Archive for Transcription

Inverted writing in video subtitles: traditional cotton processing

In an off-topic comment (4/27/08), DDeden requested an English translation of the subtitles of a video about "Cotton: from fluff to dyed cloth the traditional Chinese way" (the video is embedded in this tweet).  It seemed a worthwhile endeavor, since the film itself was visually quite informative, though the subtitles looked rather sketchy.

I asked Zhang He, who is familiar with this kind of traditional technology, if she could transcribe the subtitles and give us an idea of what they say. She kindly obliged us by writing the following, extended comment, which I give in full with transcription and translation, both because of its innate value and because of the extraordinary circumstances under which she did it (described at the bottom).

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The car hit cheese bacon mushroom face, part 2

Todd Wilbur shared this menu item on Facebook:

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No parking sign in Taiwanese

Photo taken outside a casino in Tainan, Taiwan:

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AI for Akkadian

Article by Melanie Lidman in The Times of Israel (6/17/23):

Groundbreaking AI project translates 5,000-year-old cuneiform at push of a button

‘Google Translate’-like program for Akkadian cuneiform will enable tens of thousands of digitized but unread tablets to be translated to English. Accuracy is debatable.

Opening and key paragraphs:

Cuneiform is the oldest known form of writing, but it is so difficult to read that only a few hundred experts around the world can decode the clay tablets filled with wedge-shaped symbols. Now, a team of archaeologists and computer scientists from Israel has created an AI-powered translation program for ancient Akkadian cuneiform, allowing tens of thousands of already digitized tablets to be translated into English instantaneously.

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Transliterations aplenty

From Simon Cartoon:

Here's something I just saw at a local bakery in Berkeley, CA.

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Annals of inventive pinyin: rua

This exercise video shows a woman repeating the syllable "rua" to describe a move that she makes:

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ChatGPT does cuneiform studies

We have seen ChatGPT tell stories (and variants of the stories it tells), fancify Coleridge's famous poem on Xanadu, pose a serious challenge to the Great Firewall of China, mimic VHM, write Haiku, and perform all manner of amazing feats.  In a forthcoming post, we will witness its efforts to translate Chinese poetry.  Today, we will watch ChatGPT make a credible foray into Akkadiology.

Translating old clay tablet by using chatGPT

Jan Romme, Jan's Stuff (5/15/23)

The author commences:

You might have heard how I asked chatGPT to pose as a Jehovah’s Witness, write a “witnessing letter” with 2 or 3 bible scriptures in it, and then translate that letter into an English rap song, Eminem style.  Or you might have missed that news. My point is, I like to play with AI’s.

I’m increasingly stupefied by how much AI models like OpenAI’s chatGPTGoogle’s BARD, and Facebooks LLaMMa and others are capable of.

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Shanghainese under attack

Headline in a Hong Kong Chinese newspaper, Bastille Post 巴士的報 (4/15/23):

Shànghǎi Xújiāhuì shūyuàn yìmíng zhī zhēng shìfǒu gǎi yòng Hànyǔ Pīnyīn zhuānjiā hándié

上海徐家匯書院譯名之爭 是否改用漢語拼音專家咁䏲

"Controversy over the transcription of the name of the Xujiahui Library in Shanghai:  should it be changed to Hanyu Pinyin? Expert opinions"

Currently the name of this library at the entrance to its impressive building is "Zikawei".  What does this name signify, and why is it a matter of contention?  Put simply, "Zikawei" is the Shanghainese pronunciation of Mandarin "Xujiahui", and some nationalistic partisans are opposed to the use of Shanghainese on a public building in Shanghai.

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Invented Chinese name of an LA lawyer

Around 60% of the people living in the San Gabriel area are Asians, and the largest proportion among them are Chinese.  To attract the business of the local population, attorney Scott Warmuth decided to put up Chinese billboards in Monterey Park about a decade ago.  How it happened is described in this article:

"Column: Racial politics, attorney advertising and cultural communication in San Gabriel Valley",

Frank Shyong, Los Angeles Times (4/1//23)

Although the author, who grew up south of Nashville, Tennessee and who writes about diversity and diaspora, is Chinese, he doesn't say much about the linguistics of Warmuth's name choice, and some of what he says is misleading

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Writing English with Chinese characters

Responding to "Transcriptional Chinese animal imagery for English daily greetings" (3/13/23), Mary Erbaugh, using Yale Cantonese romanization, writes:

————

I've never seen it done with animal names, though probably easier to remember, amusing.

I'm used to the English word pronunciations in old fashioned HK (& Taiwan) almanacs, like the Bou Lòh Maahn Yauh (Cant.) / Bāo luò wàn yǒu (Mand.) 包纙萬有 ("all-inclusive"), available in any Chinatown; English title The Book of Myriad Things, an All-Inclusive Reference.  In the exposition below, I use the 1993 Hong Kong edition published by Jeuih Bóu Làuh Yanchaatchóng 聚寳樓印刷廠 [VHM:  聚[jeui6]寳[bou2]樓[lau4/lau2]印[yan3]刷[chaat3]廠[chong2] — Cantonese conversion by this tool; (Modern Standard Mandarin) MSM transcription in pinyin: Jùbǎo lóu yìnshuā chǎng].  It gets re-published every year, in near-identical form, except for the calendars.

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Transcriptional Chinese animal imagery for English daily greetings

As those students who take my early morning classes know, I sometimes greet them with "gǒutóu māo níng 狗头猫咛" ("good morning"; lit. "dog's head cat's meow").  I learned that method of transcription from my father-in-law, who didn't know the alphabet but picked up a few words of English and wanted to write them down for future use.

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Transcription vs. transliteration vs. translation in cartography

In this post, I wanted to do something that I thought would be fairly simple, viz., address the question of the "rectification" of Russian place names in areas proximate to populations speaking Sinitic languages.  This sort of rectification is also a hot topic where Russia borders on Ukraine.  There, however, the task is simpler, because Russian and Ukrainian are both written in Cyrillic, whereas, in the Russo-Sinitic case, the former is written in the phonetic Cyrillic alphabet, while the latter is written in morphosyllabic Sinoglyphs, a completely different type of writing system.

Everywhere we encounter references to the transliteration of Chinese characters into alphabetic scripts (or vice versa), whereas I maintain that cannot be done because the Sinitic writing system doesn't have any letters that can be transferred over into the letters of an alphabetic script.  Consequently, when talking about the conversion of Sinoglyphic writing to alphabetic scripts, I always speak of it as transcription.

Technically, transliteration is concerned primarily with accurately representing the graphemes of another script, whilst transcription is concerned primarily with representing its phonemes.

(ScriptSource)

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Special womem

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