File /Humanist.vol22.txt, message 197

Date:         Sat, 6 Sep 2008 19:10:03 +0100
From: Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty-AT-MCCARTY.ORG.UK>
Subject: 22.196 handheld translators
To: humanist-AT-Princeton.EDU

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 196.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to:

         Date: Thu, 04 Sep 2008 21:26:45 +0100
         From: Humanist Discussion Group <>
         Subject: handheld translators

From: Israel Cohen
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2008 08:03:27 +0300

Joseph Wilson (Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of German, Rice Univ.)
... Languages don't just translate one-word-for-one-word: just think of all
the very different meanings any one English word or spelling can have,
depending on the context.  I am on a language teachers' "list", and it
seems most of the younger participants don't even own a good printed
dictionary, which gives you the various meanings of a word in the target
language, with examples of the context of each meaning.  These teachers
depend on the online pseudo-dictionaries, where you enter one English
word and you get back one foreign word for it, which has little chance
of being the correct one for the context in question.  ...

I completely agree with Prof. Wilson. However, *sometimes* the user of a
one-word for one-word translator will be "saved" by a phenomenon that
may be of interest to this group: There is a pervasive tendency for the
same semantically unrelated concepts that are homonyms in one language
to be (near) homonyms in other languages.

For example, Hebrew MiSHPaT means "a grammatical sentence" and "the
sentence of a judge/court". The English word "sentence" has the same

Hebrew tzadi-lamed-lamed = "a sound/tone that you hear" and "(to dive)
deep". TZoLeLeT = a submarine. The English word "sound" also has these
meanings: the whale sounded, to sound the depths of the sea, Puget Sound.

Hebrew BaD = cloth, BaDaH = a myth, BaDai = one who tells a myth/false
story. English "fabric" = cloth, but "to fabricate" can mean to make up
a false story. This meaning of English fabricate has been borrowed into
modern Israeli Hebrew as L'FaBRiK = to make up a false story. In English
we say "He made it up out of whole cloth. There's not a stitch of truth
in it."

English swipe =  "a sweeping blow, path of a wiper" but also "to steal".
The Hebrew triliteral samekh-het-vet has the same meanings. Perhaps this
is because Hebrew NaGaV = to wipe and its metathesis GaNaV = to steal.

Hebrew Roo'aKH = spirit. Reversing the het-resh produces KHaRoN (aF) anger.  Compare Latin anima and animus; English animated and animosity.

Israel "izzy" Cohen

From - Sat Sep 06 19:26:53 2008
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