Archive for November, 2014


Nathan Hopson sent in this photo (from Nagoya, Japan, but there are similar stores all over Japan):

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No-excuses split infinitive in The Economist

I have grumbled on several previous occasions about the Economist's stubborn adherence to a brainless policy that its editors maintain: no adjuncts are to be located between the to and the verb in an infinitival clause, lest readers should get annoyed. That is, the magazine's style guide insists that the "split infinitive" construction should be avoided even though it is well known that the rule barring it is a 19th-century fiction and there is no serious rational ground for practicing the syntactic self-denial in question. The reason I grumble is that the more notable institutions like magazines or publishing houses insist on such silly rules the more money and time get wasted on enforcing compliance. So I was pleased to see this week that The Economist had slipped up and let one through. The court does not have nationwide jurisdiction, so the mogul is unlikely to ever be thrown behind bars said an article about the Pakistani blasphemy law on page 59 of the November 29th issue.

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Ko P

Just in case you hadn't seen this in the news, the winner of the Taipei mayoral election held on November 28, 2014 is Ko Wen-je (Kē Wénzhé 柯文哲), a trauma surgeon who ran as an independent.

"Pro-independence party candidate Ko Wen-je claims victory in Taipei mayor race"
The Straits Times (11/29/14)

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Teenager found bed

Stan Carey writes "Here's a headline for you!":

"Mentally ill teenager held in police cell is found bed", BBC News Devon, 11/29/2014.

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Punning banned in China

When the first headline arrived stating that China was going to ban punning, I thought that it must be something from The Onion.  But when more and more reports came pouring in, I said to myself, "No, this is China.  They're really going to do it."

Indeed, the latest directive from the Ministry of Truth (State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television [SAPPRFT]) shows that they are dead serious.

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You extraterrestrial tease, you

From Tal Linzen — Google Translate renders Hebrew "Please return to me" as "Please me like an alien creature":


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Collect Fees Documents at Miss Hot Cafe

Toni Tan writes:

I don't eat out much, but when I do, this is one of my favorite places. The food is spicy; however, I don't think it is cuisine from Szechuan because the dishes aren't oily at all.

The menu items are rather quirkily named (e.g., fish with sour cabbage). In fact, my favorite dish there is called Big Dish — just "Big Dish" — which is an enormous bowl of spicy broth with seafood, tofu, vegetables, and glass noodles.

However, the restaurant's name is what catches everyone's attention and a dead giveaway for why I like it, given my penchant for spicy food.

Their bill holder has also met with much curiosity. I took a picture of their business card and the bill holder for you.

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Plebgate judgment

I spent Monday, November 24, in courtroom 13 of the Royal Courts of Justice in London. For a small part of that time, I testified as an expert witness; for the rest of the day, I was an interested spectator.

What was the occasion? Peter Walker explains ("Andrew Mitchell and the Plebgate affair explained for non-Brits", The Guardian 11/27/2014):

It all began on the evening of 19 September 2012 when Mitchell, then chief whip of the government – effectively the enforcer for the ruling party, the person who keeps discipline and makes sure ministers vote as they are ordered – tried to cycle out of Downing Street. He was in a rush, en route to an engagement, and wanted to ride directly out of the main vehicle gates.  

But to Mitchell’s displeasure, he was told to dismount and walk his bike through a pedestrian entrance. He argued with the officer on duty, PC Toby Rowland and, according to the officer’s account of the exchange, told him:  

Best you learn your fucking place – you don’t run this fucking government – you’re fucking plebs.  

All this was gleefully recounted in the next day’s Sun newspaper, and even though Mitchell denied using the word “plebs”, the continued bad publicity led him to resign just over a month later.

The row has rumbled on ever since, including minute examination of CCTV footage from the evening in question, and culminating in a legal case which finished on Thursday that saw Mitchell sue the Sun for libel over its story, while at the same time Mitchell was sued by PC Rowland for calling the policeman a liar.

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Satirical travelogy

Poe's Law says that "it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism". But this difficulty extends far beyond expressions of (political or religious) extremism, and I got an email advertisement today that kept me guessing for quite a while.

The ostensible topic was the new issue of a periodical "Coldnoon: Travel Poetics", and the first paragraph of the email read:

Coldnoon seeks to objectively redefine travel and locate it as part of everyday discourses. It is therefore interested in smaller, local or ground travels which pay attention to the common, forsaken, details of everyday journeys – roads, vehicles, literature, discourses, politics, hence texts, that are otherwise thought to belong in another realm, but are constantly defined and described from within the vocabulary of travel. We are interested in works that grapple with texts and situations commonly associated with methods of study and practice – such as Marxism, Postcolonialism, Cybernetics, Education, Health, Identity, Politics, Romance, Religion or Revolution – other than travel, with a language and methodology of travel, and travelogy.

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Posts of Thanksgiving Past

"Same-sex Mrs. Santa: 'The semantics are confusing'", 11/27/2003
"Thanks giving", 11/25/2004
"Life in these, uh, this United States", 11/24/2005
"A linguist's Thanksgiving", 11/23/2006
"A Thanksgiving discussion", 11/22/2007
"Thanksgiving variation", 11/23/2007
"In the wake of Thanksgiving", 11/27/2007
"Thanksgiving: The Greek influence", 11/28/2007
"Giving thanks", 11/26/2009
"Thanksgiving weekend quiz", 11/27/2010
"Black Friday", 11/22/2012

What's on your mind, this last Thursday in November?

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Hong Kong interlingual contrast

John Brewer noted the palpable irony between two quotations in this article from today's NYT:  "7 Hong Kong Police Officers Arrested in Beating of Protester"(11/26/14)

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Silver / aging / senior / whatever industry

Goods and services for senior citizens are a big business in China.  In general, the manufacture and marketing of such products go by the designation lǎolíng chǎnyè 老龄产业.  But, oh, how to render that in English?

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Class war skirmishes in England

Several manifestations of verbal and visual class warfare have recently hit the mass media in Britain. The subtlest example, least transparent to outsiders, is the affair of the white van in Rochester — William James, "In class obsessed Britain, tweet of 'white van' man hits nerve", Reuters 11/21/2014:

Posting a picture on Twitter of a two-storey house, displaying three English flags of St. George and with a white tradesman's van outside, might seem innocuous to a foreign eye.

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