Archive for translation

Li’l Ice AI writes Chinese poetry

About a week ago I received this Facebook query from Scaruffi.com about Chinese chatbot poetry (relayed by Mark Liberman):

Since friday Chinese social media are flooded with comments about a poetry book written by Microsoft’s chatbot Xiaoice that was published on May 19 (three days ago).

I cannot find a single reference to this book in Google’s search engine.

No western media seems to have picked up the news.
(As of today, monday the 22nd)

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Toxic clams

Photograph of a sign at Sequim Bay, Washington taken by Stephen Hart:

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Attribution of the WannaCry ransomware to Chinese speakers

The notorious WannaCry malware infestation began on Friday, May 12, 2017 and spread rapidly throughout the world, infecting hundreds of thousands of computers and causing major damage.  Speculation concerning the identity of the perpetrators focused on North Korea, but the supposed connection was never convincingly demonstrated, and there were no other serious suspects.

Yesterday, Jon Condra, John Costello, and Sherman Chu published a stunning report which suggests that the authors of WannaCry — or someone they hired — spoke fluent Chinese:

Linguistic Analysis of WannaCry Ransomware Messages Suggests Chinese-Speaking Authors” (Flashpoint [5/25/17])

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“Little Man” the eating machine

There’s a curious article by Kathy Chu and Menglin Huang in the Wall Street Journal (5/21/17):

How a Toddler Who Loves Eating Transfixed China:  2½-year-old Xiaoman is an online sensation, bringing fame, a Pampers ad and questions about her weight”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-a-toddler-who-loves-eating-transfixed-china-1495387268

If you have difficulty reading the whole article via the embedded link, try this TinyURL, which should lead you to a complete preview.

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BARF (Belt and Road Forum) 2.0

[This is a guest post by the inimitable satirist, S. Tsow]

[1.0 is this: “BARF (Belt and Road Forum)” (5/19/17)]

Xi Jinping (“Mr. Eleven” [XI]) calls his New Silk Road initiative “One Belt, One Road”  (Yidai-Yilu).  A map I have shows a land route in the north, going westward, bifurcating at Urumchi, and ending at Rotterdam and Istanbul.  OK, that’s the “belt”.  The “road” shows a sea route in the south that wanders all over the place and ends in the west at Venice.

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BARF (Belt and Road Forum)

We are currently in the midst of a massive propaganda barrage unleashed upon the world by the People’s Republic of China.  It’s all about something that started out being called “Yīdài yīlù 一帶一路” (“One Belt One Road”), at least that’s what it was named when I first heard about it a year or two ago.  The Chinese publicists writing about it in English may have just styled it “The Belt and Road”, but everybody I know spoke of it as “One Belt One Road” — “OBOR” for short, which reminded me of Über.

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No word for “Community Room”?

At the Valencia Police Station in San Francisco, CA, there is a sign reading “Community Room” in English and Spanish. There is also Chinese on the sign; however, apparently a word or two is not considered adequate to communicate this concept in Chinese.

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The sanitization of a sensual Chinese poem

From Michael Pratt, a former professor of Spanish, who relocated to Shenzhen to learn more about Chinese poetry, which was his chief motivation for moving to China:

At times, when I discuss Tang shi (“Tang poetry”) with Chinese acquaintances, I am struck by their seeming dogmatism about the range of possible interpretations. For example, in a recent conversation about the poem “Jīnlǚ yī 金缕衣” (“The Robe of Golden Thread”), traditionally attributed to Dù Qiūniáng 杜秋娘 (“Autumn Maid Du”)*, my Chinese interlocutor was adamant that the speaker’s insistence on the importance of plucking blossoms during one’s qīngshàonián 少年时 (“youth”) was entirely high-minded — i.e., that it was a vulgar mistake for me even to suggest that sex or love might number among the pleasures symbolized by those enticing but ephemeral blossoms.

[*VHM: article in Mandarin; in Literary Sinitic; in Norsk bokmål]

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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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