Archive for July, 2016

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Shiok, shiok

Taylor Swift sings "shake, shake", but in Singapore and Malaysia, everybody is saying "shiok, shiok".

Source:  "Where or how did the phrase Shiok or Syiok used in Malaysia & Singapore originate?" (Quora, Feb. 2015)

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Animal training

Rachel Premack, "Watch: This orangutan is uprooting what we previously knew about language", Washington Post 7/28/2016:

At first glance, this video of an orangutan imitating a trainer’s grunts may not seem incredibly significant. But primate researchers say Rocky, the 11-year-old orangutan in the video, could fundamentally alter how we think about spoken language.

“We don’t know exactly how human language emerged, but we do know that great apes have the cognitive ability to understand language,” said Robert Shumaker, executive vice president and zoo director at the Indianapolis Zoo. “We can no longer say that humans are the only species who can learn new vocalization and control [it] using the vocal folds or voice box.”

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Ask Language Log: Trend in the pronunciation of Clinton?

From David Russinoff:

I wonder if you've done, or are aware of, any research relevant to the following observation. In the articulation of a "d" or "t" followed by a schwa, the tongue may or may not leave the alveolar ridge.  (I just did some cursory research on parts of the mouth and hope I got that right.)  My (highly unscientific) observation over recent years is that, at least in the pronunciation of certain words, such as "student", removal of the tongue is increasingly common.  In fact, this trend is so apparent to me that I find it remarkable that most people don't seem to have noticed it.  I also have an impression that the trend is especially pronounced (unfortunate choice of words) among younger speakers, but my attempt to support this observation by listening to various pronunciations of "Clinton" over the past four nights failed miserably.

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Prescriptivism and terrorism

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"But I was going to say that but now I won't say it"

One of Donald Trump's characteristic rhetorical devices is praeteritio ("passing over"), where the speaker says something by saying they're not going to say it. An especially nice specimen came up in a rally in Iowa on Thursday:

So should I hit these people? No I won't.
But so here's what happened.
So this very very great governor —
like your governor's a great governor —
this very great guy's a friend of mine calls me up.
How's it going?
I said man! I been hit.
These people are hittin me,
I'm gonna go — and I was all set —
I was gonna go, and I was gonna talk about each individual one of them,
I was gonna say that De Blasio's the worst mayor in the history of our city but I couldn't say it,
oh he's a terrible mayor,
probably won't be there too long cuz he's got problems like you wouldn't believe,
but he's a terrible mayor.
But I was gonna say that but now I won't say it.
But- but I was gonna talk about other people, so
viciously because I have so many things to say.
And he goes no, what are you doing?
I said, what are you talkin about?
He said don't hit there.

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Know your bird

We have been discussing the "TCM approach to women's wellness" (7/28/16).  Jichang Lulu writes:  "On the topic of women's wellness, I'm reminded of Messrs Know your Bird, purveyors of Antibacterial Lotion of Woman."  Here's a picture:

(via Flickr)

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Lu Gusun, lexicographer and Shakespeare scholar (1940-2016)

Among many other accounts in English and in Chinese of Lu Gusun's 陆谷孙 passing on July 28, there are two articles in Shanghai Daily that are worthy of mention.  Yesterday, there was an initial, brief announcement,

"Noted English literature professor Lu Gusun passes away at 76" (7/28/16) by Chen Huizhi.

Today, there is a much longer article by Chen Huizhi and Wang Yanlin, "Lu Gusun, celebrated professor and lexicographer, dies aged 76" (7/29/16).

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PolitiFact says

Yesterday's xkcd:

Mouseover title: ""Ok, I lit the smoke bomb and rolled it under the bed. Let's see if it–" ::FWOOOSH:: "Politifact says: PANTS ON FIRE!""

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Not the America I know

"Trump Jr. Says Obama Lifted Phrase From His RNC Speech", NBC News 7/28/2016:

Donald Trump Jr. suggested Thursday that Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia Wednesday night lifted a line from his Republican National Convention remarks, pointing out that both addresses contained the line "That's not the America I know."

But as I pointed out in a post back in July of 2004), George W. Bush used the phrase "That is not the America I know" at least six times in 2001-2002.

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Ben Mathis-Lilley, "Joe Biden Brings House Down at DNC With Raging Fireball of a Speech Highlighted by Use of Word 'Malarkey'", Slate 7/27/2016. Here's the passage:

According to Merriam-Webster's Trend Watch,

Malarkey rose to the top of our look-ups on the evening of July 27th, 2016, after Vice-President Joseph Biden used the word in a speech at the Democratic National Convention.

“He is trying to tell us he cares about the middle class. Give me a break. That is a bunch of malarkey.” —Joe Biden, quoted on, 27 July 2016

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"Believe me": Prosodic differences

Following up on Tim Kaine's mocking imitation of Donald Trump's phrase "believe me", CNN put up a comparison:

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TCM approach to women's wellness

[N.B.:  TCM stands for "Traditional Chinese medicine"]

Geok Hoon (Janet) Williams found these posters this morning at Clementi, Singapore:

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