Gambling Disturb Terrible

A friend of Anne Henochowicz spotted this T-shirt in an Akihabara, Tokyo shop:

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More than cat videos

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"Evidence, data and reasoning"

Now that a black man is no longer president, George Will has stopped obsessing about presidential overuse of first-person singular pronouns, and has turned his attention to other pressing matters, such as the role of liberal higher education in promoting the political ascension of Donald Trump ("Trump and academia actually have a lot in common", 1/27/2017):

Much attention has been given to the non-college-educated voters who rallied to President Trump. Insufficient attention is given to the role of the college miseducated. They, too, are complicit in our current condition because they emerged from their expensive “college experiences” neither disposed nor able to conduct civil, informed arguments. They are thus disarmed when confronted by political people who consider evidence, data and reasoning to be mere conveniences and optional.

"Evidence, data, and reasoning". Good to hear that Mr. Will remains committed in principle to the virtues that he routinely subverts in practice.

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PiaPiaPia

As soon as I saw the reports about the mobile PaPaPa vans roaming the streets of Chengdu (see "PaPaPa" [2/15/17]), I immediately thought of a similar expression with a similar meaning that I heard forty years ago.  On that occasion, someone described to me the actions of a man who was trying (unsuccessfully) to get an erection as "PiaPiaPia".  Since that was the first time I had heard that expression, I didn't know for sure what it meant, but I could pretty well guess.

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"Dick voice": Annoying voices and gender stereotypes

During the 2016 presidential campaign, there was a lot of negative commentary about Hillary Clinton's voice. Some examples from across the political spectrum are compiled and discussed here, and even-the-liberal-The-Atlantic published on "The Science Behind Hating Hillary's Voice".  Since Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump pretty much got a pass for vocal characteristics analogous to Hillary's, it was suggested more than once that the criticism was sexist, most creatively in this reprise of Shout by Dominique Salerno and Laura Hankin.

In fact, considering how many people have criticized aspects of Donald Trump's speaking style, it's striking that there's been so little discussion of his tone of voice as opposed to his rhetorical style and content. But this balance is distinctly different for his senior advisor Stephen Miller — see Kali Holloway, "What makes Trump advisor Stephen Miller so unlikeable?", Salon 2/15/2017. That article leads with a collection of video clips from Miller's recent interviews — here's the audio track:

Holloway's evaluation of those clips is strongly negative, and also distinctly gendered:

If you caught any of those appearances, you may have noticed a few Miller trademark gestures. Empty, reptilian eyes scanning left to right over cue cards. A pouty mouth delivering each insane untruth. And a voice that sounds like every hyper-unlikable, pompous, joyless, self-important authority-on-everything you’ve ever met. Or as Katie McDonough of Fusion puts it, “he has the voice of someone who is a dick.”

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PaPaPa

My, my! What does the signage on this van in Chengdu, Sichuan Province (China) say?

From: "Chinese firm ordered to remove sexually suggestive Valentine’s Day advertisements" (SCMP, 2/15/17).

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Morphosyntactic innovation in the White House?

From the "Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, 2/14/2017, #12" (starting at 15:23 of the ABC News video):

JONATHAN KARL:  Back in January, the President said that nobody in his campaign had been in touch with the Russians. Now, today, can you still say definitively that nobody on the Trump campaign, not even General Flynn, had any contact with the Russians before the election?

SEAN SPICER: My understanding is that what General Flynn has now expressed is that during the transition period — well, we were very clear that during the transition period, he did fee- he did speak with the ambassador —


JONATHAN KARL: I’m talking about during the campaign.


MR. SPICER: I don’t have any- I- there’s nothing that would conclude me that anything different has changed with respect to that time period.

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On the overt verbal expression of romantic love as a modern habit

In a comment to this post, "A trilingual, biscriptal note (with emoji)" (2/5/17), liuyao remarked,

Interesting that 愛 to mean (romantic) love might be a modern invention. A search in Dream of the Red Chamber (which is regarded as Beijing Mandarin in 18th century) reveals that all instances of it are in fact "to like" (something or someone). 愛吃的 = (what he) likes to eat; 不愛唸書 = doesn't like to read books/study.

liuyao's observation is so noteworthy that I promised to write a separate post on ài 愛 — herewith I am delivering on that promise.

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Shitgibbon antedated

The latest from Ben Zimmer — "A New Breakthrough in the History of the “S—gibbon: The Insult’s Originator Steps Forward", Slate 2/13/2017.

Following up on a comment by David Quantick on Ben's Strong Language Blog post, Ben found this passage in the 1/13/1990 issue of the New Musical Express, in which David Quantick and Steven Wells "imagine Morrissey of the Smiths (nickname: the Mozzer) and Mark E. Smith of the Fall in the year 2000":

’Tis the Mozzer and Mark E Smith! Yes, in the year 2000, Sir Morrissey del Manc and Shitgibbon Smith will be tired old buckers, fit for the scrapheap ever since some student NME reader got to see their poetry part of the English GCSE and finished so-called “serious rock” for, in the words of Alice Cooper, “EVAH!”

Apparently the term may have been used in other Quantick & Wells  NME columns as early as 1988, though these have yet to be found.

 

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Look at me

In his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, President Trump received contradictory instructions about where to look.

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Study hegemon

Here's another example of Chinese writing frustration:

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Choice-type questions

No, I am not talking about multiple choice questions.  I'm talking about the kind of choice questions that language teachers introduce as one of the many ways to ask a question in Chinese.

This subject has come up in connection with the following post that went up the day before yesterday:

"Yes-no questions in mathematics and in Chinese" (2/10/17)

Yes-no questions are questions that may be answered with a "yes" or a "no" (or their equivalents in Chinese).  That's what the day before yesterday's post was about.  In the discussion, however, the matter of choice-type questions arose, centered on the use of words for "or" in Chinese:  háishì 还是, huò 或, and huòzhě 或者.  For this type of question, the respondent is expected to choose between two alternatives.

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Thought Leadership

Theodore Roosevelt "Ted" Malloch, who is reported to be Donald Trump's pick for ambassador to the EU, has been accused of inflating his resumé in various ways (Henry Mance, "Oxford distances itself from Trump favourite Malloch", Financial Times 2/10/2017; Henry Mance, "Academic touted as Trump's EU envoy embellished autobiography", Financial Times 2/9/2017; Daniel Boffey, "Credibility of Trump's EU ambassador pick called into question by leading MEP", The Guardian 2/9/2017).

If Mr. Malloch is actually appointed, the details (about publications, a knighthood, a lairdship, fellowships, professorships, an Emmy nomination, and so on) may become important, but meanwhile, one minor accusation — the tenth of ten listed in the 2/10/2017 FT article — led me to an amusing bit of lexicographic history.

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