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Old 12th June 2013, 08:51   #1831
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The only polite way I can think of phrasing that would be to ask, "Were you an only child? "

The response could be Yes or "Oh no, I am the third of eight children, and the only girl"

Of course, given the number of mixed families these days (his kids, her kids, their kids) not to mention (his kids, HIS kids, etc.) I think it's better to steer clear completely!
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Old 12th June 2013, 08:58   #1832
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Default Re: A YetiGuideŽ : How To Post In Proper English

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The only polite way I can think of phrasing that would be to ask, "Were you an only child? "
Umm... only if you are asking that question to a ghost. No?
Unless you are absolutely certain that the parents of the subject are no more. But even then the question would be, "Were you the only child of your parents?"
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Old 12th June 2013, 09:06   #1833
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The only polite way I can think of phrasing that would be to ask, "Were you an only child? "
I generally ask, "Do you have any siblings?"
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Old 12th June 2013, 09:57   #1834
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I generally ask, "Do you have any siblings?"
OT: In the modern age, had there been families having a headcount like kauravas, boy would they be in trouble! " I am the 25th son amongst the 100 and i am the 19th boy in my family" and the guy who asked would be like.
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Old 12th June 2013, 10:28   #1835
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OT: In the modern age, had there been families having a headcount like kauravas, boy would they be in trouble! "

Not for Samurai's question - which can be answered by a simple Yes :-)
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Old 12th June 2013, 11:03   #1836
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I posed the query to a colleague this morning and without even batting an eyelid, pat came the reply: "How manyeth son of your parents are you?"
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Old 12th June 2013, 14:07   #1837
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I generally ask, "Do you have any siblings?"
No, I'm not carrying any but I'd love to have them at dinner tonight!
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Old 12th June 2013, 15:22   #1838
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I posed the query to a colleague this morning and without even batting an eyelid, pat came the reply: "How manyeth son of your parents are you?"
I believe 'manyeth' was a correct form of English during some age or era!!
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Old 12th June 2013, 16:49   #1839
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I believe 'manyeth' was a correct form of English during some age or era!!
At least not from an era where dictionaries existed. Perhaps before that?

Oddly, such contrived / improvised (not 'improved' which is commonly - and incorrectly - substituted by that word) usages come from certain parts of India *only*. For example, not knowing whether 'either' should be pronounced as "ee-ther" or "ai-ther", many people in the southern parts take a diplomatic middle path: "ee-ai-ther".

"Co-brother" is another such marvellous improvization (perhaps to ensure mutual exclusion of aspersions for each other's wives). I believe this phrase has been taken to distant shores by expat Indians, who happen to speak better English than other nationalities (and other Indian regions - most visible / audible Indians in US seem to be from the southern region of India). Ditto "uncle-in-law" and "grandfather-in-law". However, one doesn't hear about a "co-sister" (maybe women have less propensity to cast aspersions ...), "co-cousin", "aunt-in-law", "nephew-in-law", "firstcousintwiceremoved-in-law" or other such plausible extensions (which maybe because they come lower down in the family hierarchy).

BTW, @gansan, those Tamil expressions didn't really seem any easier or more felicitous than the English ones! I guess Mathur-saheb said it right about culture. In the age of "Hum do, hamare do" influence (Family Planning slogan; translated south of the Vindhyas as "We 2, Ours 2") would render all such questions invalid.
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Old 12th June 2013, 17:02   #1840
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Originally Posted by DerAlte View Post
At least not from an era where dictionaries existed. Perhaps before that?
No idea - its just that someone told me so

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BTW, @gansan, those Tamil expressions didn't really seem any easier or more felicitous than the English ones!
It seems difficult because it's a transileration. for a Tamilian/Malayali pronouncing them would find it easy. Also Gansan was trying to put too many vowels

Tamil : nee un appa/ammavuku ethanavathu payyan?
Malayalam : nee ethramathe kuttiya?

word to word translation of the above

Tamil : you your dad's/mom's ????? son?
Malayalam : you ????? child?

(The verb are/is/how is missing in the above sentence, because I don't know where to put it or what to put!!)

