I am somewhat fascinated by GeoArabic, National Geographic’s channel in Arabic. But this clip befuddled me. It is titled: سلحة العائلة التخلص من الفأس. Which translates as Arms Family is getting rid of, um, al kas? It turns out al kas means the ax. And I am sorry to say, GeoArabic managed to make these gun-collecting Americans look crazy. (Which may have been their intention.) Watch the video if you’ve an extra five minutes. (Enjoy the melodic Arabic!) Now tell me, does it not seem like they portraying the folks onscreen as nuts?
Last week went past with a blur, mainly due to a heavy workload. Yesterday afternoon also passed with a blur; combined with stars, twittering cuckoo’s, and flashing lights… The result of picking up my car keys from the floor, whilst standing up straight under the edge corner of a solid oak wall cupboard. The agonised scream was released without dignity, as were the choice words that would make a Drill Instructor blush!
Though I have a thick head of hair, I intentionally keep it cropped short, which under the circumstances did not ease my pain. My jaw snapped shut with a hard clunk, and the crack from my neck echoed and reverberated like a rifle shot that rippled down my spine. Then in a true ‘lights out’ manner, I drooped slowly down onto my hands and knees and struggled to fight the black abyss that I have visited several times before, just as I felt the first trickle of blood drop from my forehead onto the kitchen floor “oh bugger, fight it, fight it“! Then it was the turn of the puppy and the old fellah, ‘Hanna and Joss’ came bounding over and in true Staffordshire Bull Terrier style, they rumbled and butted me to join in the fun. All the while I could hear a strange noise, almost like a voice calling from afar; was it an angel, or old nick summoning me?
When I eventually arose I did so slowly, and done exactly the same thing again, in exactly the same spot on my skull, though this time the rising lump seemed to cushion the blow, which was numb anyway from the first effort. I just stood with blurred teary eyes and stared at my phone that was lit up; the strange noise was coming from it? Then I realised it was my mate, we had been talking on loud speak as I waited for the kettle to boil. He being an ex bootneck thought it was hilarious, and I just knew our circle of friends would know all about it before the hour was up. To make matters worse, I sat with my cup of tea and a bag of frozen peas on my head (that gave me brain freeze) when I received a visitor, who witnessed the sight through the open kitchen window. Again, an ex matelot who turned up to return a previously loaned book, he offered the same amount of sympathy as my mate on the phone. Sunday 16th June 2013 was not one of my better days.
But hey, at least I woke up this morning still speaking English! Even though I have a cartoon lump on my head, and the vertebrae of an ejected pilot! ‘It makes me so angry because I am Australian’: Tasmanian woman wakes after car crash with a strong French accent
Question! What has the compound German Noun ‘Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertrag-ungsgesetz’, got in common with the following piece of Beef, as well as the Dictionary?
Answer: Absolutely nothing. With the possible exception that ‘Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertrag-ungsgesetz’ contains 63 letters, and this week it has ceased to exist within the German language, it has also been dropped from the German Dictionary. Which means that ‘Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung‘ at 36 letters, now comes top as the longest registered word.
However, the Concise Oxford ENGLISH Dictionary contains a word, which contains a real tongue twister of 45 letters; Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis! A crazy lot these linguists, like mad professors… madly teaching at Mad University, in Madsville, Madison. (With the exception of Madison, don’t bother looking for the others, they don’t exist)!
(Can I hear the ‘pitter patter’ of Kristen’s slippered feet as she saunters along the corridor to admonish me)?
In life you get what you earn. And today, I did not pass my language test. Granted I am an officer and it is a skill no longer required for my job, I still felt, had I worked harder, I could have passed it. I’ve taken the DLPT sixteen times and only bombed, this time included, three times. I’ve had high scores, but not today. I am consoling myself with the fact that I almost passed after doing very little preparation.
I will say this, the Lance Corporal sitting next to me had his Tagalog up very loudly, but I won’t use that as an excuse. Nor will I complain that he kept shaking my chair. I had to bark at him once to settle down, he was super antsy.
