What’s it been? Broadsides (5/5)
Wednesday 7 March 2012, 3.00am HKT
(Updated 07 Mar 2012 to fix broken links)
If following some certain blogs has turned out to be a source of consternation for some of you, then tuning them out and unsubscribing clearly makes you a better man (or woman) than I am.
Here are my broadly aimed indiscriminate broadsides for 2011.
NOTE: ‘You’ is being used throughout below in plural form (i.e. ‘you yourselves’).
* * *
To the linguistics blogs
* MESSAGE *
You’re a goddamn disgrace to the language (any),
and to language lovers too.
Truth be told (and to behold), the attitude and standard of writing on many linguistic sites or blogs leave woefully to be desired. (Or do we say ‘room for improvement’ nowadays?) Of all people, it falls on linguistics people to make elementary technical mistakes, such as:—
- overlong paragraphs (i.e. more than 200 words a paragraph)
- using non-technical words with meanings that don’t conform to widely accepted meanings
- mixing metaphors
- incorrect levels of active vs. passive language
- inability or unwillingness to restate matters in everyday language or context after stating the matters in technical form
Point 5 is death knell to those who pitch their sing-song about making technical matters more accessible and eclectic to others.
Playing dirty little tricks
What’s so unpleasant for me (and also for quite a lot of people I know) isn’t the blog content itself. It’s the piss-pauvre way their bloggers and commenters treat and argue with other commenters (especially the new ones).
- They have a ‘tone’ in their writing.
- They have this offensive, surly kind of sardonism at those whom they consider to be ‘uitlanders’ (outsiders) seemingly based solely on their received academic wisdom.
Their sardonistic antics would have been funny and more entertaining if there had been humour somewhere in there. Instead of humour, there was overweening intellectual pride.
I don’t know whether to describe you as malicious in the sense of malice, or malicious in the legal sense of reckless, especially when you play dirty little tricks on your new readers and new commenters (as discussed in Part 4 before).
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then many of these linguistics blogs have a noticeable tendency to do this to their readers:—
To the China-related blogs
* MESSAGE *
See Ye Olde Hong Kong flag below.
Even the Chinese find themselves inscrutable and hard to explain — and here you are trying your hardest to be like the Chinese, when you’re anything but. And it shows.
You know the minutiae and mechanismata of life in mainland China more than the rest of us. That much is clear. Equally clear is that, your five to 10 years of living there, an expert does not make of you (broadly speaking).
Nasty and unspeakable
Many of the deeper, more fluid nuances of Chineseness, of being Chinese — of the seemingly atavistic ‘practices’ of the Chinese in general (and of the mainlanders in particular) — actually still escapes you. And it shows.
And for some bizarre reason, why is it that you — English yakkers the lot of you — end up writing English with a pronounced Chinglish bent?
Have you forgotten your own tongue?
Did you do something nasty and unspeakable with your tongue somehere?
Most of you are (or were) in China as foreign-language or English teachers of one shade or another, living (or having lived) there with all the mod cons (relatively speaking) of an expat life there. Let’s make no mistake about that, shall we?
Chalk and cheese
If expat and local life in Hong Kong (a place with a high degree of Westernisation among the Chinese part of the population) are as different as chalk and cheese, then it behoves you to realise that yours over there is even more different.
In my own experience of China-watchers and China-livers (and it IS pretty extensive an experience), you are only touching the surface surfactant (the thing that lowers the surface tension).
Not very good in self-control
Credit where credit’s due, there are a handful of smashingly good China-watching blogs, particularly one whose host is extremely adept at playing ‘softball’ (figuratively speaking). And there are some really good and easygoing commenters who do know what’s what and what’s not in China and about the Chinese.
However, the large morass of this ‘chinesed’ community of bloggers and commenters are:—
(a) mostly pugnacious crybabies,
(b) spreading their need to make a ‘statement’ a bit too thick sometimes,
(c) not noticeably gifted on the context-spotting department, and
(d) prattling on about some trivial WTF behaviour of the people in their locale.
