'Difficult to understate' correction

Aug. 20th, 2017 08:23 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

Here the source of the inversion corrects it within a few minutes:

For discussion see
"'Cannot underestimate' = 'must not underestimate'?", 11/6/2008
"Misunderestimation", 4/4/2009
"Underestimate, overestimate, whatever", 3/23/2011
"'…not understating the threat", 6/5/2012
"Overestimating, underestimating, whatever", 1/11/2013
"'Impossible to understate' again", 3/1/2014
"The Estimation Game", 4/3/2014

…and many more

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Posted by Victor Mair

Jonathan Benda posted this on Facebook recently:

Reading [Jan Blommaert's] _Language and Superdiversity_ in preparation for my Writing in Global Contexts course in the fall. Does anyone else think the following conclusions about this sign are somewhat wrongheaded?

Written with a calligraphic flair, the notice says:

gōngyù chūzū
shèbèi yīliú
shuǐdiàn quán bāo
měi yuè sānbǎi wǔshí yuán

公寓出租
設備一流
水电全包
每月三佰伍十元

apartment for rent
first-class furnishings
water and electricity included
450 Euros per month


Michael (Taffy) Cannings' response:

Wow, that's very thin evidence for a conclusion like that. The simplified diàn 電/电 is common in handwriting in Taiwan, and presumably among the diaspora too. Yuán 元 as a unit of currency is not unique to the PRC either, and the simplified form used here is really common in traditional characters (i.e., instead of 圓). Both handwriting simplifications predate the PRC character changes and indeed were probably the basis for those changes. The author may be right that the intended audience is made up of younger PRChinese, but that's simply an extrapolation of demographics rather than something implicit in the sign.

Mark Swofford provides an older example of this sort of confusion in this post:

"Mystery of old simplified Chinese characters?" (10/7/05)

I haven't lived in Taiwan continuously for a long period of time since 1970-72, but I still go back occasionally.  I can attest that almost no one except an obsessive compulsive like myself writes 臺灣 for Taiwan.  Nearly everybody writes 台灣 or 台湾.  It really doesn't matter, because the name does not mean "Terrace Bay" as the characters seem to indicate.  They are simply being used to transcribe the sounds of a non-Sinitic term, as I explained here:

"How to Forget Your Mother Tongue and Remember Your National Language"

The very name "Taiwan" is perhaps the best example to begin with. Superficially (according to the surface signification of the two characters with which the name is customarily written), "Taiwan" means "Terrace Bay." That sounds nice, even poetic, but it is an inauthentic etymology and has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual origins of the name. (This is a typical instance of the common fallacy of wàngwénshēngyì 望文生義, whereby the semantic qualities of Chinese characters interfere with the real meanings of the terms that they are being used to transcribe phonetically.) The true derivation of the name "Taiwan" is actually from the ethnonym of a tribe in the southwest part of the island in the area around Ping'an.4 As early as 1636, a Dutch missionary referred to this group as Taiouwang. From the name of the tribe, the Portuguese called the area around Ping'an as Tayowan, Taiyowan, Tyovon, Teijoan, Toyouan, and so forth. Indeed, already in his ship's log of 1622, the Dutchman Comelis Reijersen referred to the area as Teijoan and Taiyowan. Ming and later visitors to the island employed a plethora of sinographic transcriptions to refer to the area (superficially meaning "Terrace Nest Bay" [Taiwowan 臺窝灣], "Big Bay" [Dawan 大灣], "Terrace Officer" [Taiyuan 臺員], "Big Officer" [Dayuan 大員], "Big Circle" [Dayuan 大圓], "Ladder Nest Bay" [Tiwowan 梯窝灣], and so forth). Some of these transcriptions are clever, others are fantastic, but none of them should be taken seriously for their meanings.

As my Mom used to say when she couldn't get things through our thick skulls, "I can tell you till I'm blue in the face, but you just won't listen":  the sounds of Chinese words are more important than the characters used to write them, since the latter are comparatively adventitious and secondary, whereas the former are absolutely essential.

