An important rallying cry and usage distinction made by allies of undocumented workers in the current cultural battle over immigration in the United States is Elie Wiesel's assertion above: "No human being is illegal." In the quote, Wiesel gives examples of the kinds of adjectives that he feels can denote properties of people (fat, skinny, beautiful, right, and wrong). On the other hand, calling a person 'illegal', he says, is a contradiction in terms.
Here's a more elaborated statement of the idea, quoted from this website
When one refers to an immigrant as an "illegal alien," they are using the term as a noun. They are effectively saying that the individual, as opposed to any actions that the individual has taken, is illegal. The term “illegal alien” implies that a person’s existence is criminal. I’m not aware of any other circumstance in our common vernacular where a crime is considered to render the individual – as opposed to the individual’s actions – as being illegal. We don’t even refer to our most dangerous and vile criminals as being “illegal.”
Now because syntax is my actual job, I am honor-bound to point out that the term 'illegal alien' is a noun phrase, not a noun, and furthermore, that "using a term as a noun" does not mean using it to refer to a "person, place or thing," which I think is what is going on above. But that quibble aside, we can see the idea. Laws criminalize actions, not people. Hence only someone's actions, not their very existence, can be illegal.
What are the linguistic underpinnings of the intuition that using the term illegal alien implies that a person's existence is illegal? I think it derives from an important distinction in types of adjectival meanings that I've learned about from the work of my Language Log colleague Barbara Partee. Different types of adjectives license different patterns of inferential reasoning.
Plain-vanilla intersective adjectives like broad-shouldered, purple and round permit you to draw inferences like the following:
John is broad-shouldered man.
Therefore, John is broad-shouldered,
and John is a man.
That is a purple box.
Therefore, that is purple,
and that is a box.
To evaluate the truth of such assertions, you just check whether the subject is in the set of men (or boxes), and then check whether the subject is also in the set of broad-shouldered things (or purple things), and if both check out, the Adj+N predicate applies. The interpretation of the Adj-N phrase just intersects the set picked out by the Adj and the set picked out by the N.
With intersective adjectives, the content of the noun and its modifying adjective don't interact with each other. Once you've established the truth of John is a broad-shouldered man, and you subsequently find out more about John, e.g. that he's also a violinist, or a father, you can truthfully reason as follows:
John is a broad-shouldered man.
John is a father.
Therefore, John is a broad-shouldered father.
In contrast, adjectives of the subsective class, like skillful, cannot be interpreted without reference to the semantic content of the noun that they modify. To take Barbara's example, let's say you've learned that John is a skillful violinist, and you subsequently learn that he's also a doctor. You are not thereby licensed to reason as follow
John is a skillful violinist.
John is a doctor.
#Therefore, John is a skillful doctor.
That is skillful crucially sorts violinists by their skill in playing the violin, not by some noun-independent notion of what it means to be 'skillful'. That's because there is no such independent notion. It applies only within the set of violinists and picks out a subset of them, hence the term 'subsective'.
Wiesel's intuition shows, I think, that illegal is like skillful; it necessarily interacts with the content of the noun it modifies. The adjective asserts illegality with respect to the content of the head noun, in the same way that skillful asserts skillfulness with respect to the content of the head noun.
This is borne out by the inference patterns of illegal. If someone is farming illegally, you might call him an illegal farmer. But it's illegality with respect to the farming, not anything else. If he's also a musician, you can't therefore conclude that he's an illegal musician:
John is an illegal farmer
John is a musician.
#Therefore, John is an illegal musician.
If illegal is subsective, a phrase like illegal person entails that there's some way of being a person that can be performed in an illegal manner. Furthermore, the noun alien in immigration legalese simply means 'non-citizen'. Being a non-citizen is also not illegal, and the phrase illegal alien is consequently nonsensical–a contradiction in terms, as Wiesel suggests.
