave them off every December 31, but they are in full bloom again by this time of year; ‘the busy season’, we call it up here.

  302. marie-lucie says:

    Fiançailles is in the plural because it represent mutual promises of trust and fidelity
    Yes for the fiance part, no for the plural. What about funérailles then? There is nothing mutual about a funeral. As several persons have noted, the -ailles business is a carryover from Latin -alia, originally a neutral plural form of the adjective-forming suffix -al(is, etc), later used as a noun. I think that the reason for the plural in the first place is that it must refer collectively to the set of rituals performed on the occasion: wedding, funeral, etc. The French suffix is still used for collective nouns, either in the plural as in des cochonnailles “prepared pork meats (eg salami, sausages, pâté, etc)”, or in the singular, as in la mangeaille “food”, but the suffix is somewhat derogatory (not so much in terms of the quality of the food, but rather its quantity, and also the quality of the eaters! la mangeaille implies that the eaters are not particularly discriminating).
    The French word for bacchanalia is an exception: it is bacchanales rather than bachenailles which would be expected from a direct filiation from Latin (as in épousailles), most probably because the bacchanalian celebrations, like the saturnalian ones, did not persist (at least officially) after the Roman era and therefore the words did not remain in the language and evolve in the same way as the other -alia words, but were artificially borrowed from Latin as learned words at a later date, with minimal adaptation to the French language.

  303. Your remedy against memory loss reminds me of that beverage some friends brought back from Yugoslavia when I was a student in France. If my memory serves me right, which obviously shouldn’t be taken for granted, its name was something like “slivovicka” (pronounced sli-vo-vitch-ka?).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slivovitz

  304. marie-lucie says:

    Lunette menstrual cup … made in Finland
    Obviously the Finnish manufacturers are not thinking of extending their market to France. The connotations are too horrendous to contemplate.
    There is a recent post on Language Log (about Marketing Dreck) dealing with the perils and pitfalls of naming products destined for the international market, for instance the popular Iranian washing product named Barf (“snow” to the Iranis).

  305. marie-lucie says:

    Barf (“snow” to the Iranis)
    (meaning courtesy of LH himself)

  306. its name was something like “slivovicka” (pronounced sli-vo-vitch-ka?)
    Slivovička and not rakia or šljivovica? Interesting. It does sound Yugoslavian, though, they’re certainly very liberal with the diminutive suffixes (in this case “-ka”). We call it “slivovica” or simply “slivka” = “plum”.
    Unfortunately it will be very difficult for me here to find a pharma… a medicine-man selling your good potion.
    Tell you what, next time we’ll be doing business in Mauritius, I’ll send a bottle your way. If you happen to have about 25,000 tons of raw sugar to sell, we could speed up the process…

  307. David Marjanović says:

    That’s exactly what the Russian unstressed o is.
    Really? I’ve always thought it was [ɐ] and [ʌ] was (at least this side of China) exclusive to some varieties of English.

    No, [ɐ] is what you get in non-rhotic German (and to some extent in non-rhotic English); it’s similar to [ʌ], but I consistently hear and pronounce the difference, and I have all dictionaries and websites on my side that I’ve encountered so far.
    What most kinds of English seem to have as their (stressed) uh sound is something that hasn’t got an IPA symbol: the back unrounded near-open vowel, behind the central [ɐ] and below the half-open [ʌ]. Others probably do have [ʌ], though.
    In Mandarin, [ʌ] crops up as an allophone of /ɤ/ in the syllable er… if I may gloss over the fact that it’s not obvious how many vowel phonemes Mandarin really has; there’s even an analysis somewhere out there that postulates a single one, but I digress.

    David, a single such garment is called une culotte, a singular word. The plural is used for two or more.

    <blush> I really should get out more.

    The word does not just refer to female undergarments

    Only female? What are the male ones called? <reblush>

    its name was something like “slivovicka”

    Šljivovica. (Might be shrunk* by insertion of -k-, but I’ve never witnessed that happen.)
    * The way the Germans shrink their beer, the Poles shrink their beer twice, the Viennese shrink their coffee under obvious Czech influence, and the aforementioned Poles shrink even their tea.

    la mangeaille

    Oh, so there is a word other than la nourriture and la bouffe? (The latter is clearly dysphemistic youthspeak, despite the praise bonne bouffe. My thesis supervisor, from Québec, steadfastly says nourriture even when talking to his wife on the phone.)

    the perils and pitfalls of naming products destined for the international market

    There once was a whiskey called Irish Mist. The German word for “trash” (not “litter”, not “junk”, but “trash”) is…

  308. David Marjanović says:

    I cannot resist mentioning the old physicists’ lamentation about the unrealiability of measurements: Wer misst, misst Mist — whosoever measures measures trash.
    (Perfect homophones; the difference between sst and st is morphological only.)

  309. Pierre de Ravel says:

    Siganus
    i did enjoy your input.A few comments if I may:
    when we think of “mariage ” we think of the institution rather than of the promises
    Marie Louise
    You do raise most interesting points:re funerailles:your explanation I find convincing.I readily admit I had never bothered to research it in spite of having been eons ago a mass attendant on hundreds of obsequies-yes before Vatican II when the
    Latin rang beautifully in our young ears.
    For mangeaille etc the key seems to be the accent onthe collective not on the collection of rituals.
    Anyone has any idea about the proto-indo-european concepts of funerals and eating and whether there was a singular/plural/individual /collective concept?Quaere of non indo european languages?

  310. A.J.P. Crown says:

    In the sixties Rolls Royce had a car they were going to call Silver Mist until their German reps told them it means manure (that’s what I thought it meant). I still like the Chevy Nova the best of these (no va, doesn’t go, in Spanish, if there’s anyone left who hasn’t heard it).
    It my architectural office in Germany there was an oft-repeated expression, ‘gib’ts gyps‘ (there’s plaster), that caused much amusement. I hope I spelt it correctly, though I feel sure David will let me know if I haven’t. :-))

  311. David,
    No, [ɐ] is what you get in non-rhotic German (and to some extent in non-rhotic English); it’s similar to [ʌ], but I consistently hear and pronounce the difference
    Thanks for the explanation, now I’ll try to find some recordings to hear the difference for myself.
    The way the Germans shrink their beer, the Poles shrink their beer twice…
    Metaphorically, of course. If a Czechoslovak beer drinker asks for a “pivečko”, he doesn’t really mean he wants a small beer.
    The South Slavs do this “shrinking” to personal names a lot – it always struck as really creepy that a murdering scumbag like Mladić was routinely referred to using (what I consider) the intimate form of his first name – Ratko.
    mist = trash
    Really? I’ve always thought it was “manure” – Pferdemist, Schweinemist, Kuhmist…

  312. marie-lucie says:

    Perre de Ravel: there is no Marie Louise here, as far as I know. The closest name is my own, Marie-LUCIE. I have never met another person of the same name, although there are a few on the internet.
    You are right that the -aille(s) suffix is a collective. It is applied to some collections of rituals, but it is not in itself restricted to rituals.
    In linguistics one tries to generalize. For the meaning of a grammatical element such as a suffix, you want to look at all or most of the words that have it. The untrained person tends to look only at one or two words and generalize from their individual meaning, confusing or conflating the meaning of the root with that of the suffix.

  313. marie-lucie says:

    David: it always struck as really creepy that a murdering scumbag like Mladić was routinely referred to using (what I consider) the intimate form of his first name – Ratko.
    Could it be that this form was used for belittling him rather than expressing intimacy and affection? This would be the case in using diminutives in French, almost like using tu in a hostile situation as I described earlier. In English too: for instance, referring to George W. Bush as Georgie would probably not be considered affectionate, but disparaging.

  314. A.J.P.von Bodelschwingh says:

    God, I hate it when people get my name wrong.

  315. marie-lucie,
    that Mladić comment was me.
    Could it be that this form was used for belittling him rather than expressing intimacy and affection?
    No, that’s not it. What I was referring to is that first names + “-ko”, which is a diminutive suffix, are perceived as mere short forms of names in Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian/Montenegrin or have even replaced the names they were derived from. Examples: Ratko from Radoslav or Radovan, Mirko (as in Mirko Cvetković) from Miroslav or similar, Branko from Branislav or similar and so forth. In Slovak, the “-ko” forms are considered intimate. A Slovak gentleman named Miroslav Novák, for example, is Miro to colleagues and buddies, but Mirko to his girlfriend and mother. In press, however, he will always be referred to as “Miroslav Novák”.
    Then again, the are other diminutive suffixes used almost exclusively with names, and those can be used in a disparaging manner. My friends and I, we often refer to George W. Bush as “Ďurino” (George = Juraj > Ďuro > Ďurino), Mikuláš Dzurinda, a former PM, is known as “Miki” to his many detractors.

