Multiscriptal graffiti in Berlin

Gábor Ugray took this photo last week outside a Turkish-run Italian restaurant in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, a diverse mix between run-down and hip:

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Revivalistics

Ghil'ad Zuckermann writes:

A free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on language revival will begin on 28 July 2015. All are welcome. Details are here.

 

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The Greek ballot measure

Below is a guest post by Jason Merchant.

With the eyes of the world on the developments in Greece this week, the exact form of the question that will be put to Greek voters this coming Sunday, 5 July, in the referendum that Prime Minister Tsipras announced this past weekend is of no small importance, and almost every commentator in the past two days has been wondering just what the question would be. Just released here is a photo of the ballot measure.

In my translation:

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Goldensmell salt and milkfish balls

Jackie and Mimi, Toni Tan's daughters, spotted two interesting products at the Asian supermarket near their home.

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Just riffing

Ellen Leanse, "'Just' Say No", women2.0 2/17/2014 (republished as "Un'Just'", LinkedIn 5/15/2015, and  "Google and Apple alum says using this one word can damage your credibility", Business Insider 6/25/2015 — the quotes are from the Business Insider version):

A few years back I noticed something: the frequency with which the word "just" appeared in email and conversation from female co-workers and friends.  I first sensed this shortly after leaving Google and joining a company with a high ratio of female to male employees. […]

It hit me that there was something about the word I didn't like. It was a "permission" word, in a way — a warm-up to a request, an apology for interrupting, a shy knock on a door before asking "Can I get something I need from you?"  

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a "child" word, to riff Transactional Analysis. As such it put the conversation partner into the "parent" position, granting them more authority and control. And that "just" didn't make sense.

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Civilized language

Sign at a bus station in Inner Mongolia:

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Your country: pronominal resistance

When Westerners begin to study Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, a small obstacle that confronts them is the fact that the words for "my / our country" in these languages usually have to be translated as "China", "Japan", and "Korea" respectively in English.  As a colleague who knows all three languages put it, "I'm always struck by the oddness and even slight ungrammaticality of the English usage 'in my country' that you hear from C J K speakers."

We looked at this phenomenon in some depth a couple of years ago:

"My country" (1/23/13)

Now an extremely interesting new twist with regard to this concept of "my / our country" has arisen in China that merits another look.

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Filtering information

Ben Zimmer "Donald Trump and Others With ‘No Filter’", WSJ 6/26/2015:

When Donald Trump gave a speech announcing his candidacy for president last week, he seemed to utter whatever thoughts popped into his uniquely coiffed head. […]

The “filter” metaphor evokes the image of a straining mechanism functioning on a person’s thoughts and feelings, testing the appropriateness of those inner mental states before they can be verbalized to the world. […]

The earliest example of a “filterless” celebrity that I was able to track down appeared in a 1986 Newsweek cover story on Robin Williams. Larry Brezner, a partner in the talent agency that then managed the comedian, said, “There’s no filter between his brain and his mouth.”

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A Dartmouth grad's contribution to the development of Hangul

The current issue of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine includes an article by Karl Schutz and Jun Bum Sun that made me sit bolt upright:

"The Chosŏn One:  The influence of Homer Hulbert, class of 1884, lives on in a country far from his home" (Jul-Aug, 2015).

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We'll just have to pass it…

In the majority opinion of King v. Burwell, Chief Justice Roberts had some harsh words for the "inartful drafting" of the Affordable Care Act, which led to the difficulty in interpreting the phrase "an Exchange established by the State." Roberts wrote:

The Affordable Care Act contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting. (To cite just one, the Act creates three separate Section 1563s. See 124 Stat. 270, 911, 912.) Several features of the Act's passage contributed to that unfortunate reality. Congress wrote key parts of the Act behind closed doors, rather than through "the traditional legislative process." Cannan, A Legislative History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History, 105 L. Lib. J. 131, 163 (2013). And Congress passed much of the Act using a complicated budgetary procedure known as "reconciliation," which limited opportunities for debate and amendment, and bypassed the Senate's normal 60-vote filibuster requirement. Id., at 159–167. As a result, the Act does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation. Cf. Frankfurter, Some Reflections on the Reading of Statutes, 47 Colum. L. Rev. 527, 545 (1947) (describing a cartoon "in which a senator tells his colleagues 'I admit this new bill is too complicated to understand. We'll just have to pass it to find out what it means.'"). 

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Prepositioning

Linguist reads the paper: First sentence in Friedman's column begins "Let’s see, America is prepositioning battle tanks …" and before I got to the battle tanks I was surprised and wondering how 'preposition' could be used as a verb and what it could mean. (I'm of course seeing the word that starts with 'prep', had to be garden-pathed before I backtracked and saw the verb pre-position.)

I won't be surprised if readers of this blog had a similar first parse of my header –  its occurrence in this blog will probably make that even more likely.

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Prenons l'anglais de vitesse

Alissa Rubin, "Coping? Students in France just aren't", NYT 6/23/2015:

There is no easy translation or even a firm concept of the word “coping” in French, so when it turned up last week in a question on the national exam to earn a high school degree, it set off a fracas among the 350,000 or so students who took the test.

So far, about 12,000 of them have signed a petition posted four days ago on a social media site, change.org, arguing that the question was “too difficult.”

The word appeared in the English reading comprehension section of this year’s baccalaureate general exam, which requires an intermediate level of proficiency in two foreign languages.

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Let Me In 4

Referring to its title as "Kochinglish", Kendall Willets called my attention to the following Korean TV show:

논란을 넘어 감동으로, 인생대반전 메이크오버쇼

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