Archive for Borrowing

British "gentleman" in China

Will Spence has an article on "Why 'gentleman' matters" in Caixin Online, part of a Mainland media group, with the following lede:  "The Chinese government often says it wants to build up its soft power, but for this to happen it may have to embrace its heritage and adopt a gentler approach".

A key passage is the following:

It is interesting to note that the the word itself is rarely translated – it is much more common to hear "gentleman" than to hear shenshi or junzi – suggesting that there is something uniquely British about the notion, in a similar vein to English adopting the words of Chinese concepts like taichi and yin yang.

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English "-ing" ending in Korean

Rich Scottoline sent in the following photograph of a box of crackers that he happened across in a Nonghyup food store in South Korea:

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Once more on the present continuative ending -ing in Chinese

On "Savage Minds", Kerim has a new post entitled "How do you pronounce '革命ing'?", which features this initially enigmatic photograph:

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Bad shits

I received the following photograph of a sign taken by Son Ha Dinh in Damak, Nepal:

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Transcriptional and hybrid words in Mandarin

Like all languages, Mandarin and other Sinitic tongues have borrowed and coined words throughout their history.  But it would seem that the pace and nature of the current changes in Chinese usage are of such extraordinary amplitude that an unprecedented transformation is occurring, one that may be marked not merely by differences in quantity and quality, but of order and kind.

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Scholar-hegemons in China

In "Nerd, geek, PK: Creeping Romanization (and Englishization), part 2" and other Language Log posts, we have delved into the terminology for nerddom.  In the course of our discussions, we seem to have arrived at a consensus that it's difficult to find a Chinese term that conveys well the notion and nuances of the English word "nerd".

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Darling train tickets

In celebration of Valentine's Day, special commemorative train tickets for a trip between Dàlín (大林) and Guīlái (歸來) were a big hit in Taiwan this morning.

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Shampoo salmon

From a section of the Singapore site "Stomp" called "Murder of the English Language" comes this mystifying entree name:

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Opium rice

Karen Serago sent in the following photograph taken by her husband, Ben Yu, of a restaurant in Taiwan that specializes in duck dishes:

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Gourmet Chinese cookshop

Bruce Balden sent in this photograph of a sign on a restaurant in the Vancouver area:

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Apparently, the South Korean government has decided that kimchi 김치 should no longer be referred to just as pàocài 泡菜 ("pickled vegetables") in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, but should have its own name to distinguish it from other types of pickled vegetables.  (There's a November 17 news article about it here.)

The Koreans are very proud of kimchi, and it may be referred to as the Korean national dish.  Kimjang, the tradition of making and sharing kimchi that usually is done in winter, has recently been added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

My brother Thomas, who served in the Marines during the Vietnam War and fought alongside Korean soldiers, told me he was amazed that, when the Koreans opened their K-rations, there was kimchee inside.  Thus it is obvious that kimchee is extremely important to the Koreans, and it is indeed different from Chinese fermented vegetables.  But, if it's no longer to be referred to as pàocài 泡菜 ("pickled vegetables") in Chinese, what to call it?

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Chop-chop and chopsticks

Reader Geoff Wade asks:

Might you and your band of linguist lads and lassies turn your erudition to the term 'chop-chop', which according to Wikipedia derives from Cantonese. I can think of no Cantonese term which would give rise to this term.

On this day of Thanksgiving (or Thanksgivvukah, if you prefer, which is said to happen only once every 5,000 years [actually, the next occurrence will be in 2070]), all that I really want to do is "chomp chomp".  But I'll make a start before dinner, and then let others fill in the gaps.

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Za stall in Newtown

Together with his "greetings from small-town Japan", Chris Pickel sent in this photograph of a sign, which was put up in his neighborhood for the aki-matsuri 秋祭り ("autumn festival").

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Manchu loans in northeast Mandarin

Wei Shao, who hails from Liaoning Province in northeast China (formerly called Manchuria), rattled off the following sentence in her local language and asked me if I understood it:

Wǒ dǎ cīliū huá'r de shíhou bǎ bōlénggài'r kǎ tūlu pí'r le.

I could only sort of understand the following parts:  Wǒ dǎ … huá'r de shíhou bǎ …'r kǎ (?) … pí'r le ("When I was … slipping [?], I scraped [?] … the skin of…").  But it was all so fragmentary — mainly just the rough grammatical structure and three or four disconnected content words  — that I really didn't know what was going on.  Wei said not to worry, since no one from outside the area where she lives could understand it either.

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"When does one’s native language stop being native?"

That's the title of an article by Mark Schreiber in yesterday's (Aug. 25, 2013) Japan Times.  It has to do with a topic that we've discussed quite a bit on Language Log in recent weeks and months (e.g. here, with references to earlier posts on the subject): borrowings to and from Japanese.

Since the article is succinct, lively, and exemplary in its presentation, seemingly designed with a pedagogical purpose in mind, I shall quote it entirely:

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