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Picture of wordcrafter
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This weeks theme is "Untranslatable Words". To get more data on those words, I've made inquiry at a forum for professional translators.

At first blush at least, it seems that they may have a fair degree of interest in the idea of words and concepts that do not readily translate into English. It's a subject that rather overlaps the areas of that board and this board. Therefore, I'm tentatively opening this forum for the subject. Linguists might think of it as the Sapir-Whorf forum. Wink

Enjoy!
 
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By untranslatable, do you mean that there is no single word in language X that means, denotes, and connotes exactly the same as some arbitrary single word in language Y? If so, then all words are untranslatable. But if you allow me to translate word z from language X by paraphrasing or borrowing it, then no words are untranslatable.
 
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I'd mentioned, "Last year a London-based translation service published a list of "the ten most untranslatable words," as determined by a poll of over 1,000 translators." The list was reported in The Times of London last summer. (Admittedly, it will give away many of the words I will be presenting this week. But the definitions in the article are so poor that one hopes I will still have something to add! Smile )

Two interesting books about this sort of foreign words are:
  • Howard Rheingold, They Have a Word for It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words & Phrases
  • Christopher J. Moore, In Other Words

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"the ten most untranslatable words,"

This article was discussed on the Language Log.
 
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wordcrafter, I am wondering if you'd consider extending this forum to posts about foreign words. As it is, I fear that we won't find that much to post here. I am about to post something about the French using English words in Potpourri because it seems more appropriate there than here. Yet, were this forum to include posts about foreign words, it would be perfect here.
 
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My nomination would be the Yiddish word zaftig for which I'm told the nearest English equivalent is "pleasingly plump."

This doesn't work well due to our society's prejudice against the overweight in general and against overweight women in particular. The term "pleasingly plump" carries with it a slight air of sarcasm as if there's an unspoken "(Yeah, right!)" that follows it. "Voluptuously chubby" would also come close although I've never heard this term used and don't quite have the nerve myself to be the first to do so. Not to a zaftig woman's face, anyway. "Rubenesque" is also used but this term strikes me as being less than flattering and almost apologetic as if to say, "She would have been a hottie back in the 1600s."

If, on the other hand, a full-figured and very curvaceous woman inspires in a man impure thoughts involving trampolines and baby oil, that woman could be said to be zaftig. (Just try getting that definition into a dictionary, though....)
 
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Oh...that reminds me of our great "Pleasingly plump" thread that we had very early on.
 
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quote:
This doesn't work well due to our society's prejudice against the overweight in general and against overweight women in particular.

Interesting, is it not, that in spite of the general Western prejudice against plumpness, the USA (closely followed by the UK) is now the most obese nation on Earth.


Richard English
 
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Well . . . I guess I'm one of these descriptions . . . depends on how I'm feeling about life as to which one I'd choose on any given day.

I'd not heard embonpoint before . . . but I like it. I don't know if I'd say I'm in good condition, but I like to think I'm on the way! I like zaftig, usually, because it's got the lovely vagueness of being in another language.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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Interesting, is it not, that in spite of the general Western prejudice against plumpness, the USA (closely followed by the UK) is now the most obese nation on Earth.

Ironic is better like it. In the U.S. it is because of the hidden kilocalories in food, as well as inactivity. The government has spent millions of dollars completely reconfiguring the old food. The new one is much more simple, but the Web site has all the information. I hope it works, but I worry about all the people who can't get on the Web. They need the education the most!
 
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I think people know what they should do, Kalleh. What I think people need to realize (and I include myself in this) is that our actions need to follow what we know to be true about life. This is not what happens. We all lay around (or sit around) and have fun instead of doing what we should be doing.

Let's hear it for lethargy and hedonism!


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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" ... and the people said to the Prophet, "How would it be for you to talk to us about Hedonism?"

Smiling, the Prophet said, "It would be a pleasure."
 
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Well, CW, I am not so sure. More so than in any other country in the world, we have hidden kilocalories in our foods, oftentimes chock full of saturated fats and sugar. In fact, the many of the foods that farmers get federal aid for are the very same foods that are nutritionally atrocious to Americans. I tried to find that article with the specifics, but I just couldn't. It was quite enlightening as to how complex the nutritional problem is in the U.S.
 
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Originally posted by Kalleh:
... oftentimes chock full of saturated fats and sugar.
And trans fats appear to be even worse that saturated fats.
quote:
trans fats pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats, which were once believed to be the worst kind of fats. While it is true that saturated fats -- found in butter, cheese, beef, coconut and palm oil -- raise total cholesterol levels, trans fats go a step further. Trans fats not only raise total cholesterol levels, they also deplete good cholesterol (HDL), which helps protect against heart disease.


Sugar contributes to many health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

High-fructose corn syrup is a form of syrup developed in the '70s. Around 1980 it bacame cheaper than sucrose and more widely used in commercial food products.

quote:
Dr. George Bray , principal investigator of the Diabetes Prevention Program at Louisiana State University Medical Center told the International Congress on Obesity that in 1980, just after high fructose corn syrup was introduced in mass quantities, relatively stable obesity rates began to climb. By 2000, they had doubled.

High-fructose corn syrup is easily converted into the chemical backbone of triglycerides by the liver. An elevated triglyceride (hypertriglyceridemia for those who like long words) is linked to coronary artery disease.

quote:
Another concern is the action of fructose in the liver, where it is converted into the chemical backbone of triglycerides more efficiently than glucose. Like low-density lipoprotein -- the most damaging form of cholesterol -- elevated levels of triglycerides are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. A University of Minnesota study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000 found that in men, but not in women, fructose "produced significantly higher (blood) levels" than did glucose. The researchers concluded "diets high in added fructose may be undesirable, particularly for men."


