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HD: Odamaki & Selection of Tradenames
Posted: 16 January 2012 09:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Wild-ass speculation: a mangled pronunciation (or Thai folk etymology) of cavy?

Looking at the section on phonology in the Wikipedia article on the Thai language (a weak source, I admit) I see that Thai apparently has no /v/ sound, which makes replacement of the v in cavy by some other similar sound(s) plausible (though /tsb/ seems a bit of a stretch), but apparently it also has no /g/ sound, which makes me wonder if the transliteration gatsby is accurate.

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Posted: 16 January 2012 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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The Thai name for the non-indigenous guinea pig is gatsby, a loanword.

Where are you getting this from? I can find no support for it online, and it is inherently implausible/impossible (since, to take two obvious points, Thai has neither a /g/ sound nor a /ts/ cluster).

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Posted: 16 January 2012 07:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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There are varying Romanization schemes for Thai, of which I am expert in none. I will pretty much ignore vowel lengths and tones. A term for “guinea pig” in Thai is “nu gaesbi” using my own casual ad-hoc transcription—more or less /nu k&tbi/ with /&/ = IPA ae-ligature. The “s” letter should be /t/ in terminal position in Thai, but I suppose some Thai speakers will recognize this as a transcription of a foreign word with “s” /s/ and pronounce it so (as some Thais may pronounce “tennis” as in English, others like “tennit"). Still others may recognize this as the name “Gatsby” like in the book and say /ts/, I suppose. The consonant which I render “g” and which is used in “Gatsby” in Thai is supposedly an unaspirated /k/ but often transliterated “g” (it is the first consonant of the Thai alphabet, as in “gai” = “chicken"). This is about like in Chinese which [in Pinyin] has unaspirated stops transliterated with letters used for voiced stops in (e.g.) English.

Apparently this is “nu” + “Gatsby”, where “nu” = “mouse"/"rat": so it’s the “Gatsby mouse”. Another term for “guinea pig” is “nu ta-phao”, the “ta-phao mouse” (I guess “ta-phao” is the name of a wind, a cup, a boat, I don’t know its basic sense). The hamster is “nu haemsater” or something like that, “hamster mouse”, the gerbil is likewise “nu jerbil” or so.

Here is “nu gaesbi” หนูแกสบี้ (captions under the pictures, first word in the title):

http://pet.kapook.com/view1345.html

To see thousands more examples one can copy and paste the Thai word into Google or whatever.

I don’t know why it’s called “Gatsby mouse”. The Thai spelling is that used for “Gatsby” of the famous novel etc. One would want to know whether the name of the animal preceded the name of the hair-care product, etc.

[ Edited: 17 January 2012 09:26 AM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 17 January 2012 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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The Thai spelling is that used for “Gatsby” of the famous novel etc.

Interesting, but of course that doesn’t mean that it’s the same word; presumably it could be of entirely different origin and just happen to look like the transcription of Gatsby.  Are there sources that specifically say the Thai word is named for Gatsby (in whatever sense of that name)?

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Posted: 17 January 2012 09:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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In Thai there are also “ginni-phik” ("guinea pig") (this is the title of the Thai Wikipedia page) and “khe-wi” ("cavy") (English “v” routinely becomes “w” /w/ in Thai) (my casual transliterations).

The only place I immediately find the origin of Thai “nu gaesbi” = “guinea pig” addressed at all is at the bottom of this page ...

http://www.cavythailand.com/tale.html

... and this just says “invented for convenience or because somebody couldn’t remember the name” or something like that, not very useful. The writer failed to find a comparable word for “guinea pig” outside Thai.

A fluent reader of Thai who’s good at Internet search might could do a lot better. But on-line assertions about word origins are not always conclusive anyway ....

I ran the word (in written Thai) by a native Thai (not however a philologist or guinea-pig aficionado), who says the word doesn’t look or sound Thai, right away says it brings to mind “The Great Gatsby”. I don’t find it in any of three handy Thai-English dictionaries.

[ Edited: 17 January 2012 09:37 PM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 18 January 2012 02:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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BTW, I put หนูแกสบี้ into Google translate, and it said “I miss”.

Also, when I translated your http://pet.kapook.com/view1345.html page, underneath the pictures of rodents were the words “I miss”.

EDIT: Though, this produces odd results when I view the full text, and it would appear to be some kind of GT quirk.

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Posted: 18 January 2012 10:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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In my limited experience, Google Translate is helpful for only a few languages (and you need to watch for huge errors even in those). Thai apparently is not one of its strong suits.

Grotesque errors are quite frequent. Sometimes I can tell what went wrong, other times I can’t guess. In the current case, my Thai consultant could not imagine what “I miss” had to do with “nu gaesbi”. Here’s my own speculation, although I wouldn’t bet a lot on it. Here is a page from an on-line Thai dictionary (a good reference site, I think):

http://www.thai-language.com/id/131115

This is my “nu” = “mouse” (sense 1). It also means “small [person]”. In senses 4 and 6 it means essentially “this small person” and would be translated “I"/"me". In sense 2 it means something like “you/that small person”, a call to a waitress or so, and might be translated “Girl!” ... or “Miss!”. So there are both the “I” and the “miss” ... maybe.

Another possibility is that the machine was unduly influenced by “Miss Gatsby” on Fawlty Towers ....

