Thursday, 22 March 2012

A test of Eminem's estimations

English translation follows the German text.

Hi. Das hier ist wieder nur auf Englisch. Es tut mir leid. Ich sage Bescheid, wenn es wieder was Deutsches hier zu lesen gibt. Ich kann die Sprache noch, ehrlich.
Bis denne.

Hi. This is only in English again. Sorry. I'll let you know when there's something on here in German again - I can still speak the language, honest.
Until then though, you can enjoy today's post in English.
"I guess that's why they call it windowpane." This is one of Eminem's worst lines, where he suggests that he has come to the conlusion that "windowpane" is somehow related to "pain" because when you look through windows at unhappy events it can hurt.
Being thorough linguists, we won't let him get away with that so easily. Welcome back, Mr. Oxford Dictionary of English.
1 windowpane: noun 1 a pane of glass in a window. 2 a broad flatfish with numerous dark spots, found in the western Atlantic. Also called SAND DAB. - Scophthalmus aquosus, family Scophthalmidae (or Bothidae).
Now I am quite sure that Eminem is talking about definition 1 because he also mentions looking through a window and doesn't mention peering into an aquarium anywhere. Nevertheless, we should probably take a look at what a SAND DAB is.
2 sand dab: noun a small flatfish which is found in the Pacific coastal waters of America. - Genus Citharichthys, family Bothidae: several species. - another tem for WINDOWPANE.
Now however confusing it may be that the 'sand dab' and 'windowpane' are apparently synonyms and yet belong to different geni and swim in different waters, it is of little relevance to our debate, because we are dealing with definition 1 of 'windowpane'.
To see if 'windowpane' is related to 'pain', we need to take a look at some more definitions. If you've been following, you'll remember that a 'windowpane' was 'a pane of glass in a window', which is presumably where the morpheme 'pane' in the word also comes from.
3 pane: noun 1 a single sheet of glass in a window or door. - Computing a separate defined area within a windo for the display of, or interaction with, a specified part of that window's application or output. 2 a sheet of page of stamps. ORIGIN late Middle English (originally denoting a piece of something, such as a fence or strip of cloth): from Old French pan, from Latin pannus 'piece of cloth'.
Now we need to look at 'pain'.
4 pain: noun [mass noun] 1 highly unpleasant physical sensation caused by illness or injury: she's in great pain. [count noun] chest pains. - (also pain in the neck or vulgar slang arse) informal - an annoying or tedious person or thing: she's a pain. 2 mental suffering or distress: the pain of loss. 3 (pains great care or trouble: she took pains to see that everyone ate well. - verb [with obj.] cause mental or physical pain to: it pains me to say this | her legs had been paining her. - [no obj.] chiefly N. Amer. (of a part of the body) hurt: sometimes my right hand would pain. - PHRASES for one's pains informal, as an unfairly bad return for one's efforts: he was sued for his pains. no pain, no gain suffering is necessary in order to achieve something. [ORIGIN orginally used as a slogan in fitness classes.] on (or under) pain of the penalty for disobedience or shortcoming being: they proscribed all such practices on pain of death. - ORIGIN Middle English (in the sense 'suffering inflicted punishment for an offence'): from Old French peine, from Latin poena 'penalty', later 'pain'.
A careful study of the lyrics shows that Eminem is referring to definition noun 2, which is of little importance because all the meanings have the same origin, but still nice to establish for reasons of completeness. Had we been unable to find a definition fitting with what Eminem is on about, then we would have maybe had to reconsider this whole exercise. But as it is, we have a postive match both for 'windowpane' and for 'pain'. The former, however, comes from Old French pan, from Latin pannus 'piece of cloth', whilst the latter also comes Old French from Latin, but from peine, from poena 'penalty', later 'pain'.
'Poena' and 'pannus' are clearly different - they don't even look a bit the same, so I guess, even if it does mean taking a stance opposed to Eminem's, that that isn't why they call it windowpane at all.
See you tomorrow.

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