Chinglish with tones

Jun. 23rd, 2017 07:57 pm
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Posted by Victor Mair

4th tone – 3rd tone, it would appear:

Well, maybe not; the diacritics are probably meant to indicate vowel quality, but I don’t know what system (if any) they are using.

Ben Zimmer writes:

The diacritics may be intended to evoke pinyin tone marks, but they’re also reminiscent of dictionary-style phonetic respelling and stress marking. The grave accent on “ì” could be intended as an indicator of primary stress, though that’s more typically marked with an acute accent. And the breve on the “ĭ” is a common enough way to represent /ɪ/ (the macron is used for long vowels and the breve for short vowels — see, e.g., Phonics on the Web). But this use of diacritics as typographical ornamentation is never very consistent — recall the styling of the play Chinglish as “Ch’ing·lish”.

The illustration appears at the top of this article:

It turns out that the image used by the People’s Daily originally appeared as a promotion for the play Chinglish that Ben mentioned, specifically for its performance by the Singaporean theater company Pangdemonium in 2015. See the Pangdemonium website, as well as local coverage by PopSpoken and Today. So the People’s Daily may have searched for a “Chinglish” image online and borrowed this one, without giving proper credit. (Credit should go to Olivier Henry of MILK Photographie.)

The six individuals in the picture seem to be aspiring to some idealized form of Chinglish in the sky above, overlying the cloud shrouded five star design of the Chinese flag, leading them on.  The thrust of the People’s Daily article, however, is anything but adulatory of Chinglish:

Chinese authorities on June 20 issued a national standard for the use of English in the public domain, eradicating poor translations that damage the country’s image.

The standard, jointly issued by China’s Standardization Administration and General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, aims to improve the quality of English translations in 13 public arenas, including transportation, entertainment, medicine and financial services. It will take effect on Dec. 1, 2017.

According to the standard, English translations should prioritize correct grammar and a proper register, while rare expressions and vocabulary words should be avoided. The standard requires that English not be overused in public sectors, and that translations not contain content that damages the images of China or other countries. Discriminatory and hurtful words have also been banned. The standard provided sample translations for reference, and warned against direct translation.

There are perpetual plans for eliminating Chinglish in China, but they are unlikely ever to materialize unless professional translators are sought after for their expertise and paid accordingly.

Earlier calls for the elimination of English more generally are no longer heard from responsible persons:

Now the goal is more reasonably just to get rid of Chinglish, but that will not happen on December 1, 2017 when the new standards go into effect.  Although it will take many years for their full implementation and realization, the standards are admirable goals to aim for.

See also:

[h.t. Jim Fanell, Toni Tan]

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Posted by Guest Reviewer


The Moon in the Palace

by Weina Dai Randel
March 1, 2016 · Sourcebooks Landmark
RomanceHistorical: Other

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Turophile. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance category.

The summary:

There is no easy path for a woman aspiring to power

A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the Emperor’s attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the Emperor a gift he can never forget.

Mei’s intelligence and curiosity, the same traits that make her an outcast among the other concubines, impress the Emperor. But just as she is in a position to seduce the most powerful man in China, divided loyalties split the palace in two, culminating in a perilous battle that Mei can only hope to survive.

In the breakthrough first volume in the Empress of Bright Moon duology, Weina Dai Randel paints a vibrant portrait of ancient China—where love, ambition, and loyalty can spell life of death—and the woman who came to rule it all.

Here is Turophile's review:

Our heroine Mei is summoned to the Emperor’s palace after her father’s untimely death. There she quickly discovers the social stratification among the emperor’s many concubines. She also learns the intricate politics among the women, though not as quickly as perhaps she should have to succeed in her overriding goal: attracting the Emperor’s attention quickly so that she could assist her mother.

The most intriguing aspect of this book is the interpersonal dynamics between the women and the elaborate political games in which they engage. In ancient China (and in many other places), external power belongs to the men. At the Emperor’s Court, a woman’s worth and power derives from the interest displayed by the Emperor as well as the success in bearing the Emperor male heirs. Because access to and the favor of the Emperor is a scarce resource, the relationships between the women are fraught with intrigue and power struggles. Mei learns this the hard way when she is betrayed by a woman whom she believed was a friend and almost mentor.

Throughout the book, she faces dilemmas about whom to trust and to align with. Making these choices becomes even more difficult when she develops a friendship with and later an attraction to a young man whom she learns is the Emperor’s son. As this book progresses, she learns from each mistake and further cements her own power base though the book ends before that power is fully realized. Thankfully, there’s another book in the series and I plan to read it. If you enjoy novels about relationships between women and women finding their own inner strength through those relationships, you will enjoy this book.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the book for me was that the language felt too contemporary. It’s a challenge writing of an ancient time in a vernacular that modern readers will enjoy, but in general I found the dialogue too simplistic.

Reviewing this book has been a challenge for me because I wanted to like it more. Historical Chinese novels are a favorite genre for me, but the downside is that I can’t help but compare one book to another. Compared to other novels I’ve read set in similar time periods or of young women who find themselves in an Emperor’s court forced to survive on their wit, I didn’t enjoy this book as much. It doesn’t feel fair to even raise that comparison, however, when I’ve read and continue to read umpteen books set it in the Regency period. Thus, I’d still recommend this book but urge readers to follow-up to it by exploring other Chinese or Chinese American authors who write historical fiction and/or historical romance set in China, including but not limited to Anchee Min, Jung Chang, Jeannie Lin and more.

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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Flashback Friday.

Stiff competition for entrance to private preschools and kindergartens in Manhattan has created a test prep market for children under 5. The New York Times profiled Bright Kids NYC. The owner confesses that “the parents of the 120 children her staff tutored [in 2010] spent an average of $1,000 on test prep for their 4-year-olds.”  This, of course, makes admission to schools for the gifted a matter of class privilege as well as intelligence.

The article also tells the story of a woman without the resources to get her child, Chase, professional tutoring:

Ms. Stewart, a single mom working two jobs, didn’t think the process was fair. She had heard widespread reports of wealthy families preparing their children for the kindergarten gifted test with $90 workbooks, $145-an-hour tutoring and weekend “boot camps.”

Ms. Stewart used a booklet the city provided and reviewed the 16 sample questions with Chase. “I was online trying to find sample tests,” she said. “But everything was $50 or more. I couldn’t afford that.”

Ms. Stewart can’t afford tutoring for Chase; other parents can. It’s unfair that entrance into kindergarten level programs is being gamed by people with resources, disadvantaging the most disadvantaged kids from the get go. I think many people will agree.

