Archive for Topolects

Porcelain bumping

I learned this term from an important article by David Bandurski in today's (10/17/18) The Guardian, "China’s new diplomacy in Europe has a name: broken porcelain:  Beijing’s message to Sweden and beyond – criticise us, and we’ll topple your agenda – won’t win it any hearts and minds".

The relevant Chinese expression is pèngcí 碰瓷, which literally means "bump porcelain" (think pèngpèngchē 碰碰车 ["bumper cars"]).  How did pèngcí 碰瓷 ("bump porcelain") become embroiled with diplomacy and international politics?

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Peking colloquialisms

Here is a photograph of a paper placemat Tong Wang found in a restaurant serving Beijing dishes that is named "Sea Bowl Restaurant" (Hǎiwǎn jū 海碗居):

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Shaanxi topolect

Adrian Thieret spotted this poster in downtown Xi'an this summer:

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Biscriptal ad in the Hong Kong subway

Jenny Chu spotted this ad from a campaign for Nescafe currently being shown in the Hong Kong MTR:

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Seven flavors

Jichang Lulu reports that an eating establishment in London has chosen the name qī wèi 柒味 ("seven flavors").  This comes via Yuan Chan on Twitter:

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Central government control over words for grandmother

Recently there was quite a ruckus over the correct word to be used for "maternal grandmother" in second-graders' textbooks in Shanghai:

"Much Ado About Grandma: Textbook Change Sparks Linguistic Debate:  Critics call ‘waipo’ to ‘laolao’ change ‘cultural hegemony’ from the north", Kenrick Davis, Sixth Tone (6/22/18)

"A debate over the word for ‘grandmother’ in China exposes a linguistic and political rift", Echo Huang and Ziyi Tang, Quartz (6/26/18)

The big controversy was over whether students should be taught to say "lǎolao 姥姥" or "wàipó 外婆", both of which mean "maternal grandmother".

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Mother tongue is like mother's milk

Pro-Taiwanese language poster on a wall in Tainan (courtesy of Tim Clifford):

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The future of Cantonese, part 2

During the month of May, we witnessed a major flare-up in Hong Kong over the status of Cantonese:

"Cantonese is not the mother tongue of Hong Kongers" (5/4/18) — with references to more than two dozen earlier posts on Cantonese relevant to today's topic; in toto, the number of LLog posts touching on one or another aspect of Cantonese is far greater than those listed at the end of this 5/4/18 post

"Cantonese is not the mother tongue of Hong Kongers, part 2" (5/7/18)

"The Future of Cantonese" (5/27/18)

All of this has prompted Verna Yu to ask "Can Cantonese survive?", America (6/5/18).

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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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The Future of Cantonese

[This is a guest post by Robert S. Bauer]

HK’s Cantonese language continues to attract attention and be a topic of discussion.

Two Mondays ago (May 14, 2018) I was a guest discussant on RTHK Radio 3's Backchat programme.

The topic was "The Future of Cantonese" (in Hong Kong).

In addition to the two main hosts, Hugh Chiverton and Mike Rowse, the following people joined in the discussion:

Simon Liang, Member, Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis (a group promoting the correct usage of Cantonese)

Peter Gordon, Editor, Asian Review of Books; and Language Critic

Benjamin Au Yeung, TV host and Linguist

Robert Bauer, Honorary Linguistics Professor, University of Hong Kong

Li Hui, University of Hong Kong

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Cantonese is not the mother tongue of Hong Kongers, part 2

Half a day after the first part of this series, "Cantonese is not the mother tongue of Hong Kongers" (5/4/18), was posted, someone unhelpfully and snarkily asked, "…but are we sure he used the English word 'dialect'?"

That's not the point.

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Cantonese is not the mother tongue of Hong Kongers

So say mainland and government spokespersons.  It sounds absurd, but here's the "reasoning", as summarized by Bob Bauer:

Have you heard about HK's latest brouhaha that Cantonese is NOT the mother tongue of HK's Cantonese-speaking population? A bigshot mainland scholar has written that HK Cantonese can't possibly be their mother tongue because it's MERELY a dialect and dialects can't be mother tongues!

Yesterday the Chief Executive Carrie Lam was asked by a legislative councilor what her mother tongue was, but she refused to answer his question and said it was pointless!

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Peppa Pig has been purged

The porcine princess seems innocuous enough, but for some reason(s), the Chinese government has decided to censor her:

"China bans Peppa Pig to combat 'negative influence' of foreign ideologies" (businessinsider.com)

"Chinese video app targets 'subversive' Peppa Pig in online clean-up" (CNN)

"China gives 'subversive' Peppa Pig the chop" (AFP)

More links here.

Why go after poor Peppa Pig?  How about Hello Kitty?  Micky Mouse?

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