Language and Wealth

Slavomír Čéplö bulbulthegreat at
Sun Apr 22 18:47:02 UTC 2007

Dear all,
pardon me, but I can't help but point out several things that jumped out at me:
> Several years ago, before his death, the distinguished musician,> historian, philosopher and columnist Balint Vazsonyi told me he did not> think it was possible for people who did not understand the English> language to fully understand the English and American concepts of liberty,> freedom and rule of law (and this from a Hungarian who did not learn> English until he was in his 20s).This sounds like another Sapir-Whorfian misconception at best, sillysophism at worst. Even more so considering the enormous importance theterm "szabadság" (freedom, liberty) has had in Hungarian politicaldiscourse since the 1840s.
> For instance, the Russians never had a modern market economy, so that basic> financial concepts like "depreciation" and "present value" were not> understood and literal translations turned out to be meaningless at that> time.Huh? My communist-era Russian dictionary gives "амортизация"(amortyizatsya), a borrowing from French, which is used in this sensein several other Eastern-European languages as well.And as for literal translations becoming meaningless, I am reallypuzzled. What is wrong with calqueing a term like "present value" andassigning it the meaning of the English term?  This is precisely whatwas done in Slovak (albeit the adjective is a borrowing from Latin -"aktuálna hodnota") and it works just fine.
> Did you know there is no word for "enterprise" in Arabic?Oh goodie, another "No word for X in language Y" snowclone.Which of the meanings of the term "enterprise" are we talking abouthere? If it's OED's Add. 1 "A commercial or industrial undertaking,esp. one involving risk; a firm, company, or business" which I suspectis the most common meaning, there are more than a few Arabic wordswhich can do the job. شركة (sharika), the most common word for"business, firm, company" would do quite nicely.
A fine example of linguisticky reporting, that's what this article is.

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