(no subject)

Jan. 18th, 2017 08:51 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
OK, I went and took Saturday off work.

Now I get to decide if I want to:

-Go to the last-ever goodbye by-the-bag-clearance sale at the BIG used books warehouse
-Go to the big protest in DC
-Go to the littler protest in Annapolis or Baltimore
-See if the timing works to go to the book sale AND the Annapolis protest

Is anyone planning to go to the DC march?

I am super-hesitant go without being part of a group, having done giant events in DC before and having some idea of what it's like, and I'm not currently hooked up with any local groups of the sort that would send people. The ones in the other cities will probably be smaller and calmer, since most local people will probably make the short trip to DC. On the other hand if I did have a group to hold my hand it would probably be worth going to DC...

New York high school Chinese test

Jan. 19th, 2017 12:13 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

Zhuang Pinghui, in the South China Morning Post (1/18/17) has an article that is truly baffling:  "US high school Chinese test stumps internet users in China".

A high school in New York has produced an exam paper for its pupils learning Chinese which features questions that have daunted internet users in China and even a college professor.

The final exam for pupils at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School’s Foreign Language Department comprises four sections, according to a photograph of the test paper shared on Chinese social media.

The first two focus on words and idioms not commonly used in conversational Chinese.

In one part pupils were asked to give synonyms for 10 words, but they are more often used in ancient Chinese writing than in everyday speech.

Many Chinese social media users admitted they struggled to read even the first word – jiu ju – which means to live in a rented apartment. Many didn’t even know what the word meant, let alone come up with a synonym for it.

“At first, I thought the question was to write down the pinyin, but after reading it I realised I didn’t even know how to read the word,” one internet user wrote on social media.

Another question in the first section requires a synonym for the word he, meaning to bite, which was also mainly used in ancient writing.

Pupils were also asked to give antonyms for 10 words and idioms in the test and were required to write a 300-word essay.

Topics ranged from “The Inspiration of Lotus”, a reference to the Song dynasty (960-1279) philosopher Zhou Dunyi’s essay Ode to the Lotus Flower, to Reflections on “Fat Rat”, referring to a piece of writing by the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) scholar Pu Songling.

“I felt uneasy while trying the test. Now I wonder if I might have learned fake Chinese,” one user wrote on social media.

Another agreed: “I might well be a fake Chinese!”

Wang Hongtu, a professor of Chinese language at Shanghai’s Fudan University, told the news website Thepaper.cn that the questions were “very difficult”.

The first question alone got him thinking for a while, he said.

Wang said most Chinese people knew 5,000 to 6,000 words, but some words used in the test were very uncommon.

Ohhhhh!  This article raises so many thorny issues that I hardly know where to begin.  So I'll just fire away.

Starting at the very end, Professor Wang Hongtu of Fudan University is wrong to say that most Chinese people know 5,000 to 6,000 words.  In the first place, he's probably confusing "words" with "characters".  Even if he has made the perennial mistake of mixing up zì 字 ("characters") and cí 詞 ("words"), there are exceedingly few people who "know" (i.e., are able to recognize, write, pronounce accurately, and define correctly) more than 4,500 characters.  The average literate person knows about 3,000 characters.  As for words, the vocabulary of most literate Chinese ranges somewhere between 15,000 and 25,000 items.

If you want to get an idea of the 10,000 most frequent Chinese words, they are listed here, with romanization and translation.

There are some useful comments on the matter of how many characters are required for literacy on Quora here:  "How many characters does the average Chinese person know?".  I especially recommend the fifth comment by Shawnxuande Li, posted on July 10, 2016, for its trenchant, informative, insightful remarks covering the rise and fall of Chinese characters from their beginning on the oracle bones more than three millennia ago to the present time.  The final comment, by Anonymous on January 7, is also pertinent:  "One of China's illiteracy standards is knowing less than 1500 characters."  Despite what the Chinese government may tell us about there being near universal literacy in China, applying the 1,500 character standard, from my own experience in the field, I'd wager that well over half the people of China are illiterate, and the late and much lamented Zhou Youguang privately admitted the same thing to me.

