WIX: Better Late Than Never

Okay. It’s Thursday, but…better late than never!

Looks like just about everyone has the same thing to say, but look at the fun patterns when placed together !

Icelandic: betra seint en aldrei

Norwegian: bedre sent enn aldri

Swedish: bättre sent än aldrig

Danish: bedre sent end aldrig

German: Besser spaet als nie.

Dutch: beter laat dan nooit

Afrikaans: Beter laat as nooit

French: Mieux vaut tard que jamais.

Italian: Meglio tardi che mai

Spanish: mejor tarde que nunca

Portuguese: antes tarde do que nunca

Croatian: bolje kasno nego nikad

Latvian: labāk vēlu nekā nekad

Czech: lepší pozdě než nikdy

Polish: lepiej późno niż wcale

Estonian: parem hilja kui mitte kunagi

Finnish: parempi myöhään kuin ei milloinkaan

W.I.X. : It’s All Greek to Me

I recently used this phrase in a picture book draft on Day 5 of NaPiBoWriWee. The number five inspired my foray into non-fiction:  a picture book exploring the Pentagon, (from the Greek pentagōnon). The word is a metonym, used like Washington is when the U.S. government is implied, or Hollywood for the film industry (also used to diss cookie-cutter happy endings).

Back to the Greek (which metonym stems from): a somewhat Ionic (or Corinthian) reply when something incomprehensible had been uttered instead of the more Doric “Huh?” or “Wha?” So who said it first? I’ll put my money on a Latin-speaking Roman on his high horse saying, “Graecum est; non legitur” (“it is Greek, [therefore] it cannot be read”).

On my first search attempt I found this GREAT site: Omniglot: the online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages. Where you can find translations from Arabic to Yiddish. It seems most cultures hear some other language when spoken as gibberish, but I need to award a gold-star-sticker to the silliest sounding translation from the Cebuano-speaking people of the Philippines, referring to Chinese: Ching chong ching chang ching! (Got that one from Wikipedia!)

W.I.X.: In Other Words

While researching for WIX, I found an amazing though (too) small book: In Other Words, Christopher J. Moore, a Levinger Press Book, Walker & Company. It is indeed ‘A Language Lover’s Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World’.

In the section on Western European languages I stepped into rire jaune, literally translated from the French as “to laugh yellowy”, meaning to “give a laugh that betrays your true feelings”. The author states that yellow is not seen as a positive color by some cultures, but in France it does not represent a ‘coward’, as in English, but a ‘traitor’.

Then I remembered my Dutch friend’s reaction to a poor joke of mine: “hahaaaa…..I’m laughing like a ‘farmer with a toothache”: lachen als een boer die kiespijn heeft. I asked her to explain: “it is sour grapes….I did not really want to laugh, the joke is bittersweet…Does that make sense?” We might laugh out of the wrong side of the mouth, but my question now is whether those grapes are also yellowy!

W.I.X.: Spin a Yarn

Still a beautifully figurative way to convey the telling of a tale. Too bad I don’t hear it used much. This could have German roots : Seemannsgarn spinnen, to spin a sailor’s twine was tedious, mundane work and certainly lent itself to storytelling. The word yarn alone stands in for a long story. According to Wikipedia, in Australia, and particularly among Aborigines, it has become a verb, to talk: Yarnin.

*Rufus F. Zogbaum (1849-1925), oil on canvas, depicted from a photograph taken aboard the U.S.S. Mohican in 1888.