## Ingilizce, a Chinese novel about English in Turkish translation

I'm surprised that, until today, I had never heard of the novel entitled Yīnggélìshì 英格力士 (English) by Wáng Gāng 王刚, which was published in 2004.  Now, thanks to Bruce Humes's article, "The 2013 Istanbul Book Fair, Xinjiang Connections and 'English'", posted November 3 on his blog called "Altaic Storytelling:  Tales from Istanbul to Heilongjiang", I'm delighted to learn about this fascinating book.

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## English tips from Li Yang, noted wife-beater and pedagogue

Crazy English: crazier than you imagined!

An anonymous tipster sent me this photograph taken in a washroom at the Kunming Airport:

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## Uyghur as a "dialect" — NOT

The latest issue of The Atlantic has an article entitled "The Uighurs, China's Embattled Muslim Minority, Are Still Seeking an Identity".

The comments on language usage and policy in Xinjiang will be of particular interest to many Language Log readers, since they reverberate with a number of recent discussions that we've been engaged in.

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## Character amnesia and the emergence of digraphia

David Moser saw this photograph of a child's essay via Twitter:

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## Hopefully no need to comment

A number of people have written to ask me why I have made no public comment on the preposterous old fraud Nevile Gwynne and his highly publicized recent book Gwynne's Grammar.

Well, one reason is that a certain amount of collapse in the will to live had come over me when contemplating the sheer dopiness of Mr Gwynne's pontifications about grammar and his lack of any grasp of the subject (declaring that too much too young is incomprehensible does not make a retired accountant into a grammar expert). Another is that Mark Liberman covered the topic very nicely, with an unerring eye for syntactic reasoning, in a comment on the first Bad Grammar Award, ostentatiously given to the authors of a short letter criticizing the UK education minister, which was really just a strategy for getting the press to show some interest in Gwynne's Grammar. (The citations and evidence relating to the Bad Grammar Award have apparently never been published on the web; I have been unable to find even the original press release, let alone anything more detailed.) But I now have discovered a third reason for not offering detailed comments: there are at least two beautifully aimed non-credulous posts about Gwynne already available in the blogosphere (and the superior quality of the blogs over the newspapers here is really striking).

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## Donald Kagan's farewell

Matthew Kaminski, "Democracy may have had its day", WSJ 4/26/2013:

Donald Kagan is engaging in one last argument. For his "farewell lecture" here at Yale on Thursday afternoon, the 80-year-old scholar of ancient Greece—whose four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War inspired comparisons to Edward Gibbon's Roman history—uncorked a biting critique of American higher education.

Universities, he proposed, are failing students and hurting American democracy. Curricula are "individualized, unfocused and scattered." On campus, he said, "I find a kind of cultural void, an ignorance of the past, a sense of rootlessness and aimlessness." Rare are "faculty with atypical views," he charged. "Still rarer is an informed understanding of the traditions and institutions of our Western civilization and of our country and an appreciation of their special qualities and values." He counseled schools to adopt "a common core of studies" in the history, literature and philosophy "of our culture." By "our" he means Western.

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## Coming up: lecture in Seattle

One week from tomorrow (Tuesday) night I give my Jesse and John Danz Lecture at the University of Washington in Seattle. And although the summary published on the registration page is entirely accurate, I would still conjecture that as many as half the people planning to attend will think that the scandal is people who write bad. They will assume that I will be dinging ordinary folks for writing (and speaking) ungrammatically. Little will they know what lies in store: that my target is the grammarians. It is the rule-givers and knuckle-rappers and nitpickers that I will be castigating for their ignorance of the content of the principles of English syntax.

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## Character amnesia revisited

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about the phenomenon of Chinese speakers forgetting how to write characters because of their reliance on Pinyin (i.e., romanization) inputting schemes.  Even those who were once literate in characters notice a distinct regression in their ability to write characters by hand.  For school children who are in the process of learning to write characters, the addiction to electronic devices (computers, cell phones, etc.) that write the characters for them when Pinyin is entered in many cases means that they never do become proficient in writing the characters without the help of their gizmos.

