Archive for Announcements

The Ossetes

Here at Language Log we know our Ossetes and have been learning much about Scythians (see "Selected readings"), so it is good to have this new (forthcoming) book by Richard Foltz: 

The Ossetes: Modern-Day Scythians of the Caucasus
New York / London: I. B. Tauris / Bloomsbury, 24 February 2022

Publisher's description:

The Ossetes, a small nation inhabiting two adjacent states in the central Caucasus, are the last remaining linguistic and cultural descendants of the ancient nomadic Scythians who dominated the Eurasian steppe from the Balkans to Mongolia for well over one thousand years. A nominally Christian nation speaking a language distantly related to Persian, the Ossetes have inherited much of the culture of the medieval Alans who brought equestrian culture to Europe. They have preserved a rich oral literature through the epic of the Narts, a body of heroic legends that shares much in common with the Persian Book of Kings and other works of Indo-European mythology. This is the first book devoted to the little-known history and culture of the Ossetes to appear in any Western language. Charting Ossetian history from Antiquity to today, it will be a vital contribution to the fields of Iranian, Caucasian, Post-Soviet and Indo-European Studies.

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The vocabulary of traditional Chinese thought and culture

I recently got hold of an electronic copy of this book:

Zhōngguó chuántǒng wénhuà guānjiàn cí (Hàn Yīng duìzhào) 中国传统文化关键词(汉英对照) (Key Terms of Traditional Chinese Culture / Key Concepts in Chinese Culture [original English title] [Chinese-English])

Beijing:  Wàiyǔ jiàoxué yǔ yánjiū chūbǎn shè 2019 外语教学与研究出版社 2019 (Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2019)

Here is a one-drive link to the whole book.

It has been scanned by OCR, so the entire contents can be searched by simplified Chinese characters, but accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Non-Han writing in the PRC: A new series

[Blog post today by Bruce Humes]

VHM:  Since I know about half of the authors and translators in this series, I am pleased to see them and their cohort getting wider recognition and circulation.


"'Multi-ethnic' Literature: Yilin’s 2020 Cache of Fiction by non-Han Writers"

As your year-end holiday lockdown fast approaches, it’s worth noting a new series of books by non-Han writers launched this year by one of China’s best-known publishers, Yilin Press — lit., “translation forest” — that is normally associated with marketing popular foreign-language fiction in Mandarin for Chinese readers.

The name of the series itself, Library of Contemporary Classics by China’s Multi-ethnic Writers (中国当代多民族经典作家文库), is notable, because it employs the term “multi-ethnic” rather than the former politically correct, ubiquitous reference to “minority ethnic” literature (少数民族文学) that must surely have rankled some.

I will write more about the worrisome outlook for mother-tongue, multi-ethnic literature out of China — given moves to severely restrict education in Uyghur, Tibetan and Mongolian, and the ongoing incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Turkophone people in Xinjiang — but for now, here are the titles in Yilin’s new series (so far available only in Chinese) with a bit of background info and links:

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Save l'Institut de Phonétique

A change.org petition, in French, is here. An English translation follows (which was sent to me by the ISSP2020 mailing list) — please consider signing the petition and forwarding it to others who may be interested.

On the 11th of August 1927, the ‘Speech Archives’ (which were created in 1911 by Ferdinand Brunot, based on the work of Abbé Rousselot and with the financial and technical help of Emile Pathé) were integrated under the direction of Hubert Pernot into a foundation of the City of Paris and the University of Paris: 'le Musée de la Parole et du Geste' (the Museum of Speech and Gesture). In July 1928, the Institute of Phonetics / Museum of Speech and Gesture were relocated from the Sorbonne to 19, rue des Bernardins, in the heart of the 5th arrondissement of Paris.

For 92 years, thousands of teachers, researchers and students have visited this historical place. Today, the Institute of Phonetics hosts two research teams (including the CNRS Laboratory of Phonetics and Phonology), a department of Language Sciences, nearly 500 students, about fifty doctoral students, a sound proof room and recording studio, etc.

Numerous scientific projects are in progress, in various domains:

– Medical: https://lpp.in2p3.fr/la-recherche/projets-contrats/CSC/

– Pedagogical: https://lpp.in2p3.fr/la-recherche/projets-contrats/gepeto/

– Forensic: https://lpp.in2p3.fr/la-recherche/projets-contrats/voxcrim/

– Preservation of languages: https://lpp.in2p3.fr/la-recherche/projets-contrats/almas/

We recently learned that the City of Paris will be going to resume possession of the building at 19, rue des Bernardins, for a new real estate project, sweeping away nearly a century of French linguistic history.

We, researchers and former researchers, teachers and former teachers, students and former students, partners, associations and supporters of research and teaching, ask the Mayor of Paris to reconsider her decision to close this symbolic place.

Please forward this message to anyone who may be interested.

Sign the petition here if you want to help us: http://chng.it/754JyBttKZ

Les amis de l'Institut de Phonétique (ILPGA)
amis.ilpga@gmail.com
19 rue des Bernardins
75005 Paris

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Language Diversity in the Sinophone World

That's the title of a new book (Oct. 7, 2020) from Routledge edited by Henning Klöter and Mårten Söderblom Saarela, with the following subtitle:  Historical Trajectories, Language Planning, and Multilingual Practices.   I was present at the conference in Göttingen where the papers in the volume were first delivered and can attest to the high level of presentations and discussions.

This is the publisher's book description:

Language Diversity in the Sinophone World offers interdisciplinary insights into social, cultural, and linguistic aspects of multilingualism in the Sinophone world, highlighting language diversity and opening up the burgeoning field of Sinophone studies to new perspectives from sociolinguistics.

