Link roundup — 10 Jan 2011

A tea marketer is in need of some translation help at Far Outliers:


This article chooses to use Yunnan Jingmai hill old trees tea is raw material, was steam, rumple, nhibitted by traditional craftbut become, that tea Fa-Etty strengthen to show the milli-, green and yellow bright aroma pure and unadulterated of the teaEsoup, the tase joss-stick and return sweet hold out for long time. Often drimking can help the dig-Eest, go to greasy, the pure spirit of adsolute deing is great. Come to wine etc. This,article more Ch-Een is more fragrant can be collect in dry, well ventilated, avoid the light to have no strange Esmell of environment.

Bruce Humes asks why we need English as an intermediary in the translation of Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk’s work, Other ColorsContinue…

Link Roundup – 3 Jan 2011

UK Education Secretary Michael Gove is surprised to find that “a thick book with screeds of Chinese characters and the odd paragraph in English” is the homework of students which has been published in academic journals. In response, his op-ed calls for “a cultural revolution just like the one they’ve had in China”. Since it’s hard to know where to start in on the awfulness, I’ll just refer you to Shanghaiist’s take: “Suffice to say for now what really took the cake was his public fellation of communist China’s founding father…”

Laowai Chinese takes on another vocabulary question with prescriptivist overtones by asking “What’s up with Persuade?” — i.e. 说服, shuìfú or shuōfú.

Victor Mair on Language Log discusses “English Banned in Chinese Writing“. I have to admit that I was very dismissive about the whole proposal when it was discussed in April 2010 (here’s Mair’s take on it then). I don’t think I even bothered to link to it, considering it one of those seasonal political proposals that would come and go — like discussions about changing the name of the Richland Bombers (yes, as in atomic bomb) to something less destructive. But the fact that the ban has reached this level of formal implementation proves that I know nothing about Zhongnanhai machinations. If anyone has insight into the scope and significance of the ban, it would be great to hear from you. My guess is still that there’s a lot of smoke and a lot less heat to it, but what do I know…

A Naxi script must-read for those who think that “polishing one’s jade instrument” is an off-color euphemism.

Link Roundup -20 Dec 2010

More good work from 33 Proverbs that translate well between Mandarin and English.

Learning Mandarin in India, from WSJ. No big surprises in the approach at the featured language school:

The school’s focus is strictly conversational. Rather than learn Chinese characters, Indian students work with the easier-to-look-at transliterations in the Roman alphabet, a system known as “pinyin.” Teachers use both Hindi and English to help students get the tones right, one of the biggest hurdles to learning the language.

From Frog in a Well, another Google Ngram post — and by the dateline apparently Alan beat Sinoglot to the punch. An interesting comment there from Vladimir:

if one tries to look at really early periods (before 1800), the data quality deteriorates because of a large number of comparatively recent books mistakenly assigned early dates.

Link Roundup – 13 Dec 2010

On chinaSMACK, another man-bites-dog story of foreign-looking people speaking Mandarin, in this case a white woman on a local news station. Those with a long memory might recall that the title of this post and wonder yet again at the impossibility of parody on the mainland.

Bruce Humes, on Paper Republic, translates a bit of what was apparently an unacceptable acceptance speech by Chinese novelist Murong Xuecun (慕容 雪村).

China Media Project translates an interesting piece of media analysis on “cross-regional reporting” (异地监督 yìdì jiāndū) that uses, as usual, the praiseworthy practice of not dubbing in print — i.e. plenty of reference to the original Chinese text.

A mystery of Garlic vs Cauldron at Duncan‘s Naxi Script Resource Centre.

A little late, but has an interesting post up about rendering bopomofo, an alternative to pinyin previously used in China and more recently on Taiwan..

Link Roundup – 6 Dec 2010

Since ’tis nearly the season: Chinese lyrics to Santa Claus is Coming to Town with fully tone-marked Pinyin. has scanned a section of a Pinyin book with a period (1963) blend of somewhat-simplified Hanzi orthography.

