Officer-involved passives

Radley Balko's Washington Post article "The curious grammar of police shootings" begins by reminding us about "mistakes were made" (an utterance so famous that it has its own Wikipedia page), and proceeds to quote a description of a shooting that is not by a policeman ("The suspect produced a semi-automatic handgun and fired numerous times striking the victim in the torso"). He comments with approval: "Note the active voice. We have a clear subject, verb, and direct object."

So far so good: the suspect is clearly identified as the agent. But that reference to the "active voice" clearly implies an upcoming allegation that the police use the passive voice when talking about their shootings. And the article signally fails to establish this. One quoted police report says: "The suspect then ran towards the officers still armed with the sword and an officer-involved-shooting occurred." Another says: "When the suspect continued to advance on the officer while refusing to comply with his repeated commands, an officer-involved shooting (OIS) occurred." I grant you that this phrase "officer-involved shooting" (it even has its own abbreviation!) is a weird piece of slippery and evasive bureaucratic jargon. But the examples given are just as much in the active voice as the earlier one where the suspect does the shooting.

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Word Crimes

For his new album Mandatory Fun, Weird Al Yankovic has crafted the ultimate peever's anthem: "Word Crimes," to the tune of last summer's big hit, "Blurred Lines."

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The rice is prosperous

Here follows an egregious example of bad machine translation without human intervention to correct or improve it.  This is a listing for a book in Chinese on Amazon.

Pinyin as given in the listing:  dao sheng he fu de jing ying zhi hui [ fu zeng / xue xi shou ce qi che ban lv ]

Chinese characters as given in the listing:  稻盛和夫 经营智慧  [附赠]学习手册 汽车伴侣 (click on the small image of the cover ["See this image"] to embiggen)

English translation as given in the listing:  The rice is prosperous and the management intelligence of the man [present|the study manual car companion ] (this is obviously errant nonsense and of no use to anyone who might want to buy the book)

The listing states that the book is by "unknown (Author)".

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Scheduled power outage

The building where the current LLOG server sits will be without power this evening, due to a construction project, and as a result, LLOG will be unavailable for several hours.

We should be back by early morning, if all goes well.

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Men interrupt more than women

Below is a guest post by Kieran Snyder, taken with permission from her always-interesting tumblr Jenga one week at a time.

image

About a month ago at work I overheard one woman complaining to another woman about a man’s habit of interrupting everyone in meetings. Then they went further. “That’s just how it is around here. The women listen, but the men interrupt in meetings all the time,” one of them summed it up.

As a moderate interrupter myself – I’m sorry if I’ve interrupted you, I just get excited about what you’re saying and I want to build on it and I lose track of the fact that it’s not my turn and I know it’s a bad habit – I started wondering if she was right. Do men interrupt more often than women?

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Ningbo pidgin English ditty

While visiting Ningbo last month, Barney Grubbs snapped this picture of a doggerel song featuring English words in local transcription at the Museum of the Ningbo Commercial Group ( Níngbō bāng bówùguǎn寧波幫博物館): Website, Wikipedia article.

The photograph is not clear (even with a magnifying glass it's hard to read), so a typed version is given below. [Update: Barney sent a clearer image of the verse -- click to embiggen.]


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Neoguri: raccoon or raccoon dog?

The typhoon that struck Okinawa a few days ago and is now passing by Tokyo is called Neoguri.  It gets it name from a Korean word meaning "raccoon dog".

The Japanese refer to it as Taifū 8-gō Neoguri 台風8号ネオグ リ ("Typhoon No. 8 Neoguri"), but most often without the "Neoguri" (see below for discussion of Japanese typhoon designation practices).  However, the Chinese are calling it Huànxióng 浣熊 ("raccoon"), which is a clear mistranslation.  The Chinese name for the raccoon dog is hé 貉 or háozi 貉子.

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When half of a quarter is all, or at least mostly

Steve Connor, "Nature rather than nurture governs intelligent behaviour in primates, scientists discover", The Independent 7/10/2014:

The vexed question of whether intelligence is inherited from birth or acquired through education seems to have been answered – for chimpanzees at least.