I also had an interesting run-in with the test proctor which proved again how inaccurate the term racist could be. She was a young, Hispanic lady who was very gruff with me. I noticed she was far more pleasant with an Air Force Airman who was taking the Spanish test. He was Hispanic too. I chalked up her surliness to racism against a gringo. When I was going to get my scores, she said something about calling Marine Corps Command to get a waiver to take the test again in three months. (Rather than the traditional six month waiting period.) I reminded her I was in the Navy and suddenly she was quite a bit more relaxed and friendly. So her front had nothing to do with race and everything to do with service. (I was not in uniform, choosing instead to take the test in civvies.)
I’ll get it next time. I’ve hardly practiced my Arabic reading and going through those passages was rough. The reading section is three hours, as is the listening. I felt like I had been thrown under one of these when I was done. Two more languages left…
The young whipper-snappers studying Arabic these days have tons of material that us veterans had no access to back in the day.
Just googling Arabic, I came across the television show Revolution, starring Billy Burke, Tracy Spiridakos, Elizabeth Mitchell, Daniella Alonso, and Giancarlo Esposito among others subtitled in Arabic.
We are making it too easy to learn the language! You know how many times I had to watch Flipper and Sindbad in Arabic because they were the only DVDs we had? Dozens of times!
Sadly, I have my Arabic test looming, so blogging may be light and frivolous. And if I am going to suffer, you are too. Try reading this article on weapons. The author addresses if guns are for defense or for a hobby:
السلاح .. دفاع عن النفس أم هواية؟
تناولت وسائل الاعلام في الآونة الأخيرة خبر احتجاز الشرطة للفنان المصري محمد رمضان بطل فيلم عبده موتة بسبب حيازته لأسلحة نارية وذخيرة ضبطت في سيارته.
ورغم انكاره لمعرفته بأمر تلك الأسلحة، إلا أن الموضوع أثار الحديث في مصر عن حيازة بعض الناس لأسلحة مختلفة لحماية انفسهم أو ربما ايضا لمهاجمة الأخرين .إيناس علوي تحاول رصد الظاهرة
This test could get ugly. I betta bring coffee, I’m going to get creamed.
This is a long one, without many pretty pictures to hold your attention. Before continuing, please ensure you have eaten your fill, and that your cup, glass, mug, can, bottle, is fully charged, and that you have visited the bathroom, heads, toilet, john, powder room.
Now, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
Surnames, moniker’s and nicknames; what’s yours?
Surnames, Christian names, and even moniker’s issued at birth can almost identify an individual’s lineage, caste, and social standing. Later on in life as we grow into our given names, circumstances may arise that could blight our social standing. It can be through a nickname or a set of initials, which when paired to a place of work, can bring down a person’s credibility from a high ten, to a crashing zero; or at least raise a smile or two along the way.
For instance: Dr. Richard (aka ‘Dick’) Head. Head of Urology! Now that’s taking the piss (an ‘olde’ English term meaning; to extract mirth or a hidden truth from a person).
How about: A Frenchman named Bertrand Iain Garen Noa’se, Gaelic spelling pronounced as ‘Nose’. Who possibly had the cutest button nose as a child, that sadly grew to an epic ‘aquiline’ (roman) nose later on in life. Made even more unfortunate that in France his full name is that of one from noble birth. But, in England his initials BIG Noa’se, or even his surname could earn him the nickname of ‘Hooter’, ‘Massive’, ‘Nosey’, or simply ‘BIG’?
Onomatology & Anthroponomastic are big words; can you spell them? ‘Them’! ;-) I have a friend who studies ‘Onomatology’, the study of proper names of all kinds, as well as ‘Anthroponomastics’, the study of personal names. Just as a linguist has the ability to pick out a tune or a certain tone from a foreign language, my friend has the ability of picking out a source or meaning of a name/nickname. It some times can be quite fascinating to listen to her over a coffee; she is almost the equivalent of a mad professor as she spouts forth information at a high cyclic rate of fire. When I introduced her to the topic of Military nicknames she was enthralled, and went off like a belt fed howitzer.