There is also a nominal use of illegal. The word illegal is a noun when occurs on its own, with no other head noun around, and inflects and behaves syntactically as a noun. Here's an example in a recent headline from the execrable Breitbart News: "Trump's executive order could mean deportation for 11 million illegals." .Here, illegal is clearly grammatically functioning as a noun. It's inflected for plural, as required by the number 11 million preceding it, and it's the head of the noun phrase that is object of the verb deported.
The use of illegal as a noun appeared quite recently, starting from zero to climb sharply in the 1970s, spiking around 1984, dropping a bit again until 1990, then climbing steadily to its current all-time high. Crucially, like most of the bare handful of truly de-adjectival nouns in English (a psychic, an adolescent, a fanatic) it only refers to people; illegal as a noun means what the noun phrase 'illegal people' would mean. Wiesel's remark thus applies here too: it's a contradiction in terms. There is, thankfully, no circumstance in which being a person is outlawed in the United States. There are therefore no 'illegals'.
In point of fact, in this country, entities with the personhood property are recognized as being endowed with certain unalienable rights. The subsective adjective illegal in combination with alien or person, as well as the deadjectival noun derived from it, is thus both inaccurate and offensive. These uses are intended to introduce to your mind the idea that there can be such a thing as an illegal human being. And it can't help but work. Your language processor operates without your supervision or consent, and it will compose the meaning of that subjective adjective together with the meaning of the noun it modifies whether you like it or not. You'll be thinking there's such a thing as outlawed personhood without even realizing it. It's a dirty linguistic trick.
Postscript: There's tons more to say, of course. One question has to do with why illegal alien doesn't seem to raise an immediate mental question mark the way illegal person does. This may have to do with three things: First, the word immigrant, without 'illegal' on it, shares a lot of meaning with alien in the legal sense. Second, the phrase illegal immigrant operates more or less as it should, in terms of subsectivity; an immigrant is someone who immigrated, and there are illegal ways of immigrating, so one could imagine that someone who had immigrated in one of those ways could be called an illegal immigrant. Perhaps the parallel between alien and immigrant is why illegal alien doesn't immediately obviously mean the wrong thing, the way illegal person does. Furthermore, the non-legal sense of alien is pretty terrifying and, well, alienating, so the whole evocative package is a perfect storm of linguistic misdirection and pejoration.
What about illegal immigrant itself? If it denotes, as intended, 'a person who immigrated illegally', are there any issues with using that phrase? In fact there are, though the reasons are more about accuracy, justice and consideration, not linguistics, and have been discussed many many times by people much more qualified and informed than me. In regards accuracy, about 40% of the undocumented or unauthorized residents of the US are people who came in legally, but overstayed their visas. They did not enter the country illegally, and in fact haven't committed any crime, because a visa overstay is a civil infraction, not a criminal one. Calling all undocumented residents 'illegal immigrants' thus judges 40% of them guilty of a crime they haven't committed. It is perhaps also worth remarking that our legal system is centered on the idea that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty; and the phrase illegal immigrant works directly against that principle, when applied to specific people who haven't been tried yet. For these reasons, undocumented residents and allies find illegal immigrant problematic as well. Here's a reflective discussion by Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker about it; in the end, he chooses to opt in the future for more considerate usages.
Anyway, I really encourage you all to get educated about this issue. For example, before doing some homework for this post, I didn't understand the special nature of 'status offenses', and the reasons why our courts look on them with heightened scrutiny. In any case, if you made it this far, now you have another way to explain to the well-meaning but unthinking user of illegal alien, illegal person or illegals why they should think about changing their usage. You can bring up subsectivity in adjective meaning. That ought to change the topic pretty quickly.
Many thanks to Art Torrance, Barbara Partee and Megan Figueroa for helping me with this post! But all flaws, inaccuracies and inadequacies are entirely my own.
Those of you who like Numeroff and Bond's If You Give A Mouse A Cookie will enjoy this book, too. It is similar in style, with one thing leading to another, and at the end, circling back to the beginning. Along the way? Lot of humor, lot of rhyme.