  316. marie-lucie says:

    that Mladić comment was me.
    Oops! bulbul, my apologies. I will be more careful next time. And thank you for putting me right about the -ko names. But could Ratko still be used for irony (extending to this suffix the same disparaging use of the others)? It seems hard to justify this use otherwise. For example, in French an article could express criticism of Nicolas Sarkozy by referring to him by the otherwise affectionate expression “notre petit Nicolas”, as if he were a child.

  317. marie-lucie,
    But could Ratko still be used for irony
    Actually, yes, it could, at least in Slovak. In fact, I’ve searched my email archives and found over a dozen examples of ‘bulbulko’ used in a disparaging manner by people I have very strong disagreements with.
    But let me just clarify this: as far as I can tell, “Ratko” and all other -ko forms are neutral in Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian/Montenegrin, without any significant connotation of intimacy or familiarity.

  318. A-ko.J.P. Crown says:

    If you compare them, can you think of an explanation of why Radovan Karadžic (nice picture of his highlights) has (by way of comparison) always remained ‘Radovan’ in the press?

  319. michael farris says:

    I just checked all the Štokavian wikipedias (bosnian, croat, serbian, serbo-croat – no montenegrin yet) and contrary to its appearance, I can’t find any indication that Ratko is in fact a diminutive.
    As far as I can tell it’s just his name (murdering scum that he is). I think I’ve seen South Slavic non-diminutives ending in -ko or -o before but details are blurry.

  320. I can’t find any indication that Ratko is in fact a diminutive.
    Well, it’s not, not anymore, but that’s my point, see me @ 10:45. Names like “Ratko”, “Mirko”, “Petko” etc. started out as familiar / intimate forms formed using the diminutive suffix, but nowadays they are just regular names. Other Slavic languages kept this distinction.
    So, to answer Crownko, Radovan and Ratko are two different names, although Ratko may very well have been derived from Radovan. The choice, as always, is made by the parents.

  321. David Marjanović says:

    Really? I’ve always thought it was “manure” – Pferdemist, Schweinemist, Kuhmist…

    That, too, but that’s basically a technical term of agriculture these days. Generations older than mine do use it as a mild (!) exclamation of frustration, but the basic meaning these days is “trash”. Trash can = Mistkübel.
    I don’t even know which meaning is older. It would make sense both ways.

    ‘gib’ts gyps’ (there’s plaster)

    No, no — the word order (gibt’s Gips rather than es gibt Gips makes obvious that it’s a question.
    The joke lies in the fact that some Germans pronounce gibt’s as /gɪps/ (identical to Gips) rather than as /giːbt͡s/.

    Metaphorically, of course. If a Czechoslovak beer drinker asks for a “pivečko”, he doesn’t really mean he wants a small beer.

    Oh yes. That’s a very important point I forgot to make. Heartfelt thanks!

    “notre petit Nicolas”

    This, of course, is an allusion to the formerly extremely popular book series Le petit Nicolas, which is by Goscinny (none other than the text author of Astérix) and describes the funny life of a French schoolboy in the 1950s. (Yeah, right.) It has even been translated into German and I think English. Also, Sarko actually is short — and not just in contrast to his tall wife, for which contrast see also Carla & Carlito, the sequel to La face karchée de Sarkozy (a sort of comic-strip biography). This is further rubbed in by the fact that not just Nicolas is petit, but so is everything he touches, Midas-like; for example, he hasn’t got friends, he’s got little friends, and so on. It was downright annoying to read (in the original — I bet the translations just cut that out).

    as far as I can tell, “Ratko” and all other -ko forms are neutral in Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian/Montenegrin, without any significant connotation of intimacy or familiarity.

    I don’t even know what Željko (m.)/Željka (f.) could come from.

  322. Siganus Sutor says:

    Yesterday I spoke to someone called J.-F. Ko. He’d better not call his son Harry.

  323. marie-lucie says:

    “notre petit Nicolas”
    This, of course, is an allusion to the formerly extremely popular book series Le petit Nicolas
    Actually, I had completely forgotten about that series. I think that the word petit(e) is used a lot more than English little. For a child you would not use the words ami(s) but petit(s) ami(s) (in feminine or masculine form according to the child). That is not specific to le petit Nicolas. And just like your Czechoslovak beer drinker asks for a “pivečko”, your French drinker asks for une petite bière or un petit café. The stereotypical French housewife was reputed to cook des petits plats for the family (nice, unpretentious homecooked food, rather than small amounts). There are tons of other examples where the word petit evokes not necessarily smallness but homeyness, a kind of Gemütlichkeit, in a restricted environment.

  324. Siganus Sutor says:

    > Marie-Lucie
    And a guy’s petite amie (girlfriend) isn’t necessarily small either. (She can in fact be as tall as AJP.) “Tuyoyer sa petite amie” — or ses petites amies — is something pretty easy to do.

  325. marie-lucie says:

    (Harry Ko): I was told that when I was a baby, my father’s grandmother (an excellent cook of petits plats) referred to me affectionately as ce petit haricot. Going to the market once with the same greatgrandmother, past 80 years old and somewhat shrunk in size, I heard a vendor address her as mon petit lapin. Any French person could come up with lots of similar examples.

  326. marie-lucie says:

    Indeed, Siganus! and the same is true of the male counterparts. But to me these expressions are mildly derogatory: they imply that the relationship is not serious or likely to last, like a friendship between small children.

  327. Siganus Sutor says:

    Funnily enough, mon ‘ti coco (though more frequently mon coco) is commonly used here. And I believe in the French West Indies a ti punch isn’t necessarily a small glass of rum-based beverage.

  328. Siganus Sutor says:

    M.-L.: But to me these expressions are mildly derogatory
    Are they? I’m not particularly fond of them, but I didn’t have that impression. But it’s true I’m no expert on the matter, I who didn’t even succeed in having a single fiancée.

  329. Siganus Sutor says:

    Marie-L.: I have never met another person of the same name, although there are a few on the internet.
    Hey, that’s amazing! (Though I must say that I have never met another person called Siganus either, be it on the internet or in any other net.)

  330. A.J.P. Crown says:

    I who didn’t even succeed in having a single fiancée.
    You know you can sue them, if they’re already married.

  331. A.J.P. Crown says:

    a ti punch isn’t necessarily a small glass of rum
    There’s an episode of John Mortimer’s Rumpole of The Bailey in which one of the characters continually suggests to the others Care for a tiny rum?. I had wondered where that expression came from.

  332. A.J.P. Crown says:

    There was a well-known American baseball commentator called Harry Caray, whose name was thought by some (i.e. me) to have been a play on Japanese ritual suicide ‘harakiri’. There’s a discussion of it on his wiki talk page.

  333. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Before the internet came along i had thought that I must be the only occupier of my ‘real’ name (Jeremy something-or-other), but when I looked myself up I found that in Birmingham (England) there is a doctor, a specialist in public health who has written dozens of books and articles on sexually transmitted diseases, and he is using my full name. I wrote him an email (signed with his name), but he obviously thought I was nuts. There’s also a zookeeper in New Zealand who uses my name, but I don’t mind so much about him, it’s this doctor — who’s got my name plastered all over Amazon as being an expert in the spread of syphilis — that I really resent.

  334. Harry Caray–his wiki doesn’t say so, but he was adopted.

  335. “Really? I’ve always thought it was “manure” – Pferdemist, Schweinemist, Kuhmist…
    That, too, but that’s basically a technical term of agriculture these days. Generations older than mine do use it as a mild (!) exclamation of frustration, but the basic meaning these days is “trash”. Trash can = Mistkübel”
    I’m sorry, David, but I really can’t agree with you there, where I come from, Mist is manure (as in Misthaufen) and trash is Müll and a trash can = Mülleimer.

  336. I’ve got my Christmas music for my students ready now, there’s some interesting free open source downloads here:
    http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=Christmas%20AND%20mediatype:audio
    I don’t think I’ll try to teach them Auld Lang Syne though. It would just confuse them. Auld? It confuses me.

  337. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Yes, David. This ‘mist’ mist misinformation has gone on long enough. It is time for a retraction, an apology and, perhaps, resignation. We’ll leave it up to you (for now).

  338. David,
    I don’t even know what Željko (m.)/Željka (f.) could come from.
    Želislav (“desiring glory”) or Želimir (“desiring peace”).
    AJP Blagocrown,
    It is time for a retraction, an apology and, perhaps, resignation.
    I hear Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald is busy with other matters. Besides, do you really want him poking around here? Who knows what he’ll drag to the light…

  339. There are over 300 comments in this thread ostensibly about “Hungarian you” (“Au pair me, my sweet Hungarian you…”). There’s obviously something suspicious going on here.

  340. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Very well. My call for a retraction has been retracted. I may resign. There is such a thing as too much daylight.

