Political gat kruiping

In "Should Africa speak Mandarin?" (ZimDaily [8/31/15]), the phrase "political gat kruiping" occurs twice.  Upon first occurrence, "gat kruiping" is defined as "brown nosing".  Since this is in the context of "introducing Mandarin in schools next year to pupils between the grades 4 and 12", I was curious about the nuances and form of "gat kruiping".

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Anaphoric that considered harmful

Scott Walker recently got into a little trouble for a preposterous proposal that he put forward on Meet the Press. The headlines tell the story: "Scott Walker: Canada-U.S. border wall worth considering", CNBC News; "Scott Walker: U.S.-Canada wall a 'legitimate' idea", CNN;  "Scott Walker says wall along Canadian border is worth reviewing", AP.

Except that Walker never made any such proposal.

What can we learn from this, besides reinforcing the obvious generalization that we need a better press corps? Here's a simple version: Politicians should avoid using words like "that" to refer to general concepts in the previous discourse.

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Mind the gap

Our previous post in the Chinglish Annals was "Mind your head" (8/28/15).  As promised, in this post we turn to the other extremity of the body.

The following sign is displayed on vessels of the Shanghai Ferry service:

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Finger drumming

I don't have much time this morning, so I'll just point you toward a fun post by Joe Pater on finger drumming.

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American politics: The pending expletive shortage

Charles Pierce, "Hillary Clinton Has Run Out of F*cks to Give", Esquire 8/28/2015:

My goodness, the special snowflakes of the elite political media are all a'quiver because Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is running for president of the United States, has decided to talk like somebody who wants to be president of the United States, which is to say, she's started to talk like someone whose big bag of fcks to give is running very, very low.

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Trump on China

Great material for a unit on prosody, from Ben Craw:

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More on various types of whatever(s)

Yesterday, we saw that in the publications indexed by Google Scholar, phrases like "two types of hypothesis|hypotheses" and "three kinds of question|questions" run about 75% plural; and a search in the Google ngram viewer supports the opinion of some people that there may be a tendency for Brits to prefer the singular and Americans the plural ("Various types of whatever(s)").

I took a few minutes this morning to compare some similar phrases as indexed by an American newspaper (the New York Times) and a British newspaper (the Guardian). In both cases, the plural preference is much greater, and there's no sign of a British preference for singularity (93.5% overall for the NYT, and 96.5% overall for the Guardian).

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Mind your head

For some reason, the expression xiǎoxīn 小心 (lit., "little heart" –> "[be] careful") often throws Chinese translators into a tailspin.

"Crimes against English " (4/25/15)
"Free souvenirs " (8/15/15)
"Sandwiched in an escalator " (2/9/15)
"Signs from Kashgar to Delhi " (10/11/13)

and the classic, standard Chinglish

"Slip carefully " (5/6/14)

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Behind "The Humble Petition of WHO and WHICH"

A few days ago, I reprinted Richard Steele's "The Humble Petition of WHO and WHICH", where he voices their complaint that "We are descended of ancient families, and kept up our dignity and honour many years, till the jack-sprat THAT supplanted us". This item appeared in The Spectator for May 30, 1711, and Joan Maling emailed me to ask what we know about the relative frequency of various relative pronouns across time.

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More BS from George F. Will

George F. Will, "The havoc that Trump wreaks — on his own party", Washington Post 8/26/2015:

Trump, who uses the first-person singular pronoun even more than the previous world-record holder (Obama), promises that constitutional arrangements need be no impediment to the leader’s savvy, “management” brilliance and iron will.

As documented ad nauseam in earlier posts, Obama's rate of first-person singular usage is low relative to other recent presidents (see "Buzzfeed linguistics, presidential pronouns, and narcissism revisited", 10/21/2014). George F. Will has a long history of false statements and insinuations on this point ("Fact-checking George F. Will", 6/7/2009; "Fact-checking George F Will, one more time", 10/6/2009; "Another lie from George F. Will", 5/7/2012).

[And anyhow, according to a recent large study by Angela Cary et al.,"Narcissism and the Use of Personal Pronouns Revisited" (2014), "Overall (r = .02, 95% CI [-.02, .04]) and within the sampled contexts, narcissism was unrelated to use of first-person singular pronouns". But never mind that…]

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Various types of whatever(s)

Joan Maling writes:

The various co-authors on a neurolinguistics paper (I am one)  have different judgments about the following:

a.    two principal kinds of hypothesis  
b.    two principal kinds of hypotheses  

The two British co-authors prefer singular hypothesis; two Americans prefer plural hypotheses.  Curious. Has anyone looked at this variation, either as an idiolectal or a dialectal difference?

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Trump insults his rattle rivals

FML writes that a headline in this morning's WSJ print edition "totally garden-pathed me":

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