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Posted by Mark Liberman

From P.D.:

Long time reader, first time caller, etc. etc. As an armchair linguistics fan and someone who gets his news primarily online rather than from cable news, I've been wondering how one ought to go about pronouncing the word "antifa." I'd like to discuss current events with friends without putting my foot in it, like the friend I once had who pronounced "archive" as though it were something you might chop up and put on a bagel with some cream cheese.

My impression is that Norma Loquendi in America seems mostly to have decided on [ˌæn'ti.fə] — first syllable "Ann", second syllable "tea", third syllable rhymes with "uh", with the main word stress on "tea", as in this 8/19/2017 ABC 20/20 segment:

But there's an alternative — so in this 8/19/2017 CNN story, Jake Tapper has something like ['æn.ti.fɐ], with intitial-syllable stress and more of a full vowel on the final syllable:

It's easy to see why people come out different ways on this one. The source word anti-fascist has primary stress on the third syllable and secondary stress on the first syllable. One approach would is to trim the pronunciation of anti-fascist to the portion corresponding to the spelling "antifa" — but this runs into the problem that  [æ] doesn't normally occur in English final open syllables. So the solution is to remove the stress from the third syllable, which shifts the main stress to the first syllable, and then either change the final vowel to one that can end a stressed syllable in English, or reduce it to schwa, or leave it in some kind of quasi-reduced limbo as Tapper does.

In the other direction, there's strong pressure to apply penultimate stress to vowel-final borrowed or constructed words in English, as in "Tiramisu" or "Samarra" or "NATO". So I'm predicting that  [æn'ti.fə]  is going to win in the end. But for now, at least, you can take your pick.

On a related note: is there a term of art for a mispronunciation borne of learning a word solely from written context, a sort of spoken eggcorn?

It's called a "spelling pronunciation".

Update — there's a third option, from later in the same ABC 20/20 segment, where Lacy Macauley, self-identified as an Antifa activist, uses the pronunciation [ˌɑn'ti.fə], with penultimate stress but a low back vowel in the first syllable — perhaps taken from a European version of the movement?:

 

rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/19/boston-protest-free-speech-rally

Donald Trump described anti-fascist and anti-racist demonstrators who converged on Boston as “anti-police agitators” on Saturday, in a tweet that seemed destined to revive the still simmering controversy over his remarks equating the far right and anti-Nazis in Charlottesville last weekend.

“Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston,” Trump tweeted. “Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.”

But he later seemed to back the right to demonstrate, posting: “Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!”

He added: “I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!”

Daily Happiness

Aug. 20th, 2017 01:31 am
torachan: ewan mcgregor pulling his glasses down to look over the top (ewan glasses)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Had some leftover curry tonight for dinner and it was so good and I'm sad there's only a little bit left, so I think I'm going to have to make that again this coming week. (I'm glad the weather's cool enough that I feel like cooking again.)

2. Over the past couple days two slacker employees turned in their two weeks notice, which saved me the trouble of having to fire them.

3. Speaking of cooler weather, Chloe's been cuddling up in the bed again now that it's not so hot.

The Imperious Criterion of Meaning

Aug. 19th, 2017 11:33 pm
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Posted by Mark Liberman

Patrick Radden Keefe, "Carl Icahn's Failed Raid on Washingon", The New Yorker 8/28/2017, mentions the title of Icahn's Princeton senior thesis:

In 1960, after studying philosophy at Princeton (where he wrote a thesis titled “The Problem of Formulating an Adequate Explication of the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning”) and a stint in medical school (he was a hypochondriac, which did not help his bedside manner), Icahn shifted to Wall Street.

But Keefe doesn't mention what is now my favorite correction of all time — 2/12/2006 in the New York Times:

An interview on June 5, 2005, with Carl Icahn misstated a word of the title of a thesis he wrote while he was an undergraduate at Princeton. As a reader informed The Times two weeks ago, it is "The Problem of Formulating an Adequate Explication of the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning," not "Imperious Criterion."