But the more insidious value, the one that almost no one would identify as problematic, is the idea that all parents should do everything they can to give their child advantages. Even Ms. Stewart thinks so. “They want to help their kids,” she said. “If I could buy it, I would, too.”

Somehow, in the attachment to the idea that we should all help our kids get every advantage, the fact that advantaging your child disadvantages other people’s children gets lost.  If it advantages your child, it must be advantaging him over someone else; otherwise it’s not an advantage, you see?

I felt like this belief (that you should give your child every advantage) and it’s invisible partner (that doing so is hurting other people’s children) was rife in the FAQs on the Bright Kids NYC website.

Isn’t my child too young to be tutored?

These programs are very competitive, the answers say, and you need to make sure your kid does better than other children.  It’s never too soon to gain an advantage.

My child is already bright, why does he or she need to be prepared?

Because being bright isn’t enough.  If you get your kid tutoring, she’ll be able to show she’s bright in exactly the right way. All those other bright kids that can’t get tutoring won’t get in because, after all, being bright isn’t enough.

Is it fair to “prep” for the standardized testing?

Of course it’s fair, the website claims!  It’s not only fair, it’s “rational”!  What parent wouldn’t give their child an advantage!?  They avoid actually answering the question. Instead, they make kids who don’t get tutoring invisible and then suggest that you’d be crazy not to enroll your child in the program.

My friend says that her child got a very high ERB [score] without prepping.  My kid should be able to do the same.

Don’t be foolish, the website responds. This isn’t about being bright, remember. Besides, your friend is lying. They’re spending $700,000 dollars on their kid’s schooling (aren’t we all!?) and we can’t disclose our clients but, trust us, they either forked over a grand to Bright Kids NYC or test administrators.

Test prep for kindergartners seems like a pretty blatant example of class privilege. But, of course, the argument that advantaging your own kid necessarily involves disadvantaging someone else’s applies to all sorts of things, from tutoring, to a leisurely summer with which to study for the SAT, to financial support during their unpaid internships, to helping them buy a house and, thus, keeping home prices high.

I think it’s worth re-evaluating. Is giving your kid every advantage the moral thing to do?

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

(View original at

Ask Language Log: “assuage”

Jun. 23rd, 2017 11:41 am
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Posted by Mark Liberman

Query from a reader:

Is it correct to use the word assuage to indicate a lessening of something? That is, it is often used in the realm of feelings, i.e. assuage hunger, assuage grief, etc. But would it be acceptable to use to indicate the lessening of something more tangible, such as assuage criminality, assuage the flow of water, assuage drug use.

I probably wouldn’t use assuage to describe the lowering of flood waters or the amelioration of traffic jams. But I don’t have any special standing to rule on such matters, so as usual, let’s look at how others use the word.

The OED’s entry for assuage, which is flagged as “not yet … fully updated (first published 1885)”, has several senses marked as “arch. or Obs.” that don’t involve “angry or excited feelings”, or beings in such a state.

There’s the transitive form glossed “To abate, lessen, diminish (esp. anything swollen)”, with examples like

1774   J. Bryant New Syst. II. 284   The Dove..brought the first tidings that the waters of the deep were asswaged.

There’s the intransitive inchoative version of the same, glossed “To grow less, diminish, decrease, fall off, die away; to abate, subside”, with examples like

1611   Bible (King James) Gen. viii. 1   And the waters asswaged .

COCA has 509 instances of “assuage”, 134 of “assuaged”, 46 of “assuaging”, and 17 of “assuages”. Looking at a random sample of 100, we find that all 100 are transitive, and that in 98 of them, what’s assuaged is an negatively-evaluated emotion or feeling or concern (“the community’s grief”, “his guilt”, “such mortal concerns”, “the twitchy sensation in my cells”, “white opposition to slave conversion”, “my hunger”, “Democratic anxieties”, “India’s complaints”, “feelings of humiliation”, the monarch’s fears”, “his own damaged pride”, “the egos of movie stars”, “my curiosity”, …), or an person or group of people subject to such emotions or feelings or concerns (“his uneasy party”, “the academic intellectual community”, “the larger man”, “international critics of the war”, “his jittery passenger”, “the chiefs”, “the dealers”, …).

The two exceptions in the sample are these:

In The Efficiency Trap, Steve Hallett claims that we will exhaust many of our resources by the 2030s, and violence and chaos will erupt as a result. Hallett proposes recycling and growing food locally as possible means of assuaging the damage.

The measure, which awaits Senate approval of a minor amendment next week, can not assuage the impending disaster that will kill virtually all the fish in the Dolores River this summer.

With respect to the specific examples in the query, Google finds

“assuage criminality”: one example [link] Please reconsider your gig – don’t play for a segregated audience in Israel and make of yourself a balm to assuage criminality.

“assuage the flow of water”: no examples (though see biblical examples cited by the OED)

assuage drug use: one example [link] Becker’s neoliberal drug policy presumes to assuage drug use and addiction by the instantiation of a highly regulated market as a system of control.

So the verdict of norma loquendi seems to be that applying assuage to things other than people and their feelings is out of fashion and currently marginal.


Chihayafuru, Vol. 3

Jun. 23rd, 2017 07:52 am
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Posted by Sean Gaffney

By Yuki Suetsugu. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Be Love. Released in North America digitally by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Ko Ransom.

There’s a lot going on in this volume of Chihayafuru, which is starting to find its feet. We gain a new member of the karuta club, which has now hit the required five. Tsutomu, aka “Desk-kun”, is an introverted, small, nerdy guy who seems to be devoted to studies and has few friends. But once Chihaya sets her sights on him (which involves, at one point, kidnapping him), and he realizes that one of the otehr players on the team is in fact the #1 stude3nt in the school, he wonders if karuta can help his focus in other areas as well. I like Tsutomu. He brings a rookie lack of confidence that this sort of series always needs, and his crisis of faith towards the end of the book is both dramatic and understandable. What’s more, his suggestion of playing karuta with the poem-side down leads to a match of pure memorization between Taichi and Chihaya, and gives him his first big triumph.

