Archive for September, 2020

Inclusive and exclusive first person plural pronouns in Sinitic

On September 11, Friday afternoon, Diana Shuheng Zhang gave a virtuoso presentation before the Cornell Classical Chinese Colloquium (CCCC), a venerable institution that has been meeting regularly for decades.  The text she discussed was what she calls the "rhapsodic subcommentary" of the Daoist scholar, Cheng Xuanying 成玄英 (ca. 605-690), on the Zhuang Zi 莊子 (3rd c. BC).

In her explication of the 46th passage of the first chapter of the Zhuang Zi, Diana quoted Cheng Xuanying as stating:  "yǔ, wǒ yě 予,我也" ("'I' is / means 'I'").  Naturally, that led to a discussion of how such a definition would be necessary or helpful.  I pointed out that there are numerous first person pronouns in Sinitic.  Aside from the two already mentioned, there are also yú 余, wú 吾, and zhèn 朕 (like the royal "we" in English) and still others, not to mention several other humble self-references.  In addition, I mentioned zán 咱, which I knew was much later than the others, more highly colloquial, and regionally restricted.  It was part of my main observation that, in order to account for such phenomena (e.g., why are there two completely different words for "dog" — gǒu 狗 and quǎn 犬 ("dog") — we need to adopt the notion of linguistic stratification.  That is to say, the complex formation of the Sinitic peoples evolved over at least five millennia and involved the incorporation of diverse genetic, ethnic, and linguistic components.

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Word substitution of the month

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2020 punctuation/prosody

Seen on the internet:

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Sinitic "ha ha ha" in Hangul letters

Screenshot of a comment on a funny video on Weibo:

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"Little competent donkey"

Announced only yesterday, Alibaba has a new robot delivery vehicle for the last mile:

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"Still advent received emails from her"

That's part of a message from one of my students.  I knew right away what he meant, but — as always — I'm curious about what causes such off-the-wall typos.  It can't be because of a spellchecker gone awry.  So I asked the student, "What type of input system do you use?  I'm trying to think about how that was produced."

He replied, "I use the bog-standard* American English input that Apple has. I think I missed the 'h' and it grabbed it from there? Maybe an additional incorrect letter?

[*This was the first time I encountered this expression, and I didn't know what it meant.]

I followed up:

just regular keyboard?

not on iPhone?

no shortcuts?     swypes?

speech recognition input?

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"The inspirations to be more inoperative"

Recently I was doing some background research on Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), and one of the references that Google Scholar handed me was a Semantic Scholar page for J.A. Willeford and J. Burleigh, "Handbook of central auditory processing disorders in children", 1985, with the following abstract:

The handbook of central auditory processing disorders in children that we provide for you will be ultimate to give preference. This reading book is your chosen book to accompany you when in your free time, in your lonely. This kind of book can help you to heal the lonely and get or add the inspirations to be more inoperative. Yeah, book as the widow of the world can be very inspiring manners. As here, this book is also created by an inspiring author that can make influences of you to do more.

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That terrible Chinese word for 'hominuh, hominuh, hominuh'

[This is a guest post by Conal Boyce]

Chris Chappell finally caught up with you on the nàge nàge nàge / nèige nèige nèige 那个 那个 那个 ("that that that") story from USC that you introduced to the public more than two weeks ago (see the second item in the list of readings below). (In case they don't say 'hominuh, hominuh, hominuh' where you are, that's something certain Minnesotans like to say, tongue in cheek, as a back-woods alternative to 'er, um, uh'.)

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"That, that, that…", part 3

"Wowkie Zhang【Sunshine, Rainbow, White pony】"

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"An unchartered situation for all of us"

Ed Silverman, "An unchartered situation for all of us’: From shipping containers to security concerns, a Covid-19 vaccine supply chain takes shape", STAT 9/8/2020 [emphasis added]:

The pandemic has prompted the U.S. government and others across the globe to secure huge numbers of doses from Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers, who are pushing clinical trial timelines like never before in order to get their vaccines ready for use as soon as possible. One or more of these vaccines may be approved by regulators here and abroad in the months ahead.

The effort to distribute those vaccines has accelerated just as quickly. Just as container makers are squeezing more out of their production plants, vaccine makers are busy modeling transportation routes and storage conditions in many countries. Wholesalers are lining up warehouse space and trucks. And freight forwarders and airport managers are expanding security for what will immediately become the world’s hottest commodity.

“I’m more than 30 years in the business and thought I’d seen everything, but it’s an unchartered situation for all of us,” said Larry St. Onge, global life sciences and health care sector president at DHL, which provides a range of transportation services for pharmaceutical products. “The scale of the challenge is going to be very large and there will be a pressing need to eliminate bottlenecks.”

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A hybridized, disyllabic Sinograph from Hong Kong

Sok3 Kei1
索K
‘to inhale, ingest, take Ketamine, which is an illegal drug in Hong Kong’

["Ketamine is a medication mainly used for starting and maintaining anesthesia. It induces a trance-like state while providing pain relief, sedation, and memory loss. Other uses include sedation in intensive care and treatment of pain and depression." Source]

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Japanese mansplaining

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

This came across the transom:

"Your Global Mansplaining Dictionary In 34 Languages"

The Japanese in this "handy crowdsourced linguistic guide to a universal blight" is a bit off, as I'll mansplain below, and I'd love to know how the LL hivemind sees the other languages.

横柄な男の解説 (ōhei na otoko no kaisetsu) = “patronizing man’s explanation," as it says, but:

1. 横柄 is rare enough in conversation that I can't recall ever encountering it, though I definitely have heard it "mis-"pronounced as yokogara occasionally.

A more likely term for the patronizing aspect of mansplaining would be 上から目線で (ue kara mesen de), i.e. "looking down upon." I have also seen "mansplainer" rendered as 上から目線の男性  (ue kara mesen no dansei) or 上から目線男 (ue kara mesen otoko), which comports with my understanding.

The same meaning is produced in reverse by the verb 見下す (mikudasu), lit. "to look down upon," and I have seen that used in describing mansplaining as well.

偉そうに (erasō ni), meaning something like "self-importantly," seems equally likely.

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Topolects of The9

The9 is a Chinese girl group hailing from different parts of the PRC.  Here they are playing the telephone / Chinese whispers game with their own topolects*, which they refer to as fāngyán 方言, almost universally mistranslated into English as "dialect".

*See The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, q.v.

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