Archive for Topolects

Pork in a pot

That's how Google Translate renders "Guō bāo ròu 锅包肉", and it sounds pretty good, though it's wrong, as we will discover below.  Baidu fanyi gives "Soul of shadow", for which I have no idea how they got it or what it means in relation to a pork entree.  Microsoft Bing Translator has "Pots and pans of meat", which leaves me wondering how carefully prepared it might be. 

I got interested in this term, "Guō bāo ròu 锅包肉" (lit., "pot package / bag / bundle meat") because of these remarks by Michael Broughton:

I am a Chinese translator and a long time reader of Language Log. 
 
I am currently in the midst of translating a travel book from Chinese to English and have recently come across a dish called 锅包肉. 
 
After doing some searching online I discovered that the most common translation for this dish is "Fried Pork in Scoop" (over 2000 hits in Google when searched with quotation marks [VHM:  I got 11,500 hits]).

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Sinographic inputting: "it's nothing" — not

Last week in our Dunhuangology seminar, a student wanted to type "wǔ 武" ("martial; military") into the chat box, but instead out popped "nián 年" ("year").  I immediately said to her, "I'll bet you were using a shape-based inputting system", which left her a bit surprised.

Ever since information technologists began to wrestle with the problem of inputting, ordering, and retrieving Chinese characters in computers during the 70s, I have been intensely interested in the theoretical and practical obstacles they faced.  To better understand the overall situation with regard to characters in computers, I organized an international conference at Penn in 1990 on the computerization of Chinese characters that resulted in Victor H. Mair and Yongquan Liu, eds., Characters and Computers (Amsterdam, Oxford, Washington, Tokyo:  IOS, 1991).

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Taiwanese / Hokkien in Sino-Japanese script, part 2

[This is a guest post by Ying-Che Li]

Being Taiwanese myself, I very much appreciate Victor’s frequent attention to Taiwanese code utility, code crossing, and other linguistic phenomena, which interestingly reflect Taiwan’s current political and cultural atmosphere.

I have several immediate comments after reading Victor’s two recent postings on Taiwanese. As I became immersed in writing, though, it has turned into a longish reflection unexpectedly.

1 I admire Victor’s (and others’) explication of layers of nuances and his insightful ideas on the ‘vulgar’ expression discussed.

2 To me, the ‘vulgar’ and the intentionally sexual implication in the Taiwanese expression was here used as a specifically reactionary retort to the notorious internet and campaign speech vulgarities of Kaohsiung mayor, Han Kuo-yu (Kuomintang [KMT] presidential candidate), which invariably exhibit his sexually explicit tendencies and his chauvinism (and his womanizing habits). Han, unfortunately, attracts huge followers (many of whom are descendants of 眷村 juancun, the military dependent villages, Han being one himself), even now, and they take his big promises, such as 大家發大財 dajia fa dacai,  ‘I’ll make everyone rich’ (echoing Trump’s slogan of ‘making America great’) at their face value.

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Hokkien in Sino-Japanese script

The following viral Hokkien expression looks like it's written in Japanese hiragana and two Chinese characters, and so it is, but if you only know hiragana and standard Sino-Japanese characters, you won't have the ghost of an idea what it means:

りしれ供さ小

This is the challenge of reading and writing Sinitic topolects in Sinographs.

Even if you read this rather exhaustive article explaining what it means, you won't grasp all of the powerful nuances of this expression that is found on t-shirts, handbags, mugs, and various accessories:

"What Does a Trending T-shirt Say About Taiwanese Identity and Politics?", by Brian Hioe, The News Lens (2/01/21)

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Hokkien renaissance

This is cause for rejoicing:

 "Meet the Malaysian on a mission to make Hokkien great again, amid Mandarin’s rising popularity in Southeast Asia"

    Linguist Sim Tze Wei has been accused of trying to divide the Chinese people, as there are those who see the use of other Chinese languages ‘as a sign of disunity and weakness’
    But he points out that Chinese immigrants to Asia have for generations been speaking their own languages, which are being edged out as more turn to learning Mandarin

Randy Mulyanto, SCMP, 1/24/21

When Sim Tze Wei began working to raise awareness of the Hokkien language, he never expected he would be accused of trying to divide the Chinese people.

