Disco-polo and a Polish transcription of Mandarin

In one of the most important Polish newspapers, Gazeta Wyborcza, I encountered an article about the introduction of disco-polo to the Chinese music market. In case you don’t know what disco-polo is (and I’m pretty sure you don’t, unless you are from Poland), check out this Wikipedia entry. Basically, it’s a music genre that had its golden age in the ’90s and that some Poles adore, but for others it’s a synonym for bad taste, kitsch and “redneckedness” (most of the bands originated from small villages where they played at weddings etc.).

I have absolutely no idea why someone would try to sell this kind of music in China. And while in Poland it is (or, hopefully, used to be) popular mostly in rural areas and among less-educated people, the Chinese target is “between 25 and 40 years old, higher education, big city resident, high professional and social position, incomes much higher than average”. At least that’s what the producer says.

In autumn a disco-polo band BayerFull (in Polish bajer is a slang word meaning gimmick or sweet talk) is going on a tour in China. Its leader says “We’re entering the Chinese market professionally. Everything is arranged legally. We’ve had our Chinese costumes tailored, our dragons are ready. Our image is going to get people interested. But we’re not deceiving ourselves, we know we’re going to be treated as an oddity.”

And finally comes the language part: Continue…

Hanzi transcription of Uyghur

Thanks to a song performed a this year’s New Years Gala (as well as earlier performances), the term 亚克西 yàkèxī has once again popped into the vocabularies of the netizens. It’s a very rough transliteration… translogisation?… erm, well it’s the closest you’d get to the Uyghur word for “good”. The actual word is of course not quite “yàkèxī”.

First some background on writing Uyghur. At least in China, there are two systems for writing the language. The one you’re more likely to find online is called ULY, Uyghur Latin Yéziqi, or Uyghur Latin alphabet. The other, modelled on the Arabic script as used in Persian, is called UEY, Uyghur Ereb Yéziqi, or Uyghur Arab script. I’ve written before on xiaoerjing on transliteration with uyghur (here and here), and the information is readily available on Wikipedia, so I’ll skip the details here. The third option, though far less common in China, is the use of the Cyrillic alphabet. This is more often found in the former Soviet states where a large number of Uyghurs reside.


Dr William Gilbert Grace

Some might not be familiar with the great W.G. Grace but he was a sporting legend. He dominated English cricket for a good portion of the nineteenth century and tormented many a bowler. Now he torments me.

Grace features fairly heavily in something I’m trying to translate into Chinese. In the English, he’s often referred to simply by his initials, W.G., so I’d like to find a way to do this in Chinese, but obviously it’s not strictly possible.

As far as I can tell, I have the option to call him either:

William Gilbert Grace      威廉·吉尔伯特·格雷斯
Grace                             格雷斯

Surely that can’t be it, can it?

Where the English sometimes says W.G. Grace, sometimes says, Grace and sometimes says W.G., do I really have to say 格雷斯 every time? Continue…