Egg tarts around the world: a brief survey

When I was in Hamburg, Germany a few months ago, I was pleasantly surprised to come upon a pastry shop that sold egg tarts warm out of the oven.  They were just divine!  I think they were called pastéis de nata from the term used for them in Portugal, which seems to be the homeland (or one of the homelands) of this heavenly dessert.  Here the word pastéis is translated into English as "pastels", but it's something altogether different from the art medium, and it has a broad spectrum of manifestations as different types of pies and cakes.

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Generic plural nurses

Following up on Kai von Fintel's post "Nurses say yes and no" — the (mis-)interpretation of generic plurals has been a frequent topic here. "Generic comparisons", 11/7/2011, surveys some of this material, starting from a presentation by Sarah-Jane Leslie of her work in "Do all ducks lay eggs? The generic overgeneralization effect", Journal of Memory and Language 2011. And going back a bit further, in "Mandatory treatment for generic plurals?", 9/13/2009, I proposed "a voluntary ban on the use of generic plurals to express statistical differences, especially in talking to the general public about scientific results in areas with public policy implications".

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Nurses say yes and no

Question #1 on this November’s ballot in Massachusetts concerns a proposed law
to limit the number of patients that can be assigned to a nurse at any one time.
More than $15 million dollars have already been spent on campaigning about this
question. Lawn signs on both sides of the debate abound in the state:

Now, inquiring minds might wonder: what is it, do nurses say yes or do they say
no?

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"I am a cat" t-shirt

Thorin Engeseth sent in these two photographs of a Zara brand shirt that his wife bought yesterday:

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All too true

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "Cauchy-Lorentz: "Something alarmingly mathematical is happening, and you should probably pause to Google my name and check what field I originally worked in.""

 

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Cookie theft renewal

One piece of the "Boston diagnostic aphasia examination" is a picture description task, for which a standard stimulus is the line drawing shown below on the left:

For one example of how such descriptions can be used, see Naomi Nevler et al., "Automatic measurement of prosody in behavioral variant FTD", 2017. Because it's a standard part of a standard examination, there's been a good reason to continue to use this drawing — but I've often joked that if I were the examination subject, I'd probably spend half of my description time commenting about the picture's 1955-era vibe.

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"Boiled Blood Curd" and "Semi-rotted Vegetables Cake"

Menu items at the Asia Bistro, Marriott Hotel, Suzhou, China, courtesy of Thomas Malphus:

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"Do civilized BJ men"

Zeyao Wu found this photograph on Weibo (a Twitter-like microblogging website in China):

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Balkan-Chinese rock, with a Turkish twist

From Charles Belov:

This song turned up on my Apple Music new music playlist. Imagine my surprise when, in the middle of this Balkan-language (Croatian, I think, the page mentions "hrvatsko") pop/rock song, Mandarin hip-hop turned up.

"Mladen Burnać (feat. Rock) – Džaba Džaba"

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Official digraphia

More than twenty years ago, I wrote a science fiction novel called "China Babel" (still unpublished) in which I described a time in the future when Chinese would merge with English.  Judging from current usage, the future of the mid-90s is fast impinging on the present.

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"Gweilo" as a racially charged term

Article by the Tibetan writer, Yonden Lhatoo, in the South China Morning Post (9/8/18):

"Is ‘gweilo’ really a racist word? Hong Kong just can’t decide:  Yonden Lhatoo shakes his head at the on-again, off-again debate over the use of the word that is obviously racist in its roots, but has become benign due to widespread acceptance among Caucasians themselves"

I will come right out and say it:  "gweilo" is overtly, inherently, intentionally racist.  It stigmatizes an entire race as inferior beings.  If any white person tells you that it is not racist, they are being self-effacing / deprecating or ironic (shuō fǎnhuà 說反話).  If a Chinese person says that it is a neutral or positive appellation for a Caucasian, they are either being disingenuous or evidently do not know the meanings of the constituent morphemes (see below).

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Anonymous in Montana

There's been a certain amount of media coverage of President Trump's difficulties in pronouncing the word "anonymous" at a rally on Friday in Billings, Montana:

But this was the only example of a similarly extreme tongue-tangle in this speech, which lasted over an hour — so I feel that the attempts to depict this in clinical terms (e.g.Jack Holmes, "The President's Broken Brain Was on Full Display in Montana", Esquire 9/7/2018) are unwarranted.

Then why did the phrase "an anonymous coward" hit Trump like a tongue twister? Try saying "an anonymous" three times fast, and I think you'll start to understand.

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"I'm here to be told"

In a production of Hapgood last night at the Lantern Theater, I was struck by a phrase that the character Elizabeth Hapgood uses four times. In fact, it caught my attention the first time she used it — as I've noted, a word or short phrase can be contextually salient even at a frequency of one (See e.g. "And yet", 3/28/2004).

Hapgood is the complex, not to say baffling, story of double (and triple and quadruple) agents, in which literal and fictional twins play a key role in complex espionage and counter-espionage operations. If  you're interested, you can find a plot summary here.

The phrase in question is "I'm here to be told", meaning something like "There's some information that I'm expecting from you, but not immediately, so I'm here standing by until you can tell me". The first three times that Hapgood uses it are in the context of radio communication with field agents during an operation, where it's clear to them what she wants to know or what she wants done, and "I'm here to be told" is essentially an instruction to them to do their job and report back. Her final use of the phrase is in a telephone conversation with her son, in which he's due to give her details about a rugby match that he'll be playing in. McKenna Kerrigan, the actor playing Elizabeth Hapgood, produced all four examples crisply, seriously, and without hesitation.

Although it's obvious in context what the phrase means, I don't recall ever having heard it before.  A search in Google Books comes up empty. A general web search turns up a few example with a complement to told and a rather different sort of meaning, for example "I’m not here to be told my pictures aren’t good. I’m here to be told why they weren’t good so I can improve."

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