“Han Chinese nationalists everywhere are keen to equate Mandarin to [real] Chinese,” said Sim, adding that there are those who find ethnic Chinese people speaking in Chinese languages other than Mandarin “as a sign of disunity and weakness”.

The Malaysian-Chinese linguist, who is in his mid-30s, is president of the Hokkien Language Association of Penang. Through the association, Sim is campaigning for the wider use of Hokkien, and advocating that it be reinstated as a language of instruction in independent and Chinese primary schools in the northern Malaysian state, as he fears Hokkien will “continue to be eroded by Mandarin and English”.

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Shanghainese posters

From Diana Shuheng Zhang:

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Biden naming arcana

It has become a meme in China to make fun of people speaking with a Henan accent.  Here are two videos of women dancing and singing Christian songs in Yùjù 豫剧 ("Henan opera") that are circulating on the Chinese internet to the accompaniment of much merriment:  first (for Easter, eulogizing the scene of the Resurrection of Jesus; folkish), second (in praise of Jesus, with an industrial, commercial, official flavor).

Comment by a Chinese friend on the first song-and-dance:

Just think of saints who resurrect from tombs riding in sedan chairs carried by angels and flying to heaven in throngs! It makes me laugh so hard. The girl in red with a piece of cloth over her head is obviously a bride. So it becomes a scene of wedding in progressing to heaven. What a combination of local customs with religion!

Further remark by the same friend:

As for the second piece, it will work perfectly well if "Zhǔ 主“ ("Lord") is replaced by "Dǎng 党“ ("Party").

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Ì a èt i àe I è ìe i àe

According to "10 scioglilingua bergamaschi (con tanto di guida all’ascolto)", Prima Bergamo 8/162018, the standard-Italian phrase sequence

Andate a vedere le api? Sono vive le api?
Go see the bees? Are the bees alive?

come out in Bergamasco as

"Ì a èt i àe?" "I è ìe i àe?"

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Language Diversity in the Sinophone World

That's the title of a new book (Oct. 7, 2020) from Routledge edited by Henning Klöter and Mårten Söderblom Saarela, with the following subtitle:  Historical Trajectories, Language Planning, and Multilingual Practices.   I was present at the conference in Göttingen where the papers in the volume were first delivered and can attest to the high level of presentations and discussions.

This is the publisher's book description:

Language Diversity in the Sinophone World offers interdisciplinary insights into social, cultural, and linguistic aspects of multilingualism in the Sinophone world, highlighting language diversity and opening up the burgeoning field of Sinophone studies to new perspectives from sociolinguistics.

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The look, feel, and sound of Dungan language

Here are a couple of YouTube videos by way of example:

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A monumental new Cantonese-English dictionary

ABC Cantonese-English Comprehensive Dictionary
Robert S. Bauer Series: ABC Chinese Dictionary Series Paperback: $42.00 ISBN-13: 9780824877323 Published: December 2020
University of Hawaii Press 1248 pages

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Sinitic topolects

Tweet by Chenchen Zhang:

For Hmong-Mien and Tai-Kadai languages, follow the thread.

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When intonation overrides tone, part 4

Some folks think that intonation never overrides tones, but I'm convinced on the basis of empirical evidence that it does.

For example:

Nǐ xiǎng gàn hā 你想干哈 –> Nǐ xiǎng gàn há 你想干哈 ("what do you want to do?") — especially in the Northeast.

Here are some other examples — all of them provided by native speakers of MSM (Modern Standard Mandarin):

A.
 
1. 不( bù ["no"]):Sometimes, I would say  不 ( bú) even though there is no falling tone character after  不 to invoke tone sandhi, such as "我不  ( bú)". This happens when somebody asks me to do something I don't like, I will say 不 ( bú) to express my rejection. 
 
2.中间 (zhōngjiān ["in; among; between; amidst"]): Sometimes, I would say 中间 (zhōngjiàn)to emphasize the place.  I think most people will commonly pronounce this phrase as  中间 (zhōngjiàn), but it is "wrong". 
 
3. 都 (dōu ["all"]):   I will pronounce this character as dóu when I want to emphasize the meaning "all." For example, 我都  (dóu) 写完了 I finish them all, 他都 (dóu) 吃完了,he ate them all. But here, I am thinking about whether I am influenced by 东北 Northeastern / dongbei topolect because I think dongbei people will commonly use the pronunciation dóu .

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