This is really tangential, but I'm reminded of a friend showing a group of us How to Train Your Dragon, where all the kids spoke standard General American and all the adults spoke movie Scots. It was just totally distracting. What, were all the kids going to some upwardly mobile secondary school that was never shown on camera, and imitating the way their teachers talked?
I had the same reaction to The Man in the Iron Mask, where Depardieu as Porthos spoke with a French accent and none of the other Musketeers did. My usual mental end-run around this problem is that he's from a different part of France, except I know too much about the Musketeers to deploy it in this case.
When I think of the endless debate over why okay is okay or not okay to use in fantasies, ay yi yi, multiply that outward.
And that doesn't even tough translating from one language to another. I read a nifty essay on that in The Delighted States by Adam Thirlwell.
I'm one of those people who bounces hard off "okay" in fantasy worlds. Especially faux-European ones. *twitch*
Yeah, me too. I hear the voice in an American accent, twang!
This is true--and I heard it used by German speaking people during my year in Austria, but it still "sounds" American in my head, Diction, yes, although I waver when people point out that their fantasy characters would have their own slang. And since we're writing in English, okay is as much an approximation as forsooth!
Exactly. And I would like to see more completely secondary world fantasies with 20th and 21st century "feel" to them--not identical tech but similar--and "forsooth" would feel way more wrong there. I think it's not about whether it's fantasy, it's about a particular kind of fantasy setting--but a lot of people default to a fantasy setting where "forsooth" feels more natural than "okay," and so the two end up being equated, fantasy and that range of diction.
I'd be good with that but I've seen it, or other Americanized locutions, in fantasy Victorian steampunk! Rubs me wrong every time. (I have also seen it in Jane Austen fic, including published ones, but there it's a useful indicator that this is probably not one I want to read.)
I bounce off of "okay" in most but not all secondary-world fantasy -- it depends more upon the general level of diction in the narrative voice than it does on the setting or tech level -- but not in most science fiction . . . provided it's spelled "okay" and not "OK." My mind will accept the former as a word in translation from whatever language is actually spoken there-and-then, but not the latter.
(This has at least a bit to do with my own position, linguistically speaking, on the origin of "okay" . . . I remember getting into an, um, spirited argument about it years ago on the old GEnie network.)
I just realized that yes, I feel the same about okay and OK but never examined the reason why.
I have been noticing that while reading the Dalziel and Pascoe books--lots of ways to say "pregnant" based on who you are, where you are, who you're talking about, etc. And this is key: a lower percentage of them sound twee and euphemistic than the ways to say it in US English. "Up the spout" and "up the stick," for example, are not tiptoeing around the concept that someone might do something as grossly physical as gestating another human being in the way that "a bun in the oven" is.
That's a meaning of "up the spout"? I've only encountered it in Henley's "Villon's Straight Tip to All Cross Coves," where it seems to have something to do with fencing stolen goods:
It's up the spout and Charlie Wag
With wipes and tickers and what not.
It's also used for things that have gone wrong or are useless or not working. Which...is kind of nasty, once you put the meanings side by side like that.
In my head, the crossover meaning is '(probably unplanned) major inconvenience' rather than specifically broken/useless, but I'm not sure whether that works with the actual etymology.
I don't think I've ever noticed that about expressions for pregnancy -- any examples? I do remember one of the Nancy Mitford novels having someone announce that she was in pig, which I assume is not a standard term for people.
I've always thought "knocked up" (which of course is US, when referring to pregnancy) is a fairly violent sounding expression. Never heard "up the spout" to mean anything but squandered or destroyed (assumed it was from water disappearing out the kettle spout in steam). Apparently it's from being pawned, when items were sent upstairs for storage? So you've got the "ruined" meaning alongside the "temporarily in storage" -- huh, that does make sense of a kind for pregnancy.
To my ear "going in for a baby" sounds like something you would have to consult with air traffic control about, but being able to distinguish between trying and not if you cared to distinguish is useful.
That phrase causes me to imagine chasing after the stork with a giant butterfly net.
Narrated by David Attenborough, of course.
You're on a roll this morning.
Huh. I'm not sure that's a universal connotation, given that I've definitely seen people talking about trying to fall pregnant. "Catch pregnant" I've never heard, though I've seen people saying that the pregnancy "caught this time" and the like. "Going in for a baby" I don't recall hearing but is obvious in context.
