Author Topic: On Miracles  (Read 2404 times)

Offline trdsf

Re: On Miracles
« Reply #165 on: February 02, 2018, 02:49:59 PM »
I wonder if puns are easier in English than other languages, given the many words that have double (or more) meanings?
I don't know about easier in English, but they're certainly possible in other languages.  The Biblical quote, "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church" is a pun if you know Greek.

I think the reason English appears to be well suited to wordplay is because unlike most languages, nouns aren't gendered and the vast majority of case endings have been done away with, so it's easier to let meanings slip and slide.

In other languages, wordplay—or rather, syllableplay—takes on forms that simply aren't possible in English.  For example, there's a poem in Chinese called 'Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den', which in Chinese characters looks like this:

Quote
《施氏食狮史》

石室诗士施氏,嗜狮,誓食十狮。氏时时适市视狮。十时,适十狮适市。 是时,适施氏适市。氏视是十狮,恃矢势,使是十狮逝世。氏拾是十狮尸,适石室。石室湿,氏使侍拭石室。石室拭,氏始试食是十狮尸。食时,始识是十狮,实十石狮尸。试释是事。

...and its transliteration in Mandarin is:
Quote
« Shī Shì shí shī shǐ »

Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī. Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī. Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì. Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì. Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì. Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì. Shíshì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shíshì. Shíshì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī. Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī. Shì shì shì shì.
...which is possible because Chinese is a tonal language.  I wouldn't want to try to recite this while drunk, though.


One of my favorites is in American Sign Language, where, as I recall, touching the temple with the index finger is 'I understand'... and touching it with the pinkie is "I understand a little".
"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning." -- Calvin and Hobbes
"I thought I committed regicide today, but I committed deicide!" -- Sadie Doyle, Beyond Belief

Offline Cavebear

Re: On Miracles
« Reply #166 on: February 02, 2018, 02:53:52 PM »
I don't know about easier in English, but they're certainly possible in other languages.  The Biblical quote, "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church" is a pun if you know Greek.

I think the reason English appears to be well suited to wordplay is because unlike most languages, nouns aren't gendered and the vast majority of case endings have been done away with, so it's easier to let meanings slip and slide.

In other languages, wordplay—or rather, syllableplay—takes on forms that simply aren't possible in English.  For example, there's a poem in Chinese called 'Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den', which in Chinese characters looks like this:

...and its transliteration in Mandarin is:...which is possible because Chinese is a tonal language.  I wouldn't want to try to recite this while drunk, though.


One of my favorites is in American Sign Language, where, as I recall, touching the temple with the index finger is 'I understand'... and touching it with the pinkie is "I understand a little".

I don't get the Chinese part at all, but I understood the sign language one immediately!  LOL!
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline trdsf

Re: On Miracles
« Reply #167 on: February 02, 2018, 03:56:52 PM »
I don't get the Chinese part at all, but I understood the sign language one immediately!  LOL!
The Chinese one, all those characters are pronounced 'shi', differing only in tone.  It's perfectly comprehensible when written down, but virtually impossible to say and be understood.  I was putting it out there as an example of linguistic play that's available in other languages but not in English; I suppose the closest we have is "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo."
"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning." -- Calvin and Hobbes
"I thought I committed regicide today, but I committed deicide!" -- Sadie Doyle, Beyond Belief

Re: On Miracles
« Reply #168 on: February 02, 2018, 04:27:58 PM »
Hey, I actually found it! I was curious to see what it would sound like, and here it is:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vExjnn_3ep4
God Not Found
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Stephen Hawking

Offline SGOS

Re: On Miracles
« Reply #169 on: February 02, 2018, 04:31:01 PM »
And the Chinese actually can understand that or do they get subtitles with it?

Re: On Miracles
« Reply #170 on: February 02, 2018, 04:33:07 PM »
Well, to paraphrase John Heisman, when in doubt, pun[t]!
God Not Found
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Stephen Hawking

Offline Baruch

Re: On Miracles
« Reply #171 on: February 02, 2018, 06:40:45 PM »
And the Chinese actually can understand that or do they get subtitles with it?

Chinese tongue twister!  They are trying to remotely generate tornadoes in Kansas!
« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 06:42:24 PM by Baruch »
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Offline Baruch

Re: On Miracles
« Reply #172 on: February 02, 2018, 06:46:49 PM »
I suspect so.  I doubt Shakespeare could have written the same plays in French or Italian. 

I put "Not so wide as a church door, nor as deep as a well" into Google Translate to French.  Can anyone tell me if "Pas aussi large qu'une porte d'église, ni aussi profond qu'un puits" has the same ring and meaning to it?

That is cultural rather than phonetic.  The wide church door lets everyone in, even devils.  The deep well is probably an allusion to the old English practice of killing Jews by dumping them down wells.  The French being Christian, probably would understand it.  I don't think that the "wide" vs "well" alliteration matters much ... or "door" vs "deep".  The French version uses "aussi" twice and "qu'une" vs "qu'un" ... so it sounds a little less clever.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-13855238
« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 06:48:51 PM by Baruch »
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Offline Cavebear

Re: On Miracles
« Reply #173 on: February 07, 2018, 06:42:43 AM »
That is cultural rather than phonetic.  The wide church door lets everyone in, even devils.  The deep well is probably an allusion to the old English practice of killing Jews by dumping them down wells.  The French being Christian, probably would understand it.  I don't think that the "wide" vs "well" alliteration matters much ... or "door" vs "deep".  The French version uses "aussi" twice and "qu'une" vs "qu'un" ... so it sounds a little less clever.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-13855238

I think Shakespeare was more literal (and the French are not).  LOL!
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Re: On Miracles
« Reply #174 on: February 07, 2018, 01:26:16 PM »
Many, if not most, of the words we use come directly from Shakespeare - now there was a real cunning linguist!
God Not Found
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Stephen Hawking

Offline Baruch

Re: On Miracles
« Reply #175 on: February 07, 2018, 08:51:01 PM »
Many, if not most, of the words we use come directly from Shakespeare - now there was a real cunning linguist!

Especially the ghost writers he may have employed, including a Jewish woman ...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/18/did-woman-write-shakespeares-plays-globe-stage-new-play-dark/
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Offline Cavebear

Re: On Miracles
« Reply #176 on: February 09, 2018, 04:35:31 AM »
Especially the ghost writers he may have employed, including a Jewish woman ...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/18/did-woman-write-shakespeares-plays-globe-stage-new-play-dark/

There was a short story about that.  Some guy who travelled to the past to study Shakespeare, only to find that kept helping, to the point where he actually wrote everything, but only because he knew the stories.  Nice time-twister.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

 

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