Badly scripted

The main news from last night's Republican debate seems to be the  way that Marco Rubio walked straight into a devastating attack from Chris Christie, whose campaign has recently been focused on attacking Rubio for being "scripted" — see e.g. Charlie Spiering, "Chris Christie Releases Playlist of Marco Rubio’s ‘Scripted’ Responses", Breitbart 2/5/2016. Apparently Mr. Rubio's scriptwriters weren't able to reprogram him in time:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17)


Chinese without a teacher

That's the title of a book by the formidable British Sinologue,  Herbert Allen Giles (1845-1935).

In the early 1890s, Herbert Giles perfected the system of romanization for Mandarin that had initially been devised by Thomas Wade around the middle of the 19th-century, which is why it is called Wade-Giles.  This was the standard romanization of Mandarin in the English-speaking world for nearly a century, until it was displaced by Hanyu Pinyin when the People's Republic of China secured its acceptance by the United Nations and the International Organization for Standardization.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (6)


More on Chinese telegraph codes

John McVey was rooting around in Language Log for recent posts about telegraphic codes, and stumbled upon this:

"Chinese Telegraph Code (CTC)" (5/24/15)

What we learned there is that the CTC consists of 10,000 numbers arbitrarily assigned to the same amount of characters, one number per character.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments


The year of the Golden Monkey is truly excellent

Time for Chinese New Year celebrations.  This is the year of the Monkey.  In this article from the online China Times, the customary couplet (it's more of a singlet in this case) on red paper features an interlingual pun: the characters 金猴 ("golden monkey"), when read in Mandarin, are pronounced jīn hóu, which is a near homophone for the Taiwanese chin-hó 真好 ("truly good", i.e., "excellent").  Thus roughly the "peaceful golden monkey" becomes "peace is wonderful".

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (10)


Escalator smarts

From my files (sorry that the photograph is not in perfect focus):

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5)


More sound-loan Taiwanese

Michael Cannings sent in this photograph:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (8)


Chinese-English rap

Thorin Engeseth writes:

I am a big fan of the English musician Tricky, who recently released an album with a song on it called "Beijing to Berlin".

According to an email his marketing team sent out:

The enigmatic voice on the single's A-side, "Beijing To Berlin," belongs to the Chinese rapper and producer Ivy 艾菲. Tricky explains: "I was in Beijing for a show and I met this guy who managed her. She's so different! So raw! The strange thing is, I've had the track for a while but I only just found out that she’s not rapping in Chinese. I ain’t got a clue what language it is. I have no idea. It might be completely made up but whatever it is, it sounds wicked."

I'm attaching a link to a video of the song here. I know very little about the languages of China, and am wondering if this song (a rap song) could just be in very heavily accented English, or is she making sounds up as she goes?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (8)


The language of sexual minorities

Nathan Hopson writes from a conference at Nagoya, Japan:

One of the discussants just mentioned that the words tóngqī 同妻・ tóngfū 同夫 are recently being used in China to refer respectively to a "wife with a homosexual husband" and a "husband with a homosexual wife".

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (20)


Women's words

In Wired (2/1/16), Liz Stinson has an article titled "This Little Red Book Confronts Sexism in the Chinese Language" (the text is accompanied by a total of 8 slides).

It begins:

Activism can take many forms. In the case of Women’s Words, it takes the form of a little red dictionary. The tiny book is the work of Karmen Hui, Tan Sueh Li, and Tan Zi Hao of Malaysian design collective TypoKaki. On its pages you’ll find made-up words and phrases—Chinese characters that, through their unusual arrangement and alteration, subvert the sexism ingrained in Mandarin.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2)


Pygmalion updated

Peter Serafinowicz has updated George Bernard Shaw's dictum that "It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him", by re-voicing Donald Trump to demonstrate that emotional reactions to British accents are easily evoked in Americans as well. There's "Sophisticated Trump", posted on YouTube 12/17/2015:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (28)


Madame Curry

Mark Swofford called my attention to this Taipei restaurant, noting the risqué pun in its name:  gālí niáng 咖哩娘 (lit., "curry mom").  The restaurant also has the Frenchified Western name "cari de madame".

It could conceivably be a pun for jiālǐ niàng 家裡釀 ("home brew"), but I suspect that Mark had something else in mind.  Well, the proprietors tell part of the story themselves here, "A naughty name for insane curry".

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2)


Missing G's

Michael Cannings sent in this photograph of a package of shelf mushrooms aka bracket fungi used in Chinese traditional medicine:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (9)


"It eats salty": middle voice on "Top Chef"

On a recent episode of Bravo's competitive cooking show "Top Chef" ("Spines and Vines," 12/10/15), the contestants had to make a dish with uni (sea urchin) and pair it with a wine. One contestant, Angelina Bastidas, received the following less-than-glowing appraisal of her dish from the show's host, Padma Lakshmi, and guest judge Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine.

AB: Over here it's a play on an Italian cacio e pepe. I made uni butter. And the wine that I chose today is chardonnay.
DC: The uni obviously has a lot of salt.
PL: Yeah.
DC: It's one of the characteristics, and the dish…
PL: It eats salty.
AB: Sorry about that. I apologize.
PL: Thank you.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (24)