Lodestar

Anonymous, "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration", NYT 9/5/2018:

Subhed: I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

The Times today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.

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The growing impact of "biaoqing" ("expressions") on the internet in China

Gabriele de Seta has a serious, scholarly article on "Biaoqing: The circulation of emoticons, emoji, stickers, and custom images on Chinese digital media platforms" in First Monday, Volume 23, Number 9 – 3 September 2018.  Here's the abstract:

The Mandarin Chinese term biaoqing, or ‘expression’, categorizes genres of visual content ranging from emoticons and emoji to stickers and custom images. This article is grounded on ethnographic research and approaches biaoqing in terms of their circulation across Chinese digital media platforms. By formulating a comprehensive typology of biaoqing genres, I foreground the situated socio-technical specificities of their circulation: the creative play with typographical compositions, the affective repurposing of graphical emoticons, the platformed monetization of proprietary stickers, and the user-driven proliferation of custom images. Drawing on this typology, I argue for the need to recognize the circulation of biaoqing as an emergent and malleable category of semiotic resources profoundly shaped by two decades of development of the Internet in China.

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Nods

Yesterday, before Jacqueline Vaissière's invited talk at Interspeech 2018, the session chair showed this video about the meaning of Indian head nods:

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Stroke order of Chinese characters

Here on Language Log, we have often encountered the problem of stroke order and total number of strokes used in writing Sinographs (see the section on "Readings" below).  In this post, I would like to approach this problem from a discussion of how to write two seemingly simple characters:

tū 凸 ("convex; protude; bulge out")

āo 凹 ("concave; hollow; sunken")    

Although I don't like to use the expression "ideograph" or "ideogram" for Chinese characters in general, since only a tiny proportion of them are actually ideographic in nature, these two really are ideographs.  I find these two characters cute, and actually have long harbored a secret affection for 凸 and 凹.  They are amusing and attractive — until you try to write them according to the rules of Chinese brush strokes and stroke order.  Then all hell breaks loose.

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Tolerance for singular they

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Omarosa Manigault-Newman, sound engineer

Alayna Treene, "Scoop: How Omarosa secretly taped her victims", Axios 9/3/2018:

Omarosa taped nearly every conversation she had while working in the White House, including ones with "all of the Trumps," a source who watched her make many of the tapes tells Axios. Omarosa did this with a personal phone, almost always on record mode. […]

Before heading into meetings, she would often press "record" on her personal phone — which she carried in her pocket or in a small purse.

Here at Interspeech 2018, several of us discussed over breakfast the excellent sound quality of the clips we've heard, with everyone agreeing that we wish the interviews we often work with (clinical and even sociolinguistic) were anywhere near as good.

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Poster childs

A reader sent in a link to this article, with the note "I know LL sometimes publishes examples of unusual usages of language; I came across this in an article on climate change. It’s a regularization I’ve never seen before" — Joshua Bowling, "Study: Climate change could transform Arizona's forests, deserts, worsening drought and fire", Arizona Republic 9/1/2018:

Ecosystems across the world will dramatically transform as climate change's effects increase, a new study warns. Arizona's forests could retreat with rising temperatures and its deserts could turn hotter and more volatile in the coming century.[…]

Those trees are slow growers, so experts at the time predicted it would be years before there were woodlands in the area again. And when something does grow, it's something better suited for the changing climate.

"That was really one of the first poster childs of the forest dieback that we're seeing in the Southwest and around the world," Overpeck said. "Where it's occurred in Arizona, it's essentially grown new vegetation that is in equilibrium with the warming climate."

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Bishnu Atal

Here at Interspeech 2018, the first presentation will be by Bishnu Atal, winner of the ISCA medal for scientific achievement. Though you probably don't know it, Bishnu has had an enormous impact on your life — at least if you ever talk on a cell phone, or listen to music on iTunes or Spotify or Amazon or wherever.

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Too hard to translate soup

From a menu in a restaurant in Oxford, Ohio:

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Polyscriptal, multilingual packaging for thousand-year eggs

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Annals of cross-linguistic advertising blunders

Or maybe it was a genius move — the coverage hasn't quantified the effect on brand recognition and sales.  Jelisa Castrodate, "Mountain Dew Mistakenly Tells All of Scotland to Masturbate for 'Epic Thrills'", Vice 8/29/2018:

Not terribly long ago, The Scotsman newspaper printed a helpful list of 15 words that have alternate meanings in Scotland. It pointed out that pudding has nothing to do with a Jell-O mix but is often a sausage made from pigs’ blood, that messages means grocery shopping, and that if you mince something, you’ve pretty much effed it up.

Unfortunately, the paper failed to include chug on the list, which is why Mountain Dew UK is being dragged across Scottish Twitter for inadvertently telling everyone that they’re chronic masturbators.

On Monday, Mountain Dew UK tweeted a .gif of a visibly sweating twentysomething downing a bottle of neon yellow soda. (He’s tanning it, if you want to dust off another piece of Scottish vocab.) “Epic Thrills Start with a Chug,” it says—which is why everyone from Elgin to Dumfries started giggling to themselves.

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Decopunk and other quasicompositional compounds

The Wikipedia article on cyberpunk derivatives lists, among others, biopunk, nanopunk, steampunk, dieselpunk, decopunk, and atompunk. These are all subgenres of speculative fiction, unlike glam-punk, electropunk, cowpunk, etc., which are subgenres of punk rock (music).

And these words are also prime examples of the quasiregularity of  morphological (and sometimes phrasal) composition.

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Toilet: A Love Story

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