The weird ways of searching and the weird findings
by ~S~ svd
gathered @ [Ebenezer's board]
published @ [] in June 2000, republished in january 2001, coz it 'went lost'
Introduction and "Etymological bibliography" added by fravia+
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anantaparam kila sabdasastram
svalpam tathayur bahvas ca vighnah
   The science of the languages is really bottomless
and our lifes' path is short and full of obstacles (Pancatantra)

Indeed, as svd notes, those that do speak another language do not only say "differently" the same things - in Ionesco's Lecon the Professor notes that The word "Rome" is spelled "Madrid" in spanish - they see in a different way the world and the time around them as well. Gender differences are striking: Moon is masculine in German and Sun is feminine. In latin languages the contrary is true. "Tom Cat" and "Pussycat", in english, are also interesting examples for languages that in some cases don't make gender distinctions (see also "he-goat" and "she-goat"). For searchers this is EXTREMELY relevant and important. Imagine a language with only four names for all different colors and another language with 20 or more different names: wich results would your vanilla search held there? Or -again- think at all the different names the Icelanders have for "snow" or the finns for "salmon". It works the other way round as well: try to translate Homer's works in icelandic (without masquerading part of the text), or Aristotles in a language that does not have but very few abstract concepts. The whole speculation about "being" in our euroamerican world is based on the incredible ambiguity of the greek verb einai (to be): he is in the room vis-a-vis he is nice. Note that you would have some problems translating the previous period in spanish, that makes quite a difference between ser and estar :-)
Taxonomies are directly related to cultural values, at times to etnological values as well. The old greeks (not to speak of the old Hebrews that wrote the bible) used a taxonomy based more on "luminosity" than on "spectral" values, when describing colors, and you can easily "feel" the consequences of this reading Homer, or the Bible, in your own language. There is an incredibly interesting research on these matters by B.Berlin and P.Kay: Basic color terms. Their universality and Evolution (Berkeley, Uni of California 1969) that will give you a glimpse of the complexity of these problems.
Enjoy svd's small essay below. It is an attempt, and feedback will be precious to develop it into a full-fledged tool for seekers.
The weird ways of searching and the weird findings
by ~S~ svd
i tried to write something like a essay on the "weird" ways of searching but it's still complete mess. And will have to add more things here from the mb
Anyway, point me at the sky and let me fly...
the weird ways of searching
and the weird findings

--blah blah some introduction required here--

* Find a friend to be your senses

- find one that is fluent in certain domain/field/language and can
apply his knowledge to support / power the below cross-domain bridging.
If you search for a siamese song, well, you better get a siamese to
search for it. Or whatever. One can never has more than 1 (2? 3?)
cultural backgrounds, while too many things depend on them,
and searching with other (mindset,cultural, traditional, language)
patterns is like trying to use wrong screwdriver - it may not do a job.

- or, well, just find somebody else to search instead of you ;-)
Or brainstorm together.

* searching not for the exact thing may give better results

It's like how a cat "walks" and suddenly it has a mouse in her paws -
She has been pretending she's walking. Looking sideways...
Or like you cannot look at the sun directly, but you can look a bit
aside, above, or below it... and that is enough to localize where it is.

This applies to all features of the target object. Take for example spelling.
If you search for misspelled words you can find people who do not know that
language enough (meaning that they maybe know MORE than one language),
or do not care about "glitters" on their pages, but for the actual content.
Eh, you can also find real lazy arses, but that is imminent. Crap happens.
"Guinness" or "guines". Or even "gines"
(which steps over to transliterating. see below)

* use analogy and cross-domain bridges

- switch into other "represenation" of same thing in same field
and search for that (direct analogy, like synonyms, but not exactly)

- use a "representation" of same thing in other field,
then make another analogy from that field back to yours;
(it may give you very different, unexpected result)

* use cross-language/nation/background/history/technology and knowledge
to get synonyms, other letterings or other words for same
thing, or even other understandings.

Use transliterating patterns as sound or as letters;
Well, this steps into knowing languages and transcriptions.
And the difference between what is spoken and what is written.
And in what language it is written AND then read aloud.
Reading the phrase "syntax error" may be read as "suntah eggog"
given certain transliteration. Or even the limitation of a 7-segment
digital indicators to show certain letters ;-).
Most languages have unique letter-to-sound and vice-versa relations,
but others, for example english and french, use combinations of letters
and not letters themselves.
Now, the the unique sound-to-letter ones have different mapping for
some letters. Whole west and half east europe use latine letters,
but they read them differently. Servantes would be in latine.
In (original) spanish it is Cervantes though.
But it is read as though it starts with S.
(In deutsch, v is read f, w is read v, so it would have been Serwantes ?)
In cyrillic it will *look* as CEPBAHTEC (C is S, P is R, B is V, H is N)
One can make a list of letters that never change their
sound - it won't be too big. 'R' is one example. It mostly sounds
like rrroaring bear or wolf...
Soundex is one way of generating things that sound like something
(in english) (hi, augustus_p ;-).
And one can use other languages to get other letterings
for same thing -- which leads us to

- use other languages as bridges;
one can use other languages to get other letterings for same thing.
(if it's international enough). Computer and Komputer.
Don Quijote, Don Quichote,... Don Kihot.
Going through other alphabet / other sound2letter mapping is even more interesting.
Take cyrillic for example, Jorge Amado is the original name.
*Exact* prononciation of that in different latine
alphabet based languages would be very different, but if ones knows
it he says it right. Now, if you get it into cyrilic, and then
transliterate it back using the standard cyrilic to latine mappings
you may end up with ... Zhorzhe Amadu, or Amadoo. (Zh-o-r-zh-e A-m-a-d-u / A-m-a-d-oo)

- use other traditions/backgrounds and the impact on languages as bridges;
In some languages/nations/backgrounds, certain foreign words
and names became a noun for a whole class of things alike.
One can "copy" a sheet or "xerox" it. In quite many languages.
(Rank Xerox being the inventor, or at least the biggest distributor
of those easy-to-use machines.) And all the machines might be named
xeroxes regardless of the actual brand.
Delco is a company name, but in .bg it has become a synonym for the
distributor cap from the car's engine ignition system... etc.

- use etymology of the words;
Where the word comes from.
As was said above, 'R' and the verb for roaring on
most languages tries to sound like a real roar.
But that is too rare example. That sound has been
too dangerous so it's copied quite exactly.
Others are not. Just look how the cockerel says it's
"song" in different languages - almost no similar ones...
But funny, all of them could be taken for a cockerel...
having "ears" in that language ;-)
So if you know what the word actualy stays for, you can
search other (languages) representations of it.

If you go deeper in that, keep in mind that Nomen est omen.
The native sayings/phrases are good mirror of what sort of
background the words come from (ah, well, some stalking and
miming can be based on that too).


Quick & dirty Etymological bibliography for seekers
by fravia+, started: June 2000
(french and english references deserve more delving and will be added asap)

Other useful bibliographical tools for Seekers

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