Archive for Acronyms

Ask Language Log: The alphabet in China

Jeff DeMarco writes:

I have just come across some mixed language abbreviations on Chinese social media. For example, 川A市 refers to Chengdu. 皖J市 is Huangshan in Anhui, and 皖A市 is Chaohu.

I am curious as to how the letters are assigned.

The incorporation of the Roman alphabet into the Chinese writing system is a topic that we have often addressed on Language Log, for which see the "Readings" (and the bibliographies they include) below.

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Acronyms in China

Recently, one of my students found an interesting post from the Communist Youth League about the use of Hanyu Pinyin acronyms on the Internet. When people type on Weibo, WeChat, and other social media, they frequently use Pinyin acronyms. For examples:

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ERNIE's here — is OSCAR next?

In "Contextualized Muppet Embeddings" (2/13/2019) I noted the advent of ELMo ("Embeddings from Language Models") and BERT ("Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers"), and predicted ERNiE, GRoVEr, KERMiT, …

I'm happy to say that the first of these predictions has come true:

"Baidu's ERNIE 2.0 Beats BERT and XLNet on NLP Benchmarks", Synced 7/30/2019
"Baidu unveils ERNIE 2.0 natural language framework in Chinese and English", VentureBeat 7/30/2019

Actually I'm late reporting this, since ERNIE 1.0 came out in March:

"Baidu's ERNIE Tops Google's BERT in Chinese NLP Tasks", Synced 3/25/2019

But I'm ashamed to say that the Open System for Classifying Ambiguous Reference (OSCAR) is still just an idea, though I did recruit a collaborator who agreed in principle to work with me on it.

 

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Whaumau

Thomas Lumley called my attention to the neologism and bilingual pun "whaumau", now a Twitter hashtag:

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Love those letters

Here we go again.  More Roman letters and English words on police and security guard uniforms in China (see below for some earlier posts).  Here's a doozy:

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NIMBY in Chinese

On her blog today retired U. Wisconsin law Prof. Ann Althouse asks some interesting questions about local Nanjing reactions to a nursing home (possibly with a morgue and a kindergarten) being located nearby.  She cites this article by Fan Liya in Sixth Tone (3/30/18):  "Nanjing NIMBYs Oppose Hospice, Fearing Death in Their Midst/Nursing home offering end-of-life services is one of a string of facilities to encounter opposition due to superstition".

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Obscene license plate

License plate of a car in Beijing:

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How rapidly and radically can a language evolve?

[This is a guest post by Alex Wang, a long-term resident of Shenzhen, China]

I was wondering if there have been any studies on how readily a language can absorb new elements and features.

Yesterday at the Pacific Coffee shop near where I live, by chance I struck up a conversation with a professor who teaches economics at the local Shenzhen University.  He heard me speaking with my younger son in English and, when I went to attend my older son, he struck up a conversation with my younger son.  I suppose he was curious about how my younger son's oral English skills were so "good", since he has a daughter who is around the same age as my older boy.  It would seem many locals want an English speaking friend for their children so as to have an environment to practice.

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"Poop"

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

Yes, the following image from the most recent Weekly Playboy (週刊プレイボーイ Shūkan Pureibōi; not a regional edition of Hugh Hefner's Playboy), is labeled "Poop":

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ALT-DAIGO

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

I live in the central Japanese industrial hub of Nagoya, the city that Toyota (re)built. Despite the greater Nagoya metro area's twelve million inhabitants and a GDP trailing Switzerland for #20 on the world country rankings, the locals in particular refer to the city as inaka, the boonies. Nagoya is a city almost universally described as, "not much to visit, but a nice place to live."

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More on "Daesh"

We've had a recent post on the pronunciation of this lightning rod of a word.

"Pronouncing 'Daesh' " (11/15/15)

From a colleague:

Guthrie's article* states:

"And the vowel which begins the word 'islaamiyya' becomes an 'a' sound when differently positioned in a word, hence the acronym being pronounced 'da'ish' when written in Arabic, and  the 'a' coming over into our transliteration of the acronym."

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Chinese internet slang, acronyms, and common expressions

Of the many websites dealing with contemporary Chinese language and culture, chinaSMACK is one of the best.  So eye-popping is chinaSMACK's content that I could very easily spend nearly all of my time immersed in it.

One chinaSMACK feature that undoubtedly will be of considerable interest to Language Log readers is this glossary of terms frequently encountered on the Chinese internet.

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GBIAFMO AHU ROOM

Jim Breen snapped this photograph in the departure lounge at Guangzhou airport:

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