Archive for Humor

Language for COVID-19: German and Finnish

A rare find of linguistic news in a blog concerning the Supreme Court:

"Relist Watch: Kalsarikännit edition", John Elwood, SCOTUSblog

SCOTUSblog is about the work of the Supreme Court of the United States.  The author must have a streak of the linguist in him, for he chose to  begin today's post with three paragraphs about language usage related to the coronavirus crisis.  Here they are:

As America begins its fourth week under quarantine with widespread working from home, we've begun noticing shifts in grooming, attire and behavior as many of us remain cooped up for weeks on end.

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Looking on the bright side

According to the BBC, a police boat in London was playing Monty Python's "Always look on the bright side of life" for listeners near the Thames last week:

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Quarantini

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Novel transmission of the novel coronavirus

Viral on Chinese social media:

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COVID-19 response?

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Winnie the Flu

Tweet from Joshua Wong 黃之鋒, Secretary-General of Demosistō:

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Sino-Semitica, part 2: of massage and Old Sinitic reconstructions

As part of our research on the dictionary of Middle Vernacular Sinitic (MVS) that Zhu Qingzhi and I have been working on for more than two decades, I was tickled by this quaint poem (below on the second page) by the medieval Buddhist poet, Wáng Fànzhì 王梵志 (Brahmacārin ब्रह्मचारिन् Wang; fl. first half of 7th c.).

I have been an avid fan of Wáng Fànzhì's unique poetry for nearly half a century.  Quaint, indeed, and also quirky.  Wang Fanzhi is self-demeaning in a funny, adorable way.  The poem I'm about to introduce you to is a good example of his trademark self-abnegation.

What attracted me particularly to this poem for the purposes of our research on MVS is the first word in line 2, chǎngtóu 長頭 ("for a long time"), which does not exist with this meaning in Literary Sinitic (LS) / Classical Chinese (CC).  Finding chǎngtóu 長頭 ("for a long time") in Wang Fanzhi's poem was already enough of a treat, but when I got to the last word of the couplet, I was even more delighted.  As you will momentarily see, what Wang says about his wife's tummy is funny by itself, but the word he uses to describe what the wife does to her tummy made me even more excited.

But let's read the poem first, then I'll talk about the word in question, namely, méisuō 沒娑 ("massage").

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Sino-Manchu seals of the Xicom Emperor

Tweet by Sulaiman Gu:

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Topless meeting

From Nathan Hopson:

Can't believe I had never heard this marvelous Japanglish until now:

トップレス‐ミーティング(toppuresu mītingu = "topless meeting")or トップレス会議 (kaigi = meeting)

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Upcoming Russian Referendum on Changes to the Constitution: Да или Нет

This is an old Soviet joke, recycled and updated, that is making the rounds in Russia now.

Вопрос на всенародное голосование –

Вы не против изменения Конституции РФ, чтобы Владимир Владимирович Путин остался правителем России на всегда?

Варианты ответов:

1. Нет, не против
2. Да, не против

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Meanest pun of the year

From "Who's Bill This Time", Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me! 12/21/2019:

Peter Sagal: Mayor- Mayor Pete has been getting some heat.
I don't know if you saw this.
He attended a big fundraiser in Napa
at a winery with a, quote, "wine cave."
And everybody was so mad that he did this.
But why would you be mad about a wine cave?
It celebrates the two things Democrats are known for, whining and caving.

 

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Crosstalk about topolects

In the last few days, we've been discussing the notion of "national language" and its relationship to other languages and topolects spoken in China.  Here's a famous 6:47 comic skit filmed in 1980 featuring the late Mǎ Jì 马季 and his straight man, Zhào Yán 赵炎, called "Guǎngdōng huà 广东话" ("Cantonese") (I will describe its contents below):

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Seeding Mars

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