At Language Log, Victor Mair comments on claims that Mandarin is “weirder” than Cantonese, and suggests that Indian-Americans have advantages over Chinese-Americans in spelling bees owing to the complexity of memorization with Chinese characters.
Budding Sociologist Dan Hirschman notes that competing estimates over the size of the Chinese economy means that no one knows whether China’s economy, or the United States’, is the largest in the world.
Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin notes the predicament case of James Cartwright, a retired American general under investigation for leaking information about Stuxnet to the press. Quiggin argues that Cartwright stands out from others in that he has many enemies.
Far Outliers’ Joel observes that tension between African-American settlers in Liberia and Africans living in the future republic was rife from the beginning.
Geocurrents’ Asya Pereltsvaig writes about how the Serbo-Croatian language community has been subdivided into national language communities largely, but not only, because of the collapse of Yugoslavia.
GNXP’s Razib Khan blogs about a DNA study suggesting to him that, in the 6th century, Bengal assimilated a substantial agricultural population with links and ancestry in Southeast Asia.
Language Hat notes that at one point, the Persian language was a lingua franca as far away as South Asia.
Underlining that the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 could have succeeded only if the Soviets–and Stalin–went along with its, Lawyers, Guns and Money’s Robert Farley observes that it just wasn’t possible to supply the Polish partisans by air.
Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen quotes from Tarek Osman who argues that the Islamization of the new regimes in the Middle East isn’t inevitable.
The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer celebrates the 4th of July and also shares pictures of his young son Seretse.
Window on Eurasia notes that two million Buddhists living in Russia–Buryats, Tuvans, Kalmyks, and others–pay allegiance to the Dalai Lama, who hasn’t visited Russia perhaps because of Chinese pressure.
I accumulated quite a few links over the long weekend just past in Canada, Monday having been Canada Day. That volume will make for two [BLOG] posts today.
(Feedly, thankfully, seems to be working well.)
Bag News Notes compares coverage of the protests in Brazil and Turkey, arguing that although the photos from the two countries convey similar images of violence, in actual fact the Brazilian protests are encountering less violence and are getting substantially more response from the national government than their Turkish counterparts.
The Dragon’s Tales notes a recent study suggesting that gas giants–heavy planets like Jupiter and Saturn, not their smaller ice giant kin like Uranus and Neptune–seem to form, on the relatively rare occasions they do form, close to their sun.
Daniel Drezner considers the ethics of institutions of higher education receiving very large grants from foreign governments. Does it compromise them and/or can it engage them with the wider world?
Eastern Approaches notes the likely dire consequences on press freedom in Ukraine of a gas magnate’s purchase of Forbes‘ Ukrainian edition.
The Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at what, if anything, the inability of Trayvon Martin witness Rachel Jeantel to read a handwritten note says about social capital.
Far Outliers’ Joel describes the medieval Venetian empire, the stato da mar, at its peak.
At A Fistful of Euros, Edward Hugh makes the case that the Czech economy is bound for stagnation.
Geocurrents maps the regional and ethnic dimensions of the recent Iranian presidential election.
Joe. My. God. links to Nate Silver’s chart showing the progression of same-sex marriage rights across the world, by population and by continent.
Language Hat examines the question of what exactly is Aranese (the Gascon Occitan dialect spoken in northwestern Catalonia, for starters).
New APPS Blog analyses a secular French feminism that is nonetheless anti-gay.
Progressive Download’s John Farrell argues that Slovenia is caught in an unusually intense form of stagnation stemming from its managed transition from Communism.
The Dragon’s Tales’ Will Baird speculates that life on Mars, which plausibly got started earlier thanks to quicker cooling, was devastated by multiple devastating impacts.
Far Outliers’ Joel examines the 11th century of Constantinople and Venice, a relationship that was shifting as Venice gained strength.
Geocurrents takes a look at religious diversity in Ethiopia, making the interesting point that in addition to Christian-Muslim conflict there is also conflict between Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and Protestants.
The Inuit Bikini Monster notes that a cat in Mexico is running for a mayoral position.
John Moyer makes the point that fantasy literature isn’t necessarily escapist, not least because terrible things happen.
Language Hat notes that, for plausible and understandable reasons, the phrase “a sight for sore eyes” is starting to refer to something bad.
Marginal Revolution wonders whether traditional dress in the Gulf States is a marker of identity, and to what extent.
The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer thinks that Edward Snowden made a good choice by seeking refuge in Ecuador, a sufficiently democratic and low-crime Latin American polity.
Torontoist notes that Toronto city police is trying to work on improving the relationship with Somali-Canadians after the recent raid.
Towleroad notes that late gay writer John Preston has given the Maine city of Portland a new slogan.
The Volokh Conspiracy talks about rising nationalism among Burmese Buddhists. Sadly, many commenters talk about how Muslims must be controlled.
Window on Eurasia notes the ongoing demographic issues of Russia and Belarus.
