Archive for August, 2020

Easy Grammar from the Free Hong Kong Center

Not sure what they mean by "grammar" here, but they sure do have a message:

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Ulster-Scots Education Resources

From the Ulster-Scots Academy:

The introduction of Ulster-Scots as a language subject into the schools’ curriculum in Northern Ireland depends on the availability of an appropriate range of foundational textbooks and classroom resources. Because of this, the Education Programme of the Ulster-Scots Academy is closely related to our Language Development Programme and the provision of these resources to support accredited courses (to examination standards). These consist of dictionaries, spelling guides, grammar books, Ulster-Scots texts in the form of ‘readers’, and — in particular — classroom materials in the form of model ‘lessons’ with appropriate notes for teachers.

A sample lesson on "THE and THEY" is provided.

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Manchu "princess" speaking English

"Is your English better than that of this Qing dynasty ‘princess’?" (YouTube 1:01)


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Reconstruction of Middle Sinitic

"What 'Ancient' Chinese Sounded Like – and how we know" (YouTube 7:56)


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Typing by voice recognition

E-mail message from my son, Thomas Krishna:

I'm using the voice recognizer to write you this message. When you do take your truck in for service at Toyota place, ask them if an exterior cleaning is included. Having visited you over the years I know that where you park a lot of tree debris falls onto your vehicles! This is no big deal, except for one thing, you don't want stuff to fall on top of your vents right in front of where the windshield is. I had this problem with my truck under the crepe myrtles at Lacey's house. For a while I tried using cardboard cutouts to cover them up but they did not last very well in the Sun and rain. I know that at your place things dropping off the trees is almost a continuous problem whereas for me it was only in the fall. So just thinking maybe you should try to find something that can cover those vents for when your truck is parked there.

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Ask Language Log: The new Sa-Hoo?

Forwarded by Jeff DeMarco:

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The same text but in Arabic

From the Twitter feed of @ShabanaMir1:

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"Blue-eyed person"

Cai Xia 蔡霞, a retired female professor from the Central Party School of the CCP has been denouncing Xi Jinping for his imperial aspirations and the CCP as a corrupt, zombie party.  Somehow, she managed to escape to the United States after her initial condemnations.

Fuming, the Party has cancelled her membership and vilified her perfidy:

After the Party School of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC) announced on Monday that it had rescinded the Party membership of retired professor Cai Xia and revoked her retirement benefits, Cai quickly became Western media's blue-eyed person.

Source:  "Cai Xia’s blatant betrayal is totally indefensible: Global Times editorial", Global Times* (8/19/20)

*An official CCP daily tabloid sponsored by the People's Daily.

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Before their time

Sarah Cooper's marvelous enactments of Donald Trump's rhetoric have earned her an enormous audience — 22.4M views for this one on twitter, for example, plus more views on tiktok and youtube.

But there's another comedian who pioneered the same technique — lip-syncing Trump — to a significantly smaller audience back in 2015 and 2016. Or I should say "comedy team" rather than "comedian", since these Trump-syncing videos come from a trio of comedians at Friend Dog Studios, Brian Huther, Ben Auxier, and Seth Macchi. I linked to an example in "Donald Trump's repetitive rhetoric", 12/5/2015. And I think their work deserves to be revived.

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Ethnogenesis of the Mongolian people and their language

The late 13th and 14th c. portraits of the Mongol khans and their wives often show them with rather light (hazel or greenish) eyes.  For example, the 14th c. portrait of Ögedei Khan (1186-1241) clearly depicts him as having greenish blue eyes and a reddish (definitely light colored) mustache and beard.

(National Palace Museum)

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Eight-noun headline pile

Or is it five nouns, a verb, and two more nouns? "Napa wildfire LNU Lightning Complex Gamble Hennessey Fire – August 2020", SFGate 8/18/2020.

"Napa" is the county; "wildfire" is obvious; "LNU" turns out to stand for "Lake-Napa-Unit" but the initialism is obviously a thing even if we don't know what it means; "Lightning" is what started all the fires recently in California; "Complex" might be the head of a phrase "LNU Lightning Complex" (and that turns out to be right); "Hennessey" is another proper name.

But "Gamble" puzzled me. Is it another place name, or a description of a fire-fighting tactic, or what? And what's the structure of the sequence "Napa wildfire LNU Lightning Complex Gamble Hennessey Fire"?

The story is just a series of captioned slides, in which "Gamble" doesn't occur. So that didn't help.

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"Come to Nagoya" — spatial locutions

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

One of the first bits of Nagoya-specific Japanese I picked up was 来名 (raimei), i.e. "come to Nagoya." It added a bit of local color to my lexicon of directional Japanese, which was mostly commonplace but remarkable locutions such as 上京 (jōkyō, go "up" to Tokyo), which gives us the 上り (nobori, Tokyo-bound) and 下り (kudari, away-from-Tokyo-bound) train and expressways. Another of those standard phrases is 来日 (rainichi, come to Japan), which stuck out to me in the same way world maps with Japan in the center had when I first came here as a student almost 25 years ago. The discovery of this new politics of place was one of those experiences that really stuck with me.

Anyway, I feel like Japan is using 来日 less these days. In its place, I see 訪日 (hōnichi) for tourists — not much of that these days, tbf, but 訪日外国人 (hōnichi gaikokujin) was all anyone could talk about last year — and now, in my role as head of a program teaching almost exclusively international students here in Japan, 渡日 (tonichi). I feel like 渡日 is not in common circulation, but is primarily administrative jargon for organizations like mine — and the education ministry over us.

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Consonant lenition + r-less perception = FUN

It's not just flapping and voicing of /t/ in words like litter (= "lidder") or pretty (= "priddy"), and word sequences like fat Albert (= "fad Albert"). American speakers tend to weaken all consonants and even consonant clusters in similar environments. So if you take today's ubiquitous "mask debate" news, and add the perceptual biases of someone from an r-less dialect like John Oliver, you get this:

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