Chihaya’s learning a lot in this volume, mostly as they now have a full team of five, which means that they have to learn how to play Karuta as a team – not that they play together, but such things as setting the right order for the matches and having trust that your other teammates are going to be fine. She’s also thrown off by one of her first opponents, who even gets her precious Chihaya card, which makes you feel like she’s going to break. (Her inner monologue has everything sounding far away to her, thus ruining her hearing advantage. I like this detail, as it makes it sound like she’s about to pass out – I’ve had that feeling myself.) Oddly, the true heart and leader of the team ends up being Taichi, who always knows the right think to say to Chihaya to snap her out of whatever funk she’s in. I suspect this is meant to be a love triangle with Arata, but given Arata’s ongoing absence it’s easier to fall on the Taichi side.

This volume is almost all karuta, but not entirely – there’s a “training session” at Taichi’s house that is just an excuse to give Chihaya a surprise birthday party. Sadly, it’s ruined when his incredibly strict mother comes home early, and the girls have to take off, but they at least get to meet up later (and we get an Arata text message cameo.) Chihaya continues to be the main reason to read the manga – Taichi may be the heart of the team, but she’s the heart of this series, and her incredible emotional ups and downs make for thrilling reading. Karuta isn’t just ‘let’s have fun and make friends’ anymore – by the end of the volume, the entire team is thinking ‘I want to win’ like it’s a mantra. Playing in a competitive sport means pushing your limits, and not slacking off. There’s a cliffhanger here, and Vol. 4 isn’t on Kodansha’s schedule yet, but I hope it comes soon. Unmissable.

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Posted by SB Sarah

Today I chat with Dr. Kecia Ali, Professor of Religion at Boston University, and author of a new book, Human in Death: Morality and Mortality in JD Robb’s Novels. We discuss what inspired her to write a book about the series, which is now 45+ books in, and what she discovered with her multiple and attentive re-reads of key novels. We talk about portrayals of ethics, family, friendship, race, women’s work, and of course violence, and we hear what she’s working on next – and of course what Dr. Ali is reading, too.

If you’re at all familiar with the In Death world, this part should not be a surprise: Trigger Warnings for discussion of sexual assault, violence, abuse, and rape in the plots of the In Death books.

I also want to give a very special thank you to Dr. Sara Ronis, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at St. Mary’s University in Texas. She emailed me before this book came out to suggest. Dr. Ali as a guest – and she was totally right. I learned so much from this interview. So thank you to Dr. Ali, and to Dr. Ronis.

And! If you’re at all curious about Human in Death, Dr. Ali’s book, her publisher, Baylor Press, has been supremely awesome!

First, we have a giveaway of one hardcover copy, so if you’d like to enter, head over to the podcast entry. There will be a Rafflecopter widget for you to drop your email into. This giveaway is open to US and Canada only, must be over 18 and ready to learn all the things, void where prohibited. By submitting  an entry to the contest as set forth herein, each entrant does acknowledge and agree that, in the event such entrant is victorious, such entrant will perform a ceremony reasonably appropriate to such circumstance, including, without limitation, the Miposian Dance of Joy or all the dances from What the Fox Said.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We also have a discount code! Use code BSBT at, and you ’ll get 20% off the cover price and free shipping. Thank you to Dr. Ali, and to David and Savannah at Baylor Press for hooking us up.

Listen to the podcast →
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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

You can learn more about Kecia Ali and her work at her website, and on her BU page as well.

And if you’re interested in the romance track at the PCA/ACA conference, there are a ton of details online.

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Posted by Victor Mair

My own investigations on the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age peoples of Eastern Central Asia (ECA) began essentially as a genetics cum linguistics project back in the early 90s.  That was not long after the extraction of mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) from ancient human tissues and its amplification by means of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) became possible.

By the mid-90s I had grown somewhat disenchanted with ancient DNA (aDNA) studies because the data were insufficient to determine the origins and affiliations of various early groups with satisfactory precision, neither spatially nor temporally.  Around the same time, I began to realize that other types of materials, such as textiles and metals, provided powerful diagnostic evidence.

By the late 90s, combining findings from all of these fields and others, I was willing to advance the hypothesis that some of the mummies of ECA, especially the earliest ones dating to around 1800 BC, may have spoken a pre-proto-form of Tocharian when they were alive (some people think it’s funny or scary to imagine that mummies once could speak).  This hypothesis was presented at an international conference held at the University of Pennsylvania in April, 1996, which was attended by more than a hundred archeologists, linguists, geneticists, physical anthropologists, textile specialists, metallurgists, geographers, climatologists, historians, mythologists, and ethnologists — including more than half a dozen of the world’s most distinguished Tocharianists.  It was most decidedly a multidisciplinary conference before it became fashionable to call academic endeavors by such terms (see ” Xdisciplinary” [6/14/17]).  The papers from the conference were collected in this publication:

Victor H. Mair, The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Peoples of Eastern Central Asia (Washington, D.C.: Institute for the Study of Man Inc. in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Museum Publications, 1998).  2 vols.

See also:

J. P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair, The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West. (2000). Thames & Hudson. London.

Early Indo-Europeans in Xinjiang” (11/19/08)

It is only very recently, within the last ten years or so, that Y-chromosome analysis has been brought into play for the study of ancient DNA.  See Toomas Kivisild, “The study of human Y chromosome variation through ancient DNA“, Human Genetics, 2017; 136(5): 529–546; published online 2017 Mar 4. doi:  10.1007/s00439-017-1773-z.*  Since only males carry the Y-chromosome, this has made it possible to trace the patriline of individuals.  This, coupled with the massive accumulation and detailed analysis of modern DNA with increasing sophistication and the rise of the interdisciplinary (!) field referred to as genomics, has made studies on the genetics of premodern people, including their origins, migrations, and affinities, far more exacting than it was during the 90s when I did the bulk of my investigations on the early inhabitants of the Tarim Basin.

Now it is possible to draw on the results of genetics research to frame and more reliably solve questions about the development of languages from their homeland to the far-flung places where they subsequently came to be spoken.  One such inquiry is described in this article:

Tony Joseph, “How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate“, The Hindu (6/16/17).

It is significant that this substantial article appeared in The Hindu, since there is a strong bias against such conclusions among Indian nationalists (see “Indigenous Aryans“).  It begins thus:

New DNA evidence is solving the most fought-over question in Indian history. And you will be surprised at how sure-footed the answer is, writes Tony Joseph

The thorniest, most fought-over question in Indian history is slowly but surely getting answered: did Indo-European language speakers, who called themselves Aryans, stream into India sometime around 2,000 BC – 1,500 BC when the Indus Valley civilisation came to an end, bringing with them Sanskrit and a distinctive set of cultural practices? Genetic research based on an avalanche of new DNA evidence is making scientists around the world converge on an unambiguous answer: yes, they did.

