Saturday, December 22, 2007

'cause we all shine on...

Off on another Saturday morning Wikipedia jag, I have stumbled across the joys of Chinese constellations. They are beyond fun. Many have lovely evocative names---sometimes, as is often the case, seemingly more evocative in translation than in the original. Lest I keep you from discovering them for yourself, here I give only a small sample of the rich and wacky tanglings they offer the crosslinguistic wanderer.

To start off on the technical side, 卷舌 Rolled Tongue, in its common translation as 'retroflex', brings gladdening warmth and validation to the hearts off all phoneticians. And the swirl-vs.-lisp of it should be familiar to any student learning standard Beijing-style Mandarin who then goes and talks to non-northerners, i.e. the huge swath of everybody else in the world who speaks Mandarin.

Beyond this, is it not great to have in your mental sky now asterisms like 酒旗 Banner of a Wine Shop (they have ads up there!), 敗瓜 Rotten Gourd, and 狗國 Dog Territory? And, eminently practical and hospitable, the ancients kindly saw fit to install a 廁 Toilet.

I'm particularly fond of 土公 Official for Earthworks and Buildings, as it might translate more directly as Public Guy In Charge Of Dirt.

But nothing really beats 虛 Emptiness for best constellation of all. I have a hard time locating it, though.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

so here it begins

Finally, a blog by which to blather. Ironically enough, not feeling particularly talksome today, but I can pretty much guarantee that that won't last. So tune in next time for, well, whatever pops into my head and then slips out through the keyboard.