Hangul: Joseon subservience to Ming China

[This is a guest post by Bob Ramsey]

In Joseon Korea, state agencies enthusiastically accepted their satellite position vis-à-vis Ming China. In fact, when King Sejong (1397-1450) revealed his new, non-Chinese writing system, the bureaucracy issued, in 1444, a blistering denunciation bordering on accusations of blasphemy:

“Our court, since the times of our founders and ancestors, has with utmost sincerity served the Great. We have uniformly honored Chinese institutions. But now, at this time of identical culture and identical standards, we create the Vernacular Script. We observe and attend this with alarm… If these graphs should flow into China, and if people there should adversely criticize them, how could we be without shame, considering our Service to the Great and our emulation of Chinese civilization!

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"Please wait patiently for the failure of the system"

From Andrea Mazzucchi:

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Sinitic ideophones

I have always felt that binoms are a key to studying early vernacular Sinitic.  (See "Selected readings" below for useful references on this topic.)  Now we have a valuable research tool for access to and analysis of premodern Sinitic binoms, which fall within the purview of the tabulated listings introduced here:

The Chinese Ideophone Database (CHIDEOD)
L’ ensemble de données des idéophones chinois (CHIDEOD)

In: Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale (Brill)

Authors: Thomas VAN HOEY and Arthur Lewis THOMPSON

Online Publication Date:  26 Oct 2020

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Notes on Civility

Please read, and take to heart, our "Comments policy".

If you have something worthwhile to contribute, say it courteously and cordially.  There is no need to be gratuitously snarky.  That does not contribute to the smooth, productive flow of discussion.

Be respectful.

Do not be repetitive.

Do not harp on some private hobby-horse of your own.

Be aware that your reputation on Language Log will follow you elsewhere.  Realize that your behavior on other internet fora is known to the denizens of Language Log.  The World Wide Web is mercilessly unforgetful.

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RUNning away from Shanghai

New article in Shìjiè Rìbào 世界日報 (World Journal [5/12/22]):

"Tífáng mínzhòng luò pǎo? Zhōngguó yāoqiú: Cóngyán xiànzhì fēi bìyào chūjìng huódòng 提防民眾落跑?中國要求:從嚴限制非必要出境活動 ("Beware of people running away? China demands: Severe restrictions on non-essential outbound activities")

What we're seeing in this article and elsewhere online is the emergence of neologisms resulting from the extreme lockdowns in Shanghai during the last month and more.  The restrictions are so brutally draconian and the people are so desperate that they have begun to develop a science of how to escape.

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Google Translate is even better now, part 2

"Google Translate learns 24 new languages"
Isaac Caswell, Google blog (5/11/22)


Illustrated green globe with the word "hello" translated into different languages.

For years, Google Translate has helped break down language barriers and connect communities all over the world. And we want to make this possible for even more people — especially those whose languages aren’t represented in most technology. So today we’ve added 24 languages to Translate, now supporting a total of 133 used around the globe.

Over 300 million people speak these newly added languages — like Mizo, used by around 800,000 people in the far northeast of India, and Lingala, used by over 45 million people across Central Africa. As part of this update, Indigenous languages of the Americas (Quechua, Guarani and Aymara) and an English dialect (Sierra Leonean Krio) have also been added to Translate for the first time.

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"A person, usually a woman, who is trained to assist women in childbirth."  AHDEL

But not always a woman:

Men rarely practice midwifery for cultural and historical reasons. In ancient Greece, midwives were required by law to have given birth themselves, which prevented men from joining their ranks. In 17th century Europe, some barber surgeons, all of whom were male, specialized in births, especially births requiring the use of surgical instruments. This eventually developed into a professional split, with women serving as midwives and men becoming obstetricians. Men who work as midwives are called midwives (or male midwives, if it is necessary to identify them further) or accoucheurs; the term midhusband (based on a misunderstanding of the etymology of midwife) is occasionally encountered, mostly as a joke. In previous centuries, they were called man-midwives in English.


I have often wondered about the meaning and origins of the term "midwife".  My wonderment was piqued recently by several comments on this post:  "Wondrous blue" (5/9/22).

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Impossible to underestimate tha crazy?

From Will Bunch, "In wagering on Doug Mastriano, Josh Shapiro plays a dangerous game for Pa.", Philadelphia Inquirer 5/8/2022:

The Democrats should have learned their lesson in 2016. In this millennium, it’s impossible to underestimate the power of “tha crazy” coming out of a Republican Party base in which not only a majority of voters now believe 2020′s Big Lie that the last election was somehow stolen from Trump, but in which an alarming number are waiting for John F. Kennedy Jr. — last seen when he died in a 1999 plane crash — to expose a baby-eating cabal of Democratic pols and Hollywood stars and maybe arrest Anthony Fauci for treason.

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Sailor's bed

If I were a cruciverbalist, I might use that as a clue for "hammock", though it didn't turn up here:


nor here:


but it was first here:


With somer a-comin' — though spryng has barely sprung, at least not in these parts — it's time to drag out our dusty, trusty hammocks and hang them between two trees.  But, historically, just what is a "hammock", and where did the word come from?

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Praise for clinical applications of linguistic analysis

From the abstract of Sunghye Cho et al., "Lexical and Acoustic Speech Features Relating to Alzheimer Disease Pathology", published in Neurology on 4/29/2022:

Background and Objectives: We compared digital speech and language features of patients with amnestic Alzheimer’s disease (aAD) or logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia (lvPPA) in a biologically confirmed cohort and related these features to neuropsychiatric test scores and CSF analyses.


Discussion: Our measures captured language and speech differences between the two phenotypes that traditional language-based clinical assessments failed to identify. 

From an editorial by Federica Agosta and Massimo Felippi, "Natural Speech Analysis: A Window Into Alzheimer Disease Phenotypes", published in Neurology on 5/4/2022:

Compared to a standard language assessment, the automated analysis of natural speech is more complex and requires a larger amount of time to be post-processed. On the other hand, as is well demonstrated by this study, analysis of natural speech provides information at several levels of language production. Even though data are extracted from only one recorded minute of speech, the tool is able to detect subtle differences among groups, reflecting the patient’s daily experience in a more realistic way than the standard speech and language assessment. Its use has already produced important achievements in distinguishing different language phenotypes. Furthermore, differently from other studies, the work of Cho et al proposed an automated and reproducible method that highly reduces the time of speech analysis and increases the inter-rater reliability.

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Wondrous blue

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"We apologize for your patience"

S.I. reports:

In a message from my building management:

Dear Valued Residents
A note to let you know that the water is back on. We apologize for your patience.

…and asks:

Is there a name for this kind of error?


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Hyphen conundrum

From John O'M.:

Is this a bed for self-heating dogs?

Or a self-heating bed for dogs?

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