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A monumental new Cantonese-English dictionary

ABC Cantonese-English Comprehensive Dictionary
Robert S. Bauer Series: ABC Chinese Dictionary Series Paperback: $42.00 ISBN-13: 9780824877323 Published: December 2020
University of Hawaii Press 1248 pages

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"Between the Eyes and the Ears": SPP turns 300

There is a phenomenon in Japanese publishing called "san-gō zasshi  三号雑誌", which refers to a short-lived magazine that puts out three issues and then folds.  Sino-Platonic Papers, a scholarly journal I started in 1986, just put out its 300th issue, and we're still going strong, with about ten more issues in the pipeline, and others lined up to come after that.

The latest issue is "Between the Eyes and the Ears: Ethnic Perspective on the Development of Philological Traditions, First Millennium AD", by Shuheng Zhang and Victor H. Mair, which appeared yesterday (July 19, 2020).

Abstract

The present inquiry stands as a foray into what may be thought of as a “Summa Philologica Sinica.” To be more precise, this paper is about the study and developmental trajectory of philology rather than philology per se. The approach here, drawing on the prefaces and comments of primary historical resources, conceives of philology as subject to the transitions of philosophy, an amalgam within which variegated traditions and schools contend and consent with each other, rather than as a static, ahistorical antithesis between the study of script and that of sound. The bifocal panoply behind philological texts and the s 勢 (“immanent configuration”) that oscillates between indigenous systems of thought and foreign philosophy, defense of nationality and openness to foreign voices, reflected in the realm of language studies, presents itself as focused on characters (eyes) versus sounds (ears).

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George Whitefield

More than a decade ago, I posted about the oratorial skills of George Whitefield: "If I could only say 'O!' like Mr. Whitefield", 5/15/2009. He was an itinerant preacher who played an indirect role in the origins of the University of Pennsylvania, whose original 1740 home was a building constructed in an unsuccessful attempt to lure Whitefield to settle in Philadelphia. What I didn't know at the time was that Whitefield later played a central role in the introduction of slavery to Georgia, where he did settle:

Slavery had been outlawed in the young Georgia colony in 1735. In 1747, Whitefield attributed the financial woes of his Bethesda Orphanage to Georgia's prohibition of slavery.He argued that "the constitution of that colony [Georgia] is very bad, and it is impossible for the inhabitants to subsist without the use of slaves.

Between 1748 and 1750, Whitefield campaigned for slavery's legalisation. He said that the colony would not be prosperous unless farmers had slave labor. Whitefield wanted slavery legalized not only for the prosperity of the colony, but also for the financial viability of the Bethesda Orphanage. "Had Negroes been allowed", he said, "I should now have had a sufficiency to support a great many orphans without expending above half the sum that has been laid out." Whitefield's push for the legalization of slavery "cannot be explained solely on the basics of economics." It was also that "the specter of massive slave revolts pursued him."

Slavery was legalized in 1751. Whitefield saw the "legalization of slavery as part personal victory and part divine will." Whitefield now argued a scriptural justification for slavery. He increased his number of slaves, using his preaching to raise money to purchase them. Whitefield became "perhaps the most energetic, and conspicuous, evangelical defender and practitioner of slavery."

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On the invention of writing in Egypt and China

The next SCRIBO guest will be John Baines (Oxford), on the invention of writing in Egypt and China, with the title:

“Pairs of Early Script Forms: Contrasting Aesthetics in Early Egypt and China”. 
 
Don’t miss it next Wednesday 8th July, *4.30pm* (Italy time) = *10:30am* (Philadelphia time).
 
The Zoom link is direct: https://tinyurl.com/y9mu7bpo
 
It will also be streamed live on the INSCRIBE ERC Project Facebook page.

Silvia Ferrara <silvia.ferrara@gmail.com>

SCRIBO Seminar (INSCRIBE ERC Project, Bologna)

[h.t. Joe Farrell]

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Abralin ao vivo

[This event has been postponed to Saturday 6/13/2020 in accordance with the call to #ShutDownSTEM]

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University of Texas Linguistics Research Center

Three decades ago, in 1990, I attended a five-week summer institute on Indo-European linguistics and archeology at the University of Texas (Austin).  The institute was organized by Edgar Polomé (1920 [b. Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels, Belgium]-2000) and Winfred Lehmann (1916 [b. Surprise, Nebraska]-2000) and was supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  It seemed like half of the most important Indo-Europeanists of the day paraded through the Institute.

I remember Homer Thomas drawing hundreds of pots on the gigantic blackboard, stretching about 50 feet across the front of the lecture hall and 7 or 8 feet tall, and unerringly identifying their site and culture names, pointing out their relationships by shape and ornamentation.  That was really quite a breathtaking performance, one that went on a whole week for a couple of hours each day, if I remember correctly.

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Annual Reviews response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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University City train station notes

Announcements

1.

"Please be visible to the engineer OR* train will not stop."

*spoken with very heavy emphasis

Is there a choice?

2.

"Your attention please:  trains en route to destination may be late.  Passengers are advised* that times may increase or decrease** at any time."

*the preceding three words are uttered with rising crescendo, with a slight fall at the end

**strong emphasis on each of the preceding three words

This entire announcement is spoken in a seemingly snide, sneering, pompous tone.  No sympathy or apology whatsoever.  (In Japan, the railway administration is thoroughly ashamed when a train is half a minute late.  In Austria, where many of my relatives worked for the railways as much as a century or more ago, one could set your watch by the arrival and departure of the trains.)  I loathe this announcement more than any other — especially when one is made to wait for an hour or more, after which a train may simply be cancelled without explanation.

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