Chinese without a teacher

Feb. 6th, 2016 02:28 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

That's the title of a book by the formidable British Sinologue,  Herbert Allen Giles (1845-1935).

In the early 1890s, Herbert Giles perfected the system of romanization for Mandarin that had initially been devised by Thomas Wade around the middle of the 19th-century, which is why it is called Wade-Giles.  This was the standard romanization of Mandarin in the English-speaking world for nearly a century, until it was displaced by Hanyu Pinyin when the People's Republic of China secured its acceptance by the United Nations and the International Organization for Standardization.

Returning to the book with which this post began, the full title of which is Chinese without a teacher, being a collection of easy and useful sentences in the Mandarin dialect, with a vocabulary (Shanghai:  Kelly & Walsh, 1887), I am prompted to opine that one would be better off with a text like that by Giles than the notorious Chineasy series that I've written about before on Language Log:

"Chineasy? Not " (3/19/14)

"Chineasy2 " (8/14/14)

I would have left Chineasy well enough alone, were it not for the fact that today I received the new catalog (January-June 2016) of the distinguished British publishing house, Thames & Hudson.  Once again, Chineasy is prominently featured in the catalog, occupying the glossy, stiff stock inside front cover, which folds out into two additional pages, for a total of three consecutive pages!  For T & H to devote so much space, not just once, but in several editions of their catalog, to such a shabby pedagogical effort is simply beyond my ability to comprehend.  It would be one thing if this were merely a matter of design, since the artwork of the series is actually quite cute and pleasing.  But T & H doesn't stop there.  They actually want you to believe that using these materials will help you learn Chinese more quickly and pleasurably.  It will do no such thing.  Chineasy will only confuse and frustrate you.  Using these materials, you will not learn how to pronounce any Sinitic language, you will not learn how to form any Sinitic sentences, and you will not even learn how to write Chinese characters and grasp their meanings in linguistic context.  As I wrote in the first post on this subject, Chineasy should actually be called Chinhard.

All right, enough of Chineasy / Chinhard; I hope that I never have to think about it again.  (N.B.:  I am particularly sensitive and embarrassed about T & H lavishing so much attention on Chineasy / Chinhard because I have been involved with several books published by them.)

What about Giles' Chinese without a teacher?  I think that is much superior to Chineasy / Chinhard, even after a hundred and thirty years.  Take a look for yourself in this beautiful facsimile (you can expand the pages and turn them one by one).

It is also available here in another electronic format.

The Wikisource version starts here (note color coded status at page top).  You can go forward and backward through the book by clicking on the arrows at the top left of the page.

It's astonishing how many greedheads are trying to sell copies of books that are freely available in a variety of electronic formats.

Let's look at a few of the topics that are covered in Chinese without a teacher.  You can go left and right to other pages by clicking on the subjects in the green bar at the top of the page.  Here's the section on "The Sportsman".

Some of the entries are funny:

A good pony is very dear now.

A fox! a fox!  Let got the dogs!  (either "let out" or "let go"?)

Which brings us back to Mr. Burns.

There's also a section on "Buying Curios", which still rings true today, e.g., “I don't think it is genuine”.

Aside from Chinese without a teacher, Giles was also the author of a A Chinese Biographical Dictionary (London:  Quaritch; Shanghai:  Kelly & Walsh, 1898).  The edition I own consists of two thread-bound volumes with pliable blue cloth covers inside a hard, folding case with tiny ivory clasps that was published by Literature House (Taipei) in 1962.  In 1,022 pages, it includes 2,579 biographies of Chinese individuals throughout the ages.  Although Giles' dictionary of Chinese biographies is not up to modern Sinological standards, it is an amazing achievement for one man, and I still turn to it from time to time.  A Chinese Biographical Dictionary is surprisingly comprehensive and gives you a quick read on a wide variety of personages from the last three millennia.

Giles' biographical dictionary seems to be available on Kindle for only $2.99.

Giles was also the author of the first large scale, widely circulated Chinese-English dictionary.  To put his dictionary in its proper historical context, I here quote from the Modern Chinese lexicography section of the Chinese dictionary article in Wikpedia:

Two Bible translators edited early Chinese dictionaries. The Scottish missionary Robert Morrison wrote Chinese–English and English–Chinese lexicons (1815–1823). The British missionary Walter Henry Medhurst wrote Hokkien (Min Nan) dialect (1832) and Chinese-English (1842) dictionaries. Both were flawed in their representation of pronunciations, such as aspirated stops. The American philologist and diplomat Samuel Wells Williams applied the method of dialect comparison in his dictionary (1874), and refined distinctions in articulation.

The British consular officer and linguist Herbert Giles criticized Williams as "the lexicographer not for the future but of the past" (Wilkinson 2013: 85), and took nearly twenty years to compile his own lexicon (1892, 1912), one that Norman (1988:173) calls "the first truly adequate Chinese–English dictionary". It contained 13,848 characters and numerous compound expressions, with pronunciation based upon Beijing Mandarin, which it compared with nine southern dialects such as Hakka, Cantonese, and Min. It has been called "still interesting as a repository of late Qing documentary Chinese, although there is little or no indication of the citations, mainly from the Kangxi zidian." (Wilkinson 2013: 85.) Giles modified the Chinese romanization system of Thomas Francis Wade to create the Wade-Giles system, which was standard in English speaking countries until 1979 when pinyin was adopted. The Giles dictionary was replaced by the 1931 dictionary of the Australian missionary Robert Henry Mathews. His Chinese–English Dictionary, which was popular for decades, was based on Giles and partially updated by Y.R. Chao in 1943 and reprinted in 1960. (Wilkinson, 2013: 85)

It boggles the mind to think that Giles compiled both the biographical dictionary and the Chinese-English dictionary by himself.  Yet here is a list that includes his many other books that are available online.

I'm sorry to say that Giles' translation of the Zhuang Zi is not very good, since he misses the spirit (and often the sense as well) of this inimitable text altogether.

Herbert Giles' fourth son, Lionel Giles, was also a Sinologist, whom I admire mainly for his pioneering work in Dunhuang Studies (see the eighth paragraph of "Lionel Giles: Sinology, Old and New" by John Minford).

There were many giants in early British Sinology.  A predecessor of Herbert Giles still highly regarded to this day was the Victorian Scottish missionary, James Legge (1815-1897), who translated (very well) all of the Chinese classics, and much else besides.  And then there were the French, among whom my personal god is Paul Pelliot (1878-1945).

All we can do is look back at them and admire with wonderment and gratitude.  In our own day, though, we have Endymion Wilkinson (b. 1941), cited several times above, who has single-handedly chronicled world Sinology in his monumental Chinese History: A New Manual, in 4 successive editions, no less.

No Chinese teacher?  There are plenty of great ones.  All you have to do is look around for them a bit, and you will have an abundance of good material to keep you occupied for a lifetime.

[Thanks to Michael Carr]

Recipe of the day

Feb. 7th, 2016 12:50 am
[personal profile] vass
I'm fairly determined to finish running the rest of my non-fiction books through LibraryThing tonight (marking the ones already there as keep or probation, removing the ones I'm weeding out, entering the ones I hadn't already entered.) I started doing this back in December, then life hit and they stayed on my bedroom floor, stacked up against the foot of my bed. Well, tonight I'm doing this. And I'm nearly finished.

