Saturday, July 3, 2010

PL 36/10: LATINA glossary

Filed under: Uncategorized — plinius @ 6:11 am

On Thursday we explored some multilingual aspects of international education, using Google Translate and Wikipedia as practical tools.

We also asked each student to choose one culturally specific word from their own language. They wrote the word on a sheet of paper – in BIG letters – and took turns presenting their word to the others. As an experiment, we also videotaped this session.

On Friday the students also spent some minutes presenting the words on their blogs. I have reproduced the content below.

  • My word is biang
    • This is my word which is a special noodle in Shanxi province of China. It is quite difficult to write it.
  • The word that first came to my mind was LAUME, a mythological pagan character.
    • I think it’s because that exactly some national cultural things like dishes, mythological or religious characters exactly are the most difficult to translate precisely. The translation given by the vocabulary to this word is a hag or a witch.
    • That does not mean the same, depending on the cultural differences or at least my personal imagination. A witch for me  is like an old angry woman who may cause some trouble and actually is some kind of scaring character. We have a different word describing such image of the witch – ragana.
    • While the deep meaning of the word LAUME is referring to everything that is good and bright, helping people, closely connected with nature. Laume will help to the lost children, save the orphan. In Lithuania even rainbow has very nice pagan name – Laumes juosta – meaning the Laume’s ribbon.
  • Mukama is a Luganda word meaning Boss or Master.
    • Most kings are referred to as Mukama meaning they are their subjects’ masters. It has been used by many other people to literally to give respect to even other ordinally people. For example, if someone desperately wanted anything  from you,  he calls you mukama and vice versa if you are the one in need of something from him.
    • Because of its meaning, God is called Mukama and many parents have named their children Mukama desiring them to be leaders in future.
  • My word is “two”
    • 昨天,我和我的同学做了一个猜字游戏,我提供一个字“二”,他 的发音是“er”,“二”在中国有两个意思,一个就是数字二的意思,另一个意思就是“傻”的 意思,表示一个人总是说一些或做一些很愚蠢和让其他人觉得好笑的事。比如当一个人做了傻事,你可以对他说“你太二了!”(you are too two!)这是不是很有趣?
    • [Translation] Yesterday, I and my classmates made a guessing game, I offer a word “two”, he is pronounced “er”, “b” in Chinese has two meanings, one is the number two meaning, another meaning is “stupid” means that a person always say or do something stupid and let other people find funny things.
    • For example, when a person do stupid things, you can say to him “You’re two of the!” (You are too two!) This is not very interesting?
  • Bambi is a word used among the Soga and Ganda tribes in Uganda.
    • It has different meanings according to the tone used when using it.
    • If it’s a low tone, somebody maybe feeling SORRY for another. For example if I knock my foot against a stone, a friend can say “Bambi…”
    • It can also be used when pleading for a favor from another person or to say..”Please!!…” However at this point it has to be prolonged i.e B.A.M.B.I. For example if I need the seller to reduce the price of something in my favor or when I need a friend to do me a favor, I can say..”Bambi…” meaning please…!!
  • OSCYPEK is a typical smoked cheese.
    • It is made from unpasteurized salted sheep’s milk. This is made in Tatra Mountains and you could eat oscypek only there.
  • Ūršalīm: The light of Salem
    • Jerusalem (Alquds) has many names through the History…In one of the years Jerusalem produced huge amounts of Olive Oil that the King “Salem” ordered that the lights should be on all the nights. The people who came to that city followed the light of these olive oil lights, and said: lights of Salem…pointing to the direction, in their old language was Ūršalīm…
  • My word is 囧。
    • It is a adjective word. The original is bright or shining. Nowadays, it is very popular in the internet in China. It is used to describe the mood which is depressed or somebody who feel hopeless. Maybe, the word is like a face,with downward the eyebrow, which represent the people who are not happy and hopeless.
  • I have chosen to talk about the word – Thob.
    • This word means a women dress . It is usually dressed by women in formal occasions and ceremonies like wedding ceremony. This dress represents typical Palestinian heritage of women dressing.
    • Each city in Palestine has its own thob, for instance, Jerusalem city has special thob distinguished from Bethlehem city thob. It is also with many kinds and colors. It is hand-made . The more complex it is the more expensive it is.
