Reconciling assholes for nearly a decade.

OT Translation forum

Seeing as how Joel is being a global citizen by offering his essays in various languages, I think OT should serve the geeks of the world and offer a list of various native language terms to use in place of standard geekdom terms/ acronyms.

Of course, in standard USAian fashion, I'm monolingual, so I'll just initiate the task then claim credit at the end.

Thoughts - RTFM, PITA (Pain in the ass), FUBAR, SNAFU, or any unique ones from other cultures.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 29th, 2005
English and Spanish rule the profanity world. There's a real big dropoff in the quantity and quality of invective after those two.
Permalink John Haren 
August 29th, 2005
John, I'd recommend learning Russian if you want to burn the ears off your target. Regretably, your target would also need to understand Russian. There is a book titled Dermo which elaborates a lot of them, but don't let your Russian girlfriend spot you reading it, or she'll haul it off and burn it.

If you want to insult your target, and have them think you praised them, Irish would be good for that. In the case of the Irish insults, those actually translate well: although they would come across as subtle jabs such as "you'd be lucky to get [name here] to work for you" (implying [name here] doesn't work at all).

My ex (cuban) excelled at the subtle jabs. A passive-aggressive personality is almost required for them tho. Otherwise they fall flat and get rebutted with things like "you're so stupid you couldn't pour water out of a boot with a hole in the toe and instructions on the sole."
Permalink Peter 
August 29th, 2005
Peter,
Point conceded. Russians have done a lot of catching up.
Permalink John Haren 
August 29th, 2005
Profane Russian isn't just about swearing though. Two people who are proficient in it, can explain incredibly complex technical concepts to each other using three popular stems, plus morphology.

Related:
After WWII, there was a linguistic study that claimed that a major reason for the Japanese losing to the Americans was that the average Japanese command contained ~19 words, whereas the American one contained ~11. Faster communication translates to faster decisions, and a military advantage.

Apparently the average Russian command was 3.2 words.
Permalink Flasher T 
August 29th, 2005
German is also a great language for it. It sounds like you're swearing even when you're not.

Polish might be even better. Who needs vowels, anyway?

I wonder what swearing in Hawaiian sounds like. Probably music to the ears and chafing to the soul.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 29th, 2005
Ο πιό άλαλος. Νήμα. Πάντα.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 29th, 2005
Babelfish is so funny.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 29th, 2005
You take that back!
Permalink John Haren 
August 29th, 2005
"Apparently the average Russian command was 3.2 words"

How hard can it be to say "Charge that tank or die"?

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 29th, 2005
I assume that the American commands are made lengthier solely by the use of the f-word. ;)
Permalink Snark 
August 29th, 2005
The .2 words in the average comes from the fact that after a while you can drop the "or die".
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 29th, 2005
Reminds me of that story (was it one of Joel's?) about the guy in the Japanese train station, and after listening to about 5 minutes of talking in Japanese, he gets the English translation, which was "Osaka train arriving at Gate 5" or something like that.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 29th, 2005
Must have been Keigo, the ultra-formal, ossified style of Japanese. Everyday Japanese is astonishingly concise.
Permalink John Haren 
August 29th, 2005
Still, I think 5 minutes is probably a bit of an exaggeration...
Permalink Joel Goodwin 
August 29th, 2005
It's his exaggeration (passed down from his father) not mine.

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/FogBugzII.html

It's sort of like translating from English to Japanese. I have never been to Japan but my father, a linguist, once told me the story of the train station in Tokyo, where the announcements were made in Japanese and English. You would hear four or five minutes of nonstop Japanese and then the English translation would be "The train to Osaka is on platform 4." It seems that in Japanese there is simply no way to say something that simple without cosseting it heavily in a bunch of formal etiquette-stuff.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 29th, 2005
My guess is that the train was late. Late trains are serious business in Japan. It requires volumes of apology. The notion that there's no way to express a simple notion like 'here's the train' is ludicrous. Shinkansen desu!
Permalink John Haren 
August 29th, 2005
or arimas... been a long time since I used my Japanese. Jeeze.
Permalink John Haren 
August 29th, 2005
Russian is really the best. This whole forum is nothing more than a pizdabratiya.
Permalink Rheinhard Wilkinson 
August 29th, 2005
Reminds me of the time when I was sitting in the Shinkansen totting up some expenses, the train pulled into the station, and the announcer repeatedly called out "Okayama desu! Okayama desu!"

Just as the train was leaving my attention was drawn back to my surroundings and I remembered "Okayama! Shoot! That's where I was meant to change trains!" Needless to say, I then missed all the remaining connections up to Tokyo and missed the last airport express to Narita. That turned into some adventure. Especially with conductors who would look at my ticket, and say "You are not supposed to be on this train. What are you doing on this train?" Then let me be with a look that said "Silly foreigner..."
Permalink Ian Boys 
August 29th, 2005
One of the things I was amazed by is how, when someone commits suicide by jumping in front of a train in Japan, the bereaved family gets sued by the rail company for several million yen.
Permalink Joel Goodwin 
August 29th, 2005
>Charge that tank or die?
Well, part of the abreviated nature of Russian is the lack of articles: "a," "the", things like that.

"give me the book"
"give me a book"
all get shortened to "give book"

As for Japanese, all them particles add up to a lot of extra words. Little glue words that mean things like "the preceeding word was the subject of the sentence." Things that would be suffixes or conjugations in other languages.
Permalink Peter 
August 29th, 2005
Peter:

Funny, when I was learning American Sign Language for the deaf (part of a church project, and there was this girl I liked...) I was struck by the plain-ness of the language.

No articles ("a", "the"). Few modifiers (that I could tell).

Perhaps it was the book we were using. "I would like a piece of that delicious pizza, please" would become "I want that pizza".
Permalink AllanL5 
August 29th, 2005
Many languages are far too complicated for day to day communication needs, with all the different declensions, inflections and plurals.

With sign language you are looking at the person you are speaking with, so "I want that pizza" combined with appropriate facial expressions and body language can surely convey all the nuances required?
Permalink Ian Boys 
August 29th, 2005
Sign language, as "spoken" by the deaf is amazingly expressive. Much more than our spoken language.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 29th, 2005
For invective, Sinhala is in Division 1. Arabic isn't far behind either.
Permalink Stephen Jones 
August 30th, 2005
+1 to russian
No other language users are creative enough to say:
Yoptf ya dushu matti, blatt.
Which roughly translates as "I'll fuck your mother's soul, motherfucker." or something like it.
Permalink John Q Tester 
August 30th, 2005
Peter sez : "Well, part of the abreviated nature of Russian is the lack of articles: "a," "the", things like that."

But -man- do they make up for it with the plethora of ways to say "go". ;)

And, yeah, I have to say that Russian just plain lends itself to obscenity. I'd even go so far as to say that Russian may well be the language best-suited to expressing emotion and passion (runner-up, ancient Greek). French -- too beautiful. Italian -- too flowery. Spoken Russian sounds like the noise that the human animal makes.
Permalink Snark 
August 30th, 2005
Ok, real-life example. My friend just came back from Russia, with a sticker in his back window that says Nas Huj Dogonish'. The literal English translation is The Fuck You'll Catch Up To Us. Three words vs seven words (eight if you want to be conservatively pedantic about apostrophes).
Permalink Flasher T 
August 30th, 2005
> Sign language, as "spoken" by the deaf is amazingly expressive.

Now I want an OT picture-in-picture sign language girl down in the corner of my screen. That would be cool.
Permalink Jeff Barton 
August 30th, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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