game / toy / play

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by إسكندراني, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Good evening everyone,

    In Arabic we use the same word to describe a 'game' (e.g. card game, football match, hide and seek) and a 'toy'. I didn't think Spanish, French and German distinguished either but apparently they do; (Juego - Juguette), (Jeu - Joueut) and (Spiel-Spielzeug). It's also interesting that English has a completely separate word for 'play' (although 'plaything' is a synonym for 'toy').

    Does your language make this kind of distinction?
  2. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    game -> oyun
    toy -> oyuncak
  3. bibax Senior Member


    hra = game/play;
    hračka = toy;

    (the verb is hráti = to play)
  4. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek:

    Toy: «Παιχνίδι» [pexn'iði] (neut.) < Byz. neut. diminutive «παιχνίδιον» paikhnídion of Ionic neut. noun «παίχνιον» paíkʰnīŏn (Classical variant «παίγνιον» paígnīŏn) --> toy, game (PIE *peh₂-u-, few, little, small cf Lat. parvus, small, little > Sp./Por. parvo; Lat. paucus, few, little > It./Sp. poco, Por. pouco, Fr. peu, Rom. puțin, Alb. pak; Proto-Germanic *fawaz > Eng. few, Isl. fár, D./Nor./Swe. få).

    Game: Usually «παιχνίδι» [pexn'iði] (neut.) but «παίγνιο» ['peɣni.o] (neut.) is common; «παίγνιο» ['peɣni.o] (neut.) < Classical neut. noun «παίγνιον» paígnīŏn (see above). «Παίγνιο» ['peɣni.o] (neut.)describes a card game, a game of chess/backgammon, any board game, also a military war game.

    Play (verb): «Παίζω» ['pezo] < Classical v. «παίζω paízō --> to behave like a child, play (PIE *peh₂-u-, few, little, small).
    Play (noun): Usually «παιχνίδι» [pexn'iði] (neut.) but «παιδιά» [peði'a] (fem.) is also used; «παιδιά» [peði'a] (fem.) < Classical fem. noun «παιδιὰ» paidià --> child's play, pleasantry, pastime (PIE *peh₂-u-, few, little, small). Strictly speaking, a football or basketball game, is a «παιδιά» [peði'a] (fem.)
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2014
  5. bazq Senior Member


    משחק (mishak) = game (any type of game)
    צעצוע (tsa'atsu'a) = toy
    מחזה/הצגה (mahaze/hatsaga) = play (as in a theater play, is this what you meant?)

    If by "play" you meant the verb "to play", then it uses the same root as "game" s-h-k.

    Colloquially, the word for "game" can refer to a "toy" as well.
  6. arielipi Senior Member

    Interestingly להצטעצע lehitz'ta'atze'a means to behave as a clean person (not sinful) or to act as if one is not guilty, or simply to act above one's regular manners.
    in any case, although it would be very low register one can use the root ש-ח-ק for all those words, probably like Arabic.
  7. learnerr Senior Member

    In Russian, 'game' and 'play' are "игра", but 'toy' is "игрушка" (same root, but with a suffix, which means a little separate thing)
  8. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Dutch :
    - play: spelen
    - game: spel
    - toy: speelgoed (goods to play with, literally)
  9. porkkanaraaste Junior Member


    -play: leikki, usually a children's play, but also seuraleikki "parlour game" or kisa (probably outdated), but also olympiakisat "the Olympic games"; in modern language kisa very often is a part of a compound word, meaning "playful competition"
    -game: peli (korttipeli "card game", pallopeli "ball game")
    -toy: lelu or leikkikalu (< kalu "thing, object, tool")

    Peli and leikki come from Swedish spel and (Old Swedish, according to the Internet) leker. Lelu is not related to leikki, but to verb lelliä "to pamper, coddle; to spoil".
  10. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    That reminds me: we also have speeltuig, lit. 'playing tool', but that generally refers to bigger fixed "thngs" at a playground...