There were two books I omitted from LibraryThing because I didn't know how to classify them. One's my grandmother's own handwritten recipe notebook. The other is... well, it seems to be a printed recipe book, rebound by my grandmother, rather than (as I originally thought) just a collection of magazine cuttings that she bound together for easy reference. At least, there are page numbers (starting at page 19) and a preface (with about an inch torn off on the righthand side, so that I know that most of the author's first name is Doroth, and that she has a "Diploma of" and that this is the 9th edition of whatever it is.

There are ads interleaved with the recipes, e.g. USE "KREAM BRAND" CORNFLOUR if Recipe Calls for Cornflour. USE GILSEAL HAT DYES --- SAVE £ £ £ AT COST OF SHILLINGS.

Here is one of the recipes, presented as a curiosity rather than anything I'm recommending anyone try making:


Cheese straw pastry, baked in small boat-shaped tins; 2 ozs. spaghetti, 1 gill tomato sauce (page 134), Parmesan cheese.

Method --
1. Prepare the pastry cases.
2. Boil the spaghetti in salted water for 20 minutes. Strain and saute with butter and pepper.
3. Make the tomato sauce and strain it over the spaghetti.
4. Fill the cases with the spaghetti and sprinkle with the cheese. Garnish with sprigs of parsley.
Note. --The cases for all savories may be prepared and baked some days before required, and kept in an airtight tin. They should be warmed through on the day they are to be filled.
Note. --Tomato puree may be substituted for tomato sauce. It is much quicker to prepare.

Nan (I can't remember her birth or death dates, but born somewhere around WW1 and in the early 2000s) lived in a world in which it was necessary to explain how to boil spaghetti, but not how to make cheese straw pastry baked in small boat-shaped tins.

And in which a "gill" is a unit of measurement. (According to Wikipedia, it's 142mL, and pronounced "jill", and Stephen Fry got it wrong on QI. I love living in the future and being able to look these things up.)

Daily Happiness

Feb. 6th, 2016 12:33 am
[personal profile] torachan
1. The two-year contract I had for internet service apparently ran out last month, so they hiked up the monthly fee by about $20. Carla called Verizon today to see if there was any cheaper plan, since the one I had includes basic TV and we don't watch actual live-as-it's-airing TV at all (I only took that plan because it was cheaper for the bundle than just internet on its own). It turns out they don't have anything cheaper, but for only about $10 more than the newly-jacked-up price, we can get 4x faster internet, so...we're switching to that. 100/100!

2. I got a lot done at work today, even though I kept getting interrupted.

3. We got Carl's Jr for dinner. I really like their steakhouse burger with crispy fried onions and blue cheese and bacon. It's so good!

4. It got pretty hot today, which I'm not thrilled about, but the heat peaked while I was at work in the air-conditioning, so that was good! It's back to being pretty chilly now.

More on Chinese telegraph codes

Feb. 5th, 2016 08:11 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

John McVey was rooting around in Language Log for recent posts about telegraphic codes, and stumbled upon this:

"Chinese Telegraph Code (CTC)" (5/24/15)

What we learned there is that the CTC consists of 10,000 numbers arbitrarily assigned to the same amount of characters, one number per character.

John calls our attention to a different kind of telegraphic code (in Chinese), along the lines of conventional commercial codes of the time (and including Japanese commercial codes).  On his website, he provides a brief description (and a couple of scans) of The China Republican Telegraphic Code (Qīnmín diànbào huìbiān 親民電報彙編 [Shanghai, 1915]):

…with phrases arranged under topical headings, those headings themselves arranged arbitrarily. This code does not, that is to say, follow the convention of one (Chinese) character per number.

Here are a couple of additional posts about telegraphic language.

"Do not leave if you can help" (8/3/09)

"Telegraphic language" (12/31/11)

[personal profile] cimorene
Frtnj I was reading an article about a recall of a baby gate known to fall down when repeatedly tugged on by babies. Top comment was some mouthbreather like, “I think this ‘culture of safety’ has gone too far. By this logic they should also recall large bookcases.”

I know you’re not meant to read the comments, but this is practically unbelievable. They’re now applying the concept of pc police to babyproofing?!

The difference, Pekka, is that those bookcases are not specifically FOR BABIES, and unlike the baby gate in question, they all come with a safety warning telling you to anchor them to the wall with screws.

Somebody give this guy a very heavy bookcase before he votes Perussuomalaiset again.

#never read the comments

The Sacred Pig

Feb. 5th, 2016 04:42 pm
[syndicated profile] terriwindling_feed

Posted by Terri Windling

Greek terracotta pig votive circa 5th century BCE

We've been looking at various forms of art inspired by classical myth this week, including the fateful journeys of Odysseus and Persephone. Now let's turn to a subject that ties those two stories together: the humble pig.

Pigs in their various forms, from wild boar to domesticated swine, are extremely ambivalent figures in myth, sacred in some contexts, demonic in others, or (in the paradoxical manner so common to magical tales) both revered and shunned at the same time. The pig as a sacred animal seems to belong to the early goddess religions, about which our knowledge is far from complete -- but carvings and other artifacts found all across what is now western Europe indicate that the pig was an aspect of the Great Goddess, associated with fertility, the moon, and the season cycles of life and death.



As Alison Hawthorne Deming explains in her excellent book Zoologies:

"The process of pig domestication began in the Tigris Basin thirteen thousand years ago; in Cyprus and China, eleven thousand years ago. Sculptures of pigs have been unearthed in Greece, Russian, Yugoslavia, and Macedonia. Marija Gimbutas, in her keystone work The Godddess and Gods of Old Europe, writes that 'the fast-growing body of the pig will have been compared to corn growing and ripening, so that its soft fats apparently came to symbolize the earth itself, causing the pig to become a sacred animal probably no later than 6000 BC.'  The goddess of vegetation sometimes wears a pig mask. Sometimes the pig figurine, fleshy and round, is scored with traces of grain pressed into the clay or is graced with earrings. The prehistoric goddess of vegetation dates back to Neolithic times and is predicessor to Demeter, the Greek goddess of fertility and harvest, whose temple at Eleusis was built in the second century BCE.


"The Eleusinian Mysteries," Deming continues, "became the principal religious ritual of ancient Greece, begun circa 1600 BCE. Originally a secret cult devoted to Demeter, the rites honored the annual cycle of death and rebirth of grain in the fields. The resurrection of seeds buried in the ground inspired the faith that similar resurrection might A figure of Demeter with a pig, circa 400 BCE, found near Athensawait the human body laid to rest in the earth. The religious rituals of the Eleusinian Mysteries lasted two thousand years, became the official state religion, and spread to Rome. They laid the groundwork for Christianity's belief in resurrection and were ultimately overthrown by the Roman emperor in the fourth century CE.

"The canonical source of Demeter's story, the 'Homeric Hymn to Demeter,' dates from about a thousand years into the practice of these rituals. It is called Homeric because it employs the same meter as The Iliad and The Odyssey -- dactylic hexameter, the rhythm of 'Picture yourself in a boat on the river / With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.'

