Friday/ lost in translation

Well, I never would have thought this.
It appears to me that we don’t have a word in Afrikaans for .. icicle.
I was stumped, and I stumped every online English-Afrikaans translator in my search for one.

The Dutch word is ijskegel (ice cone), and therefore I would go with yskegel in Afrikaans.

Drip, drip, drip. Icicles by my back door.
Watch out below — for blobs of ice water, or little spears of ice, coming down.

Wednesday/ PRITHEE, don’t play that word

I was feeling invincible with my triple-triple word play of DIGAMIES (158 points- yowza!) .. but just then Zoey* swooped in with PRITHEE to come out ahead in this Scrabble game.

*Zoey is a Scrabble grandmaster bot.

Here’s a rundown of some of the words on the board.
VIZARDnoun (archaic)  a mask or disguise.
DROITnoun (historical, law)  a right or due.
PRITHEEexclamation (archaic)  please (used to convey a polite request).
“prithee, Jack, answer me honestly”
NAE
determiner
Scottish form of no (determiner).
“it’s nae bother”
exclamation
Scottish form of no (exclamation).
“He was asked if he was ever going back east. ‘Nae, son,’ he replied”
adverb
1. Scottish form of not (adverb).
“it’s nae as guid as whiskey”
2. Scottish form of no (adverb).
“we were just bairns, nae aulder than you lassies are”
QUERNSnoun (plural of quern)   a simple hand mill for grinding grain, typically consisting of two circular stones, the upper of which is rotated or rubbed to and fro on the lower one.
DIGAMIESnoun (plural of digamy)  a second marriage, after the death or divorce of the first husband or wife.
YAGnoun   a synthetic crystal of yttrium aluminum garnet, used in certain lasers and as an imitation diamond in jewelry.
LOGEnoun   a private box or enclosure in a theater; the front section of the first balcony in a theater.
PYICadjective of or belonging to pus; purulent.
PALInoun (in Hawaii) a cliff.
VROWSnoun (plural of vrow), 1 : a Dutch or Afrikaner woman.  2 : mistress —usually used preceding the name of a Dutch or Afrikaner married woman.

Tuesday/ sneaking up from behind, for the win

Here’s the board of one of the few games I have won recently against Scrabble Grand Master Zoey (she is an algorithm).

I was sitting on 402, with my last letter, the ‘I’ tile left. TI and IS in the corner would have gotten me 6, but KI was one better at 7. So now I had 409. Oh well, I lose, I thought, but forgot to note that Zoey was stuck with the Q (with no way to play it). So she lost 10 and I gained 10, for a net gain of 20, and for the win 429-427. A sweet victory.

I looked up some of the words that Zoey played, the ones I didn’t know.
I don’t do that for every Scrabble game (I am too lazy, and besides: it cuts into my Scrabble play time).

Here are the words, for the logophiles (persons that love words):
NOES noun plural of the negative response called ‘no’
PLOTTIER adjective superlative of plotty (marked by intricacy of plot or intrigue), as in ‘this spy movie was plottier than the last one’
a plotty novel
MEH interjection— used to express indifference or mild disappointment
ZA noun slang for PIZZA (a word which my friends & I never use)
ALUNITE noun a mineral that consists of a hydrous potassium aluminum sulfate and occurs in massive form or in rhombohedral crystals
KI noun 1. alternative spelling for chi, the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet; 2. also: aura, chi (or ch’i also qi), energy, vibe(s), vibration(s), as in ‘martial artists learn to use ki to fend off would-be attackers’
LUX noun a unit of illumination
JERRID noun (British English) a blunt wooden javelin used in games involving horsemen in some Muslim countries.
DEVI noun used in India as a title following the personal name of a married woman (in Hinduism)
AR noun the letter r written out
FAH noun abbreviation of Fahrenheit
WYES noun plural 1. a Y-shaped part or object 2. the letter y written out
CONI noun plural of conus, a very large genus (the type of the family Conidae) of tropical marine snails comprising the cones and including many harmless forms and a few chiefly in the southwest Pacific that are highly dangerous because they are capable of biting with the radula and injecting a paralytic venom that has been known to cause death in humans
DIPLEGIAS noun, plural, paralysis of corresponding parts on both sides of the body

