Thursday, August 27, 2009

Guest post: from PLT's mother

Got this email from my mom... just thought I'd cut and paste in its entirety:

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I have an idea for you for a blog. First, let me just remark that WordMonkey on iGoogle: c'est cool.

You type in a word or phrase and pick the language(s) to translate it to/from. There are other tools out there but this one is so easy to use and, to be honest, a little süchtig.

But back to my idea. I find it interesting that words often sound so much kinder and/or less harsh in other languages. Maybe it's related to the American fascination with foreign accents. But here are some examples:

Large (as on your clothing tag) sounds so much nicer in other languages: French: grand, Spanish: grande, Italian is the best: grandi. "You are so grand," sounds so complimentary doesn't it?

Computer in Spanish: computadora. How cute is that?

Rags in French is chiffons. If someone said to you: "vos vêtements ressemblent à des chiffons" (your clothes look like rags!) would you ever even imagine you had just been insulted? No, and especially if uttered by someone with a cute little accent, you'd likely say, blushing and with eyelashes fluttering, "well thank you!"

However, some words seem to be the same or similar the world over:
Jerk is jerk (or close to it) the world over. jerk (French and Italian), ruck (German), imbécil (Spanish)

And cool is just cool is almost any language: cool (French), fresco (Italian), kühl (German)

Speaking of cool, there is not a single cool or clever or creative thing about English letters. So many other languages have such intéressant accent marks (apparently also called diacritical marks):

français
fête
niño
späetzle
αγαπημένο

But we've got nothing! I think that's why we overuse things like underlining, italics, caps, and silly happy faces. We're bored to tears! :-(

Uh oh, something just occurred to me. Grandmother. You know that I've already been worried about that name, and for no apparent reason. So now I get that it really means large mother. This is a horrible revelation and I refuse to ever be called LARGE MOTHER, even if your future child tries to make it cute and says "grandi-madre." I swear I will ignore the adorable, but cheeky child. Hmph! (translated is the same in any language.)

Love,
Äiti

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However, I don't find this WordMonkey so helpful... especially when you are unsure what language you are translating from. Mom tried to be quippy and sign it "
Äiti" - but since I have no clue what that means, nor what language it is, I am left at a lost. And WordMonkey is unable to help!

But enjoy mom's post! And let me know if WordMonkey works for you!

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