"The foundation of the Mysteries is Demeter's power over the fertility of the land. When her daughter Persephone is stolen by Hades to be his lover in the underworld, the mother's grief is so acute that she refuses to let the fields produce grain. People are in danger of starving, but Demeter resists, saying there will be no crops until she sees her daughter return. When Persephone does come back, after many trials among mortals and much dealing making among the gods, Demeter's sudden transformation of bare ground into a 'vast sheet of ruddy grain' marks the miracle of fruition returning after a fallow time and sparks the fertility cult of the mysteries. This metamorphosis occurs in mythic time, so it is safe to say that it continues in the present moment for the mind embracing its truth.

Marble piglet votive

"Suckling pigs played a key role in the festival of Thesmophoria, a three-day rite that took place in October, the time for autumn sowing of barley and winter wheat. As I write this, the word sow catches my eye, as both noun for the female pig and verb for planting seeds. The Oxford English Dictionary tells me that the two words come from different Old English roots, but nonetheless history delivers the homograph to modernity still carrying freight from the ancients. Pig = grain. And the corollary, embedded in prehistoric art: pig = Earth = survival."


In stories from later periods of classical myth, the pig appears in a number of hero tales: not as a sacred animal now but as a monster to be slain. Thesues, for example, kills the Crommyonian Sow who is ravaging the countryside near Crommyon. This was no ordinary pig, but the daughter of Echidna (a snake-woman) and Typhone (the monstrous son of Gaia), named after the woman who raised her. The Crommoyonian Sow was, in turn, the mother of the Calydonian Boar sent by Artemis to punish the region of Calydon, where the king had neglected the rites of the gods. The creature is killed in the famous Hunt of the Calydonian Boar by the king's son Meleager, aided (for complicated reasons) by the goddess Atlanta.

The Calydonian Hunt shown on a Roman frieze at the Amsmolean Museum in Oxford

Pigs appear all throughout The Odyssey, though largely in the background of the story: Odysseus is the king of Ithaca, an island reknown for its farmland and herds of fat swine. He is the son of Laërtes, an Argonaut who participated in the Hunt of the Calydonian Boar. During his long journey home from the Trojan War, Odysseus encounters Circe the sorceress, who turns his men into swine (and other animals)...and then falls in love with Odysseus and releases the crew from enchantment. When our hero reaches Ithaca at last, he hides himself in his swineherd's house while taking measure of all that's gone on in his absence, and it's there, among dogs and pigs, that he is reunited with his son Telemachus. He finally makes his way to his own house, disguised, where his elderly nurse recognizes him: while washing his feet, she spies an old scar he received from a boar hunt many years before.

Aneas, another hero of the Trojan War, is also associated with pigs. In Book VIII of Virgil's Aeneid, the river god Tiberinus appears to Aeneas in a dream to tell him his son is destined to found the great city of Alba. He will know place when he sees this omen: a spotless white sow with thirty white piglets. This comes to pass and the city, which will be Rome, is duly founded.

Circe by Alan Lee

Aneas and his son with the White Sow of Alba

The poor pig does not fare well in the myths the Middle and Near East, including those of the Abrahamic religions, where the animal is viewed as an unclean and defiled creature in Jewish, Muslim, and Christian stories alike. It is tempting to attribute the pig’s fall from grace to its association with women's mysteries -- but while this may have played a role, there are also practical reasons why the animal was shunned. As Mark Essig writes in his fascinating book Lesser Beasts:

Greek terracotta askos in the form of a boar, circa 4th c. BCE"By the start of the Iron Age, about 1200 bc, elites in the Near East had begun to see pigs as polluting, a view that arose in part from the habits of urban pigs. Though cities had grown large, sanitation systems had not kept pace. Residents threw garbage into the streets or piled it in heaps outside their doors....Dogs and pigs had first domesticated themselves by scavenging human waste, but now that role made them pariahs. Filthy animals offended the gods and therefore were excluded from holy places. The people of the Near East practiced many different religions, but all agreed that the key sacrificial animals were sheep, goats, and cattle and that pigs were unclean. In Mesopotamia and Egypt, pigs never appear in religious art. The Harris Papyrus, which describes religious offerings made by King Ramses III, includes a detailed list of every desirable item to be found in Egypt and the lands it had conquered, including plants, fruits, spices, minerals, and meat. Pork does not appear on the list. 'The pig is not fit for a temple,' a Babylonian text reads, because it is 'an offense to all the gods.' A Hittite text declares, 'Neither pig nor dog is ever to cross the threshold' of a temple. If anyone served the gods from a dish contaminated by pigs or dogs, 'to that one will the gods give excrement and urine to eat and drink.' "

(You can read an engrossing except from Lessig's book here.)

From the tomb of Ramses II

The pig fared better among the Norse and the Celts, for whom -- as with the Demeter cults -- it was valued not only as a source of food but also as a divine animal, associated with the cycle of birth and death, the moon, the underworld, and intuitive wisdom.

In Norse myth, both Freyr (god of virility and prosperity) and his sister Freyja (goddess of love, sex, and fertility) held the wild boar under special protection, and are sometimes depicted together in a chariot drawn by a heavenly boar with golden bristles. In Hyndluljóð, an Old Norse poem that forms part of the Poetic Eddas, Freyja has a companion boar named Hildisvíni, whose name means "Battle Swine."

Bronze boar statue from the Celtic sanctuary at Neuvy-en-Sullias (1st c. BCE)

In Celtic Ireland, not only were wild boars and sows held in high esteem, but so were domestic pigs; and the swineherds who tended them were credited with magical powers. Their herds of swine would have been semi-wild, foraging for food in the forests of kings; the herders were thus semi-wild themselves and imbued with the woodland's magic. The Táin Bó Cúailnge and other ancient texts tell stories of swineherds who battle each other in contests of magic, or who utter prophesies at key moments in the lives of heroes and kings.

From the Mabinogion illustrated by Alan Lee

In Welsh legend, the enchantress Ceridwen (possessor of the Cauldron of Inspiration which turns Gwion Bach into Taliesin) is referred to as The White Sow; and in some Welsh folklore traditions she had the power to assume that shape. The following passage from The Mabinogion describes the introduction of pigs to that land:

"Lord," said Gwydion [to Math son of Mathonwy],I have heard tell there have come to the South such creatures as never came to this Island." "What is there name?" said he. "Hobeu, lord." "What kind of animals are those?" "Small animals, their flesh better than the flesh of oxen. But they are small and they change names: moch are they called nowadays." "To whom do they belong?" "To Pryderi son of Pwyll, to whom they were sent from Annwn [the Underworld], by Arawn king of Annwn."

Whereupon Gwydion concocts a plan to steal these animals for his own land, setting off all manner of troubles....

Warwick Goble

In fairy tales, lowly pig keepers usually turn out to be princes or princesses in disguise. Likewise, the "Pig-Sty Prince" of Arthurian lore, a child found abandoned among the swine, turns out to be cousin to Arthur himself and grows up to win the hand of a princess.

Harry G. Theatre

Today, science has confirmed that pigs are highly social and intelligent animals....which only makes their abuse by the modern system of factory farming all the more horrific. Perhaps if we recognized them (and all creatures) as sacred beings this could finally change.

The pig photographs in this post are from my friend Elizabeth-Jane Baldry (pictured below), a harpist, composer, and filmmaker here in Chagford who kept pigs for a time to forage in her beautiful woodland, Pigwidden Wood. The sow is Blossom, and the piglets are ones she gave birth to back in 2010. They have since been re-homed...but not eaten, I assure you!