Scientists have found that being a smart primate is down to genes rather than upbringing, suggesting that nature rather than nurture governs intelligent behaviour in our closest living relatives.

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A "Japanese" supermarket at Peking University

Gianni Wan sent in this photograph of a sign on the front of a popular convenience store at Peking University:


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Micropolitan (statistical area)

Of course I'm familiar with the concept of a "metropolitan statistical area", defined by Wikipedia as "a geographical region with a relatively high population density at its core and close economic ties throughout the area". The United States Office of Management and Budget is responsible for the official list, which comprises 388 MSAs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

What I didn't know, until I learned it this morning while following up on the Beaver Dam Grammar Brawl, is that there are also 536 "micropolitan statistical areas".  Since micropolitan has the same initial letter as metropolitan, an acronymic conflict arises, which has been resolved by using the Greek letter mu for "micro", so that there are MSAs and μSAs.

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Grammar wars

This doesn't happen very often — Terri Pederson, "Them's fightin' words: Grammar dispute becomes brawl", Beaver Dam Daily Citizen 7/8/2014:

A 27-year-old Fox Lake man was charged with battery stemming from a fight that occurred at Tower Lanes in April. [...]

According to the criminal complaint, an employee of Tower Lanes had pointed out Gubin and another man who had been allegedly fighting in the business. The 35-year-old victim had facial injuries and injures to his hand.  

He said the fight began over a disagreement over grammar as well as their views on sports teams. He said Gubin had kicked over his chair and then struck him with a closed fist several times and kicked him. The victim originally did not press charges but called police a few days later to say he had received substantial injuries during the fight. When he was kicked on the left side of his face, he suffered three tears to his retina that needed surgery to fix.  

Gubin was ordered to not have any violent or abusive contact with anyone. A review hearing was scheduled for July 23 and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 21.

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Orient(al[ism]) in East Asian languages

Cortney Chaffin writes:

Today I've been corresponding over email with a colleague of mine at XYUniversity who organized an exhibition of Korean art to open tomorrow. Yesterday he sent out a description of the exhibit in which he used the phrases "oriental landscape painting" (in contrast to Western painting) and "oriental sensitivity" to describe the aim of the artist (to demonstrate "oriental sensitivity" in painting). I don't allow my students to use the term "oriental" in my art history classes, not only because it is a complex and loaded term, but I have first-hand experience of it being used as a racial slur in the U.S., so it makes me uncomfortable.

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Flabbering

Peter Mucha, "Lottery legend Joan Ginther bet flabbering sums on scratch-offs", philly.com 7/6/2014:

For years, people who dream of beating the lottery have puzzled over the amazing case of Joan Ginther, who made headlines around the world by scratching off “10MILL” on a $50 instant ticket in June 2010 to win her fourth multimillion-dollar prize. 

Skeptics wondered if she cheated or had an ingenious system for pinpointing winners. After all, Ginther received a Ph.D. from Stanford and has lived for years in Las Vegas. News reports at the time, citing mathematicians, fueled the fire: They put Ginther's chances of four such wins at 1 in 18 septillion. Remarkably, all four of her winners were purchased in or near her tiny hometown of Bishop, Texas. [...]

Finally, answers have been found.

A series of discoveries based on painstaking analysis by Philly.com of newly obtained Texas Lottery records, with the help of experts, has led to a surprising conclusion: Basic gambling principles — like card counting in blackjack, money management in poker, and timing in progressive slots — may have inspired Joan Ginther to buy a flabbergasting number of $20 to $50 tickets, perhaps 80,000 worth $2.5 million or more.

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Helpful label

This is spreading widely on the internets:

The lack of circumstantial details makes me suspect it's a fake, but it's still an amusing one.

Update — As X notes in the comments,  it's not fake as in "created by photoshop", but it IS fake in the sense of being added as an ironic joke by a company known for such things.

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Ur-etyma: how many are there?

This is another one of those posts that I started writing long ago (in this case back in January of 2012), but then set aside for one reason or another.  However, such drafts and research notes usually reemerge on my radar screen sooner or later, especially if they are of compelling interest and potential significance.  Now that it is summer time and I have a little bit of leisure to do what I like, I'm happy to return to this topic and finish it up.

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