  341. michael farris says:

    There are over 300 comments in this thread ostensibly about “Hungarian you””
    And no more than 15 make any reference to Hungarian!
    Thread drift is an amazing thing.

  342. A.J.P. Crown says:

    There’s one language blog that requires a minimum of one reference per comment; it’s called Language Hell (they’ve crossed-out Heil!, but I can’t do a strike-through).

  343. David Marjanović says:

    test
    test
    Thread drift? Well, nobody except bulbul speaks Hungarian… ugye?

    I’m sorry, David, but I really can’t agree with you there, where I come from, Mist is manure (as in Misthaufen) and trash is Müll and a trash can = Mülleimer.

    Müll is garbage, not trash. It’s almost an official word (though the official one is different again: Abfall “litter”). Where I come from, Müll isn’t used much except in Mülldeponie “landfill”.
    And on a Misthaufen you throw everything biodegradable. My grandparents in the countryside have one in their garden, they’re not farmers, and their indoor plumbing works. The next year they plant pumpkins on it and make a new one.
    But then, where I come from, the word Eimer doesn’t exist except in imported printed matters. The intra-German differences are easily those between Czech, Slovak and Polish.

    Želislav (“desiring glory”) or Želimir (“desiring peace”).

    Oh, that makes sense, thanks.
    (Wilhelm and Wilfried, basically? Willi?)

  344. David Marjanović says:

    OK, so doing a strike-through (either way) is forbidden.

  345. michael farris says:

    “Thread drift? Well, nobody except bulbul speaks Hungarian… ugye?”
    I have been able to read not-very-difficult genre literature in Hungarian and have a fairly thorough linguist understanding of the grammar (though my speaking skills are truly awful in the best of times).

  346. Siganus Sutor says:

    You know you can sue them, if they’re already married.
    The problem is that most of them must have changed their name by now, with this absolutely ridiculous habit of taking the name of the man you’re living with. The worst in my view is when a woman is called by her husband’s first name and family name (like “Mrs A.J.P. Crown”, which sounds pretty ridiculous because we all know that this A.J.P. Crown has big white moustaches). And this thing goes on even when the guy is dead!
    So I’ve already lost hope of tracing them back to ask that justice be done. We live in a cruel world.

  347. Siganus Sutor says:

    Hungarian you!
    Hungarian you!
    Hungarian you!
    (Hungarian youyou (n° 2)).

  348. Siganus Sutor says:

    (This was just to push up the Hungarian average. Further efforts could be envisaged if LH thinks that this is not enough.)

  349. David,
    But then, where I come from, the word Eimer doesn’t exist
    Don’t tell me, “kýbel” or something similar, right? I honestly don’t know the word in your dialect, but that ‘-el’ in West-Slovak “kýbel” seems like a dead giveaway for a German loan, so I expect we got it from you folks.
    (Wilhelm and Wilfried, basically? Willi?)
    Exactly. Or, if I’m not mistaken, John and Jack. Used to confuse the hell out of me, seeing JFK being referred to as Jack.

  350. There’s an episode of John Mortimer’s Rumpole of The Bailey in which one of the characters continually suggests to the others Care for a tiny rum?
    Scottie on the original Start Trek used to refer to having “a wee dram”, presumably of scotch. But I always thought a dram was an exact measure, so how could it be wee? I always thought they might refill the shot glass as well.

  351. marie-lucie says:

    Because wee or tiny is more psychological than physical. See earlier comments on French and other languages.
    when a woman is called by her husband’s first name and family name (like “Mrs A.J.P. Crown”)
    Fortunately this is going out of fashion. In the American press there used to be sentences such as “Mrs. XYZ Smith is the former Susan Jones”, as if Susan Jones had been completely obliterated once she was stamped with the name of her husband.

  352. A.J.P. Crown says:

    “Mrs. XYZ Smith is the former Susan Jones”
    I think they still write this way in the NY Times Sunday section on ‘society’ weddings. In NY they used to call it the Women’s Sports Section.
    her husband’s first name and family name (like “Mrs A.J.P. Crown”)
    This is in England a quite rigid and complicated system, I don’t know if there’s anything comparable elsewhere, but I ‘d be interested to know.
    If AJP Crown marries Susan Brown, she became ‘Mrs Crown’. If they have a son, PJA Crown, PJA’s wife Gladys becomes Mrs ‘PJA Crown’ . If PJA dies, she becomes ‘Mrs Gladys Crown’. Gladys, the eldest of three sisters, was called before her marriage ‘Miss Smith’. Her younger sisters were known as ‘Miss Jane Smith’ and ‘Miss Ann Smith’.
    This system is still going in my family in England. Without any evidence I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s seventeenth -century in origin, but it may be older; the ‘Miss’ stuff pops up a lot in Jane Austen, and I’m sure it’s older than that.

  353. Of course, the really tricky questions are how to address the wife of a marquess’s younger son in informal social correspondence; and, in formal correspondence, the daughter of an earl married to the son of a viscount.

  354. The really tricky questions arise when gay marriage comes into the picture.

  355. Crown and Anchor says:

    The daughter of an earl married to the son of a viscount would be simply ‘The hon(ourable) Antonia Crown’ and the wife of a marquess’s younger son would be Mrs Crown. Gay marriage is completely straightforward.

  356. Her younger sisters were known as ‘Miss Jane Smith’ and ‘Miss Ann Smith’.
    “Miss” is hardly used here; it’s all “Ms.” Can you imagine in the office of 300 where I used to work trying to keep track of the marital status of the 90% or so of the staff that was female? It was all Ms. Lastname and Mr. Lastname, even if you had been sitting in the same cubicle for 25 years and were really on first-name basis with everyone. In my current job I don’t know the director’s marital status, even though I interact with her more or less every week–fortunately I don’t have to know.
    There used to be an American usage of “Master” for a young unmarried male, especially for addressing letters, but I haven’t seen that usage for years.

  357. Rose & Crown says:

    There was a wiki article about this, but it’s been removed. I think this is roughly right, though:

    Children of some peers use courtesy titles. The eldest son of a duke, marquess, or earl uses his father’s highest lesser peerage dignity as his own. The Duke of Devonshire’s eldest son is called Marquess of Hartington. Such an eldest son is a commoner.
    Younger sons of dukes and marquesses prefix Lord to their first names as courtesy titles (Lord Alfred Douglas). Daughters of dukes, marquesses and earls use Lady, and younger sons of earls and children of viscounts, barons and lords of Parliament use The Honourable.

    So I should have written ‘Lady Antonia Crown’, above. Some people attribute an interest in this sort of thing automatically to snobbery, but they’re wrong to find it threatening. As hereditary peerage disappears, so will that attitude.

  358. Rose & Crown says:

    There was a wiki article about this, but it’s been removed. I think this is roughly right, though:

    Children of some peers use courtesy titles. The eldest son of a duke, marquess, or earl uses his father’s highest lesser peerage dignity as his own. The Duke of Devonshire’s eldest son is called Marquess of Hartington. Such an eldest son is a commoner.
    Younger sons of dukes and marquesses prefix Lord to their first names as courtesy titles (Lord Alfred Douglas). Daughters of dukes, marquesses and earls use Lady, and younger sons of earls and children of viscounts, barons and lords of Parliament use The Honourable.

    So I should have written ‘Lady Antonia Crown’, above. Some people attribute an interest in this sort of thing automatically to snobbery, but they’re wrong to find it threatening. As hereditary peerage disappears, so will that attitude.

  359. A.J.P. Crown says:

    “Miss” is hardly used here; it’s all “Ms.”
    I think we’re talking it cross-purposes, about two different cultures here, Nidge.

  360. Crown, AJP says:

    it=at

  361. it=at
    Dividing both sides by t, we arrive at:
    i=a
    QED.
    What were we talking about again? Oh yes, marquesses.

  362. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Although in itself it’s not a curse I’m sure it is easily turned into one for your book: ‘Do the math’. Usually means do the very simple arithmetic, but can be applied to algebra: ‘i=a, do the math!’ ‘e=mc2, do the math!’.

  363. American and Britain two different cultures? I should hope so, otherwise why did we fight that pesky war. Nonetheless the “Miss” form with the “maiden name” was widely used in the 50′s in exactly the way Kron’s family still uses it, and it’s still in the ESL textbooks too. Of course, being rebellious in nature, some of us colonists have pitched that system, to the everlasting horror of our mothers. These days the “baby momma” system has made it even more obsolete.

  364. A.J.P. Crown says:

    The two different cultures aren’t so much Britain and America (though they are to some extent) but different (in Britain, at least) by age group. By my family I mean the over-sixties part of it, obviously people of my age (55) wouldn’t keep that kind of anachronism up. I’m not sure how much ‘Ms’ caught on in Britain, I suspect they’ve just done away with the whole thing, which was to some extent easier because in England we used to use Esq. instead of Mr. on envelopes, so you always started by writing someone’s first name or initials. Though people still write letters addressed to me as Esq. (a few at least), in America Esquire has been appropriated by the law industry. I don’t know why, but perhaps because they’re so competitive with Drs and wanted a proper title of their own.

