Nov. 29th, 2016

weird differences

I've been making Anki flashcards to learn vocabulary and grammar and such, and because visual cues help with memorization I do google image searches in the language I'm learning for stuff to put on the cards.

This mostly works fine with Spanish. You enter the Spanish word and you get pictures that work decently as cues, not just for plain objects but also verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and get a kind of visualization of actual word usage. However with Russian words image search results are more often than not completely overrun by internet memes.

That is not useful. (Also you frequently get gross image results for totally harmless words.) Though I guess it might say something about Russian internet culture.

Like if you image search e.g. "a little" in English you get a bunch of images with thumb and index finger a bit apart, which is the kind of thing you might put on a vocabulary flashcard. But if you google "немного" the first page is all internet memes, and you probably don't want to look at these at work or if you are easily disturbed (from nudity to animal harm to racism to execution pictures all kinds of stuff is featured). From what I can tell that is mostly because these come from sites that collect internet meme pictures or something, and the word just appears somewhere on the page.

It's like that with every other word. I mean, concrete nouns are frequently okay, like if you google "дверь" it results in images of doors, but even simple verbs get you a bunch of weird memes, when with other languages they get you pictures of people doing something. Whether you google to work, travailler, trabajar or arbeiten you get fairly similar images. Image searching "работать" meanwhile does not, but lands you in weird internet meme land again.

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Aug. 30th, 2016

and then I fell into a wikipedia click hole...

I've decided to make one of my occasional attempts to get better at Spanish again. rambling about my foray into language acquisition )

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May. 25th, 2016

help me find an English grammar rule?

In English with some verbs you can use their ing-form after go, i.e. sentences like "I go running often", "we are going shopping" etc., but with other verbs this is not allowed, i.e. you don't say "we are going eating"(*) but "we are going (out) to eat".

I think the rule is that the construction is only allowed with movement verbs, like go walking, swimming, dancing, etc. all work, but not with reading, knitting or painting. I'm actually unsure about playing, but I think not? OTOH working and hunting seem okay in the construction?

I tried finding the rule for this in grammar explanations but I'm not even sure whether the -ing is considered a gerund or a present participle here. So I was hoping that maybe the English language geeks on my f-list could point me.

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Oct. 19th, 2012

a knitting vocabulary question

With the basic stitches, what is "rechts verschränkt" called in English? I know that "rechts" is "knit" and "links" is "purl" in knitting terminology, but how do you name that other difference, i.e. whether you sort of twist the stitch -- a "rechts verschränkt" stitch is one where (assuming right handed knitting) you have the yarn behind the needles and insert the right needle from the right into the stitch when you knit the next, whereas a plain "rechts" is when you insert the needle from the left. "Links verschränkt" meanwhile means that the yarn is in front of the needles and you insert the right needle from the right and behind the loop of yarn on the left needle, whereas plain "links" has you insert the needle from the right too but just through the loop (without that twist). I tried looking up the symbol in English language knitting charts, but it seems the knitting symbols aren't normed internationally. In German patterns usually "rechts" is a black square whereas "rechts verschränkt" is a black diamond shape.

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Jan. 5th, 2012

a brief intro to swearing in German

Since a few people seemed interested, and I already wrote some of it in previous comments to other entries, I thought I'd post a guide to swearing and insults in German after all. However, please keep in mind that for fiction this can't replace language betas, and personally I think that in many cases actually the better choice is not to litter your story with foreign language fragments to begin with. It also ended up being somewhat rambly.

Still you might want to swear in German for one reason or another... )

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headdesking forever

I've already ranted several times here how computer translation is not your friend if you want to litter your English story with German words (even disregarding the characterization issues or the likelihood of random language switches occurring in the first place). That includes swear words, because believe it or not, swearing works differently in different languages. For example you can't just translate "fuck" and use it like in English for a swear word. Argh.

Well, the story wasn't very good otherwise either, so I don't regret the back button use, but seriously. And now I have the urge to write an introduction to swearing in German to explain, but that probably would only encourage people to avoid using betas, and make things even worse.

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Dec. 23rd, 2011

words English is missing:

Verschlimmbesserung, i.e. a portmanteau of Verbesserung (improvement) and Verschlimmerung (deterioration/worsening), to describe intended improvements or upgrades that end up making everything worse. Also used as a verb ("verschlimmbessern"), cousin to the equally useful "kaputtreparieren" (repair/tinker with a thing to the point that it becomes broken). Not entirely unrelated to this language observation, I'm still trying to decide whether I should opt to display everything on LJ in my style (which I find confusing, because I'm used to comms and journals all having their layout), or deal with the new comment pages on comms that have not disabled them, which unfortunately includes a number of fest comms I'd been browsing.

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Oct. 19th, 2011

looking for a translation

I'm looking for the English word for "Kaffeeklappe", i.e. an establishment where workers can buy cheap meals (and as the name implies coffee) but which is not serving alcohol like pubs are. Traditionally they were located in or near the industrial areas, like in the harbor. These first opened in the 19th century as part of the anti-alcoholism movement. The official German term was "Volkskaffeehalle" (public coffee hall?) but the informal term is much more common. It comes from the food being served from the kitchen into the dining area through a serving hatch. They are not very common anymore, having been replaced by various fast food options, I guess. Is there an English equivalent? I thought maybe "greasy spoon" might fit, except that the dictionary tells me that term dates only to the 1920s, and I'm looking for the 19th century thing.

Jun. 20th, 2011


I don't understand how people who try to insert German endearments into their Charles/Erik fanfic end up with female endings. I get that English is deficient when it comes to the concept of grammatical gender, but the auto-translate bots tend to default to male (e.g. if you enter "my Beloved" into Google translate it gives you "mein Geliebter" as first choice not "meine Geliebte" though it gives you neuter if you don't capitalize, presumably because it assumes some noun ought to follow and is indecisive or something), and plenty of endearments authors could pick are the same for both genders anyway (e.g. "mein Schatz"). So how do authors arrive at the female endings? An additional question is of course whether Erik would choose German of all things as his love language to begin with.

Jul. 29th, 2009

because my flist knows everything...

What is the proper English term for this slight whiteish coating that some fruit like plums, blueberries or grapes naturally have? In German I've heard it called "Duftfilm" or "Reifbelag" but neither of those gave me results in a dictionary. But surely it must have a name in English as well.

December 2016




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