Friday, August 3, 2012

Estonian/English False Friends, or "Ants on Lips"

Dutch/English (hilarious) false friend [courtesy of Wikipedia]
False friends are words that look (or sound) alike in two languages but mean different things. A good example is "embarasada" in Spanish, which does not mean "embarrassed" but rather "pregnant."

Well, I've always had a nerd-fantasy of creating entire sentences out of false friends that are grammatically correct in both languages. Since Estonian is my most fluent foreign tongue, that's the one I'm working on. So far I've created a Google Document (available to view here, with parts of speech labeled to help use them to create sentences) with every Estonian/English false friend I could think of and/or find on the internet (yes, there actually are a handful of other websites that have collected some of these). Some of the more elaborate ones (read: polysyllabic) include "eludes" (Estonian for "in the lives"), "august" ("out of a hole"), "hinged" ("souls"), and "supine" ("soupy").

The only two halfway decent sentences I've been able to come up with using all Estonian/English false friends are both in headline style--it's really hard to get subject-verb-object to all work out:

  • Ants on lips = Andrew* is a necktie.
  • Hinge eludes toad on head = In the lives of a soul, rooms are good.
OK, so they're basically gibberish in both languages, but I'm pretty proud of myself. If you speak any Estonian, can you come up with any others? Or in any other language?

UPDATE: My good friend Mark noted in the comments below that I had overlooked one of the greatest pairs of false friends ever: "the Estonian word 'smoking' means suit (tuxedo, specifically), and the Estonian word 'suits' means smoke."

*Ants is an Estonian first name; I have no idea what the actual English analogue should be but Andrew is as good as any.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Answer to Everything

It's not 42. It's the atonement of Christ.

There are a lot of problems out there, big and small. It's striking to me that, while the details vary, the answer to each is, ultimately, the perfect love of God, also known as the atonement of Jesus Christ. Done something you wish you hadn't that hurt someone? Christ's atonement can cleanse you and heal the person you harmed. Awful suffering that goes beyond anything that could possibly teach us patience or empathy? Christ's atonement will--somehow, in a way I can't explain--make it "OK" in the end. People judging other people unfairly? Let everyone involved apply the atonement in their lives and recognize themselves as imperfect but perfectible beings on their way to great glory.

I know: it sounds like a cop-out, like it's too good to be true. It sounds like a pie-in-the-sky opiate of the masses. But like any real love it should motivate us to do a lot, not to sit back. It is, really, the equivalent of what the Beatles said when they sang that "All you need is love" -- why do some liberals love that message but sometimes look down their noses at claims of a godly gift that is the ultimate form of love? I don't know.

But I know that God's love as manifested in Christ willingly dying for us despite his being sinless is probably a big part of the answer.

"In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."