April 23rd, 2009 | Comments Off on traditionalist

I’m a traditionalist in maybe one sense of the word: I believe in the continued use of Traditional Chinese characters. This is mostly due to the fact that I grew up on Traditional Chinese media as well some some issues I have with the aesthetics of Simplified characters.
Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: ,
Posted in ramblings
March 1st, 2009 | Comments Off on Epiphany!

Over at Language Log there’s a post about being terrified at not being able to read in a foreign country (in this case, Hong Kong SAR). One of the commenters points out:

I had gathered that the “ideogram” thing was a myth — that Chinese script is really a syllabary, and that Cantonese speakers said to read “Chinese” are really bilingual, and reading transcribed Mandarin.

I don’t know how much I agree with the first part (written Chinese as a syllabary? You’re going to have to dredge up a bit more evidence for that one) but the second part is true, true, true.

Now I realize why I only learned to recognize characters in Chinese school, and not to write–I would have had to learn a whole other language.

That said, I admit to having the same fear (apropos de journal articles, for example). It’s terrifying to look at a page of text and realize you can’t read it and have no idea what it says.

Tags: ,
Posted in snippet
January 3rd, 2008 | Comments Off on When ‘not’ doesn’t really mean ‘not’

(Happy New Year!)

Do these two sentences mean the same thing?

1) I wonder if X isn’t better than Y.
2) I wonder if X is better than Y.

On the surface, it’s a basic kind of statement (“I am comparing X and Y; X may be better, but I’m still thinking about it”) and they seem identical. At least superficially.

I think the sentences imply different things, though. 1) is something I would say after having already chosen Y, and then re-evaluating X. 2) can be said either before or after a choice is made, but seems slightly more natural to say before.

Then again, maybe sentence 1) is not quite Standard English and I’m just making all this up.

Tags: ,
Posted in snippet
August 21st, 2006 | 1 Comment »

My offline friends know I’m a language fiend. I’m not particulary good at most of them, but I like to collect them. 😀 And books about them. 😀

So I’m keeping this post to remind myself of exactly what language-learning books I have and to show them off 😀


  • Le bon usage, a giant French grammar of everything and anything you could possibly need to know (okay, I’m exagerrating, but this is one huge book. It’s bigger than my dictionary.)
  • Grammaire pratique du français d’aujourd’hui, another grammar book, but written in French for non-Francophones.
  • Grammaire complète, a grammar I bought in Québec. Now that I have it I’m not too sure I need it anymore. It uses odd capitalization (le Subjonctif; le Conditionnel) but it has really cute pictures XD
  • French Prose Composition, it’s an exercise book for English to French translation. There are no answers though, just a very interesting preface. XD
  • Ensuite, a random French textbook I bought at a library book sale. I don’t know where this went, actually.
  • C’est la vie, ditto.
  • Collins-Robert Pocket French Dictionary, still going strong after many years of service!
  • La petite Larousse, 197x, I can’t remember when exactly it was published, but it’s old. It has pictures though, helpful for when you can’t figure out what kind of tree an ‘epinette’ is (it’s a pine, I think.)
  • Le micro Robert, dictionnaire linguistique que j’ai acheté au Québec. It’s awesome.
  • Mettre de l’ordre dans ses idées, a book all about connecteurs! 😀 Cost me an arm and a leg but given the emphasis my prof in Québec put on them, I think it’s well worth the cost.
  • Larousse: Difficultés Grammaticales, a small little reference book for those little details of French grammar. Surprisingly cheap, too 😀
  • Plus a whackload of literary works (Voltaire, Ionesco, etc.)


  • French-Japanese dictionary, it is t3h awesome. Case closed. I can’t really use it, but still…
  • Japanese for Busy People, Vol I (kana edition), a cute find, but unfortunately I am already familiar with 90% of the lessons presented here (not that I recall them exactly: I never liked numbers in Japanese.)
  • Japanese for Busy People, Vol II.
  • 250 Kanji Essential for Everyday Use, Vol II (or some such title). Haven’t even looked at this.
  • Conversational Japanese: the Cortina method, this book is so old it comes with an offer for a free record. XD

(I am getting tired of these comments, and in any case, they are only interesting for the French ones, anyway.)


  • Pocket Oxford German Dictionary
  • Berlitz German Grammar handbook
  • Teach Yourself German
  • Teach Yourself German Grammar
  • Handbuch zur deutschen Grammatik

Chinese (Mandarin)

  • Chinese: an essential grammar
  • Chinese in 10 Minutes a Day, ‘gift’ when I was, oh, 5, and HOW IT SHOWS.

Chinese (Cantonese)

  • Elementary Cantonese, Vol I, currently on loan to someone somewhere.


  • Collins Spanish Dictionary
  • Teach Yourself Spanish


  • Essential Vietnamese Phrases


  • The Penguin Russian Course
Tags: ,
Posted in quotidian
April 7th, 2006 | 2 Comments »

So, I’m reading some stuff about Firefly, and I come across this lexicon of terms used in the story…

shiny – Slang. “Good”, “great”, “neat”, “wonderful”, etc.
(from here)

At this point I’d like to remind everyone that I was using “shiny” in that manner way before Firefly even existed. See second post ever, the post after that, my birthday post four years ago, in reference to some newly-acquired (at that time) Sailormoon merchandise, and finally, extolling the virtues of Greymatter again.

What can I say? Shiny *_*

I actually really have trouble remembering when and why I started using that word as a synonym for “cool,” “neat,” “fantabulous,” etc. It’s not really the same as “quite,” which I know I randomly started using. I’m sure that “shiny” has its roots somewhere; I mean, I used it to refer to tangible things, primarily. Perhaps it’s just that there was some shiny object which was interesting, whose properties became associated with everything cool and interesting.

Does anyone know why the Firefly characters use “shiny”?

Tags: ,
Posted in ramblings