Note to self: when next in Australia, never mind COVID, just steer clear of the Australian cone snail (Conus textile) with its gorgeous shell. This one has its proboscis extended and poised for attack. Their venom (active ingredient: conotoxin) is used for paralyzing prey. Researchers in Australia think they can use it to produce a safe painkiller for humans, 100x more potent than morphine.
[Image credit: AAP Image/Melbourne University/David Paul]

Sunday/ pomp and circumstance

Pomp and circumstance: impressive formal activities or ceremonies (Merriam-Webster dictionary).
Beefeater: Beef + eater. Prob. one who eats another’s beef, as his servant. Could also be from:  hlāfǣta, servant, properly a loaf eater. (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary).
Beefeaters are the yeomen of the English royal guard, who, since the accession of Henry VII. in 1485, have attended the sovereign at state banquets and on other ceremonial occasions.
The name is also given to the warders of the Tower of London, who wear a similar uniform.


WINDSOR, ENGLAND – JUNE 13: Queen Elizabeth II (center), US President Joe Biden (right) and US First Lady Dr Jill Biden (left) at Windsor Castle on June 13, 2021 in Windsor, England. Queen Elizabeth II hosted US President, Joe Biden and First Lady Dr Jill Biden at Windsor Castle. The President arrived from Cornwall where he attended the G7 Leader’s Summit.
By Sunday night he had arrived in Brussels, for a meeting of NATO Allies. Later in the week he will meet the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. (Photo by Samir Hussein – Pool/Wire Image)

Queen Elizabeth II received President Biden and First Lady Dr Jill Biden at Windsor castle today. ‘President Biden and the first lady seemed relaxed, and there were no obvious diplomatic breaches‘ reported the New York Times.
Yes. Like stepping in front of the Queen. Or tweeting about the Prince of ‘a group of large marine mammals’ (‘Whales’).

Monday/ contemplating personal plates

Washington State, as most other states, allow vehicle owners to personalize their license plates — for an extra license renewal fee, of course. I think it’s $80 per year.

I’ve been there, and had done that, with my two Toyota Camrys:  just the letters for my name or a slight variation of that (not very imaginative, but definitely personalized).
The last number of years I had just gone with the randomly assigned plate number issued to me by the licensing agent for Washington State DOT.

Now with my super high-tech and exciting electric car on the way, I’m tempted to go for it again.

Here’s a rundown of some possibilities.

The plates in the leftmost column are all taken, per the licensing website, so those are not available! Those in the 2nd and 3rd columns still are.

BLIKSEM Let me help with the decoding here. BLIKSEM (say ‘blɪksəm’) is the evergreen favorite of personalized car plates for South Africans. It’s Afrikaans for ‘lightning’. It is also an expression of surprise, or shock, or disgust, and slang for ‘rogue’ or ‘devilish-but-maybe-still-likeable person’, as in  Man! Did you do that? You are a BLIKSEM!  BLITS (say ‘blitz’) means ‘lightning’ or ‘very fast thing’.

WATTSUP, NOWWATT WATT is the SI unit of power/ electric power. I thought of AMPERE3 and VOLT3 as well. VOLT is the name of Chevrolet’s 2011–2019 electric car, and not ideal to use, though.

3SACHRM Short for ‘Three’s a charm’ (third time is a charm). Three for Model 3, with the SA in there for South Africa, let’s say. And —very obscure, I will admit — a charm quark is a sub-atomic particle, found in protons and neutrons (but not in electrons).

VUVUZLA Vuvuzela, a long horn blown by fans at soccer matches in South Africa. Made famous during the World Cup of 2010 in South Africa.

10SNE1 Tennis anyone?

JENESQA Je ne sais quoi, the French expression for ‘that certain something’ (such as an appealing quality), that cannot be adequately described or expressed with any other words. Unfortunately, some people might think there is also a QANon conspiracy theory in there.