The U.S. consumption of high-fructose corn syrup was zero in 1966; it was 62.6 pounds per person in 2001. High-fructose corn syrup is found in many food products.

quote:
Soft drinks and fruit beverages such as lemonade are the leading products containing high-fructose corn syrup.


Look at the label on any food product and there's a good chance you'll find high-fructose corn syrup, often with other forms of sugar.

Tinman

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<Asa Lovejoy>
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So why is fructose worse than sucrose?
 
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Originally posted by Asa Lovejoy:
So why is fructose worse than sucrose?


From what Tinman just said, I understand it's because fructose is easily converted into triglycerides.
 
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From a capital markets perspective, note that none of the foregoing is to be confused with usufruct...


RJA
 
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Robert,
Cute pun.

There is a word in Spanish for "my son-in-law's parents." My son-in law does have South American parents and I would like to remember the word so I can introduce them as "my ___." Can anyone help me?
 
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ann, I'm replying in a separate thread.
 
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Oh my goodness, what a fantastic digression... a discussion that started with untranslatable words evolved into bad eating habits.

And I don't even know what a kilocalorie is. That sounds like a hybrid. We who are now metric have kilojoules. We who were formerly Imperial had calories. So what the blazers are kilocalories???

Oh and for the record, having read all that stuff, over the last 2 years I've lost 40kgs (or roughly 90lbs), and all that stuff about reading labels and believing what you read... forget it. Not that hard. Give the processed carbs the flick, give the saturated fats the flick, but pig out on all the rest, regularly, and the weight will just fall off.

Anyway, I digress... as everyone else did.

I ask Mr/Ms Wordcraft about the original question 'untranslatable words'. What about the 'sense' of words? Words aren't always mechanically literal. Sometimes, it's the sense of what we say that makes things difficult.

The brief time I spent in France proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that my 6 years of french learnt at Wangaratta High School, were vaguely useful, but also dangerous. Because I learnt the mechanics. My accent was good. But I did not have the FAINTEST idea what anyone, including me, was talking about. Because I didn't have the SENSE of what they were talking about.

That to me, is the biggest 'untranslatable' aspect of language.
 
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And I don't even know what a kilocalorie is. That sounds like a hybrid. We who are now metric have kilojoules. We who were formerly Imperial had calories. So what the blazers are kilocalories???

What's wrong with hybrids? Joules may be a metric measurement, but it is a French name. As for kilobyte, byte is definitely not Greek, but English, so it should be out, too, using this logic. I'd just say that kilo- is a productive prefix in English. (Bit is a portmanteau word (binary digit) from the Latin, and yet we have kilobit.) You might as well throw out unrepeatable, too, because the prefix un- is from Old English, but repeatable is from Latin via French. It should be irrepeatable, shouldn't it? These artificial strictures have little to do with how language actually works and is used daily.

Welcome aboard, Peta from Oz.

[Corrected mistaken byte for bit. Then rewrote a couple of sentences and moved stuff around to make things less confusing and incorrect.]

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Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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A kilocalorie is one thousanths of a calorie. We tend to say, "calorie" when we actually mean kilocalorie.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calorie

As for weight loss, are you saying that all those fad diets are just fantasies? Perhaps written by Joules Verne? Big Grin

You're in Oz? There was a Petra who worked at a balsa wood supplier in Panorama for a while. You, perhaps?
 
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If a kilometer is one thousand meters and a milimeter is one thousandth of a meter, shouldn't we expect a kilocalorie to be 1,000 calories and a milicalorie to be one thousandth of a calorie ???
 
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quote:
byte is a portmanteau word (binary digit)
Shouldn't that be bit?


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Shouldn't that be bit?

Yes, it should, and now it is.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Z: you need to go further with your correction, else folks might think "bit" and "byte" are etymologically related.
 
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you need to go further with your correction, else folks might think "bit" and "byte" are etymologically related.

As far as I know the words bit, nybble (i.e., four bits, link), and byte (eight bits, or a big bite, link) are related semantically.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Bit: Portmanteau word from Binary digIT
Byte: from bite, as in mouthful

quote:
As for kilobytes, bit is a portmanteau word (binary digit) from the Latin,


Your correction uses both byte and bit, but gives the origin only of bit, perhaps leaving the impression that byte is also a portmanteau word, derived from binary and digit. That's all.
 
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I've tried to correct it. (We'll see if I was successful.) Some other examples of hybrids I thought of while doing my chores: autobus < Greek autos 'he; self' + -bus, dative plural ending (< Latin omnibus 'for everybody'; polyamorous < Gk + L; eigenvalue < German eigen 'self' + English value from Latin via French; hexadecimal < Gk + L.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Another hybrid disliked by purists is television, from the Greek tele- "far", and the Latin visionem "thing seen".


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Asa Lovejoy, August 03, 2005 :
So why is fructose worse than sucrose?

Unfortunately, Asa is no longer with us, but the rest of you may be interested in the HFCS debate. Here's the latest I've found:

Sweet Confusion Does high fructose corn syrup deserve such a bad rap?

By Laura Beil

Web edition: May 16, 2013
Print edition: June 1, 2013; Vol.183 #11 (p. 22)
 
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Well, Asa is normally here under another name. However, he hasn't posted a lot lately, so I'll send this to him. Thanks, Tinman!
 
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