30 April 2015

Snippets from Pinker on coherence

Snippets from Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century on coherence.

Pages 170 to 185 of Chapter 5 use a detailed examination of a page of John Keegan's 1993 magnum opus, A History of Warfare, to illustrate how an experienced and esteemed military historian failed to achieve coherence.

p171: The confusing opening of A History of Warfare provides us with an opportunity to look at three other contributions to coherence, which are conspicuous here by their absence: clear and plausible negation, a sense of proportion, and thematic consistency.

p172: More than three centuries ago, Baruch Spinoza pointed out that the human mind cannot suspend disbelief ...
The cognitive difference between believing that a proposition is true ... and believing that it is false ... has enormous implications for a writer.

p185: How could a seasoned author like John Keegan ... serve as a model of incoherent writing ...
... most of the problem comes from the very expertise that made Keegan so qualified to write his books.
... he became a victim of professional narcissism ...
... aftger a lifetime of scholarship he was so laden with erudition that his ideas came avalanching down faster than he could organize them.

A coherent text is a design object.
Like other designed objects, it comes about not by accident but by drafting a blueprint, attending to details, and maintaining a sense of harmony and balance.

Snippets from Pinker on sequences

Snippets from Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century on arcs of coherence involving sequences.
p165 (my bold): Though English cleanly distinguishes the order in which things happened in the world from the order in which they are mentioned in a text, English speakers tend to be more concrete, and naturally assume that the order in which events are mentioned is the order in which they took place ...

All things being equal, it's good for a writer to work with the ongoing newsreel in readers' minds and describe events in chronological order.

If the spotlight of attention has been lingering on a later event, ... the imperative to mention given before new trumps the imperative to mention early before late.

p166: A coherent text is one in which the reader always knows which coherence relation holds between one sentence and the next.

p167: As a writer bangs out sentences, she needs to ensure that the readers can reconstruct the coherence relations she has in mind.
... writers can ... leave connectives ... outwhen the connection is obvious to the reader.
Too many connectives can make it seem as if an author isbelaboring the obvious or patronizing the reader ...
Too few connectives, on the other hand, can leave the reader puzzled as to how one statement follows from the last.
Even more challenging, the optimal number of connectives depends on the expertise of the reader.

pp167-8: Figuring out the right level of explicitness for coherence relations is a major reason that a writer needs to think hard about the state of knowledge of her readers and show a few of them a draft to see whether she got it right.

p168: Humans are cursed with attributing too much of their own knowledge to others ... which means that overall there is a greater danger of prose being confusing because it has too few connectives than pedantic because it has too many. When in doubt, connect

p169: Coherence connectives are the unsung heroes of lucid prose.
... they are the cement of reasoning and one of the most difficult yet most important tools of writing to master.

Thought the claim that good prose leads to goos thinking is not always true (brilliant thinkers can be clumsy writers, and slick writers can be glib thinkers), it may be true when it comes to the mastery of coherence.

Snippets from Pinker on synonyms

Snippets from Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century on synonyms.

Chapter 5 offers as clear an overview of when and when not to use synonyms as one could hope for. This is an important issue for thinking writers and into-English translators alike. Writers in many languages believe it is good style in their language to use multiple synonyms rather than repeat a word or term. Many factors need to be considered when translating such texts into English. Pinker summarises the essentials admirably.


One point that he failed to mention, however, is the extreme position adopted by technical writers and their translators, which is to say by those who produce technical manuals and the like for software, industrial and consumer products and so forth. This group refrains in almost all circumstances from using any synonyms at all, no matter how many time a word or term needs to be used.

p156: ... he (the writer) doesn't strain for new ways of referring to the birds. The herons are herons; they don't turn into Arden herodias, long-legged waders, azure airborne avians, or sapphire sentinels of the skies.

Henry Fowler, author of Modern English Usage ... sarcastically stigmatized the practice as "elegant variation".

... journalese ... peppering ... prose with words that journalists use but that people never say ...

p157: When a noun is repeated in quick succession, readers may assume that the second mention refers to a different individual and fruitlessly scan the stage for him.

So which guideline should a writer follow, "Avoid elegant variation" or "Don't use a word twice on one page"?
Translators might have preferred 'term' rather than 'word'; but the meaning is clear.
Wording should not be varied capriciously, because in general people assume that if someone uses two different words they're referring to two different things.