Monday/ an unusual Scrabble ending

This Scrabble game of me against ‘CPU’ (central processing unit) had an unusual ending: the computer had to pass the last 5 turns. It could not find a way to put even one of its 7 remaining tiles on the board.

I figured out which the final letters on CPU’s rack were: A A I I O O V Y. So yes, not a lot to work with. Even so, CPU still managed to beat me by a wide margin, 420-336. Earlier on, it had built two 7-letter words,  GEMLIKE and TERNION, for 50 bonus points each.

Here are the meanings of some of the more unusual words on the board:
GI: a lightweight two-piece white garment worn in judo and other martial arts.
TERNION: the number three; three things together; a ternary or triplet.
JEHADIS: (plural) a person involved in a jihad; an Islamic militant.
TOFT: a site for a dwelling and its outbuildings; an entire holding comprising a homestead and additional land.
QIS: (plural) the circulating life force whose existence and properties are the basis of much Chinese philosophy and medicine.
TREMS: (plural) short form of tremolo (arm) on a guitar, a lever attached to the bridge of an electric guitar and used to vary the pitch of a note.
IGG: (slang) to ignore or snub (someone); a snub or rebuff.
FET: short form (acronym) for field-effect transistor, a transistor in which most current flows in a channel whose effective resistance can be controlled by a transverse electric field.
PERVO: (slang) a sexual pervert.

My final turn: building GI for 3. The machine is stuck with A A I I O O V Y totaling a face value of 13 – so that gets deducted from its score, and added to mine. I still lose by 74 points but hey, there is always a next time.

Monday/ the many meanings of corona

co·ro·na
/kəˈrōnə/

From the Latin word corona, mid-16th century, meaning ‘wreath, crown’.
Architecture: a circular chandelier in a church, or a part of a cornice having a broad vertical face.
Astronomy: the rarefied gaseous envelope of the sun and other stars.
Biology: the cup-shaped or trumpet-shaped outgrowth at the center of a daffodil or narcissus flower.
Medical: coronavirus is any of a family (Coronaviridae) of large single-stranded RNA viruses that have a lipid envelope studded with club-shaped spike proteins.
Physics: the glow around a conductor at high potential.
Smoking: a long, straight-sided cigar.


It was only 45 °F (7 °C) for my late-afternoon stroll around the block today, but hey, now there is an hour more of sunshine.

Daffodils (genus Narcissus) at the corner of 18th Avenue & Republican St. The cup-shaped structure at the center of the flower is called the corona. Yes, the term has come to have decidedly negative connotations, I guess. Maybe it’s best to just shrug it off. We even have apartment buildings in the city called Corona Apartments and Corona Lofts.

Thursday/ the degrees of friendships

I found this Arabic friendship pyramid on Twitter (@arabicwords_0).
There seems to be a specific Arabic word for every degree of friendship.
(Note: These words all describe platonic friendships/ relationships. There is a different set of Arabic words for carnal relationships!).

I could not resist to write in the Afrikaans words on the right, as well.
Finally: these are constructive or positive friendships, with the possible exception of drinking companion. Is that where we can add in fair weather friend and frenemy?

Saturday/ Tintin, in Spanish

And here is the Spanish translation of King Ottokar’s Sceptre (see my recent posts about its translations into Scots, Irish and Welsh).

Below is the panel from the book again that I use to compare the translations with (Tintin and detectives on the motorcycle). The two bungling detectives with similar-sounding names (in Spanish: Hernández & Fernández) say the same thing as usual, but just in different words.

This Spanish language edition of King Ottokar’s Sceptre, El Cetro de Ottokar, is from 2017, by publisher Editorial Juventud. The original colored comic strip book (French) was published in 1947, and the first Spanish translation came in 1958.
Detective Hernández: ¡Andando! Let’s go! Estamos listos. We are ready.
Detective Fernández: Yo aún diría más. I would even say more. ¡Estamos listas! We are ready.
Tintin: All right!  (curious that the English ‘All right!’ is used. Could ¡Está bien! have been used? I’m not sure.
Tintin’s white pooch Snowy is named Milú in the Spanish translation.

