Adventures in Linguistics: He is X nor Y

I had a curious experience in semantics class today.  We were covering the scope of negation, and the professor had presented us with three sentences:

(1) Pat isn't a plumber and isn't an architect.

(2) Pat is not a plumber or an architect.

(3) Pat is neither a plumber nor an architect.

Part of what we were discussing was the fact that all three of these sentences mean the same thing  (that is, the sentence is true only if Pat does not belong to either of these professions), but it seems that (1) and (2) derive that meaning differently, and we were working on which of those sets of rules apply to (3).

I won't bore people with the technical details, but along the discussion, one of my classmates brought up an example of their own:

(4) Pat is neither a plumber or an architect.

Which was grammatical to her, though I find it slightly questionable.  This encouraged me to bring up an example that I had been mulling over in my head for about 10 minutes:

(5) Pat is a plumber nor an architect.

Though I thought that (5) was good and means the same as (3), apparently no other native English speaker in the class agreed with me that (5) was grammatical at all.  One person thought it may have to do with me being from "the South" -- which still amuses me, since I never did consider the part of West Virginia I come from particularly Southern (I suppose it looks very different from Wisconsin).  In any case, it did lead to a short discussion of what could possibly be going on with my dialect of English to cause this construction.

It's funny how these things pop up.  I've had a moment like this before, when the double-modal might could was brought up in syntax class (that one I know is common in Appalachia and the South, but not up here), and I'm sure these things will happen again.

Signs in Chinese

So, Egypt is in everyone's news today, but I came accross a particularly curious story today that tickles a couple of my fancies.  Victor Mair posted on Language Log today a couple photos of protestors holding signs that feature Chinese.  Here are the signs:

I won't bore people with translations and analysis of errors when Mr. Mair has already done that job, but I do find the use of Chinese interesting here.  The theme seems to be "Hosni Mubarak doesn't seem to understand Arabic", as a proxy for the sentiment that he doesn't understand the Egyptian people.  I've heard of similar uses of English in the protests, so I'm guessing these protesters decided to add the second most widely spoken language to cover more bases.  What's next?  Spanish? Hindi?  Or maybe something more obscure.  In any case, the Egyptian people are making it very clear that they want President Mubarak to leave.

Goodbye China, For Now

Haven't posted here for a while.  Right now I'm hanging around in Shanghai, staying at a hostel until we have to leave tomorrow.  How much I post after I return depends on how busy things get, I have one last semester of college and some job searching to do, though I do have at least one draft that I want to get to (not China related, and a very belated topic).  Anyway, I will be flying out of Shanghai tomorrow, and after what is sure to be a terrible travel experience given news of even more ridiculous security procedures coming our way.  I think if there is a Hell, my own personal version would likely be being eternally stuck in the international air travel system constantly switching between impossibly long flights and never reaching a destination.

But this time I'm sure I'll get home eventually.  See everyone there.

猪肝面



猪肝面

Originally uploaded by gacorley


This happened to me a while ago, but I was recently reminded of it:

几个星期以前,我去一个学校旁边的小饭馆吃饭。我已经吃过菜单上的能看懂的菜,所以我就点了一个不清楚的。我点的是”猪肝面“,因为我知道”猪“是什么意思,还有我很喜欢吃面条,可是我不知道”肝”是什么。看到那个字,我知道有一个肉字旁,所以我知道是一种器官或身体部分,还有因为偏旁(干)我知道怎么念,可是什么身体部分我不知道。

A few weeks ago, I went to a little noodle restaurant near our school. I had already eaten those items I could read on the menu, so I ordered something I wasn't quite sure of. What I ordered was 猪肝面 (zhu gan mian). I knew what 猪 meant ('pig, pork') and I like to eat noodles (面), but I didn't know what 肝 was. Looking at the character, I noticed it had a "meat" radical so I knew it was an organ or a part of the body, and I knew how to pronounce it (gan) because of the phonetic element 干, but I didn't know what part of the body it was.