When wording is varied only certain variations will be easy for the reader to track. The second label is acting as a pseudo-pronoun ... First, it should be more generic ...

p158-9: ... zombie nouns like anticipation and cancellation (as opposed to anticipate and cancel) ... do have their place in the language. The problem with them is that knowledge-cursed wrtiters use them on first mention because they, the writers, have already been thinking about the event, so it's old hat to them and is conveniently summarized by a noun. They forget that their readers are encountering the event for the first time and need to see it enacted with their own eyes.

p160 (my bold): Examples, explanations, violated expectations, elaborations, sequences, causes and effects are arcs of coherence that pinpoint how one statement follows another.

David Hume, in his 1748 book, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, wrote, "There appear to be only three principles of connections among ideas, namely Resemblance, Continuity in time or place, and Cause or Effect.
... linguists have subdivided Hume's Big Three into a dozen or more specific kinds of connection.
The key linguistic couplers are connective words like because, so and but.

p161: It is always surprising to me how often scientists thoughtlessly use synonyms in comparisons, because the cardinal principle of experimental design is the Rule of One Variable.

p162:  Parallel syntax is just the Rule of One Variable applied to writing.

Snippets from Pinker on style, Ch5

More snippets from Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.

Chapter 5, entitled Arcs of coherence, presents into-English translators with a host of questions and arguments justifying significant departures from 'close' translation strategies.

On page 160, Pinker defines the term "arc of coherence" as follows (my bold): Examples, explanations, violated expectations, elaborations, sequences, causes and effects are arcs of coherence that pinpoint how one statement follows another.

p139: Even if every sentence in a text is crisp, lucid, and well formed, a succession of them can feel choppy, disjointed, unfocused -- in a word, incoherent.

p145 (my bold): Paragraph breaks. Sometimes a writer should cleave an intimidating block of print with a paragraph break just to give the reader's eyes a place to alight and rest.
This advice should be followed not only by writers, but by translators and the graphic artists and layout teams that format the translator's work.
French-mother-tongue graphic artists and layout teams typically laid out my English versions of technical publications and articles in the same way as they did the French version, refusing to admit that the change of language might be good cause for a change of approach. This often resulted in huge blocks of visually uninviting text because they preferred layouts with no paragraph spacing or indents.
p147: ... a reader must know the topic of a text in order to understand it. As newspaper editors say: Don't bury the lede (lede being journalistic jargon for "lead", which might otherwise be misread as the heavy metal).

p148: ... the reader usually needs to know the point. ...
Human behavior in general is understandable only once you know the actor's goals.

p149: ... magazine and newspapers help the reader with a tag line (an explanation beneath the title) or a pull quote (an illustrative sentence displayed in a box).
But everyone should strive to inform, not dumbfound.

p151: The word "topic" in linguistics actually has two meanings.

p152: It's always easier for a reader to follow a narrative if he can keep his eyes on a protagonist who is moving the plot forward, rather than on a succession of passively affected entries or zombified actions.

p153-4: ... moves temporal modifiers to the front of the sentence.
... avoids the monotony of a long string of similar sentences ...
Given always precedes new.
The noun system of English provides a writer with ways to distinguish entities the reader is being introduced to for the first time from entities he already knows about. This is the major distinction between the indefinite article, a, and the definite article the.

p154: Indefinite plurals and mass nouns ...
Definiteness can be marked by other th- words such as this, that, these, and those, or with a genitive noun, as in Clarie's knee or Jerry's kids.

pp155-160: See Snippets from Pinker on synonyms.

p160 (my bold): Examples, explanations, violated expectations, elaborations, sequences, causes and effects are arcs of coherence that pinpoint how one statement follows another.

23 April 2015

DID's innovative headlines

Defense Industry Daily, or DID, produces a steady stream of headlines that, to my mind, innovate in one way or another.

The examples below clearly demonstrate that technical journalism has its innovators and that each innovation raises multiple issues for technical journalism translators. Question that will spring to mind for anyone translating such articles include: Should I aim to be as innovative as the original? If so, will I be understood or will I simple raise hackles?

A few may employ American expressions or US military jargon that will be more familiar, hence less innovative, to North American readers than to me

The following examples were gathered after consulting fewer than a dozen publication dates:

Puns on aircraft, project and system names, etc.

