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.

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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More regarding the need for interpreters

In addition interpreters being needed to help detainees communicate with their lawyers, there is an urgent need for medical personnel who can speak Central American indigenous languages (or, failing that, presumably for interpreters to work with English- and Spanish-speaking medical personnel). This is a Facebook post that Emily Bender has sent me:


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Interpreters needed for immigrant families: Meso-American indigenous languages

Please spread the word.

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What do Chinese truckers want to overthrow?

Last week there were large scale truckers strikes in many parts of China.  China watchers around the world were stunned, especially since some of the strikers were shouting out what sounded like "overthrow the Communist Party!", as at 3:48 in this video.

Here's the audio portion of the leader of one of the strikes shouting what sounds like "dǎdǎo gòngchǎndǎng 打倒共产党" ("overthrow the Communist Party") into a microphone, followed by a throng of truckers responding in unison.

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Absolutoria

When I saw a large sign reading "ABSOLUTORIA 2018" on a vaguely ecclesiastical-looking building in Poznań last week, my first ignorant thought was that maybe there was a sort of special on indulgences. But that was wrong, and so was my second thought that it might be a vodka festival.

A quick inspection of the building's smaller signage identified it as part of Adam Mickiewicz University, and suggested that "absolutoria" in this context means graduation ceremonies. A Polish-English dictionary confirmed this inference, and the site absolutoria.poznan.pl offers pictures.

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Extreme right node raising

Wikipedia explains that "right node raising" is "a sharing mechanism that sees the material to the immediate right of parallel structures being in some sense 'shared' by those parallel structures, e.g. [Sam likes] but [Fred dislikes] the debates."

This construction is alive and well in modern English, but it flourished to a much greater extent in centuries past. I believe that it was once more common, though I don't have quantitative evidence. But 18th-century authors certainly produced examples that seem to go beyond the boundaries of modern prose style.

Here's a case in point, from Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter X: Emperors Decius, Gallus, Aemilianus, Valerian And Gallienus.—Part II:

The Scythian hordes, which, towards the east, bordered on the new settlements of the Goths, presented nothing to their arms, except the doubtful chance of an unprofitable victory. But the prospect of the Roman territories was far more alluring; and the fields of Dacia were covered with rich harvests, sown by the hands of an industrious, and exposed to be gathered by those of a warlike, people.

As I read this passage on the plane to Helsinki, the part that I've put in bold struck me as characteristic of Gibbon's time, and foreign to contemporary prose style.

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The joys of correspondence

In response to the discussion of "Realistic limitations" on telephone conversation, Anne Cutler sent in a link to her 1989 New Scientist article "The new Victorians":

"My dear Hooker,” wrote Charles Darwin to Joseph Hooker on 6 March 1844, “I will not lose a post in guarding you against what I am afraid is … labour in vain." This urgent warning went by post, because Darwin had no option: he had no telephone. What the Victorians did have, however, was a pretty efficient postal service, and they made good use of it. Look at the fat volumes of Darwin's correspondence. Hooker was only one of many fellow scientists with whom Darwin exchanged letters at a rate that seems to us prodigious. Victorian scientists bombarded one another with ideas, results and opinions, and all by mail.

By comparison, we write few such letters. But now, quietly, a new age of scientific correspondence is opening, and what has brought it about is a new kind of mail: electronic mail.

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Realistic limitations

Today's Dumbing of Age features Amber performing a daring physical feat in order to help her friend Walky:

The mouseover title is "let's set realistic limitations for ourselves", and in the last panel, Amber remarks about what she's doing that "It's rough, sure, but it's not impossible, like calling anyone on the phone".

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Mother tongue is like mother's milk

Pro-Taiwanese language poster on a wall in Tainan (courtesy of Tim Clifford):

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