I spotted this colossal translation fail at the top of the Chinalawtranslate home page.
Archive for Borrowing
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about the future: "Mirai".
The ensuing discussion was quite animated, touching upon the nuances and implications of words for the future in many different languages. I concluded by saying that I would write a separate post about past, present, and future: here it is.
Nathan Hopson sent in this photo (from Nagoya, Japan, but there are similar stores all over Japan):
This is a batshit insane music video for the song “Chick Chick” by Chinese pop group Wang Rong Rollin. It makes stuff like “What Does The Fox Say?” seem absolutely tame. I don’t know what the hell I just watched but I’ll have whatever they’re having.
Fearful that the languages of their countries are becoming mutually unintelligible, linguists from North Korea and South Korea are joining forces to create a common dictionary, as described in this article from the South China Morning Post: "Academics try to get North and South Korea to speak same language" (11/3/14)
In a comment on a recent Language Log post concerning another subject, ThomasH opined that he'd like to see a discussion concerning the prescriptiveness/descriptiveness of the article just cited: "Personally it seems both futile — without more actual language transactions between the two countries — and pointless, with bonus points for the complaint about English loan words being part of the 'problem'."
We have often seen how the Roman alphabet is creeping into Chinese writing, both for expressing English words and morphemes that have been borrowed into Chinese, but also increasingly for writing Mandarin and other varieties of Chinese in Pinyin (spelling). Here are just a few earlier Language Log posts dealing with this phenomenon:
"A New Morpheme in Mandarin" (4/26/11)
"Zhao C: a Man Who Lost His Name" (2/27/09)
"Creeping Romanization in Chinese" (8/30/12)
Now an even more intricate application of alphabetic usage is developing in internet writing, namely, the juxtaposition and intertwining of simultaneous phrases with contrasting meaning. Here are a couple of examples:
Some notes on the origins of the words and characters for wheat, flour, and noodles in Turkic and Sinitic languages
On the Xinjiang Studies list, a number of questions about noodles and the words for them in Sinitic and other languages have come up.
First of all, Sue Naquin called to my attention this article which seems to show a connection between Uyghurs and the invention of pulled noodles (lāmiàn), which the Uyghurs call laghman:
Amy Qin, "Q. and A.: Jen Lin-Liu on Noodles and Their Origins".
In "Dead and alive: metaphors for (dis)obeying the law " (7/27/14), we discussed the food scandal that has rocked China in recent days. Abe Sauer had earlier made this post to the brandchannel: "China's Latest Meat Scandal Could Deal a Death Blow to Brands Like KFC " (7/23/14). In it, Abe remarked, "Taking a note from America's Watergate-based nomenclature, the scandal is being called 'Foul Meat-gate' ('臭肉门')." Ben Zimmer, who called Abe's post to my attention, asked, "Is '-gate' really working as a morpheme here?"
The concept of "well-being" has been much discussed among economists, psychologists, and sociologists. In connection with a major project on notions of well-being worldwide (in Richard Estes and Joseph Sirgy, ed., The History of Well-Being: A Global Perspective [forthcoming from Halloran Philanthropies]), Shawn Arthur and I have been commissioned to write a chapter on ideas about well-being in East Asia.
It has been challenging to find equivalent terms in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, but there are many traditional Chinese notions covering one or more aspects of well-being — though we haven't found any single term that is coterminous, so to speak, with the English expression "well-being". Be that as it may, the traditional Chinese terms that partially overlap with "well-being" have also been taken up in Sino-Japanese and Sino-Korean vocabulary. Here are just a few such Sinitic expressions: 安寧 ("peaceful"), 福利 ("welfare"), 平安 ("safe and sound"): C. ānníng, fúlì, píng'ān / J. annei, fukuri, heian / K. annyeong, bogli, pyeong-an. It would be easy to come up with a dozen or so additional relevant terms in the Sinitic vocabulary of East Asia. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Ken Mallott found a Chinese use of a Japanese word in a way that surprised him. He explains that he's an Orioles fan, and in 2012 they signed Taiwanese pitcher Wei-Yin Chen (陳偉殷), who apparently has quite the following back in Taiwan. His fans have taken to posting Chinese messages in traditional script on Facebook before 殷仔's starts, encouraging their fellow supporters to get up early to watch him pitch.
In "Chinglish in English?", we examined the expression "no zuo no die" and came to the conclusion that, no matter what it might mean, it has not — as has been claimed by devotees of Chinglish — become a part of English vocabulary; it has not even become a part of English slang. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Beginning around the end of April, there was a flurry of activity surrounding this Chinglish expression: "no zuo no die".
The big news was that this Chinglishism had supposedly entered the American vocabulary, witness this article: "Chinese buzzword 'no zuo no die' enters Urban Dictionary", and there were scores of others, most of them giving essentially the same story, namely, that "no zuo no die" had won a place in the Urban Dictionary, a rather dubious distinction. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Reader Jean-Michel found an odd example of a Sinographic typo and it's got him stumped. This has to do with the Korean Blu-ray release of "As Tears Go By," the 1988 debut feature by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai.
In Chinese the film is known as Wàngjiǎo kǎmén 旺角卡門 ("Mongkok Carmen") after the Bizet opera (though the resemblances are very superficial). What is strange, however, is that the Korean Blu-ray art, as illustrated below, initially gave the characters as Wàngjiǎo xiàwèn 旺角下問.