Playing with military and technical terms

Humorous

Interesting use of everyday terms in (sub)headings

Multi-headings in the 'Rapid Fire' section using vertical seperators

Other

Grammatical and punctuation quirks (presumably to attract attention)

Alliteration, assonance and other stylistic devices

22 April 2015

The one grammar rule that really counts

I once read, long ago, that the one grammar rule that really counts for anyone writing (or translating into English) and wanting to convince, persuade or cajole (as opposed to just showing off one's possibly superior knowledge of grammar is this: Never use any expression that is likely to take the reader's attention off what you are trying to say.

In Give some ground to the pedants in the ‘I/me’ battle, subtitled You can argue with many grammar rules, but there are sound reasons for sticking to them, FT columnist Michael Skapinker comes to the same conclusion (my bold).
So Mr Wulf’s students could write “he is taller than me” or they could write “he is taller than I am”. Most people find either acceptable, while they regard “he is taller than I” as strange and stilted.
Having said that, I usually opt for the spelt-out “he is taller than I am” form. Why? Because I know I will not upset those who insist that “than” has to be followed by the nominative. They will concentrate on my argument rather than my grammar.
It is the same with infinitives. There is nothing wrong with splitting them. Those who insist it is bad are the same tiny group who are trying to squeeze English into Latin.
But unless not splitting the infinitive results in an awkward sentence, I leave it unsplit. So do writers on The Economist, whose style guide says that while the ban on split infinitives is pointless, “to see it broken is so annoying to so many people that you should observe it”.
then adds:
The problem is that most objectors do not complain. They simply assume you do not know the rules. ...
Most people ... are not grammar historians but people with their own linguistic shibboleths.
I would not give a job to anyone who confused “its” and “it’s”, even if Kamm points out that “it’s was a possessive until the 19th century”.
You never know when you are going to cross what we can call someone’s “stickling point”. (I had hoped to claim authorship of this term but Ian Mayes of The Guardian used it in 2000.)
You can argue with many supposed grammar rules, but it is best to know what they are and to break them only when you are sure it is not going to do you any harm.
On the basis of this reasoning I also avoid using 'whom' wherever possible, not because I don't know when and how to use it, but because there is always a serious risk that some of my readers will think more about my grammar than my (or my client's) message.

26 April: Further support for this line of thinking comes from no less an authority than Fowler’s Modern English Usage. The review, by Michael Quinion, of the fourth edition quotes author Jeremy Butterfield concerning the use of the word literally (my bold):
{Butterfield] ... concurs with the recent decision of the Oxford English Dictionary to recognise the figurative use of literally to mean “figuratively”, a sense that goes back at least to Dickens. But he cautions, after nearly two pages of discussion: “Knowing that your readers may have the screaming abdabs (dated British slang for ‘have a fit’) if they read literally prefacing a metaphor ... you might want to avoid using it altogether.”
So, when it doubt as to what your reader might think or how they might react, abstain

Here and there

Relaying a recent post on Translation Tribulations:
Note: For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, *language brokering* is the interpreting done by the bilingual offspring of immigrant parents for their parents, families and other members of their entourage.


21 April 2015

Punctuation notes

Note #1

The FT does not include a full stop (aka period) at the end of the footnote to Hidden dangers that banking regulators fail to chart re writers Robert Lenzner and Bill Emmott.

Note #2

I've noted previously, but note again, that more and more newspapers and magazines do not include a full stop (aka period) at the end of their standfirsts (‘kickers’ in the US or ‘chapôs’ in French), possibly because they are seen as a sort of extended subheading, or pôssibly in line with a typographical fashion.

Note #3

I notice, though I'm not sure when the trend began, that some newspapers and magazines now write currencies in running text with the abbreviation before the sign, thus A$1,000, rather than $A1,000, US$1,000 rather than $US1,000 and so forth.
Does anyone know when this began?

Note #4

Some publications (example here) use the abbreviation 'pc' in headlines for 'per cent'.

Stylistic trick #1


Reading Hidden dangers that banking regulators fail to chart by Robert Lenzner and Bill Emmott in today's FT, I noticed this clever way of mentioning a person and their title (my bold):
That is what shareholders in America’s biggest bank,JPMorgan Chase, should bear in mind when readingthe letter sent to them earlier this month by their chairman and chief executive. Jamie Dimon complained of being hamstrung by regulators’ attacks and uncertainty over capital requirements, adding that this made it “understandable that people would pay less for our earnings than they otherwise might”.
Robert Lenzner, a financial journalist, was a Shorenstein fellow at Harvard in 2014. Bill Emmott, a former editor of The Economist, collaborated on this article.