Wheeler is Cree; Auchter is Haida. Regular readers of AICL know that I love to recommend books by Native writers and illustrators because teachers can use that all powerful two-letter-word, is, when they read this book to kids. That tiny word brings us out of the long ago past and into the present day.
The main character in Just A Walk is a little boy named Chuck. The book came out in 2009 from Theytus Books, a small publisher in Canada.
One day, Chuck decides to go for a walk. He's got no plan for this walk. He just sets out, walking. He looks up to the sky and sees a hawk. As he walks, he watches that hawk as it flies, across the sky. If you've ever watched a hawk, you know it can be mesmerizing as it floats, flaps its wings, dives, and darts! Well--because Chuck isn't watching where he is going.... he falls in a river.
But he can't swim! He grabs onto a fish and thinks it'll be ok, but that fish takes him over a waterfall. As he falls, his braids catch on a branch. He dangles there, but of course, the branch breaks, and down he goes. He'll encounter a badger, and a bear, and an eagle... and when he finally gets home, his mom gives him heck. Where have you been?! she exclaims. He grins and says he just went for a walk.
Like I said, this story is funny! Reading it aloud will invite the kind of rhyming word play teachers like at storytime. I recommend it, and am glad that Kateri Akiwenzi-Damm asked me about it yesterday on Twitter. She's Anishinaabe and a founder of Kegedonce Press.
Anyway, as good commonplace books do, it collects bad poetry as well as good, and I opened it to something so thoroughly appalling that the selection has been stuck in my head for more than a week. I truly think this belongs in the annals of terrible verse with William Topaz McGonagall and Julia Ann Moore, for the comma splices if for nothing else (and there is else). I showed it to Ruth, and spent the next five minutes desperately wishing for a video camera; I really thought they were going to throw the book out of the window.
( Abandon hope, etcetera. )
Korea? Two 55-70 minute episodes on back-to-back nights each week, episodes are skipped only in the case of something huge, or if the shooting schedule gets too tight. Resolves all major plotlines with rare exceptions.
China? EVERYTHING is prefilmed so no danger of hiatuses due to filming, and episodes are only delayed in case of something major. Depending on the series and channel, anywhere from 3-20 episodes (but usually a slightly-more-reasonable 4-10) that are 30-45 minutes long drop each week until the series is over. Resolves all major plotlines with rare exceptions. Bingewatching was the norm long before Netflix streaming was a twinkle in anyone’s eye.
US? One 25-50 minute episode a week. When we feel like it. Expect us to take 9 months to air 20-24 episodes. With rare exceptions, don’t expect us to air more than 3-4 subsequent weeks. Month long hiatuses whenever we can. You'll probably escape this if our seasons are only 10 or so episodes, so there is that. We resolve nothing unless we can introduce something else to keep unresolved for a while more often than not. Hope we get another season so you can closure and answers, because we LOVE cliffhangers.
To ease their minds and explain more about Fanlore’s policies, we drafted an explanation and had it translated into Japanese.
The explanation is as follows:
Fanlore's purpose and image policy
The purpose of the Fanlore wiki is to give fans a place to record information about their fannish activities and communities. Fanlore is an information site, not an online gallery or a place to post entire fanworks. Things like uploading a scan of a whole doujinshi or a translated scan of a whole doujinshi are absolutely not allowed on Fanlore. Links and pictures on Fanlore have to be relevant to an article, and there must always be attribution for the fan artist.
This wiki is a project of the Organization for Transformative Works, a US-based non-profit organization with members from all over the world that works to support fans. Among many other activities, the OTW provides information about the law to fans, creates software for archiving fanworks in the form of the Archive of Our Own, and publishes academic works about fans. The purpose of the Fanlore wiki is to give fans a place to record information about fan culture and history. Like all other OTW projects, the wiki is a not-for-profit project that is created entirely by fannish volunteers of many nationalities.
