Archive for translation

Tribute: Burton Watson, 1925 – 2017

During the second half of the twentieth century and well into the twenty-first century, Burton Watson translated a wide range of works of premodern Chinese literature into highly readable, reliable English. His numerous published translations span the gamut of Chinese texts from history to poetry, prose, philosophy, and religion.  He was also an accomplished translator from Japanese, especially of poetry and religious literature.

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'Tis the Season: blooming in translation and in art

Jocelyn Ireson-Paine came across the Language Log posts which mention blooming: the increase in size of translated texts. She draws, and this made her think that if line drawing is regarded as translation from an original scene to lines, blooming can occur there too. She has written a brief note on this in "Drawing as Translation".

The essay was inspired partly by Jocelyn's thinking about what she does when she draws, and partly by English lecturer Matthew Reynolds talking about his book Translation: A Very Short Introduction.

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Variable usages

Sign greeting Xi Jinping in Florida:


(Source)

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No such thing

A Reuters article of March 30, 2017 has the title " China says 'no such thing' as man-made islands in South China Sea".  Upon reading this headline, the world asked, "Have the Chinese gone completely out of their mind?"  For the last couple of years, we have watched China building these bases at a feverish pace, and they have been documented from airplanes and satellites.  How could the Chinese baldly say to the world that there is " 'no such thing' as man-made islands in Southeast Asia Sea"?

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You're a cow

From David Cragin:

I was exchanging WeChats with a friend and she called me a cow, i.e.,  “Nǐ niú de 你牛的.”  It immediately made me laugh because calling someone a cow isn’t a good way to engender warm feelings in English.  Hā 哈!, but I guessed that in Chinese it must be a compliment.

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Beyond fluff

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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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