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Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"? - UniLang

Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

ambasaurus
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Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby ambasaurus » 2013-12-18, 2:27

Hey everyone!

I'm writing a fantasy story and I've created my own version of the mythological creature "Adze". I wanted to create a name for it by combining words from the same culture, but I don't speak Ewe and I haven't had any luck finding the translation for these words on the Internet. Can anyone help me out?

Thanks! :)

-Amber

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linguoboy
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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-12-18, 3:14

Why would you expect Ewe to have those words? The vampire is a Slavic legend; demons are originally Greek. And are there even any species of firefly native to coastal West Africa?
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

ambasaurus
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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby ambasaurus » 2013-12-18, 4:39

linguoboy wrote:Why would you expect Ewe to have those words? The vampire is a Slavic legend; demons are originally Greek. And are there even any species of firefly native to coastal West Africa?


The Adze is of Ewe origin.

http://theillustrationist.com/2013/03/1 ... e-vampire/

It's basically a shape-shifting vampire-like creature. It goes from the form of a firefly to a human. Since it's of Ewe origin, it makes sense that there are Ewe words for vampire and firefly.

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linguoboy
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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-12-18, 4:54

ambasaurus wrote:It's basically a shape-shifting vampire-like creature. It goes from the form of a firefly to a human. Since it's of Ewe origin, it makes sense that there are Ewe words for vampire and firefly.

By the same token, you could say the vampire is an adze-like creature. So then what's the English word for "adze"?

ETA: Okay, I've got Westermann's Wörterbuch der Ewe Sprache in my hot little hands now. His definition of adzé is interesting. For starters, he glosses it as "Hexe, Hexerei" ("witch, witchcraft"). Then he goes on to give an extensive passage in Ewe which he glosses as:
Hexen sind böse Geister, die gewisse Menschen zu ihrer Wohnung machen; häuten sich nachts u. wandeln hell flackernd auf Teichen; auch trinken sie Menschen das Blut aus oder nehmen ihnen ihren Schatten weg, so daß sie unbedingt sterben müssen. ("Witches are evil spirits that make certain humans their dwelling; shed their skins at night and change flickering brightly above ponds; they also drink men's blood or take away their shadows so that they absolutely must die.")
As synonyms he gives amenyíla "person-sucker" and amenolá "person-drinker" (or, in an earlier edition, amɛβunolá "person-blood-drinker"). So if you're looking for a translation of "vampire", you're not going to get closer than that.

The word for "evil spirit" in the Ewe text is gbɔgbɔ vɔ̃́. (Vɔ̃́ means "evil" and gbɔgbɔ means "breath".) So, again, if you're looking for a translation of "demon", this is probably the best you're going to do. (Alternatively, there's also gbetsi, but its meaning is pretty specific to Ewe folklore.)

For "firefly" Westermann gives zãdzóe (lit. "night" [zãã́] "fire" [dzo]; dzo is also glossed as "magic").
Last edited by linguoboy on 2013-12-18, 16:40, edited 1 time in total.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

ambasaurus
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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby ambasaurus » 2013-12-18, 16:28

linguoboy wrote:
ambasaurus wrote:It's basically a shape-shifting vampire-like creature. It goes from the form of a firefly to a human. Since it's of Ewe origin, it makes sense that there are Ewe words for vampire and firefly.

By the same token, you could say the vampire is an adze-like creature. So then what's the English word for "adze"?


If I had to say the equivalent to the adze in the English language, I would say demon because it possesses people. Hence, why I asked for the translation of firefly, vampire, AND demon.

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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-12-18, 16:45

ambasaurus wrote:If I had to say the equivalent to the adze in the English language, I would say demon because it possesses people.

But that's imposing a Christian worldview on fundamentally non-Christian beliefs. Is, in fact, the defining characteristic of a "demon" that it possesses people? Aren't people also possessed by spirits which aren't demons (viz. shamans)?
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby ambasaurus » 2013-12-18, 20:37

linguoboy wrote:
ambasaurus wrote:If I had to say the equivalent to the adze in the English language, I would say demon because it possesses people.

But that's imposing a Christian worldview on fundamentally non-Christian beliefs. Is, in fact, the defining characteristic of a "demon" that it possesses people? Aren't people also possessed by spirits which aren't demons (viz. shamans)?


I'm not trying to impose views on anyone. I'm asking for translations of the words I mentioned or something close to it. I understand that cultures are all different - that's why I'm okay with something close to those words. It doesn't have to be exact. I'm just trying to write a story. This thread isn't meant to launch a debate. If you want to debate, please start your own thread.

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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-12-18, 20:39

ambasaurus wrote:I'm asking for translations of the words I mentioned or something close to it.

And didn't I provide that?
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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby ambasaurus » 2013-12-19, 2:08

linguoboy wrote:
ambasaurus wrote:I'm asking for translations of the words I mentioned or something close to it.

And didn't I provide that?


No, you did and thank you for that. Zãdzóe is awesome!

Maybe it's just in my head, but I felt like you gave me a really hard time about it. Sorry if me saying that upsets you.

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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-12-19, 3:56

ambasaurus wrote:Maybe it's just in my head, but I felt like you gave me a really hard time about it. Sorry if me saying that upsets you.

What makes you think I'm upset? I'm just trying to have a conversation. Looks like you have an interesting idea here, but it could be very problematic if handled badly.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

ambasaurus
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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby ambasaurus » 2013-12-19, 4:10

linguoboy wrote:
ambasaurus wrote:Maybe it's just in my head, but I felt like you gave me a really hard time about it. Sorry if me saying that upsets you.

