Off topic: old joke about linguists
Thread poster: behemoth

behemoth
Russian to English
+ ...
May 4, 2006

Four linguists were sharing a compartment on a train on their way to an international conference on sound symbolism. One was English, one Spanish, one French and the fourth German. They got into a discussion on whose language was the most eloquent and euphonious.

The English linguist said: "Why, English is the most eloquent language. Take for instance the word "butterfly". Butterfly, butterfly... doesn't that word so beautifully express the way this delicate insect flies. It's like flutter-by, flutter-by."

"Oh, no!" said the Spanish linguist, "the word for "butterfly" in Spanish is "mariposa". Now, this word expresses so beautifully the vibrant colours on the butterfly's wings. What could be a more apt name for such a brilliant creature? Spanish is the most eloquent language!"

"Papillon!" says the French linguist, "papillon! This word expresses the fragility of the butterfly's wings and body. This is the most fitting name for such a delicate and ethereal insect. French is the most eloquent language!"

At this the German linguist stands up, and demands: "Und vot is rongk mit 'SCHMETTERLING'?"


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 17:45
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
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One more old joke May 4, 2006

There is also an old joke about Janis Endzelins- famous Latvian linguist from 19th century:

The linguist is in bed with his mistress and suddenly his wife comes in, sees the scene and mutters: "... Janis, I'm really surprised..."

He corrects her: "No, my dear, it is me who is surprised. You are astonished."

Uldis

[Edited at 2006-05-04 16:30]


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Henk Peelen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:45
Member (2002)
German to Dutch
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Flutter-by the way, the Englishman had his bread buttered on both sides May 4, 2006

behemoth wrote:
...
The English linguist said: "Why, English is the most eloquent language. Take for instance the word "butterfly". Butterfly, butterfly... doesn't that word so beautifully express the way this delicate insect flies. It's like flutter-by, flutter-by."
...



The funny part is that the Dutch word for Schmetterling und so weiter is vlinder, meaning .... flutter


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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:45
Member
English
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I chased the wild elusive butterfly of love.... May 4, 2006

...and anyone who gets that reference is giving their age away.

The curious thing about that word is that - as I have read - it was indeed once pronounced "flutter-by".

It transformed into its present shape as part of the great change in Medieval English known as "the great vowel shift". This was when common words completely changed their pronunciation - within three generations - for no reason which has ever been definitively decided upon.

For example, the word for that small flying animal with the flapping wings changed from "Brid" (still pronounced that way in parts of Yorkshire) to bird. Some other words changed pronunciation, but kept their spelling - another justification for some of the crazy spellings English presents us with.

English would certainly not win the prizes German might win for "phonetic simplicity"

BTW - anyone who finds German harsh has not sang Brecht songs for three weeks to madly enthusiastic audiences around Britain - as part of a show entitled: "An Evening with Berthold"


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behemoth
Russian to English
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TOPIC STARTER
butterfly talk May 5, 2006

Berni Armstrong wrote:

...and anyone who gets that reference is giving their age away.

The curious thing about that word is that - as I have read - it was indeed once pronounced "flutter-by".




'I chase the BRIGHT elusive butterfly of love Across my dreams, with nets of wonder...')

"Flutter-by" sounds logical enough, but then again it would sound odd if someone says: 'On, my cat has just caught a flutter-by that was fluttering by'. Speaking of which.. my cat has just indeed eaten a monarch butterfly.


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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:45
Member
English
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Aging memory chips May 6, 2006

I chase the BRIGHT elusive butterfly of love


Ah, yes. Of course it was! In my defence, I haven't heard that song since about 1967 Who was it by?


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Arthur Allmendinger  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:45
English to German
+ ...
another joke about linguists May 7, 2006

A Swiss man, looking for directions, pulls up at a bus
stop where two Englishmen are waiting.

"Entschuldigung, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?" he
says. The two Englishmen just stare at him.

"Excusez-moi, parlez vous Francais?" The two continue
to stare.

"Parlare Italiano?" No response, "Hablan ustedes
Espanol?" Still nothing. the Swiss guy drives off,
extremely disgusted.

The first Englishman turns to the second and says,
"Y'know, maybe we should learn a foreign language...."

"Why?" says the other, "That fellow knew four
languages, and it didn't do him any good."


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behemoth
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
:) May 7, 2006

Haha, thatw as a good one. Thanx

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Arthur Allmendinger  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:45
English to German
+ ...
? May 7, 2006

behemoth wrote:


At this the German linguist stands up, and demands: "Und vot is rongk mit 'SCHMETTERLING'?"


BTW, what is wrong with "Schmetterling"???

"Butterfly", "mariposa" or even "papillon" sounds not bad, but not as good as "Schmetterling".

German is the most eloquent and euphonious language, imho.



P.S.

...and then the Russian linguist asked: "What is wrong with "babochka"? (small flying old woman?)
LOL

[Edited at 2006-05-07 15:26]


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:45
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Those pesky butterflies May 7, 2006

A few years ago I was asked to check and correct faulty characters in the translated subtitles of the cartoon film: "Beauty and the Beast".

"Do NOT touch the translation, because it was done by an esteemed writer, just correct the faulty characters, please!"

Right. The Buttler/Clock shows Beauty the castle of the Beast.
- "And look at the ceiling being held by all those magnificently carved flying buttresses." - says the Clock.

Well, of course: in the translation the ceiling was held up by butterflies.

It still is. I wasn't going to correct it, no way.


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