Hermaphrodite vs. intersex in Mandarin

[This is a guest post by Charles Belov.  To show what a dedicated, eclectic listener of Asian popular media Charles is, I've left his signature block intact.]

As a frequent, essentially monolingual consumer of Asian popular media, one of the issues for me has always been how translations succeed or fail at communicating both the particular Asian culture and how it can be expressed meaningfully in English. ¿Where does the translation reflect current or past Asian culture and where does it reflect American or British culture of the audience?

A term of concern for me at the moment is "cíxióngtóngtǐ 雌雄同體" (lit. "male female same body"), which Wiktionary translates as "hermaphrodite." However, Wiktionary also notes in the English entry for "hermaphrodite" that this term is now considered offensive and that "intersex" is the preferred term.

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OpenAI's Chinese problem

We have expressed concern over the quality of training and source materials for Chinese AI and LLMs.  Less than a week ago, we examined "AI based on Xi Jinping Thought (5/21/24), which may be considered as an attempt to "purify" what goes into Chinese AI.  It turns out that there really is a problem, and it is affecting not just China's own AI efforts, but is infecting ours as well.

OpenAI’s latest blunder shows the challenges facing Chinese AI models:
Finding high-quality data sets is tricky because of the way China’s internet functions.
By Zeyi Yang, MIT Technology Review (May 22, 2024)

As we shall soon see, pursuing this topic takes us into very sensitive, disquieting territory concerning the nature of China's internet.  It will be difficult for us to avoid assessing the quality of China's knowledge basis and information resources overall.

Here are the opening paragraphs of the MIT Technology Review article by Zeyi Yang:

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Gecko noises and human anxieties

Sino-Platonic Papers is pleased to announce the publication of its three-hundred-and-forty-sixth issue: "The Imagery of House Geckos and Tokay Geckos in Imperial Era Chinese Literature," by Olivia Anna Rovsing Milburn.

Keywords: House geckos; Tokay geckos; Chinese literature; virginity tests; magic; rain-making

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"Cooperate him"

Frequent commenter AntC sent email about a transitive use of cooperate, used by Karen Friedman Agnifilo in an interview with Michael Popok about Walt Nauta's role in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case:

And so it makes sense why
uh they would want to cooperate him
and i- it also makes sense why they would reach out before indictment
and give him that opportunity.

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Roman dodecahedra between Southeast Asia and England, part 3

I stopped short when I passed by this piece of gym equipment in a kindergarten playground near my home.

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Multiple possible parsings of strings of sinographs

[line spacing was difficult with this one]

Chinese signs collected by Zeyao Wu:

本店/有/嬰兒被/賣 or 本店/有/嬰兒/被賣
běn diàn yǒu yīng'ér bèi                                  mài
this shop has baby   passive signifier; blanket for sale
"this shop has baby blankets for sale" or "this shop has had babies for sale"

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Shameful grass

Liwei Jiao sent in this photograph from a park in Hefei, China:

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Mixed script writing in Taiwan

[This is a guest post by Kirinputra]

Something happened* a few days ago that some of your readers might find surprising. It reflects a mood change that's set in over the last few years in Formosa.
[*VHM:  The content of the Facebook post linked here may not be available at this time, but you can still get the gist of what it was about from the remainder of this post.]
My apologies — the link has been set to private. But the incident has spawned a new Facebook group that anybody can view.
So this guy posts a message in mixed-script Taioanese (sinographs & romanization, mixed inline) in a pro-motorcyclist Facebook activist group…. The message was aligned with the views of the group, but the first few waves of comments were almost all reactions of disgust at the post not being in Mandarin; some group members blocked the guy right away. Some of the reactions were specifically against the romanized elements, but the reaction to the sinographic elements was pretty disparaging too….

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Nine quid for two?

The Daily Mail explains that this viral video features "Marnie and Mylah, from Burnley, [who] hit out at the ice cream van for high prices":

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A crack in the hegemonic edifice of hanzi

Stunning report from Pinyin News:

"Chinese characters no longer required for Taiwan Aborigine names" (5/21/24)

Last week Taiwan’s legislature passed an amendment stating that members of Taiwan’s tribes will no longer be forced to adopt names written in Chinese characters. Instead, their names can be presented solely in romanization if so desired. Thus, at least in this specialized category, Chinese characters have been stripped of their primacy and romanization is officially allowed to stand on its own (not appear only in conjunction with Chinese characters).

Source: Lìyuàn tōngguò: yuánzhùmín shēnfen zhèngjiàn — kě zhǐ xiě pīnyīn zúmíng (立院通過:原住民身分證件 可只寫拼音族名), United Daily News, May 15, 2024

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Don't tell les immortels

Avmeric Renou, "À VivaTech, la French Tech s’offre un nouveau coup de boost", Le Parisien 5/21/2024.

"la French Tech"? "un nouveau coup de boost"?

The obligatory screenshot:

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Diplolingo: "stern representations"

This is a typical headline emanating from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC:

Furious mainland China slams Taiwanese leader’s ‘blatant’ call for independence

People’s Daily commentary blasts William Lai Ching-te’s inauguration speech for ‘inciting hatred against the Chinese people’
Beijing also objects to US secretary of state’s congratulations to Lai

Xinlu Liang in Beijing
Published: 2:05pm, 21 May 2024

During the last decade or so, the Chinese foreign ministry has developed such a distinctive, confrontational brand of diplomatic jargon that I thought it deserved a neologistic portmanteau designation of its own, though I think the expression could be used for different styles of diplomatic language that are quite different from the harsh rhetoric of the current Chinese approach.

Overall, contemporary Chinese diplomats are instructed by their government to adopt a "wolf warrior" approach.

Wolf warrior diplomacy is a form of public diplomacy involving compellence adopted by Chinese diplomats in the late 2010s. The term was coined from the title of the Chinese action film Wolf Warrior 2 (2017). This approach is in contrast to the prior diplomatic practices of Deng Xiaoping and Hu Jintao, which had emphasized the use of cooperative rhetoric and the avoidance of controversy.

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AI based on Xi Jinping Thought

It's hard to believe they're serious about this:

China rolls out large language model based on Xi Jinping Thought

    Country’s top internet regulator promises ‘secure and reliable’ system that is not open-sourced
    Model is still undergoing internal testing and is not yet available for public use

Sylvie Zhuang in Beijing
Published: 7:57pm, 21 May 2024

It's the antithesis of open-sourced, i.e., it's close-sourced.  What are the implications of that for a vibrant, powerful system of thought?

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