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Beekes所编《Greek etymological dictionary》放在线上,一直没学会用。今天点进去,突然发现可以直接浏览,然后里面还有超级链接,一看就明白了,原来这个程序不认识希腊字母,必须用奇怪的方法打转写才认识。比如要查πλύνω的话,就打[Gp][Gl][Gu][G/][Gn][Go:]。

这个程序应该是小Starostin写的吧。此公博学多才,是少数几个靠谱的长距离词源学家之一,网上摇滚乐评广受欢迎,却不是很会做程序的界面。整80年代死了。程序是老Starostin写的。此公博学多才,对上古汉语的构拟颇有建树。bla bla bla

a b g d e z
e: th i k l m
n x o p r s
t u f kh ps o:

ά [G/] ἄ [G'/]



(4) 表示让步关系的 tsin˥˩kuan˥˩(汉语借词)……, tsuə˧˧……,“尽管……还……”。例如: no˥˥ tsin˥˩kuan˥˩ thi˧˧kuə˥˥dʒɿ˧˩, tsɿ˧˩x˥˥ tsuə˧˩ ŋɑ˥˩i˧˩ dɑ˧˩! 你尽管吃吧,这儿还有呢!

Google Translate is created by God himself

Well, approximately.

Here's what Google gives for the first paragraph of Běifāng de Hé (北方的河, the Northern rivers).

I believe that there will be a fair and deep understanding to serve our conclusion: the time, our generation's unique struggle, thinking, branding and choice will reveal its meaning. But by that time we have had for myself naive, errors and limitations of regret], but will not be re-living their own feelings. This is the basis for a profound pessimism. However, for a vast country has a long history, the future finally bright. Because the mother's body where there will be a descent, a soil and water, a lively and robust creative power to make known to the world the birth of newborn babies, sick weak groans will cry in their cheers were drowned. From this point of view, everything should be optimistic.

A few errors detrimental to comprehensibility:

  • serve our conclusion: better "serve as our conclusion", but literally it's "make the conclusion for us". The "为", a coverb here meaning "for", is wrongly (but correctly in meaning) interpreted as "serve".
  • branding: I would say "trauma", but it isn't the exact word either. It's like ... the traces of the past that still exists on us.
  • have had ... regret: "为...而后悔" means "regret for ...", so it's in fact "we will regret for ourselves' naïveté ...".
  • but .. feelings: plain wrong. I would say (in a particularly machine-translation way) "and, moreover, sigh for (the fact that) we cannot live again".
  • to make known ... babies: again, wrong translations but passable meaning. "于世" (, here means simply "(born) into the world", not as baroque as "to make known to the world the birth".
  • will ... drowned: "will be drowned in their cheering cries"

These corrections being made, it's still not good English. But who plainly cares? We want to read things in non-English languages, blogs and news, novels and social commentaries. That's all.

Particularly impressive to me is the Russian-English one. The next two paragraphs are from "Golden Rose", by Konstantin Paustovsky.

I can not recall how I learned the story of Paris scavenger Janet Shamete. Shamet earned the existence of the fact that cleaning up the craft shops in the neighborhood. Shamet lived in a shack on the outskirts of the city, of course, could be thoroughly describe the suburbs, and thus distract the reader from the main thread of the story but, perhaps, is only mentioned that so far in the suburbs of Paris remained the old ramparts. At a time when going action of this story, the shafts were still covered with thickets of honeysuckle and hawthorn and bird nests in them.

It's actually readable! What a feat for us things-written-in-an-unknown-language lovers!

The current update to Google Translate included an instant translation feature: for every word (or sometimes letter) you type in, it gives the best translation in English. It's good to see how the possible interpretation changes when every new word is thrown in. Appropriately packaged and debugged, it could be a good package to learn foreign languages...

Not to say that it works for every language. For Chinese, It doesn't understand a lot of idioms current in the not necessarily flowery written language. And it understands Japanese grammar badly:

This is a patient in a mental hospital, - the stories speak to anyone of the No. 32.

And if we remove the "、——" part, thinking that it confuses the translator:

This is the story speak to anyone of No. 32 in a mental hospital patients.


How to say “universal” in French?

Yesterday we were rehearsing the venerable Thomas Pellard's thesis defence, on Ōgami, a Miyako Ryukyuan language. By the way, this language has a super-cool phonology with entirely voiceless fricative syllables. Semantically full words, even entire noun phrases, can be voiceless. And synchronically it's not a devoicing, 'cause after "liquider" consonants like /m/ or /r/, you still got a [s] or [f], only devoicing the liquid/nasal itself.

Thomas' favourite sample for us uninitiated. The word cognate to Japanese つくる [tsɯ̥kɯrɯ] is pronounced thus: [kfː]

After the presentation, one of the venerable mock-jury objected Thomas' use of the word ``universel", on the grounds that ``universel" is an adjective, while the noun should be "-al", and that the plural seemed to be ``des universaux", so logically when there is one universal, it should be called a "universal". After soul-searching by all the Francophone members of the mock-jury, we reached the agreement that indeed, we say ``un universel" but ``des universaux". How nice, the French language gained a new plural formation pattern.

Hey, why don't we legitimize this pattern by writing ``des universeaux"? It looks nice and Frenchy!

First post

Nothing spectacular. But it's nice to have somewhere to write articles that might interest nobody.