Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Pet peeves

Everybody has them. Mine are, not exclusively and in random order of importance:

1. people who scribble, underline etc. in library books. These should be nailed to the bridge by their knees
2. teh studip. Buddha, Jesus and Elvis (and also most likely The Flying Spaghetti Monster but I'm not really well-versed in religious studies) teach us that we should be forgiving because people are not mean, they are just stupid and cannot do any better. Mostly, my inner cynic adds, and in Ankh-Morpork, there is a law of 4th Grune of 1581 dealing with Criminal Stupidity and some secondary sources claim that voluntary ignorance is a mortal sin against the Holy Spirit so apparently, in later times, the teachings somehow evolved, reflecting the reality, not the ideal. So... well.
3. the cat howling for no reasons - in the last ten minutes, contrary to my beliefs, I threatened her that I'll make her into a pot of nutritious soup and a pair of warm fuzzy mittens.
4. the pinyin transcription of Chinese.

The Wikipedia article says that pinyin is the most widespread transcription. And that it was coined in 1958.
For reasons unknown to me, until some 15 years ago, the Wade-Giles transcription and its local varieties was used. I don't know why pinyin came to such a widespread usage because it is... studip. Eh, now I see, because the United Nations and who else adopted it as their standard (1).
Now, I'm perfectly well aware that Chinese has a different sound system anyway so whatever romanization there is, it will necessarily remain only an approximation. But, the hell, even if there's no exact rendering, the inexact thing can be done with a grain of reason... at least theoretically. The thing is, an average studip furriner is able to decipher Wade-Giles, or, actually, to read it somehow and easily. Pinyin - I have to wait until I come across a language in which it works in a manner close to common sense. Like, people not breaking their tongues.

Being an editor brings many an exciting task and it includes dabbling into every field of knowledge. Also, the fashionable multi-culti has invaded the curricula and it has to be squeezed into all places possible and impossible (2) and sometimes there's some geography or something mixed in. Or whatever. I've always argued in favour of Wade-Giles' local derivation because it's for the kiddos and after all, it's a local approved standard and I've always been told something like 'But it is [the pinyin horror] used this way all over' and who I am to contest something widely used (3).

I like L. She's witty and entertaining and she's a medical student so I can use words like 'exothermic' in common speech without the inner guilt that I am a nasty intellectual snob (4). The other day she told me that she was looking something up in a library catalogue (or looking over someone's shoulder) and couldn't believe her own eyes when she saw that cray-zee transcription we use here. I rejoiced upon finding a like-minded soul and we ranted in a nice accord about the cray-zee for a while. How pleasant to find that I'm not alone with my opinion.

The cat is asleep in my bed.

(1) headdesk
(2) such as alternative theories of how the life came to exist. Those that include various gods and such. In science textbooks headdesk
(3) headdesk As if more stupid somehow, by all the heat and pressure it creates, recrystallized into diamonds of smart? Well, if we take it literally, then studip humans (also the smart ones) actually contain carbon enough to compress them into some diamonds but then, rocks can't be smart nor stupid since they have no brains whatsoever. Metaphorically, not at all.
(4) mom has been hammering that into me ever since I learned what biotope was, as if there was something shameful in the word - and many others. I think that reasonable people can open their precious mouths and ask what the heck I mean by the word that starts with phy-, there's nothing wrong with not knowing. And if someone feels intimidated, then they should work on themselves. I'm not a snob but I'm no compassionate bleeding heart either.

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