Ej & friend


The art above (top to bottom): a Greek terracotta pig votive, circa 5th c. BCE; a figure of Demeter with pig found near Athens, circa 5th c. BCE; a marble pig votive; The Calydonian Hunt shown on a Roman frieze at the Amsmolean Museum, Oxford; Circe and her pigs in The Wanderings of Odysseus, illustrated by Alan Lee; a marble relief showing Aneas and his son with the White Sow of Alba; a Greek terracotta boar askos, circa 4th c. BCE; imagery from the Egyptian tomb of Ramses II depicting how Horus would judge souls in the afterlife, reincarnating the bad ones as pigs; a bronze boar statue from the Celtic sanctuary at Neuvy-en-Sullias, circa 1st c. BCE; "Gwydion steals the pigs of Pryderi" from The Mabinogion, illustrated by Alan Lee; The Pig Keeper by Warwick Goble (1862-1943); and The Pig-Style Prince by Harry G. Theaker (published in 1925).

The quotations above come from Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit by Alison Hawthorne Deming (Milkweed Editions, 2014), and Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig by Mark Essig (Basic Books, 2015). The poem in the picture captions, "Circe's Power" by Louise Gluck, is from The New Yorker (April 10, 1995), with thanks to Christine Norstrand for introducing me to it. The passage from The Mabinogion comes from the Gwyn Jones & Thomas Jones translation (Dragon's Dream edition, 1982). All rights to the quoted text is reserved by the authors.

Friday Favs 2/5/16

Feb. 5th, 2016 02:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks2_feed

Posted by Jen

Some of my favorite new submissions this week:


Anna writes, "I spelled it out three times for them over the phone."

See, there's your problem right there, Anna: that you had to spell it in the first place.


This bakery display has really captured the zeitgeist of winter:


That inexplicable feeling when your baker replaces almost all of the Rs on your cake with Cs:

I am so confused cight now, you guys. Foc ceal.


Here's this week's moment of someone-was-paid-to-do-this-like-on-purpose-no-really:

A demented smiley face...


WITH... sperm on its head!

It's a great day for America, e'erbody.


And last but not least, a tail of beauty:


...and a tail of WHOA:

So sorry, Sarah H. I hope you didn't shell out a lot of clams to make this to scale. :D
(Sea what I did there?)


Thanks to Anna H., Kathryn D., Martin G., Kristi W., Gisele M., & Sarah H. for the "mermaid-to-order" wreckage.


Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

Daily Happiness

Feb. 5th, 2016 12:30 am
[personal profile] torachan
1. I got so much translating done today! Like really a lot. I didn't get some of every series I'm working on done, but I did seven different series and instead of my usual five-page chunks, on most of them I did ten or even fifteen pages, so it added up to a lot!

2. I also got the house vacuumed, which I haven't been able to do on my last couple days off, so it really needed it. I hope we can get a quieter vacuum soon because the sound really bothers both Carla and the cats, so I hate doing it, but sweeping just isn't enough to get up all the cat hair and dustbunnies.

3. I totally forgot tomorrow is payday! I just went to check and see if my check had been deposited, since it's after midnight, and not only is my paycheck there, but so is the federal tax refund!

4. My cats are super cute. Look at that Molly loaf.

[syndicated profile] deardesigner_feed

Posted by deardesigner


It’s true. I just can’t get enough of jungle prints, leaf motifs and anything patterned, and green. I’ve been banging on about this trend for ages now and I’ll be banging on about it a lot more in the future. It’s my favourite of all the current trends, and luckily the high street are feeding my addiction nicely.

This time it’s the House of Fraser.


House of Fraser, Amazon Duvet Set, £50

My wallet took such a bashing over Christmas and with the cottage renovations that I haven’t been able to indulge this new passion yet. Well, apart from a couple of experiments with faux plants, with differing results that had nothing to do with price, but I’ll cover that another time. So I’ve been collecting and collating and sharing all of my sources here (because I’m nice like that) and one day very soon I’ll be hot-footing it down the shops to create my own little Amazon jungle. Inside and out.


House of Fraser Parakeet, £30. Black and White Photo Frame, £22. Zig Zag Photo Frame, £18. Angular Gold Candle Holders, £22.

I might not go so far as a mosquito net above the bed, but there are so many verdant green cushions around that I’m really spoilt for choice. And there is definitely some green paint going on the walls. The time has come for all of my little ethnic souvenirs to really shine and come into their own.


House of Fraser Dinnerware, from £6. 

And when the sun starts to shine again, I’ll be out there in the garden with my jungle napkins and potted bamboo.

Weekly Reading

Feb. 4th, 2016 05:53 pm
[personal profile] torachan
What are you currently reading?
Same stuff as last time. Haven't gotten much further on Console Wars, but still haven't given up on it, either.

I'm about a bit more than a third of the way through Kingdom Coming, though, and continue to enjoy that. It was published about ten years ago, though, so a lot of it just makes me want to read a more current take. For example, I just finished a chapter on the Christian attack on gay rights, and obviously in that regard a lot has changed in ten years!

I'm on volume five of Shibito no Koe wo Kiku ga Yoi, and as I mentioned the other day, have already started translating it, despite having a bazillion other ongoing projects. But it's an easy job, so it will be quick going and not take up a ton of extra time. And considering that scanlations is my main hobby these days, one more can't hurt. :)

Anyway, it continues to be a fun read and I'm really enjoying it a lot. Considering the bulk of the chapters are stand-alone events, I'm impressed at the number of scenarios the author has managed to come up with. Some are pretty standard, but others are more unique, such as one where a guy whose house has a "path of the dead" in it, so there's ghosts walking through the house all the time on their way to the afterlife. The twist comes when he gets sucked into the path himself and ends up escaping it only to have the path now run through his own body.

What did you recently finish reading?
I have finished several volumes of Shibito, but that's it.

What do you think you'll read next?
I have only one more volume of that, so I'll have to move on to a new manga soon, but not sure what... (There are seven volumes out, but I haven't been able to get my hands on volume seven yet as it's quite new.)
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

Time for Chinese New Year celebrations.  This is the year of the Monkey.  In this article from the online China Times, the customary couplet (it's more of a singlet in this case) on red paper features an interlingual pun: the characters 金猴 ("golden monkey"), when read in Mandarin, are pronounced jīn hóu, which is a near homophone for the Taiwanese chin-hó 真好 ("truly good", i.e., "excellent").  Thus roughly the "peaceful golden monkey" becomes "peace is wonderful".

Reading the whole thing — 平安金猴 — in Taiwanese would give you pêng-an kim kâu, leading to loss of the wordplay. So, in order to understand the pun, the reader has to speak both Mandarin and Taiwanese.

T. pêng-an kim kâu / M. p íng'ān jīn hóu 平安金猴 ("peaceful golden monkey")


T. pêng-an chin-hó / M. p íng'ān zhēn hǎo 平安真好 ("peace is wonderful")

Interlingual punning is second nature to Taiwanese, as also evidenced by the previous post on "More sound-loan Taiwanese" (2/3/16).

[Thanks to Michael Cannings]

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Banner by Erin of an OTW logo beamed by a spotlight over the words Open Doors

Open Doors is pleased to announce the completion of five archive import projects! Not only will the original contents be preserved on AO3, but all of the archives can continue to grow.


No Body Is Better At Wedding Cakes

Feb. 4th, 2016 02:00 pm
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Posted by Jen

Last Sunday we saw how bakers used fashionable dresses to inspire some stunning cakes. So TODAY...

