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"sunny hare"
In search of a word equivalent to a "sunny hare"
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2014/03/16
9:48am
Caius
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Hello! I ask looking for a word describing the small, moving reflections cast on the wall by a shiny object, such as a watch face. The sort of dancing spot of light that might entertain a student, or annoy a teacher during a class.  

 

I ask because a co-worker told me of such a word existing in Russian, which translates to “sunny hare” in English, presumably for the way the light hops around. Does anyone know of a similar word or expression?

 

Thank you!

2014/03/16
10:45am
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Glenn
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The Russian phrase you allude to, Солнечный зайчик, also has a more prosaic meaning: sunbeam. While I would like to think that Russian has a phrase dedicated to such a charming phenomenon, that’s not really the case.

So maybe in English you could coin a apt phrase. Dancing sunbeam? Sunbeam spark?

2014/03/16
11:24am
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Dick
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The adjective “lambent” may fit this.   I have also heard the term “light play”

2014/03/17
3:01am
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polistra
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When I’m unsure of a foreign idiom, Google Images will often give a clue.   In this case it yields a lot of literal sunny rabbits AND a lot of dancing sunbeams like this:

 

http://www.stihi.ru/2009/12/25/7971

 

But I can’t think of an English equivalent either.   The old word ‘mote’ sometimes gets close in poetry, but in modern times it seems to be mainly reserved for astronomical uses.

2014/03/17
4:42am
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tromboniator
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I’m aware of mote as a speck, as of dust, that may gleam in a sunbeam, but nothing like the reflection on a wall from a framed picture or the surface of the water in a fish tank. I’m unaware of any astronomical use of the word outside of the title of the Larry Niven-Jerry Pournelle novel The Mote in God’s Eye,  which is a Biblical allusion to a tiny speck. I’d love to hear of another usage.

Peter

2014/03/17
7:49am
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Glenn
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I stand emphatically corrected. I discussed this phrase with several native Russian speakers, and they scoffed at the dictionary gloss of “sunbeam” They would never use the phrase for a beam of light streaming in directly through an opening. For them, with this phrase, the sunlight MUST be reflected and is primarily viewed in their mind as the play of reflected sunlight.

I did find an example in Russian writing of the use of the phrase to discuss the effect of women sunbathing with reflective collars, if you are familiar with that past custom.

Anyway, I am reaching out to a host of native Russian speakers to gather a consensus, but I feel confident that my previous assertion that the phrase means sunbeam was flatly wrong.

2014/03/18
6:47am
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Glenn
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But honestly, isn’t it irresistable to translate Солнечный зайчик as “sunny bunny”?

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