15 April 2015

Snippets from Pinker on style, Ch4

More snippets from Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.

p82: Syntax, then, is an app that uses a tree of phrases to translate a web of thoughts into a string of words.

p83: ... the main resource that English syntax makes available to writers -- left-to-right ordering on a page -- has to do with two things at once. ... to convey who did what to whom ... but it also determines the sequence of early-to-late processing in the reader's mind.

p122: ... one of the most easily overlooked disambiguation words in English is ... the lowly definite article the.

p124: ... when faced with an ambiguous word, readers favor the more frequent sense.

p125: ... structural parallelism ... is one of the oldest tricks in the book for elegant (and often stirring) prose.

p126: cause-effect order

p130-131:  English, which has a rudimentary system of case and agreement, must be more tyrannical about order.

Save the heaviest for last.
Light before heavy.
Topic, then comment. Given then new.

English syntax demands subject before object. Human memory demand light before heavy. Human comprehension demands topic before comment and given before new.

p132: ... the passive: it allows the doer to be mentioned later in the sentence than to done-to.

p135:  That's why well-written prose puts object relative clauses in the passive voice.
... passivizing ...

p136: ... a tacit awareness that the writer's goal is to encode a web of ideas into a string of words using a tree of phrases.

08 April 2015

New word from Australia's CSIRO

Petrichor: The name of an oil that’s released from the earth into the air before rain begins to fall. Hence, the distinct scent of rain in the air.
From the Greek “petra” (stone) and “ichor”, the ethereal blood of the gods in Greek mythology.
For more, see this IFLS article or Nature of Argillaceous Odour (metered paywall) by I J Bear & R G Thomas of CSIRO Division of Mineral Chemistry, Melbourne, Australia.

Portugal's solution to the drug problem

Note: This post is included here in response to queries by people visiting Portugal when they learn about how effective Portugal's solution to the drug problem is proving.

Fellow Portugal-based translator Kevin Lossner led the way with his post of 6 March 2015 on Translation Tribulations entitled What's your addition?.

As Kevin mentions, the solution is nicely summarised by British journalist Johann Hari in Portugal cut addiction rates in half by connecting drug users with communities instead of jailing them posted by Yes magazine. The kicker reads:
Fifteen years ago, the Portuguese had one of the worst drug problems in Europe. So they decriminalized drugs, took money out of prisons, put it into holistic rehabilitation, and found that human connection is the antidote to addiction.
Moments after posting the above, I read Portugal addiction rates halved after community, not jail, is trialled as solution on PositiveNews.

07 April 2015

What is language journalism?

Michael Erard has launched a fascinating site called Schwa Fire.
The first editorial is entitled What is language journalism?


To my mind, languager journalism is clearly a special category of technical journalism and possibly one of the most interesting given the subject matter and the fact that we can assume that the writers are striving for maximum clarity and quality of expression per se.
Perhaps soon we'll hear from some translators who decide to translate Schwa Fire articles and, in so doing, join the ranks of technical journalism translators with an even more special challenges than the rest of us.

Support Schwa Fire.

On the About page, Michael Erard explains:
Why “schwa?” Because everybody likes to say “schwa.” Which, by the way, is the name of a mid-central vowel that’s usually not stressed in English, like the final vowel of “sofa.”
Why "fire"? If you’re reading Schwa Fire, it’s because you love all aspects of speech, language, and communication. “Fire” points to passion and enthusiasm.
and more.

If uou want to read more about 'schwa' you could start with the Wikipedia article here, the BBC article here, or the American English pronunciation article here.

06 April 2015

Snippets from Pinker on style, Ch3

More snippets from Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.

p57: The curse of knowledge

The main cause of incomprehensible prose is the difficulty of imagining what it's like for someone else not to know something that you know.


p59: Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

p61: The curse of knowledge is the single best explanation I know of why good people write bad prose.
p63: How can we lift the curse of knowledge? The traditional advice -- always remember the reader over your shoulder -- is not as effective as you might think.

p64: Shorthand terms are unobjectionable, indeed indispensable, when a term has become entrenched in the community one is writing for.
... But the curse of knowledge ensures that most writers will overestimate how standard a term has become and how wide the community is that has learned it.

p65: And when technical terms are unavoidable, why not choose ones that are easy for readers to understand and remember? Ironically, the field of linguistics is among the worst offenders ...

p66: ... the two meanings of some ... "some, but not all" ... and "at least one" ... the "only" and "at-least" senses ...

p68: Chunking ... the lifeblood of higher intelligence.

p69: The amount of abstraction that a writer can get away with depends on the expertise of her readership.

p71: Now, if you combine functional fixity with chunking, and stir in the curse that hides each one from our awareness, you get an explanation of why specialists use so much idiosyncratic terminology, together with abstractions, metaconcepts and zombie nouns. They are not trying to bamboozle us; that's just the way they think.

