Facebook Guang Guang Guang Guang translate loop

From Jeff DeMarco:

I hit the translation button for this Facebook post and this is what I got!

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Chinese coronavirus linguistic war

From a Taiwanese colleague:

In the struggle against Wǔhàn fèiyán 武漢肺炎 ("Wuhan pneumonia"), Taiwan has to fight the war on three fronts: (1) trying to stop the virus at its borders; (2) trying to join the WHO for world-wide collaboration and disease information; and (3) fighting against the Communist Chinese dictatorial linguistic policies.  The linguistic policy on disease terminology is really weird; it smacks of George Orwell's 1984.

He cites this article in Chinese and this facebook page (also in Chinese).  Here's another article in Chinese from Taiwan that sticks to "Wuhan pneumonia" despite the pressure from WHO and the PRC government to adopt a name that is not transparent with regard to the origin of the disease.

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Preventive Care for Local Languages

February 21st is International Mother Language Day, proclaimed by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1999 and celebrated every year since, aimed at promoting linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. In honor of the day, the following is a guest post by Alissa Stern, the founder of BASAbali, an initiative of "linguists, anthropologists, students, and laypeople, from within and outside of Bali, who are collaborating to keep Balinese strong and sustainable." BASAbali won a 2019 UNESCO Award for Literacy and a 2018 International Linguapax Award.


We're told "Don't wait" to treat our bodies, secure our homes, or maintain our cars. We should do the same for local languages.

Despite all the years of language revitalization, we are still losing about one language every two to three weeks.  In this century alone, the number of languages on the planet will be halved. A little preventive care would help.

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"Crisis = danger + opportunity" redux

From IAS: Institute for Advanced Study; Report for the Academic Year 2018-2019, p. 8:

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Japanese-English digraphia in action

Stuart Luppescu saw this restaurant sign in Saitama, Fukaya:

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The Pythagorean catastrophe

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"Yid"

The OED 1989 edition glossed yid as "A (usu. offensive) name for a Jew."

The 2019 edition has

1. A Jewish person. In non-Jewish usage offensive and chiefly derogatory.

2. British. In extended use: a supporter of or player for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (traditionally associated with the Jewish community in north and east London). Originally and frequently derogatory and offensive, though also often as a self-designation.

Lynne Murphy, "The point of dictionaries is to describe how language is used, not to police it", The Guardian 2/17/2020:

Tottenham Hotspur has shown the yellow card to the Oxford English Dictionary for its new definitions of the words "yid" and "yiddo". While the dictionary records both words as usually offensive terms for Jewish people, it now also describes them as nicknames for Spurs supporters, noting that the fan-directed usage is "originally and frequently derogatory and offensive, though also often as a self-designation". The club has issued a statement saying that it has "never accommodated" use of the "Y-word", and considers the definition "misleading".

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24-French

The Op Notes for my gallbladder removal, a couple of weeks ago, included this sentence:

A 24-French Blake drain was then placed in the gallbladder fossa with a concern for duct of Luschka leak given the raw surface of the liver at the time of closure.

This led me to wonder who Blake was, and in what sense his drain had 24 Frenches, so I looked into it a bit.

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Know your Ossetians

We here at Language Log know our Ossetians:

"Blue-Green Iranian 'Danube'" (10/26/19)

"Sword out of the stone" (8/9/08)

And we know our Scythians, who are closely linked to the Ossetians, too:

"Of reindeer and Old Sinitic reconstructions" (12/23/18)

"Horses, soma, riddles, magi, and animal style art in southern China" (11/11/19)

"Of armaments and Old Sinitic reconstructions, part 6" (12/23/17)

"Of horse riding and Old Sinitic reconstructions" (4/21/19)

"Of jackal and hide and Old Sinitic reconstruction" (12/16/18)

Now Richard Foltz (a cultural historian specializing in ancient Iranian religion), on his blog, "A Canadian in Ossetia:  Life in the central Caucasus", has given us the opportunity to greatly expand our knowledge of Ossetian / Ossete / Ossetic and the Ossetians who speak it with two new, substantial articles:

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Sino-Semitica, part 2: of massage and Old Sinitic reconstructions

As part of our research on the dictionary of Middle Vernacular Sinitic (MVS) that Zhu Qingzhi and I have been working on for more than two decades, I was tickled by this quaint poem (below on the second page) by the medieval Buddhist poet, Wáng Fànzhì 王梵志 (Brahmacārin ब्रह्मचारिन् Wang; fl. first half of 7th c.).

I have been an avid fan of Wáng Fànzhì's unique poetry for nearly half a century.  Quaint, indeed, and also quirky.  Wang Fanzhi is self-demeaning in a funny, adorable way.  The poem I'm about to introduce you to is a good example of his trademark self-abnegation.

What attracted me particularly to this poem for the purposes of our research on MVS is the first word in line 2, chǎngtóu 長頭 ("for a long time"), which does not exist with this meaning in Literary Sinitic (LS) / Classical Chinese (CC).  Finding chǎngtóu 長頭 ("for a long time") in Wang Fanzhi's poem was already enough of a treat, but when I got to the last word of the couplet, I was even more delighted.  As you will momentarily see, what Wang says about his wife's tummy is funny by itself, but the word he uses to describe what the wife does to her tummy made me even more excited.

But let's read the poem first, then I'll talk about the word in question, namely, méisuō 沒娑 ("massage").

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On the center

From Jonathan Falk:

When Wuhan is called the "epicenter" of the coronavirus outbreak, do people know that epicenter is a term borrowed from geology and is just a metaphor for what is in fact the "center" of an outbreak, or are they fooled by the "epi-" prefix to think it has something to do with "epidemic?"

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Dwindling measure words in Mandarin

Tweet from the University of Westminster Contemporary China Centre Blog @CCCblogUoW:

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Sino-Manchu seals of the Xicom Emperor

Tweet by Sulaiman Gu:

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