24 November 2010

Q &/or A

by Cecily
A linguistics professor won a bunch of money on a game show. CBC News wrote this sentence about it:

Kennedy, a linguistics professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, won $17,700, capping his win by correctly answering "What is a Quarter Horse?" to the question "This American breed was named for its ability to race a distance of 1,320 feet" in the horse breeds category.

The question has become the answer, and the answer, the question. It's like that saying about chickens and eggs, sort of. Or like that other thing where you say "this sentence is false" and then everyone is so confused. Because what is a question, really? Or an answer? We may never know.

Alex Trebek, what have you done?

13 November 2010


by Cecily
I was reading the news (instead of writing my dissertation or grading tests or applying for jobs or cleaning my room or doing the dishes or any of the other things I'm supposed to be getting done) and noticed this sentence that President Obama apparently said:

"She is a hero of mine and a source of inspiration for all who work to advance basic human rights in Burma and around the world"

The title of the article calls the country in question "Myanmar", and the article is at Al Jazeera, who I usually assume are on the leftest side of naming conventions. I remembered having at least one conversation with someone who knew about the difference between calling this country Burma and calling it Myanmar, but I did not remember the content of the conversation so I looked it up on Wikipedia. It is very interesting!

The two names are different-register variants of the same Burmese word (according to Wikipedia). Phonetic register variation: interesting.

Obama used the opposition version (according to Wikipedia) while stodgy old Al Jazeera English used the oppressive regime name (according to Wikipedia). Political implications/subtext: interesting.