  365. Siganus Sutor says:

    in England we used to use Esq.
    In Scotland as well. I still remember the surprise that was mine when I received my first statement of account from the Royal Bank of Scotland: Siganus Sutor, Esq. “WTF is this? Is it a swear word? A mark put after foreigners’ name to track them more easily?” I haven’t kept the title and today I’m nothing, not even an esquire or a kind man (gentilhomme).
    By the way, i² (i squared) could be a curse, because i² = -1, and -1 is not even a zero, i.e. a nothing. It’s a moins que rien (less than nothing). By the by, minus is a curse in the French Republic.

  366. How can i² be -1, when i has not been defined except in terms of a? And how can you get a negative number out of squaring anything? If you multiply two positive numbers the answer is positive and if you multiply two negative numbers the product is positive. The only way you can get a negative product is by multiplying a positive number by a negative number, in which case you haven’t squared anything.
    This French mathematics is a bit fishy.

  367. Siganus Sutor says:

    Bulbul: Or, if I’m not mistaken, John and Jack. Used to confuse the hell out of me, seeing JFK being referred to as Jack.
    Yes, these English-speaking people are weird indeed. They call Jean John or Jack and they call Jacques James. (But I’ve heard Simon could be Peter in Aramaic and other languages.)
    Wilhelm and Wilfried, basically? Willi?: Incidentally, there is a district on Mars that is called Plaines Wilhems (the one in which I was born), one of the very few place names inherited from the Dutch. The name is therefore a mixture of French and Dutch, even on official documents written in English. So far it has escaped some of the stupid Anglicization of place names that took place here and there. “Willy Plains” would be somewhat ridiculous though, and people would probably start making bad taste jokes about it.
    And how do you pronounce the first letter in šljivovica? Maybe my (French) friends who went to Yugoslavia when it was still a communist country were misled to believe that it should be pronounced sli-vo-vitch-ka — misled by the secret police so that it would act as a useful shibboleth.

  368. Siganus Sutor says:

    Nijma, complex numbers are not French only. Numbers are not stopped by borders, not even by distances between planets.
    Wikipedia: “Complex numbers were first conceived and defined by the Italian mathematician Girolamo Cardano, who called them “fictitious” (…)”
    From my school days (not in France) I still remember these nombres imaginaires (imaginary numbers) that no doubt Kron will like.

  369. Ah, Sig, but the complex numbers are purely theoretical, they are a convention; in practical applications they are not moins que rien (less than nothing), they are in fact a different polarity of a very present and solid and measurable positive quality. Positive in the sense of existing, not in the sense of direction of electron flow.
    Cardano’s 1554 horoscope of Jesus might be worth browsing though. I wonder if it says to beware the Ides of Passover.

  370. Kron, I’ve always wondered what esquire meant. But our parents’ generation a different culture? Sometimes I think they’re from Mars. The people who study generational cohorts seem to regard the British and American generations about the same when it comes to boomers and genX. I suppose the older generation was influenced by WWII more than anything on both side of the Atlantic. But we still need Mr. and Ms. since we don’t refer to authority figures by first name. Then there’s the curious question of AA’s. They wish to be called Mr. as well, not sure about the women, but Ms. was the standard where I worked before. So in an institution where the janitor was black, he would end up being called Mr. Smith, when everyone else was on first name basis, although higher on the food chain than the person who got the “deferential” title. So I’m not sure if titles mean anything, but still, what would we do without them?
    I wonder if being in Norway with a British background isn’t kind of a homogeneous population, that has more freedom to do things a certain way or change more rapidly, whereas in this urban area at least we are in daily contact with black and Hispanic minorities, plus more ethnic groups among the students. Perhaps we need more or different or more formal language forms to handle the rough edges and potential for misunderstandings that comes with our amazing diversity.

  371. You must see the moon tonight. I saw it right after moonrise. There is a meteor shower as well, but bitterly cold here.
    Not good for the St. Lucia parade in Andersonville tomorrow.

  372. we don’t refer to authority figures by first name
    You don’t, but we do. Tony Blair was always ‘Call me Tony’ except in the House, where he’s addressed as ‘The Hon. member for Durham South’, or wherever his seat is. This is maybe because America (France as well, of course) has the vocative phrase ‘Mr President’, whereas nobody would say ‘Mr (or Mme) Prime Minister’ (although US Presidents address PMs that way, I know)

  373. My mother, who has had an account with the Royal Bank of Scotland ever since the stone age, called them in London the other day and said she wanted some Norwegian kroner. The person who answered the phone said there was nobody of that name working there.

  374. The daughter of an earl married to the son of a viscount would be simply ‘The hon(ourable) Antonia Crown’ and the wife of a marquess’s younger son would be Mrs Crown.
    I had something slightly different.
    The Most Honble. The Marquess of A., whose family name is B., has a younger son, C. (The Lord C. B.), married to The Lady C. B. (as addressed in informal social correspondence).
    The Right Honble. The Viscount V., surnamed W., has a son, X. (The Honble. X. W.), married to The Honble. Mrs. X. W. [or The Lady Y. W.] (as addressed in formal correspondence), daughter of The Right Honble. The Earl of Z.

  375. The Most Honble
    I initially read this as “The Most Horrible.”
    This is one of Those Threads, isn’t it?

  376. There’s some sort of award you can get for ten thousand miles of service dedicated to something or other British, called the CBE, or Companion of the Order of the British Empire, so you could in formal but discreet correspondence mention the punk-nightclub owner Lord C.B., C.B.E., of CBGBs.
    I’m not sure that was worth the explanation, it must be something to do with the altitude.

  377. I have to tell you, Crown, I don’t care for your altitude.

  378. It’s making me dizzy, I’ve never been up to 340-something before. My tea water is boiling at lower and lower temperatures.

  379. Siganus Sutor says:

    Marie-Lucie: as if Susan Jones had been completely obliterated once she was stamped with the name of her husband
    Amazing, isn’t it? There is a case that I still remember vividly: the one of someone who got to be known as Sandhya Bapoo. She left her violent husband, who was apparently sick with jealousy, and Mr Bapoo — the person from whom she was renamed as if she has become his property — just couldn’t stand it. He killed her with a machete.

  380. Siganus Sutor says:

    However, I must say that on my part I suffer from a terrible injustice. My wife, whom I call “Mrs Sutor” for ease of reference, is somehow more in the public eye than I am. Her name is Minette Cadi and every now and then we receive an envelope addressed to “Mr and Mrs Minette Cadi”. If I were a (real) man I would never have accepted anything like that. But since I’m not, it makes me laugh instead.

  381. I think Sig should get credit for imaginary numbers as an insult even if he doesn’t want to post this on the insult thread.

  382. It’s one thing to receive a letter addressed to Mr. and Mrs. from someone who doesn’t know you. But what if you tell your friends and family you have decided to use your own family name after marriage and as soon as the event happens they insist on sending mail addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Malename Husbandslastname? I have also heard that if you accept people calling you something, it becomes your real name through common usage. So What Would a Real Man (or woman) Do? Allow yourself to be stamped by the people who know you?

  383. Siganus,
    And how do you pronounce the first letter in šljivovica?
    [ʃ], i.e. as ‘sh’ in “shoe”. The whole word would be [ʃʎivɔvit͡sa] (I’m really not sure about the stress).
    ‘sli-vo-vitch-ka’ sounds like a different language, Moravian dialects of Czech or even Slovak. Note the female diminutive suffix “-ka”. Where exactly did your friends learn it?
    AJP,
    Tony Blair was always ‘Call me Tony’ except in the House, where he’s addressed as ‘The Hon. member for Durham South’, or wherever his seat is.
    “The Hon. member for Texas North”.

  384. That’s right. There’s nothing very honourable about his member.

  385. Siganus Sutor says:

    Bulbul: The whole word would be [ʃʎivɔvit͡sa]
    I don’t know what I am supposed to make out of that since on my screen what I see looks like this: [ivvitsa].
    I don’t know where my friends picked it. Not far from the Dalmatian coast I would believe. Anyway, I’m not even sure now that it’s the way they said it. It was so long ago.
    If you happen to have about 25,000 tons of raw sugar to sell, we could speed up the process…
    Funny how people can take you aback… I imagined that a bulbul like you would have asked for 25 kg of litchis (be it to make some Reunion-like “rhum arrangé”), but no, you’re asking for sugar instead. One thinks he starts to have a better idea of what people are like, and suddenly he discovers with great surprise that they are otherwise.
    For instance, who would have thought for a split second that this Hat had a goatee?