We're not going to do that.


See, cakes that look like actual dresses-on-bodies keep popping up, and they tend to be rather creepy.

How creepy?

Well, about as creepy as you'd expect edible neck-and-arm stumps to be:

Not to mention this one looks like its floating up through the table. Spooky.


It's not so bad when the stumps look like a fabric dress form, but for some reason bakers keep making the under bits look like skin. And, worse, wrinkly skin:


Photo removed. Please enjoy this lovely picture of Epcot.



Now, you might think it'd be better to just go ahead and sculpt the whole bride:

It's not.


And don't go sticking a blow-up doll on your wedding cake, either:

This is also creepy.


Here's one that avoided the skin/stump issue entirely - which I applaud - but then fell down in the whole looking-like-a-human-body arena:

Definitely more centaur-shaped. The boobage section in particular is... worrisome.


Still, all of that pales in comparison to this bizarre choice of a wedding cake:

I'm actually weirdly fascinated. I... I can't look away. It's like staring into the sun. A headless, armless, legless sun. That you kind of want to hug.

Or is that just me?


Thanks to Elicia H., Caren, Angela B., Sondra D., Brenda T., Megan B., & Samantha B. for proving no body is better at weddings.


Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

Vegetable flatbreads + video

Feb. 4th, 2016 02:00 pm
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Posted by Green Kitchen Stories


These colourful flatbreads are quick to make, have only 3 ingredients (not counting salt or pepper) with the main one being a vegetable (which is why they have such gorgeous colors). Sounds good?

We created this recipe for our youtube channel so make sure to watch the video to see what a simple, savoury snack this is. Our plan was to make a really instructional video but Elsa came crashing our shoot with all her crazy monkey faces and dances and I just couldn’t leave those parts out when editing. Hopefully there is still some small bits cooking in there. Press play!

We have so much fun shooting these videos and will really try making them more frequently. We are thinking about adding some Q&A videos as well, so subscribe to our youtube channel for the latest updates and to ask us questions.


Our flatbreads are made entirely of mixed vegetables, ground almonds and eggs. The recipe is based on the quite popular cauliflower pizza crust recipe from our first cookbook The Green Kitchen. We found these to be a fun variation and quite useful to have at home. We have broccoli in the green ones, and mix cauliflower with carrots or beetroot for the orange and purple/red flatbreads. You can also add spinach or kale to the broccoli or cauliflower mix. A handy and a bit unusual way to eat your veggies. The almond flour add a sweet roundness to the flavour but if you are allergic to nuts you could try using chickpea flour and a splash of olive oil instead.

With a stack of these in the fridge, you’ve got a number of quick meal options. Most commonly, we eat them as sandwiches filled with mashed avocado, vegetables, hummus or cheese (you can of course add whatever you prefer). Or we make super quick mini pizzas by spreading a single layer pesto or tomato puree on each, then add topping of choice and bake for 7-8 minutes on high heat. You can also make larger pieces and roll them into thick wraps. Have fun!

Broccoli Flatbread
Makes about 12 slices

1 large head of broccoli
100 g / 1 cup almond flour / ground almonds
4 eggs
1 tsp dried herbs of choice (oregano, thyme, lemon pepper), optional
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F and line a baking tray with baking paper. Coarsely chop the broccoli (use the brighter part of the stem too), place in food processor and blend until you have got a fine rice-like texture. Measure 4 cups / 1 liter of the vegetable ‘rice’ and place in a mixing bowl. Add ground almonds, salt and pepper (plus herbs, if using) and mix with your hands. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs. Whisk the eggs with a fork. Use your hands to pull the dry ingredients towards the middle until everything is combined and you can shape it into a ball. It should be more loose and wet than a traditional bread dough. Transfer to the baking paper and form into a rectangular base by flattening the dough with your hands. Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 23-25 minutes or until slightly golden and firm. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Turn it upside-down and carefully remove the baking paper. Cut into bread-sized slices and store in the fridge.

Beet flatbread

1 small head of cauliflower, including the stem
2 medium beetroots, peeled
100 g / 1 cup almond flour / ground almonds
4 eggs
1/2 tsp sea salt and black pepper

Use the same instruction and measurements as above. The dough is slightly more moist than when using broccoli but dries up when baked.

Carrot flatbread

1 small head of cauliflower
1 large carrot, peeled
100 g / 1 cup almond flour / ground almonds
4 eggs
1/2 tsp sea salt and black pepper

Use the same instruction and measurements as above. The dough is slightly more moist than when using broccoli but dries up when baked.

Note for vegans: We have tried a vegan version of this recipe but weren’t entirely satisfied with it. We used 3 chia ‘eggs’ (3 tbsp chia + 9 tbsp water, set a side for 15 minutes) instead of eggs, but it didn’t hold together well enough once baked. Next time we will try replacing the almond flour with a more starchy flour (rice flour or chickpea flour) or replacing chia seeds with psyllium seeds for the bread to hold together better.

Tabula Rasa: Gorki

Feb. 4th, 2016 11:04 am
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Daily Happiness

Feb. 3rd, 2016 11:30 pm
[personal profile] torachan
1. Posted my first manga of February! I'm glad I seem to have gotten on a schedule where I can post at least one or two things earlier in the month rather than everything all in a glut at the end. It's better to space things out a bit!

2. It was so nice to be able to sleep in and not have to wake up at six!

3. I have tomorrow off! I do have a couple work things I need to do from home tomorrow, but other than that, just concentrating on translating stuff. :)

4. We watched this week's Brooklyn Nine-Nine last night just me and Carla, and again tonight when Alexander was over, and while it's definitely an episode filled with embarrassment squick moments, it's a really good one. I especially liked the subplot with Holt and Gina.
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Posted by Terri Windling

Persephone by Virginia Lee

Persephone by Virginia Lee 2


Persephone by Virginia LeeYou've got it all wrong, Mother,
flaunting your grief,
stripping the sycamore
down to a ghost tree.
We revel in skeletons,
find the clean lines
sensuous and economical.
The dead sing us songs
I'm learning to answer.

I'm learning new words
like pomegranate,
a word you can suck on:
pom -- thick and round, a bittersweet
bulge, e -- the one you slide over
to get to gran -- a slow swelling,
cancer or the rose, it doesn't matter,
then granate -- a stone stopping
you hard and cold.
Pomegranate -- a word you spit out,
the snick of seeds
against your teeth.

Persephone by Virginia Lee 3


In Light of the Hare's Moon (sculpture) by Virginia LeeI remember planting, the small furrows.
And the coat of rabbit pelts
you wore. When I was small,
I'd sit beside you and blow into the fur.

I remember dusk
stitching the tulips shut
and throngs of azaleas,
their white throats
open to the moon.

I remember the peach
spattered with red,
furred yellow sun,
and all that juice
let loose on my tongue,
and the pit, its secret
bloody mouth at the center.


I want to learn the language of return
Re is a reel pulling me back,
the hook in the mouth,
the bud on the rose. Turn
is the worm biting,
smooth swell of the belly,
the detour that brings us home.

Persephone by Virginia Lee 4

Into the Path's Embrace (sculpture) by Virginia LeeI want the ice to melt,
the slow dripping that feels like loss
and is a loosening, a letting go.
The sluggish floes will crack and heave,
the river stretch like a snake in the sun.
Then the floods of summer, the dense
green banks, the sun pumping
juice through the peach, the earth
furred with a pelt of grain.

