Setting injustice back

Mitch Albom, "Austin pastor’s false cake charge sets real injustice back", Dallas Morning News 5/23/2016:

Brown set back every future case of intolerance, allowing critics to ask if it’s real or fabricated.

As Albom's column explains, Jordan Brown is the openly gay pastor who accused the bakery at Whole Foods of adding an anti-gay slur to the decoration of a cake that he ordered there. Store surveillance video from the check-out line demonstrated that part of his story was false,  and eventually he confessed to having fabricated the claim.

What motivated Vance Koven to send in this link  was the use of the verb set back in the headline and the body of Albom's column. Wiktionary defines the relevant sense of set back as "to delay or obstruct"– and Albom obviously meant that Brown's attempt at deception will delay or obstruct future campaigns against the type of "injustice" or "intolerance" that Brown claimed to have suffered.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (3)


Rapping Karl Marx in China

In Sixth Tone, Fan Yiying has written an article that leaves me reeling:

"Hip Song Gives Karl Marx Good Rap:  Theme music for a Marx-focused television show is a hit with Chinese youth."

The video of the song is posted here (unfortunately, you have to wait 40 seconds to get through the ads). And here is the audio:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments


About those grilled fevers…

From Steve Kass:

My brother is traveling in Portugal and posted this on Instagram. That’s all I know.


Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (10)


Firestorm over Chinese characters

It began with a one page think piece by Ted Chiang in the New Yorker (5/16/16) that we describe and discuss here:

"Ted Chiang uninvents Chinese characters" (5/13/16)

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (15)


Stone Service

I'm in Portorož, Slovenia, for LREC2016; and so far the most interesting linguistic aspect of the place is the sometimes-surprising mixture of languages on signs. For example:

The longer explanation of the side of the van is in Slovenian — Restavriranje, brušenje, čiščenje in impregnacije naravnega kamna = "Restoration, grinding, cleaning and impregnation of natural stone". But the short version is in English: STONE SERVICE.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17)


The uses of Hanyu pinyin

Hànyǔ pīnyīn 汉语拼音 ("Sinitic Spelling") is the official romanization of the PRC.  It also comes with an official orthography which provides guidelines for word separation, punctuation, and how to deal with grammatical constructions.  An English translation of the basic orthographical rules by John Rohsenow can be found at the back of the various editions of the ABC Chinese-English Dictionary from the University of Hawai'i Press.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (39)


Tudors

Today's Pearls Before Swine explores the consequences of flapping and voicing in American English:

Comments (82)


Grammatical error of the week

According to the 2016 Texas Republican Party platform (or more exactly, the "Report of the Permanent Committee on Platform and Resolutions as Amended and Adopted by the 2016 State Convention of the Republican Party of Texas"),

Homosexuality is a chosen behavior […] that has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nations founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.

Restoring the elided material:

Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nations founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (11)


Name chains in literature?

Barbara Phillips Long sent in a link to Cari Romm, "Why You Sometimes Mix Up Your Friend’s Name With Your Dog’s Name", New York Magazine 5/19/2016:

Every so often, my mother, in a mental search for my name, will run through what seems like the entire family tree — she’ll say the names of my brother, her sisters, her parents, our family dog, in rapid succession before finally landing on Cari. Most of these names, it may be worth noting, sound nothing alike; also, the dog has been dead for six years.

Romm's article was occasioned by Samantha Deffler et al., "All my children: The roles of semantic category and phonetic similarity in the misnaming of familiar individuals", Memory & Cognition April 2016:

Despite knowing a familiar individual (such as a daughter) well, anecdotal evidence suggests that naming errors can occur among very familiar individuals. Here, we investigate the conditions surrounding these types of errors, or misnamings, in which a person (the misnamer) incorrectly calls a familiar individual (the misnamed) by someone else’s name (the named).

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (22)


The 2016 Blizzard Challenge

The Blizzard Challenge needs you!

Every year since 2005, an ad hoc group of speech technology researchers has held a "Blizzard Challenge", under the aegis of the Speech Synthesis Special Interest Group (SYNSIG) of the International Speech Communication Association.

The general idea is simple:  Competitors take a released speech database, build a synthetic voice from the data and synthesize a prescribed set of test sentences. The sentences from each synthesizer are then evaluated through listening tests.

Why "Blizzard"? Because the early competitions used the CMU ARCTIC datasets, which began with a set of sentences read from James Oliver Curwood's novel Flower of the North.

Anyhow, if you have an hour of your time to donate towards making speech synthesis better, sign up and be a listener!

Comments (2)


Writing Sinitic languages with phonetic scripts

This morning I was awakened by a bird calling outside my window, "m*ll*n*y m*l*rk*y", or maybe it was some squirrel chattering (I was half asleep and couldn't be sure which it was).  Since I was unable to distinguish the vowels clearly, I couldn't tell exactly what the call / chatter was, but the bird / squirrel kept repeating it over and over, so at least I was able to transcribe the general lineaments: "m*ll*n*y m*l*rk*y m*ll*n*y m*l*rk*y m*ll*n*y m*l*rk*y".

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (24)


Needless words

I know I've been a long-time critic of everything in The Elements of Style, not least William Strunk's platitude that you should omit needless words. "Needless" is not defined even vaguely; nobody really writes in a way that sticks to the absolute minimum word count; and if neophyte writers could tell what was needless they wouldn't have to be handed this platitude (which they don't really know how to use anyway). But every now and then one really does see a case of a word that screams at you that it should have been left out. The University of Oxford has an official form on which this is the heading:

CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF ALLOWABLE EXPENSES

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (102)


Political TV Ad Archive

The Political TV Ad Archive:

The Political TV Ad Archive is a project of the Internet Archive. This site provides a searchable, viewable, and shareable online archive of 2016 political TV ads, married with fact-checking and reporting citizens can trust.  Political TV ad spending is expected to be in the billions. Yet the same local stations that air the ads provide very little solid reporting on politics. Even fewer correct political misinformation. In partnership with trusted journalistic organizations, the new Political TV Ad Archive provides a free service for journalists, civic organizations, academics and the general public to track these ads in context.  The project is open source and available on github: this site and the Duplitron.

For an introduction to the Political TV Ad Archive and how to use it, check out this video.

As of March 23, 2016, the Political TV Ad Archive is wrapping up the first phase of the project, where we tracked 20 markets in nine key primary states. The project will continue to track ads playing in the New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco television market areas. Project staff are gathering lessons learned, which will inform planning and fundraising for the second phase of the project: tracking political ads in key 2016 general election battleground states.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (4)