anantaparam kila sabdasastram
svalpam tathayur bahvas ca vighnah
The science of the languages is really bottomless
and our lifes' path is short and full of obstacles (Pancatantra)
Indeed, as svd notes, those that do speak another language do not only
say "differently" the same things - in Ionesco's Lecon the Professor notes that The
word "Rome" is spelled "Madrid" in
spanish - they see in a different way the world and the time around them as well.
Gender differences are striking: Moon
is masculine in German and Sun is feminine. In latin languages the contrary is true. "Tom Cat" and
"Pussycat", in english, are also interesting examples for languages that in some cases
gender distinctions (see also "he-goat" and "she-goat"). For searchers this is EXTREMELY
relevant and important. Imagine a language with only four names for all different
colors and another language with
20 or more different names: wich results would your vanilla search held there? Or -again-
think at all the different names the
Icelanders have for "snow" or the finns for "salmon".
It works the other way round as well: try to translate Homer's works in icelandic
masquerading part of the text), or Aristotles in a language that does not have
but very few abstract concepts. The whole speculation about "being" in our euroamerican
world is based on the incredible ambiguity of the greek verb einai (to be):
he is in the room vis-a-vis
he is nice. Note that you would have some problems
translating the previous period in spanish, that makes quite a difference
between ser and estar :-)
Taxonomies are directly related to cultural values, at times to etnological values as
well. The old greeks (not to speak of the old Hebrews that wrote the bible)
used a taxonomy based more on "luminosity" than on "spectral" values, when describing
colors, and you can
easily "feel" the consequences of this reading Homer, or the Bible, in your own
language. There is an incredibly interesting research on these matters by B.Berlin and
P.Kay: Basic color terms. Their universality and Evolution (Berkeley, Uni of California 1969)
that will give you a glimpse of the complexity of these problems.
Enjoy svd's small essay below. It is an attempt, and feedback will be precious
to develop it into a full-fledged tool for seekers.
The weird ways of searching and the weird findings
by ~S~ svd
i tried to write something like a essay on the "weird" ways of searching but it's still complete
mess. And will have to add more things here from the mb Anyway, point me at the sky and let me
fly... ================ fftbys.htm the weird ways of searching and the weird
--blah blah some introduction required here--
* Find a
friend to be your senses
- find one that is fluent in certain domain/field/language and
can apply his knowledge to support / power the below cross-domain bridging. If you search
for a siamese song, well, you better get a siamese to search for it. Or whatever. One can
never has more than 1 (2? 3?) cultural backgrounds, while too many things depend on them,
and searching with other (mindset,cultural, traditional, language) patterns is like
trying to use wrong screwdriver - it may not do a job.
- or, well, just find somebody else
to search instead of you ;-) Or brainstorm together.
* searching not for the
exact thing may give better results
It's like how a cat "walks" and suddenly it has a
mouse in her paws - She has been pretending she's walking. Looking sideways... Or like
you cannot look at the sun directly, but you can look a bit aside, above, or below it... and
that is enough to localize where it is.
This applies to all features of the target object.
Take for example spelling. If you search for misspelled words you can find people who do not
know that language enough (meaning that they maybe know MORE than one language), or do
not care about "glitters" on their pages, but for the actual content. Eh, you can also find
real lazy arses, but that is imminent. Crap happens. "Guinness" or "guines". Or even "gines"
(which steps over to transliterating. see below)
* use analogy and
- switch into other "represenation" of same thing in same field
and search for that (direct analogy, like synonyms, but not exactly)
- use a
"representation" of same thing in other field, then make another analogy from that field
back to yours; (it may give you very different, unexpected result)
cross-language/nation/background/history/technology and knowledge to get synonyms, other
letterings or other words for same thing, or even other understandings.
transliterating patterns as sound or as letters; Well, this steps into knowing languages and
transcriptions. And the difference between what is spoken and what is written. And in
what language it is written AND then read aloud. Reading the phrase "syntax error" may be read
as "suntah eggog" given certain transliteration. Or even the limitation of a 7-segment
digital indicators to show certain letters ;-). Most languages have unique letter-to-sound
and vice-versa relations, but others, for example english and french, use combinations of
letters and not letters themselves. Now, the the unique sound-to-letter ones have
different mapping for some letters. Whole west and half east europe use latine letters,
but they read them differently. Servantes would be in latine. In (original) spanish it
is Cervantes though. But it is read as though it starts with S. (In deutsch, v is read f,
w is read v, so it would have been Serwantes ?) In cyrillic it will *look* as CEPBAHTEC (C is
S, P is R, B is V, H is N) One can make a list of letters that never change their sound -
it won't be too big. 'R' is one example. It mostly sounds like rrroaring bear or
wolf... Soundex is one way of generating things that sound like something (in english)
(hi, augustus_p ;-). And one can use other languages to get other letterings for same
thing -- which leads us to
- use other languages as bridges; one can use other
languages to get other letterings for same thing. (if it's international enough). Computer and
Komputer. Don Quijote, Don Quichote,... Don Kihot. Going through other alphabet / other
sound2letter mapping is even more interesting. Take cyrillic for example, Jorge Amado is the
original name. *Exact* prononciation of that in different latine alphabet based languages
would be very different, but if ones knows it he says it right. Now, if you get it into
cyrilic, and then transliterate it back using the standard cyrilic to latine mappings you
may end up with ... Zhorzhe Amadu, or Amadoo. (Zh-o-r-zh-e A-m-a-d-u / A-m-a-d-oo)
other traditions/backgrounds and the impact on languages as bridges; In some
languages/nations/backgrounds, certain foreign words and names became a noun for a whole
class of things alike. One can "copy" a sheet or "xerox" it. In quite many languages.
(Rank Xerox being the inventor, or at least the biggest distributor of those easy-to-use
machines.) And all the machines might be named xeroxes regardless of the actual
brand. Delco is a company name, but in .bg it has become a synonym for the distributor cap
from the car's engine ignition system... etc.
- use etymology of the
the word comes from. As was said above, 'R' and the verb for roaring on most languages
tries to sound like a real roar. But that is too rare example. That sound has been too
dangerous so it's copied quite exactly. Others are not. Just look how the cockerel says it's
"song" in different languages - almost no similar ones... But funny, all of them could be
taken for a cockerel... having "ears" in that language ;-) So if you know what the word
actualy stays for, you can search other (languages) representations of it.
If you go
deeper in that, keep in mind that Nomen est omen. The native sayings/phrases are good mirror
of what sort of background the words come from (ah, well, some stalking and miming can be
based on that too).
Quick & dirty Etymological bibliography for seekers
by fravia+, started: June 2000
(french and english references deserve more delving and will be added asap)
Van Veen (Van Dale Lexicografie, Utrecht / Antwerpen) Etymologisch woordenboek ISBN 90-6648-302-4
Kluge (Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York) Etymologisches Woerterbuch ISBN 3-11-005709-3
Battisti-Alessio (Barbera editore, Firenze) Dizionario etimologico italiano "Non bramo altr'esca"
Comparative etymology (ALL latin languages!!)
F.Dietz (Adolph Marcus, Bonn) Etymologisches Woerterbuch der romanischen Sprachen 1853 (last edition: important studies are no more practicized nowadays :-(