I posted this in response to a query on the American Dialect Society mailing list (ADS-L), and am cross-posting it here because it is more relevant here than there.  Someone had asked about a strange Chinglish translation: smallpox for 天花灯 (tiānhuādēng).  The answer to that is easy enough, and James Harbeck answered it there: the same characters are used for ceiling (天花板) and smallpox (天花).  Another poster, Douglas G. Wilson, then asked the more difficult question of why they are so named.

As I was looking for something else in some Manchu-related materials I serendipitously found the answer to this question. Continue reading Smallpox

Sunzi visualizes… (Manchu acquisition?)

Randy’s recent creation of the Tiny Little Corpus (TLC™) of Manchu from the Art of War provides a fine excuse to dump the data into the mind-blowing visualization tools at Many Eyes (h/t to Ideophone) and get a new perspective on what Sunzi says.

The screenshot below doesn’t really do it justice. Continue reading Sunzi visualizes… (Manchu acquisition?)