Archive for Standard language

"Bad" borrowings in North Korean

Last week, the Daily NK (from Seoul) published an article by Kang Mi Jin about "Loanwords frequently appearing in the Rodong Sinmun" (11/25/16), South Korean original here.  Rodong Sinmun is the official newspaper of the North Korean Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea.

A source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on November 21 that the authorities have been delivering public lectures on the need to “actively fight to eradicate the bad habit of using foreign languages, including words of Japanese origin and the language of the puppet regime (South Korea)." However, many have pointed out the increasingly frequent usage of foreign words in the Rodong Sinmun.

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Annals of singular 'they': another case with known sex

Karen Thomson, a Sanskritist and antiquarian bookseller living in Oxford, wrote to me to point out the following very significant example of singular they in a Financial Times interview with TV writer and director Jill Soloway:

People will recognise that just because somebody is masculine, it doesn't mean they have a penis. Just because somebody's feminine, it doesn't mean they have a vagina. That's going to be the evolution over the next five years.

You see what makes this not just a dramatic claim in terms of sexual politics but a linguistically very revealing example?

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Pekingese vs. Putonghua

John Rohsenow sent me a WeChat (a Chinese text and messaging service) post that compares Putonghua (Modern Standard Mandarin [MSM]) sentences with their equivalents in Pekingese.  The differences are stark, amounting to a translation from one language to another.

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Only 7% of people in China speak proper Putonghua: PRC MOE

[This is a guest post by Mark Swofford.  N.B.:  Pǔtōnghuà 普通话 = Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM); PRC = People's Republic of China; MOE = Ministry of Education]

In the South China Morning Post this week:

"One-third of Chinese do not speak Putonghua, says Education Ministry".

I tracked down the Ministry of Education's release. It's here.

The Web-based e-mail system I'm using at the moment will scramble any Hanzi, so I'll write in Pinyin.

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