Archive for Semantics

The meaning of meaning: kaput

The poor fellow in the following short video is taking a Mandarin listening comprehension exam:

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Thematic spoonerisms?

Matt Richtel, "Urinary Tract Infections Affect Millions. The Cures Are Faltering", NYT 7/13/2019 [emphasis added]:

For generations, urinary tract infections, one of the world's most common ailments, have been easily and quickly cured with a simple course of antibiotics.

But there is growing evidence that the infections, which afflict millions of Americans a year, mostly women, are increasingly resistant to these medicines, turning a once-routine diagnosis into one that is leading to more hospitalizations, graver illnesses and prolonged discomfort from the excruciating burning sensation that the infection brings.[…]

The drug ampicillin, once a mainstay for treating the infections, has been abandoned as a gold standard because it is so often resistant to multiple strains of U.T.I.s.

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Which justifies what?

Chelsea White, "Does people power make a difference? The truth about protests", The New Scientist 6/17/2019 [emphasis added]:

Hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of Hong Kong on 9 June to protest a government plan to allow extraditions to mainland China. The demonstrations have continued regularly since, with seas of protesters surrounding a government building and preventing law-makers from meeting about the proposed law. […]

One way to bring attention to a cause is to disrupt the hum of normal life. In April, climate protesters Extinction Rebellion had success with this method, bringing some transport hubs in central London to a standstill by blocking the streets with people and gluing themselves to trains.

The movement quickly gained attention from the press and attracted new supporters, partly thanks to social media. But it also drew criticism from people who felt the inconvenience didn't justify the cause.

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Let's have Mr. and Mrs. Smith for lunch

From Charles Belov:

While restaurant hunting in the East Bay, I happened upon these dishes with the intriguing English names of "Mr and Mrs Smith" and "Boiled Omasum with Chili Pepper." Omasum turns out to be an obscure name of a variety of tripe, but I'm puzzled as to how the Smith family made it into Chinese cuisine.

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Visual puns in K-pop, part 2

Three days ago, we saw how the group named Apink wrote the Korean phrase "eung-eung 응응" ("yes", "okay", or "uh huh") as %% for the title of their hit single:  "Visual puns in K-pop" (1/10/19).

Now comes another famous K-pop song called "T T" (Roman letter T):

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Chaos

From an anonymous reader:

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NLLP: bag-of-words semantics?

The First Workshop on Natural Legal Language Processing (NLLP) will be co-located with NAACL 2019. The phrase "natural legal language processing" in the title strikes me as oddly constructed, from a syntactic and semantic point of view, though I'm sure that NAACL attendees will interpret it easily as intended.

Let me explain.

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Really weird sinographs, part 4

A video introducing 70 obscure Chinese characters (shēngpì zì 生僻字):

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"Falling rocks" versus "fallen rocks"

[This is a guest post by an anonymous correspondent.]

We traveled last week from our home in Baltimore out to see our daughter in Ohio, and while en route in Pennsylvania, my husband and I noticed something. At various points along the turnpike, we saw signs that noted "Falling Rocks" and others that noted "Fallen Rocks." It was after dark as we drove, so we couldn't see what the hillsides looked like, but we found it unusual to see both signs, which appeared to be in free variation. We didn't see any rocks in the road, and happily for us, none came rolling down as we passed.

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Of knots, pimples, and Sinitic reconstructions

A couple of months ago, we talked about gēda 疙瘩, which is one of those very cool, two syllable Sinitic words, neither of whose syllables means anything by itself (i.e., not only is it a disyllabic lexeme, it is also a disyllabic morpheme).  Furthermore, gēda 疙瘩 is highly polysemous, with the following meanings:  "pimple; knot; swelling on the skin; lump; nodule; blotch; a knot in one's body or heart (–> hangup; problem; preoccupation)".

See "Too hard to translate soup" (9/2/18).

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Whose values?

The subhed of this opinion piece made me do a double take — Bari Weiss, "A Massacre in the Heart of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood: The values that drove Robert Bowers to murder my neighbors are the ones we cherish — and will continue to live by", NYT 10/27/2018.

At least, that's how the piece originally ran:

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An xkcd for Geoff Nunberg

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Metaphorical limitations

A few years ago, I noticed an apparent boom in "Peak X" (see also "'Peak X' abides" and "Peak friend"), and reported concerns that the peak bubble might have burst ("Peak peak has apparently passed"). But a scan of recent news stories suggests that the peak X construction has established itself solidly in the journalistic lexicon. In addition to the obvious things like "peak foliage", "peak leaf season", "peak fire season", and "peak earnings", we can read about  "peak plastic", "peak crazy", "peak absurdity", "peak patent", "peak Fortnite", "peak grunge", and "peak First Take yelling".

In one of those posts back in 2014, I wondered why "there's no 'valley X' or 'trough X' corresponding to 'peak X'". And for that matter, why no "summit X"?

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