Archive for Language and politics

Cat chat and tax talk

Photograph of a campaign billboard in Taiwan showing President Tsai Ing-wen, who is up for reelection on January 11, with one of her two beloved cats:


(Source: anonymous colleague)

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Was it "people of colour" or "people of talent"?

Jim Waterson, "Channel 4 apologises over subtitle error on viral Boris Johnson clip (Tory anger after tweet claims PM said 'people of colour' instead of 'people of talent')", The Guardian 12/6/2019:

Channel 4 News has apologised after a subtitling error wrongly claimed Boris Johnson had discussed whether "people of colour" should be allowed into the UK, prompting the Conservatives to accuse staff at the channel of being campaigners rather than journalists.

In a clip of the prime minister uploaded to Channel 4's social media accounts, Johnson was captioned as saying: "I'm in favour of having people of colour come to this country but I think we should have it democratically controlled and have it done that way."

In reality, Johnson said he was in favour of having "people of talent" come to the UK, and did not discuss race.

The falsely subtitled clip went viral on Friday, prompting Channel 4 to issue a correction: "Boris Johnson says 'people of talent' not 'people of colour'. Our earlier tweet was a mistake. We misheard and we apologise."

Some people who had shared the clip continued to wrongly insist the prime minister had said the word "colour". This suggested it may be an example of people's hearing being influenced by visual cues – similar to the known phenomenon of the McGurk effect. It also echoes the confusion at the end of last year over whether a voice in a short audio clip was saying the word "laurel" or "yanny".

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Loophole-ridden 'screenplay' concocted by anti-China forces

[This is a guest post by Jichang Lulu]

This statement, attributed to the new Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman of the PRC, reinforced my impression that Relevant Organs (including exoprop media like the Gobar Times (Huánqiú shǐbào 环球屎报 [Global Shit News], a pun for Huánqiú shíbào 环球时报 [Global Times], for which see "Dung Times" [3/14/18])) often start generating unusually quaint English when they go into full patriot mode.

> This is a totally absurd, loophole-ridden 'screenplay' concocted by anti-China forces…

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"God bless his heart"

Alex Isenstadt, "Louisiana delivers Trump a black eye", Politico 11/17/2019:

President Donald Trump campaigned hard in three conservative Southern states this fall, aiming for a string of gubernatorial wins that would demonstrate his political strength heading into impeachment and his own reelection effort.

The plan backfired in dramatic fashion.

The latest black eye came on Saturday, when Trump's favored candidate in Louisiana, multimillionaire businessman Eddie Rispone, went down to defeat. The president went all-in, visiting the state three times, most recently on Thursday.

See also Rick Rojas and Jeremy Alford, "In Louisiana, a Narrow Win for John Bel Edwards and a Hard Loss for Trump", NYT 11/16/2019.

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Hong Kong protests: "recover" or "liberate"

From Alison Winters:

I am a regular reader of Language Log and really enjoy your digging on unusual Chinese turns of phrase.

One word I have recently been puzzling over lately is the usage of guāngfù 光复 in the Hong Kong call to arms 光复香港时代革命*. The dictionary description indicates it has to do with reclaiming land from an occupier, and specifically references the end of Japanese occupation in Taiwan, but in English the slogan has been translated as "liberate". When I look up "liberate" in the other direction, the dictionary suggests jiěfàng 解放, but note that it's also associated with the CPC victory over the KMT.

I wonder if the usage of 光复 for liberate is a quirk of Cantonese (I live in mainland and only speak Standard Chinese), or if it's a political choice to use that word based on previous "liberations"? I am curious about the etymology and would be interested to see a write-up on the blog, if you know a bit more background.

[*VHM:  A "standard" English translation of this slogan is "Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times", the "loose" Cantonese Romanization for which is "Gwong Fuk Heung Gong! Si Doi Gark Ming!"  Source

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Riotous hat

Marlon Hom took these photographs on Tuesday in San Francisco:

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Useful terms from professional wrestling politics

Our current president learned the art of the "promo" during his days in professional wrestling. For those who many be unfamiliar with that culture, I recommend the Wikipedia Glossary of Professional Wrestling terms — or, as a place to start, the terminology illustrated in this strip from Pixie Trix Comix:

From the Wikipedia Glossary:

work

  1. (noun): Anything planned to happen, or a "rationalized lie". The opposite of shoot.
  2. (verb): To methodically attack a single body part over the course of a match or an entire angle, setting up an appropriate finisher.
  3. (verb): To deceive or manipulate an audience in order to elicit a desired response.

shoot

When a wrestler or personality deliberately goes off-script, either by making candid comments or remarks during an interview, breaking kayfabe, or legitimately attacking an opponent.

worked shoot

The phenomenon of a wrestler seemingly going "off script", often revealing elements of out-of-universe reality, but actually doing so as a fully planned part of the show. A notable example of a worked shoot is CM Punk's pipebomb promo on the June 27th, 2011 episode of Monday Night Raw.

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"Third (rate|grade)" corpus linguistics

Did Donald Trump call Nancy Pelosi a "third rate politician" or a "third grade politician"? This question has come up in the mass media recently, and we discussed some phonetic aspects of the question earlier today.

Based on a quick corpus study, I conclude that the probabilities strongly favor "third rate".

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The tweet that upended the NBA and jammed James (LeBron)

American sports fans are now familiar with the "Stand with Hong Kong" logo because it appeared in the controversial tweet from Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey:

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Xi Jinping's denunciation of splittists

During his recent trip to Nepal, Xi Jinping blasted those who aimed to split up China by saying they would have their "bodies pulverized and bones crushed" (fěnshēnsuìgǔ 粉身碎骨).  A lot of people were shocked by the harshness of the language and also wondered why he would take advantage of the first trip to Nepal by a Chinese president in more than two decades to denounce splittists back home.

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A new variant of a common Chinese character

Invented by a fledgling American calligrapher:

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"Hong Kong police" speaking Mandarin

Click on the 1:26 image to start the video:

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Should there be a Constantine Memorial Column in Istanbul?

Sign for a tram stop in Istanbul:

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