Joseph’s paper is informed, sensitive, balanced, and nuanced.  This is responsible science journalism.

The scientific paper itself, “A Genetic Chronology for the Indian Subcontinent Points to Heavily Sex-biased Dispersals” by Marina Silva, Marisa Oliveira, Daniel Vieira, Andreia Brandão, Teresa Rito, Joana B. Pereira, Ross M. Fraser, Bob Hudson, Francesca Gandini, Ceiridwen Edwards, Maria Pala, John Koch, James F. Wilson, Luísa Pereira, Martin B. Richards, and Pedro Soares, was published in BMC Evolutionary Biology (3/23/17) ( DOI: 10.1186/s12862-017-0936-9).

I’m skeptical of many of the claims put forward by geneticists concerning origins and dispersals, not just about humans, but also about horses, dogs, cats, plants, and so forth.  This study, however, is both cautious and solid.  Moreover, it fits well with the archeological evidence (more below).

Here are two key paragraphs from the scientific paper (numbers in square brackets are to accessible references):

Although some have argued for co-dispersal of the Indo-Aryan languages with the earliest Neolithic from the Fertile Crescent [88, 89], others have argued that, if any language family dispersed with the Neolithic into South Asia, it was more likely to have been the Dravidian family now spoken across much of central and southern India [12]. Moreover, despite a largely imported suite of Near Eastern domesticates, there was also an indigenous component at Mehrgarh, including zebu cattle [85, 86, 90]. The more widely accepted “Steppe hypothesis” [91, 92] for the origins of Indo-European has recently received powerful support from aDNA evidence. Genome-wide, Y-chromosome and mtDNA analyses all suggest Late Neolithic dispersals into Europe, potentially originating amongst Indo-European-speaking Yamnaya pastoralists that arose in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe by ~5 ka, with expansions east and later south into Central Asia in the Bronze Age [53, 76, 93, 94, 95]. Given the difficulties with deriving the European Corded Ware directly from the Yamnaya [96], a plausible alternative (yet to be directly tested with genetic evidence) is an earlier Steppe origin amongst Copper Age Khavlyn, Srednij Stog and Skelya pastoralists, ~7-5.5 ka, with an infiltration of southeast European Chalcolithic Tripolye communities ~6.4 ka, giving rise to both the Corded Ware and Yamnaya when it broke up ~5.4 ka [12].

An influx of such migrants into South Asia would likely have contributed to the CHG component in the GW [VHM:  genome-wide] analysis found across the Subcontinent, as this is seen at a high rate amongst samples from the putative Yamnaya source pool and descendant Central Asian Bronze Age groups. Archaeological evidence suggests that Middle Bronze Age Andronovo descendants of the Early Bronze Age horse-based, pastoralist and chariot-using Sintashta culture, located in the grasslands and river valleys to the east of the Southern Ural Mountains and likely speaking a proto-Indo-Iranian language, probably expanded east and south into Central Asia by ~3.8 ka. Andronovo groups, and potentially Sintashta groups before them, are thought to have infiltrated and dominated the soma-using Bactrian Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) in Turkmenistan/northern Afghanistan by 3.5 ka and possibly as early as 4 ka. The BMAC came into contact with the Indus Valley civilisation in Baluchistan from ~4 ka onwards, around the beginning of the Indus Valley decline, with pastoralist dominated groups dispersing further into South Asia by ~3.5 ka, as well as westwards across northern Iran into Syria (which came under the sway of the Indo-Iranian-speaking Mitanni) and Anatolia [12, 95, 97, 98].

The spread of R1a into South Asia had earlier been securely documented in Peter A. Underhill, et al., “The phylogenetic and geographic structure of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a“, European Journal of Human Genetics (2015) 23, 124–131; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2014.50; published online 26 March 2014.

The precise coalescence of R1a within South Asia was identified in Monika Karmin, et al., “A recent bottleneck of Y chromosome diversity coincides with a global change in culture“, Genome Research (2015);

This kind of male migration theory is proposed with arguments based on archeological evidence in the last pages of H.-P. Francfort, “La civilisation de l’Oxus et les Indo-Iraniens et Indo-Aryens”, in: Aryas, Aryens et Iraniens en Asie Centrale (Collège de France. Publications de l’Institut de Civilisation Indienne, vol. 72), G. Fussman, J. Kellens, H.-P. Francfort, et X. Tremblay (eds.) (Paris:  Diffusion de Boccard, 2005) pp. 253-328.  The complete paper is on academia website.

Michael Witzel has favored this, the (Indo-)Aryan Migration view, on linguistic and textual grounds since at least 1995 and was constantly criticized for saying so. See his papers of 1995, 2001:

“Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts.”  EJVS (May 2001) pdf.

“Early Indian History: Linguistic and Textual Parameters.”  In: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity: The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia. Ed. G. Erdosy (Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 1995), 85-125; —  Rgvedic history: poets, chieftains and politics, loc. cit. 307-352 combined pdf (uncorrected).

and the substrate paper of 1999:

“Early Sources for South Asian Substrate Languages.” Mother Tongue (1999, extra number) pdf

Some relevant Language Log posts:

Dating Indo-European” (12/10/03)

The Linguistic Diversity of Aboriginal Europe” (1/6/09)

Horse and wheel in the early history of Indo-European” (1/10/09)

More on IE wheels and horses ” (1/10/09)

Inheritance versus lexical borrowing: a case with decisive sound-change evidence” (1/13/09)

The place and time of Proto-Indo-European: Another round” (8/24/12)

Irish DNA and Indo-European origins” (12/31/15)

*For those who are interested in the development of aDNA Y-chromosome studies beginning in the 2000s, I have some additional documentation and several relevant papers that I can send to you.

[Thanks to Richard Villems, Toomas Kivisild, and Peter Underhill]

Manga the Week of 6/28/17

Jun. 22nd, 2017 10:08 pm
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Posted by Sean Gaffney

SEAN: It’s the end of the fiscal year! The real 2016 ends on June 30th! What are publishers putting out before the end of the budget?

Bookwalker has been a site that distributes digital titles for many publishers, but they’ve decided to dip their own toe into the pond with a new light novel series, The Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress. It appears to feature delicious bread.

MELINDA: I do like delicious bread… Can a great title like this lure me into a light novel series? Stay tuned to find out!

SEAN: I’m always wary to list DMP titles these days given how iffy they’ve been with print the last two years, but The Tyrant Falls in Love 10 is still listed by Amazon as coming out next week.