Many contributors to this wiki talk about Japanese fans and fanworks, and some also link to Japanese websites and post pictures such as covers of doujinshi they love. Fanlore uses the same linking and image policies as, for instance, the US version of Wikipedia. On the English-language internet, it's normal to link to any website without asking permission, and sometimes also to re-upload images of other people's work in limited ways. US copyright law also has a "fair use" clause that says copyrighted works can be re-used without permission under some circumstances, for instance news reporting, education, or parody. This fair use clause is very important to US fans, because many fans and researchers believe that the fair use clause makes it legal to create fanworks in the US.
Because preserving the fair use clause is so important for fans, Fanlore must allow fans to link to any website or upload a picture from fanart like illustrations and doujinshi, if that picture is relevant to the wiki article they're writing. If part of a fanwork is shown on Fanlore, the fanwork's original license does not change. The person who created the picture does not lose any legal rights they had to their work or its use.
If a Fanlore user has added an image from your fanwork in a way that you're uncomfortable with, please contact the Fanlore administrators, and we will do everything we can to help. If the image was added in a way that's consistent with the fair use clause, it may be impossible for the Fanlore administrators to remove it entirely. But even in such a case, we can also change the size of the image, upload a different version, crop the image, or remove identifying information from it.
If you have any questions or comments about Fanlore, or about the way your fanworks are represented on Fanlore, don't hesitate to contact the wiki administrators. You can use this form to send us a message in Japanese or English. (If you write to us in Japanese, it may take us a little longer to reply because our Japanese volunteers need to translate your message.)
We look forward to hearing from you! If you'd like to write about your experiences as a fan or make corrections to Fanlore articles, please go here to make a free account and add your voice.
Fanlore wikiプロジェクトは変形的作品のためのNPO （OTW)によって運営されています。OTWは世界中にメンバーを持つアメリカ合衆国
We plan to post both English and Japanese versions on a separate/dedicated Fanlore page. It will be linked to from the main image policy page as well as in the doujinshi infobox template to ensure that Japanese fans will be able to see it.
Before the page goes up on Fanlore, we want to hear from the fans!
If you are a member of the Japanese fandom, or know somebody who is knowledgeable about doujinshi, please read through the note and let us know if it addresses all the concerns one might have.
Spread the word among your Japanese friends on social media and ask for their input as well. If they are uncomfortable communicating with us in English, please let them know they can leave us comments in Japanese.
If you don’t want to leave comments here, you can always email us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org
For the next two weeks, we will be gathering input from everybody before proceeding with implementation. Thank you in advance for all the help, and see you on Recent Changes!
This is the fifth and final chunk of data and analysis from the 2016 Novelist Income Survey.
This is where I look at all the other random and miscellaneous data points that either didn’t fit elsewhere, or else I couldn’t figure out quite what to do with them. After this, I’ll be pulling everything together into a single downloadable report for folks.
Who Lost Money in 2016?
One thing I found interesting — of the 371 people who provided gross income and expenses data, 63 ended up with a net loss in 2016. In other words, roughly one out of six published novelists lost money last year.
17 of these identified as full-time writers, with the other 46 being part-time. Looking at the overall number of full- and part-time respondents, the part-time authors were disproportionately more likely to end up in the red.
How did those 63 authors break down in terms of indie/small press/large press?
- Indie: 36
- Small: 19
- Large: 8
Comparing those numbers to the overall breakdown of indie/small/large press gives us the following graph:
We can also look at the percentage of novelists who lost money in each category, which is perhaps a little more illuminating.
- Indie: 17%
- Small: 37%
- Large: 7%
As always, be careful about drawing too many conclusions from this.
I messed up on this part. I asked people what genre(s) they published in during 2016, and let people check as many boxes as they liked, with an additional field for “Other.” This meant I got pretty accurate data, but a lot of folks selected multiple genres, which made it harder for me to do much with the data. In the future, I think I need to ask people to choose their primary genre instead.
Looking at which genres were chosen, we can see that the data are slanted toward SF/F and Romance.
As a SF/F person myself, it makes sense that my outreach on the survey would bring in a lot of my fellow SF/F authors. Basically, what this means is that the results and conclusions may not apply as strongly to, say, religious fiction as they do to fantasy or romance.
