Kanji learning for coprophiliacs

Missed this earlier in the year:

"Poop-Themed Kanji Study Book a Bestseller in Japan" nippon.com (4/21/17)

Not only is there one book utilizing the theme of excrement to stimulate interest in kanji, there's a whole graded series of texts, and they're selling like hotcakes (pardon me).

It doesn't hurt that there's a general fascination with feces in Japan that has been enshrined in the "Pile of Poo" emoji:  💩

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Awkward ambiguity

From David Morris:

The Sydney Morning Herald website  is currently showing a headline –  "How to not accidentally harass someone at the office party".

(So, how to deliberately harass someone …?)

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Trumpchi, the car

Now comes news of a Chinese car with an unusual name that is aiming to enter the American market:

"China to Export Trumpchi Cars to U.S., Maybe With a New Name", by Keith Bradsher, NYT (11/17/17).

GUANGZHOU, China — The cars are called Trumpchi (though their Chinese maker insists the name is just a coincidence).

Various models of Trumpchi cars have been motoring down Chinese roads for the past seven years. But even after the United States elected a real estate tycoon with a similar name as president, the world ignored them.

But if the distinctive Trumpchi name has nothing to do with that of our President, where in the world did it come from?

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Sex with Senator Bob Taft?

Last Friday, Bill O'Neill decided to "speak up on the behalf of all heterosexual males" by posting this on Facebook:

Since O'Neill is a justice of the Ohio State Supreme Court, and a declared candidate for governor of Ohio, this occasioned a certain amount of commentary.

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"Notes to the financial statements"

From Jenny Chu:

You might be amused by this latest edition of Google Translate's ability to transform meaningless character sequences into spoken-word poetry, discovered by my young son.

It is all of the Vietnamese characters, in order of their appearance on the character map, with no spaces. Moreover, if you add all of the other non-diacritic characters on the keyboard, you get "The following is a brief description of each of the available options."

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Just press Pay

This is a screen shot I snapped during a recent attempt to purchase something (can't remember what) on the web:

Notice that in order to continue, it tells me (twice) that I have to press "Pay". Can you see any button labeled "Pay" on the screen?

If you are itching to tell me what I should have done, you are missing my point.

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Brain hole

Neologisms pop up so fast in China that it is almost impossible to keep abreast of them.  Furthermore, it is very hard to figure out where many of them come from.  Some of them are undoubtedly borrowed from other languages, but given such a twist that it is difficult to recognize the original source.  Others are just made up by imaginative netizens.  If they are taken up by others and catch on, they become part of contemporary vocabulary.

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Congratulations to Zhou Yu

One of the Forbes "30 under 30" for science — Zhou Yu:

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Teacher is always honest

When I began studying Mandarin over half a century ago, I very quickly developed a pet phrase  (kǒutóuchán 口頭禪 / 口头禅):  lǎoshí shuō 老實說 / 老实说 ("to tell the truth; honestly"), After I married one of the best Mandarin teachers on earth (Chang Li-ching) several years later, she corrected me when I said my favorite phrase.  She told me that I made it sound like lǎoshī shuō 老師說 / 老师说 ("teacher says").

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What to call editing residues?

Allegra Kirkland, "Sessions Denies Knowing Of Flynn Turkey Dealings, Alleged Kidnapping Plot", TPM 11/14/2017:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied knowing that former national security adviser Michael Flynn lobbied on behalf of Turkey and allegedly discussed with Turkish officials the possibility of kidnapping of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric while serving on the Trump campaign.

The string of words in boldface strikes me as an unidiomatic blend of two idiomatic phrases, presumably created by an incomplete edit meant to turn one form into the other:

  • the possible kidnapping of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric
  • the possibility of kidnapping a U.S.-based Muslim cleric

Assuming my diagnosis is right, what's the term for errors of that kind? Or is there one?

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Applied Quadrophobia

Li Ka-shing, the Hong Kong entrepreneur, is one of the wealthiest persons in the world.  Around the beginning of this month, he sold the famous Hong Kong skyscraper known as The Center to a Chinese Communist Party-backed firm for over $5 billion, making it the most expensive commercial building ever sold.

Here's the WSJ report on the transaction:

"China’s Communist Party Has Ties to $5.15 Billion Hong Kong Property Deal:  The Center was featured in Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight'", by Wenxin Fan and Natasha Khan, WSJ (11/2/17)

What's interesting is that some websites claim that The Center is a "73 story building", while others describe it as having "80 floors". Apparently they're both correct … depending on what is counted.  This blog post explains why:  "Five Billion Dollar Office Tower Missing A Few Floors", by Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ (11/8/17).

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Aufheben: candidate for Japanese buzzword of the year

"Japan’s buzzwords of 2017 cover everything from politics to poop", by Tomoko Otake, The Japan Times (11/9/17).

To me, the most intriguing candidate out of the top thirty is Aufuhēben アウフヘーベン(from German Aufheben).

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Congee: the Dravidian roots of the name for a Chinese dish

I love congee and I love the word "congee":

"Chinese restaurant shorthand, part 2" (11/30/16)

"Chinese restaurant shorthand, part 3" (2/25/17)

Lisa Lim has written an edifying article on the subject in the South China Morning Post Magazine (11/10/17):

"Where the word congee comes from – the answer may surprise you:  The dish is frequently associated with East Asian cuisine but the term originated in India – from the Tamil kanji"

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