kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 angst!)

Jess, jess music! WTF, over.

3/4 of way through episode, characters arrive at music hall. Poster behind them of tall black man playing a saxophone. ahah. Jazz music.

Poker waltz, however, had me utterly stumped.

Until three episodes later, it's mentioned again, but this time with context of waiting for the 9 and 3/4 train or whatever it is.

Poker Waltz = Hogwarts.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 heero solider)
Came across this paper: Gender Differences In The Chinese Language: A Preliminary Report by Marjorie K.M. Chan, Ohio State University

Summary: "Research on language and gender interaction is well into its third decade and yet there have been surprisingly few contributions from the Chinese language to the explosion of cross-linguistic literature on the topic. This paper brings together both scattered observations and detailed published works on Chinese to provide a preliminary report on gender differences in the Chinese language."

I recently finished watching Sweet Relationship [美味關係 / Mei Wei Guan Xi ], which I'll review/comment on later, but just wanted to mention in light of the linked paper: the lead actress, Patty Hou, was criticized in an online review for having 'odd pronunciation' that the reviewer found annoying -- for being too precise. Perhaps, the reviewer said, this was because Hou was previously a newscaster (that is, had wrong/different training than an actress). Me, I found Hou's accent to be very familiar -- she reminded me strongly of the coworker who used to tutor me in Mandarin. (X. had a bachelor's in radio communications from a PRC university.) Hou's tonal inflections, like my friend's, are softer, yet she enunciates clearly. As my mother might say, Hou 'moves her mouth' -- something I can't say of many other Taiwanese actors and actresses (especially when you contrast male Taiwanese actors' near-constant slurring dropped-tones versus the extreme pitch-inflection of male PRC actors).

And here's a bit from the first section of the paper, about just that. For info on the meaning of [v], see the wiki page on labiodental consonants. In this case, the [v] means the labiodental is a 'veh' sound, where you make the sound by putting your lower lip against your upper teeth to make the start of the sound. There are a number of labiodental consonants, but you can check the page to see the rest of them.
Interestingly, in Taiwan as well, one frequently hears news broadcasters using [v] in their speech, and this is typically (though not exclusively) produced by females. Such production is not accidental, as one trainee for television news broadcasting in Taiwan recalls. In her news broadcasting class at TTV in 1989, trainees were separated by sex, with female trainees taught by female instructors (and presumably male trainees taught by male instructors). In her all-female class, the trainees were asked to repeat and imitate their instructor, who used [v] in such words as yi wan ... Those who pronounced such words using the plain labial approximant, [w], were corrected by her. ... In Taiwan and mainland China, news broadcasters are often females. Shih (1984:224) attributes the greater use of female announcers to their more standard pronunciation and clearer enunciation. [Female newscasters also speak with] with steadier pitch (less pitch flunctuations) and in a lower and deeper voice... (Shih 1984:225).

And then, for those of you familiar with aegyo (see previous post with link spammage, for a link to a series of blog posts that went into depth on aegyo)... I came across behavior/speech in another drama that was almost identical to what I'd seen in kdramas. Honestly, for the first few minutes of the actress speaking, I couldn't even register her words as Mandarin, because she sounded like she was speaking Korean -- all nasalized vowels, drawn-out with complete exaggeration, and rising/falling tones where I least expected them.*

Check this out:
Gender differences in pronunciation may also be studied in association with a particular communication style, such as sajiao (撒嬌), analyzed by Farris (1995) in present-day Taiwan's setting. The sajiao style, which she describes as the adorable petulance of a spoiled child or young woman who seeks material or immaterial benefit from an unwilling listener, is analyzed as being marked for the feminine gender. Farris (p.16) reports on a friend's observation of a very nasal style in young unmarried women's use of sajiao with their boyfriends. Farris argues that the sajiao style indicates women's indirect and informal power in Chinese society; at the same time, it serves as a means to create and maintain that form of power.