Thursday/ Tintin, in Welsh

I have Welsh ancestors, and so a Welsh translation to add to my collection of translations of Tintin adventure called ‘King Ottokar’s Sceptre’ was definitely required.

Quick Quiz (answers below): In which country is Welsh is spoken? Which city is the country’s capital?
Welsh is the only language that is de jure* official in any part of the United Kingdom, with English being de facto official.
*de jure- by law; de facto- in fact/ the reality

Welsh has been spoken continuously in Wales throughout recorded history, but by 1911 it had already become a minority language. Today Welsh is spoken by some 850,000 people in Wales. The Welsh government plan to have one million Welsh language speakers by 2050. [Information from Wikipedia]

(Answers to the Quiz: Wales, in the southwest of Great Britain, capital Cardiff).

King Ottokar’s Sceptre, translated into Welsh by publisher Dalen (2019). ‘Braint y brenin’ translates as ‘The King’s Privilege’ in Google translate. Welsh is a Celtic language, and does not come out of the Germanic branch of the world’s language tree.
Here is the panel that I have looked at in other languages, this time in Welsh. (It’s weird that some words have no vowels at all, and the phrases are hard to translate, even with translation engines such as Google Translate).
The panel seems to be a play on the word ‘fur’ (referring to Tintin’s white pooch Snowy, called Milyn in Welsh):
Detective Parry-Williams: We are holding tight, to fur with you!
Detective Williams-Parry: In fact, we’re holding the fur, tight with you!
Tintin: All right!
Here’s the English translation, just for reference.

Monday/ don’t be a Maskenmuffel

die Maskenmuffel
[ˈmaskənˈmʊfl]
noun
definition of Maskenmuffel:
Grouches that refuse to wear masks, as in ‘Die Maskenmuffel weigern sich, Masken zu tragen‘.


Trust the Germans to come up with one word for the grouches that refuse to wear masks in this pandemic: Maskenmuffel.  The word is surely a contender for top new word for 2020, in Germany.

Translation: Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (Transport Network) takes action with a fine: in the future, ‘mask grouches’ will have to dig deep into their pockets (reportedly €50/ US$60). [Hamburger Morgenpost on Twitter @mopo].

Wednesday/ a slice of Irish

My Tintin book in Irish landed on my porch today.
Irish (written Gaeilge in Ireland and pronounced ‘gail-gyuh’) is spoken by some 2 million* people in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
It has been the dominant language of the Irish people for most of their recorded history, with inscriptions in primitive Irish of the names of people going back to at least the 4th century.

*These are level 2 speakers with some knowledge of the language. There are fewer than 100,000 daily speakers (outside the education system).

Here’s my little collection of objects in the house with an Irish connection: Kerrygold pure Irish butter, McCann’s Irish oatmeal, the Waterford crystal paperweight that I had bought in Dublin in 2013; the Tintin adventure ‘King Ottokar’s Sceptre’, translated into Irish as ‘Slat ríoga Ottokar‘ (2019), from the original 1939 version in French.
Here is the panel again with the English words. Tintin has detectives Thomson & Thompson on the back of the bike in a hot pursuit, one of them holding his dog Snowy.
This time around, the English reader will find it impossible to decipher the meaning of the Irish words (compared to the Scots translation, which can be made out, for the most part).
The clumsy detectives Thomson & Thompson are called Mac Grianma & O’Grianma in the Irish translation. (Mac means ‘son of’ and so does O’).
Tintin’s dog Snowy is Báinín, which is the Irish word for a collarless reverseless unlined man’s jacket made of white close-woven wool.

Friday/ Tintin, in Scots

Some of the Adventures of Tintin tales have now been translated into Scots*.
So of course, I had to add one of these books to my collection.
I ordered it on AbeBooks.com.