ASH: Yeah… DMP’s distribution is almost nonexistent these days. The manga might eventually make it to other sellers, but The Tyrant Falls in Love, Volume 10 isn’t even available through June Manga’s website yet.

SEAN: J-Novel Club has another debut with Demon King Daimaou, a fairly old series that had an anime out back in 2010. It has a magical academy, a boy who will grow to be a demon king, a harem of girls who zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

Kodansha wraps up a license rescue next week, as Nodame Cantabile comes to an end with Vols. 24 and 25. There’s also a 14th Yozakura Quartet.

In print, there’s a 3rd volume of Clockwork Planet.

Back to digital for the 2nd volume of Giant Killing, which is not about killing giants in a fantasy way, just in a sports way.

MICHELLE: And it’s so good! I’m looking forward to this one.

SEAN: Kodansha’s print debut next week is Land of the Lustrous (Houseki no Kuni), a seinen series from afternoon about gemstones fighting in a war. From what I’ve seen, the gemstones are genderless, so be warned that there may be a translation fight here (remember Wish?).

ASH: I am rather curious about this series. (And speaking of Wish, I wonder if Dark Horse’s forthcoming omnibus edition will be using a new translation… )

MELINDA: So… like Steven Universe, but without Steven?

SEAN: And a new volume of Vinland Saga is always welcome, here’s the 9th.

ANNA: Yay! I have been buying these faithfully even though I have not read them yet. Waiting until I feel particularly vikingish to go on a reading binge.

ASH: It is SO GOOD. I’m thrilled that we’re getting more of the series! There were some really great female characters introduced recently, too.

SEAN: Seven Seas has not one, but two debuts next week. The first is Beasts of Abigaile (Bara Kangoku no Kemono-tachi), a shoujo manga from Princess (man, have we had any Princess titles since Tokyopop shut down its manga?) that’s a reverse harem with werewolves.

ANNA: OK, paranormal reverse harem does interest me.

MELINDA: Maybe, maybe…

SEAN: Concrete Revolutio: The Complete Saga, as the name might suggest, is a done-in-one omnibus from Young Ace. The subtitle in Japan is “Superhero Fantasy”, and that seems entirely correct.

MICHELLE: Both appear to feature protagonists with pink hair!

SEAN: Seven Seas also has a new omnibus of Freezing, Vols. 15-16.

And there’s also a 5th Hour of the Zombie, which has caught up to Japan, I believe.

Udon, like DMP, has constantly slipping and sliding dates on Amazon, but it does say the 4th Persona 3 is out next week.

ASH: I’m not enjoying the Persona 3 adaptation nearly as much as the Persona 4 adaptation.

SEAN: Vertical gives us the 4th massive tome in their BLAME! Master’s Edition.

And a 2nd volume of slice-of-magical-life series Flying Witch.

MICHELLE: I enjoyed volume one quite a bit, so I’m looking forward to this!

SEAN: Vertical Inc. has the next novel in the Monogatari series. Nisemonogatari is split into two volumes that deal with Araragi’s younger sisters – this is the first, Karen Bee.

Viz has a new digital release, at least “new” in terms of a collected volume. The Emperor and I runs in Shonen Jump+, and is, well, about an emperor. An emperor penguin, that is.

Yen Press has some digital titles as well, with the 11th Corpse Princess and the 10th Saki.

They also have two digital debuts. Gesellschaft Blue is a Young Gangan series filled with blood, gore and action. It’s a very dark fantasy.

IM: The Great Priest Imhotep seems more like a standard shonen fantasy, and appropriately it runs in Shonen Gangan.

There’s always one lone Yen title that’s pushed back a week from the others, and this month it’s Leg Horizon’s 8th novel, which focuses on the younger members of the guild and their adventures.

Lastly, Sword Art Online gets 3 more light novel digital releases with Vols. 5-7.

Did you budget properly? Do you have money left over to buy manga next week?

Master Keaton, Vol. 11

Jun. 22nd, 2017 07:26 pm
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Posted by Katherine Dacey

If you’re a connoisseur of British crime procedurals, you’ve undoubtedly watched one or two episodes of Midsomer Murders, England’s answer to Murder, She Wrote. It isn’t the edgiest or smartest mystery series on television, but it is among the most consistently enjoyable, delivering a satisfying answer to the question, “Whodunnit?” at the end of every episode. Part of the series’ success lies with its formula: someone commits a ghastly murder, then DCI Barnaby scrutinizes the crime scene and chases a few leads before revealing the killer’s identity — often to a roomful of astonished people — spelling out her motives and methods in detail. This formula is flexible enough to offer a steady supply of fresh scenarios yet predictable enough to reassure viewers that there’s a payoff for keeping track of the subplots that delay the tidy resolution of the mystery.

Master Keaton — a joint effort by Hokusai Katsushika and Naoki Urasawa — offers the same kind of experience in manga form. Every volume features an assortment of mysteries, all solved by the brilliant investigator Taichi Hiraga Keaton. (In an original touch, Keaton works for an insurance agency, though he frequently moonlights as a private eye.) Though the stories’ denouements occasionally veer into Scooby Doo territory — more on that later — Katsushika and Urasawa have a knack for spinning a good yarn, whether the story involves lost Nazi gold or a conscience-stricken assassin.

One key to Katsushika and Urasawa’s success is that they carefully adhere to the same basic rules as Midsomer Murders, setting each mystery in a community where resentments fester, secrets abound, and strong personalities clash. Katsushika and Urasawa put a fresh spin on this storytelling technique by choosing a new locale for each story, rather than limiting the action to a fictional English county, a la Midsomer. In volume eleven, for example, Keaton flits from East Germany to the Scottish highlands to a haunted London mansion. As disparate as these settings may be, each is as much “a cauldron” or “microcosm” as a country village — to borrow a phrase from Midsomer creator Anthony Horowitz — thus creating the right setting “for something unpleasant — a murder, for example — to take place.”

Consider “The Lost Genius Director,” one of the shortest, most tightly plotted stories in volume 11. In just two pages, Katsushika and Urasawa create a virtual “village” populated with vivid characters: a perfectionist director, his devoted wife, a vain leading man, and a nervous producer who’s caught between the director’s vision and the bottom line. All of these characters are living and working in close proximity on the set, clashing over the director’s insistence that the cast re-shoot several key scenes. When the director is found dangling from a noose, Keaton discovers a video of the victim’s final moments, a video that first implicates, then exonerates, the most obvious suspect. This narrative feint makes the actual “reveal” more satisfying, as we come away from the story feeling as if we were just a step or two behind Keaton in solving the crime.

