Oli ko goli

Anschel Schaffer-Cohen writes:

I was reading this Guardian article about the newly elected prime minister of Nepal, and I was a bit surprised by this sentence:

Oli, 63, is generally popular in Nepal and has a reputation for being outspoken. Some use the phrase “Oli ko goli” to describe him – “When Oli speaks, he fires [a bullet]”.

Can so few syllables–three, not counting his name–actually contain that much information? What's the literal translation of this phrase, and if there's implied context where does it come from? Since I remember reading that you speak Nepali, I was hoping you could shed some light on this, either personally or on the blog.

You can find similar translations of “Oli ko goli” all over the web, but they're all wrong.

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Chinese internet slang, acronyms, and common expressions

Of the many websites dealing with contemporary Chinese language and culture, chinaSMACK is one of the best.  So eye-popping is chinaSMACK's content that I could very easily spend nearly all of my time immersed in it.

One chinaSMACK feature that undoubtedly will be of considerable interest to Language Log readers is this glossary of terms frequently encountered on the Chinese internet.

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Hakka: "Guest families"

Hakka (Kèjiā 客家 ["guest families"]) is the name of a Chinese ethnic group and their language.  Their name refers to the fact that, although they came from the north centuries ago, they are now scattered in various locations throughout South China and, indeed, the world.

Although the Hakka amount to approximately only 4% of the total population of China, their influence on politics, the military, culture, and other spheres of life in the past two centuries has been disproportionately large

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The swazzle: a simple device for voice modulation

Until two days ago, I had never heard of this word — even though I knew about Punch and Judy shows.

From Wikipedia:

A swazzle is a device made of two strips of metal bound around a cotton tape reed. The device is used to produce the distinctive harsh, rasping voice of Punch and is held in the mouth by the Professor (performer) in a Punch and Judy show.

Swazzle can also be pronounced or spelled Schwazzle or swatchel.

I like the fact that the performer is called "Professor"!

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Linguistic joke of the week

The first two panels of today's SMBC:

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Denying that the earth is not flat

M.S. wrote to contribute an item for our misnegation collection — Liel Leibovitz, "‘The New York Times’ Goes Truther on the Temple Mount", Tablet 10/9/2015 [emphasis added]:

And so, because the paper of record won’t put it clearly, permit me the pleasure: Denying that a Jewish temple stood on the Temple Mount is not a form of historical argument. It is akin to denying that the earth is not flat. Or denying that global warming is real. Or that the evidence of human evolution is widely accepted by scholars.

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"He spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to do so"

Dan Lamothe, "U.S. Navy to China: We’ll sail our ships near your man-made islands whenever we want", WaPo 10/8/2015 [emphasis added]:

U.S. officials could soon send a Navy ship steaming by a chain of man-made islands that China has built in the South China Sea, Pentagon officials said, potentially exacerbating tensions in an area in which Beijing is expanding its presence.

China set up a territorial limit around the islands, effectively claiming international waters as their own. Washington does not recognize those claims, prompting the Navy to develop plans to send at least one ship within 12 nautical miles of the islands, a defense official said.

The Navy sending ships through the disputed areas would require approval from the White House, and underscore that the United States will not let China limit freedom of navigation at sea, the official added. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to do so.

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"Vocalization Dictionary" of Mongolian herders

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Of castrated cows and Three Finger Brown

New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, who got the win in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the L.A. Dodgers, received a glowing profile in The New York Times: "Straight Out of Hollywood: The New Guy Outpitches the Ace." When the article first appeared online this morning, it included this line, in the middle of a description of deGrom's "winding and tangled" path to the major leagues:

He also broke a finger castrating a cow, which set him back.

I don't have a screenshot of the article as it originally appeared, and NewsDiffs didn't catch it, but I found out about it on Facebook thanks to MLB historian John Thorn. Very quickly, however, the article was revised to read:

He also broke a finger castrating a calf, which set him back.

And the Times appended this wonderful correction:

An earlier version of this article misidentified the animal Jacob deGrom broke a finger castrating. It was a calf, not a cow.

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Please forgive to be incontinent

I forget who sent this photograph to me, but it is a prime specimen of first-class Chinglish:

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Outlawed Uyghur names

The Chinese government is troubled by the ongoing unrest in Xinjiang, the westernmost region of the country. The authorities attribute the turmoil to what they refer to as religious extremism, which, they believe, leads to terrorism. Moreover, religious extremism also foments separatism, which the government is dead set against. In an effort to reduce the impact of religious extremism, the government bans many cultural practices that they assert are manifestations of undesirable ideological tendencies.

Here, for example, is a sign that was posted outside hospital in Yining forbidding the burka, unusual facial hair, the hijab, the symbolism of the crescent moon with star, and any apparel conveying pronounced religious sentiments:

(Photograph courtesy of an anonymous colleague)

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Global imaginary Chinese

Two or three days ago, I received the following call for papers:

"CFP The Chinese Script and its Global Imaginary" (H-Asia 10/7/15)

This is for a conference that will be held in New Zealand on April 1, 2016.  Perhaps they do not celebrate April Fools' Day in New Zealand.  Otherwise, I would have wondered whether this were some sort of hoax.

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Trump fights to break what?

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