The US does have "in trouble" and "got herself pregnant," but those would be for unmarried girls/women, not just anyone with an accidental pregnancy.
"Got herself pregnant" really frustrates me because it's never about parthenogenesis, which is interesting. "My cousin Anne went and got herself pregnant." "Holy crap, she DID?" "Oh, no, actually it was a joint effort between her and some dude." "Oh. Why are you telling me this? We understand the science of that way pretty well."
Yeah, that's a weird one. Plus the literal meaning implies intention rather than the reverse.
IIRC it took me a long time to work out "up the duff" (I mean when I first encountered the expression, not just now).
Huh - in my (admittedly idiosyncratic) dialect, 'got knocked up' strongly carries the connotation of accidental-and-perhaps-unwanted. No specific phrasing for the opposite, though - it would get carried in tone.
There are regional differences within the US as well. "Mom" is what my own offspring, raised mostly in New England, call me; but I called my mother "Mamma", which is the more common term in the south. Grandmother-names can get even stranger; I called my paternal grandmother "Memaw" and my maternal grandmother "Mamamama."
(An amusing side-note: some web-site or other, a few years back, posted a list of "Things Women Shouldn't Do Once They Hit 30", one of which was "Call your father 'Daddy.'" Their comment section was promptly flooded with replies from southern women of all ages vigorously disputing this assertion. And in fact, I called my own father "Daddy" . . . still do, in conversation with family, though he's no longer alive to answer to it.)
It is hard to get more northern than me without actual polar bears, and I call my father "Daddy" all the time. I sometimes also call him "Dad," but I call my parents "Mother and Daddy" collectively quite often, even though my mom is hardly ever "Mother" ("Mom" or "Ma" or "Momma" or "Mor" unless I'm really really sick--when my fever goes above 103, it's "Mommy"). But I also just call him "Daddy" directly.
My mother, who was from Wisconsin, called her parents Mother and Daddy. Can't remember her using any other names (apart from generic references to "my father used to say" and the like).
Not to mention contextual. I grew up calling my mother Mom or Mommy (in southern Ohio, with lots of extended family from upstate NY and less extended family from Tennessee and Ohio), but now as an adult I call her Mom and Mother and Mama depending on context. It's not just me; my younger brothers do the same, and in the same general contexts. I grant that we're a family that loves to play with words and nicknames, but still.
Mom called her mother Mom, and she was Grandmom to me; Dad called his mother Mother, and she was Grandmother, except when she was Grandmom too.
And my father is Dad, except on the rare occasions that he's Daddy, but he signs his emails "Da." (This can probably be laid at the feet of a bunch of expat friends plus a formative year or so in London, rather than any local regionalism, though. He has a number of random Britishisms that he uses side-by-side with Ohioisms.)
...This is all by way of personal side rambling, really! I do find it interesting that the article on L'Étranger went for Maman and never considered "Mama," though. What are people's associations with Mama? For me it's a rarer term but not so regionally linked (though Momma sure would be.)
I've heard Mama in the northwest and midwest, anyway (my kids say Mama and Papa, and I used to babysit kids who said Mama and Dada). The pronunciation is identical to Momma, or nearly so, but I'm sure people have strong views about the spelling. I tend to visualize Mamma or Momma when I hear Mama said in a southern accent (even though I'm sure I've read books by southern writers who use the spelling "Mama" -- just checked and Faulkner does, for instance).
Have you read Douglas Hofstadter's Le Ton Beau de Marot? If not, you really should (and it is not much like his Godel, Escher, Bach); if so I'd be very interested to hear what you thought of it.
I have indeed read it, and I very much like its comprehensive attempts at one small poem.
Just this week I was watching Danish TV again (DANISH TV HOW I LOVE), and I was very pleased that the main character was saying, "Piss! Piss! Piss!", which is a cognate, but the translation at the bottom of the screen said, "Shit! Shit! Shit!" because when you're frustrated and repeatedly saying something scatalogical in English, mostly it isn't "piss." That was a properly idiomatic rather than literal translation, even if it was funny to be able to understand both simultaneously.
Such occasions are amusing and sometimes thought provoking - as for why, when something matters, in English it counts, but in Estonian it reads?