Archive for Bilingualism

Bilingual Chinese lesbian slang dictionary

"Siting Yao’s bilingual dictionary translates Chinese lesbian slang:  The London-based graphic designer illustrates unique language expressions and humorous anecdotes in her colourful, graphic guide to queer code."  By Ellis Tree, It's Nice That (4 July 2024)

Made for: “Chinese speakers who are interested in but unfamiliar with queer culture, English speakers who are interested in Chinese queer culture, and Chinese lesbians who want to celebrate their own culture”, Siting Yao’s publication Lesbian Slang in Chinese collates 40 amusing anecdotes and phonetic translations into a pocketable A7 dictionary. Presented in a bilingual format, with visualisations of each slang term or expression to “enhance connections between diverse audiences”, the publication aims to bridge cultural and linguistic divides through creative publishing methods.

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The future Sinitic languages of East Asia

Is monolingualism a normal, natural, necessary state of affairs for human beings?

Can you imagine a world in which there were only one language?  How is that even possible?

These are questions that come to mind after reading Gina Anne Tam's deeply thought provoking "Mandarin Hegemony: The Past and Future of Linguistic Hierarchies in China", pulse (4/18/24).

Tam begins with a gripping, hard-hitting scene that we at Language Log were already well aware of last fall:  "Speak Mandarin, not Cantonese, even in Macau" (10/31/23).  Here are the opening paragraphs of her article:

At a concert in Macau in the autumn of 2023, Cantopop superstar Eason Chan used an interlude to talk about his songwriting process. Suddenly, shouts from the audience interrupted his soliloquy, as a few fans demanded that he shift from speaking in his native Cantonese, the majority language in Macau, to Mandarin, the Chinese national language. Chan stopped and quickly launched into a multilingual lecture, reprimanding those who deigned to tell him what to speak. In English, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Thai, he defended multilingualism for the freedom it grants: ‘I love speaking in whatever way and language I want’ (Huang 2023).

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Kalmyk-German glossary

[Basic information about Kalmyk (Mongolic language) and Julius Klaproth (1783-1835) below.]

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The future is dangerous: Anglo-Nipponica

Sign at a hotel in Japan:

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Tocharian Bilingualism and Language Death in the Old Turkic Context

Sino-Platonic Papers is pleased to announce the publication of its three-hundred-and-thirty-seventh issue:

“Tocharian Bilingualism, Language Shift, and Language Death in the Old Turkic Context,” by Hakan Aydemir.



The death of a language is a sad and dramatic event. It is, however, a fact that many languages died out in the past and are now dying out as well. However, although we often know the time and causes of present or recent language deaths and have a relatively large amount of information about them, we often do not know the time and causes of past language deaths, or our knowledge of these processes is very limited. In other words, the very limited written sources or linguistic material make it very difficult to study “language shift” or “language death” phenomena in historical periods.

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Pinyin vs. English

I knew that in the future it would come to this.  More than forty years ago, I predicted that one day China would have to make a choice between Hanyu Pinyin and English when it comes to phonetic writing.  As we say in Mandarin, "guǒrán 果然" ("as expected / it turns out")….

It seems that there's been quite a flap over the replacement of signs for subway station stops from English to Hanyu Pinyin, as documented (verbally and visually [many photographs]) in this Chinese article.  Naturally, the Chinese characters are there in either case, but what people are complaining about is the replacement of English with Hanyu Pinyin.  For example, changing "Library" to "Tushuguan" or "Hefei Train Station" to "Hefei Huochezhan".

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Bilingual book takes top honors at New Zealand Children's Book Awards

Press comment:
"A bilingual book about the Māori creation story has won the highest accolade in children's literature."
Awards Announcement:
"Te Wehenga: The Separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku presents the Māori creation pūrākau in a bold design using universal elements recognised across iwi. The bilingual text is poetic, and integrated into the artwork on each page in a way that draws readers into an interactive experience, inviting them to turn the book as they become immersed …"

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Bilingual wordplay on a Taipei sign

From Tom Mazanac:

I came across this sign on the subway recently:

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Laowai (the Old Furriner) trolls the CCP

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Egregious errors

From Taiwan News (3/25/23), by Keoni Everington:

"Taiwanese 'Hello Kitty' English-Chinese dictionary has 70 'egregious errors'

Publisher ACME Cultural Enterprise Co has admitted errors but not recalled dictionaries"

Cover of dictionary, example of misspelling. (Eryk Smith photo)

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Fusion food ad featuring fusion script

[This is a guest post by Bernhard "번하드" Riedel from Munich]

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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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