That dance you taught us --
I'll learn its language in my body:
lift and flail to beat the grain
from the husk, remembering to save
some to return to you, remembering
that I will return here, a seed.

                                                    - Nan Fry

Persephone by Virginia Lee 5

Persephone by Virginia Lee

For a closer look at the Persephone myth, I recommend Kathi Carlson's essay "Death and Return in the Myth of Demeter and Persephone." A related post of mine is "Little Deaths," written a year ago, looking at seasonal myths of death and re-birth including Persephone's story.

The drawings above are from Persephone: A Journey from Winter to Spring by Sally Pomme Clayton, beautifully illustrated by my friend and neighbor Virginia Lee. The hare and dryad sculptures are also Virginia's, titled "In the Light of the Hare Moon" and "Into the Path's Embrace."  Below, another gorgeous depiction of nature's changes from Virginia's "Inner Seasons" series.

Imbolc has passed now. The Great Wheel is turning, as the dark days of winter slowly draw to their end....

Inner Seasons by Virginia LeeThe poem above is from Relearning the Dark by Nan Fry (Washington Writers' Publishing House, 1991). The poem in the picture captions, by Wendy McVicker, is from The Journal of Mythic Arts (2005). All rights to the poetry and art in this post are reserved by Nan Fry, Wendy McVicker, and Virginia Lee.

Scanlations: All Out!! ch. 4

Feb. 3rd, 2016 07:35 pm
[personal profile] torachan

Title: All Out!!
Author: Amase Shiori
Publisher: Morning Comics
Genre: Seinen
Status in Japan: 7 volumes, ongoing
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations + Anima Regia
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates

Summary: Gion Kenji is short and perpetually pissed off about it. Iwashimizu Sumiaki is tall but timid. Although it's bullies that bring this unlikely pair together on the first day of high school, it's the rugby club that will make them friends.

Chapter Summary: Gion figures out the secret to a good tackle, but will the knowledge alone be enough to bring down Sekizan?

Chapter 4: Last

Escalator smarts

Feb. 4th, 2016 02:51 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

From my files (sorry that the photograph is not in perfect focus):

qǐng wù nìxiàng xíngzǒu 请勿逆向行走
("please don't walk in the opposite direction")

The Chinese on the sign is clear, but neither the English nor the illustration makes much sense.  The English, though ungrammatical and unidiomatic, is slightly more intelligible than the prohibition sign, which seems to be telling people that it's not all right to go in the direction of the escalator.

See also:

"Sandwiched in an escalator" (LL, 2/9/15)

"Mind your head" (LL, 8/28/15) (see esp. the 1st, 2nd, and 4th comments)

In China, where there are lots of accidents involving escalators, many of them fatal, such warnings are essential.

Last year was a particularly tragic one for escalators in China.

"After Three Grim Accidents in a Week, Is It Even Safe to Ride on a Chinese Escalator?" (Time, 8/3/15)

More sound-loan Taiwanese

Feb. 4th, 2016 02:47 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

Michael Cannings sent in this photograph:


The product for sale at 29 yuan per catty is not gānmā 乾媽 ("godmother" in Mandarin) but rather kam-á 柑仔 ("tangerine" in Taiwanese).  They have borrowed the Mandarin near-homophone gānmā 乾媽 ("godmother") to write the Taiwanese kam-á 柑仔 ("tangerine").

Heaven forbid that one should say or think gànmā 幹媽 ("'do' [your] mother") when reading gānmā 乾媽 ("godmother" < "dry + mother") — they both would be written as 干妈 in simplified characters.

Cf. these recent posts:

"Madame Curry" (2/1/16)

"Strong language" (1/29/16)

And none of this has anything to do with "gànma 幹嘛 / 干嘛?" ("why?") or gànmá 幹嗎 / 干吗 ("why on earth? whatever for? what's going on? what's wrong? what are you doing? what's up? what to do?").  N.B.:  some speakers insist on keeping these two interrogatives separate, but others collapse them into one.

The Sartorialist x Roy Roger’s!!

Feb. 3rd, 2016 09:00 pm
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Posted by The Sartorialist


I should have posted about this before but I find it much more difficult to talk about my projects than my photos.

However I have to admit, the premium denim project I just launched at Pitti Uomo with Roy Roger’s has been one of my favorite adventures so far. When Guido asked me to design a small capsule collection my one stipulation was that they let me truly design something not just pick a “wash” for an already existing pair of jeans.

With Guido’s technical expertise we created very cool high-waisted flared jean (pictured) and shrunken suede jacket (pictured).

We also created a high-waisted slim jean to work with a cashmere tailored sportscoat, a green duffel coat, a selection of shirts with an updated 70s collar and a range of shrunken knits that compliment the new higher waistline of the jeans. I really love it all.

You’ll see it in stores around the world this fall!

Tabula Rasa: Saturday Morning

Feb. 3rd, 2016 05:57 pm
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Evolution Of A Big Bird Wreck

Feb. 3rd, 2016 02:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks2_feed

Posted by Jen

Stage 1: Excitement

" simply pipe seven thousand individual strands and you're done!"


Stage 2: Compromise

"Well, it's still kind of feathery..."


Stage 3: Apathy

"Meh, just spray it yellow."


Stage 4: Passive Aggression

"We call it, 'Big Bird In A Snow Storm.'

"And that'll be $37.99."


Thanks to Anony M., Rose T., Anony M., & Shannon B. for finding the face of despair. (Seriously, the longer you look, the more depressing it gets.)


Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

Chinese-English rap

Feb. 3rd, 2016 01:35 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

Thorin Engeseth writes:

I am a big fan of the English musician Tricky, who recently released an album with a song on it called "Beijing to Berlin".

According to an email his marketing team sent out:

The enigmatic voice on the single's A-side, "Beijing To Berlin," belongs to the Chinese rapper and producer Ivy 艾菲. Tricky explains: "I was in Beijing for a show and I met this guy who managed her. She's so different! So raw! The strange thing is, I've had the track for a while but I only just found out that she’s not rapping in Chinese. I ain’t got a clue what language it is. I have no idea. It might be completely made up but whatever it is, it sounds wicked."

I'm attaching a link to a video of the song here. I know very little about the languages of China, and am wondering if this song (a rap song) could just be in very heavily accented English, or is she making sounds up as she goes?

To me it sounds as though she's rapping a mixture of Chinese and English (e.g., "knock knock knock", but see below) and also sometimes just making things up.

I asked Brendan O'Kane, who lived in Beijing for a decade (until a couple of years ago) and was well acquainted with the contemporary arts, what Ivy 艾菲's rap sounded like to him.

Brendan replied as below, but added the caveat that he was never all that on top of the indie music scene, and is now years out of date.  (I've added some transcriptions, translations, and explanations, and embedded the links provided by Brendan.)

I can't actually tell what she's singing — there seems to be some English in there, but there are a few words that sound like English-inflected Mandarin. Not enough for me to be sure either way, though.

Ivy / Àifēi 艾菲 certainly seems to be capable of singing or rapping in English — there's a video here of her covering a Beyonce song on the reality show Zhōngguó mèng zhī shēng 中国梦之声 ("The sound of the Chinese dream", i.e., "Chinese Idol"), and it doesn't sound as if she's just learnt the lyrics phonetically, as is sometimes the case with contestants who cover foreign songs.

