Archive for Bilingualism

ESL spam scam? (updated)

I just got an email from WordPress notifying me of a comment awaiting approval at LAWnLinguistics. Here is the comment, in full:

This is Pam, and English is my 1st language. I'm for real, and would like you to get back in touch with me.

The comment makes four assertions:

  1. This is Pam
  2. English is my 1st language.
  3. I'm for real,
  4. and would like you to get back in touch with me.

It's almost certain that three of those four assertions are false. Does anyone want to guess which is the one that is true?

CLARIFICATION (after reading the first five or six comments, all guessing wrong): For the benefit of those who want to submit a guess, note that what prompted this post was the content of the comment, not anything about its word choice, syntax, punctuation, etc.

HINT (after reading more wrong guesses): Pragmatics.

HINT IN THE FORM OF A QUESTION (after reading still more guesses that are not only wrong but aren't even close): How often have you encountered a situation in which, upon your initial contact with someone who is a complete stranger, the first thing they say after introducing themself is "English [or some other language] is my 1st language?

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I [heart] you in Sino-English

Taken by Yuanfei Wang at a restaurant in Hangzhou:

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"Come, comrades, over there!"

There's a huge controversy over whether the police commander uses the Mandarin word "tóngzhìmen 同志们" ("comrades") at around 2:15 in this video:

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"HKers add oil"

Photograph in the Wall Street Journal, "Hong Kong Protesters Fill Streets in District With History of Violent Clashes:  Police are under pressure to contain weeks of tear-gas-soaked demonstrations against mainland China's growing influence", by John Lyons and Joyu Wang (8/3/19):

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Fluent bilingualism in Singapore

[This is a guest post by an anonymous correspondent in East Asia.]

I thought you might be interested in taking on the ignorance of remarks earlier today by Singapore's minister of education. He's headed toward "like, wow" territory.

Basically, he was speaking about Singapore expanding a program aimed at reinvigorating the learning of what it calls "mother-tongue languages," which are the main languages of Singapore other than English — even though English is increasingly the mother tongue of citizens there.

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Mandarin morphosyllabic annotation of a Taiwanese sign

Public notice in a ward in Tainan, Taiwan:


(Source)

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Can a person have more than one native language?, part 2

Based on these two tweets, this 85-year-old Swedish woman has at least two native tongues:

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Can a person have more than one native language?

The following paragraph began as a comment to this post:  "How to maintain first and second language skills" (4/25/19)

How can a person acquire not just one, but two or more native languages? Now in China, some parents aspire to help their children learn both Chinese and English as their native languages. But, considering the drastic differences between the two languages, it seems to be quite a difficult goal to achieve, to use both languages equally well. A very interesting case I met is a 6th grader from an international school, a Chinese boy who spoke fluent English but stammering Chinese. He had to stop to organize his Chinese when trying to express complicated ideas. His parents are both native Chinese, and they sent him to an international primary school. There are undoubtedly many other students like him, since China has so many international primary and secondary schools. Their parents must have taken great effort making English the first language of their children. But why? And in the almost monolingual Chinese environment, I wonder if English as their first language could be as equally efficient as that of a real native speaker.

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The reality of emerging digraphia

Paul Battley spotted this nice specimen of digraphia written inside the glass of one of those soft toy grabber machines in Taipei last week:

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Sino-English neologisms

As I've mentioned before, Chinese feel that they have every right to experiment with English, make up their own English words, and compose their own locutions which have never before existed in the English-speaking world.  In recent years, they have become ever more playful and emboldened to create new English terms that they gloss or define in Chinese.  Here are ten such new English terms, or perhaps in some cases I should say modified English terms, together with their Chinese explanations:

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"No" in Chinese

A sign warning against uncivilized behavior in the main bazaar in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang region (Bloomberg):

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The politics of "Maria" in Taiwan

During the last few days, there has been a huge furor over this sentence spoken publicly by the Mayor of Kaohsiung City, Han Kuo-yu (Daniel Han):

"Mǎlìyà yīxiàzi zuò wǒmen Yīngwén lǎoshī 瑪莉亞一下子做我們英文老師" ("Maria suddenly becomes our English teacher")

Newspaper articles describing the incident, which is now being referred to as the "'Mǎlìyà' shìjiàn「瑪麗亞」事件" ("'Maria' Affair"), may be found here (in Chinese, with video clip) and here (in English).

Mayor Han is notorious for his errant, flippant manner of speaking, but this instance — which he later claimed was a "joke" — quickly came back to haunt him.  To understand why this is so, we need to take into account a number of factors.

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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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