During my recent trip to Ohio, I met a man named Don Slater from southeastern Ohio who regaled me with endless examples of how people from his neck of the woods (centered on Noble County, but down into eastern Kentucky and Tennessee) talk.
People from Noble County don't butcher a hog, they "burcher" it.
They don't say "ain't that awful" or "tain't that awful". They say "hain't that awful". Don said he thought that pronunciation might have some Irish influence behind it.
One of the most amazing expressions Don taught me was one he said is used around Gatlinburg, Tennessee: "beyall". See if you can figure out what it means before you turn to the next page. HINT: this expression is often used by waiters and waitresses in restaurants.
Try again. SECOND HINT: it is a question — "beyall?"
THIRD HINT: it is equal to four words in standard English". NO MORE HINTS.
"Will that be all?"
Here's a set of sentences from Noble County with three homonyms that are completely separate morphemes:
1. How fur is it to Caldwell?
2. What did you do that fur?
3. That bear has thick fur.
A few more words as they are spoken in Noble County:
1. koelidz — a place where you go to receive higher education
2. bulgee — subject you might study at a koelidz
3. daiton — city in southwestern Ohio
4. murrow — large painting on a wall
5. westcomsin — name of a northern state
For southern Ohio "probably" –> "pry", see starting at 0:47 in this YouTube:
Here's another YouTube on "Southern Ohio Slang":
My Mom (and everybody in my family following her) always used to refer to bell peppers as "mangoes"*. When I joined the Peace Corps and went to South Asia, I got to know what real mangoes are. The speaker in this video gives a good explanation of why people in southern Ohio call bell peppers "mangoes", starting at 1:56. Around 5:30 she discusses a "non-verbal 'hey'". There are dozens of other intriguing expressions that she introduces, including "a lick" = a little bit (8:23), "born in a barn" = be rude, have no manners, forgot to close the door when you came in (my Mom used to say that too; 9:30), "get on" = leave (10:13), "done did" = did (12:00), "et" = ate (12:43), and many others. The speaker says "I don't know" about almost everything and giggles a great deal. Nevertheless, she offers a lot of interesting information about southern Ohio speech.
*[From Portuguese manga, fruit of the mango tree, from Malayalam māṅṅa or a kindred Dravidian source; akin to Tamil mā, mānti, māti. (American Heritage Dictionary). Borrowed into Sinitic as mángguǒ 芒果, probably through Malay mangga, with the second syllable, guǒ 果 ("fruit"), being a convenient phono-semantic match.]
In recent weeks, President Trump has delivered a number of fiery speeches and incendiary tweets about what will happen to North Korea if Kim Jong-un launches nuclear missiles over Japan and toward Guam and the United States.
Naturally, the feisty dictator replied with some choice words of his own:
"North Korean leader responds to Trump: ‘I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire'", b
That's not how I pronounce it. For me, it is \dō′tərd\.
"Dotard" is related to the word for the mental condition referred to as "dotage" ("feebleness of mind associated with aging").
James Griffiths has an article,"What is a 'Dotard'?" on CNN (9/22/17) in which he rightfully points out:
Kim, of course, did not say the word — he was speaking in Korean. "Dotard" was the official English translation provided by state news agency KCNA for the Korean "늙다리미치광이" ("neulg-dali-michigwang-i"), which literally translates as "old lunatic."
On the other hand, in "'Dotard' rockets from obscurity to light up Trump-Kim exchange, spark partisan war of words", Los Angeles Times (9/22/17), Mark Z. Barabak writes:
The Korean equivalent of dotard is “neukdari,” which is a derogatory term for an old person.
One possible explanation for Kim’s use of the antiquated insult came from Joan H. Lee*, who covered North Korea for the Associated Press. She said on Twitter that she had visited the offices of the government’s propaganda arm, the North Korean state news service, and “found the agency using very old Korean-English dictionaries for their translations.”
*[VHM: I think that Barabak is referring to Jean H. Lee.]
There's been some confusion about just which Korean expression Kim applied to Trump. The full epithet he employed was "neulg-dali-michigwang-i 늙다리 미치광이" (neulg-dali –> derogatory term for old/withered man/dotard; michigwang-i –> lunatic"). Google Translate renders that as "an old man lunatic". Colloquially, one could translate the entire expression as "crazy old fool".
For a detailed discussion of the Korean expression, see this tweetstorm from Noon in Korea.
Prediction: President Trump, whether directly or indirectly, will be the source of more new ("bigly", "covfefe") and resuscitated ("dotard") words than anyone since Shakespeare, though they are unlikely to last as long.
[Thanks to Ben Zimmer, Haewon Cho, and Jichang Lulu]
I have sung the praises of Google Translate (GT) before (e.g., "Google Translate is even better now" [9/27/16]), but this morning something happened with GT that really tickled my fancy.
One thing I use GT for is to compose texts in Chinese. I find it to be a very powerful and easy to use input tool.
So I input the following:
shuō dìngle 說定了
xīngqítiān zhōngwǔ jiàn 星期天中午見
After I finished typing that, I glanced over to the box at the right where the automatic English translation appears. I was just floored when I saw this:
That's a deal
See you at noon on Sunday
The GT translation is both idiomatic and natural. Miraculously, it somehow even managed to catch the playful tone of what I wrote in Chinese. Of course, when used irresponsibly by people who know no Chinese to check it or who try to get it to translate something that is literary / classical / topolectal when it is designed for Mandarin, it can produce Chinglish howlers. But in this case (and in many other cases that I have experienced), GT is every bit as good as a human translator, and sometimes better than most.