In fact "the imperious criterion of meaning" fits much better with Mr. Icahn's subsequent career, as well as evoking Humpty Dumpty's philosophy of language:

'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they're the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'

'Would you tell me please,' said Alice, 'what that means?'

'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'

'That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

'When I make a word do a lot of work like that,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'I always pay it extra.'

'Oh!' said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.

'Ah, you should see 'em come round me of a Saturday night,' Humpty Dumpty went on, wagging his head gravely from side to side, 'for to get their wages, you know.'

torachan: (koi-iji)
[personal profile] torachan


Title: Koi-iji: Love Glutton
Original Title: こいいじ (Koiiji)
Author: Shimura Takako
Publisher: Kiss
Genre: Josei
Status in Japan: 6 volumes, ongoing
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations feat. Migeru
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates

Summary: 31-year-old Mame has been in love with her childhood friend Souta ever since she can remember. Despite multiple rejections, her love has stayed constant. It's become a habit more than anything, but is it one she'll ever be able to break and get on with her life?

Chapter Summary: Mame and Souta go on a date.



Chapter 20: P.S. I Love You

And since that brings us to the end of volume 4, here's a full volume download for those who want it.

The power and the lactulose

Aug. 19th, 2017 03:58 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

The so-called Free Speech Rally that's about to start in Boston will probably be better attended, both by supporters and opponents, than the one that was organized by same group back in May. But some of the featured speakers at the May rally, including "Augustus Invictus", have decided not to attend today's rerun. So I listened to the YouTube copy of the May rally speech by Austin Gillespie (Augustus's real or at least original name). And since this is Language Log and not Political Rhetoric Log (though surely political rhetoric is part of language), I'm going to focus on YouTube's efforts to provide "automatic captions".

Overall, automatic captioning does both amazingly well and hilariously badly. The audio quality is poor, with a lot of background noise and also distortion caused by an overloaded low-quality sound system, so it's a tribute to advances in ASR technology that the automatic captioning gets quite a few words right. But still, it starts out by allowing the speaker to self-identify as "my name is Olga sticks invictus on for sweater" rather than "my name is Augustus Invictus I'm from Florida":

0:04 my name is Olga sticks
0:12 invictus on for sweater

A little later, Gillespie blames his commitment to armed revolution, curiously, on the fact that the police saved him from an attack by "kids in black" (line divisions from the automatic captioning):

Automatic Captions My Transcription
but it is a year ago these kids in black
upon the hill they surrounded the border
who are doing a meet indeed and they
build my supporters with a two-by-four
bash in their colleges and then they try
to take me out when I floated the power
and the lactulose where the cops showed
up before they could get from me but
from that point
in business is usually more
but then about a year ago these kids in black
up on the hill they surrounded a bar
where we were doing a meet-and-greet and they
beat up my supporters with a two-by-four
bashed in their car windows uh and then they tried
to take me out when they flooded the bar
and miraculously the cops showed
up before they could get to me ((but))
from that point
we didn't do business as usual any more.

So, like I said, amazingly good and hilariously bad.

In particular, I wonder what the system's language model was thinking of. "Olga sticks"? "The power and the lactulose?" Maybe there's some connection with those "local milk people".

There's more fun where that came from, for example:

Automatic Captions My Transcription
every generation
matru Gooding must be refreshed with the
Board of patriot and timing
With every generation
the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the
blood of patriots and tyrants.

 

Daily Happiness

Aug. 19th, 2017 12:43 am
torachan: maru the cat sitting in a bucket (maru)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Yesterday we noticed the cats have fleas, so I went to the pet store first thing this morning and got some flea treatment and we've already seen a few dead fleas, so hopefully that will take care of things.

2. It is really chilly tonight!

3. I've got manga ready to post tomorrow (had meant to do it tonight, but too tired).

4. Look at this Jasper! So grown up looking!

[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

If you use the right tools, that is, as explained in this Twitter thread from Taylor ("Language") Jones.

Rule number 1:  Use all the electronic tools at your disposal.

Rule number 2:  Do not use paper dictionaries.

