Archive for October, 2019

"Horse" and "language" in Korean

A Korean student was just in my office and saw this book on my table:  mal-ui segyesa 말의 세계사.

She said, "Oh, a world history of words!"

But I knew that couldn't be right because the book is a world history of horses.  It's actually a Korean translation of this book by Pita Kelekna:

The Horse in Human History (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2009)

So what happened?  Did the student make a mistake?

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Waterless smart public toilet; toilet revolution!, part 3

For nearly two years, we've been following the awesome Chinese toilet revolution.  See especially the last comment to this post:

"Toilet Revolution!!" (11/26/17)

But see also the follow-up posts listed in the "Selected readings" below.

In its frenzied race to catch up with the past of privies, it would appear that China has decided to make a Great Leap Forward into the future of lavatories.  So now we have the "waterless smart public toilet".

"Beijing's first waterless smart public toilet has been put into use", by Zhao Tong (People's Daily Online), October 29, 2019

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"The travesty that is taking fold"

Representative Mo Brooks on Fox News, commenting on the proposed impeachment-inquiry resolution:

I've yet to see the resolution, ((from)) I understand we probably won't see it until
uh later this week,
but if substantively it opens the doors
so that the American people can see the travesty that is taking fold,
then that's a good thing for the American people.

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Pretend dog

Zabrina Lo has a new article in Zolima CityMag titled "Pop Cantonese: 裝假狗 – Installing a Fake Dog" (10/24/19).  It begins thus:

In film sets in Hong Kong, one often hears the phrase zong1 gaa2 gau2 (裝假狗) – literally "installing a fake dog." It isn't too implausible to associate the first two characters with installing props or faking an act for filming purposes, but surely not every movie is about dogs, and what does it even mean to install a fake one?

Dogs have long had a pejorative connotation in Chinese culture, as University of Pennsylvania sinologist Victor Mair notes in his paper "Of Dogs and Old Sinitic Reconstructions." There are many derogatory expressions associated with dogs, such as zau2 gau2 (走狗, "go dog," a traitor), keoi5 hou2 gau2 (佢好狗, "the person very dog," the person is such an asshole), gau2 naam4 neoi5 (狗男女, "dog men and women," awful men and women) and gau2 ngaan5 hon3 jan4 dai1 (狗眼看人低, "dogs' eyes look people down," powerless people looking down on others). In all these cases, dogs are frequently referred to a person's vulgarity, unworthiness or lack of integrity.

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Marathi and Persian

One of India's major tongues, Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by 83.1 million people in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.  For those who know Persian, it will sound uncannily familiar.

According to Pushkar Sohoni,

The Marathi language is heavily infused with Persian, which was widespread in administrative and military usage all over the Indian sub-continent for several hundred years. There are two essays in the early 20th century that detail this connection. One is in Marathi by the historian V.K. Rajwade titled 'marāṭhīvara phāraśī bhāṣecā prabhāva' (The influence of Persian on the Marathi language) written in the nineteen-teens. The other one is by the literary figure Baba-i Urdu Maulana Abdul Haq, written a couple of decades later, and titled similarly in English [Abdul Haq 'The Influence of Persian on Maharathi' in Islamic Culture (Hyderabad, 1936), pp. 533-609].

For more, see this article in Iranica online.

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Blue-Green Iranian "Danube"

A curious phenomenon of Old European hydronymy that I've noticed for a long time is that many of the most important rivers in Central and Eastern Europe — Danube, Don, Donets, Dnieper, Dniester, and others — all have names that derive from the ancient Iranian (Scythian) word for "river" (cf. don, "river, water" in modern Ossetic).  Source

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"Butt dial" still waiting for its M-W word induction ceremony

The compound butt-dial, used as a verb meaning to call someone accidentally on a cell phone, or as a noun referring to such a call, is now commonplace enough to be used in the media without any scare quotes: "The butt-dial heard round the world"; "Giuliani butt dial story inspires ridicule, envy on social media" ("'Butt dial me,' one journalist said to Giuliani"); "Giuliani talks about needing cash in butt-dial to NBC News reporter"; "Guiliani Butt-Dials Reporter Not Once, But Twice".

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Riotous hat

Marlon Hom took these photographs on Tuesday in San Francisco:

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Canine backtalk

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Useful terms from professional wrestling politics

Our current president learned the art of the "promo" during his days in professional wrestling. For those who many be unfamiliar with that culture, I recommend the Wikipedia Glossary of Professional Wrestling terms — or, as a place to start, the terminology illustrated in this strip from Pixie Trix Comix:

From the Wikipedia Glossary:

work

  1. (noun): Anything planned to happen, or a "rationalized lie". The opposite of shoot.
  2. (verb): To methodically attack a single body part over the course of a match or an entire angle, setting up an appropriate finisher.
  3. (verb): To deceive or manipulate an audience in order to elicit a desired response.

shoot

When a wrestler or personality deliberately goes off-script, either by making candid comments or remarks during an interview, breaking kayfabe, or legitimately attacking an opponent.

worked shoot

The phenomenon of a wrestler seemingly going "off script", often revealing elements of out-of-universe reality, but actually doing so as a fully planned part of the show. A notable example of a worked shoot is CM Punk's pipebomb promo on the June 27th, 2011 episode of Monday Night Raw.

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The Data Says …

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"Voracity"

Freudian typo?

 

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Lombroso and Lavater, reborn as fake AI

Drew Harwell, "A face-scanning algorithm increasingly decides whether you deserve the job", WaPo 10/22/2019:

An artificial intelligence hiring system has become a powerful gatekeeper for some of America's most prominent employers, reshaping how companies assess their workforce — and how prospective employees prove their worth.

Designed by the recruiting-technology firm HireVue, the system uses candidates' computer or cellphone cameras to analyze their facial movements, word choice and speaking voice before ranking them against other applicants based on an automatically generated "employability" score.

HireVue's "AI-driven assessments" have become so pervasive in some industries, including hospitality and finance, that universities make special efforts to train students on how to look and speak for best results. More than 100 employers now use the system, including Hilton, Unilever and Goldman Sachs, and more than a million job seekers have been analyzed.

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