Monday, January 23, 2012

I am not terribly surprised.

While most people are familiar with the fact that the Greek word "barbaroi" referred to anyone outside of Hellenic culture who didn't speak proper Greek like a civilized human and instead went "Bar, bar, bar" in some uncouth tongue like Latin or Persian, how many knew that the Chinese have more words for "barbarian" than the French have for surrender*?

*I'd have said "...than the Esquimaux have for snow" but some humorless pedant always Poindexters up and points out that they don't.

40 comments:

I Am McThag said...

Technically there's only one word in French that means surrender.

It seems like there are more because they've learned "surrender" in EVERY language.

Including Greek...

Duke said...

I always thought bar bar bar was a biker chant.

Nathan said...

And thus the first metasyntactic variable "foo" to go with the second one, "bar".

(It's early. I haven't had my coffee yet.)

Anonymous said...

There may be many words for barbarian but I only learned only character for barbarian which stylized a man on a large shooting a bow.

Shootin' Buddy

Kevin Baker said...

"While most people are familiar with the fact that the Greek word "barbaroi" referred to anyone outside of Hellenic culture who didn't speak proper Greek like a civilized human..."

I think you overestimate most people.

SGB said...

The French have one word for surrender and a white flag. Both serve them well.

Tam said...

Kevin,

I'm trying to remain positive, here, lest I find myself weeping. ;)

Surely the whole etymology of "barbarian" is covered in school, right?

Shrimp said...

What does the study of bugs have to do with Jean de Brunhoff* drawings? And how is any of this related to Hellenic culture?





(waiting for Tam's face-palm and scream of exasperation in 3...2...1...)


*sorry, I have kids and couldn't resist the connection

mikee said...

Well, we egalitarian Americans don't have the breeding to call others barbarians, but "French" or "Chinese" seems to get the idea across just fine.

staghounds said...

1. Etymology? In government schools?

Ha, ha, ha.

2. You people go to Verdun, or the little villages with more names on the war memorial than there are houses, and say that surrender nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Biggest...dork...ever

staghounds said...

Lighten up on yourself, Anon. 9:52, there have been bigger dorks than you.

William II and Falkenhayn come immediately to mind.

Anonymous said...

Eskimos may not have different words for snow, but the Finns do--think my in-laws said 16 different ones...

Justthisguy said...

I betcha John Derbyshire, who claims to be a racist but married a Han gal, gets to hear every one of them when they go to the Middle Kingdom to visit the in-laws. He's mentioned that his wife is quite adept at cussin' right back when the Chinese start making "race traitor" insults at her.

Stretch said...

The French Poilu was always ill served by his high command and political masters.
While the poilu and taxi drivers were performing the "Miracle of the Marne" most of the pols in Paris were well on their way to points south and west.
It took the 1917 mutinies to get the French High Command attention.
WWII was no better. As the French Army bleed plans for the French Navy and Government to re-locate to Algiers were ignored and they ended up with Vichy. (Insert scene of Capt. Renault kicking trash can)

Justthisguy said...

@anonymous @10:34: English-speaking mountain climbers and skiers have lots of words for different kinds of snow, too.

WV: gyrast (I am not kidding!) . Expert counterman in a Greek fast food joint, wowing the customers with his flamboyant slicing moves. Compare to "gymnast."

DirtCrashr said...

Or words for "rice" in India - but that may also be since there are slightly over 1,600 different mother-tongues.

wv: buting - the sound a Garand makes every eight rounds.

JD Rush said...

The barbarians (TSA) in Nashville are now detaining Rand Paul because he refused a free massage. I don't know about you, but the wookies are getting restless on FB.

Mattexian said...

How about Americans and number of names of places to get drunk? There's bar (no pun intended), saloon, pub, cantina, speak-easy, dive, icehouse; I'm sure y'all can come with plenty more on your own.

Anonymous said...

Seen years ago on Usenet:


"The word *gaijin* literally means 'foreign person'. Many Westerners like to think that the Japanese use it in the same way as the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan uses 'nigger', but it ain't really true. They use it when they mean 'nigger', but they also sometimes use it to mean 'honorable nigger'."

Armed Texan said...

*I'd have said "...than the Esquimaux have for snow" but some humorless pedant always Poindexters up and points out that they don't.

Well, then you can out-poindexter them and point out that your statement is technically true regardless of whether the Inuit–Yupik tribes had one or twenty word for snow.

Justthisguy said...

@Mattexian: Howzabout the number of silly names for pistols? You know, Roscoe, heater, equalizer, little friend, cordless drill, etc.

Then there are all the nicknames for girl parts and boy parts. My two favorites there are "Cooter" and "Johnson." I mean, Lyndon was reported to have actually displayed his Johnson in a cabinet meeting.

Justthisguy said...

@anonymous @12:21: That reminds me of a really bad one:

Definition of honorable discharge: How a Japanese gentleman addresses his STD symptom.

Hey, we're among friends here, right?

global village idiot said...

Reiterating what Staghounds and Stretch said - I've met and trained with Frogs. They are good soldiers and brave past a fault; however, they are universally poorly led.

Up until recently, it seems. They've given a VERY good account of themselves in Afghanistan.

I suspect the recent news of their suspending training and expressing a desire to quit the field after a Wog shot up a bunch of them has more to do with disgust than spaghetti-spine.

gvi

Goober said...

Surely the whole etymology of "barbarian" is covered in school, right?

I think that they shoe-horn it into a quick jot between the curricula dealing with womyn's studies, how mankind is destroying planet Earth, and how government is a benevolent force for good and always has been. It is somewhere on the heirarchy between teaching mathematical skills and how to properly spell the word "cat", so, pretty low all things considered. It wouldn't surprise me if some of them missed it.

