Archive for Language and politics

Liuzhou Snail Rice Noodles


Liuzhou Snail Rice Noodles from China. (Facebook, Li Chong-lim photo)

The photograph is from this article:

China’s ‘propaganda noodle soup’ ordered off the market in Taiwan

Noodle packaging has ‘You are Chinese, and I am too’ emblazoned across it

By Huang Tzu-ti, Taiwan News (1/17/23)

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Involution, part 3

In this post, I will focus on the adversative passive usage of nèijuǎn 内卷 ("involution"). 

Etymology

Calque of English involution, from its Latin roots. This sense was coined in Agricultural Involution: The Processes of Ecological Change in Indonesia (1963) by Clifford Geertz, as an antonym of evolution, where Geertz observed Javanese and Balinese rice farmers failed to transit from labor-intensive farming to capital-intensive farming, but rather developing intensive competition that does not increase productivity.

Usage

  1. (economics, social sciences, of a society or nation) to stop developing or progressing despite intense inner competition
  2. (neologism, slang) to be in a state of increased competition for limited resources, requiring great effort to stay ahead
  3. (neologism, slang) to study harder or work longer as a result of intense competition among peers

(source)

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The Great Translation Movement, part 2

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What do the Friedmann equations have to do with the student protests in China?

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Pandemic lockdown slogans

The photographs below are of government lockdown slogans on signs in Chinese cities.  The first was taken by a former student of mine in Guangzhou, and the other two are from Weibo.

In the first photograph, the last line is so awkward that if seems ungrammatical and barely makes sense.  As shown in the following analysis, it's the result of a forced rhyme.

1., 2. (left, right)

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"O wawa nu Pangcah" – Kolas Yotaka

Photograph of a political billboard in Taiwan (from AntC):


(more images here)

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Kids' song: "Let's do nucleic acid"

The subtitles explain what's going on:

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Ukrainian at the edge

The war drags on, and once again one wonders how different Ukraine is from Russia, Ukrainian from Russian.  This superb article will help us get a handle on what the issues at stake are:

"A short history of language in Ukraine"

Norman Davies, Spectator (2 October 2022)

The article is so richly illuminating and timely that it deserves to be quoted in extenso:

After six months of war in Ukraine, most observers agree that the roots of Russian aggression lie in the country’s deep-rooted attitudes to culture and history. In line with Russia’s nationalist traditions, Putin denies any place for a separate Ukrainian identity.

The Ukrainians, in contrast, see themselves as a proud nation with their own history, culture, centuries long struggle for independence, and, of course, language. And while Ukrainian has been dismissed as a dialect of Russian in Moscow, it in fact has a long history – and is very much a language in its own right.

That independence can be seen in the genesis of the word ‘Ukraine’ itself. In most Slavonic languages, the letter ‘U’ – and written in Cyrillic as У – is a preposition of location; according to context it can be translated as ‘in’, ’on’ ‘at’ or ‘near’, and it is followed by nouns in the genitive case. In Ukrainian, the word Kray means ‘edge’ (although in Russian it means ‘land’ or ‘country’). So ‘U Krayu’ stands for ‘At the Edge’, and Ukraina for ‘the Land on the Edge’ or ‘Borderland’. It is very similar to the American idea of the ‘Frontier’.

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Chairman Xi the orator. Not

At this most important moment of his career, when he is about to be crowned emperor for life of the CCP / PRC, Xi Dada commits a whole slew of bloopers and blunders, gaffes and goofs, and the camera has caught him in flagrante delicto:

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Political regulation of Chinese languages

The following article was published more than eleven years ago.  I do not recall being aware of it at that time.  It provides a wealth of still relevant information about the state of language affairs in the PRC — including Mandarin vs. the topolects and traditional forms of the characters vs. simplified — as well as other essential aspects of language pedagogy, such as challenging what it calls "Mandarin monoculture" and the inculcation of semi-literacy.  Since this insightful, informative essay was recently called to my attention by Jichang Lulu, I have decided to circulate it to students and colleagues via this post.

"Confucius Institutes and Controlling Chinese Languages"
Michael Churchman
The Australian National University

China Heritage Quarterly, 26 (June 2011)

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New words for "quarantine" in the PRC: "silence" and "time-space companion"

From a PRC M.A. candidate:

Nowadays China has some new words for quarantine: “jìngmò 静默” ("silence") and "shíkōng bànsuí zhě时空伴随者” which means that the phone number of the person and the confirmed number stay in the same time-space grid (800m X 800m) for more than 10 minutes, and the cumulative length of stay of the number of either party exceeds 30 hours in the last 14 days. The detected number is the time-space accompanying number.

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Indo-Sinitic language problems

China tells India to solve its language problem. (Source: /r/polandball)

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Winnie the Pooh in a bottle

Netizens in Taiwan are having fun sharing a photo of a beverage promotion that comes with a Winnie doll in a bottle.


(source of photo and article in Chinese)

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