    Can lelliä also mean 'to fuss'? If so (as I found at, I guess I refers to the idea of spoiling, which could be compared to fussing...
  11. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    I think it's a mess. Why NOT separating them like we Chinese do? :)

    play 1: play a toy or a game (玩)
    play 2: play the video (播放)
    play 3: play the piano (彈奏)
    play 4: noun (depends)

    game 1: children's game (遊戲)
    game 2: match and competition (比賽)

    toy 1: noun, toy, an object (玩具)
    toy 2: verb, play (玩)
  12. francisgranada Senior Member


    játék - game, play
    játék, játékszer - toy

    játszani - to play
  13. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Thank you all. It's interesting to see the different ways these languages relate the verb and the noun.

    I did mean the action, not the performance.
    Well, because I don't know how to read chinese characters. I have no objection in principle.
    But there is a difference between an alphabet and a pictogram, as far as I'm aware. So how are the above said in mandarin and cantonese, for comparison?
  14. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    We can keep focusing on your topic, so let's not talk about the pictograms and Cantonese. What I meant was, it is common for a language to distinguish each different action, performance and object. To me, it is interesting to know that Arabic does NOT separate them. :)
    So, how do you say, "Let's have a competition and see who can play this toy better?"
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2014
  15. arielipi Senior Member

    Hebrew treads-follows arabic on that matter, we have a tendency to bring many meanings into one word and require context.
    as for the sentence
    Let's have a competition and see who can play this toy better
    בואו נעשה תחרות ונראה מי משחק יותר טוב בצעצוע
    bo'u na'ase takharut venir'e mi mesakhek yoter tov batza'atzu'a

    although it sounds really stupid in hebrew.
  16. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    The interesting thing is Romance and Slavic languages use diminutives to form the word toy....
    And yes, it is an interesting observation English uses different words, just like other "exotic" languages like Japanese, etc...
  17. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    I apologise for quoting myself but I think I have to add (thanks arielipi for reminding me, you mentioned it) that a theater play is not a "play" in Gr. but a work (literally): «Θεατρικό έργο» [θe.atri'ko 'erɣo] --> theatrical work (i.e. play)
  18. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    This is inspiring. Chinese (especially classic Chinese) turned to give a specific term or character to EVERY object, action, affair and concept...even for those only having slightest differences... Now I think it was just crazy...
  19. learnerr Senior Member

    Quite the contrary, I would say: it is extremely uncommon, as it never happens. Every concept can be further "divided" into as many as one wishes variant concepts; each of them can be "divided" again. The base for having the same word for some things (like, for example, the same word for my door and my neighbour's) is solely some similarity: for me, these two concepts appear similar enough not to be distinguished in speech. Quite naturally, what is similar enough or not enough can be decided in very different ways. I am sure that Classical Chinese united into one word many things that would appear totally unrelated to a Westerner speaking a given language.
  20. arielipi Senior Member

    To me sometimes hebrew is crazy for doing that actually, and i find myself wondering - that is so much better in english; then again, there are things in english i say the same.
  21. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Chinese developed its written system too early, prior to the invention of pen and paper. I deduce this was the reason for them giving different terms to every different things.


    In the early ages, Chinese people mark down things by incising bones, brushing wood or bamboo slips and cloths. The marks were huge, very space-consuming. This required them to create a shorter form of language, for making the records smaller, easier to keep and transport.

    So, instead of using phonetic symbols, they chose pictogram. Every symbol refers to a thing or a concept, not a sound. So, 山 instead of "mountain", 水 instead of "water". 走 instead of "walk"... Definitely made the words shorter.

    Also, they avoided making up a word by "describing" or "combining current characters", but rather to "rename" it. "slips for writing": let's name it 簡; "a chariot pulled by four horses", name it 駟...

    See? How concise it is!

    The new words or characters did have relations with basic ones. (four-horse chariot) is made up with (horse) and (four), and pronounced the same to 四(four). Nevertheless, is now a new single character.

    Yes, it makes the language very complicated. You have to learn and memorize a lot. But initially, those written records were only for the leaders eyes. They were the upper, educated classes. The language were not created to facilitate ordinary citizens. So, complicity seemed ok to them.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2014
  22. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Hm. Although appearing to be different, Chinese did not make up those words out of the void after all.

    Toy 玩具: combined 玩(play) and 具(tool, equipment)

    Game (children's game): 遊戲: combined 遊(wander) and 戲(make fun)

    Game (competition): 比賽: combined 比(compare) and 賽(compete)
  23. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    Interesting because we Chinese in Italy borrow the Italian word "gioco" when we speak Chinese, to mean play, toy or game.

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