Run a cable / เดินสาย

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 11:17 pm 6 comments

The other day it occurred to me that Thai and English have similar expressions for installing cables, such as telephone lines or network cables. Thais say เดินสาย which translates very well to “run a cable” or even “run a line” — quite spooky. I suppose this is just coincidence–the law of large numbers at work–and it’s not quite a pseudo-cognate, but close enough to merit consideration.

The reason I chronicle pseudo-cognates that I notice is to build a list of easy-to-remember terms whose simplistic translations coincidentally lead us to the correct meaning.

Entry filed under: Pseudo-cognates. Tags: .

In truth / ในความจริง Translating Literature

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ABZee  |  Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Is that because you have to run with a cable when you are installing it?

  • 2. rikker  |  Saturday, October 13, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    Do you have an actual list of these anywhere that you’ve made? You might consider putting it up on Google Docs for public perusal if so. There are probably so many of these I forget to notice them anymore.

  • 3. Jason  |  Monday, October 15, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    I don’t have a list yet, but I am hoping to build one. The primary reason I started the blog is for these “pseudo-cognates” (still not satisfied with that name). I used to ask, “how do you say such-and-such” and people would say “such-and-such” and I would think, oh my God it’s the same thing word-for-word.

    For now, I just post them in this category as they come to me.

  • 4. rikker  |  Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Sometimes these sorts of things are “calques” (a.k.a. “loan translations”). It’s another option besides borrowing the word outright: translating it morpheme-for-morpheme.

    Some pretty clear examples of this would be ตึกระฟ้า (skyscraper), or ล้างสมอง (brainwash). The latter supposedly entered English from Chinese, so I don’t know whether Thai got it from Chinese or through English, but it’s almost certainly one of those two, I’d think.

    A lot of technical vocabulary are calques, too, I’ve noticed.

  • 5. Robert Penner  |  Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 8:00 am

    เดิน is usually translated “walk”. Run is usually วิ่ง.

  • 6. Jason  |  Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Thanks, Robert. I guess I should be more explicit from now on and not make assumptions. เดิน is definitely “walk,” unless you say เดินสาย, which really means “run a cable.”

    This example doesn’t overlap as much as the others. Still, I think there is a mnemonic association here, so I mentioned it.


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