The few stories that falter do so because Katsushika and Urasawa violate this second unspoken rule of whodunnits. In “Love from the Otherworld” and “Lost Beyond the Wall,” the endings feel arbitrary; there simply aren’t enough clues to justify the outcome of the story. The problem is especially acute in “Otherworld,” a supernatural mystery that plays out like a classic Scooby Doo episode: a book publisher hires Keaton to investigate a ghost who’s been roaming the halls of his mansion. Though it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to realize that one of the household members is, in fact, “the ghost,” the story is so compressed that we don’t learn enough about the characters to independently arrive at the same conclusion as Keaton. More frustrating still, the denouement is handled in such a bald, clumsy fashion that the culprit all but declares, “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids and that darn dog!”

It’s easy to overlook the few clunkers, however, as Katsushika and Urasawa clearly have a deep and abiding love for the mystery genre. Nowhere is that more evident in “Return of the Super Sleuth?!” and “Pact on Ben-Tan Mountain,” two stories that knowingly borrow key plot points from Rear Window and Strangers on a Train. Both stories are cleverly resolved without shading into spoofs of the source material; Alfred Hitchcock’s ideas remain intact, even as the authors find new — and surprising — ways to resolve the stories while paying tribute to a seminal influence. Equally important, Katsushika and Urasawa don’t take any narrative shortcuts on the way to revealing whodunnit, granting the reader the same delicious sense of closure characteristic of Midsomer Murders — or, I might add, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Recommended.

A review copy was provided by VIZ Media.


Bookshelf Overload: May 2017

Jun. 22nd, 2017 05:43 pm
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Posted by Ash Brown

Ah yes, May. The month that I know I will end up adding a tremendous amount of material of various types to my collection if for no other reason than this little event called the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.  I picked up so many comics at TCAF 2017! Fortunately, I budgeted for this well in advance. In addition to all of the new things in May, I also found some interesting older manga like Yukinobu Hoshino’s Saber Tiger and Seiji Horibuchi’s Shion: Blade of the Minstrel. (Also, a heads up for those who might be interested in the series, it looks as though The Story of Saiunkoku is likely going out of print.) As for May’s preorders, I was especially excited to see the most recent volumes of Nagabe’s The Girl From the Other Side, Izumi Tsubaki’s Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, and Kanno’s Requiem of the Rose King, as well as the debuts of Haruko Kumota’s Descending Stories and Ryoko Kui’s Delicious in Dungeon.

Also in May, I received an early copy Yeon-sik Hong’s Uncomfortably Happily for review although the volume wasn’t technically released until June. Hopefully, my review of the manwha conveys just how much I enjoyed the work. Speaking of reviews, I’m currently working on an in-depth review Tomoyuki’s Hoshino’s ME, one of my most anticipated novels in translation of 2017. (This novel was also technically released in June rather than May, but I managed to snag an early review copy.) In general, I find Hoshino’s work to be challenging but ultimately rewarding. One of the other novels that I was particularly looking forward to this year was Inheritance from Mother by Minae Mizumura, whose previous work in translation I adored. Another May release worth mentioning is Shun Medoruma’s In the Woods of Memory, credited as the first novel by an Okinawan author to be translated into English.

Bloom into You, Volume 2 by Nakatani Nio
Cat Eyed Boy, Volumes 1-2 by Kazuo Umezu
Cells at Work!, Volume 4 by Akane Shimizu
Delicious in Dungeon, Volume 1 by Ryoko Kui
Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, Volume 1 by Haruko Kumota
Dreamin’ Sun, Volume 1 by Ichigo Takano
The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil, A Rún Volume 2 by Nagabe
Gangsta: Cursed, Volume 2 written by Kohske, illustrated by Syuhei Kamo
Girls’ Last Tour, Volume 1 by Tsukumizu
The High School Life of a Fudanshi, Volume 1 by Michinoku Atami
Haikyu!!, Volumes 11-12 by Haruichi Furudate
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 3: Stardust Crusaders, Volume 3 by Hirohiko Araki
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, Volume 7 by Izumi Tsubaki
Murciélago, Volume 2 by Yoshimurakana
My Love Story!!, Volume 12 written by Kazune Kawahara, illustrated by Aruko
Pet Shop of Horrors, Volume 10 by Matsuri Akino
Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo, Volumes 1-8 by Matsuri Akino
Requiem of the Rose King, Volume 6 by Aya Kanno
The Royal Tutor, Volume 1 by Higasa Akai
Saber Tiger by Yukinobu Hoshino
Shion: Blade of the Minstrel by Seiji Horibuchi
The Story of Saiunkoku, Volumes 1-9 written by Sai Yukino, illustrated by Kairi Yura
Sweetness and Lightning, Volume 5 by Gido Amagakuure
Yona of the Dawn, Volume 6 by Mizuho Kusanagi

Uncomfortably Happily by Yeon-sik Hong

5 Worlds, Volume 1: The Sand Warrior written by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel, illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun
Adventure Girlfriends, No. 1-2 by Morgan Shandro
Adventure Girlfriends: Vignettes by Morgan Shandro
Aim High Bird Friends by Linda Teaa
Banchan in Two Pages, Issue 2 by Robin Ha
Blinded by the Ice by Saicoink
Blindsprings, Volume 1 by Kadi Fedoruk
Blossom Boys by Tanaw
Butterfly Dream by PlumLi
The Disappearance of Melody Dean by Alexis Sugden
Eidoughlons: A Field Guide for the Aspiring Dumplingmancer by Jade Feng Lee
Electric Ant, Issue 2: Exquisite Corpses edited by Ryan Sands
Elements: Fire edited by Taneka Stotts
Expired Seafood, Volume 2: Tied Up by Various
Fujoshi Trapped in a Seme’s Perfect Body, Volume 2 written by Seru, illustrated by Joberu
Fujoshi Trapped in a Seme’s Perfect Body: Wedding Night written by Seru, illustrated by Kisumi
Go Gently edited by Christine Wong and Victor Martins
Half Moon Heroes, Issue 1 by Jade Feng Lee
Haunted: A Fairytale by Natalie Andrewson
Hearts for Sale by Miyuli
Hemlock, Issue 1 by Josceline Fenton
Hidden by Kou Chen
Love Debut by Deandra Tan
Mana, Volume 1 by Priya Huq
Martial Spirit by Dirchansky, Wai Au, and Kage
Oh Dear! Mr. Dear by Wai Au
Our Cats Are More Famous Than Us by Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota
Plant Fever Zine, Volume 1 by Various
Queen Street by Emmanuelle Chateauneuf
Ram-com by Emily Forster
Ramen Robot Cafe by Dandra Tan
Safe by Anna Sellheim
Shattered Warrior written by Sharon Shinn, illustrated by Molly Knox Ostertag
Shit and Piss by Tyler Landry
Smokescreen by A. C. Esguerra
So Pretty / Very Rotten by Jane Mai and An Nguyen
Starrytellers edited by Samantha Calcraft and Alisha Jade
Super Life on the Hill by Dirchansky, Kim Hoang, and Wai Au
(Tr)eat Yoself by Wai Au
Wax & Wane by Kelly Bastow and Caitlin Major
What Is A Glacier? by Sophie Yanow
You & a Bike & a Road by Eleanor Davis

