Archive for Lexicon and lexicography

Words for anger

Lisa Feldman Barrett has an article on "The Varieties of Anger" in last Sunday's NYT.  Most of it consists of reflections on pre- and post-election anger in our society.  But Barrett has one paragraph in which she makes some rather dubious claims about the number of words for “anger” in several languages:

The Russian language has two distinct concepts within what Americans call “anger” — one that’s directed at a person, called “serditsia,” and another that’s felt for more abstract reasons such as the political situation, known as “zlitsia.” The ancient Greeks distinguished quick bursts of temper from long-lasting wrath. German has three distinct angers, Mandarin has five and biblical Hebrew has seven.

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Hokkien-Tagalog-English-Spanish phrasebook

Page of a phrasebook published in 1941 (click to embiggen):

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English-Cantonese and Hokkien-Malay phrasebooks

Ryan of Singapore sent me photographs of a section from a Chinese almanac that amounts to a ten-page English phrasebook phonetically annotated in Cantonese. Here are two of the pages (as usual, click to embiggen):

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Two new words in Mandarin

At least they're new for me.

I'm always learning new expressions, constructions, usages, etc. in Chinese.  The Sinitic languages are changing so rapidly that it is a heady experience trying to keep up with them.  The two new Mandarin words I just learned are good examples of the kinds of transformations that are constantly taking place in Chinese.

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Knife and fork

Nathan Hopson came across a marvelous Japanese word from the interwar period the other day:  naihoku ナイホク.

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The reality of censorship in the PRC

When we published the ABC Chinese-English Dictionary from Hawaii in 1996, the original American edition had this definition for Lin Biao:  "veteran Communist military leader; Mao Zedong's designated successor until his mysterious death".

Imagine our surprise when we discovered in the licensed edition of the dictionary from Shanghai the following definition:  "veteran Communist military leader; ringleader of counterrevolutionary group (during Cultural Revolution)".

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"Arrival is a tree that is still to come"

Thanks to Chinese characters, we are inundated with such preposterous profundities.

In the day before yesterday's UK Observer, there is an article by Claire Armitstead titled "Madeleine Thien: ‘In China, you learn a lot from what people don’t tell you:  The Man Booker-shortlisted writer on a solitary childhood in Canada and daring to question the Chinese regime" (10/8/16).

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Can Japanese read Chinese, and vice versa?

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Heart residue

Stuart Luppescu writes:

I recently ate at a yakiniku 焼肉 ("grilled meat") place in Kyoto that serves only chicken and pork — rather atypical. One menu item was kokoronokori 心残り. I asked the server what that was, and was told it was the flesh, blood vessels, and fat around the heart that is left over when they prepare the heart to be served. Since I am a gaijin 外人 ("foreigner"), they gave me a menu that had the entries with English glosses. For this one they wrote "regret" — they had obviously relied on Google Translate for their rendering. After I left I realized I should have taken a picture and sent it to you, but this message will have to do.

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Lu Gusun, lexicographer and Shakespeare scholar (1940-2016)

Among many other accounts in English and in Chinese of Lu Gusun's 陆谷孙 passing on July 28, there are two articles in Shanghai Daily that are worthy of mention.  Yesterday, there was an initial, brief announcement,

"Noted English literature professor Lu Gusun passes away at 76" (7/28/16) by Chen Huizhi.

Today, there is a much longer article by Chen Huizhi and Wang Yanlin, "Lu Gusun, celebrated professor and lexicographer, dies aged 76" (7/29/16).

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"Enter the Dangal"

Earlier this year, Language Log readers contributed to the elucidation of "South Asian wrestling terms" (3/1/16).

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Sino-Japanese

I recall that, as a graduate student in Sinology, one of the most troublesome tasks was figuring out how to romanize the names of Japanese authors, the titles of their works, place names, technical terms, and so forth. Overall, Japanese Sinological (not to mention Indological and other fields) scholarship is outstanding, so we have to consult it, and when we cite Japanese works, we need to be able to romanize names, titles, and so forth to reflect their Japanese pronunciations.

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Affinity — a curiously multivalent term

Richard Warmington has pointed out that "affinity" is a contronym (a word with two opposite or contradictory meanings).  Another example of a contronym is "sanction", which can signify both "penalty for disobeying a law" and "permission or approval for an action".

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