Archive for Names

Bus announcements in Okinawa

Travis Seifman noticed something interesting about the announcements on certain public bus lines in Okinawa: the pronunciation of Japanese / Okinawan place names in the English-language announcements is way off.


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Chinese transcriptions of Donald Trump's surname

From the following post, we see that there are three main ways to transcribe Donald Trump's given name in Chinese and two main ways to transcribe his surname:

"Transcription of "Barack Obama", "Hillary Clinton", and "Donald Trump" in the Sinosphere" (10/2/16)

Here are the two prevailing transcriptions of "Trump" in Chinese characters:

Tèlǎngpǔ 特朗普 (mainland China, Macau, Malaysia/Singapore) — 4,970,000 ghits

Chuānpǔ 川普 (Taiwan, Hong Kong, but also on the mainland, especially on the internet) — 1,570,000 ghits

N.B.:  The relative popularity of these two forms is shifting among different groups in all of the designated regions.

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Changing fashions in Chinese names

This morning, an instructor in Jiangsu province, who has been teaching Chinese Culture in college English classes for 12 years and has also been giving lectures on Chinese Culture to international students, wrote to ask about the possibility of becoming a visiting scholar at Penn for half a year.  She introduced herself to me as Lǐ Fǔluòwá 李甫洛娃.  Her name threw me for a loop.

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China's "core" leader

I've been reading countless reports about how Xi Jinping was made the "core" leader of China during the recently concluded meeting (6th Plenum) of the CCP, e.g.:

"China’s Communist Party Declares Xi Jinping ‘Core’ Leader

"China's Ruling Party Endorses Xi as 'Core Leader' After Meeting" (RFA, 10/27/16)

"Down to the core:  Xi Jinping gets a new label, but no more power: In China, a year of political infighting lies ahead" (The Economist, 10/27/16)

"China’s Xi Jinping Tightens His Hold on Communist Party:  Officials at conclave designate the president as the ‘core’ of the leadership, using title conferred on Mao Zedong " (WSJ, 10/27/16)

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*Notice, in the photograph accompanying this article (and many other articles), all the members of the Standing Committee, seated at the front of the hall facing us, raise their hands in exactly the same way (angle, height, position of thumb versus other fingers, etc.).  The other members of the Politburo, with their backs to us, also match the posture of the Standing Committee members, but not with such exactitude.

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Phono-semantic rebranding

There's a new article on linguistic borrowing by Jane C. Hu in Quartz (10/23/16):  "The genius and stupidity of corporate America are on display when companies rebrand for new countries".  The article originally had a better title:  "Phono-semantic matching is corporate America's best option when trying to rebrand for new countries".

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More old names for Singapore

We have already studied an old name for Singapore on the back of an envelope dating to 1901:

Now, Ruben de Jong, relying on the works of Dutch scholars, has discovered several others.

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Transcription of "Barack Obama", "Hillary Clinton", and "Donald Trump" in the Sinosphere

How do you write Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump's names in Chinese?

As it turns out, the answer may vary depending on whether the person you ask is from mainland China (ZH-CN), Hong Kong (ZH-HK), Macau (ZH-MO), Malaysia/Singapore (ZH-SG), or Taiwan (ZH-TW).

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The perils of "7" and "9" in Cantonese

Here we go again:

"Samsung’s Galaxy On7 goes official" (Marketing-Interactive, 9/28/16)

As we’ve covered shortly two weeks ago, the pronunciation of “7″ sounds like “penis” in Cantonese, and the latest Samsung Galaxy On7 launch has once again stirred up discussion on the internet in Hong Kong.

The Cantonese pronunciation of  “On9″ [sic: there seems to be a mix-up here] is similar to slang meaning “stupid”, and many are saying the new release is a crossover between the two slang words.

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Strictly correct plurals of flower names

It has come to my attention that many laypeople, even Language Log readers, are using incorrect plurals for flower names. "Geraniums" indeed! "Crocuses", for heaven's sake! Please get these right. There follows a list of 30 count nouns naming flowers, together with their approved grammatically correct plurals. Don't use incorrect plurals any more. Shape up.

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Hoklo

[This is the third in a series of four planned posts on Hokkien and related Southern Min / Minnan language issues.  The first was "Eurasian eureka" (9/12/16) and the second was "Hokkien in Singapore" (9/16/16).]

Some names for Taiwanese language in MSM:

Táiyǔ 台語 ("Taiwanese")

Táiwānhuà 台灣話 ("Taiwanese")

Fúlǎo 福佬 / Héluò 河洛 ("Hoklo")

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Kazakhstan HQ for the Buffett Foundation

I received an exciting email this afternoon from Perry Alexis, the chief accountant for the Warren Buffett Foundation. It seems I have been picked to receive a $1,500,000 donation — not a grant for research or anything, but a donation. And I notice it came from an email address in Kazakhstan.

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Harambe McHarambeface

Strange happenings in the Jinhua zoo, Zhejiang, China:

"Has a Chinese zoo called a gorilla Harambe McHarambeface? Claim that poll decided animal’s name sweeps the web" (Daily Mail, 9/13/16)

  • Confusion over the naming of a gorilla at a zoo after a 'huge public vote'
  • Newborn 'christened' at Jinhua zoo in China's central Zhejiang province
  • Total of 73,345 votes were cast for Harambe McHarambeface 
  • Name is reference to gorilla killed in US after boy fell into its enclosure

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What's in the sachet?

At my hotel here in Brno, Czechia, the shampoo comes in small sachets, manufactured in Düsseldorf, labeled with the word denoting the contents in a long list of suitable European Union languages. I can't tell you which languages they picked, for reasons which will immediately become apparent. Here are the first four:

  1. Shampoo
  2. Shampoo
  3. Shampooing
  4. Shampoo

Just so you're sure.

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