Snippets from Pinker on style, Ch2

More snippets from Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.

p28: The key to good style ... is to have a clear conception of the make-believe world in which you're pretending to communicate.

To avoid the awkwardness of strings of he or she, I have borrowed a convention from linguistics and will consistently refer to a generic writer of one sex and a generic reader of the other. The male gender won the coin toss and will represent the writer in this capter; the role will alternate in subsequent ones.

pp29-30: classic style, practical style, plain style, postmodern styles defined and discussed.

p35: ... the ideal of classic prose is congenial to the worldview of the scientist.

p36: Classic writing, with its assumption of equality between writer and reader, makes the reader feel like a genius. Bad writing makes the reader feel like a dunce.

p38: ... metadiscourse -- verbiage about verbiage, such as subsection, review and discussion.

Clumsy writers ... unthinkingly follow the advice to say what you're going to say, say it, then say what you've said. The advice comes from classical rhetoric, and it makes sense for long orations. ... It's not as necessary in writing, where a reader can backtrack and look up what she's missed.

p41: ... researchers are apt to lose sight of whom they are writing for.

Museum signs explain how the shard in the showcase fits into a classification of pottery styles rather than who made it and what it was used for.

Governments and corporations organize their websites around their bureaucratic structure rather than the kinds of information a user seeks.

p42: Another bad habit of self-conscious writers is the prissy use of quotation marks -- sometimes called shudder quotes or scare quotes -- to distance the writer from a common idiom.

p43: And then there's compulsive hedging. Many writer cushion their prose with wad of fluff that imply that they are not willing to stand behind what they are saying ...

p45: ... hedging is a choice, not a tic.

Paradoxically, intensifiers like very, highly and extremely also work like hedges. ... The reason is that unmodified adjectives and nouns tend to be interpreted categorically ...

p49: Could you recognize a "level" or a "perspective" if your met one on the street?

p50: These are metaconcepts, concepts about concepts. They serve as a kind of packing material in which academics, bureaucrats and coroporate mouthpieces clad their subject matter.

Together with verbal coffins like model and level in which writers entomb their actors and actions, the English language provides them with a dangerous weapon called nominalization ...
... zombie nouns because they lumber across the scene without a conscious agent directing their motion.

p55: ... the passive allow the writer to direct the reader's gaze, like a cinematographer choosing the best camera angle.
Often a writer needs to steer the reader's attention away from the agent of the action.

p56: ... the guiding metaphor of classic style: a writer in conversation with a reader, directs the reader's gaze to something in the world.

05 April 2015

Snippets from Pinker on style, Prologue + Ch1

I'm reading Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century and thought I'd use this space to record some snippets of special interest. Page numbers refer to the Allen Land/Penguin hardback edition (ISBN 978-1-846-14550-6).

Most of the snippets quoted apply as much to good technical journalism and its translation, a genre that should "put a premium on clarity and coherence" as Pinker says.




p6: Today ... we have an understanding of grammatical phenomena which goes well beyond the traditional taxonomies based on crude analogies with Latin.

p7: My focus is on nonfiction, particularly genres that put a premium on clarity and coherence.

pp8-9: Style still matters. First, it ensures that writers will get their message across ...
Second, style earns trust.
Style, last but not least, adds beauty to the world. To a literate reader, a crisp sentence, an arresting metaphor, a witty aside, an elegant turn of phrase are among life's greatest pleasures.

p14: ... snatched from the brink of cliché ...
Parallel wording is a powerful trope.
Powerful writing can flip the way the world is perceived ...

p16: Good writing is understood with the mind's eye.

p20: ... zeugma: the intentional juxtaposition of different senses of a single word.

p21: The deliberate use of surprising transitions -- colons, dashes, block quotations -- is one of the hallmarks of lively prose.
... plodding ...
Killjoy style manuals tell writers to avoid alliteration, but good prose is enlivened with moments of poety ...

p22: ... a skilled writer can enliven her and sometimes electrify her prose with the judicious insertion of a surprising word ...
... distinguish sprightly prose from mush ...

p26: ... expressed in pleasingly parallel syntax ...
... fresh wording and concrete imagery over familiar verbiage and abstract summary; an attention to the reader's vantage point and the target of their gaze ...