My early interest for Military nicknames grew through basic training on one miserable wind-swept winter day, as my squad stood in three ranks freezing to death in wet kit. We awaited the training team Sgt to issue out some long-awaited mail from home; as he called out the name of a recruit, he also handed out an appropriate Corps nickname, i.e. “Recruit Clerk” [Clark, or Clarke]; “from this day forward you will be known to others as Nobby”. (Taken from the days of the Raj, a native Indian who worked as a clerk was known within his own tongue as a ‘nobbi’; hence, Nobby Clerk)!
Recruit Reynolds was fortunate enough to pick up a letter as well as the nickname of ‘Burt‘, as the alternative to this was ‘Debbie‘, which had already been given to another squad member! To this day they each retain their moniker when reunions are attended. Some surnames have no historical nickname within the military; suffice to say an individual would pick one up along the way. Possibly through a matched celebrity name from years gone by (Burt/Debbie), or perhaps from a famous name in history (Recruit ‘Prince’ Charming). One could be attached through an act due to an action of their own making, or simply through an action not of their choosing. One marine known as ‘Slasher’, picked up his moniker as he suffered several lacerations from being attacked with a broken beer bottle. The French Merchant seaman who obliged him could now be named as ‘Chinned’, as ‘Slasher’ did indeed ‘chin’ him with one almighty ‘homeward bounder’ (a right uppercut to the chin, which laid him spark out)! Marseilles; what a run-ashore…
A few traditional nicknames that spring to mind that follows on from a surname…
Light = Shiner or Torchy.
Bottom = Sandy.
Miller = Windy, or Dusty (Taken from a miller working within a windmill).
Gale/Gail = Windy, or Howling.
Holland = Dutchy.
Hudson = Soapy (The Hudson Company manufactured soap for the fleet).
Holding = Scaff (play on the word scaffolding).
Hall = Church, or Churchy
Lane = Shady, or Dusty.
Tate = Spud.
Warren = Bunny.
White = Chalky.
Woods = Timber.
Smith = Smudge, or Knacker, or Knocker [nocker/nacker]. Derived from ‘Smith’; being a short-term for blacksmith. A blacksmith in the days of mounted cavalry would also act as a Knacker or Knocker, whose part profession was to ‘knock or knack’ a badly wounded horse on the head after battle to kill it. The slaughter of the horse afterwards for human consumption would be done within the ‘Knackers yard’. A certain Marine Smith, was known to all who knew him as ‘n-n-nocker’ as he spoke with a stutter. ;-) The list is endless, ageless, and priceless… And the vast majority accept the moniker as a right of passage.
Genuine Dit… A legendary RM Drill Instructor, whose surname was Bartlett carried the nickname of ‘Dhobi’ *(Refer to Dhobi below). My Squads first introduction to this fearsome man was on the parade ground, where he stood immaculately at attention, ramrod straight, starched, and sparkling; as was expected of the 1st Drill (God’s God, the Senior Drill Instructor). Dressed perfectly in full No 2. Dress Lovat uniform, with a gleaming Pace stick jammed horizontally under his left arm; he spoke in a cockney accented voice, that was as crisp and as sharp as wine from a chilled bottle of Chardonnay… “My name is Bartlett, I am Colour Sergeant Bartlett R.M. And I am the First Drill”! As we collectively shuddered at what may come next he continued… “My nickname is ‘Dhobi’, Dhobi Bartlett, so named ‘cos’ I am the cleanest and smartest Drill Instructor in Her Majesty’s Royal Marines! And if any of you ‘orrible cretins’ ever get placed before me for being untidy-crabby-bar-steward’s, I will ensure that you suffer my wrath for the rest of eternity”.
