Wednesday March 30, 2005
Misunderstandings at YAPC::Taipei
I counted 6 language mistakes at YAPC::Taipei by
the famous and not-so-famous. On the Friday night
birthday party for ingy, acme was talking about
getting diver instruction certification in
Florida, so I asked clkao what the diving
was like in Hwalien, but he heard what the
driving was like.
Apparently the hackathon was going to take the
train to Hwalien. Like in Korea, the mountains in
Taiwan extend down to the sea on the East Coast,
so the drive is apparently more spectacular than
the train trip, which goes a lot of the way
through tunnels. But, he said the road is only 2
lanes, at least some of the way.
Then on the Saturday at lunch, he mentioned
'turbos.' I couldn't understand and it took
mugwump a while to explain, before I realized he
had said 'tarballs.'
Then during obra's talk, obra mentioned turbos
too, and it took me an instant to recognize that
he had *also* said tarballs.
American English /a/ is less open. This had
always troubled me in Korea, where Top Gun was
pronounced to my ears, Tup Gon.
Or perhaps I just need to clean my ears out,
because when the British New Zealander mugwump
asked the presenter on Mail::SpamAssassin about
'graydists,' I didn't understand again.
Only afterwards at lunch with colleagues of the
speaker did I find out mugwump had been talking
about graylists. I thought he had been talking
about Paul Graham.
It could be because these were technical words
that I had probably only ever seen in print
before, and which I had never written down, that
autrijus's talk about perl6 was in Chinese and
the slides were in Chinese too, so although the
talk was interesting I didn't understand all of
it, or even 50 percent of it.
I could understand more of the slides, but one
interesting point was it appeared he was claiming
a Lutheran Reformation in perl's development. I
thought he seems to be taking the religious
imagery of Apocalypses, Exegeses and Apocrypha in
an interesting and new direction.
Only 16 hours later on the way home past a big
sign did I realize he had been talking about the
transformations in the camel.
I asked my students later that day what the
Chinese for camel was, and they said, 'luotuo.'
Not actually 'Lute,' but pretty close.
'Luotuo' incidentally sounds similar to the
Japanese 'rakuda' and Korean 'naktha,' but the
characters are different.
Chinese, Japanese and Korean words often have the
same etymological roots, with the same Chinese
character. But giraffe is also different. In
Japanese and Korean it is 'kirin.' In Chinese it
is, 'chang jing lu' or long-necked deer. In
Chinese, a kirin is a cameleopard.
clkao has an interesting picture in his svk talk
of a camel and a giraffe together.