Archive for Language and gender

Revising Korean Sign Language (KSL) for sexual minorities

It's a bit unclear what exactly happened recently to prompt the article, but the general information it conveys is interesting.

"Korean deaf LGBT activists create new signs to express identities with pride", by Lee Hae-rin, The Korea Times (9/24/22)

Woo Ji-yang, 33, is a deaf gay man based in the southern city of Busan. For most of his life, he felt shame and humiliation when he introduced his sexual identity in Korean Sign Language (KSL). The manual sign for "gay" in KSL describes an act of anal intercourse between two men.

Gyeonggi-based CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) and gay man Kim Bo-seok, 34, confessed he has lived through a dilemma similar to that of Woo's. He has been a bridge between the hearing and deaf community as a child of deaf parents and a sign language researcher studying KSL for his Ph.D., but the sign language expressions that contain overly sexualized and degrading connotations of sexual minorities have made him hesitate to come out and live freely for a long time.

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Trends

About six weeks from now, I'm scheduled to give a (virtual) talk with the (provisional) title "Historical trends in English sentence length and syntactic complexity". The (provisional) abstract:

It's easy to perceive clear historical trends in the length of sentences and the depth of clausal embedding in published English text. And those perceptions can easily be verified quantitatively. Or can they? Perhaps the title should be "Historical trends in English punctuation practices", or "Historical trends in English conjunctions and discourse markers." The answer depends on several prior questions: What is a sentence? What is the boundary between syntactic structure and discourse structure? How is message structure encoded in speech (spontaneous or rehearsed) versus in text? This presentation will survey the issues, look at some data, and suggest some answers — or at least some fruitful directions for future work.

So I've started the "look at some data" part, so far mostly by extending some of the many relevant earlier LLOG Breakfast Experiment™ explorations, such as "Inaugural embedding", 9/9/2005, or  "Real trends in word and sentence length", 10/31/2011, or "More Flesch-Kincaid grade-level nonsense", 10/23/2015. 

In most cases, the extensions just provide more data to support the ideas in the earlier posts. But sometimes, further investigation turns up some twists.

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The semantics, grammar, and pragmatics of "drink tea" in the PRC

Tea is a Very Big Thing with me.  I am intensely interested in all manifestations and transformations of this celestial ichor.  For some references, see the "Selected readings" below.

All the tea in China is on my mind this morning as a result of reading this article:

"Defying China’s Censors to Urge Beijing to Denounce Russia’s War", by Chris Buckley (March 18, 2022)

In the midst of an account of numerous individuals who had signed a petition against Russia's war on Ukraine, I came upon this sentence:

“Every single one was taken for tea,” Mr. Lu said in a telephone interview, using a common euphemism referring to being questioned by the police.

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iel

The online version of the Petit Robert French dictionary has added an entry for a gender-neutral third person pronoun, "iel", also spelled "ielle":

It's a concatenation of [i], the common reduced pronunciation of  the masculine pronoun "il", with the normal pronunciation of  the feminine pronoun "elle".

And the predictable storm of protest has erupted, among politicians as well as many mass-media commentators in France, along with more English-language coverage than usual for dictionary entries in other languages.  Amy Cheng's WaPo story ("A French dictionary added a gender-neutral pronoun. Opponents say it’s too ‘woke.’", 11/18/2021) provides a summary and links.

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"Kong Girl Phonetics"

New issue of Sino-Platonic Papers (no. 317 [August, 2021]):

“'Kong Girl Phonetics': Loose Cantonese Romanization in the 2019 Hong Kong Protest Movement,” by Ruth Wetters (free pdf)

Abstract

Cantonese in Hong Kong occupies a specific cultural and political niche, informed by the unique context of the Hong Kong identity. During the 2019 Hong Kong protests, protesters used modified Cantonese online to evade detection and cement their identity as Hong Kongers. One way in which this was achieved is through a new online vernacular, dubbed “Kong girl phonetics” Kong nui ping jam. This vernacular borrows from grassroots romanization, English phonetics, number substitutions, and bilingualism in English and Cantonese to exclude all readers except young Hong Kong people, who show high bilingualism and high tech literacy and share the vocabulary of protesters. This essay explores aspects of this protest vernacular through non-comprehensive analysis of a thread on LIHKG (Lineage: Hong Kong Golden) lin dang 連黨 that is the first recorded example of “Kong girl speech.”

