Blog Profile / Language Log

Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:4872
Posts / Week:13.2
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Hong Kong-specific characters and shorthand

Joel Martinsen found this photograph on the microblog of Wáng Dày? ???: It's an itemized receipt for a meal at a traditional Cantonese restaurant in Central Hong Kong. In Cantonese, the heading reads: Mak6 An1 wan4tan1 min6 sai3gaa1 ??????? Simplified characters: ??????? The MSM pronunciation would be: Mài ?n yúnt?n miàn shìji? English: Mak Ngan's […]

"English will not be longer problem for your!"

Yvonne Treis sent in this photograph of a sign at an “America English” language school in Addis Ababa/Ethiopia that she took in May 2009: Yvonne has been to Ethiopia a dozen times or more for linguistic fieldwork on two Ethiopian languages (Kambaata & Baskeet) and has some conversational competence in Amharic –- not very much, […]

Himba color perception

Below is an email message from Steve Mah, posted with his permission. It follows up on my post "It's not easy seeing green", 3/2/2015, about the experiment on Himba color perception shown in the 2011 BBC documentary "Do you see what I see?" (video available here).  I've also appended an earlier email from Jules Davidoff to Paul Kay, […]

Correctly English

Ben Zimmer called my attention to this book cover, via David Adger's Twitter account: You can read for yourself what the English says.  Let's see how well it matches the Chinese: bi?ozh?n ?? standard Y?ngwén sh?ngyè huìhuà b?irì t?ng ?? ???? ??? English commercial conversation; expert in a hundred days fù Zh?ngwén dúy?n ji?shì ??????? […]

Pekingese vs. Putonghua

John Rohsenow sent me a WeChat (a Chinese text and messaging service) post that compares Putonghua (Modern Standard Mandarin [MSM]) sentences with their equivalents in Pekingese.  The differences are stark, amounting to a translation from one language to another. The post offers a generous sampling of two dozen pairs of sentences.  Here I'll provide the […]

Alien metrics

From today's Scenes From A Multiverse: The whole thing: Mouseover title: "and that is how nicki minaj brought on the alien apocalypse". For any aliens who may be reading this: Consulting services are available at reasonable rates.


Bob Bauer writes: Yesterday I discovered that the concept 'person who is continuously looking at or obsessively interacting with his/her smartphone or other type of electronic handheld device' has been lexicalized in Cantonese as ??? dai1 tau4 zuk6 (literally, 'head-down tribe') (according to an article by Mark Sharp in the South China Morning Post). [VHM:  […]

Smartisan T1

Video for a new Chinese electronic watch, submitted by Stephen Hart: From "Apple Watch takes top design industry honors ahead of launch" (3/3/15). I had to watch the video several times before I could figure out whether the English was translated from the Chinese or the Chinese from the English, because what is said in […]

Effects of vocal fry on pitch perception

Earlier today, Jianjing Kuang pointed out to me something interesting and unexpected about the sounds in a LLOG post from last month, "Vocal creak and fry, exemplified", 2/7/2015. To see what she heard, let's start with a 50 Hz buzz: Your browser does not support the audio element. Some simple Octave code that generates a buzz […]

Macaroni politics

Charlie Spiering, "Hillary Clinton touts 'macaroni and cheese' issues at Emily's List gala", Breitbart 2/4/2015: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touted the importance of “macaroni and cheese” issues in the federal government, as she teased a presidential run in a speech last night.   During her appearance at the EMILY’s List 30th anniversary gala, […]

Anaphoric definiteness in the ACA

The following is a guest post by Graham Katz. It makes an interesting point (which I haven't seen elsewhere) about the phrase that's at the center of King v. Burwell: "an Exchange established by the State". Today the Supreme Court hears argument on the King v. Burwell case challenging the subsidies for health insurance put in […]

Tones and the brain

People are always trying to exoticize things Chinese.  Now comes this article with the sensationalistic and patently suspect headline: "If you speak Mandarin, your brain is different" (2/24/15) This is based on the following paper: Jianqiao Gea, Gang Pengc, Bingjiang Lyua, Yi Wanga, Yan Zhuoe, Zhendong Niuf, Li Hai Tang, Alexander P. Leff, and, Jia-Hong […]

Autocomplete strikes again

I think I know how an unsuitable but immensely rich desert peninsula got chosen by FIFA (the international governing body for major soccer tournaments) to host the soccer World Cup in 2022. First, a personal anecdote that triggered my hypothesis about the decision. I recently sent a text message from my smartphone and then carelessly […]

It's not easy seeing green

The whole dress that melted the internet thing has brought back a curious example of semi-pro semi-demi-science about a Namibian tribe that can't distinguish green and blue, but does see lots of different kinds of greeen that look just the same to us Westerners. This story has been floating around the internets for several years, in places […]

Joshua Fishman (1926-2015)

Joshua Fishman, a founder of the field of the sociology of language and a highly influential scholar of language planning and bilingual education, died last night at his home in the Bronx at the age of 88. The following remembrance, written by Ofelia García (Professor in the Ph.D. programs of Urban Education and of Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures […]

Bad advice on being a good writer

Part 2 of the Wikihow listicle "Be a Good Writer" is about learning vital skills, and item 3 of part 2 says you should "Learn the rules of grammar". Where should you turn to find out what they are? The article says: If you have a question about grammar, refer to a grammar book, such […]


Jan Söhlke sent in this photograph taken in a shop in Vienna: An "Anti-Mund-Schuessel" ("anti-mouth-bowl") is strange enough in German, but we can't blame it entirely on the translator, whether machine or human, because the Chinese is odd too. f?nk?u w?n ??? does literally mean "anti-mouth-bowl" N.B.:  f?n ? — "anti-; counter-; rebel; revolt; turn […]

Voice recognition vs. Shandong accent

The following video is very popular in China now: This is hilarious! Even if you don't understand Chinese, you'll be able to follow what's going on.  The driver is trying to enter a phone number by voice, but the automated (machine) operator mishears him.  It gets really funny when he tells the operator that a […]

No word for "serve" in Chinese?

Michael Rank sent in this photograph taken at the Shanghai restaurant in Dalston, London E8: The sign on the wall says: lóumiàn yuáng?ng zhùyì! q?ng zài Serve y?np?n qián ji?nchá q?ngch? su?y?u b?i shìf?u q?ngjié cái k? sh?yòng ??????! ??Serve??? ??????? ???????? floor staff note! before serving drinks please carefully examine all glasses [to see] […]

Fake account spotting on Facebook

One language-related story in the British press over the weekend was that Gavin McGowan was threatened by Facebook with having his account shut down… because they said his name was fake. About ten years ago Gavin learned some Scottish Gaelic and started using the Gaelic spelling of his name: Gabhan Mac A Ghobhainn. Facebook is […]

Recent Posting Activity


Posts per Week
Posts on Regator

Related Blogs

Copyright © 2015 Regator, LLC