Now, jumping back to the very top of Ms. Zhuang's article, there is an image of the opening part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School’s CLA Final Exam.  I would like to know who is this teacher, Ms. Luo, who has come up with these fiendishly difficult exam questions for her students.  Somebody needs to inform the head of the Foreign Language Department, Ms. Florio-Fintz, and the Principal of FDR HS, Ms. Katz, that Ms. Luo is teaching her students wildly impractical Chinese.

The first question on the exam is to give a synonym for jiùjū 僦居.

僦 is ranked #5438 in this list of the 10,000 most frequent characters and has a frequency of less than .05% in  a large corpus of Chinese texts collected from online sources.

Jiù 僦 is not the sort of character that a student of Mandarin should be spending time to memorize, and jiùjū 僦居 ("rent a place to stay in") is not a term that a student of Mandarin needs to learn.

It should be pointed out that this is a "CLA Final Exam", where "CLA" means "Collegiate Learning Assessment".  But I wouldn't expect high school students in Mandarin classes to be able to answer these questions, and I wouldn't expect graduate students in Mandarin classes to be able to answer them either.  The ONLY way I would expect any students to perform adequately on this exam is if they had followed a syllabus of Literary Sinitic (Classical Chinese) specifically designed to prepare the students for these very questions.

See also:

"US school's Chinese-language exam leaves native speakers speechless" (CCTV.com, 1/17/17)

"US school's Chinese-language exam leaves native speakers speechless" (China Daily, 1/16/17)

These articles show the complete exam, the entirety of which is totally out of touch with MSM.  It was supposedly for course FMS63 Chinese 3.  The exam consists of four sections:  1. give synonyms for vocabulary items; 2. give antonyms for vocabulary items; 3. make sentences with vocabulary items; 4. write an essay of 300 or more characters on a literary theme from premodern times.

I didn't exhaustively check every single item on the test, but a quick scan of the whole gives the strong impression that it is made up of archaisms and classicisms that one would seldom, if ever, encounter in MSM conversation or even in typical reading.

If this material is being taught as Third-year Mandarin, as seems to be the case from the title ("Chinese 3"), it is a travesty.  The contents are utterly inappropriate for a third-year high school Mandarin class.  If it is being offered as a course in Literary Sinitic (Classical Chinese), that is an entirely different matter.  But I still would question how many students at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School are in need of such a course and will benefit from it.

[h.t. Mark Metcalf, Bill Holmes]

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Chinese customers are buying bottles of fresh air from businesses that "farm" it where there is no air pollution.

snowflake challenge day 6

Jan. 18th, 2017 04:46 pm
runpunkrun: portion of koch snowflake fractal, text: snow fractal (snow fractal)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Day 6: In your own space, create a list of at least three fannish things you'd love to receive, something you've wanted but were afraid to ask for—a fannish wish-list of sorts.

1) More podfic of Pinto stories, please.

2) Pursuant to #1: Dear writers, if you'd like people to make transformative works out of your stuff, post a statement giving permission and link to it in your AO3 and/or Tumblr profile or wherever your stories are stored. You can give a blanket YES or pick and choose what you're okay with. This will make it much easier for podficcers to record your fic, translators to translate it, or writers to write something inspired by it. You can also add yourself to the Blanket Permission to Podfic page at Fanlore. If you want help, message me and I'll help!

3) And then there's this—A Captain Kirk vid to They Might Be Giants's The Cap'm:

Look me over, I'm the Cap'm
Go ahead and mess with me
You'll find out what will happ'm

Sit beside me at the helm
Yeah, this is what I call the helm
And this button here is the fast-forward button

Did you say what I think you just said
My hat looks good on me?
I agree, I agree

Originally I pictured it as a Chris Pine vid—because we have seen him in some ugly hats—but now all I can see is Captain Shatner leaping over rocks and smiling at everyone and pushing buttons commandingly. The song's perfect for him. Someone please make this happ'm.

{also posted to Tumblr}
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed
A leaked video shows what appears to be a frightened German shepherd being forced into water on the set of a movie about the love between a boy and his dogs.

Media Consumption Wednesday

Jan. 18th, 2017 04:04 pm
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
Let's see if I can revive this habit.
There might be spoilers in the comments.
In which firecat rambles about books and TV shows )

Rhysling Award Discrimination

Jan. 18th, 2017 04:51 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
For some months, the Science Fiction Poetry Association has been squabbling over the definition of speculative poetry, what qualifies as "speculative enough," and in a slightly overlapping discussion, the name of the organization and whether it should say something other than "science fiction." I and several other folks experienced in poetry and small organizations have pointed out that trying to force your pet definition on other people will consistently start arguments and frequently cause people to leave.