Quote:
I guess Mathur-saheb said it right about culture. In the age of "Hum do, hamare do" influence (Family Planning slogan; translated south of the Vindhyas as "We 2, Ours 2") would render all such questions invalid.
Here too you would be stumped if you were asked to frame a question for

'I am the second son/child"
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Old 12th June 2013, 17:16   #1841
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Default Re: A YetiGuideŽ : How To Post In Proper English

I can't help but chuckle now, after reading Deralte sir's posts. To add to that list, i have even heard a "co-uncle" which someone had mentioned during a recent marriage i had to attend. Confound these compound words which were invented by someone who was utterly creative and mighty expressive.

First time i had heard co-brother, i thought "What a strange name, Cobharathan; why would anyone name their child as cobharathan?". Would have been nice if i walked over and said "Hello there, Mr Cobharathan".

Last edited by Arch-Angel : 12th June 2013 at 17:24.
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Old 12th June 2013, 17:32   #1842
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Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
... It seems difficult because it's a transileration. ...
Not transliteration. The composition of the question / expression itself is labored (unlike your Malayalam example). "Labored composition" usually indicates difficulty of handling situations (w.r.t. language). One can make this out in the way Doordarshan handles many situations in Hindi and regional languages.

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Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
... Here too you would be stumped if you were asked to frame a question for 'I am the second son/child'
Not difficult. Anyone who is inquisitive (the culture part is about not being inquisitive) would ask "Are you the elder son / eldest child?" (usually asked of someone who seems to be reserved or slow on the take). Usually it is "Are you the youngest in your family?" for someone who acts too big for his boots or has difficulty focusing.

In India, desire for precision in an answer (a habit ingrained in school) usually leads to a lengthy description, automatically. Of course, one should expect that a few cantankerous characters might rudely respond with "What to you?" for that matter.
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Old 12th June 2013, 17:53   #1843
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Originally Posted by DerAlte View Post
BTW, @gansan, those Tamil expressions didn't really seem any easier or more felicitous than the English ones!
Not really, since what I gave was a grammatical, formal and literary form which one uses for writing. Also the transliteration does not help. In Tamil script, it will make perfect sense.

Also in colloquial, spoken usage it will be a lot easier to phrase and understand, as @Mallumowgli pointed out. In fact it can be phrased in different ways.

As an aside, it is important to mention this in vernacular wedding invitations. The description will clearly trace the ancestry for three generations, and also mention the eldest son of so and so marries the third daughter of so and so, for instance! Jyeshta (or seemandha) means eldest, dwidheeya means second, thridheeya means third, and so on! Kanishta means last! If no prefix is found, he or she is an only child!
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Old 12th June 2013, 18:10   #1844
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... grammatical, formal and literary form which one uses for writing. ...
Correct, sir, and nothing to do with transliteration, sir. Your original premise was "This question can easily be phrased in Tamil, and I suppose in any other Indian language". That is why I referred to Doordarshan and formality in language, where the idea is lost in translation (again, not transliteration)!

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Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
... vernacular wedding invitations. The description will clearly trace the ancestry for three generations, ...
I was right about the Indian penchance for precision in answers / expressions!

Poor souls. All that the man and woman (who are the subject of that description) wanted was a social license to cohabit and cowhateverelsethatgoeswithit!!!

Last edited by DerAlte : 12th June 2013 at 18:11.
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Old 12th June 2013, 20:59   #1845
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Default Re: A YetiGuideŽ : How To Post In Proper English

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Originally Posted by DerAlte View Post
Not difficult. Anyone who is inquisitive (the culture part is about not being inquisitive) would ask "Are you the elder son / eldest child?" (usually asked of someone who seems to be reserved or slow on the take). Usually it is "Are you the youngest in your family?" for someone who acts too big for his boots or has difficulty focusing.
No. Here the answer will not be "I am the youngest". It will be "No, I am the youngest" or "Yes, I am the youngest"

The question may not be inquisitive - it may be from the guy taking census!

And the question is not laboured. As can be seen from my word to word translation only the English word for 'manyeth' is missing
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