Uffe Andersen’s recent Transitions Online article describing how Bosniaks–briefly, ethnically Muslim speakers of Serbo-Croatian concentrated in but not limited to Bosnia-Herzegovina–living in Serbia makes for interesting reading. It’s not only on account of the differences between the Serbian and Bosniak variants of Serbo-Croatian being minor, but on account of the potential implications for borders in the area. Bosniaks in Serbia are concentrated in the Sandžak region, a region with a slight Muslim preponderance straddling the current Serbian-Montenegro border. If Bosnia came apart, what might happen here?
In late February, high school student Ajla Bugaric took the stage in this city of roughly 100,000 to recite “Why Venice Is Sinking,” the poet Abdulah Sidran’s tribute to multiculturalism and the Bosniak nation.
“I look up into the sky above Venice,” Bugaric recited. “Nothing’s changed, in the last / seven billion years. Up above, is God. He / created the universe, in the universe seven billion / worlds, in each world numberless peoples, a multitude / of languages, and for each world – a Venice.”
The poem goes on to describe the Bosniak people, Slav Muslims who make up the majority in Serbia’s Sandzak region on the border with Montenegro, as “meek” or “peaceful.” It’s a message of national identity few Bosniak children will have heard in Sandzak schools, where the curriculum has traditionally focused on the Serbian nation and where – optional – classes in their mother tongue, Bosnian, are offered only twice a week.
But that’s about to change. When the new school year begins in September, Bosniak primary and secondary students in Sandzak will be able to study in Bosnian and take new “national culture” courses in Bosniak history, literature, music, and art.
The poetry reading was part of a celebration on 21 February, International Mother Language Day, to mark the launch of the pilot program in 12 schools. The day was carefully chosen to start this “new era for the Bosniak people in Serbia,” Bosniak National Council President Esad Dzudzevic said in a speech.
Responsible for shaping local policy on culture, media, and education, the council is one of the several state-financed bodies representing Serbia’s ethnic minorities. Dzudzevic called the new Bosniak curriculum – nine years in the works – among its most significant achievements, returning to Bosniaks “their self-confidence and self-respect as they get to know and value their language, history, and culture.”
And despite longstanding international concern that such a change could reinforce ethnic division in a region still struggling toward reconciliation after the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, everyday Bosniaks are also enthusiastic.
Bag News Notes’ Michael Shaw takes a look at NSA Edward Snowden, as good as look as can be taken.
Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster reflects on Iain M. Banks as a designer of megascale structures.
The Dragon’s Tales’ Will Baird reports on Chinese interest in paying for the reconstruction of a Nicaragua canal.
Eastern Approaches notes that the iconic Gdansk shipyards, which fostered the growth of solidarity, are at risk of closing.
Geocurrents’ Asya Perelstvaig writes about the coverage of the news of the last speaker of the Baltic Finnic language of Livonian, in all of its flaws.
Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen likes a book describing why some East Asian economies hit the First World and others didn’t, while Alex Tabarrok advocates for a new regime in the United States for the approval of medications.
New Apps Blog’s Lisa Guenther uses a documentary on the fate of the long-term incarcerated to start a discussion on what we grow to tolerate.
Normblog’s Norman Geras interviews Daniel Libeskind.
The Signal’s Bill LeFurgy writes about word processing, the killer app that jumpstarted the computer revolution.
Window on Eurasia argues that Ukrainians generally haven’t assimilated the Crimean Tatar history of deportation into their own and quotes from a Kazakhstani writer who argues that real, broad-based Russian influence is much more threatening to Kazakh identity than anything the Chinese have done or are likely to do.
The CBC report on declining rates of bilingualism outside of French Canada–Québec and adjacent areas of Ontario and New Brunswick–isn’t very surprising. This might be especially the case since population growth in Canada has been concentrated in western Canada, an area where French isn’t common at all (or isn’t more common than, say, Ukrainian or Chinese).
The Statistics Canada report referred to is available here.
The proportion of Canadians able to conduct a conversation in both English and French declined for the first time between the 2001 and 2011 censuses after 40 years of growth, Statistics Canada said today.
The English-French bilingualism rate peaked at 17.7 per cent in 2001, after rising steadily from 12.1 per cent in 1961. The 2011 census, however, revealed a slight dip to 17.5 per cent.
[. . .]
In the past decade, the country’s overall population rose faster than the number of bilingual individuals, so that while the total number of bilingual Canadians increased to 5.8 million in 2011, their percentage of the total actually edged lower.
In areas of Canada with larger French-speaking populations, however, the proportion of bilingualism being reported is steady or growing.
In 2011, 42.6 per cent of Quebec residents reported being able to converse in both English and French, up from 40.8 per cent in 2001. And in New Brunswick, which has a significant French-speaking population, 33.2 per cent of residents similarly said they could use both official languages.
Bilingualism rates in Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia varied between 10 per cent and 12 per cent.
Rates were lowest in Western Canada and in Newfoundland and Labrador: 8.6 per cent in Manitoba and between five per cent and seven per cent in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador, the report said.