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Dog bites man: Indian wins spelling bee

New old news: "Dev Shah wins 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling 'psammophile'"Chris BumbacaUSA TODAY (6/1/23) Another year, same story: The 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee ended the old-fashioned way. Two competitors left on the stage. No spell-off required. Dev Shah, an eighth-grader from Largo, Florida, spelled "psammophile" correctly to win the 95th […]

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Pronouncing "DeSantis"

The question of how to pronounce Ron DeSantis' last name — and the observation that the candidate, his wife, and his campaign have made different choices at different times — is among the more trivial bits of political flotsam recently washing up on the shores of social and political media. In fact the issue has […]

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Sinological formatting

I recently received this book: Sūn Sīmiǎo, Sabine Wilms.  Healing Virtue-Power: Medical Ethics and the Doctor's Dao.  Whidbey Island WA:  Happy Goat Productions, 2022. ISBN:  978-1-7321571-9-4 website As soon as I started to leaf through the volume, I was struck by its unusual format and usages:  every Chinese character is accompanied by Hanyu Pinyin phonetic […]

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Just < Not the same as it was

I listened to this Harry Styles song dozens of times on the radio, and every time I heard him sing "You know it's just the same as it was" over and over:

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Austronesian languages of Taiwan

Handbook of Formosan Languages (Online): The Indigenous Languages of Taiwan Editors: Paul Jen-kuei Li, Academia SinicaElizabeth Zeitoun, Academia SinicaRik De Busser, National Taiwan Cheng-Chi University Leiden:  Brill, 2023 Outright Purchase: € 2249 / US dollars 2495Subscription: € 350 / US dollars 390 A print version is forthcoming (September 2023 ; 3 vols, ~ 2200 pp.) […]

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Historical speech styles

A recent Dinosaur Comics strip features T-Rex imitating (a certain kind of) speech style from the 1940s: Mouseover title: "to t-rex's mind, and mine as well, all of the past takes place around the 1930s. well sure! and why not?"

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Know your relatives in Chinese

Randy Alexander reports that during a guitar lesson, he asked his student: Māmā de dìdi de nǚér shì biǎomèi ma? 妈妈的弟弟的女儿是表妹吗? "Is your mother's younger brother's daughter your younger maternal female cousin?" The student replied: wǒyě bútài qīngchǔ děngyíxià 我也不太清楚等一下 "I don't quite know either, wait a minute."

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Multilingual TV series

Coby Lubliner called my attention to the Belgian Netflix series "Rough Diamonds." It takes place in Antwerp, so the default language is Dutch (Flemish), but the characters move into Yiddish, English and French with the greatest of ease. The subtitles don't indicate the language spoken in any one scene, except that when [Yiddish] appears what is […]

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The medical news site MedPage Today has recently added a daily game page, "Wordectomy", in which a medically-relevant Wikipedia article is presented with all letters blanked out except for punctuation and (some) function words, e.g.

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"Vatnik" — ethnic or political slur?

Adam Taylor, Anastacia Galouchka & Heidi Levine, "Ukrainians fighting outside Bakhmut see Russian mercenaries withdrawing", Washington Post 5/282023: “The Wagner guys have left and the [regular Russians] have come in,” said a 26-year-old commander who asked to be identified by his call sign, Chichen. He used an anti-Russian ethnic slur to refer to the troops […]

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Chickee cakes

Taken at a restaurant in Hangzhou:

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Insults, oaths, and curses in the Middle Ages

From "By God’s Bones: Medieval Swear Words" What were bad words in the Middle Ages? Cursing or swearing in medieval England was really different from today’s world. May, 2023 The post begins: Some historians have looked into the topic, such as Melissa Mohr, the author of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing. In her […]

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"Failure to Launch"?

Along with half a million other people, I logged onto Twitter at the designated hour to hear Elon Musk help Ron DeSantis announce his run for U.S. President. After about half an hour of  noises, silences, and puzzling graphics, I gave up — too early to catch the restart on a different account. This event […]

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