Romain Bouchard: Vale, etymologista assidue

Romain Bouchard has been Deactivated and Banned, for multiple accounts.

I am not posting him up on Necrologue, because I want to be rigorous about the notability criteria for inclusion (100+ followers), and he only had 60 followers.

I was one of them. I did not banter with Romain the way I have bantered with others here. But he was an assiduous etymologist, knowledgeable about languages, and one of those I always considered part of my team here. I shall miss him.

Why do people use “Nope” even though “No” is easier to say and shorter to spell?

A2A by Z-Kat. Marc Ettlinger’s is the definitive answer:

Marc Ettlinger’s answer to Why do people use “Nope” even though “No” is easier to say and shorter to spell?

—but I was a research assistant for a guy who worked on labiovelars, and I’ve mentioned it here. (No doubt Z-Kat saw the comment.)

So supplemental to what Marc said:

A glottal stop is easily confusable with p, t, or k. But in the case of no, the confusion is going to be even more pronounced.

/w/ is a labiovelar glide. That means that the breathing passage is constricted in two places: at the lips, and at the velum (back of the tongue).

A glottal stop constricts—in fact, it blocks outright—even further back in the oral cavity than the velum.

What happens when you say a very abrupt “no!” ? You get a /w/, followed by a glottal stop: [nowʔ].

Now, what happens if you either produce or hear the /w/ and the /ʔ/ as the one sound?

The labiovelar glide turns into a Voiced labial–velar stop : [ɡ͡b] . The combination is pretty common in West Africa; e.g. Laurent Gbagbo (this one’s for you, Habib Fanny). The combination also turns up as an allophone in Vietnamese, for final -uk. My Vietnamese colleague was rather puzzled at my boss getting her to keep saying the Vietnamese word for bee, or whatever it was.

The labiovelar stop is not a common feature of English. So people may hear or pronounce [nowʔ] as [nowɡ͡b], or [nowk͡p]; but they can only make sense of it within English as [nowp].

Hence nope. And then, by analogy with nope, yep, and more recently welp.

Answered 2016-11-07 · Upvoted by

Heather Jedrus, speech-language pathologist

Why do many heterosexual men want to have anal sex with their female spouses, girlfriends, or lovers? Is it because of increased access to porn? Is it a dominance thing, fetish, or a bucket list item?

An A2A on subject matter I have no personal experience of, from Mary Gignilliat.

This is going to be another one of those “only because you A2A’d me and I like you” questions. If you keep them coming though, I’m going to have to start calling you Mezza.

(Mezza is, believe it or not, the Australian slang form of Mary. We’re a weird mob.)

The answer is not going to break new ground over what everyone else has said; it’s a synthesis. I’m going to take the same approach to it I take to other questions I have no personal experience of, like say Will the Norn language see a successful revival in Orkney and Shetland? I’ll try to work from first principles.

Why do heterosexual men express interest in anal sex?

Is it because of increased access to porn due to the internet? Is it a dominance thing? Is it a latent homosexual issue? Fetish? Is it a bucket list item? Is it the position?

  • For some men and women, the fact that it is pleasurable is in itself enough. It is, to be blunt, an accessible orifice, and one that is amenable to sexual stimulation. For other people, it is too painful, or too gross.
  • But the pleasure or lack of it is not the only principle at play. If it was, then porn, dominance, latent homosexuality, fetish, bucket list, and for that matter grossness—they would all be irrelevant, if the only consideration were up to nerve endings and pain vs pleasure. Obviously there are cultural considerations at play. Obviously there is a cultural semiotics of anal sex.
  • One consideration: it’s non-procreative penetration. Its use in cultures as a non-procreative alternative for heterosexuals is longstanding. That means that its availability as an option is culturally long-standing.
  • There are taboos around anal sex. One reason for it is the propinquity of excretion, which would have led to both concerns about hygiene (a concern readily mitigated, I am informed), and more diffuse cultural barriers.
  • Let’s recall the second reason for the taboo, though, which is probably more pervasive. Sodomy was enjoined against in many societies, and the enjoinder had legal effect in some states of the US up until Lawrence v. Texas. Recall that sodomy includes not just anal sex, but oral sex. The taboo was precisely the fact that both are non-procreative.
  • Many people are attracted to taboo activity around sexuality. The word for that is kink. Of the sundry flavours of kink, anal sex is presumably one of the more benign. Hence the not actually apocryphal at all “Where’s the most exotic place you’ve had sex?—That’d be in the butt, Bob”: ‘Up the Butt, Bob’
  • The position and pain threshold may well have associations with dominance. I don’t know enough to pass opinion on that. I’m less convinced there’s been porousness from homosexual anal sex as a practice; the pervasiveness of homophobia in Western society seems to me an argument against.
  • As to porn: it’s as much effect as cause; I’d argue it’s even more. Yes, porn has raised awareness of all sorts of kink in the general community; but I hardly think anal sex was in the same category as, say, bukkake, as an activity that has propagated primarily via porn. There was a lot of anal sex around pre-porn. Especially in traditional societies, as non-procreative sex.
  • It is true, as Jeremy Markeith Thompson has noted, that anal sex is a focus of porn and is glamourised. But that’s part and parcel of the taboo nature of anal sex; and porn trades on kink. At any rate, kink in porn is subject to acute inflation. Yes, bulletin boards can excitedly comment about starlet X’s first anal scene. But then it’s her first threesome. Or interracial. Or bukkake. Or BDSM. Or whatever they come up with next.

