Sayable and now writable

In a comment to "Pinyin literature contest" (6/30/16), DG asked an excellent, reasonable question:

I am not a Chinese speaker, so I am wondering if the requirement that it's not originally written in Chinese characters is a sort of honor code, or is there some way to tell from the pinyin submission?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments


Lapsus linguae

Yesterday I gave a lecture on the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age "mummies" (they're really desiccated corpses, but "mummies" sounds cuter) of Eastern Central Asia before an audience of about twenty-five at the Franklin Inn Club in Philadelphia.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (3)


Private probably

The following two images come from Graham and Kathleen's video diary of a trip to the Daitoku-ji temple complex in Kyoto.


Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5)


Spelling with Chinese character(istic)s, pt. 3

Hangzhou is handing out “crash course” manuals for residents to chat with international visitors at the G20 Summit in September, complete with Chinese character transcriptions of such beginner’s phrases as “Hangzhou, a paradise on Earth” and “orioles singing in the willows”:


Source

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (3)


Point of no Breturn

The portmanteaux just keep on coming — most recently in "Brexit's fallout: Adrift", The Economist 7/2/2016, we get a section heading "Point of no Breturn". See also (updated from the comments):

[link] Are You Brexhausted yet?
[link] Not “Brexit” but “Braccident”.
[link] Newspaper headlines: 'BoJo Brexecuted' on Tory 'Day of Treachery'
[link] #brexecution
[link] Is this the beginning of a Canary Wharf Brexodus?
[link] Are You A Brintrovert Or A Brextrovert?
[link] Brexit, Bremain or Brextraneous?
[link] GLUM BLOND Inside story of Tories’ Borexit: How BoJo’s career was left in tatters a week after he thought he’d be next PM
[link] Bregret? Regrexit? Don’t bet on it.
[link] #brexshit

So far, brexhortation, brextrinsic, and a few others seem to be open.

For previous forays into the  lEUxicon, see

"Grexicography", 6/22/2015
"OtherCountries_ExitFromTheEU: better portmanteaux", 6/23/2016
"You Brexit, you bought it", 6/25/2016

Comments (12)


Pinyin literature contest

I wish to call your attention to the Li-ching Chang Memorial Pinyin Literature Contest.  The purpose of the contest is to commemorate the life and work of Li-ching Chang (October 5, 1936-June 20, 2010), who was an outstanding teacher of Mandarin at the University of Washington, the Oberlin center in Taiwan, Middlebury College Summer School, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, and Swarthmore College.

The contest will offer more than US$13,000 in prizes for works in the following categories:

  • novella
  • short story
  • essay
  • poem

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5)


"Modal verbs? Not a clue!"

A couple of years ago, a LLOG guest post by Richard Hudson proposed "Three cheers for Michael Gove" in recognition of his role in "the re-introduction of grammatical analysis n the British School curriculum".

Now Ben Hemmens draws our attention to A L Kennedy's recent BBC 4 manifesto, "The power of language", which introduces the topic this way:

My work has been translated into more than twenty languages, I've won national and international awards, even, and yet I have no idea what a fronted adverbial is. Modal verb? Not a clue. In three high-functioning decades, I've never needed that language to describe my language, my personal voice rendered in writing; and I am lost for words when I learn that primary school children are now forced to scramble over unwieldy syntactical terms in order to communicate.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (22)


Siege lions and procedural apes

Nancy Friedman came across the website of RippleInfo, a technology company in Suzhou.  Nancy doesn't read Chinese, so she submitted it to Google Translate, whereupon she discovered a section titled “Suzhou Siege Lions Have Caused”.  That led her to a statement from the CEO that included this sentence:

If the siege lion apes and procedures are not happy, how to write perfect code?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (6)


"Among the New Words"

Ben Zimmer, Jane Solomon, and Charles Carson, "Among The New Words", American Speech May 2016:

In this installment we continue our consideration of items nominated at the American Dialect Society’s 2015 Word of the Year proceedings […]

The overall winner is considered here: they used as a singular third-person pronoun, a gender-neutral (or “epicene”) alternative to the binary of he and she. One might object that there is nothing particularly new about singular they, as the Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.) includes examples
back to the fourteenth century […]

What is genuinely new, however, is the use of they to refer to a known person in order to transcend the binary of he and she in the construction of a “non-binary” gender identity, such as transgender, gender-fluid, genderqueer, or agender.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17)


Ironic echoic fragments

There's a hip/ironic rhetorical technique that involves mocking a statement by repeating bits of it as phrasal fragments. I was surprised to see this technique employed extensively in the "Plaintiffs' response in opposition to defendant Donald J. Trump's motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative partial summary judgment":

Donald Trump is too busy to be honest. So says Trump himself, who explains that he reviewed his own promises about his Trump University (“TU”) only “very quickly.” And therefore, he deserves summary judgment. Because he was too busy. To be honest. In addition, Trump explains that he was incapable of being honest because he “is not a lawyer.” And therefore, he deserves summary judgment. Because he was incapable of being honest. Due to not being a lawyer. Due to his integrity infirmities, Trump explains that he resorted to “marketing BS” to induce students to enroll in his Trump University. And therefore, he deserves summary judgment. Because he resorted to “marketing BS.” To induce students to enroll in his illegal “Trump University.”

Trump denies operating and managing the “fraudulent marketing scheme” alleged here because he only starred in the marketing materials; signed the marketing materials; corrected the marketing materials; and approved the marketing materials. And therefore, he deserves summary judgment. Because he did not operate and manage the Trump University “fraudulent marketing scheme.” He only starred in the marketing materials. Signed them. Corrected them. And approved them.

Trump wrote his motion for summary judgment for a District Court in Bizarro World. In this District Court, however, it is wholly without merit. Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court deny Trump’s motion and set this case for trial as quickly as possible. On earth. In the Southern District of California.

Perhaps some of the lawyers among our readers can comment on whether this document is as unusual as it seems to me to be.

[h/t David Wessel]

Comments (24)


Britannia waives the rules

"'Britannia waives the rules': The EU Brexit in quotes", BBC News 6/28/2016:

Martina Anderson, MEP for Irish republican party Sinn Fein

Northern Ireland voted to remain part of the EU. The vote could mean major changes to security on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

"If English votes drag us out of the EU that would be like Britannia waives the rules. There was a democratic vote. We voted to remain. I tell you that the last thing that the people of Ireland need is an EU border with 27 member states stuck right in the middle of it."

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (13)


Systematic wanting

Says Bagehot, the pseudonym-cloaked correspondent of The Economist who writes a page of comment on British affairs every week (25 June 2016, p. 27 in Brexit-delayed UK edition; not present in the US edition dated June 25):

As early as January a top Brexiteer freely admitted to Bagehot that his campaign planned to turn the public against its leaders; it wanted systematically to delegitimise Britain's pro-EU political, bureaucratic and business elites.

Is that the first time you've heard anyone talking about systematic wanting? It's a first for me. But of course The Economist is just sticking to its dreadful policy of syntactic self-harm, by mechanically moving adverbs to the left so that they don't follow to in an infinitival complement.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments off


Affinity — a curiously multivalent term

Richard Warmington has pointed out that "affinity" is a contronym (a word with two opposite or contradictory meanings).  Another example of a contronym is "sanction", which can signify both "penalty for disobeying a law" and "permission or approval for an action".

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (26)