Archive for Borrowing

English "wine", French "vin", Spanish "vino"

Translators of Chinese poetry are tormented by how to render the term jiǔ 酒.  The nearly universal English rendering of jiǔ 酒 in Chinese belles lettres is "wine".  The problem is that "wine" is fruit based (usually grapes), whereas jiǔ 酒 is grain based.

This is a topic that has come up tangentially on Language Log many times in the past (see below for some references).  I am revisiting it now because, in the fall, I will be participating in an event in New York having to do with tea and wine.  In the minds of those who know Chinese, that will be framed in terms of chá 茶 and jiǔ 酒.

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Shiok, shiok

Taylor Swift sings "shake, shake", but in Singapore and Malaysia, everybody is saying "shiok, shiok".


Source:  "Where or how did the phrase Shiok or Syiok used in Malaysia & Singapore originate?" (Quora, Feb. 2015)

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Political vocabulary and Brother Cream

BBC News has a nice article by Tzu-Wei Liu on "The politics of a martial arts book fair in Hong Kong" (7/26/16).  The article is accompanied by six photographs; I will focus on the two that interest me most (because they are both language related), the third and the sixth.

Here's the third photograph:

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Learning to read and write Chinese

Responding to "How to learn to read Chinese" (5/25/08), Alex Wang writes:

Thanks for the great blog.  I have also enjoyed the articles of David Moser.  My path toward your blog started when I decided to teach my younger son, 4, to start to read Chinese and English.  It also was heavily influenced by watching my elder son, 7, struggle with learning how to write characters.  He is attending public school here in Shenzhen.  Both were born in HK and raised in Shenzhen.  Moreover, my wife's side is from the mainland.  After analysing the issue at length I have come to many of the same conclusions as your colleagues and you have.

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Campaign for promoting falls awareness

The Health Promotion Board (Bǎojiàn cùjìn jú 保健促进局) of Singapore has launched a campaign to promote awareness of falling.  Here's the poster they circulated in conjunction with the launch:


(Source)

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"Enter the Dangal"

Earlier this year, Language Log readers contributed to the elucidation of "South Asian wrestling terms" (3/1/16).

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She calls herself Angelababy

That's what practically everybody else calls her too.

There's a great article by Qian Jinghua in Sixth Tone (Fresh voices from today's China) titled "Call Me Angelababy, Maybe:  Ban on foreign names in Chinese-language press reveals fear of cultural fragility." (6/30/16)

It's about a phenomenally popular 27-year-old actress, model, and singer whose Chinese name is 楊穎, which is read as Yáng Yǐng in Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM) and Joeng4 Wing6 (conventional spelling Yeung Wing) in Cantonese.  Her father, from Hong Kong, is half Chinese and half German, her mother is Shanghainese.  Yang Ying's stage name, "Angelababy", by which virtually everyone knows her (most people are uncertain about her Chinese name or don't know it at all), comes from a combination of her English name "Angela" and her nickname "Baby".

So what's all the fuss over her name?

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English-Japanese neologism

Japanese is full of loanwords from English, a phenomenon we have often discussed on Language Log, e.g.:

"Too many English loanwords in Japanese?" (7/12/13)

Not only does Japanese like to borrow words from English, it is fond of borrowing parts of words and combining them with Japanese morphemes to make hybrid coinages.  It's not always easy — even for a native speaker of Japanese — to figure out some of these inventions, because you only have part of a katakanized English word fused with part of a Japanese word.

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Singlish: alive and well

We've mentioned that special brand of Singaporean English on Language Log from time to time, most recently just a few days ago:

"New Singaporean and Hong Kong terms in the OED" (5/12/16)

So what is it, really?

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New Singaporean and Hong Kong terms in the OED

"The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) added 19 Singaporean terms and 13 Hong Kong terms in its latest update."  So reports BBC News in "Singapore terms join Oxford English Dictionary" (5/12/16)

Here are the lists:

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Too cool!

I suppose it's been around for at least 5-10 years, but I just encountered the expression "tài shuǎng le 太爽了" in the English informal sense of "cool!".  With 409,000 ghits, it seems to be fairly widespread, though not all of those ghits are to the informal sense of the English word (see the numbered items below for a variety of other meanings for this expression).

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Prolific code-switching in Vietnamese

Michael Rank writes:

I'm intrigued by a sign in the window of a Vietnamese restaurant in Shoreditch, ultra-hipster area of east London which also has lots of inexpensive, unpretentious (mainly) Vietnamese restaurants. I don't know any Vietnamese, I assume Can Tuyen (please forgive lack of diacritics) means "wanted" or "job available" or similar and that there are perfectly good words for waiter/waitress in Vietnamese, so why are these two words in English? It's a bit like another (Chinese) London restaurant sign that I mentioned in this post:

"No word for 'serve' in Chinese? " (3/1/15)

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"Please enter your cock after urinating"

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