The vocals in her song "Shaliaba" 莎里阿巴 have a similar sound, but are definitely (mostly) Chinese: see video (warning: odd wigs, gratuitous booty-shaking) and lyrics. The lyrics provided there give nǎge 哪個 ("which") for a sound that I'd processed as English "knock;" the same sound shows up in Ivy's lyrics in the Tricky video that you sent over, and going by the few English words that I can pick out from the latter, it sounds as if at least some of the lyrics may be shared between the two songs.

There certainly are bands and individual artists out there who perform mostly or exclusively in English — this was one of my longstanding complaints about Beijing's underground/alternative music scene around the mid- to late-aughts. Gringos accounted for a lot of the audience at many of the shows I went to, and several fairly major bands wrote and performed exclusively in a language that was technically English. (The two that come to mind now are the authentically inebriated punk quintet Joyside, whose albums include "Everything Sucks" and "Drunk Is Beautiful," and the shoegazey Joy Division-ripoff act Rebuilding the Rights of Statues ([Chóng sù diāoxiàng de quánlì 重塑雕像的权利], but there were plenty more.) The bands' standard explanation for writing in English, whenever (foreign) journalists asked, was that it was a language that they felt freer to think in — but it was hard to shake the feeling that the real reason was that the gringo listener base was, at the time, a lot likelier to shell out for concert tickets and buy the bands beers after the show.

Things have probably changed in the past few years: the internet has created a space where Chinese fans of non-mainstream music can swap tracks and chat, so bands are probably less dependent on the foreign press and the expat community — and the gradual transition to a "moderately prosperous society" / xiaokang shehui means that there are a lot more young Chinese people who can afford to see a show every now and then. There are probably more venues, too — especially in second-tier cities.

Of course, there are still bands who rap in Mandarin. Yīnsān'er 陰三兒 / In3, whose "Beijing Evening News" (Beijing wanbao) is a genuinely sharp piece of social commentary in the tradition of classic US rap artists like Public Enemy and KRS-One, recently drew unwanted attention from the government. Matt Sheehan also had a good piece a few months ago about people rapping in Chengduhua ["Chengdu topolect"] that highlighted a lot of the interesting qualities of the artists without taking them too seriously as social critics.

Even when we have the lyrics (presumably vetted by Ivy's people?), it's not that clear what she's saying.  This may seem a rather chaotic situation, but I think it's indicative of some aspects of the general fuzziness between English and Chinese that is developing, and it parallels the emerging digraphia in writing that I have mentioned so many times on Language Log.  These are times of linguistic fluidity that are heady and unpredictable.

On March 6, 2014, I wrote a post titled "Transcriptional and hybrid words in Mandarin" which contained these paragraphs:

On April 26, 2011, I posted a piece entitled "A New Morpheme in Mandarin", in which I remarked:

About 15 years ago, I wrote a science fiction novel called "China Babel" (still unpublished) in which I described a time in the future when Chinese would merge with English. When I see things like this text about SNSer[s], I begin to think that my futuristic imaginings may not have been that wide of the mark.

Back in 2008, I wrote a post ("YOUCOOL") about China's YouTube clone, YouKu, in which I stated:

YouKu 优酷 is a good example of what may be called "Sino-English," which I predict will become increasingly evident in the years to come, until Chinese and English experience a kind of blending (a veritable Mischsprache?) which is the theme of an unpublished, futuristic novel called China Babel that I wrote about 15 years ago. It's not so unlikely as one might think: Japanese has well over sixty thousand gairaigo (lexical borrowings, the vast majority from English), and the number continues to grow daily, so that in some contexts, one seems to hear an English word in almost every other Japanese sentence that is uttered.

I went on to give examples of the Sino-English blended language that is flooding the Chinese internet, SMS, etc.  Who knows where and how it will end?


Addendum from Chas Belov on Cui Jian's Chinese-English rock and rap, and on Uyghur hip hop

One advantage of the streaming music era is that there's no barrier beyond that of available time to trying out endless different albums. Just now I discovered an utterly forgettable early pop album by Cui Jian, possibly China's greatest rock musician.

1985 Review (issued in 2001), mostly in Mandarin, includes three English-language song covers of Western hits. I found one of those unlistenable, but the other two are of Language Log interest.

"Without You," a Harry Nilsson cover, contains a grammatical correction. The original line in the Nilsson song was "Can't live, if living is without you." The Cui cover corrects that to "I can't live, if living is without you."

But the other one obviously made a round trip through the translation mill. The Romantics' song "Talking In Your Sleep" turns up on 1985 Review with, so far as I can tell, the same lyrics but a completely new title, "Pouring Out One's Heart in a Dream." I'd guess there was an attempt to do a translation of the meaning of the song into Chinese for a title for the original Chinese release, but then the Chinese title was literally translated back into English for international marketing.

Odd they didn't do that with either "Without You" or the other English cover "The End of the World."

As for Cui Jian's rap, I didn't like his album, Power of the Powerless, but "Flying" from Balls Under the Red Flag, a mistranslation, I believe, is excellent.

Are you aware of the documentary series Hip Hop in China by a pair of American anthropology students?  One of them makes a cameo appearance in Bichare Tohmet by Six City although I believe that's in Uighur.


VHM:  The latter begins with the title written thus,

video FLim

but I believe that may be intentional.

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Posted by Terri Windling

Three Fates by Jacqueline Morreau

As Stuart discussed in yesterday's post, artists throughout the centuries have expressed themselves in the metaphoric language of myth -- from early carvings and  pottery decorations to Renaissance paintings such as Botticelli's "Primavera" and "The Birth of Venus," to modernist works such as Picasso's Minotaur drawings and paintings. One of my favorite artists working in this area today is painter and printmaker The Divided Self by Jacqueline MorreauJacqueline Morreau, who uses mythic symbolism to explore psychological and political themes of contemporary life.

The image on the right, "The Divided Self," is one of Morreau's metaphoric self portraits, while the etching above depicts the dreaded Three Fates of classical myth. These women spin and measure out the life threads of mortals and immortals alike: Clotho spins the thread, Lachesis determines its length, and Antropos cuts it off when life is at its end. According to Hesiod, all was Darkness at the beginning, all was void and nothingness, until the cosmos stirred and Chaos split from Darkness, containing the potential for life within it. In the very moment of that separation, the Three Fates emerged from the depths of Chaos. They are primal, powerful female divinities that do not bow to any god, holding sway over every living creature, for better or for ill. (As a sidenote, it's interesting to know that the earliest fairies of Europe were related to the Fates — they were known as Fateful Women, from the Latin word fatare, meaning “to enchant,” and they appeared when a child was born, to bless or curse their destiny.) Three more of Morreau's Fate images are below: Fate as a Potter, Fate with Roller, and the three fates doing their endless, timeless work Under the Sea.

Fate as Potter & Fate with Roller by Jacqueline Morreau

Under the Sea Three Fates by Jacqueline Morreau

The Greek tale of Eros and Psyche (or Cupid and Psyche in the Roman version) is another story that has stirred Morreau's imagination, providing rich symbols for expressing ideas about sexuality and identity. Psyche is a girl so beautiful that the goddess Aphrodite is filled with jealousy. She orders Eros (the god of Love) to harm the girl -- but he falls in love with her instead, and arranges for Psyche to be safely carried away to a distant palace. Each night, under the cover of darkness, a tender lover comes to Psyche's bed. She does not know that this is Eros, and she's not allowed to see his face. Although she's surrounded by mysteries, Psyche is happy for a time…until she grows homesick and Eros allows her sisters to visit her.