His steely eyed slow ‘left-to-right-gaze’, as well as the slight-pause in his speech allowed the warning to sink in; he continued with cliches… ‘cleanliness, godliness, creases sharp enough to shave with’, etc, etc… “Irish pennants will not be tolerated, nor will a missed hair from a shoddy shave; and may your God help you if I find anyone on my parade ground with shaving foam behind his ear, because inattention to detail is an act that one day will get you killed”! (Stood in front of me was a little Irish recruit who required his God’s help ‘PDQ’, as he did indeed have a left over piece of shaving foam tucked behind his right lobe. In addition to this, it became obvious some few minutes later that he had also missed a couple of hairs on his ‘chinney, chin, chin’. Not only that, but the top button on his stone shirt had an Irish pennant protruding from it, which, when gently pulled by God’s God, unravelled; allowing the button to fall in ultra slow motion to the hallowed parade ground. The scream of “Your inattention to detail could get you and your oppos killed on a battle field” reverberated around the parade ground, and pierced my brain.
Inevitably the poor lad was ordered to place himself on the flank for punishment, as the ‘cleanest Marine God had ever seen’ continued his inspection, hovering between the three lined ranks stood at open order. (Up until that point, I had no idea just how many things totally irrelevant in Civvie Street, could actually get you killed in the Royal Marines)?
The Irish recruit was bawled out and ordered to get his shaving kit and towel, as well as to bring back a ‘dhobi’ bucket full of cold water, “not at the double, but at the ‘EFFIN’ treble”. Which he promptly did, resulting in him stripping off down to the waist in the middle of the parade ground to conduct his shave correctly? The resulting water being flushed over him as a rinse off. Not what you want on a freezing cold morning on a wind-blown parade ground!
One mans punishment, witnessed by fifty was sufficient for the message to be hoisted aboard. Which has worked to this very day, as I still check behind my ears for shaving foam, every morning of every day after a close razor shave. Attention to detail will save my life, ‘cos’ Dhobi Bartlett said so.
*’Dhobis’ are an occupational caste group from India, (since partition, they also reside in Pakistan), who specialise in washing and ironing clothes as a domestic service. A term used by the RN/RM’s since the days of the Raj. Hence, washing powder is known as ‘dhobi dust’, and a bucket used each evening to crash out your socks and nicks in, is referred to as a dhobi bucket. Which incidentally is the nickname given to anyone with the surname of Bucket = Dhobi.
In a ridiculous story about a group of Hispanic custodians (at the Auraria Campus in Denver) who are claiming discrimination due to the signs being in English, the following comment was made:
Hispanic Custodians On Auraria Campus Claim Discrimination
Custodios hispana en Auraria Campus demanda por discriminación
אפוטרופסים היספניים על האפליה תביעת קמפוס Auraria
Ισπανικός Θεματοφύλακες σχετικά με τις διακρίσεις Campus Auraria αξίωση
Испанец попечителями Auraria дискриминации претензии Campus
Hispanic de custodibus Auraria campum petere discrimine
Auraria 캠퍼스 청구 차별 히스패닉 후견인
أمناء الحفظ اسباني في Auraria
Ισπανικός Θεματοφύλακες σχετικά με τις διακρίσεις Campus Auraria αξίωση
Sorry, you know me, I could not resist the multi-lingual appeal. It is interesting how compact Arabic is. Do note that the Auraria should go as the last word if you reading right to left, but the translator had issues with cutting and pasting it.
As for the story, I do like what campus spokesman Blaine Nickeson had to say to Bertha Ribota’s and Tim Markham’s group.
Second place doesn’t count for much, especially in certain fields like pistol dueling and comedy. I can’t say I’ve ever dueled someone, but I have dropped a punchline and it really hurts when I’m second (or ninth.) Get this:
Me: Sonali? Hmmm, that is an interesting name.
Grocery girl: It is Indian. My mother is from India.
Me: Ah, what does it mean?
Grocery girl: Golden.
Me: Roger, I was a Navy linguist. I always keep an eye on Hindi as something that would be fun to learn.
Grocery girl: I love languages. I spent three months in Togo. I’m an archaeology major and I keep thinking about minoring in linguistics.
Me: Togo? Isn’t that a sandwich shop?
Grocery girl: (Making a face) That is what my brother said!
