Can you help me with this ENGLISH problem?

Sri Lanka
December 20, 2006 9:25pm CST
Though Sinhala is the official language in Sri Lanka, English is used widely in day to day life. As a result of this most of those who can afford, study in the English Medium. But I find many limitations in English compared to our Sinhala language. Taking a simple example in English a brother may be elder to you or younger to you. But in Sinhala we have a word for the elder one as “aiya” and younger one as “malli”. Even an aunty falls into many categories. We have names for the seven generations as “aththa”, “muththa”, “naththa”, “panaththa”, “kiththa”, “kirikiththa” and “meemuththa”. “Meemuththa” is the great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather. There is a Sinhala sentence that has been bugging us for ages for which I cannot find a translation. I will try to explain my problem to you. For instance take the answer “My name is John”. Now what was the question to get that answer? “What is your name?” is the question, Simple isn’t it. Now take the answer “Bush is the 6th president of the United States”. Now what is the question to that answer?” That is my (and our) problem. In Sinhala of course the question can be asked. Bush (Bush) eksath janapadaye (of United States) keeweni (???? no word for this????) janadipathidha (president)? Can you give your suggestions, or is it really impossible.
3 people like this
12 responses
@subathra (3519)
• India
27 Apr 07
Yes , absolutely right..Its very difficult to translate some sentences from our mother language.We often enter into debate with friends to translate some tamil lines to english and we end up in laughing telling some absurd translations.Even my dad was educated in sri lanka but not in english medium but he can speak english with complete grammer which i cant to say the truth but i was full educated in enlish medium.
3 people like this
• Sri Lanka
28 Apr 07
That is what I also think. Maybe it is impossible.
1 person likes this
@estherlou (5017)
• United States
24 Dec 06
Sounds like your language is very interesting, but english has always been thought to be a difficult language and hard to learn. Most people in the world have it better than we do, being required to learn another language besides their own. Most of us in the US just know english. We take a year or 2 of another language in high school in preparation for college, but it's just a requirement not to learn it well enough to carry on a conversation. Can't help you with your translation..
• Sri Lanka
25 Dec 06
I think this translation is impossible. There are limitations in the English Language.
2 people like this
@Furrukh (701)
• Pakistan
23 Dec 06
sorry dude couldnt really find the answer,but i mean why u r so worried abt that,u all should speak ur native language and should be proud of it,i mean just look at thoses japneese do they spaek english??no i think every country should speak in their own language and take english as just another language
• Sri Lanka
24 Dec 06
Unfortunately we are not developed enough to be independent. The Japanese of course can dictate their terms to everybody as they are having enough wealth. In Sri Lanka it is impossible to survive without English. It is a mentality left behind by our British captors when they left the island.
• Janesville, Wisconsin
26 Apr 07
Try What is the US President's Name? Maybe you can come up with a phrase for it this way? Or what is the name of the US Commander and War Cheif .. that is also the president. - DNatureofDTrain
• Sri Lanka
27 Apr 07
But what I want to know is whether he is the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th..... or ....50th president. If I already knew I can ask, "Is George Bush the 6th president of USA?". But I don't know and want to find out. I think it is impossible to ask that in English.
2 people like this
• Janesville, Wisconsin
27 Apr 07
Sorry, I have no idea on how to help you. What number president is __president Name__. What is the 16th president? Abraham Lincoln. What is the 1sts presiden of the United States? George Washington? What number president is George Bush? He is the 43rd and current president. Is how this site worded it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Bush - DNatureofDTrain
@easy888 (10405)
• Australia
29 Apr 07
Hello,josephperera,I think it is really hard to translate on lanauge from the other,as the way they construct a sentence or pronunciation may be very different.It is good to live in a country where you can speak two languages. I think you have a lot of chances to improve your english in mylot. Good luck.
• Sri Lanka
29 Apr 07
Thanks for the response and for being my friend.
@babykay (2133)
• Ireland
28 Apr 07
hi there - I am Irish and we Irish mostly don't speak Irish at all, only English. This is the legacy left to us by the British, but most people don't mind. In some countries family is much more important that it would be in the West, so possibly that is why there are so many different words for different types of aunts and cousins. In the language of the Eskimo/Inuit people there is said to be around 9 different words for various types of snow whereas in English there is only one in common usage. You should be glad you can speak at least 2 languages!
