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TorgoX (1933)

TorgoX
  sburkeNO@SPAMcpan.org
http://search.cpan.org/~sburke/

"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Thursday May 23, 2002
12:10 AM

Random/Casual

[ #5167 ]
Dear Log,

In gathering contributed translations for Apache::MP3 (we're up to about 30 languages now!), it seems that every different language has a word for "random" that is related to other words in very interesting ways.
The English word "random" started out meaning "very quickly"; the Malay word seems to be have started out meaning "without a goal"; and in Italian, it's "in ordine casuale" -- in "casual" order. The original meaning of "casual" in English was "by chance" or "as it happens" -- but that sense seems to survive only in the phrase "casual observer". "Casual" is, in fact, the adjectival form of the past participle of the Latin verb "cadere" (to fall), which also produced "occasion" and "case" (in all senses except "container").

For "random", some of the French or Spanish translators used a word like "aleatoric", itself based on the Greek word for "dice". And for Finnish, I think Jarkko just translated "shuffle" as "listen" (as opposed to just "play"), to avoid the whole matter!

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  • You might be interested in knowing that a related French translation of random (though not applicable to this case) is "hasard".

    --

    -- Robin Berjon [berjon.com]

    • Wow, I just had a look at the etymology for "hazard" -- it seems to have started out as the name of a particular game played with dice, from about the 1100's. It took several centuries to develop the current French derivative meanings (with the noun "hasard" -- "happenstance" -- and "par hasard" meaning... "accidentally"?) and the English derivative meanings (the most common being the noun "hazard" (=danger), the adj. "hazardous" (=dangerous), and a less common verb "to hazard" (=to take a chance), now hea
  • I didn't translate "shuffle" as "listen" ("kuuntele") to avoid the "random", I translated "shuffle" as "listen" and "play" as, well, "play" ("soita"), just to have two different Finnish words to go with two different English words.

    FWIW, "satunnainen" is the Finnish word for "random", or "satunnais-" in compounds. It's a derivative of "sattua" which is "to happen unexpectedly/unplannedly".