Archive for Language and art


Jan Söhlke sent in this photograph taken in a shop in Vienna:

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That "moisture dripping wet feeling"

I'm pretty sure this will push some wet buttons among Language Log readers and authors.  Kira Simon-Kennedy found this stellar specimen of Chinglish in a press release from the China-sponsored section of the LA Art Show.

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Poetic contrastive focus reduplication

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258 FAKE

The following address plate is affixed to the outer wall of Ai Weiwei's studio in Beijing:

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Eighty-one Cantonese proverbs in one picture

From the "Cantonese Resources" blog:

Ah To 阿塗, a graphic designer and part-time cartoonist who is concerned about the survival of Cantonese in Canton and Hong Kong, has just published a comic called "The Great Canton and Hong Kong Proverbs" on Hong Kong independent media "Passion Times".

(Click to embiggen.)

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Too much Victor Mair

I've been reading way too much Victor Mair. In the restaurant of my hotel in London I just saw an English girl wearing a T-shirt on which it said this:


And I immediately thought, who is Ho Pe?

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Bilingual bricks: Google as "Valley Song"

Here is a closeup of a remarkable work of installation art that is being shown at this year's Venice Biennale:

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Uyghur as ornament

The following restaurant sign in Uyghur and Chinese was sent in by Fangyi Cheng:

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On Interdisciplinary Collaboration and "Latent Personas"

This is a guest post by David Bamman, in response to the post by Dan Garrette ("Computational linguistics and literary scholarship", 9/12/2013).

The critique by Hannah Alpert-Abrams and Dan Garrette of our recent ACL paper ("Learning Latent Personas of Film Characters") and the ensuing discussion is raising interesting questions on the nature of interdisciplinary research, specifically between computer science and literary studies. Garrette frames our paper as "attempting to … answer questions in literary theory" and Alpert-Abrams argues that for a given work of this kind to be truly interdisciplinary, it "must be cutting edge in the field of literary scholarship too." To do truly meaningful work at the intersection of computer science and literary studies, they argue, parties from both sides need to be involved.

While I disagree with how Garrette and Alpert-Abrams have characterized our paper (as attempting to address literary theory), I fundamentally agree with their underlying point. I have a different understanding of how we get to that point, however; to illustrate this, let me offer here a different framing of our paper.

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Don't pee on this teapot

Over the years, we've often blogged about signs in China (and sometimes elsewhere) forbidding people to urinate where they're not supposed to, e.g., "Urination is inhuman", with references to earlier posts near the end.

Now Morgan Jones has sent in what is probably the most unusual of all such warnings in this genre.

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No breasts for our guests

Part of the ensuite bathroom in my room at the Deca Hotel in Seattle has wallpaper on which the decoration is text, in a variety of arty fonts. The text, repeated over and over in a variety of different fonts, is part of a poem. But there's something odd: one word from the poem is missing.

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"Book from the Ground"

Earlier this year, I wrote about "The unpredictability of Chinese character formation and pronunciation". In that post, I had a long section on the artist Xu Bing's "Book from the Sky".

Now the artist has created a parallel "Book from the Ground". Here's what it looks like:

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