19 March 2014


An exchange student from China, Huang Luyin, is taking my module on Translation in which the written assignment required her to find a passage in Chinese, translate it into English, and comment on the translation. In doing this, she translated 肠子('intestine') as 'tharm'.

I assumed that this was a typo, and I asked her what she intended to write. But she insisted that her on-line dictionary, 有道词典, gives 'tharm' as the translation of 肠子. Then she showed it to me, and it does indeed give 'tharm'.

I have never heard of 'tharm', and it is not listed in my New Webster's Dictionary. I have just checked on-line, and it seems that 'tharm' is an archaic word for 'intestine'. Furthermore it seems to be accepted in Scrabble, so I'll remember that.

Even if it is acceptable in Scrabble, it is not a word of modern English, and its listing in the on-line dictionary is bizarre. The inclusion of archaic words in an on-line dictionary is unfortunate, and it illustrates the perils of relying on such resources.