Archive for Language and fashion

Gender bending in the Sinosphere

Don Clarke has called to my attention a new bilingual, digraphic expression:  “娘man结合”.  That's "niáng man jiéhé ('woman man [the English word] combination')".

It’s a women’s fashion style that combines femininity in one part of the outfit with manliness in the other — like wearing a colored print dress with an army jacket.  Supposedly, “man” is read in the first tone.

Don remarks:

This expression must have the authorities very distressed; not only does it contain foreign words spelled in letters, but it also has the disfavored style "niáng 娘" ("mother; woman; mum; ma; a woman; young girl / woman; young lady; a form of address for an elderly married woman; effeminate [coll.]") . No less than the Xinhua News Agency recently inveighed against the sissified “娘炮”之风 (basically, the Korean boy-band look) as unmanly.

Here’s an account of the controversy (in Chinese).

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"I am a cat" t-shirt

Thorin Engeseth sent in these two photographs of a Zara brand shirt that his wife bought yesterday:

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Aunt Perilla

Photograph of a packet of seeds purchased by Dara Connolly's wife in a Daiso 100-yen shop in Japan:

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"Language Log" — a request

As you are aware, our fans in China and elsewhere around the world would like to translate "Language Log" into their own languages.  The problem is that there are different words for "language" and "log" in the many languages that they wish to cover.

For example, the Romance languages distinguish between the faculty of language—the human capacity to communicate, using spoken or written signs—from specific oral or written natural languages (French, Mandarin, etc.). One chooses between one word or the other depending on the subject under discussion. In English, the same word can be used for both phenomena.

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Japanese "Yankee" ("juvenile delinquent")

"Japanese start-up helping ‘delinquents’ compete against college graduates for city jobs with new internship:  The company Hassyadai has so far helped 100 youth from outside Tokyo to land employment", SCMP (12/2/17):

Dubbed the “Yankee internship”, the programme, whose participants range in age from 16 to 22, is unique in that it includes the category of Yankee – Japanese slang for delinquent youth.

How did English "Yankee" come to mean "delinquent youth" in Japanese?

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What does your tattoo mean?

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La septième fonction du langage

Laurent Binet, La septième fonction du langageThe seventh function of language. This looks like an interesting book — pulp meta-fiction featuring Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Umberto Eco, Noam Chomsky, Louis Althusser, Paul de Man, Jean-François Lyotard,  Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida, John Searle, Morris Zapp, Gayatri Spivak, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Julia Kristeva, Philippe Sollers, Jacques Lacan, Camille Paglia, and more. There are reviews by Michael Dirda in the Washington Post ("Who killed Roland Barthes? Maybe Umberto Eco has a clue.", 8/23/1017), by Nicholas Daves in the New York Times ("A Postmodern Buddy-Cop Novel Sends Up the World of Semiotics", 8/16/2017), by Anthony Domestico in the San Francisco Chronicle ("‘The Seventh Function of Language,’ by Laurent Binet", 817/2017), etc. And there's a play, scheduled for the Théâtre de Sartrouville in November, and various other venues in France through the spring of 2018. No doubt the movie rights have already been snapped up.

Versions in French and in English are available from the usual places.

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May I ask you a question?

Lately my more formal, stiff students (mostly undergrads) have been using the expression "reach out to you" when they want to ask me a question.  I also notice that I'm receiving random inquiries from people I don't know who approach me with this opening.

There's definitely a surge of "reaching out".  Two or three years ago, I only received messages with that beginning rarely, almost never, but now I get at least one a week.

Does anyone know when this way of couching a question started to become popular?  Any idea of the context in which it began to be used so routinely?

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A Sanskrit tattoo in Hong Kong

This is Yau Wai-ching 游蕙禎 (b. 1991), a member of the localist political group Youngspiration and a newly elected member of Hong Kong's Legco (Legislative Council):

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Of felt hats, feathers, macaroni, and weasels

In my work on the Bronze Age mummies of Eastern Central Asia (ECA), one of the attributes that has struck me perhaps more powerfully than any other is their stupendous felt hats.  Here's a photograph of some of them:

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Technical Sauna at Buddy Hair

Another intriguing sign from Nagoya, Japan sent in by Nathan Hopson:

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More on Dior's "Quiproquo" cocktail dress

Last week (6/5/15), we examined the fantastic calligraphy on a dress created by the great French fashion designer, Christian Dior (1905-1957), that is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

"Christian Dior's 'Quiproquo' cocktail dress and the florid rhubarb prescription written on it"

During the course of the discussion carried on in the comments to the post, many fascinating details about the dress and its former owner were brought to light.

I am pleased to report that two members of the staff at the Met have kindly provided additional information that sheds further light on this most impressive cultural artifact.

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Christian Dior's "Quiproquo" cocktail dress and the florid rhubarb prescription written on it

The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has a very-well received exhibit, “China: Through the Looking Glass” (7 May–16 August, 2015), which “explores the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries.”

One of the objects displayed is a (rather fetching) "Quiproquo" cocktail dress by Christian Dior (1951), the calligraphic pattern of which is based on 19th-century rubbing from a 10th-century stele inscription describing a sudden illness, an abdominal pain. (You can see both here; they’re images 12 and 13 as you scroll down.)

Here's the dress:


Christian Dior (French, 1905–1957) for House of Dior (French, founded 1947)
"Quiproquo" cocktail dress, 1951
French
Silk, leather
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Byron C. Foy, 1953 (C.I.53.40.38a–d)
Photography © Platon

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