https://www.duolingo.com/SirFurboy

Not convinced about dim=any

SirFurboy
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Twice today in one exercise I was asked to translate "dim" as any. The second time, I think I even had an option of "not" or "no" that was rejected but foolishly clicked past it before I could check or take a screen shot. No doubt it will come up again if that was the case, so I will report it then if so.

However I am unconvinced about the value of learning to translate "dim" as "any". I note that this is not an error as such. Y Geiriadur Cyfoes and others do list it as a valid translation, but context is everything.

Could we instead have a phrase in which "dim" takes the meaning of any?

If you want me to find a word in Welsh that means "any" then "unrhyw" inevitably comes to mind:

Oes yna unrhyw digwyddiadau gwyl y banc? - Are there any bank holiday events?

Dim on its own definitely seems like it means "not" or "no" to me. Short phrases like "Dim Parcio" = "No Parking", "Dim ots" roughly= "No difference", "Dim byd"="nothing" all have the negative connotation.

The obvious counter example "dim o gwbl", usually translated as "at any time" when found on parking notices, clearly carries the negative implication and could equally be translated "not at any time". Usually that means "not at all" when used in speech.

Isn't there a risk that if the course teaches "dim" means "any" that people will use it incorrectly where unrhyw would be better?

2 years ago

12 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/psionpete
psionpete
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If the dictionary definition gives 'any' as one of the meanings then I would expect that means it can be used as 'any', so all that you are arguing about is the context of its use. This can happen a lot in any language where words have multiple meanings and everyone has to learn the context for each meaning.

I have not yet come across this definition of Dim so I am not sure what your ploint is? Are you saying that the word is used incorrectly in the sentence examples?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SirFurboy
SirFurboy
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It is not used "incorrectly in the sentence examples" because it is not being used in a sentence at all. You are presented with the word "dim" and asked to translate it. One word for one word.

To me, a reasonably fluent Welsh speaker, I cannot imagine translating that as anything other than "no" or "not".

Like many words, "dim" can be used idiomatically, and its meaning adjusts to the context. For instance "dim o gwbl" is, as I said, often translated as "at any time". I don't really think that you can say that "dim" means "any" in this phrase, however, as I explained above. It is perfectly reasonable to understand "dim o gwbl" to mean "not at all".

There may be other examples where dim can mean any, but I am scratching my head to think of others where it does not at the same time mean none/not/no.

Consider:

"does dim ar gael" = "there is not any available", but that could also be translated "there is none available".

If you want to say "is there any available?" you invariably ask: "oes unrhyw ar gael".

(Do the google test: "oes unrhyw ar gael" - 1 million hits. "oes dim ar gael" - 6 hits, and these are all hits for the longer literary "nid oes dim ar gael" which is the same as "does dim ar gael").

So my point is: Duolingo is teaching you wrong. If you think "dim" translates as "any" then that will lead you astray.

By all means have full sentences such as "dim o gwbl" that appear to translate with "any", but the word on its own means none/no/not.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ibisc
ibisc
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dim can mean 'any', but these days usually only in negative sentences such as:

  • does dim moron ar gael - there aren't any carrots available

If people have been flagging the question as unhelpful it may perhaps be awating change or deletion already, as part of the beta testing process.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SirFurboy
SirFurboy
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Thanks ibisc.

It doesn't really mean "any" even in that sentence. It means "not any", or just "no". That is, you can equally translate that sentence as "there are no carrots available".

That is what I meant above when I said: "I am scratching my head to think of [cases] where it does not at the same time mean none/not/no."

It would be interesting to know if it will be deleted or if there is some justification for keeping it that I have missed.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arthfoel

The dim in Welsh has changed as it has gone a long way through the Jesperson cycle and the original meaning "anything" is quite rare now, except in a few expressions, or some dialectal features and even in those the negative is now assumed rather than the original "anything" - dim yn y byd to dim byd - originally anything in the world and now nothing, but things like dim byd should usually come with with a preceding negative marker like "Does" to show that the meaning is negative. Things like "dim un" and "dim ond", perhaps show up some of the history, but you have to think quite hard to see anything even in these and nothing seems to substitute just as well. I think in the Northern dialects it hasn't meant "anything" for a long long time, especially since the modern innovation of unrhyw has now come along and replaced most of its original usage. When other innovations like sdim legitimately replace does dim, then the Jesperson Cycle will be progressed one step further. Good article to read here:

The History of Negation in the Languages of Europe and the Mediterranean ... By David Willis, Christopher Lucas, Anne Breitbarth

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SirFurboy
SirFurboy
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Yes, if we were studying Middle Welsh it would be different. However, in modern Welsh, I maintain that it is wrong to teach the main meaning of "dim" is "any".

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arthfoel

You are correct - this is one for the language experts, who could have a really good debate on this one. The easiest thing would be for Duolingo to dodge this one, because there is more to it than a learner of the language might need to know.

The same things happens in French. Pas when used as a noun (its original usage means, step, walk, pace, footprint). This short little word, for the same reasons as dim, got adopted as a negative marker - something that happens in most languages. Dim on it's own is a bit of a unique case and rarely encountered in that way (I stand to be corrected on that one). If the formal definition of dim ever changed, I don't know what the implications would be or if it is important enough to worry about. I don't know enough about more formal Welsh etc.. My understanding is that usages like in Dim Problem are modern innovations aren't they? and to me they don't have the same elegance as some of the other, seemingly very natural negation constructions that are available to use in Welsh.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SirFurboy
SirFurboy
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Thanks. Yes, "Dim problem" is a modern and colloquial contraction of "Does dim problem 'na". "Dim Parcio" is even more colloquial, an adoption of a usage from English, I suspect, because the correct Welsh, "peidiwch รข pharcio yma," is just too long for the notices! "Dim parcio" is really not very correct Welsh!

This course, however, is focussing on colloquial Welsh as it is spoken.

As you say, however, this could be dodged by not teaching "dim" on its own at all.

I had noticed that "pas" means step in French and had wondered how we got from "step" to something like "not", so thanks for that.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arthfoel

I heard someone say dim siarad once and that sounded quite wrong. For dim parcio and things like that, you do often see the more formal "ni chaniateir" construction on signs as well.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SirFurboy
SirFurboy
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On official signs, yes, definitely. Less so on private garages, although certainly I can think of a few places I have seen that.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ieuan-Jones
Ieuan-Jones
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Does it sound that wrong to a fluent speaker? I dug out my old Welsh book, and it looks like we were taught "dim verb", at least for commands from the teacher. (Although, looking through that, it seems they gave us a bit of a loose translation for some of them anyway)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arthfoel

Ieuan,

It would be interesting to hear opinions - I guess it's likely to fall into a personal taste sort of thing. There are plenty of constructions people say in English that seem to sound wrong to me, even if there is nothing technically incorrect about them (or even sometimes, perhaps, they are technically too correct?). I need to get over it.

2 years ago
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