Merriam Webster had a decent run down of a plausible etymology.

I wonder if 500 years from now, when chemical rockets and invasive surgeries are long gone (reference: Star Trek), will people wonder how the term “rocket-surgery” came to be?


I suppose those “become a polyglot” language learning videos will get a lot more views in the next week… :thinking:


I’d love to do a routine like this during my next language conversation Meetup:



a useful vocabulary lesson, courtesy of clozemaster

Apparently from here

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nytimes: The urgent mission for literary translators: bring Ukrainian voices to the West.

Bringing nuanced and reflective writing from Ukraine and about the war to English-language audiences is a project as political as it is cultural.

Part of Mr. Putin’s justification for the invasion rests on his claim that he is “liberating” culturally Russian areas from Ukrainian rule. By highlighting Ukraine’s vibrant literary and linguistic heritage, translators said they hoped to emphasize the country’s distinction from Russia.

“Translation in times of great historical upheaval becomes especially important,” the Ukrainian poet and translator Ostap Slyvynsky, who lives in Lviv, wrote in an email. “Over the last decade, we have finally learned to tell the world about ourselves.”

The push to quickly translate work by Ukrainian writers has led to a loosely coordinated campaign among a small, close knit community of literary translators. Much of the communication is happening in group chats, social media, and shared Google drives and spreadsheets.

“It does help people who are suddenly stuck under bombardment to feel that their voices are being heard,” said Boris Dralyuk, the editor in chief of The Los Angeles Review of Books and a translator of Russian and Ukrainian authors who has been commissioning, editing and publishing war dispatches and poetry from Ukraine.

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This is a concern in English and in Russian, but in languages like French (l’Ukraine), German (die Ukraine), or Irish (an Ucráin) where the definite article is more commonly used and doesn’t carry the same connotation, the difference isn’t going to make as much sense.

Or does it? Is there another grammatical quirk in those languages which corresponds to what they’re talking about in that article?

When it comes to English and Russian usage, though, it comes down to this: It’s “Ukraine” in English, because Ukrainians asked us to say it that way. (This isn’t like where Erdoğan is demanding that we call Turkey Türkiye, with letters that most Anglophone nations don’t even have. This is about a regular usage in standard English and its semantic implications.)


Thank you for that. My speech is a weird hybrid because I moved to Europe as an adult after an austere childhood, so words that I only learned as an adult are spoken as I learned them in Europe (Midwestern pronunciation for ‘aunt’, for example, but the British ‘a’ in ‘basil’). And thus, I learned “The Ukraine”. There hasn’t been a reason to unlearn it before now, because it wasn’t often I ever spoke about the country, but today is a bright line: now I know, so I won’t do it anymore.


This story reminded me of the one about the indigenous languages of Mexico. It also made me consider how terrible a translator’s job could be (depending on the situation): :grimacing:


From 1977 though, so it surely needs an update.

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Ah so, not so much “to understant someone” but to be an apologist for

When “Versteher” is added to the end of a word in German, it’s typically done to indicate a mix of irony and flattery


My boy has a new friend whose mother is from Papua New Guinea, home to over 800 languages. People marvel at how travelling 10 miles in the UK will have people speaking in a different accent; in PNG that distance will get you a new mutually unintelligible language.

I asked her how many languages she speaks.
“Well English obviously. My French is so-so.”
“…and from PNG?”
“Ah, well… As a child, I had no idea I was speaking five or six languages. I just talked with people and it happened how it happened. It was only when I went to the shops and people didn’t understand my first attempt and I’d have to ‘say it another way’ that I realized these were not different expressions or idioms but languages. To people from PNG, a question like ‘how many languages do you speak?’ usually gets answered with something like ‘only as many as I need.’”

Mind blown.


Buried in another post.


I wonder how many versions of this in other languages might be out there… :thinking:


Lol, I knew there was somewhere better to post it.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a bunch. I bet it gets interesting in places like Switzerland where there are a multitude of official languages.

Although it should be noted that English is not an official language of Quebec.


I want to see the french equivalent-- french grammar, french text, and a scattering of english words to give it that impression of bilingualism.