Link roundup — 31 May 2011

Fine wine for the month of May:

  • Before you click thru to, guess what English word is being borrowed with: 欧菲香 ōufēixiāng
  • A modern humanities prof could take a semester to deconstruct iamxiaoli’s “learning Chinese” videos. See John Pasden’s intro here. At least they’re better than the video that came in #1 on this Beijing Sounds post
  • Autonomous region points to Google & Wikipedia in Uighur
  • Green pea tofu (wāndòu dòufu 豌豆豆腐) and other delectable food terms from Beijing Haochi
  • ‘ngè’ — is it about eating, or pooping? Depends on the dialect… — at Bezdomny Ex Patria
  • How do you dry your clothes in Mandarin? Carl Gene says it depends on whether you’re from the north or south
  • In case you need to brush up on your evil cult publicity poster vocabulary and need a long list of vocabulary — China Hope Live
  • I’ll be the first to give the National Palace Museum a break for pinyin-typoing a “捍” instead of a “撼”. Maybe we should just eliminate one: there’s no shortage of hàn in China anyway… — China Hush
  • Homeboy in Chinese? Sinologistical Violincellist retranslates Kevin Garnett’s Chinese blog

and from Sinoglot’s own writers:


From the Sinoglot mailbag:

Hello !
My name is Minkyu and I’m from Korea.
I am enjoying your blog a lot. I am currently learning Chinese as my fourth language and I am very interested in linguistic view on Chinese language.

I was randomly looking up for a Kana (Japanese phonogram) transcription chart of Mandarin Chinese by their pinyin (Romanization of Mandarin) [Link] and I came up with this question.

But here, you can see (I suppose you can read Japanese at least its Kanji (Hanzi) parts) that “you, miu, diu, niu, liu” are transcribed into “イウ/iu/, ミウ/miu/, ティウ/tiu/, ニウ/niu/, リウ/riu/” when it has either First tone (high) or Second tone(rising), and transcribed into “ヨウ/you/, ミョウ/myou/, テョウ/tyou/, ニョウ/nyou/, リョウ/ryou/” when it has either Third tone (dipping) and Fourth tone (falling).

I knew that the vowel part “iou” can be pronounced either way, [jow] or [jiw]–or even their middle– but I was never heard that this variation is according to their tones.

Could you tell me how “iou” varies in modern Madarin phonology please? Or is this difference just based on hearing cognition of Japanese-speakers?

And could you also tell me why “jiu, qiu, xiu” have no difference in their transcription and are transcribed into “チウ/chiu/, チウ/chiu/, シウ/shiu/” solely?

Thank you.

Best Regards,
Minkyu Kim

The Japanese Wikipedia page to which Minkyu directs us has two tables – the upper one for first and second tones and the lower one for third and fourth tones. Move over to the right to see the entries for pinyin iou.

Would any of our readers like to offer an explanation?

Colour words and SLA

I’ve written about colour a bunch before. really. a bunch. But I’ve recently come upon an interesting argument. If it were just one person who I’d heard it from, I’d not be bothered, but since it’s come up on three separate occasions in the past month, I feel it’s at least worth addressing.

It’s essentially this:

[Language X] is inherently more difficult to learn, all other things being equal, because of the number of colour words it has.

Continue reading

Why Mandarin won’t ever be our lingua franca

I’m a month late, but I took a month off so I think it’s ok.

On April 1st, the BBC aired their last Mandarin-language broadcast. Their first broadcast in Mandarin was in 1941, which, as the article to which I just linked points out, was before the actual founding of the People’s Republic of China. Personally, I was sorry to hear about the cancellation since I made it a point to include the BBC in my listening practice. From the article:

Shortwave programming in Mandarin is a casualty of spending cuts announced by the BBC World Service in January.

From now on, Mandarin-speakers will be served only by the BBC’s Chinese-language websites; a weekly radio broadcast in Cantonese will continue.

Continue reading

Link roundup — 3 May 2011

It’s been a month or so, but rumors of the demise of the Links post are still just rumors, dammit:

  1. In a piece on terms for “missing” in Japanese, some interesting discussion of Japanese vagaries of what we would call 多音字 (duōyīnzì = characters with multiple pronunciations) in Chinese. If you thought it was tough in Mandarin…
  2. What promises to be (when I get to read it online) an interesting article on ethnic groups — and presumably their languages — in Taiwan from Bruce Humes.
  3. Also from Humes: how much difference a 才 can make in a Dylan lyric translation
  4. Nuanced semantic discussion as always, from Carl Gene, this time about speech sounds that are not quite words
  5. Longest fourth tone sentence contest from Lingomi, which pairs nicely with some stats on which tone pairs are most common
  6. Maybe Frog in a Well should offer a “longest string of -isms / 主义 in a Chinese sentence” contest. First entry: “共和主义,革命主义,流血主义,暗杀主义,非有游侠主义 不能担负之
  7. Since you were wondering how to translate “扑街少女”, Roll, Roll, Run explains why “drop dead maiden” might work
  8. Pleasantly not dubbed, snapshots of “ordinary” Chinese in M. Scott Brauer’s “We Chinese” / “我们中国人” on The China Beat
  9. Weibo iPhone app interface offered in English (slightly against the usual linguistic/technology currents)
  10. Finally, a possible venue in case you’re having trouble getting that new interpretation of 道德经 published.