Archive for Standard language

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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