*Scots is spoken in Scotland and parts of Ulster in Ireland. It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Goidelic Celtic language that was historically restricted to most of the Highlands, the Hebrides and Galloway after the 16th century. [Source: Wikipedia]

The 2019 translation into Scots is titled ‘Auld King Ottokar’s Sceptre‘ (Old King Ottokar’s Sceptre), just to distinguish the title of the book from the English translation, I suspect.
The King Ottokar’s Sceptre adventure is the 8th in the series. It was published in French in 1939, and first translated into English in 1958.
Alright, here’s a panel from ‘King Ottokar’s Sceptre’ (English). Tintin has the bungling detectives Thomson & Thompson on the back of the bike, one of them holding his dog Snowy. (The text is in Herge’s handwritten font, now digitized and called Remi).
Now look at the 2019 Scots translation: still quite understandable, right? It helps that it is written only, so the English reader does not ‘hear’ the Scottish accent. It is also an illustration that even in languages as close as English & Scots, differences and nuances emerge in the the two translated versions. The detectives are called Nesbit & Nisbet in the Scottish translation, and Snowy is Tarry.

Monday/ quelle belle journée!

It was a fine day here in the city: eighty (27°C) and sunny.
My English-French illustrated dictionary has landed on my porch.
It is illustrated with panels from Belgian cartoonist Hergé’s Tintin characters, which is why I had to have it, of course.

From Harrap’s Tintin Illustrated Dictionary, published 1989. The panels are from ‘The Castafiore Emerald’ (first appearance in newspapers: 1961-1962).
The top panel has Tintin, Captain Haddock, and Snowy (French name: Milou).
The traffic officer is apologizing to the Milanese opera diva Bianca Castafiore, for daring to write her a ticket for a fine.

Wednesday/ deciphering cryptic crossword clues

I have decided to improve my cryptic crossword skills, and so I printed out a few that I had found in online issues of The Irish Times.

I am not allowed to use Google too directly. (Shockingly, many of the clue phrases and their solutions can be found online).
I do use Google to look up synonyms, or the odd word or phrases that I do not understand.
Example: I think you need to be an Irishman or a Brit, to know that C of E stands for Church of England.

Check these clues out I that I have deciphered: Check these clues out I that I have deciphered:
Across 11: Very cold water in precipice, going to and fro. Answer: ICE. i-c-e appears forwards and backwards (to and fro) in ‘precipice‘.  
Across 12: Roots in ground, twisting. Answer: TURNIPS. It’s a root vegetable, and turn= twisting.
Across 15: Two companies with one hot drink. Answer: No, not Nestlé or hot chocolate, but COCOA. There are two ‘Co’s for Company in there.

Saturday/ why the truth is so hard to find

‘We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are’.
– from Seduction of the Minotaur, by Anais Nin (1961)


The entire Sept. issue of Scientific American is dedicated to the topic on the front page in bold letters: Truth, Lies & Uncertainty: Searching for Reality in Unreal Times. The articles are heavy on science and general philosophies about what is real and what is virtual. For example: to this day, philosophers cannot agree on whether mathematical objects (say, the number ‘7’) exist, or are pure fictions.

A summary of the article by Prof. Anil K. Seth that goes with the picture below, goes like this:
‘The reality we perceive is not a direct reflection of the external objective world. Instead it is the product of the brain’s predictions about the causes of incoming sensory signals. The property of realness that accompanies our perceptions may serve to guide our behavior so that we respond appropriately to the sources of sensory signals’.

So throw in Presidents that lie every day, greedy corporations with profit incentives, and worldwide social media networks ⁠— and holy cow: it’s more important than ever before to try to verify if something uncertain or new that we come across, is ‘true’.

Our realities are constructed by our brains, and no two brains are exactly alike.

Tuesday/ central Oslo & Aker Brygge

I spent the day running down the interesting architecture sights around central station, and the Aker Brygge (Aker docks), a little further along the waterfront.
I also checked into some stores and some bookstores.
I have so far come up empty handed, as far as finding Tintin books in Norwegian, to add to my collection.

