Archive for April, 2022

The pragmatic and innovative Choe Sejin — 15th-16th c. Korean phonetician, translator, and interpreter

[This is a guest post by S. Robert Ramsey]

The Statue of King Sejong in Downtown Seoul.

The brilliance of good king Sejong (1397-1450) overshadows another great mind of Joseon Korea, a middle-class man named Choe Sejin (1465-1542).

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Wait until leader clears the lunar

Riding the trolley from West Philadelphia going to University City,

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Hokkien at UCLA

Article in Taiwan News:

"UCLA students learn about Taiwanese Hokkien in MOE*-supported course:

Course examines Taiwan’s widely-spoken dialect ‘in different forms of cultural production’", By Stephanie Chiang (4/19/22)

*Ministry of Education

UCLA began offering its first Taiwanese Hokkien course in January 2020:

The description of the course entitled “Taiwanese Language and Culture” reads, “Taiyu, or Taiwanese (also known as Minnan, Hoklo, or Hokkien, depending on context or region), is the language that most Taiwanese people use in daily lives, including everyday interaction and communication, entertainment, social and cultural events, etc.” The four-unit course offered to upper-division students requires students to have taken at least a year of Chinese courses or a Chinese placement test showing equivalent knowledge.

I wish they didn't have the prerequisite mentioned in the last sentence and don't understand the reason for such a requirement.

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John Knox as a Romance author

For reasons not at all connected with this post, I was looking for scans of the 1558 (first) printing of John Knox's infamous screed THE FIRST BLAST OF THE TRUMPET against the monstruous regiment of Women. And one of the places that Google sent me to was a link on the website of the Somerset County (New Jersey) Library System , where the work is apparently classified as a Romance novel:

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Buzzword of the year

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The Great Translation Movement

Yesterday, in "Malign Woodpeckers and Other Hegemonic Behavior" (4/18/22), we became briefly acquainted with "The Great Translation Movement" (TGTM).  Today we will probe more deeply into what it is all about.  Suffice it for the moment to say that TGTM deeply unnerves the CCP.  In addition to "Twisted in translation: Western media, social groups set up language barriers by intentionally misreading, misinterpreting Chinese materials", by Huang Lanlan and Lin Xiaoyi, Global Times (4/14/22), which was the main basis for yesterday's Language Log post and in which TGTM played a key role, TGTM was also featured in these recent Global Times (GT) articles:

"How China can counter translation bias", by Tang Jingtai, GT (4/12/22)

"GT Investigates: Behind the online translation campaign are a few Chinese-speaking badfaith actors fed by antagonistic Western media", by GT staff reporters, GT (3/24/22)

Here's a Global Times article in Chinese against TGTM where we learn that the Chinese name for it is "Dà fānyì yùndòng 大翻译运动" ("The Great Translation Movement").

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Malign Woodpeckers and Other Hegemonic Behavior

With this stunning journalistic masterpiece, Global Times, China's official, nationalistic, daily tabloid newspaper under the CCP, has outdone itself in exposure of truly insidious "Western" (U.S., British) linguistic behavior:

"Twisted in translation: Western media, social groups set up language barriers by intentionally misreading, misinterpreting Chinese materials", by Huang Lanlan and Lin Xiaoyi, GT (4/14/22)

Here's one gem from the article:

Professor Tang from Fudan University noted that anti-Chinese forces are now mature enough to use the internet to self-organize – actively plan anti-Chinese issues to infiltrate and mobilize some netizens, driving them to act like woodpeckers to find a few rare, extreme statements and then embellish them.

Gosh!  Who knew that woodpeckers could be trained to do that?  Every day is an education. 

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Commas matter, Oxford and otherwise

Mark Swofford took this photo yesterday in a Taipei supermarket:

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Musical languages

The latest Dinosaur Comics:

The mouseover title: "whistle morse code with dot as a D note and dash as a G flat and you're already there, laying down the sickest of beats. a truly unwell beat"

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More post-IPA astronauts

As promised yesterday in "Pronunciation evolution", today I'll present some examples to suggest that Wally Funk's pronunciation of "astronaut" was not a mistake or an idiosyncrasy:

Taking a look at a sample of 100 instances of "astronaut" in the previously-described NPR podcast corpus, I found several similar cases where the word has only two phonetic syllables, with the first ending with a fricative and the second starting with [n]. And in more than half of the cases, the unstressed medial syllable is not elided, but the /t/ vanishes completely, and the /r/ is retained only as spectral lowering at the end of the /s/. I don't have time this morning to lay those examples out and discuss them, but I'll put it on my to-blog list for tomorrow.

We might transcribe Wally Funk's rendition in IPA-ish as [æʃnɔt], though the [ʃ] would be covering a complex tangle of coronal gestures:

an astronaut

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Heavy Velar vs Meager Bilabial Articulations in Xiongnu Language

[This is a guest post by Penglin Wang]

            The great difficulties we have with trying to study Xiongnu language persist from trying to glean Xiongnu words, especially the glossed ones, in early Chinese sources for comparison in order to know what linguistic affiliation it seems to have in the central Eurasian region. Since these difficulties cannot be overcome at all owing to its extinct status a millennium plus ago, an alternative approach could be to recognize that there are different components of language regardless of living or extinct and attempt to observe how different components can differ from one another yet still be entities that most researchers would want to treat as linguistic data or facts rather than imaginations for a comparative purpose. It could then be possible to open up a window to contribute to a solution of some classic problems in Altaic comparative studies. One such attempt is to examine the available Xiongnu words from the perspectives of articulatory phonetics and phonotactics. Concern for these is characteristic of Xiongnu studies. Pulleyblank (1962:242) has insightfully observed “only *b- initially, never *p-” in the Xiongnu transcriptions.

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Jeff DeMarco writes:

The Telegram account Ukraine Now has been using a term I have not seen before: Rashist. It appears to combine Russian with Fascist. I have seen it many times in this feed.

Here’s a screenshot:

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Pronunciation evolution

Listening to a StoryCorps conversation about the history of women in NASA's astronaut corps as Wally Funk experienced it, I noticed something (phonetically) striking in her first sentence:

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