Comedy, it’s not for amateurs. . .
Part of the job of a Navy linguist is gisting. This process involves looking at a paragraph and capturing the meaning. I received the below email from an SEO group.
Do të doja t’ju prezantohesha: emri im është Bora Dervishi,
Meqenëse kam një sërë faqesh cilësore Lojërash dhe Kumari do të doja t’ju sugjeroja
një ofertë shkëmbimi linqesh falas me themellowjihadi.com ose çfarëdo faqeje tjetër që zotëroni.
Me siguri do t’ju pëlqente të mësoni se kam shumë ide për shkëmbime linqesh,
që jam i sigurt se do të jenë përparësia jonë dhe do të na vijnë në ndihmë për klasifikimin tonë në Google.
Ju lutem më thoni nëse do të dini më shumë detaje, ose nëse keni sugjerime të mëtejshme për këtë çështje.
Në pritje për të dëgjuar përgjigjen tuaj,
I can’t really gist it effectively, due to the fact that I don’t speak the language. But I can dig into the meaning and identify the language. It appears to be some sort of Eastern European dialect. It looks like a cross between Russian and Turkish. And this Bora person is seeking customers for Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
Heading over to Google; the language is Albanian. Interesting, close guess. The translation:
I would like to introduce myself: My name is Snow Dervish,
Since I have a number of quality pages and Gambling Games would like to suggest
a tactic offer free exchange or any other page themellowjihadi.com possession.
Surely you would like to learn that I have more ideas for exchanges tactic,
I’m sure it will be our priority and will help us come to our classification into Google.
Please tell me if you know more details or if you have further suggestions on this issue.
Waiting to hear your answer,
Good luck, Snow. But I’ll pass. . .
Language, in its simplest form, is music. Before you speak it and understand it, you hear its melody and can decide if the sounds are pleasant or not. The French may be a handful to deal with (and several have pretended that they did not understand me if I have very slightly mispronounced French words), but the language has a beauty to it.
I like the sound of a lot of Arabic too. I know this may be a minority opinion, but I appreciate the way it flows. Conversely, I don’t particularly resonate with the rhythm of German, Hebrew, or Portuguese. Please understand (if those are your mother tongues) that I am speaking, writing not of the people, but of the language. I am simply a linguist observing and listening to sounds and deciding whether I superficially like the music.
I am studying Japanese and find it pleasing. None of the vocalizations are too difficult. Rosetta Stone is excellent at “hearing” what you say and rating your pronunciation.
Call me a language nerd, but I like going on YouTube and finding clips of television shows in foreign tongues and listening to them.
A Vietnamese video called Hài kiều Oanh- Lừa Gạt (Kieu Oanh Comedy-fool) convinces me that I do not want to learn Vietnamese. It is too cat-like for my tastes. Yes, this is superficial, but trust me, learning a language is like getting a tattoo. You had better like that grim reaper on your forearm a lot. It’ll be with you the rest of your life.
And as far as Kieu Oanh’s video, I apologize for the creepy gender-insanity that occurs at the 2:30 minute mark. Big-time kudos to you if you made it that far. Even though I am not a Vietnam vet, I had flashbacks to the war I never served in just watching that video.
Hey GI, me love you…
As someone who enjoys languages, who can sometimes speak several of them, I find something pushy about the way Eva Longoria talks of the immigrant experience:
Speaking on a panel on “Latina Power” at the Women in the World Summit 2013, actress and education activist Eva Longoria took on xenophobia in the United States. “They are scared we’re going to have a Taco Bell on every corner,” she quipped. More seriously, she pointed out that by 2050, the population of Latinos in the United States will have doubled. “If you look at the numbers, that’s our future workforce. If we don’t educate them, we are in trouble.” Longoria also pointed out that the United States is the only country that “promotes monolingualism.” She encouraged teaching children “French…Russian…Chinese—we need to be worldly.” Longoria also discussed her non-profit foundation which aims to combat the high dropout rates for Latina teens by giving them tools to get into, and stay in, college.