Disclosing Eros by Jaqueline Morreau

The sisters, believing Psyche is dead, are amazed to find her living in splendor. Jealous of her now, the sisters convince Psyche that her lover must surely be a monster -- for otherwise, they say, she would be allowed to see his face. That night, shaken by her sisters' words, Psyche takes a lamp and a knife to bed -- but when she lights the lamp, she sees it's a beautiful youth who is lying beside her. A drop of oil falls from the lamp, singes his shoulder, and wakes him up. “Is this how you repay my love,” Eros cries, “with a knife to cut off my head?” The ground trembles and the god and the palace disappear from Psyche's sight.

Psyche Awake, Eros Asleep by Jacqueline Morreau

Pregnant now with Eros's child, Psyche bravely sets off to search for him and eventually comes before Aphrodite, the source of her misfortune. She humbles herself before the goddess, but Aphrodite is not easily appeased. She sets the girl three impossible tasks, including a journey to the Underworld. With some timely help from Eros, who still loves her, Psyche succeeds. In the end, Zeus intervenes, soothes Aphrodite, and turns Psyche into an immortal. He then blesses the marriage of Eros and Psyche, and their daughter, a child named Pleasure.

On the Beach Eros & Psyche by Jacqueline Morreau

Morreau's various works based on the Persephone story are examinations of conflicted relationships: between men and women, between mothers and daughters, between the powerful and the powerless, between the forces of life and death.

Below is a charcoal study for Hades in her hard-hititng triptych, Persephone: A Season in Hell, along with the first painting in the triptych, "Rape and Abduction."

Hades & The Abduction of Persephone by Jacqueline Morreau

She has also turned her sharp gaze on the stories of women in Biblical myth, capturing potent moments of transformation, for good or ill. In the drawing below, Lot's wife is about to make the fateful step that will turn her to salt. In "Paradise Now" (depicted below in two different mediums), Eve and Adam stand with apple in hand. The whole of earth is the Garden, they seem to suggest. Or it could and should be.

Lot's Wife Leaving by Jacqueline Morreau

An early version of Paradise Now by Jacqueline Morreau

Paradise Now (Adam & Eve) by Jacqueline Morreau

Morreau is an overtly political painter, known for powerful works in response to social injustice and the horrors of war (from the Children's Crusade to World War II to the contemporary Middle East) -- yet her recent creations also include tranquil, luminous paintings of bed sheets, water, and swimmers in the sea. In one interview, she was asked about these dual strands in her body of work:

"Perhaps this represents the basic conflict in my life," she answered, "which I have tried to express in the subject matter, delving into the dark and celebrating the light. I was born into the knowledge of evil in the 1930s, which no one of my generation could escape. That shadow often oppresses me; at the same time, I have had a love affair with nature, which sustains me. I see the world as full of intricacies, complexities and wonders and surprises, yet in spite of that, most things are constant. Because of the legacy of violence, most art of the 20th century focuses on the dark, the distorted, the ugly, and has found strength there. However, that has meant that the light, the beautiful and the joyful are seen as weak. In fact, it is much harder to depict such feelings.

"As I grow older, I'm much more interested in the light."

The Swelling Sea by Jacqueline Morreau

Girls in Water by Jacqueline MorreauAbout the artist: Jacqueline Morreau was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1929, studied art in Los Angeles, medical illustration at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco, and then etching and lithography in San Francisco and Boston. She moved to England in 1972, and settled permanently in London. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world.

The art above is reprinted from Jacqueline Morreau: Themes & Variations (Artemis Press, 1996). The poem in the picture captions is reprinted from The Journal of Mythic Arts, and is copyright © 1982 by Jane Yolen. All rights reserved by the artist and author.

Daily Happiness

Feb. 3rd, 2016 12:23 am
[personal profile] torachan
1. Normally Wednesday is my early day and I have to be at work by 6.30, which I don't love. But tomorrow I don't have to go in until ten-ish! Which means I don't even have to set my alarm, because I'll definitely wake up before then.

2. We had a really super delicious stir-fry for dinner and there's lots left over.

3. I'm still very pleased with my haircut from last week. I finally got around to taking a picture tonight because I definitely want to keep a reference for next time.

Haircut photo! )

Take me to Court

Feb. 3rd, 2016 07:00 am
[syndicated profile] deardesigner_feed

Posted by deardesigner


I have a fascination with apartments and houses in buildings that were originally designed for something else. Hence my love of old barns. But I also love old church conversions, school conversions and even cowsheds! Conversions are always so quirky. There’s always an abundance of space, high ceilings, and galleries that are crying out for my decorators eye to give them the once over, and decide how to maximise the impact and make the spaces work for comfortable living. In fact I’m so often on estate agent sites my BF often says ‘are we moving then?’


I’m not really interested in the outside (although that is very handsome indeed) – just the thought of living, moving, entertaining, relaxing, and working in a home that has unusual vistas and endless scope for playing with the light and improving the flow.


And now I have to add old courthouses to that list.


The apartment shown here was originally Court Room No 1 of a Grade II listed courthouse building in West Kensington, known as The Old Courthouse. It has  a striking 35’ vaulted reception room with a open-plan kitchen, mezzanine, dining room and media area. It also has three bedrooms (the master bedroom has an en-suite), a laundry room, cloakroom and a courtyard garden. What more would you want living in Kensington?


The interior has been designed by Sigmar, a collaboration between interior designer Ebba Thott and furniture specialist Nina Hertig.


I love that imposing cabinet in the kitchen. Not sure if it is original but it certainly gives a link to the history of the building. I also love they way they have used colour to warm up the space and rugs to divide up the open-plan living area. And of course, I love, love, love all of the African and ethnic touches. So up my street.


Available to buy for £2,495m via Domus Nova

The language of sexual minorities

Feb. 2nd, 2016 10:50 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

Nathan Hopson writes from a conference at Nagoya, Japan:

One of the discussants just mentioned that the words tóngqī 同妻・ tóngfū 同夫 are recently being used in China to refer respectively to a "wife with a homosexual husband" and a "husband with a homosexual wife".

Since these are neologisms, there are no established English translations for either of the terms.  Consequently, instead of offering translations for these terms, I will try to explain what they mean, and then invite Language Log readers to suggest their own translations.

We may think of tóngqī 同妻 as an abbreviation for tóngxìngliàn zhàngfū de qīzi 同性恋丈夫的妻子 ("a wife who has a gay / homosexual husband") and tóngfū 同夫 might be thought of as an abbreviation for tóngxìngliàn qīzi de zhàngfū 同性恋妻子的丈夫 ("a husband who has a lesbian / homosexual wife").

This may sound very odd to American readers, but the general context for these terms is that Chinese law doesn't permit same sex marriage. Consequently, a gay man, under external pressure (mainly from family) to marry, will enter into a tóngqī 同妻 arrangement with a woman who is willing to accommodate him, and vice versa for a tóngfū 同夫.

[Thanks to Fangyi Cheng and Yixue Yang]


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