Some people are not very good in self-control and don’t realise when they overdoing their bit of trying-ever-so-hard to stand out from the competition.
China isn’t a pretty place, and most Chinese (on home turf as well as overseas) are insightful enough that they themselves are either bitches or bastards — you knew full well when you got there, so quit complaining.
Were YOU here when THIS was here?
If not, then you know bollocks about China or Chinese people.
To the Chinese-related linguistics blogs
* MESSAGE *
Are you a true, real-life licensed professional?
Or are you just another ‘professional’?
You should be so lucky that you are enjoying your success in the blogosphere. I am happy for you in that respect (and that respect only). Otherwise, you come across roundly as self-righteous and more than a little biased in your views.
I have never ever in my life for the longest time met anybody so swelled up in their (or, prescriptively grammatically, his or her?) ‘discipline’ (i.e. field of study).
Please don’t project yourselves as ‘professionals’ because, otherwise, you’ll need to reassess your understanding of the word ‘professional.’
As a non-practising professional myself (lawyer), I reckon I have a better-than-expected understanding on this score. *Snorg*
Just because you can speak and/or read and write Chinese (plus a dozen or so other languages, whether or not deeply or fluently), please don’t diss the rest of us for being ignorant. We’re not unaware you’re dissing us.
- You have a ‘tone’ in your writing, and that’s upsetting to say the least.
- You come across as argumentative, which is consistent with self-centredness.
- You mostly have an avoidance personality disorder in the way you generally regard other people’s comments.
‘When you put in the hours’
The really grostesque aspect of these Chinese-related lingo blogs is that they have a high number of commenters who adhere (obey?) the line that Chinese is not difficult, often occurring in the same breath with the words “when you put in the hours” — all suitably laced with all manners of arcana linguistica just to prevent others from putting in a slightly different viewpoint.
- Just because you’ve learnt Chinese and maybe because you like to learn Chinese, what makes you so goddamn sure it isn’t hard for the rest of us?
- Just because your linguistics background says you’re right, what makes you so goddamn sure that the rest of us is not right?
Actually,organic chemistry and biology (both I got trained in before law) aren’t difficult when you put in the hours. Neither is law when you put in the (massive) hours. But we don’t hear you saying dimethylphosphatase-assisted redox reactions or promissory estoppel or liens or constructive superannuation not difficult, do we? Derp.
Even mathematics frequently gets things wrong.
What makes yours so infallible?
Try actually asking an actual Chinaman about his or her actual history of learning the actual Chinese language on an actual day actually face to face. To say nothing also about actually learning your actual Chinese history actually better with regards to the actual politically inspired (vs. formalised linguistic) evolution of the Chinese language. Actually.
- The truth is, many, many Chinese themselves consider Chinese to be quite hard, even with the hours put in.
These Sino-lingo blogs are the equivalent of the space virus in “The Andromeda Strain” for those old enough to remember that 1969 film.
Did you have to start learning this at kindergarten age?
If not, then you have no idea how hard it is to learn it.
Because the hours put in, likewise take away hours from childhood.
“You make me wish I had more middle fingers.”
Be thankful, be gracious, that I have not named names. In the Year of the Destructive Dragon, I may change my mind. As a lawyer myself, albeit non-practising, I can shut you down with little or no cost to me if I get riled enough to do that.
Believe it or not, one Sino-lingo blogger managed to get me into such a rage in a certain thread that I was clenching fists that went white at the knuckles. Still.
I’ve had only four other ‘white-knuckle’ incidents before (not counting this one). Three of them ended in litigation in my favour, and one (shall we say) led to considerable distress for the other person.
I’m not naturally a vicious person, but I did go to law school, which is where they teach people how to be vicious. So there.
The timebar for litigation is six years.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.
Give me grief like that, and I hand you reprisals.
See you in court, pal, because you didn’t realise you made defamatory statements about me. I have the full-page screencaps as evidence.
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.
Images: Former Hong Kong colonial flag (public domain) via Wikipedia ♦ World map graphic and Chinese characters chart powered by Zemanta/WordPress ♦ Other images as indicated.