  386. Siganus,
    I don’t know what I am supposed to make out of that since on my screen what I see looks like this:
    Eternal shame on your browser and your OS, may they rot in binary hell. Try this.
    Litchis I can get in the nearest supermarket, although admittedly they are not as yummy as those from your garden. It’s brown sugar, ICUMSA 600 and more, polarization 98% and above, your best price CIF Rotterdam that I need…

  387. Why is sugar such a big deal and what is polarization and why ICUMSA 600? This doesn’t google at all.
    You have a still, don’t you.

  388. A.J.P. Crown, Esq. says:

    Who would have thought Sig shaved his eyebrows?

  389. Siganus Sutor says:

    I did shave my eyebrows once, when I was (bored) in primary school. Actually I didn’t shave them, but I cut them with my little scissors. “Madame” never believed me though, and she was adamant that I had used a razor. There was also that other time, after a cyclone, when I was still in primary school, when I burned them while trying to blow into the quinquet* of a lampe à pétrole. Fortunately they grew back and nowadays they have become quite long, so long that my wife wants me to cut the funny-looking bits that stick out of line. What shall I do?
     
     
     
    * I haven’t got a clue about how the glass top of a paraffin/kerosene lamp is called in English.

  390. Keep your wife happy. Surely you’ve learned that by now!

  391. Siganus Sutor says:

    LH: Keep your wife happy. Surely you’ve learned that by now!
    Hmmm… Then I should probably spend less time on Language Hat somewhat.
    Mais la chair est faible, hélas !

  392. As a compromise (not that I advise compromise as a strategy with one’s wife; I’m with Language, don’t hold out), but as a compromise you could always just photoshop them away in official photographs.

  393. Siganus Sutor says:

    Or, as Richard Dawkins had it with his green beards, I could do my best to have evolution get rid of them for me.
     
     
    Kronprinz: There’s some sort of award you can get for ten thousand miles of service dedicated to something or other British, called the CBE, or Companion of the Order of the British Empire
    In the office we have someone who is M.B.E. and who shook hand with the Queen. I usually call him a plain “Stephen” and I say “tu” to him when I want him to speak his funny French. Do you think my behaviour is inappropriate? (That’s suddenly worrisome to think about that…)

  394. A. Crown, KG, OM says:

    Well, John Lennon was MBE, as are the other Beatles and informality is not out of place. Actually, I read it’s not a very old honour, having been invented (invented? Yes, I think so) after WW1 by George V, the French hotel owner. MBE, it’s really the bottom of the honours barrel, what they would give the librarian in a small Scottish village for fifty-years service. Not that I wouldn’t be delighted to be offered one myself, it’s only the Queen and her ever-expanding family I want to get rid of. Old bat.

  395. Old bat
    Is that a curse? What about geezer? At what age does one stop being a geezer and become an old bat? What would you call, for example, a 55-y-o, not that any of us here resemble that (I’m officially 29, and my mother 39; when I turned 40 we had to have a talk)? And what about “snark”–is that an Americanism? I’ve only seen it applied to members of Gen X.

  396. Sig: I haven’t got a clue about how the glass top of a paraffin/kerosene lamp is called in English.
    I would call it a chimney. There is a story about how after my grandparents got electricity on the farm, one night my grandmother tried to turn off the electric light by blowing over the top of it just out of habit.
    My sopa in Jordan (I know, I know, Arabic doesn’t have a p but I keep hearing one) was a bit more complicated to blow out. Even though it gets cold enough to snow in their winters, it’s too dangerous to have a kerosene heater going during the night. My little kerosene sopa looked like a skinny R2D2 and was extinguished by taking it into the drafty bathroom, grabbing the metal loop on the top of it, and lifting it with a quick upward movement. Then you hold your breath, as you escape and close the bathroom door to let the fumes disperse.

  397. If curses worked she would have been out of a job years ago. What did you mean that minus is a curse in France, Sig?

  398. Siganus Sutor says:

    Actually it’s not in France only that un minus (not pronounced “à l’anglaise”) is a fool, a loser, a midget.
    My dear Georges had it in one of his songs:

    Fils de pécore et de minus (bis)
    Ris pas de la pauvre Vénus (bis)
    La pauvre vieille casserole

     
     
    Nijma, thanks for the transparent chimney. My grandfather had a whole collection of paraffin lamps and he just loved them. In a few decades we might revert back to them or to their equivalent.

  399. Siganus Sutor says:

    Bulbul: Try this.
    Ouch! I think I prefer the one with the white empty boxes. Is this an ancient Semitic script?
    Incidentally, sugar, be it brown or white, is a dying business on Mars. Sugar cane fields are being replaced by fields and fields of billboards (and even larger fields of concrete). We shouldn’t get too polarised about it though, and we should start thinking seriously about your other kind of sugar.
    [Do they really talk of "polarisation" for the drug? I remember from an old visit to a sugar factory that the sucrose content was checked by means of polarised light.]
    And hell is always binary, isn’t it? It’s either heaven or hell. You’re either with us or against us. There is no middle way since the Vatican abolished limbo. (No doubt next step will be to abolish lambada and, ultimately, all sinful dancing.)

    The Pope may be about to abolish the notion of limbo, the halfway house between heaven and hell.

     
     
    But then he saw my ID card and the academic title in front of my name, we were back to the familiar “pán magister”.
    Don’t tell me that that sort of thing is written on your identity card in Slovakia!? (Sounds like Greece, where your religion used to appear on your ID.) And what are the accepted qualifications? Is it written that you have a plumber’s certificate, that you are a school teacher or that you are a registered cheese producer?

  400. “At what age does one stop being a geezer and become an old bat?”
    As far as I know, geezer is male and old bat is female, so the changeover might be a little more complicated than that.

  401. Siganus,
    Incidentally, sugar, be it brown or white, is a dying business on Mars.
    I’m sorry to hear that. It’s all the Brazili… I mean the Venusians’ fault, isn’t it?
    I remember from an old visit to a sugar factory that the sucrose content was checked by means of polarised light.
    Indeed,”a measure of the rotation of plane-polarised light passing through a solution of the sugar, which is directly proportional to sucrose concentration”, aka polarisation.
    And hell is always binary, isn’t it? It’s either heaven or hell.
    That’s judgement. Binary hell is a type of hell. Unlike the one we’re all familiar with, this one doesn’t feature brimstone and fire, but Fortran, IBM encodings and a whole lot of ‘go to’ statements. May the root have mercy on our souls!
    Don’t tell me that that sort of thing is written on your identity card in Slovakia!?
    Unfortunately, yes. It would appear that the academic title, once obtained, is an integral part of your last name. That includes all the titles granted upon completion of a stage at a tertiary institution as outlined by the Bologna Process, plus Ing., the old doctorates (PhDr., RNDr.), the special doctorates JUDr. (JD) and MUDr.(MD) and the civil service positions of “docent” and “profesor”.

  402. And a warm welcome to a new contributor: Mr or Ms Low Cholesterol Diet. That’s quite a handle, pleasanter than our old friend the Diet of Worms — can we call you ‘Low Cholesterol’, for short?
    I’d no idea the Pope had abolished the limbo. Where are my poor dead pets going now, up or down? Doesn’t he have lovely white hair, the Pope? Too bad about the dark rings under his eyes. We had a master at school with two permanently black eyes, the result of having been hit in the face by a discus. I wonder if the Pope’s discolouring is from a similar injury. I think he may have been a Presbyterian — anyway, he was a beastly man: a Scotsman and a classicist, who maintained his name was John Smith and gave me low grades no matter how hard I tried. A real old geezer, who was probably in his mid-thirties.

  403. One year before the Bologna declaration, education ministers Claude Allegre (France), Jürgen Rüttgers (Germany), Luigi Berlinguer (Italy) and the Baroness Blackstone (UK) signed the Sorbonne declaration…
    Well, yes, you can see why she would want to have a more uniform system of academic titles.

  404. Here’s something from The Guardian. It’s not about minus, which is hard to show with hand gestures, but about zero:

    The OK sign
    Like the thumbs up, the hand gesture that westerners know to mean everything is fine (it comes from the hand signals used by divers) has other meanings elsewhere. Do it to someone in southern Europe, and you’ll be telling them they are “nothing” (or “zero”); in Brazil or Turkey an “arsehole”.
    Bunny ears
    Although this gesture is more commonly considered a prank to sabotage photographs, it is closely related to the Italian cornuto gesture, whereby two “horns” held up behind someone’s head are supposed to imply their spouse is cheating on them.
    Biting the thumb
    “I will bite my thumb at them, which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.” So said Sampson to his fellow Capulet servant Gregory in the first scene of Romeo and Juliet. Rarely used in southern Europe these days but surely due for a comeback.
    Open hand
    Nobody likes having an open palm thrust in their face – the aggression is obvious – though in Greece, where it is known as the moutza, it means “I rub shit in your face”. It originated in Byzantine Greece where criminals were paraded through the streets, faces blackened with soot, or worse.

