Normally I wouldn't want to call attention to a program as vapid as the one transcribed in the "quasi-blog" post linked to below, but the intelligent, critical comments that are interspersed by the blogger make it an instructive exercise after all.
She describes how an advertisement on a career website at a Chinese university offers a glimpse into what skills the state security system finds valuable for employees.
There's one paragraph in the article that troubles me:
Students who belong to the Uighur, Tibetan, Kazakh or Mongolian ethnic groups or who can speak those languages, or those who know Chinese dialects such as Fujianese, Hakka, Cantonese or Wu should apply, the ad said. Those are dialects spoken by people in Shanghai or in the nearby southeastern seaboard or in the south of the country.
I am fond of this expression and have often wondered how it arose. In my own mind, I have always associated it with the hissing of a cat and hysteria, but never took the time to try to figure out where it really came from. Today someone directly asked me about the origins of this quaint expression and proposed a novel solution, which I will present at the end of this post. First, however, let's look at current surmises concerning the problem.
In the latest GOP presidential debate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich used a regionalism not often heard in national politics. From the Washington Post transcript:
And as president of the United States, it's all about communication, folks. It's all about getting people to listen to one another's problems. And when you do that, you will be amazed at how much progress you can make, and how much healing we can have. Because, folks, at the end of the day, the country needs healed.
Video from Fox Business (skip to about 2 minutes in):
You ain't no Muslim, bruv! The phrase already gets more than 650,000 hits on Google in the UK, and the hashtag #YouAintNoMuslimBruv gets about 1,670,000. It is becoming a mantra, a talismanic incantation for conjuring up goodwill in a world where more and more attempts are being made to foment hatred between Muslims and everyone else.
I have lived in the Philadelphia area since 1979, and I still can't get used to the fact that people here refer to the thing in your basement that keeps your house warm in fall and winter as a "heater". To me, a heater is something that keeps a single room or a small area within a room warm.
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.
On his blog, "Throwing Pebbles", the journalist Yuen Chan describes how hard it is nowadays to find a decent elementary school in Hong Kong that offers instruction in Cantonese, rather than in Mandarin:
These maps in the WP are thought-provoking and informative, but it is unfortunate that, like many other misguided sources, they lump all the Chinese languages (which they incorrectly call "dialects") into one. That's terribly misleading. This would be similar to grouping all the Indo-European languages of Europe as "European" or all the Indo-European languages of India as "Indian".
The end may be near for one of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's most celebrated humanities projects, the half-century-old Dictionary of American Regional English. In a few months, the budget pool will drain to a puddle. Layoff notices have been sent, eulogies composed…
There's been a certain amount of discussion in the media about the accent of the ISIS spokesman on the video showing the mass beheading of Egyptian christians on a beach in Libya, e.g. on ABC News here. But the video itself has been kept off of the internet, for obvious reasons, which limits the opportunity for crowdsourcing perceptions of the audio. So here is his opening statement:
And the shorter statement that he makes after the gruesome beheadings:
Bob Ladd points out that a commenter ("RobbieLePop") on a Guardian article about Prince Charles (the opinionated prince who is destined to inherit the throne under Britain's hereditary monarchical and theocratic system of government) said this:
The moment the Monarchy, with he at its head, begins a campaign of public influence is the moment the Monarchy should be disbanded.
With he at its head ? Let's face it, the traditionally accepted rules for case-marking pronouns in English are simply a mystery to many speakers.