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Thread: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

  1. #1
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    Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    Are there any languages other than Turkish in which doing something like this sounds weird?

    I mean we don't ever ask how words are spelled when writing down names unless we are talking on the phone.

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    Does Turkish have fairly phonetical spelling? In Russian people typically do not ask how words / names are spelled because the spelling is more or less phonetical and it is very likely that a word is spelled the same way it sounds. I'd say English would be on the other side of the spectrum, where most names need to be spelled to know for sure how they are written.

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    rusita preciosa: Yes that's the case with Turkish. We typically only ask how a word is spelled only if it's a not so common word.

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    In Hungary and Czech republic people having uncommon name usually say they have it and the spelling as well. The situtation is liek in Russia. I wonder if there are any uncommon Russian names, in Hungarian they are ancient artistocratic names in Czech names of German origin:
    - What's your name?
    - My name is Müller. Müller with German ü.
    So you do not need to ask.

    How about French?
    [ɒkinɛk humorɒ vɒn, mindɛnˤtud, ɒkinɛk niŋʧ, mindɛnrɛ ke.pɛʃ]

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    I think in Hungarian it is similar, at least principially. There are exceptions in case of some surnames that maintain their historical orthography. For example, if my surname is Pálfi (the original meaning is "son of Paul") and I come from and old aristocratic family, then it is possible that the written form of my surname is Pálfy or Pálffy.

    P.S. I agree with Encolpius:
    - What's your name?
    - My name is Pálfy, with "y"
    - My name is Pálffy, with "y" and two "f"
    Last edited by francisgranada; 13th December 2012 at 10:34 PM. Reason: Added P.S.

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    In Russian it is the same, usually we do not spell the whole word, we point out a letter where there could be ambiguity in spelling.

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    Quote Originally Posted by rusita preciosa View Post
    In Russian it is the same, usually we do not spell the whole word, we point out a letter where there could be ambiguity in spelling.
    The same with Greek (I have my surname as an example, I always point out it's spelt with omega ω instead of a plain omicron o)
    Les Grecs sont étonnants dans l'adversité - François Pouqueville

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    Quote Originally Posted by Encolpius View Post
    [...]
    How about French?
    I think the situation would be the same as in English as French has a lot of silent letters, etc.
    So it is not uncommon to spell a word or a name. I always have to spell my surname and almost everyone pronounces it wrong for some reason (it is really as French can be and respects the rules of French!). Actually I think that you always have to spell your surname even for "simple" surnames like
    "Dupond / Dupont"
    "George / Georges"
    ...
    I am trying to find a name which you wouldn't need to spell but I can't find anything apart from "Martin"...


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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    • Interesting, one of the first things, more than 20 years ago, I noticed when watching English courses on TV was they kept spelling names all the time. That is something very typical, the sentence: "How do you spell it?" is frequently used almost only in English. I cannot remember any other European language, even French, they would put such a great stress on spelling. But maybe the goal of those lessons was not the spelling but the English ABC which is uncommon, even strange...Japanese and Chinese on the other hand keep asking: What character is it?
    • For Russian and Greek members -- Can you tell us some real !Russian, !Greek (not foreign) names with irregular, uncommon spelling? Thanks
    • As I mentioned above in Czech you can find some older names of German origin and in Hungarian named of aristocratic origin....
    [ɒkinɛk humorɒ vɒn, mindɛnˤtud, ɒkinɛk niŋʧ, mindɛnrɛ ke.pɛʃ]

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    Well, The OP is Turkish, but I'd still like to add something. Even though Turkish is extremely phonetic, it happens that some people mix the spelling of words that have the letter ğ for example. Such as:

    Beğenmek - Beyenmek*
    Eğer - Eyer*
    Değil - Deyil*
    Salim - Sağlim*

    Of course this is has to do with one's educational background, and I don't want to focus it on that, but it's clear that it's not totally out of the question that Turks', too, need to spell words at times. Not to mention that there are certain first names that have both versions like: Tuba/Tuğba, Kaan/Kağan - so, in those cases you have to point it out because they're pronounced the same.



    @ Encolpius

    Indeed, it feels totally awkward when you watch such a movie with subtitles. As in, the actor is saying: How do you spell 'scholastic', which is fine for English, but then you hear/read the subtitle in your language (Turkish in my case), and it's the most bizarre thing. A person who doesn't speak a foreign language might as well think: 'How can someone not spell such a word! D'oh... Americans!'

