Archive for Transcription

A proliferation of hyphens

In comments to "Suffer the consequences " (4/19/15), Jongseong Park and Bob Ramsey bemoaned what they considered to be the overuse of hyphens in the transliteration of Hangeul.  In a later comment, I explained that the hyphens between virtually all syllables in the transliterations were due to the Hangeul converter we've been using, which automatically inserts them.  In the future, we'll try to remove most of the hyphens.

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How to pronounce the surname "Tsien"

A prominent scholar of early Chinese writing and books at the University of Chicago recently passed away:

"T.H. Tsien, Scholar of Chinese Written Word, Dies at 105" (4/19/15)

The New York Times "pronouncer" for "Tsien" is "chee-AHN".  That is very far from the mark.  Even for those who are not familiar with the niceties of Chinese consonants and vowels, "chee-AHN" doesn't sound remotely right because "Tsien" (like the vast majority of Chinese surnames) is one syllable, but "chee-AHN" makes it seem to have two syllables.  Moreover, Chinese is tonal, whereas the "AHN" of the pronouncer makes it seem to have emphasis on the second, (non-existent) syllable.

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Japanese cocktail list

Tim Leonard sent in this most intriguing Japanese cocktail list, spotted by Regular Sandwiches:

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More on "duang"

A couple of weeks ago, we had an extensive discussion of Jackie Chan's famous expostulation about the wondrous effect of his shampoo that went viral on the Chinese internet.

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Digraphia and intentional miswriting

I received the following message from David Moser on 6/2/11, but it got lost in my inbox until just now when I was able to retrieve it while cleaning out a bunch of old and unwanted messages:

Wow, talk about digraphia!  I just got this text message on my cell phone here in Beijing:

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Asian (con)fusion

Michael Robinson sent in the following photograph of a restaurant which I believe is in the Inner Richmond section of San Francisco:

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Zhou Youguang, 109 and going strong

A year ago, I wrote "Zhou Youguang, Father of Pinyin" (1/14/14) to celebrate Zhou xiansheng's 108th birthday and his many accomplishments in language reform and applied linguistics.  Included in that post were a portrait of ZYG in his study and numerous links concerning the man and his works.

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Fat shaming (?) in Rōmaji

Nathan Hopson found this poster hanging up all over student bulletin boards at Nagoya University in Japan:

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A child's substitution of Pinyin (Romanization) for characters

The following diary entry by an elementary school student is making the rounds in the Chinese media and in the blogosphere:

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A French Japanese Chinese restaurant

From Victor Steinbok:

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Chow Yun-fat

Hong Kong movie star Chow Yun-fat has fallen afoul of the authorities on mainland China for supporting the Occupy Center democracy protesters.

It's interesting to see how the media report what he said about having his films banned on the Mainland.

"'I'll just make less then': Actor Chow Yun-fat responds to alleged PRC ban for supporting HK protests"  (10/27/14)

The Shanghaiist report was picked up by reddit and other outlets: "Banned from mainland China? Chow Yun Fat doesn't care" (10/27/14)

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Homa Obama

Tom Mazanec sent in the following ad that he saw in a Guangzhou (China) apartment complex:


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Oh my melon!

Bryan Van Norden is a Visiting Professor at Wuhan University this semester, and he ran across an interesting bit of language play. Below is a still (taken with his cell phone) of a television commercial currently running in the PRC. It is for a watermelon juice drink. As you can see, the tag line is a bilingual pun, substituting guā 瓜 ("melon") for "God."


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