Archive for Language and politics

Easy Grammar from the Free Hong Kong Center

Not sure what they mean by "grammar" here, but they sure do have a message:

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"Blue-eyed person"

Cai Xia 蔡霞, a retired female professor from the Central Party School of the CCP has been denouncing Xi Jinping for his imperial aspirations and the CCP as a corrupt, zombie party.  Somehow, she managed to escape to the United States after her initial condemnations.

Fuming, the Party has cancelled her membership and vilified her perfidy:

After the Party School of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC) announced on Monday that it had rescinded the Party membership of retired professor Cai Xia and revoked her retirement benefits, Cai quickly became Western media's blue-eyed person.

Source:  "Cai Xia’s blatant betrayal is totally indefensible: Global Times editorial", Global Times* (8/19/20)

*An official CCP daily tabloid sponsored by the People's Daily.

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NYT word frequency data

[Update — apparently the data for the graphs presented by Sabeti and Miller came originally (without attribution) from work by David Rozado, who has provided useful information about his sources and methods. I therefore withdraw the suggestion that the counts were wrong, pending further study, though I am still not persuaded by the arguments that Sabeti and Miller used their version of his graphs to make.]

This is the subgraph for "racism" from the display originally presented in John F Miller's 2019 tweet, reproduced a few days ago by Arram Sabeti, and allegedly representing "New York Times Word Usage Frequency (1970 to 2018)":

Earlier today ("Sabeti on NYT bias"), I lodged some objections to Miller's graphs, especially the way that the y-axis scaling misrepresents the relative frequency of the various words and phrases covered. But after looking into things a little further, I find that it's not just a scaling problem — the underlying number sequences in Miller's graphs are substantially different from what I find in a search of the NYT archive, at least in the cases that I've checked. I don't know whether this is because of some issue with Miller's numbers, or with the counts from the NYT archive, or what. But for whatever reason, Miller's numbers are (in all cases where I've checked) seriously at variance with the results of NYT archive search.

And the differences make a difference — Miller's tendentious conclusion that "social liberal media and academia are wilfully gaslighting people" is even less well supported by the Archive's numbers than it was by the original misleadingly-scaled graphs.

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Sabeti on NYT bias

Barbara Partee asked me to comment on this thread by Arram Sabeti — crucial bit here:


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Legco logo

This is the logo of Legco, the Legislative Council of Hong Kong:

It is a stylization of the "lap立" ("set up; erect; establish; enact") of:

Hoeng1gong2 dak6bit6 hang4zing3 keoi1 lap6faat3 wui6 (Jyutping)

Hēunggóng dahkbiht hàhngjing kēui laahpfaat wúih (Yale)

Xiānggǎng tèbié xíngzhèng qū lìfǎ huì (Hanyu pinyin)

香港特別行政區立法會

now written in PRC simplified characters as

香港特别行政区立法会

"Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region"

or, for short:

Laap6faat3 wui5 (Jyutping)

Laahp faat wúih (Yale)

Lìfǎ Huì (Hanyu pinyin)

立法會

now written in PRC simplified characters as

立法会

"Legislative Council"

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Platitudinous pukey police Party peace pablum for the people

It's no wonder that the people are losing patience with the Party:

 "‘A toddler could write this’: senior Chinese policeman’s Peace Mantra book, praised by authorities, is ridiculed

    Investigation and apologies over ‘intellectual’ officer’s book, which provincial government and state media had said was recommended reading
    Sharing of the book’s repetitive content leads to online debate about unthinking praise for officials"

By Jun Mai, SCMP (7/30/20).

The "intellectual" author of the volume is He Dian, the second most powerful officer of the public security department in the northeastern province of Jilin.  The title of his 336-page tome is Píng'ān jīng 平安經, to which the English name Peace Mantra has become attached.  Since it's such a phony work, we might as well give it a more accurate apocryphal Sanskrit title, Śānti sūtra शान्ति सूत्र.

