Archive for Code switching

Taiwanese / Hokkien in Sino-Japanese script, part 2

[This is a guest post by Ying-Che Li]

Being Taiwanese myself, I very much appreciate Victor’s frequent attention to Taiwanese code utility, code crossing, and other linguistic phenomena, which interestingly reflect Taiwan’s current political and cultural atmosphere.

I have several immediate comments after reading Victor’s two recent postings on Taiwanese. As I became immersed in writing, though, it has turned into a longish reflection unexpectedly.

1 I admire Victor’s (and others’) explication of layers of nuances and his insightful ideas on the ‘vulgar’ expression discussed.

2 To me, the ‘vulgar’ and the intentionally sexual implication in the Taiwanese expression was here used as a specifically reactionary retort to the notorious internet and campaign speech vulgarities of Kaohsiung mayor, Han Kuo-yu (Kuomintang [KMT] presidential candidate), which invariably exhibit his sexually explicit tendencies and his chauvinism (and his womanizing habits). Han, unfortunately, attracts huge followers (many of whom are descendants of 眷村 juancun, the military dependent villages, Han being one himself), even now, and they take his big promises, such as 大家發大財 dajia fa dacai,  ‘I’ll make everyone rich’ (echoing Trump’s slogan of ‘making America great’) at their face value.

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Birthday patty

Liwei Jiao sent in this screenshot:

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Chinese idol names

[This is a guest post by Alex Baumans]

I recently became aware of the Chinese idol survival programme 'Youth with you', which has resulted in the formation of the group The 9. I got to wondering about the members' names. The group consists of XIN Liu, Esther Yu, Kiki Xu, Yan Yu, Shaking, Babymonster An, Xiaotang Zhao, Snow Kong and K Lu. Of these, only Zhao Xiaotang strikes me as an original Chinese name. As my Mandarin is non existent, I can only guess at the derivation of the other stage names.

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Englese at Alibaba

From an anonymous correspondent, who photographed it at Alibaba's Hangzhou campus — in, ahem, a restroom:

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Julie Washington on Dialects and Literacy

Read here now: the fine profile of my friend and research collaborator Julie Washington in the April issue of the Atlantic magazine. It’s been out for a while but you might not have seen it if, as in Madison WI where I live, it’s still February (we had the biggest snowstorm of the season this week). Julie is a professor at Georgia State University and the head of their program in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She’s an expert on the structure, acquisition, and use of African American English (AAE), and her research focuses on how use of the dialect affects reading achievement and educational progress, the assessment of children’s language and reading, and the identification of developmental language and reading disorders. The article describes her view that children who speak AAE in the home and community will make better progress in learning to read, and in school, if they can code switch between AAE and the mainstream dialect, often termed (though not by her) "standard" American English.

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Trevor Noah reflects on language and identity

In my introductory undergraduate course on English words, and in most undergraduate introductory courses on linguistics, students are invited to reflect on language and identity—how the way you speak communicates information about who you are—which they are typically very interested in. This isn't my beat, professionally speaking, but as a linguist I have a duty to help my students think through some of these issues (and, if they get interested, point them in the right direction to get really educated). To get started, I often play this one-minute clip of a Meshach Taylor Fresh Air interview from 1990, which is usually a good starting point for some discussion.

But Fresh Air (yes I'm a Terry Gross fangirl) also recently ran an interview with the biracial South African host of the Daily Show, Trevor Noah, which contained this ten-minute motherlode of a reflection on multilingualism, language choice, racism, acceptable targets of mimicry, vocabulary size, Trump's communicative abilities, resentment of accented speech… whew. I'm just going to leave it here for your edification and enjoyment. Maybe one of our more sociolinguistically expert Language Loggers will provide some more detailed commentary later. For my part — well, I just invite you to think about what kind of 500-word essay you'd write for a Ling 101 class with this 10-minute clip as your prompt.

To hear the whole interview, or read the transcript, visit the NPR Fresh Air page.

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Rapping Karl Marx in China

In Sixth Tone, Fan Yiying has written an article that leaves me reeling:

"Hip Song Gives Karl Marx Good Rap:  Theme music for a Marx-focused television show is a hit with Chinese youth."

The video of the song is posted here (unfortunately, you have to wait 40 seconds to get through the ads). And here is the audio:

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Singlish: alive and well

We've mentioned that special brand of Singaporean English on Language Log from time to time, most recently just a few days ago:

"New Singaporean and Hong Kong terms in the OED" (5/12/16)

So what is it, really?

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Polylingualism

I'm sitting in the San Francisco International Airport waiting for my flight to Taipei.  The guy next to me is happily chattering away on his cell phone to someone (or some people) at the other end of the "line".  What is curious is that one moment he is speaking in Taiwanese, the next moment in Japanese, then English, and then Mandarin.

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Prolific code-switching in Vietnamese

Michael Rank writes:

I'm intrigued by a sign in the window of a Vietnamese restaurant in Shoreditch, ultra-hipster area of east London which also has lots of inexpensive, unpretentious (mainly) Vietnamese restaurants. I don't know any Vietnamese, I assume Can Tuyen (please forgive lack of diacritics) means "wanted" or "job available" or similar and that there are perfectly good words for waiter/waitress in Vietnamese, so why are these two words in English? It's a bit like another (Chinese) London restaurant sign that I mentioned in this post:

"No word for 'serve' in Chinese? " (3/1/15)

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Kongish, ch. 2

In "Kongish" (8/6/15), we looked at the phenomenon of extensive mixing of English and Cantonese by young people in Hong Kong.  We also became acquainted with the Kongish Daily, a Facebook page written in and about Kongish.  Many Language Log readers thought it was a satire or parody and that it was an ephemeral fad that would swiftly fade away. But here we are, half a year later, and the movement is still going strong, and even, it would seem, gaining momentum.

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English in Chinese — direct and indirect

Zach Hershey saw the following announcement on WeChat from a Chinese student association at UC Irvine:

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New Mandarin words: "pā" (part) and "lūsě" ("loser")

There is a lively March 25, 2015 lecture about the First Emperor of the Qin (260-210 BC), the ruler who unified China by force and bequeathed the name of his dynasty to China for all time.

The lecture, with the title "Qín shǐhuáng zài yǐnmán shénme? 秦始皇在隐瞒什么?" ("What was the First Emperor of the Qin hiding?"), is on YouTube.  The name of the speaker is Luó Zhènyǔ 羅振宇.  He's got the gift of gab, and is one of the best Chinese speakers I've ever heard.  Luo was a journalism major, a field in which he earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D.

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