...Zhang (1995) prefers the definition in the Modern Chinese Dictionary (Beijing: Commercial Press, 1979), namely, to deliberately act like a spoiled child in front of someone because of the awareness of the other person's affection. Zhang observes that in both mainland China and Taiwan, sajiao is a communication style that is typically used by children to their parents (to refuse things demanded of them or to get permission to do things prohibited by them), and by adults to their lovers or spouses (as a kind of romantic play)...

If I ever ruled the world and could change linguistic deliveries with one sweep of my hand, it would be to outlaw this style of petulant ultra-feminized delivery. I hear it, I want to KILL it. DED.

* by the 5th or 6th appearance from her, I started muting my speakers rather than listen to her. Thank the heavens for subtitles, because it was that or reach into the screen and seriously bitch-slap her for talking through her nose. Of a choice between listening to someone whine versus listening to nails on a blackboard, I'll take the freaking nails, any day.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 oh em gee)
(If only there were a way to slow down the audio and still have it comprehensible. I could use that.)

When a Mandarin-speaker answers the phone, the greeting sounds like wei. Okay. (Not that we were taught that, either, but some things I did pick up from friends.) A number of times in the Taiwanese dramas, a character will greet another, or respond, in a way that sounds a lot like the different ways an English-speaker would say, "hey" -- and it has the same sound as the phone-greeting wei. So, someone's down on themselves, and the friend says, wei, to get their attention, and then, a quick-cajoling wei, wei, wei the same way I might say "hey, hey [stop that]" in English. Unfortunately, the subtitles never show this mid-conversation, non-phone-use wei as a character on the screen.

Is this the same hanzi, or just one that sounds a lot like the phone-greeting? (Or alternately, one that only sounds similar if it's a Taiwanese accent?)

many thanks in advance for helping me out of the bafflement.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (1 Ritsuka)
The great thing about watching Taiwanese dramas is that -- finally -- I don't have to be looking at the screen constantly. I can catch/comprehend about, oh, a good half of any basic conversation, at least until the conversation gets into technical terms or higher-level vocabulary. Okay, I admit that in some cases, the Taiwanese accent -- at least, I'm guessing it's the accent -- throws me, so the hanzi subtitles are useful for clarifying. Things like 是 -- which I was taught to pronounce as shi (or shurrrrrr, if your textbook is from Beijing) -- drop the 'h' sound in the Taiwanese accent. So 是 sounds like ssuh and 老师 sounds like lao-ssuh. Even the zh sound has little 'h', so 知道 sounds like zeh-daow.

Tones are a lot softer, too, but that means context matters even more. Still, once I got used to those minor accent issues, I can at least catch some. (More than I can in Japanese, which after all these years of listening + subtitles, I still can't do much more than register formality via verb-endings.)

What stumps me is when there's code-switching. I'm just not good enough to handle it, like my brain can't think on two tracks. Oh, I can get it when it's just a tagged-on loanword, like replying "yes" or "okay" instead of 是 or 要 or whatever, or sweet-names between lovey couples (like "honey" and "baby").

It was when a character said what sounded like buohkay that I think my brain broke. Backed up and checked the hanzi subtitles and sure enough, it said: 不OK. A second listen with eyes closed and I still couldn't get it. I'm just not good enough to switch that fast, or maybe it's the slurred nature of the vowels that I couldn't differentiate between the 不 and the ohhh, or maybe it's that my vocabulary isn't big enough to know for certain that ohh and kay do not form a Mandarin combination. I end up hearing "okay" and struggling for a second to figure out whether I'm supposed to hear what I think I'm hearing.

But just now, a series with school-age kids are poring over a fashion magazine, describing the pictures as 可爱喔 ... I could recall that 可 isn't just "can" or "may" but is sometimes to mean 'certainly' (uhm, right?) -- so I figured, okay, 'certainly lovely/loveable' instead of 'possibly', given context. But the 喔, I hadn't the faintest.

Then I hit play and realized: the characters are all saying something that sounds an awful lot like keh-wai... except that the final syllable is more like ohh than eee. Brain sez: wait a minute. That's... oh, cripes, now I'm dealing with Japanese loan-words, too?

