Lang leve de jarigen!

by Ingrid Robeyns on November 3, 2018

It’s Chris’s 60th birthday today – Happy Birthday, Chris!

Since this blog owes a lot to Chris (that is an understatement…), I want to let you know that on FB, Chris has launched a fundraiser for Bristol Refugee Rights, an organisator supporting refugees in Bristol of which Chris is the Chair of the trustees. If you’re on FB I am sure you can find your way there to the place to donate; otherwise, you can use this link.

Chris shares his birthday with my sister (Gelukkige verjaardag, zusje!) and with my former PhD-supervisor Amartya Sen, who celebrates his 85th birthday today (Happy birthday, Amartya!).

Since I was writing to them today, it occurred to me that the Dutch language has a word that, according to my knowledge of English and the online dictionary that I consulted, doesn’t have an equivalent in English: de jarige – the person who has their birthday. Either I am wrong, and then you sharp people will surely teach me a new word, or else I may have found one of the very few words in Dutch that doesn’t have an English equivalent (most of the time, it’s the other way around).

Lang leve de jarigen!



oldster 11.03.18 at 7:33 pm

I think you’re right about the lack of an equivalent, though we do sometimes say (with twee archness) “the birthday boy” or “birthday girl”.

But that’s obviously not a lexeme itself, as well as not being semantically equivalent or etymologically homologous (it doesn’t refer to the year).


Chris Bertram 11.03.18 at 11:58 pm

Thank you so much Ingrid! I’ve had a great day. I think the FB link can be a bit tricky for people outside the UK, so if you are elsewhere and want to donate, use the second one.


Dwight L. Cramer 11.04.18 at 2:38 pm

following up on oldster, I think I’ve seen ‘birthdayboy’ and ‘birthdaygirl’ as compound words on American greeting cards, but for linguistic authority of the Hallmark Greeting Card Company, Kansas City, Mo. doesn’t have the throw weight of the OED or the Academie Francaise, Paris. Of course, ‘birthday’ is itself, in English, a compound of ‘birth’ and ‘day’ and, on the aging keyboard of my MacAir, spontaneous compound words are a factoflife.


JRLRC 11.04.18 at 5:25 pm

I love “untranslatables”, Ingrid. The translation puzzle! The Committee on Concepts and Methods of IPSA has an online dictionary devoted to them; it has a Dutch-English section:
I contribute to the Spanish-English and English-Spanish sections. Maybe you can contribute to the Dutch ones… By the way, we do have a word for “de jarige”: “cumpleañero”.


Z 11.04.18 at 6:07 pm

Happy belated birthday Chris (and now I’ll know it for the rest of my life, as you share your birthdate with my wife)! So where is the CT conference complete with accompanying Festschrifft?


Ingrid Robeyns 11.04.18 at 9:12 pm

JRLRC – that’s interesting, I had a look at that list. I don’t think “jarige” is a word that will be very relevant (or relevant at all) for international studies/ political science etc. scholars. But I very much like that project of having those untranslatable, if only because it gives academics who only know English a sense of the limits of only knowing one language, and the fact that languages shape, enable and limit what one can say.

Z – I confess I have been involved in a Festschrift for Amartya Sen (that is as good as finished but will be out in the Journal of Human Development early 2019) – so the former PhD students of Chris should start planning to have something out by the time he turns 65. (have there ever been Festschrifts for scholars younger than retirement age/65?)


oldster 11.04.18 at 9:30 pm

I tried to get a Festschrift before 65/retirement age by dying tragically young, but it did not work out for me.

I suspect it has worked for others.


J-D 11.04.18 at 11:18 pm

I love “untranslatables”, Ingrid. The translation puzzle!

Il brilgue: les tôves lubricilleux
Se gyrent en vrillant dans le guave.
Enmîmés sont les gougebosqueux
Et le mômerade horsgrave.

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