Archive for WTF

The chick(en) says ko-ko-de(k)

In Incredible Things, Brittany High has a very brief article entitled "This Chinese Music Video Is Every Kind Of WTF".  I think that, if you watch the video, you'll agree with her.

Brittany writes:

This is a batshit insane music video for the song “Chick Chick” by Chinese pop group Wang Rong Rollin. It makes stuff like “What Does The Fox Say?” seem absolutely tame. I don’t know what the hell I just watched but I’ll have whatever they’re having.

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WT[bleep]?

Those LLog readers who aren't already Radiolab listeners should give their latest episode on translation a listen. There are 8 stories packed into this one episode, a few about language and a few not-so-much, but all of them well-worth the price of admission.

But I'm not just here to promote Radiolab. I'm also here to comment on something that happened in this episode that I am now very curious about (curious-enough-to-blog-and-solicit-comments curious, not curious-enough-to-do-some-real-research-of-my-own curious). There's a point in the show where one of the show's hosts (Jad Abumrad) warns listeners that there's going to be some raunchy language used and discussed for the next several minutes; even though the putatively offensive words were bleeped out in the version I listened to (via my iTunes podcast subscription), it was clear that I wouldn't have wanted my 5-year-old child to hear the piece so I appreciated the warning.

But at the very end of the episode, something very different happens. With no warning whatsoever, long strings of uncensored expletives assaulted my ears. I was wearing headphones and nobody else was around, but still I wondered: where was the warning? Why was there no bleeping? And then I realized that I wasn't listening to people speaking English anymore, but rather people swearing in other languages — and the first one was Spanish, which I am also a native speaker of.

But still: is Radiolab's audience (and their innocent children!) not at least potentially multilingual? Why the bleeping of English words and the elaborate warning preceding a story about their use, but no warning or bleeping whatsoever about the same sorts of words in other languages? It's not like I ever understood this sort of censorship and prudishness in the first place, but now I'm royally confused.

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Contraceptive printing room

Gianni Wan sent in this bizarre translation:


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Expletive undeleted

Either the NYT has changed its policies, or some editor was asleep at the beeper and let  this through by mistake — "Raptors Drop Expletive and Game to Nets in Playoff Opener", NYT 4/19/2014:

Sparked by a stinging expletive the NBA playoffs got off to an explosive start as the Brooklyn Nets landed the first blow in a suddenly bitter Eastern Conference first round match-up with a 94-87 win over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.  Out of the playoffs since 2008, Toronto's return to the postseason was both eventful and controversial, upping the ante in the best-of-seven series.  

With A list celebrities, including rappers Drake, Jay-Z and Beyonce, occupying courtside seats, an embarrassing technical malfunction and a jaw-dropping expletive delivered by Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri to thousands of frenzied supporters at a pre-game pep rally, the first game of the NBA postseason offered a little bit over everything.

Despite topping the Atlantic Division and setting a franchise record with 48 victories, the Raptors have had a harder time winning respect than games. Meanwhile the Nets dropped four of their last five contests, including a 29-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in their season finale, to cement a Toronto match-up.

 The Nets denied any suggestion of subterfuge but Ujiri made his position crystal clear, shouting "Fuck Brooklyn!" at a fan rally outside Air Canada Center prior to the start of Game One.

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A zeugmatic crash blossom to torment Mets fans

As if New York Mets fans don't have to suffer enough, what with the five straight losing seasons and the embarrassing bullpen meltdown in yesterday's home opener, this headline (tweeted by Mark Fishkin) appeared in today's Wall Street Journal:

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Guide for Authors, Editors, Printers, and Loch Fishers

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Really lost in translation

Ray Girvan ("Ibong Adarna: Google Mistranslate", 2/17/2014) documents one of the more bizarre machine-translation oddities in recent years:

Ibong Adarna is the title of a massively popular epic fantasy in the mythology and culture of the Philippines; it originally went under the snappy title of Corrido ng Pinagdaanang Buhay nang Tatlong Principeng, Magcacapatid na Anac nang haring Fernando at nang Reina Valeriana sa Caharian ng Berbania ("Corrido of the Traveled/Travailed Life of Three Princes, Sibling Children of King Fernando and Queen Valeriana of the Kingdom of Berbania"). Despite the Spanish names, it evidently pre-dates the Spanish Era in the Philippines.

