- Website: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/ealc/mair
Posts by Victor Mair:
- "Character Amnesia" (7/22/10)
- "Character amnesia revisited" (12/13/12)
- "Spelling bees and character amnesia" (8/7/13)
- "Character amnesia and the emergence of digraphia" (9/25/13)
- "Dumpling ingredients and character amnesia" (10/18/14)
- "Character amnesia in 1793-1794" (4/24/14)
[The following is a guest post by Mark Metcalf, a retired Naval officer and adjunct Lecturer in Chinese Literature at the University of Virginia.]
One of the joys of being semi-retired is having the luxury of being able to chase the occasional squirrel that appears in my field of view. This morning one of those squirrels appeared in the form of a South China Morning Post article:
Quick! What does it say?
I suppose it's been around for at least 5-10 years, but I just encountered the expression "tài shuǎng le 太爽了" in the English informal sense of "cool!". With 409,000 ghits, it seems to be fairly widespread, though not all of those ghits are to the informal sense of the English word (see the numbered items below for a variety of other meanings for this expression).
In "Character amnesia in 1793-1794" (4/24/14), I described the so-called Flint Affair, which refers to James Flint (?1720-?), one of the first English persons to learn Chinese. For his audacity, Flint was imprisoned for three years by the imperial government, and two Chinese merchants who helped him write a petition to the emperor were executed.
Mike Miller received the text below via WeChat recently, where it seems to be making the rounds:
Gěi dàjiā jiǎng yīgè gǎnrén de gùshì: Yīgè qiāng kōng hé jī shè jī cǎn chǐ dú ē, túrán, chài yī líng diàn máo bīn qǐ, lí yuè miè chán…ránhòu jiù sǐle. Tài gǎnrénle…! Zhè gùshì jiào “yīgè wénmáng de bēi'āi”. Dàjiā wǎn'ān, míngtiān jiàn!
给大家讲一个感人的故事： 一个戗箜翮齑歙畿黪褫髑屙 ，突然，虿黟囹簟蟊豳綮，蠡瀹蠛躔…然后就死了。 太感人了…！ 这故事叫《一个文盲的悲哀》。大家晚安，明天见！
Let me tell everybody a touching story: A blah blah blah blah. Suddenly, blah blah blah, blah blah…. After that he died. This is so touching. This story is called "The sorrow of an illiterate". Good night, everybody. See you tomorrow.
VHM: Pinyin transcription and translation added by me.
The question of whether tones are added to alphabet words used in Sinitic languages arose in the discussion that followed this post:
"Papi Jiang: PRC internet sensation" (4/25/16)
Near the Star Ferry terminal on the Hong Kong Island side, Bea Lam noticed a number of fantastic, huge, colorful posters plastered on the walls as part of a “LipsyncHK” project that showcases Cantonese phrases and encourages visitors to try them out. Bea was (very happily) surprised to see this large and open demonstration of Cantonese pride in a government-sponsored project, given the political environment. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Tom Mazanec wrote in to call Papi醬 (jiàng means "thick sauce; jam-like or paste-like food") to my attention. Tom explains:
One of the most intriguing and enthralling Language Log posts is this one:
I spent months doing the research for that post and, although it garnered 80 helpful comments, I still felt that there were some loose ends. Consequently, I was delighted to receive last week (4/13/16) the following message from Robert Cheng, the brother of the owner of the teashop:
This is too cool not to share:
Sounds That Animals Make
A few days ago, we looked at a propaganda poster in Beijing: "'Dangerous love'" (4/19/16).
In continuing research on this poster, I discovered that at one site where it was pasted on the wall, there was an enigmatic sequence of lines on another piece of paper pasted on the wall just to the right of the 16-panel poster that the whole world was talking about:
This is a topic that we have frequently broached on Language Log:
In several recent messages to me, Guy Almog has raised the issue once again. This is not unexpected for someone whose ongoing research focuses on the changing writing and reading habits of native Chinese and Japanese speakers, and mainly with issues of memory and forgetfulness of hanzi / kanji.
I'm sitting in the San Francisco International Airport waiting for my flight to Taipei. The guy next to me is happily chattering away on his cell phone to someone (or some people) at the other end of the "line". What is curious is that one moment he is speaking in Taiwanese, the next moment in Japanese, then English, and then Mandarin.