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zompist bboard • View topic - I wish English had a word for this!

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 6:59 am 
Niš
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This thread is mainly for those who are not native speakers of English. Which words and expressions from your own first language do you miss most in English?

My most sadly missed word from Czech is "kolikátý", an interrogative pronoun. You use it to enquire about an object's position in a sequence, and the answer is an ordinal number. If English had an expression for this, it would probably be "how manyeth" or somesuch. How manyeth were you in the line? I was the third.

Incidentally, German also has a single word for this: "wievielte". 's a short conversation discussing its absence in English. It's such a useful word, how can you live without it? I often find myself having to invent elaborate wordings when in Czech a single word would do the job.

Any other sadly missed relatives, anyone?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:27 am 
Lebom
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:37 am 
Sanci
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:45 am 
Niš
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Hm... I'm sure where and whatth work sometimes, but other times you just can't avoid a longwinded re-wording:

Der wievielte Besitzer des Autos bist du?
(= how many owners did this car have before you?)

Der wievielte Präsident der USA war Reagan?
(= of the presidents of the USA, what number was Reagan?)

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:53 am 
Lebom
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"What number president was Reagan?" works fine.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:38 am 
Niš
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:49 am 
Niš
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English is very poor in pronouns.
"I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they"... There should be a plural "you". There should also be a maculine/feminine/neutral plural third person.

Something I consider unnecessary in english is the "Present Perfect". I mean, wha' is that about? The other languages don't use it and I think it is too confuse.

And there is the portuguese word "saudade". Only we, from portugal, use it. I don't know to explain what it means in english, but wikipedia does:

Saudade (pron. IPA [sɐu'ðað(ɨ)] in European Portuguese and Galician, and [sau'dadʒi] or [sau'daði] in Brazilian Portuguese) is a Portuguese word for a feeling of longing for something that one is fond of, which is gone, but might return in a distant future. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return.

And:

Saudade is generally considered one of the hardest words to translate. It originated from the Latin word solitatem (loneliness, solitude), but developed a different meaning. Loneliness in Portuguese is solidão (a semi-learned word), from Latin solitudo. Few other languages in the world have a word with such meaning, making saudade a distinct mark of Portuguese culture.

In his book In Portugal of 1912, A.F.G Bell writes: "The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness."

Saudade is different from nostalgia (the English word, that is). In nostalgia, one has a mixed happy and sad feeling, a memory of happiness but a sadness for its impossible return and sole existence in the past. Saudade is like nostalgia but with the hope that what is being longed for might return, even if that return is unlikely or so distant in the future to be almost of no consequence to the present. One might make a strong analogy with nostalgia as a feeling one has for a loved one who has died and saudade as a feeling one has for a loved one who has disappeared or is simply currently absent. Nostalgia is located in the past and is somewhat conformist while saudade is very present, anguishing, anxious and extends into the future. In Portuguese, the same word nostalgia has quite a different meaning.

For instance, the phrase "Sinto saudade de você" ("I feel 'saudade' for you") directly translates into "I miss you". "Eu sinto a tua falta" also has the same meaning in English ("falta" and "saudade" both are translated for missing), but it is different in Portuguese. The first sentence is never told to anyone personally, but the second can be. The first sentence would be said by a person whose lover has been abroad for sometime, it would be said over the phone or written in a letter. The second sentence would be said by someone who has divorced, or whose partner is not usually at home, and would be said personally.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:58 am 
Sanno
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:07 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:38 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:59 pm 
Sanci
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A great Swedish verb is orka which is roughly "to have the energy/will to do something". The imperative of it is often used by youngsters when they don't orka.

- Write this down.
- Orka! (I don't have the energy/will to do it)

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 1:02 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:05 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 4:41 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 5:43 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 6:34 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 6:38 pm 
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To me, suspirar in Spanish doesn't have a particular English counterpart. The closest word that comes to it is 'sigh', but that word has a different connotation from suspirar. My Spanish teacher (native speaker) and I both agree that suspirar must have began meaning 'to sigh', but that today its meaning is usually 'to sigh [erotically,lovingly,whatever you wanna call it, etc.] when a girl sees a hot guy'. 'Sigh' can carry that meaning as well, but the reason they have different connotations is that when someone hears 'sigh', he's more likely to think of a general exhaling breath (and will probably only think of the above description in context), but when he hears 'suspirar' he's more likely to think of the exhaling breath described above. [/b]


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 6:40 pm 
Sanci
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:01 pm 
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– The Gospel of Thomas


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:10 pm 
Niš
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:31 pm 
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I say y'all every now and then. And I am extremely self-conscious about sounding Southern. I think I've almost erased all symptoms of a Southern accent, but I still say y'all. Why not let English have a 2nd person plural pronoun? It feels wrong to say "you" when you mean a group of people. Is y'all strictly Southern American or does it exist in other dialects? I think it would be interesting if a new pronoun evolved in English.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:59 pm 
Lebom
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:27 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:43 pm 
Lebom
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I like the word "clusterfuck". But in my experience it means something more like a sitution that has just gone seriously wrong, perhaps in multiple ways, but usually quite rapidly.

I have a question that goes the otehr way. In Yorkshire, we have a verb "to thoil" [no clue onspelling, I've never seen it written]. "It beens to be able to stomach [spending the money on something]".

eg He wanted 10 pounds for it, but I couldn't thoil the money.

It doesn't imply that the object is expensive on an absolute scale, but more that it is not worth the money, or perhaps you don't need it eough to warrant buying it, so you can't justify or stomach the purchase.

Dootehr languages/dialects of english have such a word?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:50 pm 
Niš
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Well, it's just been added to mine... 8) Usually I'd just say "It's not worth my money" or something similar.


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