Archive for translation

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Hate

There are multilingual signs all over Swarthmore (where I live) that say "Hate Has No Home Here".  The signs are printed in six languages:  English, Urdu, Hebrew, Korean, Arabic, and Spanish.  I wondered about the choice of languages, but — with a little googling — I found that these are apparently the languages most commonly spoken at Petersen Elementary School in the North Park neighborhood of Chicago, where the campaign to post these signs originated.  It's interesting that the linguistic mix of an elementary school in Chicago determined the multilingualism of signs that are being posted all over the country.

Incidentally, there is also a #LoveThyNeighbor (No Exceptions) campaign going on, and here I wondered about the archaism of the "Thy".  It seems to me that the King Jamesian language of these signs conveys clear Christian overtones, which may account for the fact that there are far fewer of these signs around than the HHNHH signs.

"Hate" is also a hot topic in China these days.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson on linguists and Arrival

This is a guest post submitted by Nathan Sanders and colleagues. It's the text of an open letter to Neil deGrasse Tyson, who made a comment about linguists on Twitter not long ago.


Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson,

As fellow scientists, we linguists appreciate the work you do as a spokesperson for science. However, your recent tweet about the film Arrival perpetuates a common misunderstanding about what linguistics is and what linguists do:

In the @ArrivalMovie I'd chose a Cryptographer & Astrobiologist to talk to the aliens, not a Linguist & Theoretical Physicist

Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson), 1:40 PM – 26 Feb 2017

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Buddhism and languages

Whether you are familiar with Chinese characters or not, try to guess the meaning of the calligraphy on the front of this forthcoming book (the answer is at the very end of this post):

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Iron Crotch

Here on Language Log, we have devoted a considerable amount of attention to the terminology related to kungfu:

"Kung-fu (Gongfu) Tea" (7/20/11)

See also Ben Zimmer's masterful article on Visual Thesaurus:

"How 'Kung Fu' Entered the Popular Lexicon" (1/17/14)

Now we have documentation for another type of kungfu that has hitherto eluded us:

(YouTube video here.)

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"Poop"

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

Yes, the following image from the most recent Weekly Playboy (週刊プレイボーイ Shūkan Pureibōi; not a regional edition of Hugh Hefner's Playboy), is labeled "Poop":

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Gambling Disturb Terrible

A friend of Anne Henochowicz spotted this T-shirt in an Akihabara, Tokyo shop:

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Look at me

In his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, President Trump received contradictory instructions about where to look.

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Sun-moon mountain-wood

Boris Kootzenko was intrigued by this sign in China:

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Bastard, douchebag, whatever

Here and here are links (South China Morning Post [SCMP] and the Chinese website of a German radio channel) re yesterday’s surprising statement by Judge HE Fan of China’s supreme court calling President Trump a "public enemy of the rule of law".

The story is being well covered by the international media (NYT, The Independent, ABC News), so I won't repeat all the details readily available there.  Here I wish only to concentrate on a term of disapprobation that Judge He applied to Trump when he referred to him as “ègùn 恶棍”, which SCMP translates as “bastard”.

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Why electronic machine translation services sometimes seem to fail

The inability of Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, Baidu Fanyi, and other translation services to correctly render jī nián dàjí 鸡年大吉 ("may the / your year of the chicken be greatly auspicious!") in various languages points up a vital distinction that I have long wanted to make, and now is as good a time as ever.  Namely, just as you could not expect these translation services to handle Cantonese, Shanghainese, Taiwanese, etc. (unless specifically and separately programmed to do so), we should not expect them to deal with Literary Sinitic / Classical Chinese (LS / CC).

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Chicken is down

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Particle amnesia

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

I know you've written a lot about character amnesia in the greater Sinosphere. But I think I witnessed the related, but significantly different, phenomenon of (grammatical) particle amnesia (or perhaps, "drift") during a recent trip to Hawaii.

As you know, Hawaii has a large nikkei* population. This is especially true in and around Honolulu, where I was for the Japanese Studies Association conference last week. In addition to an extraordinary number of Japanese tourists, Oahu is home to nisei,** sansei,*** and many people of mixed heritage. Japanese signs abound, and Japanese is spoken in many hotels, restaurants, and stores.

[*an American of Japanese descent.]
[**second generation; ***third generation]

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