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Girlie men in the PRC, part 2

Why words matter.

Just talking about this strange locution, "niángpào 娘炮" (slang for "sissy; effeminate man"), let us hear what a necessarily anonymous PRC citizen has to say about it:

I think the CCP is widening its dictatorship under the veil of / through its social morality cultivation in various aspects these days, and that it bans "娘炮" from the entertainment industry (“boycotting being overly entertaining”) functions as one of its schemes to instill the antecedent atmosphere.

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Girlie men in the PRC

Hot topic in China these days:

"China bans men it sees as not masculine enough from TV", AP, By JOE McDONALD (September 2, 2021)

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government banned effeminate men on TV and told broadcasters Thursday to promote “revolutionary culture,” broadening a campaign to tighten control over business and society and enforce official morality.

The main term used to describe such persons is "niángpào 娘炮" (slang for "sissy; effeminate man").  The article quoted above says it means "girlie guns".  That is a literal translation of the two constituent characters, but I have my doubts that it reflects the true derivation of the word, since it is also written with the homophonous characters 娘泡, which mean "girlie bubbles / froth / lather".

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"People with erectile dysfunction"

Following up on yesterday's "Pregnant People" post, I thought I'd look at terminological developments for a condition associated with male as opposed to female birth sex and anatomy.

The first thing to note is that current discussions of erectile dysfunction use both "men" and "people", sometimes in the same article — thus Richard Fogoros, "Is Viagra (Sildenafil) Safe for Men With Heart Disease?", verywell health 12/10/2020:

Viagra (sildenafil) has been life-changing for many people with erectile dysfunction (ED), making it possible to have a robust and satisfying sex life. However, this drug and others belonging to a class of medications called phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5 inhibitors), may not be safe for people with certain types of heart disease.

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Soused noodles / face

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

An unfortunate cultural misunderstanding has occurred in the attached image:

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Gender alternatives

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Women's writing: dead or alive

Article in BBC yesterday:

"Nüshu:  China's secret female-only language", by Andrew Lofthouse (10/1/20)

Here's what it looks like:


Nüshu is a women's-only script that was passed down from mothers to
their daughters in feudal-society China (Credit: CPA Mediat Pte Ltd/Alamy)

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Audible endogenous motoric activity

D. Kimbrough Oller et al., "Infant boys are more vocal than infant girls", Current Biology May 2020:

Female humans appear to have an advantage in language, from early childhood through late adulthood, reported to include a larger vocabulary, more complex utterances, greater expressive language, and better verbal and pragmatic language comprehension [1]. Wakeful infants produce ‘protophones’ — precursors to speech that include vowel-like sounds, squeals, and growls — at a rate of four or five utterances per minute, more than five times the rate of crying, throughout the first year [2]. The massive number of protophones is in itself surprising, but equally surprising, given the presumed female language advantage, we found that, in the first year, boys produced 24% more protophones than girls. This sex bias was true of infants either at high risk (HR) or low risk (LR) for autism. Both genetic and cultural factors may be involved in this bias, and additional research is clearly called for to investigate the origins of the strong tendency of infants to produce protophones and the unexpected tendency for boys to do so to a greater extent.

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More on "écriture inclusive"

Following up on "Écriture inclusive" (10/9/2017), Eloy Romero Muñoz sent in a link to a June 2019 "Édition augmentée" of the Manuel d'Écriture Inclusive.

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