Saturday, January 6, 2007

Random stuff

[EDIT: Fixed Rip's name, and the word is "transcribed", not "transliterated"]

So, first things first. I had a dumb AIM conversation with Rip Tatermen this morning. Nothing else to say about that, really. He was just dreading that that was going to be the high point of my day today and that I would post about it on my blog. Ensuring, of course, that I would in fact do so. Also, he suggested that everyone should call him a "fuckwad". That seems crude and not like something that I (or any of my friends) would do, but it was his idea.

So, this is a silly thing to get worked up about, but I just thought it was so cool. I assume y'all are familiar with the Seven Up logo. So, in Arabic, Seven Up is transcribed "سغن اب", and can't be spelled "7Up", as is in the logo (the actual translation would be "٧ متابعة"). To get around this, and keep the same design, they reworked the logo as at right, making the standard 7Up shape with the transcribed letters (look at the larger picture if it's not clear). It's brilliant! Keeping the seven shape (although that's obviously not what a 7 looks like in Arabic) and everything. As an aside, Pepsi products seem to be the only products that get past the US embargo on Sudan (did you know we had one? I didn't), since they're "food or drink" products. No McDonalds, although there is a restaurant called "Lucky Meal" that uses the golden arches.

Other minor note. We walked around bookstores earlier today, and I came across a book written by "غبرييل غرسيه مركز" (or something like that -- I don't remember exactly). I started reading it out in my head (I often find myself sounding out Arabic aloud when I read it, which makes me feel somewhat unjustifiably silly), and realized that it was "Gabriel Garcia Marquez", and the book was "100 Years of Solitude" (OK, so my sister translated the second part for me). I thought it was nifty; it was not a book I would have expected to see there. And that's that.


  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blogs on your exploits overseas, Joe. Enjoy the time you have left there, and I look forward to seeing you again when you get home!

  2. Wait a minute... That's not what a seven looks like in Arabic? Aren't the numbers we use called "Arabic numbers?" So, do we use "archaic" Arabic numbers, and does modern Arabic use "updated" numberals? I'm confused.
    And if it doesn't say "seven up," what does it say? Is it "barf?" Please let it say barf.

  3. But wait, which Tara are you? I know several. Aaaaargh! Glad you enjoy the blog, though.

    Are you actually confused, Joe, or being sarcastic? I can't tell. "Arabic Numbers" generally refers to the positional system used to write numbers (i.e., the rank of a digit affects its value, as opposed to other systems (say, Roman), which are basically just tally marks). They're more properly called Indian numerals, since that's where they developed. We call them Arabic numerals since we learned about them through the Arabs. The script used, of course, developed separately in many different places.

    As for what the logo says. The logo just says "Seven Up" transcribed into Arabic (the pronunciation of the Arabic letters sounds like the pronunciation of "Seven Up"). It doesn't actually have any meaning in Arabic.

  4. Oh, and for the record, Joe, the Arabic numbers "٠١٢٣٤٥٦٧٨٩" correspond to the English "0123456789".

  5. I hesitate to mention it, as my blog isn't worth the requisite eye-focusing effort, but it's riptatermen. Taterman is a better name, but then it wouldn't be an anagram.
    As for the numbers, you might also be interested to learn that we say 'dickety' because the Arabs stole our word for 'twenty'. I may not be as smart as Joseph, but I can confuse him with pop culture references!

  6. Curses! I did screw up your name. I even realized it was an anagram, but it didn't occur to me to check the spelling. Did you know there are ~4500 anagrams for your name? Particular standouts are "Mint Taperer", "Pert Minaret", "Primate Rent", "Nitrate Perm", "Printer Mate", "Mite Partner", and (sadly) "Mitten Raper".

    You used to call twenty "ashreen"? Wait, no, I just did the smart thing and used Google, thus uncovering your sneaky little Simpson's quote. Hah! You had me confused at first, though.

    Funnily enough, one of my coworkers is convinced that I am a sponge for and wealth of pop culture knowledge. He's convinced that I realized how far behind I was when I moved to the states and have spent the past few years in a relentless quest to catch up, and that in so doing, I have actually overshot the mark. I still can't match you or Eric for Simpson's references, though.

  7. one of my favorite things about learning Japanese is sounding things out. It's so exciting learning to read! Your example reminded me of a few letters I've exchanged with Japanese people who I met through Argentine tango. They write ブエナス・ディアス! which, when I sounded it out says: Buenos Dias. weird.

    The movie and book titles here are funny too, either they are phonetic and don't mean anything or are completely changed. you'd get a kick out of some of them.

  8. Yeah, a large portion of the Arabic signs around here are just transcribed from English, and don't make any sense in Arabic. The soukhs have a lot of "بوتيك"s ("boutique"s) and there "رستورانت"s ("restaurant"s) everywhere. I'm tickled pink by it.

    Jen's trying to learn how to read how to read Arabic (and is making good progress, I might add). It's reminding me how tricky it can be, though. There are 29 letters, each of which can be written in 2-4 ways (or more, some times), and most of the vowels aren't written down. I've been reading it for so long I'd kinda forgotten...

  9. No, no, I wasn't being sarcastic. I'm honsetly curious about how different languages write numbers and such, because I'm gradually turning into a big language nerd. Looking at the digits, you can totally see how the different scripts are related. Neat.
    I didn't know that "Arabic numbers" were actually from India. Ah, but in what language? Was it from the hypothetical "Indo-European" language that birthed all Western tongues like some great, loquatious Eve? Or do they come from an established Indian language that we know of?

  10. Well, the Indo-European language group didn't originate in India (as best I know), it was just the common parent language of most of Eurasia. So if we inherited the numerical system from India, it was well after the language group had fragmented. They may have been developed as part of Hindu (or its parent language), but I don't know. Probably no language in particular, since numerical representation is really sort of independent of language (all the Romance/Germanic languages write numbers the exact same way -- they just pronounce them differently).

    Languages are quite awesome. I've had the chance to talk with Leila in German a bit this trip (she's decided to start learning it), and it's been nice to reacquire some of those skills. It is really cool to learn about some of the variations/relations between languages (for example, Farsi is more closely related to English than it is to Arabic, even though the Farsi and Arabic alphabets are essentially the same).