Jones' Tweetstorm started when he was trying to figure out the meaning of shāngchǎng 商场 in Chinese.  He remembered from his early learning that it was something like "mall; store; market; bazaar".  That led him to gòuwù zhòngxīn 购物中心 ("shopping center").  With his electronic resources, he could hear these terms pronounced, could find them used in example sentences, and could locate actual places on the map designated with these terms.

I agree wholeheartedly with Jones.  Even though I began the learning of Mandarin half a century ago when Chinese language pedagogy was in a primitive state, I resisted it to the best of my ability and instinctively came up with means for learning Chinese that approximated the best practices employed today, but without all the wonderful electronic devices available now.  See the following posts for descriptions of the make-do methods I used to learn Chinese from the very beginning.

"How to learn to read Chinese" (5/25/08)

"How to learn Chinese and Japanese" (2/17/14)

"The future of Chinese language learning is now" (4/5/14)

"Chineasy? Not" (3/19/14)

"Chineasy2" (8/14/14)

"Chinese without a teacher" (2/6/16)

"Backward Thinking about Orientalism and Chinese Characters" (5/16/16)

"Firestorm over Chinese characters" (5/23/16)

"Learning to read and write Chinese" (7/11/16)

"How not to learn Chinese" (4/16/17)

Do not use flashcards!  Do not emphasize memorization of the characters (bùyào sǐbèi dānzì 不要死背单字). Learn words in their proper grammatical and syntactic context.  Learn grammatical patterns and practice them in substitution drills (that was one of the best ways Chang Li-ching used to train her students, and she was extremely successful in getting them up to an impressive level of fluency in a short period of time).

Above all, do not tolerate any teacher who says that they suffered to learn Chinese so that you should suffer too or that suffering while learning a language is good for you.

fèihuà 废话 ("balderdash / blather / bullshit / rubbish / garbage / nonsense / malarkey / hooey / trash / tripe / guff / stuff / bunk[um] / blah / bald-faced lies") húshuō bādào 胡说八道 /
Pernicious Garbage

[h.t. Ben Zimmer]

[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

The Washington Post's digital front page a little while ago told us that Donald Trump has given in to those who wanted him to "dispatch with" Stephen Bannon:

Earlier today, Mitt Romney's Facebook post explained that he would "dispense from" discussion of certain aspects of Trump's comments on the Charlottesville events:

And in February of 2016, Marco Rubio urged us to "dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing".

This tour of the political dis-universe reminds me of the problems that I have trying to decide whether I've made an idiomatic choice of verb and preposition (or case) in languages that I don't know very well — and makes me wonder, as I sometimes do, whether I've slipped into a parallel time-line where English is not quite what I thought it was.

So perhaps we'll soon learn that the White House has disowned of Stephen Miller, discarded from tax reform, disdained over Gary Cohn, disembodied from infrastructure funding , or even displaced out of Jared Kushner.

 

Literally as I was about to post

Aug. 18th, 2017 06:12 pm
rydra_wong: Doonesbury: Mark announcing into a microphone, "That's guilty! Guilty, guilty, guilty!!" (during the Watergate scandal) (guilty)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
to ask whether any kindly person was running www.hasstevebannonbeenfiredyet.com:

The Independent: Steve Bannon: Trump 'decides to remove chief strategist' from White House role
CBS live updates (warning: autoplays stuff)

"A person close to Bannon" said it was TOTALLY HIS IDEA Y'ALL, IT'S ALL PART OF HIS MASTER PLAN DON'T YOU SEE.

ETA: Recommended: http://plaidadder.tumblr.com/post/164338863264/goodbye-steve-bannon-you-were-fired-too-late
http://plaidadder.tumblr.com/post/164340936634/how-is-this-playing-in-breitbartville-not-well
rydra_wong: the illuminated Sarajevo haggadah (sarajevo haggadah)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Thanks to folks at [community profile] thisfinecrew for links, and links that led to other links among the following:

Solidarity Cville: Donate -- suggestions and links for local groups to support

Indivisble: Stand in Solidarity with Charlottesville - Find an Event

The Nation: Here’s What You Can Do After Charlottesville

Indivisible: Are Your Members of Congress Doing Enough to Respond to the Charlottesville Terrorist Attack? -- though this is several days old and therefore lacks a script for HOLY FUCK THE PRESIDENT IS DEFENDING NEO-NAZIS (EVEN MORE) WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

SPLC releases new edition of Ten Ways to Fight Hate guide after Charlottesville attack

Politico: GOP chairmen resist hearings on white supremacy

They don't want it. Demand it.