我和朋友在谈这件事,希望不是那么奇怪的东西。旁边的桌子有两个中国姑娘,其中有一个会说英语。会说英语的姑娘听到我们的谈话,想了一会然后告诉我们"It's the liver of the pig." 不久以后服务员端来了一碗猪肝面,我一下子发现很好吃。现在我常常去那家饭馆吃猪肝面。

I talked about this with my friends, hoping it wasn't something too strange. At the table beside us were to Chinese women, one of them could speak English. The one who could speak English heard us, thought for a moment and then told me "It's the liver of the pig." Not long after that, the waitress brought my 猪肝面, and unexpectedly I found it very good. Now I often go to that restaurant to have some pork-liver noodles.

Another Epic Sightseeing Fail -- and Victoria Park

So, as if I needed any more proof that I don't know what I'm doing by myself in Hong Kong, I had another very interesting and confusing day.  My intention was to go to Ocean Park and have some fun.  Unfortunately, despite getting on a bus that had a stop specifically labeled "Ocean Park", I was surprised when the bus suddenly reached the end of its route.  The best that two bus drivers could do is point in a certain direction, presumably suggesting that I walk.  (Note:  Despite what you will be told, do not assume that all service personnel in Hong Kong can speak English, a couple times I have run into people who spoke neither English nor Mandarin.)

Anyway, walking in that direction didn't take me to Ocean Park (I'm sure there was some way to get to it, as the drivers both repeated "Ocean Park" to me.), instead, I ended up in Victoria Park.  Ah, well, it was alright, and I did manage to get some nice pictures before my camera died.   I hung out for a couple hours there and then explored around until I came upon a subway station and decided it was best to go back to the hostel and rest a bit.

EDIT:  Friend of mine told me what I did wrong.  Apparently I went to the wrong MTR station.

Hong Kong: Getting There

OK, so first of all, my story of getting to Hong Kong.

Traveling alone probably wasn't the best idea.  Neither was flying into Shenzhen (深圳) to save money.  Yes, I saved about US$150 but between my flight being delayed over an hour and not knowing what to do when I got there, I could have easily gotten stuck.  Luckily I got out of it.  Here's how things worked out:

I got to Shenzhen airport much later than I expected, and when I tried to take a bus into Hong Kong, the map I got was not helpful -- again, travelling alone to a place you've never been can be an issue.  I tried to call Hong Kong only to discover that my Chinese cell phone can't call Hong Kong, and though I specifically asked the woman I bought a phone card from if it could call HK (the pay phones in the Shenzhen airport do not take coins), it did not.  I did manage to roust up one HK friend on MSN via airport WiFi, but he couldn't help besides tell me to take a train.  So what did I do?  First, I got a taxi:

Me: 地铁站 (Subway station)
Driver: 什么地铁? (Which one?) <list of place names I didn't understand>
Me: 最近的地铁。(The closest subway.)


That got me to the Shenzhen subway system.  From there I was able to find the route to 罗湖 (Luohu) station which is one of the entrance points into Hong Kong, go through customs and immigration (which were apparently in the middle of a big shopping center, was lucky in that I could follow the signs saying "to Hong Kong") and eventually got onto a train and navigated to Fortress Hill (炮台山) station, which I remembered was close to the hostel I had reserved.

All in all it took me about five hours longer to get into Hong Kong than I had planned, and I missed meeting one of my friends, but now I'm here for a few days, may as well enjoy things.  I'll do another post later on my impressions of the city.

Encounters

Before I leave for Hong Kong I thought I would share a couple stories of Chinese people that I met since the start of my break. I felt it was important because, as I have mentioned before, our living situation at Zheda doesn't really encourage international students to meet Chinese friends (though it doesn't really inhibit it, it's just that the effort has to come from you). Both of these are situations where I sort of "stumbled upon" some potential friendships.

First, I met a couple of girls at the No. 4 cafeteria. I had bought a food card and been eating at the cafeterias for a while specifically hoping that I would "bump into" some Chinese people, and it apparently worked. I'll hold back on names just for now ... well OK, their English names are King and Cherubin. We had a long conversation after dinner that covered a wide range of topics from Chinese food to Chinese and American perceptions of Mao Zedong, and today I had a long walk with Cherubin around West Lake and another long chat.

