Archive for the 'Words' Category

Perhaps You Know: What’s Klingon for “Island”?

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Klingon sign by FalashadI have collected the word for “island” in over 100 languages, including some fictional ones, but Klingon eludes me.

This word does not seem to be in printed or online Klingon dictionaries, and someone translating the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song into Klingon used “world” in place of “island.”

(Image courtesy Falashad, Flickr)

Translations lost at sea

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

The Tokdo (Dokdo) / Takeshima dispute between Japan and Korea is heating up again, and could lead to a particularly stupid war.

On a blog, an angry poster listing Japan’s historical offenses against Korea leveled this curious accusation: “The Japs has made the land to be officially named ‘Half Island’ instead of ‘Peninsula’. Kingdom of Forgery!”

“Hanto” is Japanese for “peninsula,” and means “half-island” in English. That is of course the same meaning as “peninsula,” which is Latin for “almost island.”

The oddest part of this complaint is that in Korean the Koreas occupy a “bando.” What does this mean? An American university notes that “the Korean term for peninsula (bando) means literally ‘half-island.'”

(“Half-” or “semi-island” is the term for peninsula in many languages. Perceiving a protuberance of land this way does not seem self-evident, and I wonder what peninsulas are called by peoples for whom islands were the center of things, not isolated fragments, for instance in the Pacific?)