"Beautiful" in the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party

James Wimberley notes that, among the recent additions to the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party, is this section:

The basic line of the Communist Party of China in the primary stage of socialism is to lead all the people of China together in a self-reliant and pioneering effort, making economic development the central task, upholding the Four Cardinal Principles, and remaining committed to reform and opening up, so as to see China becomes a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful.

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Scarf 'em up!

Is there a linguist in your life? Puzzled for a present that might really shiver their timbers? I know it seems like we're all living on a higher plane, laser-focused on abstractions beyond the merely corporeal, but we do enjoy a worldly indulgence now and then. Consider, for example, these beautiful IPA-print scarves (and other merch) available on Redbubble from the inimitable Lingthusiam podcast team, Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne. Just the thing for keeping one's neck cozy at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in January in Salt Lake City. All the cool kids will be wearing them!

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Spretchy

From Dafydd Gibbon:

Student at Jinan University, Guangzhou: Professor, what is a spretchy?
Me, puzzled: A spretchy?
Student: Yes, a spretchy.
Me: Sorry, no idea!
Student: But you told us to put the results of the experiment into a spretchy!
Me, trying to hide a smile: Oh … a spreadsheet …

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Duolingo Mandarin: a critique

A friend sent this lifehacker article to me:

"Mandarin Chinese Is Now Available on the Language Learning App Duolingo", by Patrick Allan (11/16/17)

Duolingo claims that it "is the world's most popular way to learn a language. It's 100% free, fun and science-based. Practice online on duolingo.com or on the apps!"

After reading Allan's article, I sent the following note to my students and colleagues:

Judging from the description in this article, I'm dubious about the efficacy of their method.  Never mind about misleading statements emanating from the author of the article (e.g., there are 1.2 billion native speakers of "Chinese"), they seem to overemphasize individual characters, downplay words, don't talk about sentence structure, grammar, and syntax, and don't give any indication of how or whether pinyin is used.

Has anyone checked this app out?

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Is our pundits counting?

Joe Davidson, "Foreign Service leadership being ‘decapitated’ and ‘depleted at a dizzying speed’", WaPo 11/17/2017:

Using “I” 42 times in his 23-minute speech Wednesday, he declared “NATO, believe me, is very happy with Donald Trump and what I did,” as he touted previous accomplishments.

Trump’s unmatched self-adulation might cloud his view of the hard work by foreign service staffers and their increased difficulties because of his administration’s hiring freeze.

Unlike the many op-ed contributors noting Barack Obama's alleged over-use of first person singular pronouns, Mr. Davidson at least counted, or perhaps had an intern do so. Whoever did it, they did it wrong — there are actually 47 uses of the pronoun "I" in that speech, as well as 10 instances of "my" and one of "me", for a total of 58 first person singular pronouns.

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The curious case of "dillweed"

On The Awl, Samantha Sanders has a wonderful piece on "Dillweed (As An Insult)." (This is part of The Awl's "holiday series on flavors and spices," naturally enough.) She muses on how dillweed has been used as a pejorative since it was popularized by the show "Beavis and Butt-Head" back in the early '90s and considers how this mild-mannered herb got pressed into service as a minced oath. On Twitter, I responded with some more ruminations on the history of dillweed, as well as other insults from the same family, including dickweed, dinkweed, and dickwad (with input from slangologist Jonathon Green and others). I've compiled the Twitter thread as a Storify story, embedded below.

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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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