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This week's theme: words related to words, writing, and language.
Sprachgefuhl (SHPRAKH-guh-fyool) noun
A feeling for language or a sensitivity for what is correct language.
[From German Sprachgefühl, from Sprache (language) and Gefühl (feeling).]
Today's word in Visual Thesaurus.
If you have Sprachgefuhl, you have an ear for idiomatically appropriate language. The best illustration of Sprachgefuhl, or the lack of it, was an 1855 Portuguese-English phrase book intended to help Portuguese speakers master the English language.
Titled "English As She Is Spoke", it was authored by one Pedro Carolino. The only problem was that Pedro didn't know any English. On the plus side, he did have a Portuguese-French phrase book. Pedro simply picked up a French-English dictionary and tried the circuitous route: Portuguese to French to English. The result was such gems as:
Names for body parts:
This book was even used as a textbook in the Portuguese colony of Macao. I regret to say they eventually stopped using it. Imagine, in just a few years, we could have witnessed a lovely new strain of the English language take root.
Pedro was simply ahead of his time. Today anyone can achieve the same results with computer translation.
-Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
"Despite this fecundity (perhaps because of it) Avallone had major problems
with his raw material: words, and the uses to which they can be put. He
was not, in short, a man with an innate Sprachgefuhl."
In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful. -Leo Tolstoy, author (1828-1910)
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