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.


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.