Archive for Bilingualism

Bilingual, biscriptal sign in Virginia

Sticker at a gas station near the Richmond airport, courtesy of Jonathan Smith:

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Mixed script photo in the New York Times

From Elijah Granet:

I am writing because of this picture I recently saw on the New York Times website:

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Chinese pentaglot rap

A Shanghainese friend of a friend just sent him a link to a curious video, and he forwarded it to me.  It looks like a Nike-sponsored rap song with five different fāngyán 方言 ("topolects") and lots of English.

My friend asked, "I wonder to what degree the Hànzì 汉字 ("Chinese characters") in the subtitles match the actual lyrics."

The video comes via Bilibili, which sometimes seems to load very slowly.  It is also available on iQIYI and DigitaLing.  Subtitles are more clearly visible in the Bilibili and DigitaLing (last one) versions.

The main questions, at least for me, are which topolects are presented, how faithful the presentations are, and how well the subtitles represent what is being said.

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Ho Hou2 Ho!: English / Cantonese combo

Seen today by Jeff DeMarco in the IFC mall in Hong Kong:

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"Let's" in Chinese

Advertisement recently spotted by Guy Freeman in the Central, Hong Kong MTR (subway) station:

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Ball ball 你

Yep, just like that.  This expression is very common on the Chinese internet, messaging, chatting, etc. now, but — for those of us who are not in the know — what does it mean?

I'll just give one hint:  nǐ 你 means "you".

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Secret bilingual language

My wife and I used to have a private language that was full of bilingual, cryptic references such as the following:

Yáo Shùn Yǔ 尧舜禹 (the names of three ancient, wise, Chinese rulers) || sānmíngzhì 三明治 ("three wise rulers"), the Chinese transcription of English "sandwich".

Thus, if we wished to ask each other, "Do you want to eat a sandwich?", we might say "Nǐ yào bùyào chī yī ge Yáo Shùn Yǔ? 你要不要吃一个尧舜禹?".  That sort of word play was usually just for fun or to avoid a word that was transcribed into Mandarin from some other language.

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Biscriptal juxtaposition in Chinese, part 3

Christopher Alderton saw this flyer on his way to work a few days ago:

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German in America

There's a Germantown in Philadelphia and a German Village in Columbus, Ohio.  in Fredericksburg (the birthplace of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz) and in New Braunfels, they speak Texas German, and in Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities in many states, they speak  Pennsylvania Dutch / German (Deitsch, Pennsylvania Deitsch, Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch, Hinterwäldler-Deutsch).

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Beyond fluff

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The Chinese government has grown mildly addicted to the use of rap for disseminating propaganda.  I'm going to call this new variety "rapaganda", but I am not the first to do so.  The use of this portmanteau word might have started here:

"Chinese Communist Party Modernizes its Message — With Rap-aganda" (China Real Time Report, WSJ, 12/29/15)

WSJ's China Real Time Report just used it again:

"Video: China’s New ‘Rap-aganda’ Tells You What President Xi Cares About " (3/10/17)

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Siri in Korea

"The bizarre political scandal that just led to the impeachment of South Korea's president" (Jennifer Williams, Vox, 3/9/17)

Protestors wearing masks of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (R) and her confidante Choi Soon-Sil (L) pose for a performance during a rally denouncing a scandal over President Park's aide in Seoul on October 27, 2016. JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

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Topolectal traffic sign

This has apparently been around for awhile, but I'm seeing it now for the first time:

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