Archive for Language and business

Wawa

[Preface:  scores of versions of the Wawa logo here.  Take a look before plunging in to the post.]

Brother Joe told me the good news that Wawa stores are coming to my home state of Ohio!

Wawa's are great!  Anyone who went to Penn would know this because their stores are near the campus and their hoagies / subs, salads, mac and cheese, coffee, snacks of all sorts, etc. are tasty and wholesome.  I could practically live out of Wawa's.

Chinese chuckle when they encounter the word "Wawa".  The first thing they think of is "wáwá 娃娃" ("baby; child; doll") — note the female radicals on the left, but secondarily they might think of "wāwā 哇哇" ("wow wow") — note the mouth radicals, or tertiarily they might think of "wāwā 蛙蛙" ("frog") — note the insect / bug radicals.  The name just somehow sounds funny.  Cf. what we were saying about sound symbolism in "The sound of swearing" (12/7/22).

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Hipster beer names

I'm used to the names of beers-and-such following the pattern <BRAND> <STYLE>, like "Yuengling Golden Pilsner" or "Orval Trappist Ale". Occasionally things get a bit more creative, like  "Victory HopDevil" or "Huyghe Delirium Tremens".

But a couple of days ago, in the food court of the Moynihan Train Hall in NYC, I was intrigued by a large ad for selections from Threes Brewing, which has a shop there. The picture below is what I think is the same line-up, copied from their website (click for a bigger version):

That particular array of beverage names, in left-to-right order, is

Fool's Errand, Temporary Identity, Here Ya Go, You People, I Hate Myself, Bad Wallpaper, Crying on the Inside, Logical Conclusion, Beyond the Void, Constant Disappointment, Chronic Myopia, Unreliable Narrator, Unintentional Fallacy.

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Sacré bleu! — the synesthesia of Walmart cyan

This is a follow-up post to "How to say 'We don't have any pickled pigs' feet'" (9/23/22).

If you had been driving along Route 30 in Valparaiso, Indiana on July 4, Independence Day this past summer, you might have caught sight of this itinerant jogger outside the Walmart there:

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Slacker "Ojisan" culture in Japanese companies

Western observers of Japanese society generally believe that sararīman サラリーマン ("salaryman") have a super strong work ethic.  According to a survey of Japanese employees in their twenties and thirties conducted by the management consulting company Shikigaku, however, 49.2% said that there was a hatarakanai ojisan (middle-aged man who does no work) at their company.

"Survey in Japan Finds Half of Companies Have Morale-Draining Slacker 'Ojisan'", nippon.com (6/13/22)

The article has colorful charts listing responses to four main questions.  Here I omit the charts, while rearranging and summarizing some of the findings.

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Pleiades: From Sumer to Subaru

During the early part of my career, one of the most stunning academic papers I read was this:

Roy Andrew Miller, "Pleiades Perceived:  MUL.MUL to Subaru", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 108.1 (January-March, 1988), 1-25.

"Pleiades Perceived" was the presidential address delivered March 24, 1987 at the American Oriental Society's 197th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.  "Roy Andrew Miller (September 5, 1924 – August 22, 2014) was an American linguist best known as the author of several books on Japanese language and linguistics, and for his advocacy of Korean and Japanese as members of the proposed Altaic language family." (source)

Miller received his Ph.D. in Chinese and Japanese from Columbia University.  He taught successively at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Yale University, and the University of Washington.  He was (in)famous for his harsh reviews, to be compared only with those of Leon Hurvitz (August 4, 1923 – September 28, 1992), who also received his Ph.D. from Columbia and, after teaching at the University of Washington, ended his career at the University of British Columbia.  Miller and Hurvitz both were immensely learned scholars who knew Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Sanskrit, and other challenging languages.  I didn't meet Miller in person, but did study for one year with Hurvitz, who was extraordinarily eccentric.

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Irasshaimase?

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

I never thought this day would come.

From convenience stores to high-end luxury retailers, the daily soundscape of Japan is punctuated by millions upon millions of calls of “Irassshaimase!” It’s a greeting so pervasive that it becomes one of the most searing impressions of the country for first-time tourists, and for those of us who live here long-term it’s hard to imagine Japan without it. But perhaps now we will have to. The unthinkable, it seems, has been thought.

Irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ) is a formal imperative form. It comes from the root verb irassharu (いらっしゃる), a “polite” verb that can mean to come, go, or be. The simple imperative is irasshai (いらっしゃい), which, though more unusual these days, can still be stumbled upon if you escape some of the more formalized spaces of the mainstream bourgeois economy. Both irasshaimase and irasshai mean, more or less, “Come on over!” or “Come on in!” In its modern incarnation, used primarily to greet customers who have already entered a store or restaurant, the nuance of irasshaimase is closer to “Welcome!” Occasionally you’ll hear it paired with “Goyukkuri dōzo” (ごゆっくりどうぞ), in other words, “Please take your time.”

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More holy water from Tibet

Mount Kailash, which forms part of the Transhimalaya in Nagari Prefecture of Tibet, is sacred to Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and the native religion of Bon.  Aside from the mountain itself, the large lake Manasarovar, which lies at the base of its foothills to the southeast and is fed by its glacial runoff, is also considered to be of exceptional holiness.

The Sanskrit word "Manasarovar" (मानसरोवर) is a combination of two Sanskrit words; "Mānas" (मानस्) meaning "mind (in its widest sense as applied to all the mental powers), intellect, intelligence, understanding, perception, sense, conscience" while "sarovara" (सरोवर) means "a lake or a large pond".

(source)

Every year, despite the challenging terrain, distance, and high altitude, thousands of pilgrims from India trek to the region and circumambulate Mt. Kailash.

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Wood chopping board

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Singapore circuit breakers

From a colleague in Singapore:

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European slaves in the year 1000

Valerie Hansen has a new book just out:

THE YEAR 1000: When Explorers Connected the World — and Globalization Began.  New York:  Scribner, 2020.

A NYT review of Hansen's landmark volume is copied below, but let's first look at some interesting language notes concerning the background of the word for "slave" (Chapter 4 is on "European Slaves"; the quotations here are from pp. 85-86).

The demand for slaves [in addition to that for furs] was also high, especially in the two biggest cities in Europe and the Middle East at the time–Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine empire, and Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid caliphate, in present-day Iraq. The residents of Constantinople and Baghdad used their wealth to purchase slaves, almost always people captured in raids on neighboring societies.

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Sweethoney dessert

Maidhc Mac Roibin sent in this photograph of the front of a dessert shop in Cupertino from Fintano's flickr site:

201908-PSP-R4-33 Sweethoney Dessert, Cup. CA

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Badge of honor: Language Log is blocked in China

Two days ago, I received this message from a colleague in China:

Not sure if this should be a badge of honor or a disappointment, but a few days ago Language Log got blocked in China.  (Source — GreatFire.org:  Language Log is 100% censored)

This caps off a miserable year where we also lost Wikipedia (all languages), The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Hackernews, Imgur….

[VHM:  Of course, Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and many other invaluable websites were already off-limits to Chinese citizens for years  The internet in China is severely decimated by the CCP government.]

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Tibet water

Ben Zimmer was just passing through Hong Kong Airport, where he got a bottle of Tibet 5100 spring water, complete with Tibetan script:


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