Archive for Language and politics

From Bushisms to la langue François

Remember the Bushisms industry? Something similar, mutatis mutandis, seems to be springing up in France.

Stéphane Ratti, "De la langue française à la langue François", Le Figaro 2/14/2015:

Pourquoi François Hollande s'acharne-t-il à massacrer ainsi la langue française dans toutes ses interventions? Plusieurs analystes se sont à juste titre posé la question après avoir, avec précision, analysé quelques-unes des monstruosités syntaxiques présidentielles à l'occasion de sa dernière conférence de presse.

Why does François Hollande insist on butchering the French language in all of his comments? Several analysts have understandably asked the question, after having analyzed carefully several of the president's syntactic monstrosities on the occasion of his last press conference.

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Official standard

I received the following message from a young Chinese scholar who is studying in America:

Improving my English and understanding Western culture, as well as dealing with racial and gender issues as an Asian female and also a first-generation immigrant in this country, is much easier than being part of the 官本位 culture in China, though I was born and grew up there. I feel that my intelligence is treated with more respect in the States.

This is not the first time that I had heard this young scholar and other young scholars inveigh against 官本位, but in this instance she put it so succinctly and clearly that I felt galvanized to come to grips with a concept that I had heretofore only grasped in a hazy manner.

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Tintin in [China's] Tibet

A couple of weeks ago, in "China's" (2/1/15) and the comments thereto, we were discussing the political aspects and implications of prefacing names in publications pertaining to places in the People's Republic of China (PRC) with the possessive "China's".

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"Faux-cul" and "vraie vulve"

Outsiders to American politics are probably somewhat puzzled by the narrative background of the Chris Christie PAC acronym story. I mean, LMFAO, fine, but what's a PAC? and who's Chris Christie? And why did American Bridge think it was funny to turn "Party Rock Anthem" into "Traffic Block Anthem"?

All obvious to us here in the U.S., but probably mystifying to most people elsewhere in the world.

Since I'm planning to spend some time in France this summer, I've been dusting off my high-school French by reading French-language news media, and I've been similarly puzzled by some of the stories,  like "'Faux-cul', 'vraie vulve': Jean-Marie Le Pen insulte Claude Bartolone", Paris Match 1/31/2015, and "Jean-Marie Le Pen s'en prend violemment à Claude Bartolone, qu'il insulte de 'faux-cul' et de 'vraie vulve'", Le Huffington Post 1/31/2015.

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The URL for Chris Christie's new political action committee has occasioned a certain amount of innocent merriment, because naturally suggests the acronym LMFAO, normally interpreted as "laughing my fucking ass off":

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The Shanghai Stampede: incident or accident?

On New Year's Eve, a fatal stampede broke out on the Bund in Shanghai.  Many people died (see below for a discussion of the total number) and many more were injured, some seriously.

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Presidential pronouns: This time it's Ron Fournier

Ron Fournier, "Is Obama More Interested in Progress or Politics?", National Journal, 1/20/2015:

Count how many times Obama uses the words "I," "me," and "my." Compare that number to how often he says, "You," "we," "our." If the first number is greater than the second, Obama has failed.

This leads naturally to a different question: "Is Ron Fournier More Interested in Analysis or in Bullshit?" (where I mean "bullshit" in the technical philosophical sense, of course).

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Metaphoric mash-up of the month

Dave Davies, "Clarke out of Philly mayor's race — Butkovitz in?", newsworks 1/13/2015:

Butkovitz made it clear months ago he wanted to run for mayor. He engaged an experienced campaign team, but found it hard to raise money, particularly from unions, as long as there was a chance Clarke might run.

In November, Butkovitz called the whole thing off, said he wasn't running. But he said yesterday Clarke's announcement might change his thinking.

"The phone is ringing off the hook today," he said. "There's a large number of people, contributors, activists, calling up and asking me to get into the race. We're going to have to put a barometer into the water here and figure out what the lay of the land is."

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It's hard being loved by jerks

The most tasteful and relevant of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons:

The title "Mahomet débordé par les intégristes" means "Muhammad overwhelmed by the fundamentalists"; and the speech balloon "C'est dur d'être aimé par des cons" means "It's hard being loved by jerks", a thought that must also occasionally have occurred to Moses, Jesus, Buddha, and others.

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Nous sommes Charlie

jesuischarlie Should publishing a cartoon representation of the prophet Mohammed be punishable by death?

After the massacre of magazine staff by lunatic Islamist murderers that took place in Paris two days ago, many who think the answer is "No" have begun displaying buttons or placards saying Je suis Charlie. I'd wear one myself if I could get one.

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Sony hacker language

Everybody is in a tizzy over the hacking of Sony Pictures.  Most people assume that North Korea was behind the hacking, which caused Sony Pictures to withdraw "The Interview" shortly before it was supposed to open in theaters.

Some of the coverage: "U.S. Intelligence Connects North Korea to Sony Hack: Reports", Newsweek 12/17/14; "A Look At North Korea's Cyberwar Capabilities", Huffington Post 12/18/14; "Obama May Have Forced Sony To Release 'The Interview'", Business Insider12/20/14.

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Xinhua breaks ban on puns

I was going to write "Xinhua brakes ban on puns".  Upon reconsideration, I thought that would only lead to confusion, but it might at least have given an idea of how bad their pun is.

First of all, just so everyone knows, Xinhua is Xinhua ("New China") News Agency, the official press agency of the People's Republic of China.

Carl Minzner tweeted:

Open violation of ban on wordplay! Name of new Chinese state website dedicated to Xi Jinping? 学习进行时

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