DirtCrashr said...

Sacred Ginmill? What's Inuit for "yellow snow"?

Lanius said...

Folks, this French bashing is getting tiresome coming from a country that would be a British dominion had it not been for French help.

So what that the French have suffered two ignominious military defeats in the last 150 hundred years?

Both times, they lost to freaking Germans. Who practically wrote the book on modern warfare.

And the second time, the whole country was as fit for war as a half-crippled PTSD veteran who zones out half the time is.

They gave a good account of themselves in WWI. Had people like Guderian or Liddel-Hart been French, and had France specialized in mobile, armored warfare instead of futile fortress building, they'd have rocked in WWII.

I'm sure Napoleon would've sneered at the idea of a Maginot Line.

Tam said...

Lanius,

1) The "French=surrender" thing is a joke, like the "Canadians=heathens" or "Eskimos=100 words for snow" thing.

2) "Both times, they lost to freaking Germans. Who practically wrote the book on modern warfare." Amazingly ahistorical assertion, considering the Krauts have been 0-2 since the invention of smokeless powder.

Justthisguy said...

Ah, yes, Lanius! Our country might not even exist, had not the French Navy won the battle of the Virginia Capes.

Some argue that the French spending all of that money to help us precipitated the revolution they had there, seeing that they couldn't really afford to keep their own country going, let alone help us.

I wonder if we can afford to keep our own country going.

mariner said...

Tam,
Surely the whole etymology of "barbarian" is covered in school, right?

I never heard that in school, and I went to a "good" school forty years ago.

Lanius said...

I know it's a joke, but it's a joke that's just plain unfunny.

considering the Krauts have been 0-2 since the invention of smokeless powder.


Except they only lost because their armies were crushed under material superiority. And that both times, they took on the world's most powerful countries. The early victories are impressive in themselves.

Mikael said...

Anonymous said: " Anonymous said...
Seen years ago on Usenet:

"The word *gaijin* literally means 'foreign person'. Many Westerners like to think that the Japanese use it in the same way as the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan uses 'nigger', but it ain't really true. They use it when they mean 'nigger', but they also sometimes use it to mean 'honorable nigger'.""

That's not entirely right. It doesn't mean foreign person, it means outside person, or outsider, and it does have connotations of barbarian(someone who isn't part of the civilized community). The proper word for foreigner is gaikokujin (outside country person).

Grayson said...

At the risk of something really bad happening....

The Mandarin Chinese character that translates as "trouble" evolved from a pictogram.

The pictogram shows 2 women under one roof.

No kidding. And no wonder that this weblog tends to arouse peoples' interest. ;}

Cheers.

Seerak said...

Some argue that the French spending all of that money to help us precipitated the revolution they had there, seeing that they couldn't really afford to keep their own country going, let alone help us.

That would be ironic, as the British taxes that sparked the revolution here were part of the effort to pay the bill for defeating the French in the French and Indian War.

Tam said...

Lanius,

"Except they only lost because their armies were crushed under material superiority."

Logistics is part of modern warfare, Lanius; you'd think that the people who wrote the book on it would understand that.

Excessive Krautophilia is the mark of a dabbler at military history. I would recommend Why The Allies Won and Why The Germans Lose At War as interesting reads, both with good bibliographies if you'd like to explore more fully in dull technical works.

staghounds said...

Word, Lainus.

To be fair to the filthy Hun, he did well in the 1866-1871 season.

To echo Tam, in part because the Germans incorporated technical and industrial developments into war fighting.

Even more so because they selected reasonable, limited targets and made sure those targets were alone.

Their wars of 1914 and 1939 were acts of fundamentally stupid and personally evil leaders.

Timmeehh said...

Actually it was French pilot Georges Guynemer, who single handedly won WW II on June 5 1917, by not killing Ernst Udet.


http://www.historynet.com/georges-guynemer-frances-world-war-i-ace-pilot.htm

Lanius said...


Excessive Krautophilia is the mark of a dabbler at military history.

Where am I being excessive?

I admit to liking Germans, 95% of those I've met have been nice, reliable and polite people. Their tourist are hardly ever as obnoxious as some of the UK troglodytes. Dalrymple is right about Britain..

The country looks slightly less orderly than Singapore, but they don't cane anyone.
Shame about their gun laws though. And the population density, you can't fire a mortar anywhere in Germany and not risk hitting a village.


Their wars of 1914 and 1939 were acts of fundamentally stupid and personally evil leaders.

Exactly. SOE dropped a Hitler assassination plan because of a fear he'd be replaced by someone competent and not stark raving crazy.

I Am McThag said...

Which was it? Crushed under the weight of material superiority or betrayed by incompetent leaders?

It should be pointed out it wasn't FRENCH material superiority that beat Germany in 1918 and 1945. Just in case you missed that.

The contemptuous joke comes from how fast the French capitulated when Paris was threatened. They actually fought pretty will in WW1, but were getting fed up with it towards mid-run. Large swathes of trench is located where it is because the froggies stood their ground.

I trained with the French in '88. Their tankers (then at least) can be summed up in one word; worthless. I'd describe the attitude as maƱana, but they weren't in that kind of rush. Their grunts were motivated, but were often left hanging by the units that were supposed to be supporting them. More than once we heard something to the effect of, "Holy crap! You're here! Just like the briefing said!" They also voted the US soldier the bravest in the world for eating MRE's when we weren't actually starving to death.

staghounds said...

A lot more Frenchmen than Americans died fighting Germans. Even in 1939-45, if you consider the population of the countries.

Though the numbers don't even matter. Surrender jokes mock their sacrifice, even if it was only one dead man, one widow, one orphan.