Archive for June, 2018

Winnie meets Oreo

This just in from Mark Metcalf in Beijing:

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The semiotics of fruit salad

By "fruit salad", here I am referring to the military slang expression for a servicemember's display of medals and ribbons on a dress uniform. In this post, I will be focusing only on the racks of ribbons worn on the left chest.

Defense Secretary James Mattis was recently in China and met with a number of ranking generals. With his keen eye, Paul Midler noticed that the ribbon racks on the chests of the Chinese officers were mostly identical. He writes: "Curious that Chinese officers wear a 'ribbon rack' that repeats many ribbons five times, and that among officers there is often little variety."

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Proliferating police

From an anonymous contributor (photo taken at noon yesterday):

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"Evil being protesting"

Mark Meckes asks:

Is there a name for the mistake of substituting one kind of participle for another? I feel like I've seen a number of examples of this lately, most recently in Ross Douthat's current NYT column
("The Red Hen and the Resistance", 6/27/2018):

"But to mitigate the effects of backlash, an effective protest politics also needs to make sure the acts of protest are clearly linked to the evil being protesting, and that they set up scenarios where the person being protested, not the protester, comes out looking
bad."

If there's a name for this type of typing error, I don't know what it is — but it's something that I find myself doing frequently. (Along with other cases where my fingers follow a common but contextually incorrect path, like typing "frequency" for "frequently" at the end of the previous sentence — which I just did.)

And I call it a "typing error" because this particular type of mistake is rare or non-existent in speech, since it violates the lexical category rule governing speech errors.

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Civility

Roger Lustig, commenting the headline "Paul Ryan calls on Maxine Waters to apologize" (Sunlen Serfaty and Katherine Sullivan,CNN 6/26/2018):

At first I thought he'd gone over to her house and said he was sorry.

If only.

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Burp Bowl

Eating establishment near Baruch College in New York City:

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Long words

I'm in Hamburg for lectures and meetings this week.

The first day I was here, in the afternoon I went out for a walk.  After taking about 50 steps from the front door of my hotel, I saw this lettering on the glass facade of a nearby building:

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Menefreghismo

As background to the discussion of Melania Trump's jacket choices, Giovanni Tiso presents "A brief (fascist) history of ‘I don’t care’", Overland 6/22/2018:

Fascism lay its roots in the campaign for Italy’s late entry in the First World War, of which Mussolini was one of the leaders. It was at this time that the phrase ‘me ne frego’ – which at the time was still considered quite vulgar, along the lines of the English ‘I don’t give a fuck’ – was sung by members of the special force known as arditi (literally: ‘the daring ones’) who volunteered for the front, to signify that they didn’t care if they should lose their lives.

The arditi were disbanded after the war, but many of them volunteered in 1919 for an expedition led by the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio to capture the city of Fiume (Rijeka, in present-day Croatia) and claim it for Italy during the vacuum created by the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire. At the time of this occupation, former arditi also formed the backbone of the original Black Squads during the terror campaigns that began in 1919 and culminated with the ‘March on Rome’ of 1922, which completed Fascism’s swift rise to power. […]

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Uyghur basketball player

Article in NBC Sports (6/22/18) by Drew Shiller:  "Report: Chinese prospect Abudushalamu Abudurexiti will play for Warriors in Summer League".

Quips heard around the Language Log water cooler:

Geoff Nunberg:  "It’ll give the announcers something new to chew on, now that they’ve learned to toss off Giannis Antetokounmpo."

Barbara Partee:  "If that article has the pronunciation anywhere near right, then I'll bet his nickname will be Budu-Budu. I like it."

For sure, it's gonna be a challenge for NBA announcers to rattle off his name, but let's see what we're really dealing with.

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The (Non-) Evolution of language

"Koko, the Gorilla Who Knew Sign Language, Dies at 46", Associated Press 6/21/2018:

Koko the gorilla who mastered sign language, raised kittens and once playfully tried on the glasses of the late actor Robin Williams, has died. She was 46.

The Gorilla Foundation says the western lowland gorilla died in her sleep at the foundation's preserve in California's Santa Cruz mountains on Tuesday.

Koko's capacity for language and empathy opened the minds and hearts of millions of people, the foundation said. She appeared in many documentaries and twice in National Geographic. The gorilla's 1978 cover featured a photo that the animal had taken of herself in a mirror.

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Update on the search for immigrant-aid interpreters

Let me try to pull together the information from my previous two posts, and add information that I'm seeing on Twitter. I will update this as I get more information.

Service-providers looking for interpreters. Much of the interpreting that is needed can be done by phone, so geographic location shouldn't be an issue.

RAICES: volunteer@raicestexas.org.

American Immigration Council. The person to contact is Crystal Massey, but the website doesn't give her email address. The general "Contact Us" page is here. (Added June 24, 2018.)

Service-providers that might need interpreters. These are names of groups that someone posted on Twitter; I don't know whether they're actually looking for interpreters.

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Chinese characters in the 21st century

We've been having a vigorous debate on the nature of Sinograms:  "Character crises".  It started on June 15, but it is still going on quite actively in the comments section.  A new reader of Language Log, a scholar of late medieval Chinese literature from Beijing was prompted by her reading of this lively discussion and other LL posts to which it led her to send in the following remarks:

Thanks to your blogs, I begin to be aware of some amusing aspects of Chinese languages, though I am still struggling with the terminology.

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Cartoon zeugma of the month

From the first panel of the most recent Scenes From a Multiverse, an example of what Wikipedia calls "Type 2 Zeugma" or "semantic syllepsis":


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