Light Novels!
Tokyo Ghoul: Past by Shin Towada

The Eternal Zero by Naoki Hyakuta
In the Woods of Memory by Shun Medoruma
Inheritance from Mother by Minae Mizumura
Kamikaze Girls by Novala Takemoto
ME by Tomoyuki Hoshino
Missin’/Missn’ 2 by Novala Takemoto
Notes of a Crocodile by Miaojin Qiu

Monkey Business: New Writing from Japan, Volume 7 edited by Motoyuki Shibata and Ted Goossen

Manchu Princess, Japanese Spy by Phyllis Birnbaum

Requiem of the Rose King, Vol 6

Jun. 22nd, 2017 05:12 am
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Posted by Anna N

Requiem of the Rose King Volume 6 by Aya Kanno

My only minor quibble with this series is that as it progresses, I sometimes have difficulty telling all the blonde Englishmen apart. However, once I’m further into each volume I start remembering the more subtle aspects of Kanno’s character designs and then I can tell who is who.

One of the themes of this series is the brutality of war and the psychological cost associated with making kings, both with those who seek power through manipulation and the kings themselves who end up as pawns in a bigger game of statesmanship. Richard and Henry have found a peace with each other that is utterly separate from their hidden identities as opposing Tudor and Yorks. While Richard as the central character of this manga is undoubtedly fascinating, I enjoyed the way this volume focused on the kingmakers Buckingham and Warwick, their varying relationships with Richard and the hazards of trying to seize power through putting someone forward for the throne.

Kanno’s artistic and surreal portrayal of Richard’s psychological torment and the horrors of war is a highlight in this series. The battle that Richard fights is made even more confusing by a fog that envelops the troops, causing the soldiers to be uncertain if they are fighting their own side or the enemy. As Richard heads towards the vengeance he desires for the death of his beloved father, he’s going to be even more overset when he finds out just who his Henry really is. It always feels like there’s quite a long wait between volumes, but this is one series that I’m going to be rereading from start to finish as soon as the final volume comes out, just to be able to get swept up in this fascinating story again.

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Posted by Guest Reviewer


Barefoot at Midnight

by Roxanne St. Claire
October 18, 2016 · South Street Publishing
RomanceLiterary FictionHistorical: Other

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Turophile. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Mid-Length Contemporary category.

The summary:

Roxanne St. Claire’s “Timeless” books celebrate the appeal of the silver fox hero! A little older, a lot wiser, and completely sexy, the heroes in the Barefoot Bay Timeless books are men in their 40’s and 50’s who find a second chance at love. Roxanne says her readers aren’t 23…so why should the man of their dreams be that young? The Timeless books are all set on the moon-washed beaches of Barefoot Bay, a tropical island paradise that has been the setting for many beloved romances by this author. Joining the billionaires, brides, and bodyguards on the beach, readers can now kick off their shoes and fall in love with a man aged to perfection!

Barefoot at Midnight

Lawson Monroe is a chef without a restaurant…but his friend and mentor makes a deathbed promise to leave Law the only dive bar on Mimosa Key. Law has big plans for the place, until he walks directly into the luscious body and gorgeous face of Libby Chesterfield and her outrageous claim that the Toasted Pelican should come to her.

When Libby learned that the man who once owned the crappiest watering hole on the island was actually her biological father, she decided the least he owed her was his unclaimed business. The old man wasn’t there for her when she and her brother were growing up near Barefoot Bay, but his legacy can help her build a new future when she transforms the property into Balance, a yoga studio. The only obstacle? Her father apparently named former bad boy and current sexy silver fox Lawless Monroe his heir.

Law never thought he’d want anything more than the chance to make a living cooking his food for the people of Barefoot Bay…but Libby arouses an irresistible hunger in him. Battling an attraction that sizzles hotter than one of Law’s cast-iron skillets and uncovering long-buried secrets with more twists than one of Libby’s yoga poses, they’ll have find a way to both get what they want…especially if what they really want is each other.

Here is Turophile's review:

I’d like to start by applauding a series about mature adults finding romance – Gen-X adults even! As a woman who falls into that category I wholeheartedly approve. And if you can get past the crazy-sauce goofiness of the underlying book, you’ll probably enjoy it.

Our hero, Lawson Monroe, or Law for short, is a chef looking for a restaurant. He makes a deathbed promise to Jake, the man who saved him on many occasions, to continue operating the Toasted Pelican. Except Jake didn’t leave a will, at least one that Law could find, and he spends months after Jake’s death trying to track down the person who’s taken possession of the place.

That person would be Libby Chesterfield, and her brother Sam, former classmates of Law’s. Their ne’er do well mother claimed shortly after his death that Jake was their father and she had the birth certificates to prove it. Without a will, Sam determines that if they can keep operating the place for a year it will then be theirs. (I skipped Wills & Trust class in law school, but this seems really odd . .. )

When Law and Libby encounter each other – the sparks fly. The physical attraction is obvious. And despite their diametrically opposed interests in the property, they work together to determine who really should own the Pelican. Every time you think they have it figured out, there’s another twist to the story.

It’s a fun romance, but by no means perfect. The references to Libby’s “rack” detracted from the story, especially when paired with the name “Chesterfield.” I wish Libby’s character was more developed. It was hard to like her, especially during the first half of the book. For example, she ground her heel into her daughter’s foot. Who does that?! Other than the aforementioned rack, it’s difficult to determine what Law sees in her. Her character is fleshed out more in the latter part of the book, but at that point it seems too late.

It’s another book I’d love to rate higher, if for no other reason than to encourage more romance for and about Gen-Xers. It’s a fun, but flawed book so I’m going to give it a C.