2 people like this
• Sri Lanka
28 Apr 07
I think that is a really wonderful point. The words must be created by necessity.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
27 Apr 07
So your question is what would be the question if the answer is "Bush is the 6th president of the United States". I think it is easy. Why not try asking "Who is the 6th president of the United States?" You can give that answer right? Or maybe I get it all wrong or Im just confused with your question. I hope this helps.. If you need help, you can ask me. I am not that good in English too but I will try my best to help.
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• Sri Lanka
28 Apr 07
The question as you have said it can be asked only if we already know that George Bush is the 6th president. It is not about the 6th president that we want to find out. It is about George Bush that we want to find out. So the question must have the word "George Bush".
1 person likes this
@ladyljs (1303)
• United States
9 Jun 08
Although I am not an English scholar by any stretch of the imagination, I do know that translations can be so different. Keep up the good work in learning and applying English. I applaud anyone who has the grasp of more than one language! GREAT JOB!
1 person likes this
• Sri Lanka
9 Jun 08
In Sri Lanka everyone has to know at least two languages. English is a must if you are to get a good job. Tamils in Sri Lanka have an advantage over the Sinhalese as they definitely know three languages. That is Sinhala, Tamil and English.
• Philippines
8 Jun 08
Read a lot of English grammar textbooks.Watch English movies and read a dictionary to widen your vocabulary
1 person likes this
• Sri Lanka
9 Jun 08
Unfortunately the English vocabulary does not have the words needed to do the translation I have given in the discussion. I have referred this to many English scholars and lecturers. The work "How manyth" though it is not a approved word may be the best alternative.
• Turkey
2 Jan 08
It's interesting that a few days ago, I was thinking if there is different words in any language for elder and younger brothers. Because in Turkish we have also a word for the elder brother (abi, agabey) and one for the younger (kardes). But we don't have a word for great, great, great, great grandfather ofcourse, it's very unusual. I wonder, for example, do you ever used the word "panaththa" in your life? About your translation question, suprisingly, we have that word in Turkish too. "kaçinci". Bush, ABD'nin(of US) kaçinci (?) baskanidir(president)? I looked the word at an online dictionary on the address http://www.seslisozluk.com/?word=ka%E7%FDnc%FD and they have "how manyth" for "kaçinci". It sounds a little weird but it answers the question I think. Todays trivia: In Turkish, there is different words for elder and younger brothers, but only one word, "o", for both "he", "she", "it".
• Sri Lanka
2 Jan 08
I think after 9 months the baby finally made it to the world. That was a good bit of information. For instance the word "manyth" can be used even if it does not exist in the English Language. The information about the Turkish Language is also food for the mind. Nowadays we have not heard the word panaththa, or even seeya (grandfather) as families are scattered all over. But in the bad old days families lived in close proximity and those words were always used.
1 person likes this
@urbandekay (18311)
5 May 07
Simple: Numerically Bush is which president of the United States? Don't dismiss the English language so quickly or at least until you have fully mastered it. The answer was immediately apparent to me. The English language contains more words than any other, indeed a graduate of an English University may well have a personal vocabulary greater than the total vocabulary of some other languages! It is this that gives English its unsuppased subtlety and accuracy of expression. Of course, in any language there will be parts that do not find an equivalent in another and were I to be proficient in your in your language I should undoubtedly be able to similar limitations in your tongue. all the best urban
1 person likes this
• Sri Lanka
5 May 07
That is true. In Sinhala you don't have a letter "f". But thirty years ago they officially created a sign for that. Sinhala language is very phonetic. Once you know the letters anyone can read it. If you learn to read the word "Put", you don't have to learn again to read "But". But in comparison I have seen many limitations in English, when compared to our language. The above problem is not spontaneous but something being discussed for many years. What everyone says is the different versions of the question is not direct enough. English language has enough terms to confuse you. For instance if someone says "there is some rice in the kitchen" and does not tell you anything. Later if you are hungry, do you know whether you can walk in to the kitchen and eat the rice. No, because it could be uncooked also. But in Sinhala the Paddy when green is "Goyam", when dry it is "Piduru", the grain is "Wee", The outer covering when removed is "Dahaiya", without the outer covering the grain becomes "Haal" and once cooked it is "Bath" and can be eaten. But if you take a term like "You are fired", the Sinhalese translation may not be so direct. You have to say "You have been removed from your job" which is longer than the quick English term. So the limitation of translation is there in all languages.
@Kane121 (43)
13 Jan 13
Hey man , ask " Which president of US , was George W. Bush ? " . Here , the term " which " can relate to any selection from any group , but the general and common selection is the rank from the very first.
• Sri Lanka
13 Jan 13
That is a very valuable contribution, to a discussion 7 years old. In fact I come to mylot only once in a blue moon now.