Although I admire the creativity of it, since the pronunciation the actors use is pretty close to the Japanese but with a consonant switched -- what should be more like keh-eye-woe is said more like keh-wai-oh. The near-duplicate sound comes by tagging 喔 on the end, which (after much dictionary searching!) turns out to be an onomatopoeia for a crow's cry. Sound-wise, it's close enough (thanks to the switching of the consonants) that it ended up in the box labeled "things that require thinking in more than two languages at once."

On the other hand, I took a break from watching this afternoon and was messing around on the web, and came across several trailers for some BBC production. Couldn't understand a bloody word -- until I realized, it was because I've spent so much time recently trying to tune my ear to parse Mandarin that as soon as I heard anything even remotely obviously-not-American, my brain kicked into Mandarin-parsing-mode.

Which, obviously, doesn't get you anywhere when the characters are from Manchester.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 distraction factor)
Books recently read: English: A Novel by Wang Gang, and the Sano Ichiro mystery series by Laura Joh Rowland. There is nothing in common between these two books except for being set in Asia; the former has been translated from the Chinese and the latter is an American book for an American audience, not to mention the roughly three hundred years' difference, too -- from the early Tokugawa to the Cultural Revolution. It's reading them so close together that I noticed the names.

It was really Gang's novel that made me notice, since the translator chose the rather unusual tactic of translating first names. (Surnames are left as-is.) The protagonist is thus "Love Liu", and his classmate is "Sunrise Chen" and his teacher is "Second Prize Wang". At first it was a bit confusing -- in English, we don't translate names per se, but then again, we have names that aren't really word-uses in themselves. Most people don't even know what their names mean, and even if we do, we have words that are only for proper-names (Alexander, Emily, Ethan); if there's a meaning to the name, we use that meaning to describe a thing, not the proper-name (protector, rival, strong).

But Love Liu's name plays some significance, in that there's a long passage where his parents try to explain why they gave him the name "love". If his name had remained in Mandarin, a reader would have to associate non-english-word with "love", and the association would probably only last a page, at most. The name would become -- like our English names -- a name for which any meaning is secondary, even negligible. But with the name translated, you constantly read "Love" when someone addresses the protagonist, just as you can't get away from the fact that Second Prize Wang is, well, probably never going to be first place.

Meanwhile, over in the Tokugawa period -- written, curiously enough, by an American of Chinese-Korean heritage -- we have Ichiro Sano, and the issue of italics and non-default language. )
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (5 Osaka)
I don't even know where I first came across a review of this anime -- it might've been on animenewsnetwork -- but out of curiousity for the description, I tracked it down. It's a short series, clocking in at only 12 or 13 episodes, and only 9 have been subbed so far. (There looks to be one group doing it, and they're releasing in batches.)

It's called Senkō no Night Raid, and frankly, by the 7th episode, I was wondering whether the broadcasting news station was picketed the day after the broadcast. No, really. I mean, really.

...err, let me revise that reaction. Turns out episode7 was, according to animenewsnetwork's notation, "streamed exclusively online and in its place, a special recap episode" was aired instead. GEE QUELLE SHOCK. *cough*

Here's the gist, per wiki: "Set in Shanghai in 1931, the Imperial Japanese Army has been dispatched to mainland China due to the relatively recent First Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War, and World War I. In this cosmopolitan city of intrigue, there is a special military spy organization called "Sakurai Kikan" that has since been buried in history."

Okay, first: Shanghai. 1931. If you're not aware of your Japanese early 20th century history -- and believe me, you WILL BE by the time you get to episode 8 -- the first half of 1931 was leading up to some pretty intense changes in the Asian landscape... a little history, some linguistics comments, and the revelation of the WORST SEIYUU EVER in an otherwise awesome series. )

Plus, the images of Shanghai are so very very pretty.

* this is not to say that everyone believes everything they read in textbooks. well, let's hope not. I think it goes without saying that access to the internet has played a major role in my generation and younger being exposed to alternate, non-nationalistic points of view, whatever country we're from. And I suspect this external influence may also be the reason a show like Senko no Night Raid was even able to get funding, given its content and context; that is, that it's not quite as controversial now as it might've been, say, twenty years ago. Maybe even only ten years ago.