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    Hello Rallino, thank your for the Turkish examples, they are welcomed as well, just like other languages, but I doubt we will have other languages here.
    And just imagine what poor translator has to do if he has to make subtitles for a "spelling bee competition".
    [ɒkinɛk humorɒ vɒn, mindɛnˤtud, ɒkinɛk niŋʧ, mindɛnrɛ ke.pɛʃ]

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    Quote Originally Posted by Encolpius View Post
    • For Russian and Greek members -- Can you tell us some real !Russian, !Greek (not foreign) names with irregular, uncommon spelling? Thanks
    I can’t think off the top of my head of a real Russian name that would need spelling, but let’s say, someone’s name happens to be Карόвин /karovin/ while the typical name is Корόвин /korovin/. The way the non-stressed vowels are pronounced in Russian, these two names would sound exactly the same.

    In this case, Mr. Кoрόвин would not have to say anything about the spelling of his name, but Mr. Карόвин would have to specify “Karόvin, with an “a” (in Russian we say “through an “a””).

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    Quote Originally Posted by Encolpius View Post
    ...
    • For Russian and Greek members -- Can you tell us some real !Russian, !Greek (not foreign) names with irregular, uncommon spelling? Thanks
    ....
    Sure, I can give an example:
    «Υπουργός» [ipur'ɣos] vs «Ιππουργός» [ipur'ɣos]
    They are pronounced the same but spelt quite differently (both are actual male surnames)
    The first one is the regular spelling (it means "minister" in Greek) and the second one is quite unusual and irregular (it means "he-who-works-with-horses")
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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    Well, for Russians it is not so easy to find such an irregular name, I have expected that, but how about Geeks, is it a very rare phenomenon, too? I think Russians and Greeks haven't been influenced by other foreign nations and their names, in case of Hungarians it is aristocracy. Didn't the Russian aristocracy use any strange spelling?
    [ɒkinɛk humorɒ vɒn, mindɛnˤtud, ɒkinɛk niŋʧ, mindɛnrɛ ke.pɛʃ]

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    In Chinese, it's not uncommon (except we don't have spellings, but characters). For example, for Xi Jinping, we can say 學習的習, 遠近的近, 平坦的平 (xi as in xuexi [learning], jin as in yuan-jin [near and far], ping as in pingtan [(of a surface) even]).

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    Quote Originally Posted by Encolpius View Post
    Didn't the Russian aristocracy use any strange spelling?
    I don't think they had names with strange spelling any more frequently than commoners.

    Off the top of my head, here are examples of Russian noble families names: Romanov, Yousupov (of Tatar origin, but still pretty normal by Russian spelling standards), Tolstoy, Naryshkin, Potemkin, Lobanov-Rostovsky, Trubetskoy... All completely normal Russian names.

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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    In Hebrew we mostly dont need to ask, however some names are being asked; some words can cause a confusion till realization it was the wrong word, but that is rare.
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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    Quote Originally Posted by Encolpius View Post
    ... in case of Hungarians it is aristocracy ...
    Only for precision: in Hungarian the "irregular" spelling is not exclusively due to aristocratic origin but it rather reflects the older orthography. E.g. there are thousands of Tóth's and Horváth's (with "th") and even not every Pálfy or Andrásy is a count.

    Of course, the most of old surnames belong typically to aristocratic families, as they were continuousely documented and used. They may reflect a very old kind of spelling (and even pronountiation), for example Thewrewk or Dessewffy (the modern spelling would be Török and Dezsőfi).

    There is another case of ambiguity when some surnames, e.g. in Slovakia, are today written both with Hungarian and Slovak spelling: Andássy/Andraši, Csetneky/Četneki, Bacsinszky/Bačinský etc...

  19. #19
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    Re: Asking how words are spelled when writing them down

    In Greek the spelling remains etymological and historic, without considering the changes in pronunciation (i.e. shortening of ancient diphthongs to monophthongs, iotacism etc), 99% of these "irregular" words are heterographs.
    As for Greek names of "aristocratic" origin, these include Byzantine nobility --> «Δούκας» ['ðukas], «Καντακουζηνός» [kandakuzi'nos], «Φραγκόπουλος» [fraŋ'gopulos], «Φωκάς» [fo'kas], «Βλαστός» [vla'stos], «Παλαιολόγος» [pale.o'loɣos], «Αργυρός» [arʝi'ros], «Λάσκαρις» ['laskaris], «Κομνηνός» [komni'nos]; Phanariote Greeks --> «Μαυροκορδάτος» [mavrokor'ðatos], «Υψηλάντης» [ipsi'landis], «Γκίκας» ['ɟikas], «Καραθεοδωρή» [karaθe.o.ðo'ri], «Χρυσοβέργης» [xriso'verʝis], «Σούτσος» ['sut͡sos], as well as Greek nobility of Corfu, Cephallonia and Zakynthos inscribed in the Venetian libro d'oro --> «Kαποδίστριας» [kapo'ðistri.as], «Μαζαράκης» [maza'racis], «Βλασόπουλος» [vla'sopulos], «Ρίζος» ['rizos], «Ραγκαβής» [raŋga'vis] etc
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