On Mon, 10 Nov 2014 22:25:26 -0500, Herman Miller <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>So now I need to come up with a conventional way to begin a story, where
>English has "once upon a time". Wikipedia actually has a nice list of
>those in different languages
>(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_upon_a_time). Many languages have
>something that means "a long time ago" or similar... Tamil for instance
>has "முன்னொரு காலத்திலே... " which is translated "at a time long ago".
Hm, though probably a lot of these are borrowings of one another, which brings in the usual problem with observations that "lots of languages do X". Variations on "a long time ago" are perhaps kind of obvious as a framing device, and so not a very informative character, but "they lived happily ever after" is I think less obvious, and so it's quite suspicious to see it in e.g. Thai and Vietnamese.