Cake, FBI Agents, & Horses!

Jun. 22nd, 2017 03:30 pm
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Posted by Amanda

Under Her Skin

Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders is $1.88 at Amazon and $2.99 elsewhere! Readers warn that this is a contemporary romance on the darker side, but many say this is a great debut by Anders. I’m actually reading this right now and I love it. It’s definitely dark, so if that’s not your thing, stay away. But the hero is a blacksmith with Beta qualities. I’m in love!

Battered by a life determined to tear him down, this quiet ex-con’s scarred hands may be the gentlest touch she’ll ever know.

…if only life were a fairy tale where Beauty was allowed to keep her Beast

Ivan thought the world was through giving him second chances. Who’d want a rough ex-con with a savior complex and a bad habit of bringing home helpless strays? Everyone in Blackwood, Virginia knew he wasn’t good enough for the fine things in life; they knew he was too damaged to save. He just needed to keep his head down, work himself to the bone, and pretend he was content with the lot he was given.

Until she came into his life. Until she changed everything.

Until he realized he would do anything, fight anyone, tear the world apart if it meant saving her.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

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A Gentleman’s Game

RECOMMENDED: A Gentleman’s Game by Theresa Romain is 99c! Redheadedgirl read this historical romance and gave it an A:

Theresa Romain basically created a series just for me, and the first full-length book just confirms it. She reached into my head and found the references and plot that would make me happiest, and gave those thoughts a beautiful cover and said, “Here!”

In Book One of Romance of the Turf, a refreshing new Regency series from rising star Theresa Romain, a mystery demanding to be solved brings unlikely allies together in more ways than one

How far will a man go

Talented but troubled, the Chandler family seems cursed by bad luck-and so Nathaniel Chandler has learned to trade on his charm. He can broker a deal with anyone from a turf-mad English noble to an Irish horse breeder. But Nathaniel’s skills are tested when his stable of trained Thoroughbreds become suspiciously ill just before the Epsom Derby, and he begins to suspect his father’s new secretary is not as innocent as she seems.

To win a woman’s secretive heart?

Nathaniel would be very surprised if he knew why Rosalind Agate was really helping his family in their quest for a Derby victory. But for the sake of both their livelihoods, Rosalind and Nathaniel must set aside their suspicions. As Derby Day draws near, her wit and his charm make for a successful investigative team…and light the fires of growing desire. But Rosalind’s life is built on secrets and Nathaniel’s on charisma, and neither defense will serve them once they lose their hearts…

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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Special Agent Francesca

Special Agent Francesca by Mimi Barbour is 99c! This romantic suspense is bursting with catnip! There’s an introverted FBI agent who goes undercover. There’s a fake relationship. Plus, a psychiatrist/criminal profiler hero. Hello! This is a standalone and readers loved the heroine, but some found the pacing a bit uneven.

An introvert, Special Agent Francesca moves to Las Vegas to escape her powerful, domineering mother. On arrival, multiple obstacles challenge her. She needs to approach a father she’s never met, a man who doesn’t even know she exists. Then she must play the role of a loving fiancée with a stranger. One who makes her question every unexpected emotion he provokes. Craving the chance for real undercover work, she grabs the opportunity to be involved in cleaning up gang corruption in a nasty neighborhood. When she poses as the new owner of a hotel, the deadly-dangerous situation ramps up and she’s forced to fight her way from one conflict to the next.

Sean Collins, Psychiatrist and LVPD Profiler, has never known anyone like Francesca Donovan. From first sight, he believes her to be a screwball but her beauty and maddening personality attracts him. Despite her prickly disposition, which gets them into a load of trouble, her rotten driving skills and her constant battles, he’s hooked. Once he’s roped into a mock engagement with her, his desire to make it real takes precedence over everything else in his world.

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American Cake

American Cake by Anne Byrn is $1.99! This book make an appearance in a previous Redheadedgirl’s Historical Kitchen post. Readers loved the blend of recipes and history. However, some reviewers found the historical aspects a bit patronizing. See this Goodreads review for more on that.

Cakes in America aren’t just about sugar, flour, and frosting. They have a deep, rich history that developed as our country grew. Cakes, more so than other desserts, are synonymous with celebration and coming together for happy times. They’re an icon of American culture, reflecting heritage, region, season, occasion, and era. And they always have been, throughout history.

In American Cake, Anne Byrn, creator of the New York Timesbestselling series The Cake Mix Doctor, takes you on a journey through America’s past to present with more than 125 authentic recipes for our best-loved and beautiful cakes and frostings. Tracing cakes chronologically from the dark, moist gingerbread of New England to the elegant pound cake, the hardscrabble Appalachian stack cake, war cakes, deep-South caramel, Hawaiian Chantilly, and the modern California cakes of orange and olive oil, Byrn shares recipes, stories, and a behind-the-scenes look into what cakes we were baking back in time. From the well-known Angel Food, Red Velvet, Pineapple Upside-Down, Gooey Butter, and Brownie to the lesser-known Burnt Leather, Wacky Cake, Lazy Daisy, and Cold Oven Pound Cake, this is a cookbook for the cook, the traveler, or anyone who loves a good story. And all recipes have been adapted to the modern kitchen.


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My summer

Jun. 22nd, 2017 11:37 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

.. or at least six weeks of it, will be spent at the 2017 Jelinek Summer Workshop on Speech and Language Technology (JSALT) at CMU in Pittsburgh. As the link explains, this

… is a continuation of the Johns Hopkins University CLSP summer workshop series from 1995-2016. It consists of a two-week summer school, followed by a six-week workshop. Notable researchers and students come together to collaborate on selected research topics. The Workshop is named after the late Fred Jelinek, its former director and head of the Center for Speech and Language Processing.

I took part in the first of these annual summer workshops, back in 1995, as a member of the team focused on “Language Modeling for Conversational Speech Recognition“.

This summer, I’ll be part of a group whose theme is described as “Enhancement and Analysis of Conversational Speech“.

One of the group’s goals is to do a better job of “diarization”, i.e. keeping track of who spoke when in conversations. Existing systems do an especially bad job with overlapping speech, which can be extremely common.

Here’s a graphical representation of (accurate) diarization in a (real) conversation between Red and Blue:

And the same thing continued for a while (though not to the end of the conversation):

As discussed here, turn-taking overlaps are often cooperative rather than competitive — and it would be good to be able to supplement robust diarization with a functional analysis of conversational flow.

As the workshop progresses, I’ll post some updates.



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a jar of jae

November 2016


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