this alt = linguistics, conlangs, academic life.
selfies, comments on books+comic books, transgender issues, politics, miscellanea = @elilla .
trying to keep this account’s public timeline more on-topic as per instance rules \o/
#introduction hallöchen! I’m a Brazilian trans woman living in Germany working on Japanese dialectal fieldwork (long story). Interests include fantasy fiction, imaginary languages, free software, comic books, intersectional veganism, cute cuddly things, and supporting anticapitalist revolutions to bring down the whole rotten edifice
kanji ideology and minority speakers (10/10)
The meanings of words – and of word-pieces – are not decided by government committees mandating official orthographies for standardised schooling. They are decided by the whole speaking community, every time they use the words. How words are used is what they mean.
In the case of mucha-kucha, the orthography is ateji anyway, so not even the govt is claiming it's a tea idiom. But in every case, living orality always trumps kanji-based interpretation.
kanji ideology and minority speakers (9/?)
In understanding the Japanese language, it is helpful to keep in mind that it existed before kanji, is independent of kanji, and would keep existing without it. It is fully communicable by sound, and learned by all native speakers from sound, before they're put on the educational system. Many fully valid native speakers (the blind, rural etc.) never use kanji at all.
Look at sounds and meanings first, and then it will make sense how kanji represent both.
kanji ideology and minority speakers (8/?)
so the only reason why anybody would ever think that mucha-kucha means "no tea, bitter tea" is if they extrapolated meanings from the orthography – which is a historical accident. This kind of folk etymology happens often to literate J speakers who absorbed the nationalistic ideology that kanji are a special, unique translinguistic meaning-writing, free from the taint of sound and orality.
(I suggest DeFrancis' "Visible Speech" to demythologise kanji.)
kanji ideology and minority speakers (7/?)
etymology does not necessarily coincides to current meanings, any more than kanji does. but for what it's worth, the etymology doesn't support the "bitter tea" analysis either. while the origin of the word is unclear, current analysis (cf. Kokugo Daijiten) point to the Buddhist term musa, no-action. it is used in Middle Japanese in the sense of modern mucha, as musa-to and musa-kusa. at no point musa or *kusa were used for tea-related things.
kanji ideology and minority speakers (6/?)
there is in fact a word "mucha", but it is never used to mean "no tea". instead it means much the same as mucha-kucha: absurd, excessively.
this is where the Japanese feature of reduplication comes in. Japanese words can be echoed for emphasis, as in samu-i "cold" → samu-samu "wintry", or yabure "failure" → yabure-kabure "desperation".
we don't need neither kanji nor etymology to figure out that in the living language, mucha-kucha is an emphatic mucha.
kanji ideology and minority speakers (5/?)
what about the analysis of mucha-kucha as "no tea, bitter tea?"
*kucha "bitter tea" doesn't occur in the language at all. the normal way to describe bitter tea is shibu-cha. no one says *"kore, kucha datta" ("this was bittertea").
mucha "no-tea" isn't really a thing either. while the morphemes exist, nobody says *"mucha datta" ("I was chaless") in the way you might say e.g. "mukizu datta" ("I was unharmed").
kanji ideology and minority speakers (4/?)
Chinese has a form of idioms condensed into compound words (chéngyǔ), which Japanese inherited and used as a model. a J example is temae-miso "oneself-miso paste" = tooting one's own horn.
how do we know it's an idiom? it is made of readily recognisable J words; temae "before oneself, I" (now often "you"), and miso "soybean paste". these words occur in other contexts with these meanings.
notice we don't need kanji to know this, just the living orality.
kanji ideology and minority speakers (3/?)
how can you tell if kanji are representing sound or meaning?
to do that you have to go back to what oral language is: sounds with meanings, learned by babies. you have to remember that langs exist independently from writing or govt standards.
put yourself in the shoes of a child, a blind person, disabled, a rural speaker who doesn't do kanji like many of my informants, or a Brazilian-Japanese native speaker who learned it orally like many of my friends.
kanji ideology and minority speakers (2/?)
It was pointed out that many (literate) J speakers analyse muchakucha as "no tea, bitter tea". The reason for it is that these are the literal meanings of the individual kanji: 無茶苦茶。
But, contrary to ideology, kanji do not always represent meaning. All of the above are common phonograms (J man’yōgana/ateji), used to represent syllables by sound for millennia.
Literate J speakers often take kanji as etymologic guides, but they aren't reliable for that.
kanji ideology and minority speakers (1/?)
I had a discussion elsewhere on the #Japanese word "muchakucha" and it put my mind again on government-imposed linguistic standards.
The discussion in short was this. Muchakucha means "absurd; reckless; very", and was raised as an example of a J idiom; supposedly "no tea, bitter tea".
I pointed out that it's not really a phrase, but an emphatic reduplication of mucha (broadly the same meanings), thought to be from the Buddhist term musa "nonfunctional".
What I love about the Open Access movement is how it went from:
"kill the traditional publishing model"
all the way over to:
"provide traditional publishers with an additional fee to charge authors and also shame early career researchers for failing Open Access purity tests"
and everyone is pretty much cool with that
I always feel a little bit guilty when I stop the ‘main’ work to do things like this. Granted, I think in many cases I can lose the focus optimising some detail of no import, as a form of avoidance. But my guilt is generally misplaced; whenever you're doing a repetitive task, investing to improve the process usually pays off richly.
I am doing a gig at like data entry/selection from Japanese dialectal dictionaries, v slow lexi work. (I'm getting fluent at typing IPA in X-SAMPA, for these phones at least).
At some point I realised I could optimise the workflow if I reordered the items in the order the reference uses. This required me to code a python script to normalise-decompose the diacritics to remove accent marks from rōmaji, expand macrons, and kanafy (kinṓ → kinō → kinou → きのう)
covid-19: retail workers, petition
hey i work at target. we're not being paid extra or anything and we sell essential products so we're gonna be staying open as much as we can during the covid-19 outbreak.
there's a petition going around demanding hazard pay for the employees, it would mean a lot to me if you signed: http://chng.it/PdfhcPs9pL
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Brazilian trans woman researching Japanese linguistics in Germany. Anarchist pro-intersectional vegan.
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