Now it's Rhysling Award nomination season, and the officers rejected a poem for not being speculative enough. Said poem was originally published in a speculative magazine, Strange Horizons -- which means the author, the editors, and the nominator all thought it was a speculative poem. But their opinions are irrelevant; the poem is excluded from consideration because someone else doesn't think it's speculative enough, people in a position of power that allows them to dictate other people's actions.

Predictably, this happened. Here is the poem, "I Will Be Your Grave."

Read more... )

[ SECRET POST #3668 ]

Jan. 18th, 2017 06:58 pm
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[personal profile] case in [community profile] fandomsecrets

⌈ Secret Post #3668 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.


More! )


Secrets Left to Post: 01 pages, 17 secrets from Secret Submission Post #524.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed
American, British, and Japanese agencies (plus an independent research group) have all concluded by different means that 2016 was hotter than any other year for which data exists.

Norwich Science Fiction Group again

Jan. 18th, 2017 11:36 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
[personal profile] beccaelizabeth
the talking is back
and will be first and third wednesdays at the ribs of beef norwich
until next year's xmas break.

we talked many things
and I was enthusiastic about The Librarians
and listened to many recs for classics of SF.

then on the way home we stopped at Tesco, which opens until midnight
and now I have enough drinks until regular shopping time, and also chocolate biscuits.

Snowflake - Day 9

Jan. 18th, 2017 06:34 pm
goss: (*fangirls* - Starfire Raven)
[personal profile] goss
Send feedback to two fannish people — they can be anyone you want: a writer who’s made you happy, a moderator of your favorite exchange (not us!), a fanartist you avidly follow.

Here are two of the *many* wonderful people who continue to enrich my fannish experience every time I come round these parts:

[personal profile] jerakeen - [community profile] fancake is totally my happy place, and [personal profile] jerakeen is the lovely person who runs it. Also every time I see [personal profile] jerakeen reccing a fic on [community profile] fancake I know it's gonna be a guaranteed GOOD ONE, even before I see the fandom name, pairing or even read the description. Somehow I feel like our tastes sync up a lot, and I never hesitate to dive head-first into whatever fic she recs, knowing it's gonna hit all the right notes for me. So thank you for that! ♥

[personal profile] musesfool - Whenever I finish watching a newly released movie, series or tv episode, I love checking out other people's reviews and reactions, whether it's to get their particular take on it, or just to be part of the happy flailing. [personal profile] musesfool never fails to deliver on both. Many times I've dipped my toes into certain fandoms purely based on her weekly reaction posts (Leverage!!). So thank you [personal profile] musesfool for staying in my fannish sphere for all these years, and sharing in the squee, from way back in the Smallville days, to DC comics, Teen Wolf, Marvel movieverse, Orphan Black, Sleepy Hollow, Korra, Star Wars, Supergirl and all the rest in between. ♥
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed
A photograph of Morgenstern's Black Ash Coconut has been used to illustrate a falsehood about the "original" color of vanilla ice cream.

Paint and colours

Jan. 17th, 2017 02:11 pm
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Posted by <a href="/users/toothiastrid/pseuds/toothiastrid" rel="author">toothiastrid</a>


Tip teaches Oh what the 'Art Hoe Movement' is.

Words: 490, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

wednesday reads 'n things

Jan. 18th, 2017 04:12 pm
isis: (squid etching)
[personal profile] isis
What I've recently finished reading:

Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks, which...was a slog. Not sure why this didn't work for me, because the writing itself was often really appealing, but it was a struggle to finish. I think a large part of it was the pacing, which sometimes seemed confusingly fast, with information skipped over and referred to later as though it ought to have been obvious, but more often was as slow and rambling as a D&D campaign where you haven't yet figured out where you're supposed to go for the quest. I never quite figured out what the elemental powers are, or what being a 'fire blood' actually means in a practical sense.