  • The Nyaminyami (Zambezi River God) is a local legendary creature created by the Toka-leya people of Zambia.
    • The Nyaminyami is a dragon like creature with a snake’s torso and the head of a fish.
    • The Nyaminyami supposedly resides in the Zambezi river and controls the life in and on the Zambezi. It is so interesting that the same word and folklore behind the legendary shared by the Tonga people of Zimbabwe.
    • In Zambia, the folklore is re-told during the traditional cultural ceremony of the Toka-leya people held every year to remember their past history. The Nyaminyami or Spirit of the Zambezi river has some religious attachments significant to the local people in their practice of African Traditional Belief System.
    • This word is very much linked to two tourist attraction sites: The Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba
  • My word is
    • In China, many characters are created by the shape or meaning of the objects. Take 森 for example, 木 is tree in English and it looks just like a tree. When we put two 木 together,just like this 林 which means several trees together. Further,when we have three 木,that is 森 and it means there are a lot of trees, which is called forest in English. It is very interesting, is not it?What is more,I think you can learn and keep the character easily by this way.
  • My word is ADROGOA
    • The word Adrogoa is now fading in the vocabulary of Lugbara tribe of Uganda as of today. It used to be common in older  days. It was used mostly by parents to scare children. Adrogoa is believed to be a creature similar to human beings but having half of every part of a normal human being. That is, half head, one arm, half body, and one leg and moves at night.
    • Once you come across it, that is the end of you. You die. They take you with them underneath water their habitat. Thought it was mostly used for scaring children not to walk in darkness, many adults had strongly believed what is said about then. That is their super natural power to do anything. To-date no prove of a person been taken by Adrogoa exists. What a myth!
  • BIGOS in English is – MISHMASH
    • this is a traditional dish from my country, it is made of cabbage and meat and there is no standard recipe for it, “as recipes vary considerably from region to region and from family to family” (Wikipedia). You can eat this with potatoes or bread.
    • Bigos is one of the most popular dishes serving during Polish weddings.
  • My word is 日 月
    • Today is July 2,中国文字是怎样表达7月2日,中国文字是象形文字,如日、月来自图形, 日 SUN 字很像太阳
    • [Translation] Today is July 2
    • Chinese characters is how to express on July 2, Chinese characters are pictographs, such as day, month from the graphics, much like the sun on the word SUN
  • My word was – cepelinas.
    • It is a national dish in Lithuania and not translated to english. This dish is made from potatoes with meat or cottage cheese inside.  People can eat the cepelinas with a sauce or sour cream. It is really delicious:)
  • My word is “Namaste
    • “Namaste” Tapain lai sanchai cha !!!  ….means ………Namaste  are you ok!!!!  In Nepal when you meet some respected person , the word Namaste comes out automatically and tie two hands in front of the person. This is a typical Nepali way to greet people . Not only the respected people, normallly when two people meet they greet each other by saying Namaste.
    • In our country people believe in god and they  assume every soul is a god , so when they meet someone …. says namaste in respect of god in him. As I mentioned that every soul is regard as god , so when one says namaste as respect the other should reply in same way.

A multilingual environment

This year LATINA has participants from seven countries: China (5), Uganda (4), Palestine (2), Poland (2), Lithuania (2), Zambia (1), Nepal (1). The diversity with respect to first languages is even greater, however. Nine different first languages are represented in the class:

  • Mandarin (4)
  • Luganda (3)
  • Arabic (2)
  • Polish (2)
  • Lithuanian (2)
  • Lugbara (1)
  • Bemba (1)
  • Tibetan (1)
  • Newari (1)

Multilingual countries

Most countries have some linguistic minorities. But China, Nepal, Uganda and Zambia are much more diverse than that. Wikipedia lists

Ethnologue lists


  • My word is 囧。
    • It is a adjective word. The original is bright or shining. Nowadays, it is very popular in the internet in China. It is used to describe the mood which is depressed or somebody who feel hopeless. Maybe, the word is like a face,with downward the eyebrow, which represent the people who are not happy and hopeless.

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