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## The accusative of panic

On the Muskegon Opinion page at m live in Michigan, Paula Holmes-Greeley posed a Question of the Day: After this election, what will pull our country together. Among the clowns who answered the call for comments (people saying that we should start an impeachment movement, or that all the Republicans should jump into the sea), Harry Masters posted this comment:

What will pull the country together?

The question should be "What/Whom has so divided our country?"

My question is different: What or who is responsible for teaching Americans grammar so badly that when commenting online, i.e. communicating publicly rather than conversing, they will change who to whom just as a shot in the dark, to cover themselves against the vague fear that who might be incorrect? What or who is the source of the nervous cluelessness that leads to this sort of panic-attack accusative?

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## Endangered Alphabets

My attention has been recently drawn to Tim Brookes' Endangered Alphabets project and to its second Kickstarter project, Endangered Alphabets II: Saving Languages in Bangladesh. You can follow the links to find out more; copied below is the text from the Kickstarter page, with images provided by Tim Brookes and Hailey Neal. If you feel moved to pledge to their cause, please do so — they have 127 backers as of this writing, pledging a total of $4,535, with only 19 days to go to reach their goal of$10,000.

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## Blithering idiocy on the subjunctive

In the Glossary of Terms attached to the UK's National Literacy Strategy it says this about the subjunctive (as I learned from a useful and appropriately scathing post on Michael Rosen's blog):

The subjunctive form of a verb is occasionally used in very formal contexts to indicate unreality, uncertainty, wish, emotion, judgement, or necessity. Its inflection is complicated, because it does not always differ from nonsubjunctive forms.

What an unbelievable piece of outright burbling nonsense.

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## "Strategic Dynamism" at UVa

"Rector Dragas' Remarks to VPs and Deans", 6/10/2012
"Teresa Sullivan's statement to the U.Va. Board of Visitors", 6/18/2012

Scott Jaschik, "Early Exit at U. of Virginia", Inside Higher Ed 6/11/2012
Scott Jaschik, "Fired for Protecting Languages?", Inside Higher Ed 6/18/2012
Susan Resneck Pierce, "Lessons from Virginia", Inside Higher Ed 6/18/2012
Scott Jaschik, "The E-Mail Trail at UVa", Inside Higher Ed 6/20/2012
Kevin Kiley, "Going Another Round? UVa board poised to reappoint ousted president, but not without objection", Inside Higher Ed 6/22/2012
Johann Neem, "Disruptive Innovation: Rhetoric or Reality", Inside Higher Ed 6/26/2012
Kevin Kiley, "U.Va. Board Reinstates Sullivan", Inside Higher Ed 6/26/2012

Christopher Shea, "Inside the turmoil at the University of Virginia", WSJ 6/18/2012
Valerie Bauerlein, "Ruckus at the Rotunda", WSJ 6/21/2012
"The Virginia Fracas" WSJ Editorial 6/25/2012

Kieran Healey, "The More or Less Unanimous Declaration of the Board of Visitors", Crooked Timber 6/20/2012

Karin Kapsidelis, Michael Phillips, "UPDATE: U.Va. board reverses decision, brings back Sullivan", Richmond Times-Dispatch 6/26/2012
Richard , "University of Virginia Reinstates Ousted President", New York TImes 6/26/2012

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## Help Wanted: Sharing Data for Research on Reading and Writing

On Friday, July 20, at the 2012 meeting of the Council of Writing Program Administrators in Albuquerque NM, there will be a session called "Help Wanted: Sharing Data for Research on Reading and Writing".  Here's the proposal that was submitted for this session:

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## The cost of illiteracy in China

In yesterday's South China Morning Post (Saturday, March 31, 2012), Education section, there is an article by Raymond Li entitled "US136b — Cost of Illiteracy on Mainland". Here's the link (sorry I can't send a link that provides full access for non-subscribers).

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