Brunost cheese on display at breakfast here in the hotel. It’s a cheese made with whey, milk, and/or cream .. and it is very tasty.
Here’s the type of tram that gets one around central Oslo. Lots of buses available as well.
A selfie with the help of a food truck’s polished surface . I’m on my way the Astrup Fearnley Museum, the structure in the distance.
Find the mechanical reindeer in the picture! Polished marble and glass in the modern office and apartments around Aker Brygge.
Here’s the Astrup Fearnley Museet, a museum of  modern art. It’s been here awhile (since 1993), and was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.
Melkesjokolade .. hmm, yes, a very large slab of milk chocolate, and spelled almost identically to the way it is in Afrikaans: melksjokolade.
And a stuffed reindeer.
The Stortingsbygningen (Storting building) in central Oslo. It is the seat of the Storting, the parliament of Norway. It was designed by the Swedish architect Emil Victor Langlet and taken into use in 1866.
Here’s the regional train called the T-bane (so no U-bahn in Oslo!), coming into Carl Berners Plass station (Carl Berner plaza station).
I’m standing on the Akrobaten pedestrian bridge close to Central Station, and watching the trains come in. That’s the Nordenga road bridge in the distance. It opened in 2011.
To my left is the Akrobaten pedestrian bridge that I am standing on. The buildings on the other side of the tracks are called the Barcode buildings: twelve narrow high-rise buildings of different heights and widths.
Just a closer view of the glass, brick and steel of another one of the Barcode buildings.
Here is the new building for the (Edvard) Munch Museum, scheduled to open in spring 2020. The Munch museum collection, that includes the famous ‘The Scream’, is currently located in Toyen. (Is the building craning its neck to take a closer look at the water?).
The Oslo Opera House, at the head of the Oslofjord (but just a stone’s throw from Central Station, actually). It opened in 2008, and is the home of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the national opera theatre in Norway.

 

Wednesday/ about Greenland

I just had to check out Greenland again on my Earth globe (with the stupid and completely unnecessary flap created around it, and all ⁠— by You-Know-Who in the White House).

Greenland is the world’s largest island and is a semi-autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark. It has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for more than a millennium.

Greenland sits almost due north of the United States. It has some 56,000 inhabitants, 1/4 of which live in the capital, Nuuk. Ethnicity of its people: 88% Greenlandic Inuit (including Inuit-Danish mixed); 12% Danes and other Europeans. Insets: Coat-of-arms (a polar bear) and national flag.
It’s fun to use Google Streetview to do virtual tours of Greenland. In a few places they mounted the Streetview camera on a boat and recorded some views. This one in the bay by Narsaq.
Here is a little store in the capital Nuuk. Let’s see what the Danish translate into: Møbler: furniture, gaveartikler: gifts, slik & chokolade: sweets & candy, festartikler: party items, friske blomster: fresh flowers.
.. and a little Danish design flair for a new apartment building. Very nice.

Wednesday/ fear of an empty glass

Hmm.. is that a legitimate word: cenosillicaphobia? I wondered, as I looked at the letter board sign behind the bar counter in the Elysian Capitol Hill Brewery tonight.

Well, kind of. It looks like it was invented some 10 years ago. It is listed by Urban Dictionary, but not by Merriam-Webster (the gold standard for online dictionaries).

Ceno means empty, such as in cenotaph (a tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person, or group of persons, whose remains are elsewhere), sillica would be the glass and phobia (of course), the irrational fear.
No reason to suffer from cenosillicaphobia when the bartender is right there, though – unless you have had several too many, already.

Tuesday/ those unread books: ‘tsundoku’

I make full use of the Seattle public libraries at my disposal, but I don’t always get to all the books that I had taken out, before they are due back.

There is a Japanese word for buying or acquiring books that go unread: tsundoku (Japanese: 積ん読). The word is composed from tsunde (to stack things), oku (to leave it for a while), and doku (to read).

I went to the University branch of the Seattle Public Library today, on Roosevelt Avenue. It is actually one of the smaller branches, but one of the oldest. It opened its doors in 1910.
And I had to snap the Seattle Fire Department Station No 17 across the street as well, 1. since it is a Seattle City landmark building (same as the University branch library), and 2. thinking of yesterday’s terrible fire in Paris. The fire station was constructed in 1930 (hence the Art Deco touches), but renovated extensively in 1987.