The very best way for new migrants, whatever the hip term is these days, to be successful in the United States is to learn English. Period.
I’m always on the lookout for interesting tidbits on language. But the Office Quebecois de la Langue Francaise went a little overboard with banning foreign words:
Fierce laws brought in to protect the French language in Quebec are under the spotlight after a recent spate of rulings – including a restaurant that was condemned for using the word ‘pasta’.
The Office Quebecois de la Langue Francaise is the body responsible for ‘safeguarding’ the region’s French language, which is spoken by 94 per cent of people in the region.
But recent rulings have prompted ridicule from the English-speaking minority.
It follows a spate of draconian decisions, including:
- A British themed restaurant being ordered to rename fish and chips as poisson frit et frites
- Another restaurant being ordered to mask the word ‘redial’ on its telephones with tape
- A third restaurant being ordered to remove the letters WC from the lavatory doors – despite the abbreviation’s popular use in France, and
- A distribution company taken to court because it only provided English instructions for its Super Stretch Sleeve sex toy.
Many of the area’s French speakers are equally dismissive of the crackdown on foreign languages.
The backlash prompted OQLF president Louise Marchand to resign from her role, as Diane de Courcy, the Quebec minister for language, ordered a review of the latest incident where ‘pasta’ was deemed one of ‘too many’ foreign words used by an Italian restaurant.
In other language news, I informed my boss that next week we would briefing a military member whose name translates as I love cake. I’ll leave the language unnamed, but it is not hard to guess.
I like learning words from foreign languages that are quirky, especially those that might have application to English. Like Chindōgu, 珍道具:
Chindōgu (珍道具) is the Japanese art of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets that, on the face of it, seem like an ideal solution to a particular problem. However, chindōgu has a distinctive feature: anyone actually attempting to use one of these inventions would find that it causes so many new problems, or such significant social embarrassment, that effectively it has no utility whatsoever.
The term was coined by Kenji Kawakami, a Japanese investor and editor of the magazine “Mail Order Life.” Dan Papia then introduced it to the English-speaking world and popularized it as a monthly feature in his magazine, Tokyo Journal, encouraging readers to send in ideas.
Significant social embarrassment? Like the Baby Mop or the Daddy Nurser?
I am always on the lookout for language moments, those interactions with foreigners where I can pepper them with questions, preferably in their native tongue. And today, I ran into a Swiss guy who ran a small, outdoor deli. He sold chickens and ribs at our local farmer’s market. His food was not cheap, but it was delicious.
I chatted with him, trying to work my rusty French in. As a Swiss citizen, he spoke Romansh. (Funny wiki-ism on Romansh: Romance language descended from the Vulgar Latin spoken by the Roman era occupiers of the region.) And since he grew up near Italy, he spoke Italian. And German. But less French. So our conversation was mostly English.
Today, he had a pal, a paratrooper for 15 years in the French Army, assisting him with sales. I got the impression that retirement was at 15 years for the French when he asked me how close I was to my fifteen years. I told him we retire at twenty years or more. (Very easily, this could have been a language misunderstanding. They’ve been known to happen.)
What do you do now? I asked him in a mixture of French and English.
I did bodyguard work in Paris. Where I am from. For the Saudis. And I was supposed to work with the SEALs out here.
Go for it. That is good work.
I don’t have my tickets.
You are not an American citizen?
No, I am. Dual citizen, he said proudly. I just don’t have my teeeekeeeets. (The best I could ascertain was that he was referring to a security clearance of some sort.)
We somehow started chatting about martial arts and he asked me what I did. I told him and he assured me that any smart work is better than something physical. You get out of shape. I had a friend want me to do Foreign Legion work. ‘Zay are crazy, you know?
Oui oui, je sais, I said, nodding. I know. I saw the Bear Grylls special on the French Foreign Legion, Escape to the Legion.
It was good to talk to a Parisian, un Parisien, who did not have that attitude. Wishing the guys well, I wondered if a Foreign Area Officer (FAO) job may be in my future. Me, a diplomat? Be scared, be very scared. . .