[tumblr.com profile] plaidadder: Three Democratic members of the House have introduced a censure resolution.

You can read the text here.

Censure is a formal reprimand. It is not legally binding, but it is rare, and Sends a Message. MoveOn.org originally organized around a campaign to get Congress to censure Clinton instead of impeaching him.

This may be an attempt to accomplish something less difficult than impeachment; or it may be a trial run to see how many Republicans are ready to jump from the Trump Train.


ETA: Politico: Pelosi endorses censure of Trump over Charlottesville response -- apparently at least 79 Democrats have signed.

Not directly Charlottesville-related, but interesting and could be worth asking your reps to support:

H.R.1987 - Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act

To steal Wikipedia's explanation: "This bill would replace the Cabinet as the body that, together with the Vice President, determines whether Section 4 should be invoked. Under the bill, an eleven-member commission would conduct an examination of the President when directed to do so by a concurrent resolution of the Congress."

(Which, basically, shifts the power to forcibly 25th-Amendment the President back towards Congress to a greater degree, as opposed to depending entirely on the Cabinet which that President apppointed.)

Daily Happiness

Aug. 18th, 2017 01:41 am
torachan: onoda sakamichi from yowamushi pedal with a huge smile (onoda smile)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I got a small paid translation job tonight. Due Tuesday morning Japan time, which means Monday evening for me, so that gives me plenty of time. A lot of times when these guys ask me it's super last minute and the time zones make it impossible, so I'm always happy when it's one I can take.

2. I made chocolate chip cookies. Haven't done any baking in ages since it's been such warm weather, but it really hasn't been bad the last week or so and it really didn't heat up the house too much to make these.

3. I finished another book today, which puts me at fifty books so far for the year. I can't believe it! My goal was originally twenty! It's at sixty now, but I think I'm going to have to end up upping it again at this rate.

4. Molly was sleeping with her paw over her face, and when I went to take her picture, she moved her head but still kept her paw in the same place, which was super cute.

Weekly Reading

Aug. 17th, 2017 10:32 pm
torachan: (Default)
[personal profile] torachan
What are you currently reading?
I read about a chapter more on Attack of the Theater People, but that's it. I think I've only managed to read before bed one time this last week, and every other night I stayed up too late and went straight to sleep. (Even the nights I went to bed early I was too tired to read.)

What did you recently finish reading?
I finally finished The History of Forgetting. This book was kind of a mish-mash of the history of LA, LA in fiction, and some actual fiction about LA. The latter is the weakest part of the book and I think dropping it would have made it a better book overall. A random sixty-page novella dropped in the middle of a work of non-fiction could possibly be made to work, but it didn't here, at least not for me.

I did like the parts that were actual history of LA and a look at how LA has been portrayed in books and movies over the years. This was published about twenty years ago and a lot has changed downtown since then, and I'd be interested to see the author's thoughts on those changes. It looks like an updated version of the book was released about ten years ago, but even that was before the real downtown revival.

What do you think you'll read next?
Well, I have three books marked "currently reading" on Goodreads that I haven't actually started on, so hopefully one or more of those! People in Trouble by Sarah Schulman is what I just added to GR tonight as my current physical book. I read several books by her a few years ago and really liked them, but for some reason never read the last two I had bought at that time, and when looking for a new book to read tonight after finishing A History of Forgetting, I spotted them and decided to go with that. I've also still got Hollow City, though since I'm also reading Attack of the Theater People, idk if I will actually make any progress on this until I finish that, since I don't like switching between ebooks. Then finally I've got The Big Picture: Murals of Los Angeles, which I found in a pile of books on the curb the other day while out on our evening walk.

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