OK, here endeth the lesson.

Who are some people you know who became fluent in a foreign language as an adult?

Here’s one.

Chie Hama. She was doing an MA in my linguistics department, under A/Prof Janet Fletcher. I’ve googled Chie; she’s now tutoring down the road at RMIT, but RMIT doesn’t give its casual tutors much of a web presence.

Chie Hama came to Australia from Japan. Chie swore to us blind that she did not really learn English in Japan. Having read about how the official teaching of English works in Japan, I’m not surprised.

Chie was adamant that she learned English in Australia. She had completely fluency, but I totally believe her.

Because she spoke English with every little quirk of inflection and mannerism of A/Prof Janet Fletcher.

“Yaaaaah… so we’re to test the…. okaaaaaaay? Yaaaaah.”

It was like listening to a recording.

What’s the best translation of the intensifier “the fuck” in other languages?

Modern Greek.

“What” (τι) questions will have σκατά “shit” inserted after it: τι κοιτάζεις “what are you looking at” > τι σκατά κοιτάζεις “what shit are you looking at”.

The more generic intensifiers are στο διάολο “to the devil”, for interrogative sentences, or ρε γαμώτο “for fuck’s sake; literally hey, I fuck it”, for other sentences.

Τι κοιτάζεις > τι στο διάολο κοιτάζεις “what the hell are you looking at?

Πότε στο διάολο θα έρθει “when the hell will he get here?”

Κοιμήσου ρε γαμώτο “Sleep, for fuck’s sake”.

Ρε γαμώτο, νόστιμο είναι το φαΐ “Fuck, that food is tasty”

Γαμώτο has the historical linguistic distinction of being an ossified piece of mediaeval Greek, in which the “it” follows rather than precedes the verb (γαμώ το); in Modern greek, “I fuck it” would be το γαμώ. Because it is an ossified piece of mediaeval Greek,

  • people treat it as an exclamation: Voula Patoulidou, Olympic gold medalist at the 100m hurdles, exclaimed Για την Ελλάδα ρε γαμώτο θα τρέξω, και για κανέναν άλλο! “I’m running for fucking Greece, and nobody else!” And her patriotism was widely held to excuse her profanity. Για την Ελλάδα ρε γαμώτο “For fucking Greece” was a catchphrase for several years afterwards.
  • people also treat it as a noun: the expression το γαμώτο της υπόθεσης “the ‘fuck it!’ of the issue is…” corresponds to “the catch is…, the rub is…”: it’s the part of an issue that makes you exclaim “for fuck’s sake!”

Should Greeks have white guilt about American colonial times?

This is an answer that a Ukrainian friend of mine came up with for Australia; it applies just fine to this scenario too.

Actually, what the hell: I’ll link to her since she has a Wikipedia entry: Maria Tumarkin.

No, Maria’s Ukrainian Jewish ancestors were not directly involved in the genociding, literal and cultural, of Australian Aboriginals. Just like my Greek Orthodox ancestors weren’t.

But she, and I, are beneficiaries of it. And we should acknowledge it.

And (to add my own 0.02 AUD): guilt is not the point. The point is not to contribute to making it even worse.

Have you donated to Jordan Yates’ College Fund? If so, why did you donate?

Interesting question. I’m going to go a little meta on this.

Disclaimer before I do. I had kept it anonymous, but what the hell. Yes, I have donated.

The divine Lady X has put up this question (hey Mary!). The question is risky: it involves a named Quoran, it can potentially be construed as insincere by moderation, and it can invite adverse ad hominem comment. I think the question is fine: the discourse has been quite civil so far, and people with dissenting views have not been shouted down, but heard out.

I’m interested in the question of why I chose to donate. A little self-indulgent of me to do so, perhaps, but Lady X asked, the question is the community’s now, and I get to give an answer.

Posting a fundraising request on Quora is a very risky thing to do. Jordan Yates, bless her, has shown awareness of this, and has been careful about how she’s positioned the fundraiser. Not everyone I know is OK with it (including people I respect), and that’s to be expected. I think the argument against it is unfair, but I’m not interested in changing the minds of people who think so; and, I suspect deep down, neither does Jordan.

I like Jordan. I don’t know Jordan as well as I do a lot of people on Quora. I have close friends here, and she’s not one of them. She has close friends here, and I’m not one of them. But I like to think I’m one of those people she recognises and smiles good morning to as she logs on in the morning, just as I do when I see her. If not, well, whatevs. She doesn’t have to upvote my cartoon of her. 🙂

(You know about the cartoon, right? I love youse women? The one where she looks nothing like she actually looks?)

Are there worthier causes than Jordan? On the actuarial scales of human misery, sure, Jordan isn’t in Raqqa. Or, for that matter, Jordan. I give my obol to Medecins Sans Frontiers; but yes, I could give more to more “deserving” folks.

Nor did I donate to invest in the future of American education. Not my country. There’s severe teacher attrition in Australia; I don’t know if it’s the same in America; but in case it is, I don’t want Jordan feeling beholden to a bunch of us if things don’t work out, and she has to go to plan B. I’m on plan C or D by now in my life, and having to switch plans feels awful enough already.

Ultimately? Jordan’s part of my community. She adds some value to my life. I have a distant but true respect for her, and how she grapples with things in her charming, dorky way. It has so pleased me to send a tip her way. Because she needs it, and because I like her voice, and because I trust that she will exercise the best judgement she can.

And at the end of the day, because it has so pleased me.