Quote of the Morning

From a post from Language Log (actually from the day before yesterday, but I didn’t see it till this morning):

As with many of The New Yorker‘s crochets, avoidance of singular they is a rationalist innovation masquerading as linguistic conservatism.

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Adverb of the Day

Spotted on Wikipedia:

Saturday Review reached its maximum circulation of 660,000 in 1971. Ironically, its decline began in the same year.

What an ironic coincidence!

No, Not That Kind of Chinese Radical

There are a whole bunch of good Chinese-English dictionaries for the iPhone, but as far as I know we don’t have one with a decent way of looking for a character by its radical. (A radical is a component of the character.) I can look up a character on any of my iPhone Chinese dictionaries by its English meaning, or by its pinyin transliteration, or I can draw it. But if I see an unfamiliar character on a sign, say, then I don’t know what it means or how to say it, and when I draw it I’m such a beginner that it can take me several tries to get the right stroke order, and that’s crucial to the recognition software.

So it would be great if I could look it up on the iPhone by radical and number of strokes, as I can in most of the dictionaries I have at home.

But so far the only iPhone Chinese dictionary that has that feature is the Oxford Beginner’s, and that one is very poorly implemented and has a limited number of characters anyway, being meant for beginners.

Those Wacky, Inscrutable Chinese and Their Crazy Language!

From today’s Contra Costa Times:

The Chinese language does not have a word for “puzzle”. The characters for “enhancing”, “intelligence”, and “games” must be fitted together in a specific order to create a close translation.

Um, that means the Chinese language has a word for “puzzle”, and it’s made up of three characters. That’s how Chinese works. It would make equally good sense to say

The English language has no word for “tablespoon”; instead, the words “table” and “spoon” must be fitted together in a specific order to create a close translation.

Come on.