One of the staff answered a question about the word for “Earth” proffered by other languages by (in part) cut/pasting the results of an online translations service. For shame! These things are notoriously undiscriminating in their approach to translations.
FYI, the French word for ‘Earth’ is “La Terre”. D’apres Hachette En Ligne ( http://www.francophonie.hachette-livre.fr/ ):
terre n. f.
I. (Avec une majuscule.) La Terre: la troisième planète du système solaire, habitée par l’espèce humaine.
The word coughed up by the online xlator, “mondiale,” is the feminine form of the adjective whose English equivalent is “global.”
Ron A. Zajac
Fulltime French Snob by Proxy
Do other languages call Earth “Earth”? (restored link)
I can see your point, rzajac. “Mondiale” does means “global” or “world” – but this is where it can trip up auto translators, as English common usage doesn’t see much difference between “world” and “Earth”, when speaking of our mother planet.
True, one would, in English, say “Our world is Earth.” But “world” and “Earth” aren’t really interchangeable or synonymous in all contexts. Certainly if one refers to “the world of sports” or “the business world” the connotation isn’t really “Earth”, the planet, but to a social or cultural collective. And “earth” (lower case) is often used to mean “dirt” or “soil”, as in “the farmer took a handful of earth”.
It’s all the subtle connotations and myriad shadings of meaning and metaphor that make language so rich, and so defiant (so far, anyway) to machine translation. Translating software has rather major limitations, and probably will for quite a long time to come.
Funny how that translator gave just one word in every language except Japanese.
Anyway, the Swedish mull means soil, dirt. Jord (jorden in the definite, pronounced approximately [yoord], [yoorden]) is the Swedish word for Earth the planet. It also means soil; it’s of the same Germanic origin as the English earth.
The Danish verden is the world.
Mondiale for Earth??? That’s beyond spectacularly wrong.
The article gives several words for Japanese and… none of them are right either! (At least in modern standard Japanese.)
The Japanese word of Earth is chikyû.
Yochi: world, archaic. (Not even listed in my standard dictionary.)
Chi: land, ground.
A-su: Tomorrow (WTF?)
Daichi: This is the only one that’s vaguely accurate, though it’s rather poetic and somewhat archaic.
Koudo: Several possibilities, none if them being Earth.
Makes you wonder about the other entries…
Mercurio, Venere, Terra, Marte, Giove, Saturno, Urano, Nettuno, Plutone (in italiano)
“La Terre” comes from Terra in Latin, as in “Terra Firma.”
I’m suprised a translator was even needed!
“Le Monde” is acceptable in certain cases, as “The World” would be in English. It also has other irrelevant connotations, as in English. It can mean the whole of society. It can mean the figurative universe surrounding a person or thing, as in “Wayne’s World,” or the “Wonderful World of Disney.”
“La terre” (small T) has several irrelevant translations which can lead you to believe this can’t be the same word they use for our planet. It can be synonymous with “le sol,” as we could say “Dig up some earth.” And of course, there is “pomme de terre” (Dutch “aardappel”). Is the potato the apple of our planet?
In a strictly astronomical sense, only “La Terre” (capital T) is acceptable. That is the sense implied in the question.
You’ve got to chuck that translator.
Whenever I translate things, I use the greatest translator available, a SEARCH ENGINE. (Did it several times in this post.) If relevant pages don’t come up in abundance, you’ve screwed up.
The problem with the original column is that the staff can’t be expected to speak all these other languages, and there was no budget to find human translators. But there is a resource available - here at the Dope.
Why don’t we (er, you) folk who know the answer post it here, then some point in the future the column can get an update from the Teeming Millions?
What is the name for Earth in other languages, and does it mean “dirt”?
language planet meaning
English Earth dirt
French La Terre ?
Swedish Jord soil
Japanese chikyû ?
See how simple that is?
-zyemlya (not like soil [pochva], though as an adjective can mean “of the earth [soil]” and
-mir (which means both “world” and “peace”).
I have no idea about the word originally offered, since I can’t figure out that transliteration (and can think of nothing that begins with c- or k- ).
Oh, and Hi- long time lurker, first time yapper.
Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards, Jessica, glad to have you emerge from the shadows and join us!
The Finnish word isn´t right, either. That´s the problem with bilingual dictionaries, you just don´t know what the usage is. And online translators don´t even give you hints, as a nice bilingual dictionary might. (But of course if you don´t know the language in question at all, a unilingual dictionary won´t be very helpful.)
The problem is that “earth” has several meanings in English, so in several cases the listed translation is that for earth in the sense of “soil”, not our planet.
The Finnish “maa” means soil as well as land, country. Earth as a planet is also called maa, but outside astronomy it is referred to as maailma (world) or maapallo (the globe) - if you wanted to say something like “the best thing on earth” you would use maailma.
As has been pointed out, the French word is an adjective, as in “earth observation” - “observation mondiale”, but it is usually used in the sense of “world”.