Archive for Bilingualism

Another multilingual, multiscriptal sign in Taiwan

Mark Swofford sent in this photograph of a clever, curious sign at an automobile repair shop in Taiwan:

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"Marriage escape wheat egg"

Outside a hotel near Sanyi, Miaoli County, Taiwan:

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Chicken hegemon

From Mark Swofford:

The back of a restaurant stand going up in front of the Banqiao train station as part of a temporary market for the Christmas season.

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Cantonese ad for teppan steak

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Sino-French language lessons

Chinese signs from Quora.  Since they are rather lengthy and come with French explanations, I will depart from my usual Language Log treatment of providing Romanizations, transcriptions, and translations for the Chinese.  Instead, I will only give English translations (based mainly on Google translations of the French, with slight modifications).

En raison de la population nombreuse et du nombre insuffisant d'agents de police, les Chinois ont développé une culture unique en matière de panneaux d'avertissement intimidants :

Panneau de signalisation : "Veuillez conduire en toute sécurité, il n'y a pas d'hôpital à proximité".

Due to the large population and insufficient number of police officers, the Chinese have developed a unique culture of intimidating warning signs.

Warning sign: "Please drive safely, there is no hospital nearby".

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Boris Johnson: "prenez un grip", "donnez-moi un break"

Spectacular code-switching:

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Birthday patty

Liwei Jiao sent in this screenshot:

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The opacity of a bilingual, biscriptal Taiwanese headline

From a Taiwanese website

Dūnmù jiànduì fángyì chūbāo! Mǎ Yīngjiǔ cue Cài Yīngwén dàoqiàn wǎng bào 1450 xiǎngfǎ

敦睦艦隊防疫出包!馬英九cue蔡英文道歉 網曝1450想法

For someone who is not intimately acquainted with the political and linguistic scenes in Taiwan, it is hard to make sense of this headline.

Here are the easy parts:

jiànduì 艦隊 ("fleet")

fángyì 防疫 ("epidemic prevention; anti-epidemic")

Mǎ Yīngjiǔ 馬英九 ("Ma Ying-jeou", former President of Taiwan [Republic of China], 2008-2016)

Cài Yīngwén 蔡英文 ("Tsai Ying-wen", current President of Taiwan [Republic of China], 2016-)

dàoqiàn 道歉 ("apologize")

wǎng bào 網曝 ("internet exposure; expose on the internet")

xiǎngfǎ 想法 ("ideas; thoughts; opinions; views; beliefs")

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French girl sells crêpes in a Taiwan market

Scene at a Taichung night market:

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Cantonese: good news and bad news

The good news is that it's a language.

The bad news is that you can't speak it.

"China’s version of TikTok suspends users for speaking Cantonese:  ByteDance’s short video app Douyin has been urging live streamers to switch to the country’s official language", Abacus via SCMP (4/3/20)

I've been hearing similar reports concerning the use of Cantonese on other social media:  it is definitely discouraged or even forbidden.  At least, though, the Abacus article does not miscall Cantonese a dialect, but affords it the dignity of referring to it as a language.

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Sia suay (or xia suay): a Hokkien expression in Singapore English

Here at Language Log, we are quite familiar with Singapore English, which comes in two registers:  Singapore Standard English (SSE) and Singapore Colloquial English (Singlish).  The term we are discussing today can be used in either register.

This multipurpose expression is featured in connection with the COVID-19 crisis in two recent articles in The Independent:

I

"'Sia suay should be the word of the year…' Netizens take a dig at Chan Chun Sing now that panic buying is happening in many countries

Many netizens went online to say that those words had become a kind of catch phrase. It implies something that is a disgrace or an embarrassment", by Anna Maria Romero (3/5/20)

II

"'Let’s not xia suay again, Singaporeans.' Netizens respond to Chan Chun Sing’s assurance that the country has enough food supplies

Many people commented thanking him for issuing the reassuring update in such a quick manner and called for Singaporeans to stand united at this time", by Anna Maria Romero (3/17/20)

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Japanese-English digraphia in action

Stuart Luppescu saw this restaurant sign in Saitama, Fukaya:

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Sino-Manchu seals of the Xicom Emperor

Tweet by Sulaiman Gu:

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