The characters were - I wanted to like them, but I really didn't care much about them. It was definitely nice to have a book with powerful women (both good and - 'evil' is not the right word, but not-good), and to see same-sex relationships as unremarkable in-universe. The reveal, when it finally came, was interesting, but I think it would have been a stronger book had it come sooner and given the reader motivation to care about things.

What I'm reading now:

I've switched completely over to Philip Roth's The Plot Against America for audio, and am putting The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu on hiatus until I can get my hands on an eyeball-version. I really want to finish it, but I really dislike the audio version.

The Roth book is excellently read by Ron Silver, by the way, in a perfect New Jersey Jew accent. I'm really liking the combination of memoir and alternate history, and every once in a while the chilling parallels with current events make me shiver.

Despite my plans from last week I've started Tana French's The Trespasser, because my ebook hold came available. So The Promise of the Child will have to wait, as the clock is ticking on my library checkout!

What I'm reading next:

And then just yesterday I got a second library notice that my hold on the audiobook of The Hammer of Thor, the second Magnus Chase book by Rick Riordan, is also available. Fortunately the audio checkouts don't expire in the same way, so although I've downloaded it, I'm holding off until I finish the Roth.

What I've recently finished watching:

We finally watched the last two episodes of Mozart in the Jungle, which - I have to say I like it best when it reminds me of Slings & Arrows, and this season it has been doing so quite a bit. And I guess that's not a coincidence, because Susan Coyne, who was a writer for and actor in S&A, also wrote a couple of episodes of MitJ, and produced most of this season. (And appeared in a couple of episodes, which got me to read the credits and realize her deep involvement, because I am super-sensitized to six degrees of Canadian shows and instantly spotted her.)

What I'm playing now:

B's clever strategy worked, and I am now hip-deep in The Witcher 3 and thoroughly hooked. He's gleeful because a) I now understand (and am not bored) when he tells me what he's doing in the game, and b) he likes to hear what I'm up to in the game, and give me advice, and c) I can't make him feel guilty for wanting to spend all his free time playing if I'm playing too.

(For those of you who know the game, I've recently made it through the initial mini-game of White Orchard and am now trying to find Ciri and also the Bloody Baron's wife and daughter. I have just made level 5. I get killed a lot. B is level 14 or so and is hanging out with prostitutes, apparently, but not getting any.)

Other tangentially fandom-related activities:

I am trying to be conscientious about my bullet journal, because it really does help me to get my adulting done. It's not particularly pretty, but I admit I like making ruled lines and using my cheap colored pens.

I have started my Chocolate Box assignment! It is started! It is not done!

[personal profile] riventhorn and I will be doing [community profile] sutcliff_swap again this year, though the schedule will be slipped a little to accommodate Real Life things, so sign-ups won't be until late April or early May. But! [personal profile] chantefable would like to get [community profile] sutcliff_space more active, perhaps with low-key monthly challenges, which I think would be awesome.

What I'm Doing Wednesday

Jan. 18th, 2017 04:48 pm
sage: crop from a painting of the front window of a bookstore showing books on display and shelves behind. (joy: books)
[personal profile] sage
books fiction: Cogman x2, Flanders; nonfiction: Berlin, Bushkovitch, Perrie )

yarning cut for pic & progress list )

fish sauce results )

I woke up today having a vivid nightmare of an apocalypse beginning, where I was in a hospital (as a patient) and was friends with the guy in charge's daughter. The guy in charge was a sub-lieutenant of the Big Evil, and I woke up with the feeling of her giving me a messy, sticky kiss on the cheek in the parking lot as I struggled to my car to flee. Without her. Because she was on the wrong side of things.

I may just have the slightest bit of anxiety about the coming apocalypse inauguration. *hides* I'm actually trying to focus instead on how it's also MORE JOY DAY! (And also a volunteer day, so that will give me a RL place to spread some kindness.) Do any of y'all have any MJD plans?

And certainly misused

Jan. 18th, 2017 09:24 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

It's beyond creepy to learn that one of the biggest names in evangelical philanthropy is one tiny step removed from the biggest name in paramilitary profiteering and mercenary massacres. And why is this family of right-wing billionaires so obsessed with shooting bears? Also: The very, very bad inaugural poem that gives Scots one more reason to hate Donald Trump; mercy seasons justice; and a closer look at American Nazis' conflicted views on Israel.


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April 2013


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