  405. And this thread shall never die!

  406. AJP: Like the thumbs up, the hand gesture that westerners know to mean everything is fine (it comes from the hand signals used by divers) has other meanings elsewhere.
    Every now and then I leave my usual octopus’s garden (near a cave) and get into a car. It’s not easy to drive with all these fins, especially the caudal one, but with the help of courteous drivers I do manage to reach my destination most of the time. And every now and then, probably due to the number of divers I regularly see around my underwater place of abode, I give them the first and most common of all diving signs — they are generally human after all —, when for instance they wave me thanks because I’ve let them pass in front of me. But every now and then, Mauritius being what it is, I’m having second thoughts about how it is really perceived. Oops…

  407. No problem. Whenever I see a fish driving a car I’m not that worried about whether it’s being polite enough. I’m more concerned it’s going to wind down the window and soak me.

  408. Siganus Sutor says:

    This afternoon, while being alone in the woods, I was thinking of people with whom it would be odd to speak French. Not that they don’t speak French — they actually speak it pretty well —, but we’ve been used to speaking Creole to each other. We could speak French without any technical problem, but using this “more prestigious”, “higher” language (at least in the mind of most people) would be, for me and I think for others, like suddenly vouvoying these people that I tutoie (or totoie I’d rather say). The only time it wouldn’t feel weird to speak French to them would be while quoting somebody else, or pretending to speak in the place of somebody else. Or, to a lesser extent, during a collective conversation where French would be the language used, for instance because it would involve some people that do not speak Creole. (But even then…)
    I then remembered a post on the “language of command” — Russian in that case — (yes, one can think of Language Hat while in the woods) and I’ve been wondering if there weren’t other “lesser languages” that people wouldn’t normally use in formal contexts but that they would use with people to whom they felt close. Even if these languages didn’t have a tu, using such a language would be felt like a kind of tutoiement. I’m pretty sure there are examples of people who would speak one common language if they didn’t know each other very well, and would continue to speak this language despite having another common language, until they got close enough. They would then shift to the other common language, the one that is seen as “less official”, “more relaxed” and this can get them closer to each other because the situation would suddenly be less formal — just like with the vous/tu shift. And just like with the “once and for all” vous/tu shift, going back to the formal language while there would be just the two of them chatting would be felt like going from tu to vous — something which is so awkward that it is barely imaginable.

  409. Siganus Sutor says:

    I imagine the “less official”, “more relaxed” and “quasi-tutoying” language could to some extent be another form of the standard, formal language, for instance argot (slang).
     
     
    Kron, the next time I think I might cross your way I’ll keep a mouthful of water, just in case you’re feeling a bit hot that day.

  410. Yeah? Well, it’s going to be a few months before that’s likely to happen. It was -17C here the other day.

  411. David Marjanović says:

    Don’t tell me, “kýbel” or something similar, right?

    Just pretend the ý is Old Norse…
    Kübel.
    Not just dialectal, found in the standard language as well. In fact, it’s the less regionally marked word.

    By the by, minus is a curse in the French Republic.

    C’est nul.

    [ʃ], i.e. as ‘sh’ in “shoe”. The whole word would be [ʃʎivɔvit͡sa] (I’m really not sure about the stress).

    My dad retroflexes it like in Russian (incidentally, note that all the sources that say it’s retroflexed in Polish are lying). The stress goes on the first syllable, and lj is [lʲ] like in Russian, not [ʎ], though that’s a small difference.

    I don’t know what I am supposed to make out of that since on my screen what I see looks like this: [ivvitsa].

    Easy: it means that you should get a decent browser. Internet Explorer 7 for Windows is a decent browser. Pretty much anything except the thrice-accursed Internet Explorer for Mac is.
    For figuring out what the things you don’t see mean, start at the Wikipedia article for the IPA.

  412. Siganus Sutor says:

    I don’t really want to criticise (otherwise I’ll end up receiving some dog’s name), but this place definitely needed some cleaning.
     
     
    AJP: It was -17C here the other day.
    The Martian Meteorological Services in Vacoas talk about a maximum of 33°C, but I’m sure they don’t dare go down to Port Louis, where bitumen is melting, thus making it dangerous to open your windows while driving. In any case they should take greater care with their choice of adjectives:
    “GENERAL SITUATION :
    (A) OUR AREA REMAINS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF A WARM AND MOIST AIRSTREAM.”
    But maybe they don’t know, yet, that certain things are better left unsaid.
     
     
    David: C’est nul.
    I’m no nihilist, and no nitpicker either, but I think it’s even less than nil. I might have been fooled though.

    Tu me tiens pour un imbécile, un minus, un débile mental? (AYMÉ, Quatre vérités, 1954).

  413. Siganus Sutor says:

    By the way, just to wander a little bit out of subject and talk about Hungarian things for instance, why not, Language Hat has mentioned “Hungarian-born poet George Szirtes” and quoted someone mentioning “the great Hungarian poet, Ágnes Nemes Nagy”. I may be wrong, I certainly am, but I thought that written this way George and Ágnes were likely to be their family names.
    Given that they are Hungarians, shouldn’t we talk of Szirtes George just like we talk of Mao Zedong, Thaksin Shinawatra, Nguyen Minh Triet or Jerome K. Jerome? But then, what about the other poet? Should she be called Nemes Nagy Ágnes, Nagy Nemes Ágnes, or some other combination?

  414. Siganus Sutor says:

    Oh, David, by the way, this could be recently read on the BBC’s website:
    “Tuesday, 16 December 2008
    Serious security flaw found in IE
    Users of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer are being urged by experts to switch to a rival until a serious security flaw has been fixed.”
    But maybe you were being ironic?
    (By the way, I cannot change the browser on the computer I use most.)

  415. Siganus Sutor says:

    PS: Finally it looks as if Shinawatra is the family name of Mr Thaksin. If so, I don’t understand why serious media like the BBC, the Economist or The Independent call him “Mr Thaksin”. In that case to speak of another former Prime Minister as “Mr Tony” would be less unexpected.

  416. Title + given name is the way Thai names normally work. Same for Vietnamese names, though the complete order is different.

  417. Siganus Sutor says:

    MMcM, the Wikipedia page on Thai names you are linking to says that the Western order (given name + family name) is used in Thailand (unlike China or Japan). This is in line with the way the Thais I’ve met were called. Then, again, I don’t understand this “Mr Thaksin” used by Western media.
    And in your case, is M your given name and M your family name or is it the other way round?

  418. I cannot change the browser on the computer I use most.
    Why on earth not? Especially now that there is a serious known bug that is now very public. I’ve managed to download Firefox on several work computers (although one of them has the shortcut corrupted already). When I asked the computer tech, he just smiled like a Cheshire Cat; I think he likes Firefox too. I know he has had to disable the firewall to install some programs, but he didn’t for Firefox. He doesn’t care about Firefox, he just doesn’t want anyone running MSN Messenger.
    Changing the browser might not fix it though. There are a lot of special Asian characters I can’t see with WindowsXP/Firefox that are just fine with Vista/Firefox. (Arabic is enabled on both, but maybe I’m still missing some setting or other.)

  419. Given that they are Hungarians, shouldn’t we talk of Szirtes George just like we talk of Mao Zedong
    I suspect the difference is because the Hungarians were part of the Habsburg Empire for a long time and used FN LN order when writing in German — I have a German/Hungarian dictionary (Pest, 1869) that’s by Loos József and Josef Loos on facing title pages. Also, Hungarian names look enough like standard Western European ones (cf. Josef Loos) that it would seem odd to put them in “reverse” order, whereas Chinese names, being completely alien, sound just as alien in either direction, so there was no impulse to reverse them.

  420. michael farris says:

    “Then, again, I don’t understand this “Mr Thaksin” used by Western media”
    This is because the personal name is more important both informally and formally in bureaucracy (documents are filed by personal name and the family name is just to disambiguate people with the same name, quite the opposite of western bureaucracy).
    Family names are a relatively recent addition and not used for much.
    The same is true for Vietnamese although the order is different.
    The first syllable is the family name and the last is the personal name (the middle syllable or syllables are linkers). Only the personal name can be used by itself or with a title, otherwise the entire name has to be used.
    The same is also true in Some Arabic countries where the bureaucratic functions of the personal and family names are reversed from the west. Referring to the former Iraqi tyrant as Saddam is actually normal Iraqi practice.