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The Emperor is an organ of the state

Jim Unger sent me this mystifying note (7/25/20):

The other day, my wife called my attention to the fact that the ‘organ theory of the emperor’ (Tennō kikan setsu), for which Minobe Tatsukichi (1873-1948) was prosecuted in the 1930s, is written 天皇機関説.  This is odd since ‘organ’ in the medical sense (the apparent source of Minobe’s metaphor) is currently written 器官 whereas 機関 is now pretty much ‘engine’.  Since it is inconceivable that generations of historians writing in English have simply been perpetuating a mistranslation, it appears that either 器官 is a later coinage or that 機関 narrowed in meaning sometime later, or both.  I am not particularly interested in untangling this mess, but it might be worth studying because it seems to be a case of one or more Sino-Japanese compounds undergoing semantic change within Japanese, which, of course, ought not happen if every kanji were a logogram of fixed meaning.  Do both these words occur in Chinese?  If so, have they ever overlapped in meaning in Chinese?  Is one or the other a 19th or 20th century neologism?

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What she said?

There's a bit of fuss on Twitter about what reporter Kimberley Halkett said when the press secretary Kaleigh McEnany cut off her follow-up question at yesterday's White House briefing (overall video here, official White House transcript here).

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The importance of being and speaking Taiwanese

Meet Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan's de facto ambassador to the United States:

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"Between the Eyes and the Ears": SPP turns 300

There is a phenomenon in Japanese publishing called "san-gō zasshi  三号雑誌", which refers to a short-lived magazine that puts out three issues and then folds.  Sino-Platonic Papers, a scholarly journal I started in 1986, just put out its 300th issue, and we're still going strong, with about ten more issues in the pipeline, and others lined up to come after that.

The latest issue is "Between the Eyes and the Ears: Ethnic Perspective on the Development of Philological Traditions, First Millennium AD", by Shuheng Zhang and Victor H. Mair, which appeared yesterday (July 19, 2020).

Abstract

The present inquiry stands as a foray into what may be thought of as a “Summa Philologica Sinica.” To be more precise, this paper is about the study and developmental trajectory of philology rather than philology per se. The approach here, drawing on the prefaces and comments of primary historical resources, conceives of philology as subject to the transitions of philosophy, an amalgam within which variegated traditions and schools contend and consent with each other, rather than as a static, ahistorical antithesis between the study of script and that of sound. The bifocal panoply behind philological texts and the s 勢 (“immanent configuration”) that oscillates between indigenous systems of thought and foreign philosophy, defense of nationality and openness to foreign voices, reflected in the realm of language studies, presents itself as focused on characters (eyes) versus sounds (ears).

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Mongolian-language education suspended in Tongliao

Tongliao 通辽市; Mongolian: Tongliyao.png Hot.svg Tüŋliyou qota, Mongolian Cyrillic.Түнляо хот) is a prefecture-level city in eastern Inner Mongolia, PRC.  The news is not good. 

It follows a familiar pattern:  there's a similar story about suspending Tibetan-language education in a part of Sichuan following the covid-19 closure of schools.

It sounds plausible since notification was given verbally, typical of the way Chinese government does things it doesn't want to be caught out on.

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Barge bilge

The CCP government is dragging a large barge through Victoria Harbor to celebrate their takeover of Hong Kong and the imposition of the hated National Security Law on the former semi-autonomous region.  On one side:


(Source)

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Boogaloo

Boogaloo is in the news these days, in reference to what a recent Forbes article calls "a loose group of far-right individuals who are pro-gun, anti-government, and believe that another civil war in America is imminent". The politics is complex and evolving, as a USA Today article explains:

[T]here are various facets to the loosely organized group: One generally stems from its original ties to neo-Nazis and white supremacists, while a newer facet is libertarian.

"There's a lot of overlap and the boundary is blurry because they both evolved together," said Alex Newhouse, digital research lead at Middlebury Institute's Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism. "It is very difficult to know if the 'boogaloo boi' you see standing in the middle of the street at a protest is there in solidarity or to incite violence."

For further details, see the Wikipedia entry for "Boogaloo movement". The term's linguistic history poses the puzzle of how the name of a Latinx and Black dance fashion came to be adopted by white supremacists:

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