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Old 2021-01-12, 16:18   #1
Nick
 
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Default Foreign words with a twist

This is a thread about words taken from one language and used with a related but distinct meaning in another language.

A typical way in which this occurs is that common nouns in local languages become proper nouns in other languages.
For example:
  • Bantu was the Bantu people's word for "people";
  • Chechen is the Chechen word for "people";
  • Nile was (disputedly) the local word for "river".
You can imagine an outsider arriving, asking "what's that?" and being told "it's the river" (using the local word),
then thinking "apparently they call it the Nile".
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Old 2021-01-12, 18:57   #2
xilman
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"Deutsch" or "Dutch" originally meant "people".

Avon (as in Stratford-on Avon) is Celtic for "river". There are quite a few "River Avon"s in the UK.

The best example in my experience is a village called Brill in Buckinghamshire, a couple of km from where I used to live. It is located at the top of a prominent hill and is often called Brill-on-the-hill. Brill itself was registered in the Domesday book as Brunhelle. The -helle part is obviously the Ænglisc hyll, modern English hill. The first part is from the Brythonic Celtic breg, also meaning hill (c.f. Lallans brae for hillside or brow of a hill).

So, a place called Hill-hill-on-the-hill.
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Old 2021-01-31, 10:30   #3
Nick
 
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Default Be there or be ... plaza?

The English word "square" has a chequered history.
Even in geometry, its definition is not standardized
(are the interior points part of the square, like a disc, or just the outline, like a circle?)

Figuratively, it was once a positive word, as in a "square meal" (wholesome) or "fair and square",
but later it acquired a negative connotation, as in "be there or be square" (not cool).
Perhaps to escape this, shopping squares and suchlike now prefer the Spanish word "plaza".
Thus, in Spanish, it means a public town square but, in English, it is more usually a private one
to which the public are invited to spend their money.
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Old 2021-01-31, 11:28   #4
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Default ONCE

In English once is only one time.

In Spanish "once" is eleven times more than "once".
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Old 2021-01-31, 11:43   #5
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Let’s go further. If you read “Pay day” very fast is the same as “I farted”/“peidei” in Portuguese.

Last fiddled with by pinhodecarlos on 2021-01-31 at 11:44
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Old 2021-01-31, 15:33   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinhodecarlos View Post
Let’s go further. If you read “Pay day” very fast is the same as “I farted”/“peidei” in Portuguese.
I saw a cautionary road sign a while back in Norway that said (to the best of my recollection) "Pass Farten" or "Passe Farten". I was told by a local that it means "Watch the Speed". I did not get a picture of it at the time. I have been unable to find a picture of that specific sign. Those who have done some running training might know about "Fertlek" training. That is Swedish for "Speed Play".
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Old 2021-02-01, 02:38   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
The English word "square" has a chequered history.
Even in geometry, its definition is not standardized
(are the interior points part of the square, like a disc, or just the outline, like a circle?)

Figuratively, it was once a positive word, as in a "square meal" (wholesome) or "fair and square",
but later it acquired a negative connotation, as in "be there or be square" (not cool).
Perhaps to escape this, shopping squares and suchlike now prefer the Spanish word "plaza".
Thus, in Spanish, it means a public town square but, in English, it is more usually a private one
to which the public are invited to spend their money.
In the good ol' USA, the expression "the public square" is still in current use. In Chicago, Washington Square Park used to be an open-air forum which acquired the nickname "Bughouse Square." The Bughouse Square Debates are still an annual event.

"Square" still has a number of positive connotations and meanings:

In addition to "square meal" (a full or satisfying meal) and "fair and square" (of unquestionable legitimacy) there is

"square deal" meaning an honest or fair deal or trade (President Theodore Roosevelt called his domestic program "the Square Deal")

"square(s) with," to agree or be consistent with;

"square (it or things) with someone" means possibly to make amends with them, and/or to obtain their consent or permission;

"squarely" (directly, forthrightly);

"On the square" is not common these days, but it and "on the level" and "level with" are from Freemasonry, the reference to things used in masonry; they mean fair and honest dealing.

"We're square" means neither owes the other money; it can also mean some other matter is now mutually agreed to be settled.

"Squared away" means arranged, in order, or taken care of.

A couple of long running negative "square" terms:

A "square peg in a round hole" is an idiom for a nonconformist or someone who is out of place. (Ironically, square pegs are often driven into round holes.)

"Square the/that circle" is used to mean something difficult or impossible, and "circle-squarer" to mean someone who attempts - and often claims to have achieved - something impossible.
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Old 2021-02-01, 10:08   #8
LaurV
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I always dream to square marden...
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Old 2021-02-01, 16:37   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
You can imagine an outsider arriving, asking "what's that?" and being told "it's the river" (using the local word),
then thinking "apparently they call it the Nile".
Same with Sahara, which basically means "desert" in Arabic.
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Old 2021-02-01, 17:04   #10
xilman
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Somewhat related, but only somewhat because the terms are not in common use, we have semi-adopted a couple of farm cats at our place in La Palma.

One has been called "Cake" and the other "Torte". The reason is left as an exercise for the reader.
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Old 2021-02-02, 09:45   #11
LaurV
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xilman View Post
One has been called "Cake" and the other "Torte". The reason is left as an exercise for the reader.
One only speaks English, the other one only speaks Spanish.
What's my prize?

Edit: if the one which speaks Spanish also likes Cola, will you call it "Torticollis"?

Last fiddled with by LaurV on 2021-02-02 at 09:47
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