- Website: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/ealc/mair
Posts by Victor Mair:
There's a guy with brown hair who has worked as a checkout person at a store I go to regularly. He's been there for about five years. Of the 20 or so checkout persons at the store, all of the others except one are female, mostly between 18 and 25.
Over the course of the last year or so, I noticed that this fellow became increasingly girllike. Finally, last week when I went to the store, there was a new checkout girl with straight, long blonde hair. It turned out that I was next in line to go to her counter. She was wearing a name tag that said "Karen". I really didn't know this person, but when she spoke to me I realized it was that guy, though his / her (–> their) voice was much higher, and manner even more feminine than before, and he / she (–> they) was (–> were) wearing a skirt. I really didn't know what to do or say. My overall reaction was to accept her as a new hire. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Brian Jongseong Park was recently in Berlin and got to see an art show featuring works from Berlin-based Mauritian artist Djuneid Dulloo, who is a friend of Brian's from school. One work that caught Brian's eye was "Ras Lavi", which is covered in examples of Mauritian Creole:
In the 10/4/15 issue of the Chicago Tribune, Eric Zorn has a sympathetic look at Chinglish: "Cultural sensitivity lost — and found — in translation". He offers the following sign at a museum near Datong as a prime specimen:
On June 9, 2012, Clement Larrive wrote:
I stumbled upon this sign while on a trip from Wuhan, Hubei to Shanghai.
Do you have any idea about what it really means ?
Dmitriy Genzel sent in this photograph of an item on a Chinese menu:
Anyone who has studied more than a year of Japanese will have a sense of the elaborate system of honorifics employed in the language. But there's a very high level of honorific speech that not even advanced students are required to learn, viz., the language used exclusively by the imperial family.
Last month, there was an article in The Daily Beast about MacArthur's translator, George Kisaki, a nisei (second generation Japanese):
Jim Breen snapped this photograph in the departure lounge at Guangzhou airport:
Nathan Hopson sent in this photograph of a trash can / rubbish bin in Nagoya, Japan:
From Cecilia Segawa Seigle (9/18/15):
Yesterday morning's Asahi Shinbun reports that some Japanese words (or argot in certain cases) seem to be changing (reversing) meanings.
For example "yabai" (やばい), originally an argot used by criminals (thieves) meaning "not good" or "not propitious," seems to have changed its meaning among teenagers. 90% of the teens use the word "yabai" to express "wonderful," "good," "delicious," "smart-looking." Only 5% of the people above 70 years of age used "yabai" for positive meaning; in other words the older people still use the word for negative situations.
For the word "Omomuroni" (おもむろに), an adverb meaning "unhurriedly," "slowly," 44.5% answered with the traditional meaning "slowly." 40.8% answered that "omomuroni" meant "suddenly."
This is only a small part of the phenomena revealing the breakdown of the Japanese language according to the recent survey made by Bunkacho (文化庁), Japanese government's Agency for Cultural Affairs.
Can someone tell me if the name of the new panda cub, Bei Bei, really means "precious treasure"? If it does, how does that work? Does Bei mean treasure and the duplication is emphasis? Or what?
From Mengnan Zhang:
I found this very interesting image on Facebook. The three columns stand for how to write various terms in Cantonese, their pronunciation, and the meaning of the words listed. As a native speaker of Mandarin, I have no idea what these words are talking about even after reading the meaning of each. Linked back to what our professor had talked about in class, Cantonese is a language, which both script and speech have no correspondence with Mandarin at all.
Gotta be careful when you pick your URL, otherwise something like this might happen to you.
The Chinese Confucius and Mencius Association of Taiwan has the following URL for their website:
From Bruce Balden:
The link below (dated 1/29/15) concerns apparently incomprehensible behavior on the part of the father of a young Japanese man taken hostage and killed by ISIS recently.
The link contains the key phrase "for lack of a better translation", but I wonder how hard they tried to translate it. I'd be interested to know what exactly Haruna Yukawa's father said and if it's really so incomprehensible when taken in context.
The phrase in question was uttered by Yukawa’s father when he formally apologized to the people of Japan for his son “causing a nuisance”.