John Wells points to vowel inventories on the World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS) online. If you don’t think this sounds cool, check out the map here and mouse over some of the enormous differences you can see in vowel counts of languages across the region of Sinoglot interest.

edit: Don’t miss this awesome Rubick’s cube with Chinese movable type. I want one so bad. -kp

Link Roundup – 29 Nov 2010

Earlier this week, Sinoglot’s Randy and Paweł posted the 15th instalment of The Book of Nishan Shaman.

For a bit of elderly Dongbei dialect, check out the documentary by C. Custer and the ChinaGeeks team, Kedong County. While you’re at it, check out his latest project.

John Pasden’s call for a public, large-scale corpus of spoken Mandarin gets a strong seconding from Sinoglot. The current corpuses/corpora are grossly inadequate.

The blog 一步一个脚印 ( has an informative post called “74 Switch-Around Words in Mandarin“. Here are just a couple:

蜜蜂 mìfēng (“bee”) & 蜂蜜 fēngmì (“honey”)
合适 héshì (“suitable”) & 适合 shìhé (“to be suitable”)

Finally, on the Omniglot blog, there’s a post up looking for help with the Endangered Alphabets Project. Among the scripts on which the project is focused: Manchu and Nüshu.

Link Roundup – 22 Nov 2010

Batur at Autonomous Region comments on Xinjiang Party Secretary Zhang Chunxian’s use of Uyghur (with original article).

The Economist has an article called Teaching Chinese: Mandarin’s Great Leap Forward on the increasing number of people studying Mandarin outside of China.

Meanwhile tells us that Mandarin is now the second most important language for e-commerce sites.

And finally, the Omniglot blog has a hanzi puzzle for you.

Link Roundup – 15 Nov 2010

The following are posts or articles relevant to language in China. Each week we share a handful of links that we think are worth reading. If you see something we missed, please let us know.

A recent post by John over at WooChinese responds to an article in the Wall Street Journal about handwriting helps one’s memory, and takes it into the realm of learning Chinese characters. John has posted many good articles for Mandarin language learners.

For language learners wondering how bureaucratic Mandarin would render the verb in “fool around with a female reporter”, check out this translation from China Digital Times (h/t Danwei).

John Pasden (Sinosplice) puts up his take on Why Learning Chinese is Hard. In his classic thorough fashion, he includes a discussion of what “hard” means, learning curve comparisons of Japanese & Chinese, and a good summary of links to what others have said about learning Chinese.

Transliterationisms takes a look at stamp-out-everything-but-Mandarin pro-Mandarin campaign slogans in Singapore. 多讲华语,亲切便利 anyone?

Link Roundup – 8 Nov 2010

The following are stories or articles from the past week that deal with language in China. We will try to post these once a week.

First there is The Grammar of Chinese Women by Deborah Fallows in which she gives her impressions on the all-too-common he/she mixup among English learners in China

We also heard about “Chinese cultural week” launched in Egypt’s university via People’s Daily Online 人民网 about an event at Ain Shams University جامعة عين شمس‎ in Cairo.

Looking to buttress your profanities and legal vocabulary? Check out Beijing attorney Pu Zhiqiang vs his police investigator as reported (Chinese) and translated (English) in China Digital Times. h/t Chinese Law Prof Blog.

Finally, the Dаlаі Lаmа has put in his two cents on the recent issues concerning language policy in Τіbеt. The debate continues.

You’ll just have to Google that last one. We aren’t big fans of being blocked here at Sinoglot.

Link love: Treasonous interpreters

K.M. Lawson has an interesting post up over at one of the many geographies covered by Frog in a Well. This is on the Korea site but the subject is easily not limited to the peninsula.

The post covers the story of Kim Yong Hyun, an interpreter for the United States who was later captured by the Chinese army. Have a look.