March 12th, 2012

Boat travel, survival on the run, and a prosecutor as defense

This set of queries represents well over 24 hours' worth of Googling, Wikipedia-ing, and inquiring of others. It condenses into three main items:

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Thank you so much! This community is fantastic and I check regularly to see when something comes up that I can reliably contribute my knowledge to!
[jlk_lumberjack] Stakeout

How to Pronounce a Cabin Number/Deck Assignment in Japanese

Hello! My story is set in the 1930s. The characters are on a Japanese ocean liner based on the Asama Maru. The main character is an American who speaks Japanese. My goal is for him to pronounce his friend's cabin number in that language. I understand there are different numbering and alphabet systems depending on what the item is, which has left me unsure about what would be correct.

The cabin is a suite (aka deluxe cabin). There are no deck plans available for the actual ship, so the layout is derived from the RMS Queen Mary, which was built around the same period and had a small quantity of suites on her main and 'A' decks. There is evidence that the Asama Maru used the same method as well.

I was thinking of using 18A because 8 is an auspicious number. Please correct me if I'm wrong or can suggest a better one. One site indicated Ni for 2 as a hotel room number. Unfortunately, the chart only went up to 10. Following that lead, there were two different versions of 18, jû hachi and juuhachi on different sites. Are they correct? Which would be better?

What about 'A' for deck designation, would it be pronounced 'A' or... ?

Googled the following: "Pronounce room number in Japanese," "Japanese hotel phrases," "Ship cabin numbers in Japanese," "How to say deck a in Japanese," "Pronounce ship deck A in Japanese," "How to pronounce 18A in Japanese," "How to say letter "A" in Japanese," and "Japanese alphabet."

Your help would be most appreciated. Thank you.

eta: The members of little_details are awesome! Thank you everyone!
  • yiskah

Various questions about Russian names and accents, 1920s - 1940s

Hi everyone, I'm working on a novel set in St. Petersburg/Leningrad broadly between the 1920s and 1942. I've done a lot of research, but am trying to iron out a few details, and would appreciate your help!

Firstly, diminutives. I have done a lot of Googling on this (search terms "Russian diminutives" "Slavic diminutives" etc.) but am trying to get a clearer idea of how names, diminutives, patronymics etc. are used in everyday life. Specifically, the following situations:
- character A and character B meet for the first time. They are, effectively, colleagues. They introduce themselves as Firstname Patronymic Lastname, and, from what I can understand, they would move fairly quickly to diminutives. But how quickly? Immediately? Would it be assumed that someone who introduced herself as Ekaterina, for example, could immediately be referred to as Katya by a colleague, or would there be some sort of 'please, call me Katya'?
- relatedly, for names that have more than one diminutive (I'm thinking Dmitri - Dima / Mitya) would it be standard for a person to state which diminutive they prefer on first meeting? And would it ever be reasonable for someone to prefer their full name to a diminutive, or would that be seen as overly formal or stand-offish among close colleagues or friends?
- finally, I would love it if anyone had any suggestions about male Russian names that have two very different diminutives - I'm thinking like Dmitri with Dima and Mitya. Are there any others like that? I have looked through a lot of lists but for most of the names I have found with very different-sounding diminutives, one of the diminutives is much more informal / intimate than the other, whereas I'm looking for two diminutives of roughly equal levels of formality, i.e. the sort of diminutives that could be used by colleagues.

Secondly, I have some questions about modes of address in the USSR in the 1920s/30s.
- what would a pupil have called his school teacher at that time? You would think that this would be easy to find (I have been Googling things like "USSR teacher mode of address" etc.) but I am coming up with nothing that seems reliable, at least for the time period I'm researching. (I understand that Firstname Patronymic is standard today, but I'm not sure that would have been the case 80/90 years ago.)
- if at all different, what would a pupil call his piano/violin teacher? These two characters develop a very close bond but there is a very large age difference (the pupil is seven when they first meet, while the teacher is in his 50s) and the relationship remains fairly formal, despite the affection between them.
- how would people in the 1930s/40s refer to someone in their wider circle of acquaintances, with some degree of celebrity or renown? This is hard to explain, but as an example (albeit not the one I'm using), how would Anna Akhmatova be referred to by a group of Leningrad-based writers, some of whom had some acquaintance with her and some who did not? Anna Andreyevna? Anna Andreyevna Akhmatova? Anna Akhmatova? Just Akhmatova? Something completely different?

Thirdly, accents.
- I understand from a) Googling things like "Russian regional accents" and "Russian regional language variations" and b) talking to actual Russians that Russian does not have the sorts of regional variations in accent or dialect that allows people to pinpoint where their interlocutor comes from, as we can (to some extent) in the UK. I have come across some indications that there are some regional variations in vocabulary or word use, but haven't been able to come across any examples of these. There is a point in my novel where two people who meet in Leningrad work out, as part of casual conversation, that they come from the same rural area. If I have to I can have one ask the other directly, but I would much rather have some sort of clue arise naturally in conversation. Does anyone have any ideas about how I could make this work?

Finally, Russian last names.
- I am looking for a fairly unusual but not completely unheard-of last name, i.e. the sort of name that it could be reasonably assumed would only belong to one family in a small village or large town. Any suggestions for this would be very welcome!
  • lisbei

Architecture of an ancient Greek fishing village

Hi everyone! I'm working on a story which is set in Bronze Age Greece - well, sort of, as in, more based on a recent movie-Bronze Age Greece than anything which really historically happened.

But I still want my Bronze Age fishing village to be fairly realistic, and it's killing me that I can't picture what it would look like. Would there be houses made of stone or wood? And 'houses' would mean one-room huts, I think, or not?

I've searched a lot (I won't say 'googled' because I used DuckDuckGo, which doesn't have quite the same cachet when you turn it into a verb) but mainly I get detailed descriptions of temples and palaces, and in one exception, a big 'house of many rooms' which was a residence for the whole village. But that's not what I had in mind, it's inland, and I supect it wouldn't work on the coast. I basically want a small, very humble coastal fishing village, and no, search engine, I don't want to buy an 'ancient' house in a Greek village (when did 17th Century become 'ancient'?).

Have used the following search terms: ancient Greek fishing village, ancient Greek architecture, Greek fishing and many similar ones.

Thanks for any help!

Edit: Thanks everyone! I feel my question has been answered and I know what to do now! Thanks so much for all your help!
Books hazy

Geneticist requiring interdisciplinary help from an engineer/physicist

My characters are scientists that I'm trying to bring together over a shared project. So, I'm looking for a problem a well-funded expert in genetics (specifically genetic mutation) might need help with in his research from an engineer or a physicist. This is a "superhero-type genetic mutations" universe, so it's okay if the research this problem turns up in is not plausible in terms of real world science. :-)

The geneticist in question is both good and an original thinker, and his own expertise isn't that narrowly confined to his own discipline. So it really would have to be specialist expertise in a different field that he needs help with.

I want the engineer/physicist to impress the geneticist with his suggestions on how to proceed in order to find a solution for the problem. I don't need an actual solution, just an idea of which direction research should take in a way that would make sense. Ideally, the engineer/physicist would suggest several avenues of research - the "traditional" one(s) everyone with any knowledge in the field will automatically suggest, as well as something original, brilliant.

It's fine if there is some techno-babble involved, since this is essentially science fiction. I can also fudge the details. I do, however, want the basic premise to be related to science in the actual world as much as possible.

I have googled various combinations of "genetics research physics" and the like, but - unsurprisingly - nothing helpful has turned up.

Thank you very much for any suggestions or pointers!