Literal translations of Mandarin names

In his TEDTalk on Are China and the US doomed to conflict?Kevin Rudd mentioned in passing (see transcript) the literal translations of the Mandarin names of China (the Middle Kingdom) and the United States (Měiguó which means "the beautiful country").

It seemed only natural to look for other translations along the same lines.
But a cursory search failed to turn up anything that looks carefully researched.
Please let me know if you have any ideas.

The next thing, of course, was to look up my first name in Mandarin. For Steve, Chinese-Tools.com gives:
斯蒂夫 and the Pinyin: Sī dì fū
while another gives
史蒂夫

For Dyson, I found
戴森 and the Pinyin: Dài Sēn.

Kevin Rudd on interpreting

Here are a couple of snippets from the transcript of former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's TEDTalk on Are China and the US doomed to conflict? filmed in March 2015.
The great thing about learning Chinese is that your Chinese teacher gives you a new name. And so they gave me this name: Kè, which means to overcome or to conquer, and Wén, and that's the character for literature or the arts. Kè Wén, Conqueror of the Classics.
***
... So there I am in the embassy in Beijing, off to the Great Hall of the People with our ambassador, who had asked me to interpret for his first meeting in the Great Hall of the People. .... And so the ambassador began with this inelegant phrase. He said, "China and Australia are currently enjoying a relationship of unprecedented closeness." And I thought to myself, "That sounds clumsy. That sounds odd. I will improve it." Note to file: Never do that.
It needed to be a little more elegant, a little more classical, so I rendered it as follows. [In Chinese] There was a big pause on the other side of the room. You could see the giant pooh-bahs at the head of the horseshoe, the blood visibly draining from their faces, and the junior woodchucks at the other end of the horseshoe engaged in peals of unrestrained laughter. Because when I rendered his sentence,"Australia and China are enjoying a relationship of unprecedented closeness," in fact, what I said was that Australia and China were now experiencing fantastic orgasm.
That was the last time I was asked to interpret. But in that little story, there's a wisdom, which is, as soon as you think you know something about this extraordinary civilization of 5,000 years of continuing history, there's always something new to learn.
***
Moving along... I would also like to quote a passage containing a great deal of cultural wisom.
Let me first go to China's views of the U.S. and the rest of the West.
Number one: China feels as if it's been humiliated at the hands of the West through a hundred years of history, beginning with the Opium Wars. When after that, the Western powers carved China up into little pieces, so that by the time it got to the '20s and '30s, signs like this one appeared on the streets of Shanghai. ["No dogs and Chinese allowed"] How would you feel if you were Chinese, in your own country, if you saw that sign appear? China also believes and feels as if, in the events of 1919, at the Peace Conference in Paris, when Germany's colonies were given back to all sorts of countries around in the world, what about German colonies in China? They were, in fact, given to Japan. When Japan then invaded China in the 1930s the world looked away and was indifferent to what would happen to China. And then, on top of that, the Chinese to this day believe that the United States and the West do not accept the legitimacy of their political system because it's so radically different from those of us who come from liberal democracies,and believe that the United States to this day is seeking to undermine their political system. China also believes that it is being contained by U.S. allies and by those with strategic partnerships with the U.S.right around its periphery. And beyond all that, the Chinese have this feeling in their heart of hearts and in their gut of guts that those of us in the collective West are just too damned arrogant. That is, we don't recognize the problems in our own system, in our politics and our economics, and are very quick to point the finger elsewhere, and believe that, in fact, we in the collective West are guilty of a great bunch of hypocrisy.

20,000 hits

This blog has now logged 20,000 hits.
I'm fully aware that it's a very modest figure, but nice to see that it keeps going up and that the number of visits per month is slowly accelerating.
A hearty thankyou to all followers, whether regular or occasional.

Night Jasmin and L'arbre de nuit

Following the two posts below ( Night Jasmin and L'arbre de nuit ), my colleague and reviser Graham Cross wrote: Just out of interest...