Re: Celtiboinking and mandarin musings
|From:||Weiben Wang <weibenw@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, March 6, 2002, 15:37|
Two more examples:
Egg custards are called dan4ta3 in Mandarin, which had
me mistified, since ta3 means tower, and there's
nothing towerlike about the flat, round little pies,
until someone explain that ta3 is pronounced something
like "tat" in Cantonese. Thus dan4ta3 is a rendering
of "egg tart." Who knew?
In Mandarin (that I speak anyway) "taxi" is
ji4cheng2che1, which means something like "metered
distance car" (and one of the few words for "taxi"
that doesn't sound like "taxi" that I've run across in
my travels; taxi must be one of the most international
of words). However, in Hong Kong and southern China,
I ran into di2shi4 in Mandarin, which again had me
mystified, until I was told that di2shi4 is pronounced
something like "diksi" in Cantonese.
--- "Douglas Koller, Latin & French"
> Stephen wrote:
> >Talking (irrelevantly) of Ireland and nets, why o
> why is the mandarin
> >for "Ireland" °®¶ûÀ¼ "Ai4er3lan2" =
> "Love-net-orchid" ?! You'd think
> >that even sticking to the representation "aierlan"
> you'd have a good
> >few homophones (a max of 64 factoring in tones)
> before you choose from
> >the homophonic alternatives. (And why not guo2 for
> "land" instead of
> >"lan2"?!). After all, [A]merica is ÃÀ'ú "mei3guo2"
> "Beautiful land" and
> >(y)England is Ó¢'ú "ying1guo2" "heroland". Then
> again pity poor Spain which
> >is Î÷°àÑÀ "xi1ban1ya2", I think meaning
> "western-squad-tooth" ;)
> Bag the meanings here. There's a (relatively) fixed
> set of characters
> used to express foreign names, and they then take on
> a katakana-esque
> role. "Ai" and "er" are not highly productive
> syllables, maximal
> mathematic probabilities aside, and "lan" fares only
> slightly better.
> So you take what you can get. (The same "lan2" also
> pops up in
> "He2lan2" [Holland] and the older "Ying1ge2lan2" for
> "England". I'd
> assume there is probably an unwieldy archaic version
> "A1mei3li4jia1" for "America" floating around out
> there, but it'd be
> a drag to use. So you truncate. That "Ai4er3lan2"
> never morphed into
> "Ai4guo2" *might* be because there was a homophonous
> (different "ai4", though) in ancient China.
> "Celtguo2" doesn't swing
> since the average Chinese peasant doesn't know and
> couldn't care less
> what a Celt is. You want sump'n like "Ei4guo2" à la
> "Erin go braugh"
> [sic?]?, take it up with the Central Committee.
> >BTW, does anyone know how proper names in chinese
> dialects are handled?
> >I mean if the hanzi are common to all dialects,
> including hanzi for
> >place- and people- names which have been borrowed
> as "soundalikes",
> >then presumeable this means that the english word,
> say "Ireland", in
> >*mandarin* sounds like the characters °®¶ûÀ¼, while
> in other dialects
> >these hanzi while still meaning the, erm,
> love-net-orchid don't sound
> >like "Ireland". I guess it's not such a problem,
> but is this the way it
> It's not a problem. I'm totally freeforming here,
> but I think some of
> this is a matter of which dialect gets there first.
> I always
> wondered why Sweden and Switzerland were rendered
> with (what in
> mandarin is) "Rui4dian3" and "Rui4shi4",
> respectively. I mean, not
> really even close, and there are better possible
> syllables available
> in Mandarin. But then, aha, along came Taiwanese
> (Hokkien), where
> "rui4" is "sui7" (/swi/) and "dian3" is "dien2"
> (/dEn/), Sui7dien2
> (/swidEn/). Sweden! "Rui4" is "sui7" (/swi/); "shi4"
> is "su3" (su7?);
> Sui7su3 (/swis(M)/, if you say it quickly). Suisse!
> "Man4gu3" is
> unintuitive Mandarin for Hokkien "Bban7gok4".
> Bangkok! "Bai3shi4" is
> unintuitive Mandarin for Cantonese "baak3si6": Pepsi
> (for American
> SNL devotees, think the ol' John Belusi (sp?) Greek
> diner sketch; "No
> Coke, Peksi."). Coke and Kodak, I assume, entered
> via Mandarin,
> 'cause in Cantonese they don't quite work in the
> department. Is what I'm talking about based in fact?
> Not a clue. It's
> just the way I like to think of it.
> My fave in Taiwan was "Yang2bai3han4" University. It
> kept coming up
> over and over in conversation and Chinese people
> were giving me this
> look when I
> blanked. I tried saying it quickly, I tried saying
> it slowly, and I
> couldn't for the life of me figure out what
> "Yunbehun" University
> was supposed to be. At last, revelation. Brigham
> Young. The Mormans
> must've gotten to Taiwan early on so that a
> sinophied Chinese name
> got hardwired into the general vocabulary before a
> "Bu2li4jia1mu4 Yang2ge2" or some such had a chance
> to evolve. "Oh,
> why didn't you tell me *those* were the rules you
> were playing by?"
> "Because, silly foreigner, you are meant to be kept
> guessing." Fair
> enough. My Chinese handle is "Kou1 Dao4guang1";
> anyone who attempts
> "Dao4ge2la1si1 Ke1le4" while I'm in earshot gets
> their nads
> unceremoniously handed to them in a paper bag. So if
> Mr. Young wanted
> a Chinese sobriquet, so be it.
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