Short Cuts

Another round of recent language and translation shorts:

  • French slang word of the day: “Yaourt”:

    [‘Yaourt’ (“Yoghurt”)] is the word used to describe the practice of singing along to tracks in English, usually with an unconvincing American accent, when you have absolutely no idea of the words.

  • From the same blog there is also 20 obsolete English words that should make a comback.

    (via acb)

  • Again, from my language (obsessed, it would seem) workmate, I learn about the linguistic concept of
    False friends:

    (Frenchfaux amis) are pairs of words or phrases in two languages or dialects (or letters in two alphabets) that look or sound similar, but differ in meaning.
    Comedy sometimes includes puns on false friends, which are considered particularly amusing if one of the two words is obscene; when an obscene meaning is produced in these circumstances, it is called cacemphatonGreek for “ill-sounding”.

    (for example) “Egregious” means “outstandingly bad” in English whereas in Spanish “egregio” means “outstanding in a positive way”. The original word simply meant “outstanding from the group” (related to “gregarious”) but the meaning was narrowed down in both languages with opposite meanings.

  • I studied three years of mathematics at University and have always enjoyed and had a head for numbers. I’ve previously posted about the way that Maths, Logic, language and computing are intertwined more than most would realise – Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid makes the interesting link to art as a further example of the interconnection (networked-ness?) of the disciplines. I ended up on the Futility Closet blog recently chasing down this fascinating, perfect magic square – and the blog turns out to be quite wonderful! There is an excellent Language section with word play, word of the day and other tricks and turns, including lots of number play. My favourite so far?

    adj. one who gives opinions and advice on topics beyond his knowledge

  • Ignacio Garcia, editor of the international journal Translation and Interpreting has just told me about a Professional development course being run by The Institute of Localisation Professionals – the information can be found here and the course content can be found here.
  • There is a word in the English language, callipygous, that means “shapely, beautiful buttocks”.