The Egalitarian Appreciation of Strine in Microcosm

[This is a guest post by Matthew Robertson]

The 'Today' Interview With Oporto Robbery Heroes

In the United States, regional accents often carry with them negative stereotypes about class, status, intelligence, and more, making Southern versus Northern accents markers of division.

In Australia, it's largely the opposite. Regional vernacular and a broad accent (known as "Strine") is instead a unifier. Australia is, of course, much more culturally homogeneous than the United States — but the cross-class appreciation of the country's own manner of speech is another instance of a deeply entrenched ethos of egalitarianism. The comity and innocent enjoyment of all Australians with their own uneducated, unsophisticated working classes is clear in films like The Castle, or shows like Kath & Kim, among many others.

And it's also presented in microcosm in this video, an interview on the Australian morning program "Today," uploaded early this year.

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Indistinguishable misnegation

David Frum, "Donald Trump's Bad Bet on Anger", The Atlantic 7/21/2016 [emphasis added]:

Donald Trump’s supporters yearn for the country as it was and fear the country as it is. Tonight’s powerfully dystopian Trump nomination acceptance address will touch them at their deepest emotional core. It will ignite a passionate spasm of assent from those many, many Americans—mostly but not exclusively white, mostly but not exclusively less affluent and educated—who experience today as worse than yesterday, and anticipate a tomorrow worse than today.

Don’t think it won’t work. It will work. The speech will be viewed and viewed again, on cable news and social media. The travails and troubles of this dysfunctional convention will recede, even if their implications and consequences linger. Trump’s poll numbers will probably rise. Small-dollar donations will surely flow. Many wavering Republicans will come home—even if the home to which they now return has changed in ways that render it almost indistinguishable from the dwelling it used to be.

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Writing Shanghainese, part 2

No one in this Douban thread (so far) can identify the script in the image below:

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On beyond Preserved Killick

Back in 2003, I wrote about "Linking 'which' in Patrick O'Brian"; now Colin Morris has an interesting blog post about recent extensions, "Conjunctive 'which' — a discourse marker on the rise?", 7/22/2016.

 

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Heavy traffic jam

An anonymous correspondent sent in this photograph of a fake vehicle license plate in the window of a truck parked in an industrial area in the New Territories, Hong Kong that he took a couple of years ago:

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Spanish or Catalan?

An article in BBC News (7/21/16), "Former Barcelona star Carles Puyol in 'Spanish' row", begins thus:

While promoting popular online platform Tencent Sports, Puyol said "Soy Carles Puyol y soy espanol" ("I am Carles Puyol and I am Spanish"), prompting an angry reaction from many Catalans, Spanish sports website Sport.es reports. Although technically correct – Puyol won the World Cup playing for Spain in 2010 – it's been seen as an insult to his native Catalonia region, which has ambitions to become independent.

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Cutesy hairdresser names

I've heard it said that among the retail establishments most addicted to cutesy punning business names are hairdressing salons. I mean, you don't find law practices called Law 'n' Order to Go, do you? Or a hardware store called Get Hard? Or a butcher's called Meat and Greet? But with hairdressers… Well, I don't know all that many myself; just about 150 or so that I've personally seen the signs for…

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Pictographic English?

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "'Or maybe, because we're suddenly having so many conversations through written text, we'll start relying MORE on altered spelling to indicate meaning!' 'Wat.'"

It's unusual for Randall Munroe to get so many things wrong, starting with the implication that such things as pictographic (as opposed to logographic) writing systems actually exist. But I'll leave the discussion for the comments section.

 

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The extent of Melania's plagiarism

The Trump campaign officially maintains that there was no plagiarism in Melania Trump's speech at the Republican convention. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort was astonishingly disingenuous: "These were common words and values"; "To think that she'd be cribbing Michelle Obama's words is crazy"; "There's no cribbing. What she did was use words that are common words"; "Care and respect and passion, those are not extraordinary words"; "50 words, and that includes and’s and the’s and things like that." But it is not words we are talking about, is it? It's word sequences. And you do not need to look at many word sequences, even quite short ones, before you start finding phrases that have apparently never occurred before in the entire history of the world (if we can judge by the sample of it that the web knows about).

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Intersecting hypocrisies

Tuesday's political news was dominated by the discovery that Melania Trump's Monday-night convention speech copied a couple of paragraphs from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech (see here, here, here, here, and here for some background and discussion — Update: the latest explanation is here.).

And today, we learn that Donald Trump Jr.'s Tuesday-night speech borrowed some phrases from a 2015 article in The American Conservative. But there's a wrinkle: it turns out that Trump Jr.'s speech was written by Frank Buckley, the same guy who wrote the earlier article.

I'll leave the issues of political ethics, public relations, and campaign management to the experts in those areas, except to note that such stories seem to be a distraction at best from the speakers' goals, and that there are good plagiarism-detection programs out there that can be used to detect potential problems and prevent such issues from arising.

Instead I want to focus on two pervasive hypocrisies infecting the whole discussion.

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Of shumai and Old Sinitic reconstructions

It's no secret that I'm a great fan of the AHD:

"The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th edition " (11/14/12)

My devotion to AHD stems not just from its unparalleled inclusion of Indo-European and Semitic roots, but from its outstanding coverage of terms relating to Chinese languages and linguistics.  It was already strong in the latter respect in the earlier editions, but, with the 5th edition (2011), there was a noticeable improvement, such that the treatment of Chinese in AHD cannot be matched by any other dictionary of English.

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Theresa

Ian Preston writes:

Following on from your analysis of how `Brexit' ought to be pronounced, I thought I'd bring to your attention that there is a question as to how the new British Prime Minster's name is pronounced. I will admit to having been uncertain whether she was [təˈriː.zə] or [təˈreː.zə].

I am not alone:

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Is language "analog"?

David Golumbia's 2009 book The Cultural Logic of Computation argues that "the current vogue for computation" covertly revives an "old belief system — that something like rational calculation might account for every part of the material world, and especially the social and mental worlds". Golumbia believes that this is a bad thing.

I have nothing to say here about the philosophical or cultural impact of computer technology. Rather, I want to address a claim (or perhaps I should call it an assumption) that Golumbia makes about speech and language, which I think is profoundly mistaken.

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