  421. Siganus,
    I cannot change the browser on the computer I use most.
    Then try one of them portable versions of Firefox.
    Given that they are Hungarians, shouldn’t we talk of Szirtes George just like we talk of Mao Zedong
    Hat nailed it. Plus there’s the fact that until 1844, Latin was the official language in the Kingdom of Hungary, so the practice of writing Hungarian names in the SAE order was well established even before the national(ist) awakening.
    But then, what about the other poet? Should she be called Nemes Nagy Ágnes, Nagy Nemes Ágnes, or some other combination?
    Nope. It should be Lengyel Balázsné :)

  422. David Marjanović says:

    Serious security flaw found in IE

    Hey, at least it doesn’t crash just so about once per day, the way Safari does, and I’m talking about Safari for Mac here. :-) And Microsoft announced a patch yesterday evening, so hastily that they didn’t bother to translate the notice into German; it goes without saying I made the Windows Update as recommended.

    Title + given name is the way Thai names normally work.

    So that’s why I’ve heard Prof. Éric Buffetaut being referred to as “Dr. Ilik” by one of his Thai students. (Stress on the very first syllable, i. e. “Doc”.)

  423. Sutor Siganus says:

    This is because the personal name is more important both informally and formally in bureaucracy
    All right, but I presume you are talking about Thai bureaucracy, no? So why should English newspapers follow that habit?
    However, khun Michael, I believe it is not just a matter of bureaucracy. I’ve always heard Lek being referred to by his staff (very respectfully) as “khun Lek”, i.e. by his first name, and I myself have always been called “khun Siganus”. There was no Emerson-like “Herr Sutor”. (Actually I suspect most of the Thai staff never knew my last name.)
    French bureaucracy and French education system tend to reverse the order as well, which usually drives me mad (after all a prénom should be before the name). But others are more civilised and don’t do it.

  424. Sutor Siganus says:

    Hat, there is just one member of my family who settled permanently in another country (a country known as “the USA”), i.e. one of my mother’s sisters, and she married a Hungarian. I’ve always heard of him as Laszlo B., in this order. My comment was just another attempt to bring matters back to Hungarian things. :o)

  425. Thanks for the portable Firefox tip, Bulbul. I’ve just finished installing it on my keychain flash drive, along with all my favorite add-ons.

  426. Sutor Siganus says:

    PS: I never managed to have Hungarian cousins though, because they didn’t have any children. A pity. It would have put some exotic flavour into our fully Martian bunch of cousins. (Ha, all these little green men and women…)

  427. existentialism myspace says:

    [spam stuff deleted, but "existentialism myspace" kept for its piquancy -- LH]

  428. A. J. P. Crown says:

    I have both Safari and Firefox on my mac, but I mostly use Safari. Firefox has a very ugly orange and blue logo and I don’t like the name Mozilla, it reminds me of King Kong (gorilla?). If I use Firefox here in this comments box it looks like a typewriter. I just don’t like Firefox, and I don’t understand why everyone else does, I see no advantage.
    He’ll never answer you on this, so I’ll just have to tell you that M is his first name and M is his last name. (His first name is Maurice.)
    a prénom should be before the name
    Yes. This brings me to the topic that my family are all sick of hearing. Why do Norwegians* celebrate Christmas the day before the event? Norway even marks the eve of the eve, the twenty-third, which they call ‘Little Christmas Eve’. I am marking the eve of the eve of the eve this year, which I am calling ‘Tiny Little Christmas Eve’, the twenty-second, and then next year… In 360 years time, EVERY DAY will be Christmas Eve! And then when every day is Christmas Eve all the children will want to celebrate my birthday, as well, 8 June (same as Ffrank Lloyd Wright), until in seven hundred years…
    *I know. It’s not just Norwegians; nearly all foreigners do this — including the Germans and they actually INVENTED Christmas, with the trees, candles and teddy bears — but it’s absurd. Would you celebrate YOUR birthday the day before it occurs? I think not.

  429. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Godzilla, it must be.

  430. Sutor Siganus says:

    Yes, I tend to make the same association.
    There is also a programme used to upload or download files from FTP sites which is called “FileZilla”. I don’t know what these computer guys have with this -zilla kind of suffix. They must have remained little kids somewhere.
     
     
    Bulbul, thanks for the portable godzilla, but, you see, I’m not supposed to be surfing the internet on the laptop provided by the office.

  431. Siganus Sutor says:

    (And the IT watchdog at work must have put a lot of security on the browser because it tends to crash ten times a day, generally when you are typing a comment on Language Hat…)

  432. A. J. P. Crown says:

    I just carry round an ordinary computer with an extension cord; they give me such a hard time at the airport. Next year I’m getting a flat screen, it’ll be a lot easier.

  433. Siganus,
    sorry to hear about the crashing and stuff. Would you be willing to try portable Opera? I hear it’s a pain to web develop for, but not that bad for users.
    AJP,
    so you are a Mac user. Hm.
    Why do XXX* celebrate Christmas the day before the event?
    We celebrate Christmas on the day before and on the day after. Where I come from, Christmas Eve has a special significance because of eastern-rite traditions. We may be uniats and so keep the Latin calendar, but religious feasts start at sundown on the previous day.

  434. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Bulbul: so you are a Mac user. Hm.
    Should I be worried? Is Steve Jobs is ill?

  435. A. J. P. Crown says:

    religious feasts start at sundown on the previous day
    That’s how Germans do it and it works quite well because it’s not too early in the day (in Britain if you have children it’s at dawn), or too late (at midnight you can sometimes be tired and drunk). Norway starts at dawn; just on the wrong day, in my opinion.

  436. so you are a Mac user. Hm.
    That was my immediate thought too, but then I remembered about the cruise ship design thing, so maybe AJP has a socially acceptable excuse. The best artsy type programs only run on mac. Besides which, being a fellow Gemini, I vote for cutting him a little slack just this once.

  437. I don’t think anyone’s supposed to surf at work, but we’ve probably all peeked at LH. If you use a reader like Google Reader, you can read new posts without leaving a trail in the browser history by subscribing to the feeds. But the lab tech told me recently the computer tech at the main branch have the real-time capability of viewing individual screens in the network. If you look at the infamous Sales Guy vs. Web Dude video you can see what appears to be a demonstration of this. This is NSFW, so be careful where you open it. A SPOILER follows: Among other things, it has the p-word (not Kron’s favorite p-word, the other one).

  438. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Macs are fantastic, really. I wouldn’t trade my 24″ inch screen for a tiny laptop screen. I can have two A4 sheets side by side and still have space for menus. It doesn’t do much a pc wouldn’t do probably, both work with Photoshop, the world’s greatest programme. It has great sound, it’s very fast. Great for dvds. Mac won’t do Autocad any more, which is a shame.

  439. I just don’t like Firefox, and I don’t understand why everyone else does, I see no advantage.
    First there’s the quick and clean opening page–just the google search bar instead of waiting forever for a bunch of promotional stuff to load if you have IE home page. Then there’s the tabbed browsing, the search engine window with google, wikipedia, answers.com (and anything else you want to add) with just a mouseclick instead of googling, and the huge number of compatible add-ons available, including spellcheck dictionaries and the FoxLingo translation toolbar. Mostly because Firefox is intuitive and does a huge number of things you can figure out without a lot of study–who has time for that when software changes so quickly? More at my URL.

  440. I have a 20″ screen on my pc and prefer the laptop screen, no matter how many windows I can see at the same time. For me the 20″ screen is just irritating and hard to look at. The biggest reason for pc over mac is price–a mac typically cost twice a pc, given the same hardware capability in terms of memory and disk space. I understand the mac doesn’t show you stuff like disk drives so you don’t have to think in terms of where stuff is physically–maybe for some people it’s worth paying double for having a fuzzy interface with the hardware.

  441. I hear the best video editing programs are only for mac.

  442. Decent sound is not an exclusive function of macs either. For my laptop I have some very nice Logitech Z-5 USB speakers and for the PC for my birthday I got myself the Logitech Z-2300s, which I play at 25% volume and 40% of the bass capability. The latter speaker-zillas can crank up pretty high before they start to distort and could easily be used for intra-apartment building warfare with noisy tenants if I wanted to go there. I had been skeptical about the quality of the laptop sound card (and also the pc as there was a sound card upgrade available when I ordered it), but I was not at all unhappy with how it all turned out. If I wanted better sound from speakers I would have to pay at least four times as much.