All the same, textbooks written under heavy political influence probably still should not be allowed to operate heavy machinery or make important legal decisions. I'm just sayin'.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 logic has left the building.)
Someone more fluent refresh my memory as to whether 诫 沒 踩 would be used for "danger don't stand on" -- I seem to recall that 沒 is the written form when negating a verb... but then again, maybe not. Anyone?
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
-- previous posts on this ongoing conversation with myself: here, here, here -- plus, images behind the cut (none large, but a fair number of them) -- NOTE: some images missing, lost in journal-transfer

When I'm rambling like this, the point isn't really to persuade anyone, though I know I can take that tone like I'm an authority of some sort & trying to bring you 'round to believe in my point. (Sorry.)

Maybe it doesn't matter if there's a hundred-percent bulletproof logic to anything I'm positing, maybe it doesn't matter if there are half again as many exceptions to prove every rule, so long as maybe someone (other than me, because it'd suck to be doing this all by my lonesome) stops and says, what else have I taken for granted, that's built into our cultural biases?

Language and charms; a few additional notes about Mushishi... ) About the medicine seller; exorcism in Mo No No Ke... ) Vengeful spirits and demons; ep1: zashiki-warashi... ) Forgiving the banished; ambiguities and loyalties... )

Or we could just sum it all up as: if you meet the Kusuri-uri on the road, slice him.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (tea and cake)
For those of you who aren't familiar with or haven't seen Mushishi, I thought it might be helpful to at least get a visual of the story's representation of mushi. [The corollary, for Mo No No Ke, is an earlier post.]

Among the AMVs on youtube, this one seemed one that (despite using non-series music) has a timbre closest to the feeling of the original. In some ways wistful, sometimes strong. Not only is nearly every frame showing various mushi, but note also that in many of the cases, the mushi themselves don't just resemble bugs; in some cases they look remarkably like hanzi/kanji characters. (In fact, at least two storylines deal with mushi that are created from, or take shape through, written characters.)

Time and again in manga and anime, magical spells are represented by a single character -- as though the character itself were being formed out of thin air and thrown at the other person... ) Actually, in thinking of any sort of (western-based and western-written) urban fantasy in which two characters have a show-down and proceed to throw air-created words -- as the written form -- at each other... Hrm. I would probably laugh, to be honest. It'd just seem so silly, when something like, oh, 'electrocute' -- did that word even exist before a hundred years ago?
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (x book stack)
I know there's at least one or two Irish citizens on my flist... any chance any of you could take a gander at the name Giolla and give me some idea how it'd be pronounced? Yes, I know there are differences between modern and traditional/archaic for Scotland and Ireland and between the two countries, as well; it's modern Irish I'm curious about.

I keep thinking the 'g' is a soft-jay (like the French), and something tells me there's a funky dipthong in the -io- combination... but maybe that's just some distant memory of how it's said in the Scottish dialect. (I was raised knowing how to properly say the various family mottos, but those are all in a Scottish dialect. I can't tell you how Scottish/Irish pronounciation differs, only that I've been informed that they do. Which isn't much help when I'm trying to deduce the Irish pronounciation.)

Any help is much appreciated. Ah, the mysteries of languages! ...which reminds me, I have a chapter and a half of Mandarin to finish translating... Just what my brain needs, to decipher Mandarin while I've got Irish names bouncing in my head.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (militant apostrophe)
I'm sure almost all of you have heard the phrase, "better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and prove it" (with the usual web-inflected variations). But the version I came across this afternoon in a translated novel goes like this:

Far better to ask a question and be thought a fool for a moment, than to be silent and remain a fool forever.

The context of the author's use implies that it's some kind of familiar adage, but it's an inversed version that I can't recall ever seeing before. Does anyone else recognize this version? Have any idea where it comes from, or might be able to think of a possible source? Searching the net just got me a bazillion hits on the first phrase (keep-your-mouth-shut) and none that I could see on the second.

I'd just like to be able to attribute it properly whenever I quote it, although I suppose failing any actual attribution I guess I'd just use the novelist's name instead..?


kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
锴 angry fishtrap 狗

to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

October 2016

91011 12131415


No cut tags


RSS Atom