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{ Category Archives } Language

The Power of the Ellipsis

Anyone who has written for or about media, politics, or in fields like history know the power of the ellipsis to shave away important context. I came across this today when assembling some quotes on Churchill’s evolving views on employing terror as a matter of military strategic policy. Among them, one in particular is yet […]

The Grapes of Canaan

“They inquired about the development of production in the light metal industry, like children asking the exact size of the grapes of Canaan.” – Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon I now have a Russian aunt. Together with her son, from a previous marriage, she has added a wonderful new multi-cultural dimension to my trips back […]

Well Written History

The majority of the research is done. The sources have been found. The books and documents have been photographed or photocopied. Some of them have even been read. I’ve got ideas. I’ve got outlines. I’ve got hundreds of pages of notes. I have years of training in the destruction and dismissal of other people’s arguments. […]

Eco and Defamiliarization in Reverse

I am a huge fan of Eco. One of the many things I love about his work is the way his historical fiction does not stop at building an “accurate” portrayal of the physical universe of whatever time period his story takes place in, but works to accomplish the far more difficult task of building […]

Quotational Quarantines

As historians, we often engage in the liberal use of quotations to sanitize and quarantine distasteful terms or phrases that lend legitimacy to a category or a way of referring to an institution or other body. The use of these quotes, which I confess to frequently using, presumably robs such terms of their nomenclatural power […]

Script for Creating a Chinese Vocab List

The Problem: Let us say you have a list of Chinese words or single Chinese characters in a file. There are a lot of them. You want some easy and fast way of getting the pinyin and English definitions of that list of words or single characters and you want this in a format that […]

Presidential English

“Let Obama teach you charming English” Above is an advertisement at some kind of English academy near Chinese Culture University in Taipei. Somehow I don’t think this concept would have worked with our sitting president as a model.

Pinyin Tone Dashboard Widget

I’m happy to announce the results of a few hours of tinkering: The Pinyin Tone Widget. This OS X dashboard widget will take a series of Chinese pinyin words with tone numbers appended at the end of each syllable and will add the tone marks where appropriate (e.g. zhong1guo2 becomes zhōngguó). Many years ago, before […]

That Very Special Day Has Arrived

Google Korea has offered something really special for this year’s offering on this very special date: Google 사투리 번역을 소개합니다 Introducing the New Google Dialect Translation Service If you read Korean, check out the hilarious webpage showing examples of translations between various Korean dialects, how to attach dialect “modes” for translation of dialects in Google […]

Code-Switching Spotting and Living Korean History

I spent the afternoon in a coffee shop mining footnotes of various secondary accounts of the violence in the autumn of 1946 (it is also known as the Autumn Harvest Uprising, the October People’s Resistance, the October Riot Incident, the October Rebellion, and the Taegu Uprising) to see if I have been missing anything. I […]