  443. michael farris: The same is also true in Some Arabic countries where the bureaucratic functions of the personal and family names are reversed from the west.
    I have seen as many as four Arab first names before the last name on student rosters. There would be the given name, the father’s given name, the grandfather’s given name, etc. The surname is not so much a family name as a tribal name, i.e. al-Abadi or Abbady, al-Bdul, al-Howetat, but for some reason I’ve never seen a Bene Hassan surname for someone in this numerous tribe–maybe their names are sub-tribes? This family name is indeed important because someone familiar with the local families can tell you where they are from as well as their religion just by the name. But there is nothing really wrong with first names. Even more respectful is the first name of the first born male child (or female child if there isn’t yet a male offspring) with “father of” or “mother of”. For example the mother of Mohammad would be “Um Mohammad” and the father would be “Abu Mohammad”.
    While the naming of a child is done by the father as a symbolic acceptance of paternity, in practice both the mother and father plan the name of this child together as they will both be known formally by this name. In addition this “um” and “abu” type of naming is also used for someone who enjoys something excessively. I was “Um Shai” (mother of tea) for drinking tea instead of water (which I did hoping it would be boiled since I lost some 20 kg in my first 3 months there). The late Yasser Arafat was known as “Abu shiffa” (father of lips) for his habit of excessive kissing when greeting people. The typical Arab greeting is a kiss on either cheek–you can see King Abdullah sometimes kiss certain people three times in a reception line, but never more. When Arafat–whose Fatah faction was suspected of being behind both the failed revolution and the failed assassination attempts against Abdullah’s father King Hussein, on Arafat’s frequent arrivals at the Amman airport he would be met by the King and give Abdullah kiss after kiss on both cheeks, forehead, on and on….

  444. AJP,
    nothing wrong with being a Mac user, really.
    I wouldn’t trade my 24″ inch screen for a tiny laptop screen.
    Well, then get a decent PC with a 24″ LCD (I prefer Samsung, but LG sounds good as well).
    Nijma,
    I hear the best video editing programs are only for mac.
    Adobe makes stuff for pcs now, too. As for Final Cut Pro, I really can’t tell if it’s better than Premiere Pro.

  445. David Marjanović says:

    I don’t like the name Mozilla, it reminds me of King Kong (gorilla?).

    Of course: Gojira “Godzilla” is a portmanteau of kujira “whale” and gorira “Gorilla”.

    I don’t know what these computer guys have with this -zilla kind of suffix. They must have remained little kids somewhere.

    Noooooooooo. Really? You think???
    Though… the suffix is more widespread. Find fossil footprints of an average-sized adult temnospondyl, and all the media will be talking about Frogzilla. And Beelzebufo (look it up) also got called Frogzilla. And there are 17.900 ghits for Frogzilla in total. <facepalm>

    First there’s the quick and clean opening page–just the google search bar instead of waiting forever for a bunch of promotional stuff to load if you have IE home page.

    Erm. <gulp> You did know that you can choose your own opening page, didn’t you? You don’t have to use that stupid Microsoft page.
    This holds for any browser. Browsers for the Mac will generally come with the stupid http://www.apple.com set as the homepage; you can change that.
    <screech>Computers are not for adults!!!</screech> You must be a child to use a computer. You must play with it. You must click everywhere just to see what options exist and what happens. “Verily I say unto you, Except ye [...] become as little children, ye shall not enter into” cyberspace.

    Then there’s the tabbed browsing, the search engine window [...] with just a mouseclick instead of googling, and the huge number of compatible add-ons available

    IE was admittedly the last browser to introduce tabs and the search menu, but IE7 does have both, and it was introduced 2 years ago or something. Works fine. I’m not sure if there are more add-ons for Firefox than for IE7, though I suppose it’s possible.
    Great comic!

  446. You did know that you can choose your own opening page, didn’t you?
    I know you can set a home page, my brother uses his own website as his homepage, but that’s not the same as having a useful homepage with translation toolbars and search engine windows that you can actually *use*. And if I know all that about Firefox and not about any other browsers, that kind of makes my point about it being intuitive. If you can’t play with it and figure it out, what good is it.
    Mozilla
    Wiki says: “Historically, Mozilla had been used internally as a codename for the Netscape Navigator web browser from its beginning.”
    “Mozilla was the mascot of the now-disbanded Netscape Communications Corporation, formerly called Mosaic Communications Corporation.”
    Software people often give projects playful names that are easy to remember for internal use–probably because the official names tend to be long strings of letters and numbers.
    Yeah, nice cartoon.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_company_name_etymologies
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla

  447. Siganus Sutor says:

    Doctor Bulbul: That includes all the titles granted upon completion of a stage at a tertiary institution as outlined by the Bologna Process, plus Ing., the old doctorates (PhDr., RNDr.), the special doctorates JUDr. (JD) and MUDr.(MD) and the civil service positions of “docent” and “profesor”.
    Some time ago I met an Indian architect who had just been employed by a Mauritian agency. I didn’t get his name the first time he said it. Later, I apologised before asking him again about his name. He said something that my dumb self didn’t pick once again. When he repeated the same thing for the third time, I finally understood that his name was “Architect Jug Gokool”. One might think that this was a funny first name indeed — though it would have been funnier if he had been Christian since “Architect” would then have to be considered a ‘Christian name’ —, but even if he didn’t have that a strong Indian accent I just couldn’t understand what the first part of his name could be. It’s a bit like “Lengyel Balázsné”: you don’t know where the given name is and where the family name is, even though in some cases it can even be an “acquired name”.

  448. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Yeah, it’s a great cartoon, even though I personally don’t understand it.
    I finally understood that his name was “Architect Jug Gokool”. If this happens again, next time you reply, “Engineer Sutor, Siganus”, and he’ll go ‘Excuse me, I didn’t quite catch your…’ and you can mime it for him.
    The worst problems occur for people with reversible names, like Blaise Pascal. When his books first came out everyone in Eastern Europe thought that Joyce James was a woman.

  449. Siganus Sutor says:

    and you can mime it for him
    Yes, à l’aise Blaise, I’ll jump into the next pond and start swimming around. If he doesn’t get the message he doesn’t deserve to be called Architect.
     
     
    a post on the “language of command” — Russian in that case
    Actually it was French (in Madagascar), but someone told a nice story about the use of Russian in Turkmenistan.

  450. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Attention Sig,
    From today’s Guardian, here are the recent developments concerning the shoe guy:

    Zaidi’s brother Dirgham insisted in an interview with al-Jazeera that any apology could only have been written “under pressure”.
    If it is confirmed, Zaidi’s remorse may not be appreciated by supporters such as the Egyptian who offered to marry his 20-year-old daughter to Zaidi or the Palestinian from the West Bank town of Nablus who went further: pledging both a daughter and $30,000 for the Iraqi’s legal costs. A Bahraini admirer offered to buy him a luxury limousine.
    It could also be a disappointment for the Saudi who reportedly said he would pay 10m riyals for the size 10 “freedom shoes.” Following the old adage that success has many fathers, cobblers all over the Middle East have claimed they manufactured the loafers though most footwear in Iraq is Chinese-made. The most convincing claim came from Turkey, where manufacturer Ramazan Baydan said he might change the name of the shoe, prosaically called Model 271, to the Bush Shoe or Bye-bye Bush model. “Thanks to Bush, orders are flying in like crazy,” he said. Ayatollah Jannati called for the shoes to be deposited in a museum in Iraq. But Judge al-Kinani revealed they had been destroyed by investigators trying to determine whether they contained explosives.
    Copycat footwear hurling has apparently also begun elsewhere, with a Ukrainian nationalist, as yet unnamed, throwing his boots at an Odessa speaker arguing in favour of Nato expansion.
    It has also been a busy week for the spinoff online game Sock and Awe, which lets players throw virtual brown loafers at Bush.

  451. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Ten million riyals, that’s just over two and a half million US dollars for the freedom shoes, a ‘luxury’ limo, someone’s daughter, and $30,000 for legal costs– that’s all on the plus side.
    On the minus side: one pair of size ten freedom shoes, a beating, $30,000 legal costs and someone’s daughter.
    I guess he’s up two-and-a-half-million dollars (he can give the guy another pair of freedom shoes, freedom shoes all look the same) and a limo. He can start a limo business, maybe, or a freedom-shoe business.

  452. Why do Norwegians* celebrate Christmas the day before the event? Norway even marks the eve of the eve, the twenty-third, which they call ‘Little Christmas Eve’.
    Any particular customs associated with this day? Is this when Norwegians put the milk in the barn for the Nisse? Looks like due to juggling inlaw schedules, our big night will be the 23rd. But we don’t have any Norwegian traditions at all–I guess the ancestors on the Norwegian side went to heaven prematurely before they could pass it along.

  453. That would be TWO daughters. Nasty remark on Haaretz: “It is easy nowadays to get an Arab virgin – just throw a shoe”
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1048258.html

  454. John Cowan says:

    By the way, the (then) Pope did not abolish Limbo: it was a permissible opinion before, and it is one now, on which the Church officially abstains from doctrinizing. What he did was to assent to a document saying that belief in the salvation of unbaptized infants was not an excuse to avoid or delay infant baptism.

  455. marie-lucie says:

    A long thread, definitely worth reading again! (if you hve plenty of time).

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