- Website: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/ealc/mair
Posts by Victor Mair:
In "Should Africa speak Mandarin?" (ZimDaily [8/31/15]), the phrase "political gat kruiping" occurs twice. Upon first occurrence, "gat kruiping" is defined as "brown nosing". Since this is in the context of "introducing Mandarin in schools next year to pupils between the grades 4 and 12", I was curious about the nuances and form of "gat kruiping".
Our previous post in the Chinglish Annals was "Mind your head" (8/28/15). As promised, in this post we turn to the other extremity of the body.
The following sign is displayed on vessels of the Shanghai Ferry service:
For some reason, the expression xiǎoxīn 小心 (lit., "little heart" –> "[be] careful") often throws Chinese translators into a tailspin.
and the classic, standard Chinglish
"Slip carefully " (5/6/14)
Ben Zimmer mentioned to me that he was on the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley talking about the origins of the word "gringo":
Are some languages innately more difficult than others? In "Difficult languages" (1/2/10), Bill Poser addressed this question from various angles. I've heard it said that Georgian is incredibly difficult because it possesses an "impossible" verbal system, has ergativity and other features that make for "interesting" learning, and so forth. Yet, in comparison with some of the North Caucasian languages (whose relationship to K'art'velian [or South Caucasian], the language family to which Georgian belongs — along with Svan, Chan/Megrelian/Mingrelian/Laz, is perhaps more an areal phenomenon than a genetic relationship), it is relatively simple. The North Caucasian languages have an abundance of phonemes and an even more complex grammatical system. John Colarusso has written an excellent grammar of Kabardinian, which gives a good idea of the complexity of this Northwest Caucasian language. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Don't jump to any conclusions based on the title. This post is not about how reading German crime novels raises blood pressure. Quite the contrary, it is about how reading German crime novels dramatically lowers blood pressure, at least for one of my friends. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
In the comments to a recent post about the length differential between French and English, the concept of "blooming" was introduced.
The ensuing discussion prompted one Language Log reader to spell out her thoughts at greater length. I should provide a bit of background about this anonymous contributor, namely, she lived through the bombing of Berlin and other cities (which she has described to me in graphic detail in various messages), worked in Germany for awhile after WW II, and then immigrated to the United States.
Over at Spicks & Specks, Greg Pringle has a virtuoso post on "The Bell Miner: How orthography and ornithology catalysed a new folk etymology" (8/9/15). It's about an Australian honeyeating bird — Manorina melanophrys — that used to be called the Bellbird, but was renamed Bell Miner through association with the South Asian bird called in Hindi the mainā मैना (" starling").
Google has picked "Alphabet" as the name for its new parent company:
From Randy Alexander in Xiamen / Amoy, Fujian / Hok-kiàn, China:
Saw this on my trail run today and got a laugh. It's easy to see how this came about — verbs get translated with "to" mindlessly stuck in front of them.
Eric Pelzl sent in this photograph of a bag from a lunch delivery that contains an interesting printing error:
JH Rand sent in this intriguing photograph taken in the Philippines:
A week or so ago, I wrote a post about the notion of "mother" in Indian phonology (with a link to an earlier post written over a year ago about the concept of "mother" in linguistics more generally):
"More on mother' (focus on India) " (8/5/15)
Ben Buckner has called additional information to my attention. Because the new material is fairly substantial, I did not want it to get buried as a comment to the previous post, which is no longer active. Consequently, I am presenting this additional material from Ben as a separate post of its own.