Second is a bit funnier. After I had got back from dinner that day, there was an older gentleman in the little shop inside our dorm who wanted someone to help him practice his English. At first I wasn't so interested, but it is difficult to say no to old people in China. We talked for a while over coffee and then he invited me to dinner the next day (at a fairly fancy place, with dishes including duck tongue, hundred year old egg, and New Zealand beef). I found out that he was 53, has a son and a daughter, and that he will be retiring when he hits 60 and wants to travel to America after retirement. He also called his son-in-law, who works for local government, so I could talk to him and judge his English abilities. I didn't spend much time with the man (who I know as Mr. Wu), but that little bit of practice did seem to do some good for his English.

Finally, I have been having conversations with the staff off and on. Some of the staff at the international dorm really like to talk to foreigners, and ask me about where I am from, etc. Of course, I will always hold that a big part of the experience of studying in Chinese in a Chinese university is communicating with non-English speaking staff. It's essentially a certain amount of language practice that you cannot hope to avoid, even if it amounts to the laundry lady berating you for having too many clothes (more on that later, probably after Hong Kong).

Travel Plans

OK, I was holding off on posting this until everything was settled.

Tommorrow is the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. All schools get a week off for this holiday (starting on October first, rather than covering that week, oddly). As such, I won't have any classes until the 9th. So, I decided to travel to Hong Kong to visit some friends of mine.

I'm not leaving immediately, as I was late getting things arranged and can't find a place to stay the first few days. Instead, I will be flying to Shenzhen on China Air Lines flight 6327 and then taking a bus on my own into Hong Kong. I normally would not travel alone, but I was unable to find anyone to go to Hong Kong with me (most are going to Beijing or Shanghai, and a lot of the "undecideds" I've talked to don't have multiple-entry visas), and I have friends in Hong Kong that I haven't seen for several years, and I'm hoping to get one of them to meet me when I get there, or at least show me around a bit (of course, I know I'll be on my own some of the time, workers in HK don't get the week off, though mainlanders do).

Anyway, Hong Kong friends, send me an email or MSN if you can (not sure if I can get to facebook even through Tor right now).

Zhejiang University Impressions

Sorry for the delay. Between figuring out my internet and generally getting situated I've been slightly busy.


So far Zhejiang University (浙江大学) has made a pretty good impression on me. Despite a few hiccups in the registration and placement test, I've managed to get myself pretty much settled in. The quality of the dorms is fairly reminiscent of some of WVU's older dorms, and decently comfortable, and the restaurant in the international dorm has pretty good food (I haven't actually sampled the other cafeterias on campus, though from looking they seem to be similar to what I saw in Suzhou).


My main complaint is that as an international student, my whole world is basically in this one corner of the campus, and it's entirely too easy to just sit here the whole time and not go out and meet Chinese students, if you let yourself. That's not a huge problem, though, as I've been walking around on the main campus a good bit and been able to strike up some conversations, and it's not as if the international students here aren't interesting -- I have met some people from Spain, Australia, Japan, and a good number from South Korea. I'm hoping as time goes on there will be some events that include domestic students, and I have seen some potential opportunities starting to appear, more on that later.


Main Gate at Zheda

Zheda Main Gate by you.


International Student Dormitory

My Dorm by you.


The "supermarket" (超市) near my dorm

Campus Supermarket by you.


And of course ...

Who do you think by you.

... this area is right inside the main gate, you can't miss him.


Communication Status:


I have recently gotten my Internet working fully again. Most sites are accessible, and Flickr (which from reports had been blocked before) seems to be fully accessible, though Facebook, Twitter, and Wordpress.com are still unavailable without using some sort of workaround. I've been able to get Tor working, but it's very slow, so for people following this on Facebook, expect me to just check in once in a while, but not do too much there (having the new Facebook Lite interface is a help). Also, thanks for all the comments wishing me luck, sorry that I don't respond to them.


If you really need to contact me, the best ways are through my IM services (Skype, MSN, and QQ) or through email.



EDIT: Not two minutes after I posted this, Flickr was gone again. Meh. Could be just me, of course.

Update: Getting Ready to Go

Well, I haven't updated this for a long time, and I don't think anyone is following at all, but I thought I would make a post to say that I will be going to China very soon, and that means I will probably be posting somewhat regularly (Internet connection permitting) once I get there.  As it stands now, my plane leaves Pittsburgh on Friday morning and I will be arriving in Shanghai late at night on Saturday (late at night over in China that is).  Updates when I get to China.