What makes you think I'm upset? I'm just trying to have a conversation. Looks like you have an interesting idea here, but it could be very problematic if handled badly.


Guess it was just in my head. What do you mean by handled badly?

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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-12-19, 4:44

ambasaurus wrote:What do you mean by handled badly?

What do the words "cultural appropriation" suggest to you?
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby ambasaurus » 2013-12-20, 1:38

linguoboy wrote:
ambasaurus wrote:What do you mean by handled badly?

What do the words "cultural appropriation" suggest to you?


"Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. It describes acculturation or assimilation, but can imply a negative view towards acculturation from a minority culture by a dominant culture"

I'm just writing a story for my entertainment. It's not a cultural insult.

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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-12-20, 3:47

ambasaurus wrote:I'm just writing a story for my entertainment. It's not a cultural insult.

I'm sure it isn't intended as one. But there's more to not being insulting than simply not intending to be insulting.

I highly recommend this piece by Nisi Shawl on how to incorporate elements or characters from cultures quite different to your own without causing offence to the people whose culture that is: http://www.irosf.com/q/zine/article/10087.

Right now you're just writing for your own entertainment. But who knows--you might decide to show the story to someone else or to eventually submit it for publication. Or to do that with another story you write later. Why not get off on the right foot from the very beginning?
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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby johnklepac » 2013-12-20, 6:55

My favorite part of the article is that the author acknowledges the rifts between her own culture and African-based ones and handles them as she expects her readers to. I'm really sick of this "all non-white groups can appropriate from one another and it's fine, but Miley Cyrus twerking is incredibly disrespectful" view that's fashionable nowadays.

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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-12-20, 13:32

johnklepac wrote:I'm really sick of this "all non-white groups can appropriate from one another and it's fine, but Miley Cyrus twerking is incredibly disrespectful" view that's fashionable nowadays.

I can't say I've ever encountred that view myself. In the circles I frequent, POCs get called out for appropriating from other POCs in the same way that white people do. See for example: http://www.racialicious.com/2008/11/19/bustas-busted-arab-money/.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

ambasaurus
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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby ambasaurus » 2013-12-28, 0:09

linguoboy wrote:
ambasaurus wrote:I'm just writing a story for my entertainment. It's not a cultural insult.

I'm sure it isn't intended as one. But there's more to not being insulting than simply not intending to be insulting.

I highly recommend this piece by Nisi Shawl on how to incorporate elements or characters from cultures quite different to your own without causing offence to the people whose culture that is: http://www.irosf.com/q/zine/article/10087.

Right now you're just writing for your own entertainment. But who knows--you might decide to show the story to someone else or to eventually submit it for publication. Or to do that with another story you write later. Why not get off on the right foot from the very beginning?


Thanks for the article, but I get a lot of anxiety when other people read my writing. My writing is meant to be an outlet for me and it has a lot of meaning to my life. If I let anyone read it ever, it would be like they were reading my most private thoughts. I can't imagine ever sharing my writing. Sorry for the late response. I was vacationing with my family.

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linguoboy
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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-12-28, 16:37

ambasaurus wrote:Thanks for the article, but I get a lot of anxiety when other people read my writing. My writing is meant to be an outlet for me and it has a lot of meaning to my life. If I let anyone read it ever, it would be like they were reading my most private thoughts. I can't imagine ever sharing my writing.

As I say, that could always change in future. Also, once something is written down, then it could always fall into someone else's hands and they could choose to do what they want with it.

But focusing on practicalities misses the larger issue, which is that unreflective cultural appropriation is simply a bad habit to get into. It's like saying, "I don't think women are as smart as men, but that's okay because I would never express this thought to anyone." It still can't help but affect your attitudes and behaviour, don't you think?

ambasaurus wrote:Sorry for the late response. I was vacationing with my family.

No reason to apologise. I was, too, and I wasn't waiting for one or anything.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

ambasaurus
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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby ambasaurus » 2014-01-05, 7:32

I don't think borrowing ideas from other cultures is an attitude problem. Thinking one gender is smarter or dumber than the other is a totally different problem.

I'm not the only writer who has borrowed writing ideas from other cultures. Just look at J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Roger Zelazny, Neil Gaimen, and so on. These authors incorporate mythology and even religion into their writing and there's nothing offense or disrespectful about it. I'm not the first person to use mythology from another culture in my writing.

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Re: Ewe words for "firefly", "vampire", and "demon"?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-01-05, 18:57

ambasaurus wrote:I don't think borrowing ideas from other cultures is an attitude problem.

I didn't say it was. I specifically criticised unreflective borrowing. Go ahead and appropriate ideas from other cultures, but take a moment (or, better, a whole string of 'em) to consider the ramifications.

ambasaurus wrote:I'm not the only writer who has borrowed writing ideas from other cultures. Just look at J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Roger Zelazny, Neil Gaimen, and so on. These authors incorporate mythology and even religion into their writing and there's nothing offense or disrespectful about it. I'm not the first person to use mythology from another culture in my writing.

Whether you are or ever will be a writer on a par with Gaiman, Zelazny, Tolkien, et al. remains to be seen.

Moreover, do you think none of them seriously considered these issues--or suffered criticism for their choices? If so, reading essays by and in response to Tolkien in particular should disabuse you of that notion.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons


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