Absurd machine ‘translations’ by Google et al. could occupy another thread ... or site. I suppose there is a big compilation of striking Google boo-boos somewhere. Anybody know where? Should be fun and furnish some good puzzles.

Here is a good example: entering into Google Translate (Thai to English) แกสบี้ (i.e., just “gaesbi”, without the “nu"), I get English ‘translation’ “Login or register.” I think this probably means that somewhere on the Web the Thai string แกสบี้ appears adjacent to (or somehow connected to or given as a name or link for) a “login or register” button, so the machine makes an idiotic connection and presents this nonsense ‘translation’.

[ Edited: 18 January 2012 03:03 PM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 20 January 2012 05:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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One irony that occurs to me is that both odamaki’s error, and, to an even greater extent, the fictional “nova / no va” story, seem premised on a certain unspoken cultural bias: I.e., the no va story only “works” if the reader assumes that somebody who speaks Spanish would not be able to distinguish between no va and nova, and that a Spannish speaker would take “no va” literally as an admission by the company that it’s car didn’t work.  If the shoe was on the other foot, I.e., a product from a non-English speaking country sounded roughly like an unflattering descriptor in English, few English speakers would take this as an admission of poor quality.  We might laugh at the unfortunate name (at least as translated into English), but would certainly not take the name literally as an admission of poor quality.  The fact that the name sounds silly in english could either help it or hurt it, as the sIlly name might lead to a certain contempt for the product, but it also might engender a certain fond amusement, and it would likely generate some free publicity as well.  In the end, the product’s reputation for quality (good or bad), and other qualities such as price and availability would likely prevail.  To use a purely fictional example, if a foreign car had a name like “baddacarra”, but it was affordable, excellently crafted, and had a lot of highly attractive features, would you really refuse to buy it just because of the silly sounding name?  Or take the name as an admission that it wasn’t any good?  (a strange thing for the manufacturer to admit, even if true).  If not, why assume that somebody who speaks spanish would make that assumption about the Chevy nova (or the Lumia).  The irony of this is that odamaki here, and the marketing consults who use the nova parable, seem to be preaching, among other things, the importance of cultural sensitivity when naming a product and marketing it worldwide, yet it hardly seems enlightened to assign to non-English speaking people the irrational behavior noted a
bove.

Not that I am accusing odamaki’s poster of bigotry.  I think this tendency to ascribe simplistic thinking to those you see as others is probably “subconscious, and comes from a tendency to “over correct” one’s speech to avoid any possible confusion by one’s audience.  But it is still a mistake to assume that non-English speakers take brand names literally, or even that this is a powerful motivator in the marketplace.  And I think it is easier to make this particular mistake when making guesses about the reactions of those who don’t speak your language.

[ Edited: 20 January 2012 05:25 PM by Svinyard118 ]
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Posted: 20 January 2012 05:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Note that “nova” is a word in Spanish, as it is in English, for a particular astrophysical phenomenon, as is supernova.

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Posted: 21 January 2012 03:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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I can quite imagine that if the car in question had turned out to be rubbish, Spanish people would start to refer to it as the ‘No va’ But the name as such wouldn’t hurt the car’s sales at all.

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Posted: 21 January 2012 03:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Considering that “muscle” is derived “from Latin musculus “a muscle,” lit. “little mouse,” dim. of mus “mouse"” [etymonline] it would seem that if brand names were really that important, etymologically, or even cross-culturally, there never would have been any “muscle cars” known by that name in the 1960’s. Or, indeed, any “muscle men” of the 1920’s.

And particularly not if “muscle men” or “muscle cars” had been named by a terrestrial ad agency concerned with selling an image/name for a high figure to gullible high-rollers. It is because of these recent strange names, including ‘Opium’, ‘Poison’, and (probably already, but if not, soon) ‘Venom’ for perfumes, that I firmly believe there are many extra-terrestrial ad agencies marketing brand-names to unsuspecting terrestrial corporations.

[ Edited: 23 January 2012 05:09 PM by sobiest ]
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Posted: 23 January 2012 05:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Many thanks to D Wilson for doing all the legwork re gatsby. The Thai gor gai (chicken) consonant transliterated as ‘g’ in Roman sounds like ‘g’ to my unphonetically-trained ears. Standard Thai transliteration is clumsy - Phuket is pronounced pooket with the ‘h’ supposed to signify aspiration of the p, not an f sound.
I first saw Thai gatsby in a pet column by an American-born journalist (Laurie Rosenthal), long based in Thailand, who has a great love of animals. She spelt it like that and it may have caught on:
http://noraratfarm.com/GuineaPig.aspx

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Posted: 08 February 2012 10:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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I posted the “guinea pig” question on a Thai-language “vocabulary and etymology” forum: 1800+ views so far and 18 responses, some of them relevant, but no new information really.

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Posted: 08 February 2012 11:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Standard Thai transliteration is clumsy - Phuket is pronounced pooket with the ‘h’ supposed to signify aspiration of the p, not an f sound.
--

That doesn’t seem clumsy. Seems quite standard.

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Posted: 09 February 2012 05:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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That’s what I said. Most visitors take the aspirated p ‘ph’ transliteration to be an ‘f’ and rhyme it with bucket. Not a problem unless you are booking a flight with a western prude.

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