Archive for Language and politics

"Watch the predicate"

From Jonathan Lundell:

Can't think of anyone to ask but LL… what on earth does this mean?

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"Far beyond unconventional levels of dishonesty"

For the Washington Post opinion blog The Plum Line, Greg Sargent wrote: "The events of this week are revealing with a new level of clarity that President Trump and the White House have ventured far beyond unconventional levels of dishonesty."

Obligatory screenshot:

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Two-child policy

Under the one-child policy, which was in effect in China from 1979 till just recently, the following exhortation posted on the wall of a village house in China would have been unthinkable:

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Tentative "would"?

Andrew Kaczynski, "Pence calls Assange tweets about 'Pence takeover' of White House 'absurd' and 'offensive'", CNN News 3/14/2017:

Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that two tweets from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claiming a possible "Pence takeover" of the White House were "absurd" and "frankly offensive."

"I would find all of that dialogue to be absurd and frankly offensive," Pence told radio host Laura Ingraham.

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"Look, the bill needs fixed"

Ohio Gov. John Kasich grew up in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, just down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, and has retained many dialect features from the Pittsburgh region. Notably, Kasich, like others from the area, would say "The car needs washed" rather than "The car needs to be washed" or "The car needs washing." (The Yale Grammatical Diversity Project calls this the "needs washed" construction; it's also been called the "need + V-en" construction.) Last year, Kasich demonstrated this feature in a Republican presidential debate, when he said "The country needs healed." On Sunday, Kasich gave us another example of the construction on NBC's "Meet the Press." Discussing the healthcare legislation proposed by congressional Republicans, Kasich told Chuck Todd, "Look, the bill needs fixed" (at 1:35 in the video).


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(South) Korea bashing

Following up on these two recent posts:

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Rapaganda

The Chinese government has grown mildly addicted to the use of rap for disseminating propaganda.  I'm going to call this new variety "rapaganda", but I am not the first to do so.  The use of this portmanteau word might have started here:

"Chinese Communist Party Modernizes its Message — With Rap-aganda" (China Real Time Report, WSJ, 12/29/15)

WSJ's China Real Time Report just used it again:

"Video: China’s New ‘Rap-aganda’ Tells You What President Xi Cares About " (3/10/17)

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Siri in Korea

"The bizarre political scandal that just led to the impeachment of South Korea's president" (Jennifer Williams, Vox, 3/9/17)


Protestors wearing masks of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (R) and her confidante Choi Soon-Sil (L) pose for a performance during a rally denouncing a scandal over President Park's aide in Seoul on October 27, 2016. JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

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No Japanese, South Koreans, or dogs

Here we go again.  Image trending on WeChat, a sign on a Beijing bus:

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Involuntary immigrants

Below is a guest post by Larry Horn, based on a note submitted to the American Dialect Society's mailing list. The topic is the the slaves-as-immigrants flap occasioned by Ben Carson’s reference in his recent remarks characterizing slaves as immigrants who worked particularly hard for particularly low wages.

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Hate

There are multilingual signs all over Swarthmore (where I live) that say "Hate Has No Home Here".  The signs are printed in six languages:  English, Urdu, Hebrew, Korean, Arabic, and Spanish.  I wondered about the choice of languages, but — with a little googling — I found that these are apparently the languages most commonly spoken at Petersen Elementary School in the North Park neighborhood of Chicago, where the campaign to post these signs originated.  It's interesting that the linguistic mix of an elementary school in Chicago determined the multilingualism of signs that are being posted all over the country.

Incidentally, there is also a #LoveThyNeighbor (No Exceptions) campaign going on, and here I wondered about the archaism of the "Thy".  It seems to me that the King Jamesian language of these signs conveys clear Christian overtones, which may account for the fact that there are far fewer of these signs around than the HHNHH signs.

"Hate" is also a hot topic in China these days.

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Pronouns again

Fred Vultee, "Pronouns: The Reunion Tour", HeadsUp The Blog, 3/1/2017:

The Fabulous Pronouns are back on the road! Take it away, The Washington Examiner:

President Trump referred to himself during his first speech to a joint session of Congress at a much lower rate than former President Barack Obama did in his first address in February 2009, roughly half as often.

Technically, Donald Trump's speechwriters used 53 first-person-singular pronouns in 4818 words, while Barack Obama's speechwriters used 87 FPS pronouns in 5988 words, so the ratio of rates is (53/4818)/(87/5988) = 0.76 — so it should be "roughly three quarters as often", not "roughly half as often".

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Patton Oswalt on Trump, Obama, David Lee Roth, and Rutgers linguistics

At the Writers Guild of America Awards on Sunday night, host Patton Oswalt predictably made some Trump jokes in his opening monologue. What wasn't so predictable was an extended analogy involving '80s hard rocker David Lee Roth and the linguistics department at Rutgers University. The key line: "Donald Trump taking Obama's job would be like if the head of linguistics at Rutgers made fun of David Lee Roth, and David Lee Roth was like, 'I'm gonna take his job.'" A shout-out to Bruce Tesar, chair of the Rutgers linguistics department?

Oswalt's bit starts around 5 minutes into the monologue, after some banter with James Woods, who was in the audience.

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