Archive for Names

Trump(et) king mushrooms

Yuanfei Wang, who sent in this photograph of a menu from a Chinese restaurant called Chef Jon's (Chú wáng 厨王) in East Hanover, New Jersey, refers to it as a rèdiǎn 热点 ("hot spot"):

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"Subway" in Chinese

Jeff DeMarco saw this sign in Chengdu:

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Mud season in Russia: Putin, Rasputin

A couple of years ago around this time I wrote about the "Schlump season" (3/21/15) at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.  Now, as Dartmouth is becoming enmired in the early spring mud, Pamela Kyle Crossley, who teaches there, told me that she thought of the Russian word for this season:  rasputitsa.  And that made me think of the Russian word for "way; path; pathway; route; track; road":  путь, which I suppose is cognate with "path".  Another form of the word is путин, which reminds me of "Putin" ("road" — I think [see below]) and "Rasputin" ("broken / obliterated road").

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Naming Nihonium

The naming of the recently discovered synthetic chemical element Nihonium offers an interesting opportunity to reflect upon the policies, practices, and principles of scientific terminology.  Nihonium has the atomic number 113.  It was first reported to have been created in 2003, but it did not have a formal name until November, 2016, when "nihonium" was made official.

"Nihonium" is an internationally recognized term, but what is it called in various languages having diverse phonological and scriptal characteristics?

French — Nihonium

German — Nihonium

Italian — Nihonio

Spanish — Nihonio

Vietnamese — Nihoni

Russian — Nikhoniĭ Нихоний

Japanese — Nihoniumu ニホニウム

Korean — Nihonyum 니호늄

Chinese — Nǐ 鉨

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Latin Caesar –> Tibetan Gesar –> Xi Jinpingian Sager

From Shawn Zhang's Twitter account:

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Dung Times

There's a roundly execrated publication of the CCP called Global Times in English.  The Chinese name is Huánqiú shíbào 环球时报.  Associated with the People's Daily, it is infamous for its extreme, provocative, anti-Indian, anti-Japanese, anti-Western (especially anti-American) editorials and articles.

Now it seems that some Indian Tweeps are referring to the Global Times as "Gobar Times", using Hindi  gobar गोबर ("cow-dung") to mimic the sound and the sentiment the name evokes. A tweet by Donald Clarke calls our attention to this fecal phenomenon.

Here it is in use.

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The curling Kims

One of the sensations of the just concluded Olympics in PyeongChang is that South Korea's Olympic women's curling team won the silver medal.

From the press conference after the final match, as tweeted by Jonathan Cheng (WSJ Seoul Bureau Chief):

Skip Yogurt laments her Korean name 김은정 Kim Eun-jung. That middle character "eun" 銀 is a homonym for silver. She muses on whether she should've changed it to "geum" 金, for gold.

If you weren't following the curling, Cheng calls her "Skip Yogurt" because she's the "skip" of the team (like a captain), and her nickname is Annie because she likes Annie's Yogurt.  According to coach Kim, team Kim members chose their own nicknames while eating breakfast, and they decided to go by the breakfast food they like, i.e., pancakes for Young-mi, steak for Kyung-ae, Annie('s yogurt) for Eun-jung, and so forth.

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Precious Isle Taiwan

From the Twitter account of @zhaoxunlinghun:

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Sino-Mongolian toponymy, part 2

[This is a guest post by Bathrobe]

Global Times have an article on the archaeological site mentioned in this recent LL post:

"Questionable Sino-Mongolian toponymy" (1/18/18)

The Global Times article is "Chinese-Mongolian archeological team study mysterious Xiongnu city" (2/5/18) by Huang Tingting.  The relevant section is:

Since 2014, Song's institute, the National Museum of Mongolia and the International College of Nomadic Culture of Mongolia have been excavating the Khermen Tal City site at the junction of the Orkhon River and one of its major tributaries – the Tamir River, also named Hudgiyn Denj, literally Three Interconnected Cities.

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Shadowsocks

The immediate reason for writing this post is the curiosity of an important Chinese product, Shadowsocks, whose name is known only in English and whose author, clowwindy, has only an English name.

Shadowsocks is an open-source encrypted proxy project, widely used in mainland China to circumvent Internet censorship. It was created in 2012 by a Chinese programmer named "clowwindy", and multiple implementations of the protocol have been made available since. Typically, the client software will open a socks5 proxy on the machine it is run, which internet traffic can then be directed towards, similarly to an SSH tunnel. Unlike an SSH tunnel, shadowsocks can also proxy UDP traffic.

Source

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Putin in Russian, Mandarin, and English

I'm at Yale University attending a workshop on Tangut.  So you ask, "What is 'Tangut'?"  Relevant Wikipedia articles:

  • Tangut people, an ancient ethnic group in Northwest China, not Tibetan people.
  • Tangut language, the extinct language spoken by the Tangut people, not Tibetan language.
  • Tangut script, the writing system used to write the Tangut language
  • Western Xia (1038–1227), also known as the Tangut Empire, a state founded by the Tangut people

Enough of Tangut for now.  I will write a separate post on Tangut language and script later on.  Meanwhile, since the majority of specialists on Tangut are Russian, and several Russians are participating in this workshop, I've heard them refer to the president of their country with a pronunciation that is rather different from what we say it in English, but more nearly resembles the way his surname is spoken in Mandarin.

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Questionable Sino-Mongolian toponymy

News article from Xinhua (1/16/18, by Quan Xiaoshu, Qu Ting, Cao Pengyuan):

"Ancient tripartite-city of Xiongnu a special religious and meeting site: archaeologists"

It starts:

The ruins of an ancient tripartite-city, known as Sanlian City, in midwest Mongolia's Khermental City, demonstrates that the Xiongnu tribe used to perform religious ceremonies and hold alliance meetings there.

Bathrobe comments:

Now, it may be due to my poor web research skills, but I'm having considerable difficulty finding any Sanlian city or even a Khermental city in Mongolia outside of the Xinhua news article.

Is this another mangled news story where Chinese news reporters are too incompetent (or maybe arrogant) to check the names of geographical places outside of China? I'm also wondering at the thickskinned-ness of calling the archaeological site of a non-Chinese culture in a foreign country by a name so transparently Chinese as "Sanlian".

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Ask Language Log: Are East Asian first names gendered?

The question comes from George Amis:

I wonder– are first names gendered in Mandarin?  That is, is it possible to tell that Tse-tung or Wai-wai are masculine names? Given the extraordinary proliferation of Chinese first names, I rather doubt it. And what is the case with Japanese first names? Here, I suspect that the names are gendered, although of course I don't know.

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