Archive for Language and sports

The African origins of the name of a black samurai

[The first part of this post, giving the historical background of the central figure, is by S. Robert Ramsey.]


Two joined panels of a Japanese folding screen painted in 1605

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Taiwan's gold medalist with an unusual name

Taiwanese weightlifter Kuo Hsing-chun (Guō Xìng-chún 郭婞淳) won a gold medal the other day in Tokyo:

"OLYMPICS/Kuo thrilled at winning Olympic gold, but could be hungry for more", Focus Taiwan (7/28/21)

Mark Swofford observes:

One odd thing about the weightlifter's name is the middle character: 婞. Wenlin gives that as an obscure character for a morpheme for "hate". That, at least for me, is an unexpected meaning, because the parts of the character are clearly, of course, 女 and 幸 — which are used for morphemes for "woman" and "good fortune".

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A Sino-Italian mistranslation morass

A jumble of soccer talk and Confucian piety, with a splash of CCP ideology

Week in China has an interesting article about a football flap that occurred recently in China:

"Lost in translation:  Cannavaro gets Confucian" (May 14, 2021; WiC 540)

The story is quite convoluted and complicated, so we need to start with the background of the key term at play:  shì 士 (not tǔ 土 ["earth; soil; dust; local; native; indigenous; uncouth; colloquial"] — it is very easy to confuse the two characters).  You will note that nowhere in this long article is there any attempt to translate 士 ("warrior; soldier; scholar; gentleman") into English, and that is a big part of the rub.

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Cancel Olympics

Recently published in the Wall Street Journal:

"Tokyo’s Anti-Olympic Movement Ask: Why Haven’t the Games Been Canceled? The Japanese public remains opposed to the Tokyo Olympics as coronavirus cases surge across the country", by Alastair Gale, WSJ, April 14, 2021

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An American with native fluency in Taiwanese Mandarin

Here's a video clip of a young American businessman named Ben Metcalf (Mai Banda 麥班達) in Taiwan making a presentation for his company's first public launch as part of their IPO process.

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Pibe → urchin?

David Lobina writes:

In the context of Diego Maradona's recent passing, I have been struck by how often he's been referred to as a 'street urchin' in the British press in the last 24 hours or so, and not only because the term sounds rather old-fashioned to me. One (nice) article from The Guardian is rather representative, as the author quotes a 1928 article from an Argentinian periodical on the footballing skills of Buenos Aires street children that uses the word 'pibe' to refer to these children, a word that usually refers to young people in general (at least according to the DRAE). In fact, I would say the reader understands that the author is talking about street children because of the context rather than from any particular word.

Anyway, what I find most curious about this is that the Guardian article glosses the word 'pibe' as 'urchin', which is not entirely correct, and many other newspapers in the UK seem to have run with this epithet for Maradona.

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The tweet that upended the NBA and jammed James (LeBron)

American sports fans are now familiar with the "Stand with Hong Kong" logo because it appeared in the controversial tweet from Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey:

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Ad hoc Romanization for Mandarin: 2022 Winter Olympics

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Taiwanese and Old Norse words for "homestead, village"

[This is a guest post by Chau Wu]

Tai Po District 大埔區 is one of the 18 districts of Hong Kong whereas 大埔县 (Dabu xian) in Guangdong is a Hakka culture center bordering on Southern Fujian. In Taiwan the term 大埔 (Tōa-po·) is found in about 40 place names such as 大埔鄉 Tōa-po·-hiong, 大埔村 Tōa-po·-chhun, 大埔里 Tōa-po·-lí, etc.

In fact, Tw 埔 (po·) ‘homestead, village’ is the most popular Taiwanese word in place names (Sino-Platonic Papers, No. 262, p. 123). The lexicographer 陳修 (Tân Siu) states in his 台灣話大詞典 (The Great Dictionary of Taiwanese, page 1379) that, “我們台灣以埔po· 為地名者特別多 (In Taiwan we use 埔po· in place names especially plentifully).”

Its corresponding word in Old Norse, bær ‘homestead, village’, is also the most popular word for naming places by the Vikings. Examples are: Sjöbo in Sweden, Maribo and Rødby in Denmark, Valebø in Norway, and Fellabær in Iceland. Its loan to English becomes -by as in Hornby, Gatsby, and the “by” in “bylaw”.           Pointing to its popularity, Cleasby and Vigfusson state that, "wherever the Scandinavian tribes settled, the name by or bö went along with them." (An Icelandic-English Dictionary, page 92). It appears that this unique Nordic custom of using bær/bo/by in place names is carried on in Taiwan.

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Oh, 18!

Robert Hay writes:

There's a Korean pitcher in the majors named Seung-Hwang Oh who was just traded to the Colorado Rockies. Both his previous uniform numbers, 26 and 22, were already taken, so he got number 18, leading to this realization by Sung Min Kim on Twitter:

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A "Wild Boar" proficient in five languages — English, Thai, Burmese, Mandarin, and Wa

At the same time as the World Cup was being held in Russia, an even more intense soccer-related drama was unfolding in Thailand.  A group of teenage boys and their coach had become trapped in a cave complex for more than a week after the entrance had been sealed by rapidly rising floodwaters.  An international team of rescuers worked tirelessly to bring them out of the cave, and one brave hero lost his life in the attempt.  His name was Saman Gunan (Guana/Kunan); he died while taking oxygen to the Thai youngsters trapped in the cave.  Requiescat in pace!

But there was another hero of the Thai rescue operation, and he was a 14-year-old polyglot:

"Teen hero emerges from Thai cave rescue mission", NZ Herald (7/11/18)

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Uyghur basketball player

Article in NBC Sports (6/22/18) by Drew Shiller:  "Report: Chinese prospect Abudushalamu Abudurexiti will play for Warriors in Summer League".

Quips heard around the Language Log water cooler:

Geoff Nunberg:  "It’ll give the announcers something new to chew on, now that they’ve learned to toss off Giannis Antetokounmpo."

Barbara Partee:  "If that article has the pronunciation anywhere near right, then I'll bet his nickname will be Budu-Budu. I like it."

For sure, it's gonna be a challenge for NBA announcers to rattle off his name, but let's see what we're really dealing with.

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Chinese nicknames for NBA players

Quite an amazing thread:

[To access the complete thread, click at the top of the tweet near the author's name.]

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