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Johnson – If only English had a word for… | Books & arts

IImagine a friend I’m out to face a difficult challenge. As a final word of encouragement before they disappear, you want to defeat them. What do you say? If you speak English, the most likely choice is “luck”.

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If you stop thinking about it, it’s a little weird. You may certainly want your friends to have a lucky smile, but neither they nor you can do much about tumbling dice. What you really want from them is not luck, but an indomitable spirit. Therefore, in this situation the French say “courage” rather than “luck”. French expression for “luck” (Bonne Chance), But especially for those who need luck, it’s not a difficult promise and you’re likely to want to go to the racetrack.

Mark Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, recently wrote in the Language Log blog that old adjectives and old nouns cannot be fixedly combined in English. You may want someone to say “good morning,” “good morning,” or “good night,” but you may not want “good morning.” You can say the phrase if you want, but if you throw it over the fence on Friday night, your neighbors will see you as a wolverine. In other languages, it’s completely customary.

Special occasions are another way to have different fun. English-speaking people say happy birthday to each other, but many other language-speaking people say, “It’s as if the birthday girl did something impressive just to survive for another year.” Congratulations! ” The Dutch also say “gefeliciteerd” to those who truly deserve a blessing, that is, members of the family, including their mother. This is close to duty, but in English it constitutes a strange (even attractive) surprise. Dutch-speaking people miss the habit of living in Anglophone.

It’s natural to criticize a language that lacks the expressions you think are essential. For example, Scandinavian does not have the word “please”. This is one of the first words taught in other languages. This is to ease the unfriendly demands of novice speakers. But Scandinavian people are not rude. From “May I ask?”, Achieve the same goal through other longer formulations. In public to tackle “you are sweet” on request to intimate people. Scandinavians, on the other hand, need to wonder why when Anglo-Fon meets their friends again, they don’t want each other something like Sweden’s “tack for Senast” (“the last time I met”). Thank you “). It’s strange and rude to omit this, but the lack of an English equivalent is annoying to anyone accustomed to it.

It is fascinating to draw deep cultural conclusions from the existence or lack of this in the language. However, impressions can be misleading. Italians want each other to be “buon lavolo”, basically “do a good job”, but their culture is not known to be particularly work-focused. And the Germans have a fun “Feierabend!” That they hoped someone would get well when they quit their jobs, but the Germans aren’t known for their love of knocking off and relaxing. Hmm. These expressions must be exchanged in at least two languages ​​to comply with stereotypes.

But some idioms actually say something about culture. The spread of “I’m sorry” by the Japanese reveals a lot about Japan. Usually translated as “I’m sorry” or “I’m sorry”, but it is used in a much wider range of situations than those results. A detailed online guide to Japanese culture recommends it as a Japanese word to know if you want to learn only one. The Japanese may say that when someone has a door for them, or even to interrupt a lift trip on the middle floor. They do not apologize enthusiastically, but their society values ​​respect for others.They need to wonder why a single English word does not have suppleness and coverage I’m sorry.

But just because you don’t have a word doesn’t mean you can’t build or borrow it.English says Bon Voyage And Bonapetti, And there is no reason to stop there. When face-to-face work resumes, try “buon lavoro”. “Feierabend!” When a colleague goes home. If you meet a friend, thank them like the Swedes you met last time, break someone’s descent in the elevator, and try the friendly “I’m sorry!” Congratulate your mother-in-law on your spouse’s birthday and be happy to prepare to bring back your smile. It may seem awkward or tricky at first, but you can try and stick with it. Be courageous.

This article was published in the printed book and arts section under the heading “Lost Words”.

Johnson – If only English had a word for… | Books & arts Source link Johnson – If only English had a word for… | Books & arts

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