Archive for Multilingualism

"Up" in Japanese and Chinese

Tong Wang told me that she just learned a new word.  It's "up主“, a term borrowed from Japanese into Chinese, and refers to those who upload audio, video, or other resources to share on certain websites.

In this expression, zhǔ / nushi 主 means "master; lord; host; owner", etc. (it has many other meanings in other realms of discourse, e.g., "Allah; Lord; advocate; main; primary; principal", etc.)

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"Hello" sung by a Kazakh

Here is Dimash Kudaibergen singing "Hello":

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I don't feel OK

Viral meme in the Sinosphere:

Wǒ juédé bù OK 我覺得不OK ("I don't feel OK")

Variant:

Wǒ juédé hái OK 我覺得還OK ("I feel sort of OK")

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Creeping Romanization in Chinese, part 4

Overheard

After a race, one Beijing marathon runner asks another:

pb le méiyǒu  pb了沒有…? ("did you meet / match / make your personal best?")

méiyǒu 沒有 ("no")

wǒ de pb shì… 我的pb是… ("my personal best is…")

I don't even know if "pb" is used this way in English, but such usage of Romanization (abbreviations, words, phrases), which often amounts to Englishization, are widespread in China, particularly on social media.

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Receptive multilingualism

In the latest The Atlantic, Michael Erard describes a fascinating linguistic phenomenon:  "The Small Island Where 500 People Speak Nine Different Languages:  Its inhabitants can understand each other thanks to a peculiar linguistic phenomenon".

The article begins:

On South Goulburn Island, a small, forested isle off Australia’s northern coast, a settlement called Warruwi Community consists of some 500 people who speak among themselves around nine different languages. This is one of the last places in Australia—and probably the world—where so many indigenous languages exist together. There’s the Mawng language, but also one called Bininj Kunwok and another called Yolngu-Matha, and Burarra, Ndjébbana and Na-kara, Kunbarlang, Iwaidja, Torres Strait Creole, and English.

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Polyscriptal, multilingual packaging for thousand-year eggs

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Please Wait to be Seated

Sign at a hotel in Anchorage, Alaska, spotted by Marc Sarrel:

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Spiritual high tech

From Harry Asche:

I'm in Mongolia.  Just had to buy the solar powered dashboard prayer wheel.  The instructions alone are worth the $5 price tag.

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A "Wild Boar" proficient in five languages — English, Thai, Burmese, Mandarin, and Wa

At the same time as the World Cup was being held in Russia, an even more intense soccer-related drama was unfolding in Thailand.  A group of teenage boys and their coach had become trapped in a cave complex for more than a week after the entrance had been sealed by rapidly rising floodwaters.  An international team of rescuers worked tirelessly to bring them out of the cave, and one brave hero lost his life in the attempt.  His name was Saman Gunan (Guana/Kunan); he died while taking oxygen to the Thai youngsters trapped in the cave.  Requiescat in pace!

But there was another hero of the Thai rescue operation, and he was a 14-year-old polyglot:

"Teen hero emerges from Thai cave rescue mission", NZ Herald (7/11/18)

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The worldly sport of spelling

Following on the victory of Karthik Nemmani in the Scripps National Spelling Bee — the 11th straight Indian-American to win the competition — the New York Times has an interview with Sam Rega, whose new documentary Breaking the Bee explores how kids of South Asian ancestry have come to dominate the Bee in recent years. I wrote about Breaking the Bee for The Atlantic last month — as I said there, it's a compelling film, and I hope it gets a distribution deal soon. (Currently it's on the film-festival circuit.) In the Times interview, Sam makes a point about the spellers' multilingual backgrounds that I didn't have room to discuss in my Atlantic piece.

Is there something about South Asian values or families that explains success in spelling?

To me, the key is how much these families believe in the idea of family. And how much spelling is a family sport. They believe in working together as a family unit. They want to create a bond between parent and child. Spellers look to their parents as role models and coaches. Their siblings often play assistant coach. Parents like to instill values like dedication, hard work, and how to handle yourself in defeat or success.

These families also tend to be multilingual, sometimes with moms and dads who speak different languages. Exposure to multiple languages can also play a role in spellers’ facility with spelling. Spelling is a worldly sport, it connects you to languages and places far away from you.

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Makudonarudo

Here's an amusing Japanglish song by a Malaysian Chinese hip hop recording artist who is called Namewee:

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Multiscriptal, multilingual Hong Kong headline

Bob Bauer sent in this photograph of a recent headline from a Hong Kong newspaper:

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Multilingual tea packaging

David Langeneckert thought that I "might find this mashup of languages interesting", and indeed I do!

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