You should read Ray's post for more background on the history, form, and significance of this work, whose title means "The Adarna Bird".  Because somehow — mischance? malice? — Google Translate came up with this:

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Department of redundant solecisms department

A justly flabbergasted reader sent me a link to the web page at springer.com for H-Y Jeong et al. (Eds.), Advanced in Computer Science and its Applications, 2013. In return for $469 (paper) or $369 (ebook), you'll get a work whose publisher describes it as follows:

The theme of CSA is focused on the various aspects of computer science and its applications for advances in computer science and its applications and provides an opportunity for academic and industry professionals to discuss the latest issues and progress in the area of computer science and its applications. Therefore this book will be include the various theories and practical applications in computer science and its applications.

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A letter from the future

This arrived in my snail-mailbox a few days ago:

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Indo-Egyptian mystery

Lameen Souag, "A little mystery: an unidentified Indic language in the Genizah collection", Jabal al-Lughat 10/14/2013:

In 1896, Cambridge bought a huge archive of documents from a synagogue in Cairo, starting as early as the 11th century: the Genizah collection. Most of them are in Arabic in the Hebrew script – or just in Hebrew – but the rest cover a wide variety of languages. One of them should be an interesting puzzle for any readers familiar with South Asian languages: the fragment below is obviously in Devanagari or some derivative, but so far no one has been able to determine what language it is written in or what it says. Given the trade connections revealed by the letters, it would probably have come from Kerala, or maybe later on Bombay, but there are no guarantees…

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Too much Victor Mair

I've been reading way too much Victor Mair. In the restaurant of my hotel in London I just saw an English girl wearing a T-shirt on which it said this:


H O
P E

And I immediately thought, who is Ho Pe?

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Xenoglossy & the psychiatrists

I just learned that the American Psychiatric Association, at their annual meeting last month, had a Media Workshop on "A Case of Xenoglossy and the Nature of Consciousness", where the organizer, a psychiatrist named Samuel Sandweiss, claimed that he had a patient back in 1983 (!) who spontaneously uttered profound philosophical remarks in a mixture of Sanskrit and Pali.  And here I had been fondly imagining that my 1996 encyclopedia article `Xenoglossy' had succeeded in demolishing claims that some people can speak languages they have not had an opportunity to learn in their current lifetime.   But Sandweiss's proposal — unlike those of the late Ian Stevenson, also a psychiatrist and the best-known promoter of purported cases of xenoglossy — apparently doesn't involve reincarnation; it sounds more like channeling, as if a bodiless entity took over the patient's brain to utter profundities in an ancient(ish) Indic mishmash (as verified…supposedly…by experts in Sanskrit and Pali).  Sheesh.   Surely not all psychiatrists are so credulous, but what's with the APA's highlighting this event as a Media Workshop?

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Rep. Gohmert's asparagus

Luke Johnson, "Louie Gohmert Goes Off On Eric Holder At House Hearing", Huffington Post 5/16/2013:

A visibly infuriated Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) tore into Attorney General Eric Holder after his time expired in a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.  […]

"I cannot have a witness challenge my character," said Gohmert, as the chairman told him again that his time had expired. Gohmert continued talking as other members of the committee asked him to observe hearing rules and suspend.

Gohmert asked again for a point of personal privilege and said that Holder was "wrong on the things that I asserted as fact." The other members of the committee disputed that his contention was a point of personal privilege.

"The attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus," said Gohmert, in a malapropism for the ages.

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