Archive for Transcription

Uncle Martian knocks off Under Armour

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Weaponized Tibetan Pinyin

Jichang Lulu has just posted a very interesting article titled  "the clash of romanisations" (5/12/17).  It begins:

Last month the Ministry of Civil Affairs (民政部) published a list of six ‘standardised’ place names in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, a large part of which the PRC claims as part of South Tibet (藏南). This generated the predictable Indian protests, media brouhaha and mandatory Globule sovereignty-reaffirming blather. Analysis of what’s being called a “renaming” of Arunachal “districts” sees it as retaliation for the Dalai Lama’s recent visit to the region. All these hit-back-at-the-DL-to-“re”affirm-sovereignty readings are surely plausible, but I don’t think it’s very clear in which sense these ministerial coinages are ‘renaming’ or ‘standardising’ anything.

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Bill Gates speaks Mandarin

Here's Bǐ'ěr·Gàicí 比尔·盖茨 welcoming visitors to his new blog on the Chinese social network WeChat:


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Wade-Giles Romanization and Chinese food

From Clarissa Wei, "The Struggles of Writing About Chinese Food as a Chinese Person", Munchies (4/24/17)

I hold myself to high standards when it comes to writing about Chinese food, yet I live in a world that can be quite insensitive in their approach to the cuisine.

For example, many writers (especially on the East Coast) still use the Wades-Giles spelling of Chinese locations, a phonetic system that was invented by British diplomats Herbert Giles and Thomas Wade. It is a dictionary that is largely outdated and widely inaccurate in its representation of Chinese phonetics. In the Wade-Giles system, Sichuan is Romanized to Szechuan. Nanjing is Nanking. Beijing is called Peking. These writers are the same people who still refer to Guangdong province as Canton.

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Mongolian transliterations of Donald Trump's name

We've looked fairly intensively at transcriptions of our new President's name in Chinese and, en passant, in Japanese, Korean, and other languages:

"Trump translated" (8/31/16) — about halfway down in the o.p.

"Transcription of "Barack Obama", "Hillary Clinton", and "Donald Trump" in the Sinosphere" (10/2/16)

"Chinese transcriptions of Donald Trump's surname" (11/23/16)

For those who are interested in how the POTUS's name and surname are rendered in Mongolian scripts, both Cyrillic and traditional Mongolian writing, we now have Bathrobe's post at Spicks & Specks:

"'Donald Trump' in Mongolian" (4/13/17)

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More Sinological suffering

[This is a guest post by Brendan O'Kane. See "Sinological suffering", 3/31/17, for background.]


I snapped this picture at the library today:

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Topolectal traffic sign

This has apparently been around for awhile, but I'm seeing it now for the first time:

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VX in Chinese

By now practically the whole world knows that Kim Jong-nam, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's older half-brother, was killed by the extremely toxic nerve agent called VX.  VX is much more potent than sarin, which was used by the Aum Shinrikyo cult to kill 12 people and injure thousands of others in the Tokyo subway in 1995.  Apparently, it's not clear why this series of nerve agents is called "V" ( "Victory", "Venomous", or "Viscous" are some of the possibilities).  Since research on these agents is restricted primarily to the military, not much is known about them in civilian circles.  Whatever the "V" stands for, and besides VX, other agents in the series include VE, VG, VM, and VR.

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Gambling Disturb Terrible

A friend of Anne Henochowicz spotted this T-shirt in an Akihabara, Tokyo shop:

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Sun-moon mountain-wood

Boris Kootzenko was intrigued by this sign in China:

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Zhou Youguang 1906-2017

Zhou xiansheng,

You were my dear friend for decades.  I wish that you had gone on living forever.  You will be sorely missed, but yours was a life well lived.

As the "Father of Pinyin", you have had an enormous impact on education and culture in China.  After you passed the century mark, you spoke out courageously in favor of democracy and reform.

Now, one day after your 111th birthday, you have departed, but you will always be in our hearts, brimming with light, as your name suggests.

Tearfully,

Victor

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Chinese lung cancer poeticizes in English

For several days I've been aware of a strange poem that has gone viral in China:

"Read The Smog-Inspired Poem That China Can't Stop Talking About" (NPR, 1/12/17)

The strangeness of the poem is due to its being written from the perspective of lung cancer and addressed to the patient.  You judge for yourself — here's the complete poem:

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Haifa subway station names

In several recent posts, I have pointed out how Chinese and Japanese announcements and greetings for foreigners are often pronounced in a special way that deviates markedly from what Chinese and Japanese would say to each other:

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