Saturday, March 31, 2007


As you folks know, I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about where I'm going to school next year, what kind of academic I want to be, and what I'm doing with my life in general. I've become convinced that I don't actually want to be a linguist, and perhaps not an academic at all. Neither of my options is really right for me, in any case. I've signed up for another year here. I'll probably apply to grad schools again in the fall, looking at cog-sci and psych programs. But since the sun has come out again this place has really grown on me, or I'm realizing how much I have liked it here, and I'm considering staying on long term.

In not unrelated news, I should introduce you to my fiancée. I don't have any pictures yet though, and my camera's broken. I met Quan Feili (全非丽) at one of the two bars in town, back in January, and in the time since I returned here, we've spent a lot of time together. It's clear to me she is my soulmate, and last night we agreed we should get hitched sometime or another.

[Edit: In case it wasn't clear, this is an April Fool's joke. But see this update.]

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Yellow Card Question, Episode 5

And now, it's time for the SHOW! (Scroll down the page and start the theme song playing now, okay? Go ahead, I'll wait.)

Today, for the first time in history, I will first demonstrate a new and amazing magic trick! As you can see, or as you will have to trust me on this anyway, I am holding in my hands this perfectly unremarkable hat! So unremarkable in fact, that it has the name "Visalia" across the front. And as you can see, or as I assure you, there is nothing in the hat! But watch (or imagine) closely now. My hands are empty and the hat is empty, but with a simple flick of my wrist and a reach into my backpack, !!!yellow cards!!! How was that folks? All without any mirrors or camera tricks!

Thank you, thank you.

And now, ... the question for today:

"If you woke up suddenly because your building was on fire, which three things would you save as you ran outside"

Well, I don't have much of value here, neither sentimental value nor monetary. My lippy-loppy, of course, has my entire life on it, so even though much of it is backed up elsewhere, that would be the first thing I would grab. After that, I think I should grab my various IDs (Does that count as one thing or as a dozen? Seriously, how did I end up with so many ID cards?). And for the third thing, ... I would grab a pair of shoes. I could manage in my sleeping clothes for a while (or there's a fair chance I would not have changed out of my normal clothes before falling asleep), and I could borrow or buy others easily enough, but shoes in my size are the stuff of legend in these parts.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It's on the tip of my tongue twister

Suppose you can't remember the name of that art movement that was fascinated by speed and steel, or that word that starts with 'p' and means liking to fight. Or perhaps you are looking for words that would fit into a tongue twister you're writing.

I still can't find that word that sounds like bremsstrahlung though.

In other news, Blogspot is a hive of barbarians again. But it's in good company. Livejournal, Xanga, and Wordpress are also barbarian hordes, and of course everything Wikimedia.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Yellow Card Question, Episode 4

Three two one roll it!
♫It's Howdy Doody time, it's Howdy Doody time♫--
Cut! That's not right. Try that again.
♫Em Eye See! Kay Ee Why! Em Oh You Es Ee! Mick♫--
Cut cut cut! That's not right either! Where did our theme song go? Oh, we didn't have a theme song? How did that happen? How did we already get to our 4th episode without a theme song?! Well, we don't have time to put anything together now. How about we just adopt one. Okay, here it is:
Skullcrusher Mountain from the crazed mind of Jonathan Coulton.

Let the show begin! Doopity doo! Bring forth the cards of golden hue! Voila! Exclaim some more! Woohoo!

And the one and only card of the day!

"If you could speak any other language that you don't speak already, which language would you like to speak?"

Ooooh! This is a good one. Well, if Standard Chinese counts as a language I already speak, the next ones on my list would be:

- One or more Wu dialects. There are a bewildering number of mutually unintelligible Chinese languages spoken in this province and in the area just north of it. These Wu dialects maintain some interesting features of Classical Chinese, and of course do all kinds of interesting things different from each other and from the other Chinese languages, while the vocabulary is apparently mostly cognate with the other Chinese languages. I would at minimum like to understand better how the phonology of a couple dialects work, and it would be cool to actually be able to communicate in one.

- An Amerindian language. Mostly because they are morphologically and syntactically so different from the languages I know now, and I need some balance.

- Arabic. I took a semester of Arabic, but it wasn't really enough to get much beyond the phonology and spelling. Arabic has really cool morphology, and it offers an interesting language & power comparison with Chinese, in the coexistence of colloquial and standard languages.

- An African tone and/or click language. An African language to add to the typological balance, clicks because they are just awesome, and tones so I can understand comparisons with Chinese.

- All the other ones too.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Home Again Home Again, Jiggity Jog

In the past four weeks, I have slept in eight cities, and ridden buses, metros, trains, a bullet train, a motorcycle, a rental car, a moto taxi, a few regular taxis, airplanes, and several cars of friends and family. And I walked a lot too. It was very good to see everyone, and it is good to be back.

Income Tax!
Dad and Nathanael

I celebrated Chinese New Year, Carnaval, and President's Day in Los Angeles with my family. In my family, whenever these three important holidays fall on the same weekend, rather than trying to dance half-naked in the street, lighting firecrackers and waving American flags, we just sit around filling out income tax forms and taking turns holding the baby.

Now I have returned to Jinhua, where they are hanging red paper lanterns and shooting off fireworks to celebrate my birthday. It's very thoughtful of them.