Got my Shots

(Note: If you've traveled extensively, this post probably contains a lot of info you already know.  If you haven't traveled much, but plan to in the future, some of it might be useful.)

I got the results from my tuberculosis test today, negative as expected.  The TB test was part of a series of needles I had stuck into me Wednesday to make sure I had all the medical stuff I needed to travel.  The TB itself is mainly for China, since I will have a fairly long stay there -- the test is just a baseline, six weeks after I get back I'll have to take that test again to be sure I haven't contracted the virus.  In addition to the skin prick for TB, I got three vaccines:

Flu:  Parts of both Mexico and China are in the tropical regions, which have a year-round flu season.  The travel clinic had some left-over flu vaccine, so I decided to take it, but she told me that I should get another shot in China when this year's vaccine comes out.  This was also the least painful of the vaccines.

Hep-A booster:  Hepatitis A and B vaccinations are required for international travel.  I already had heb B before going to college, and I got the first round of hep A before going to China last year.   Now that I have the booster, I understand I should be covered for life.  I noticed that the hep A vaccine hurt more than the flu shot, I thought it used a higher gauge needle, but the doctor told me that it's just a heavier shot.

Typhoid:  You can find typhoid in both Mexico and China, but again, this is mainly for China, since it's an extended stay.  Typhoid is also recommended for "adventurous eaters" (I can be a tad adventurous, but not too crazy), and for rural areas (which I don't intend to visit all that much, at least for these trips).  There are two ways to get a typhoid vaccine -- the shot runs $60 and lasts two years, and the oral vaccine (taken every other day for seven days) costs about $40 and lasts five years, but it has to be refrigerated.  I don't have a refrigerator in the dorm, and I don't want to deal with having to remember to fill the prescription while I'm home during the summer, so I just got the shot this time.  This was the worst shot, made my shoulder a bit sore the rest of the day.  Not terribly bad, but when I renew in two years I think I'll go with the pills.

Well, that's all for the moment.

Where I'm going in 2009

So, since I've been starting to make arrangements, I decided I'd take a few minutes to post about my upcoming trips.  If you come accross this blog and don't know me personally, I am a Foreign Languages major at West Virginia University, studying Spanish and Chinese Studies.  That might seem a little odd, and the story of how that came about is somewhat interesting,but I'll leave that for another time -- I generally tell people that with English as my first language, this gives me the three most important languages in the world.

Anyway, I started this blog to post about two study abroad trips that I'll be taking this year.  The first one is to Guanajuato, Mexico (program page here), and it will be leaving May 9, meaning I'm hurrying to prepare for this one while at the same time studying for exams and working on final projects.  WVU has a number of exchange programs with la Universidad de Guanajuato.  This program is in there language school, which I'm told has a full range of courses from basic Spanish 101 up to advanced literature and culture courses.  I've already met several people from Guanajuato through exchanges and I'm very much looking forward to going there, partly because of friends there and partly because in three years of studying Spanish in the university (and a couple more back in high school), I have never been to a Spanish-speaking country or even to one of the predominantly Hispanic parts of the United States.  Mexico seems like a good place to start, close to home, I know people there, and it's the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.

My second trip is to Hangzhou, China (中国杭州).  I'll be leaving in the fall to study there at Zhejiang University (浙江大学), one of the most prestigious schools in China, for a semester.  A semester study abroad is basically required for the Chinese Studies portion of my major.  I visited Hangzhou last year while studying on Suzhou (which is just to the north).  It's near Shanghai, and while we didn't stay long enough to get a good feel for the town, my first impression was that Hangzhou would be a good "home base" for a foreigner living in China for an extended period.  It's in a fairly rich area, very foreigner friendly with a tourist-oriented atmosphere, but not as big as Shanghai or Beijing.  The size is totally relative, though -- to me, as an American coming from a small town, what Chinese think of as a "town" is a big city to me.

Anyway, if I haven't bored you enough already, come on back and take a look when I have something more to publish.  I'm hoping to do another post before I leave to talk about some of the things I've been doing to prepare for my trips.  Until then see you.