When Did You Publish Your First Book?
What happens when you plot net income against the year the author published their first book?
I removed one outlier — an author who made close to five million, and whose first book came out near the middle of the range. The results were not what I expected.
That trendline is pretty much horizontal, suggesting little to no relation between how long you’ve been publishing and how much money you make. Running the correlation function in Excel gave a correlation of 0.01.
I can see several ways of thinking about this. One is that you can spend 30 years writing books, and it doesn’t mean you’re more likely to be financially successful. Which is depressing as hell. But maybe it just means financial success can come at any time. Or maybe writers who broke in a long time ago aren’t as prolific these days, which is why their income was comparable to newer authors who might be more active?
I honestly don’t know, and I suspect you’d need a lot more analysis — and probably a lot more data — to draw any firm conclusions here.
That’s pretty much everything I can do with the data. All that’s left now is for me to pull it all together into a single report. I’ll be incorporating some of the feedback and suggestions from the comments as well, thank you. I’ll also be anonymizing the data and sharing that for folks to play with.
I hope this has been helpful and illuminating for folks!
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Others will remember him from Twister and Titanic.
The Terminator (1984) gets rerun a lot on Comet TV and This TV; he’s a punk leader there. Someday I’ll get around to watching Aliens (1986).
Neil Fingleton has passed away at the age of 36, following a heart attack. May he rest in peace. On Doctor Who he played the Fisher King in the episodes Under The Lake and Before The Flood. Apparently, he was also known for being the tallest man in the UK.
Heather (who founded and runs Scarleteen) is a heroine and a national fucking treasure. Please signal-boost and let's help look after her.
For at least 3 fandoms (and at most 8):
- Pick the fandom.
- Choose 1 to 15 tags you'd like to receive. Bear in mind that you will only match on one of these, so don't try to set up combinations.
- Choose which media type(s) you'd like for the gift to be in – fic, art, vid, or pod format. (This can be different for each fandom.)
Fandoms must be unique.
Prompts are useful for giving your assigned creator somewhere to start from. We recommend writing prompts for each type of fanwork you requested, either into the box provided by AO3, or into a linked "Dear Spacer" letter.
For at least 3 fandoms (and at most 10):
- Pick the fandom.
- Choose 2 to 20 tags you'd be willing to create a gift in. If the fandom only has 1 tag, or you're truly happy with creating something about any of the tags in the tagset, choose "Any". As with offers, please remember that you will only match on one tag.
- Choose which media type(s) you'd be willing to create in – fic, art, vid, or pod format. (This can be different for each fandom.)
Fandoms must be unique.
I’ve eaten one of my leftover pancakes, and Cordelia has eaten her leftover waffle.
We made an expedition out to the place from which we rent Cordelia’s viola because her bow was on its last legs. The woman at the desk looked at it and told us it was done for. Getting the new bow took about five minutes in the shop.
My cold is still getting worse. I almost couldn’t drag myself out of bed this morning. We’ve got an appointment at 11:30, so I had to, but it was harder than it usually is. I still feel like I could fall asleep rapidly if I let myself. I might end up spending a lot of this afternoon sleeping. I think the only thing that has to be done is the library run, and I’m not actually required for that.
Cordelia’s got an annoying school assignment that involves writing a song (well, lyrics to the pre-existing tune of her choice) about the US presidential election of 1800. The assignment is a little more specific in that the teacher wants a campaign song supporting either Jefferson or Adams. Scott’s working on that with her because my brain is utterly fried.
Iceland really is beautiful. And if it wasn't for Iceland, there wouldn't be an American Gods...
I had some really fun times. The BBC radio interviews were all so different and all so much fun. My Royal Festival Hall event was a delight to do, and that lunchtime I showed up as Children's Laureate Chris Riddell's secret guest on the same stage, and I got to meet Posy Simmonds and turned immediately into a starstruck teen.
Chris stayed and drew while I spoke and was interviewed that night:
I liked this James Lovegrove review from the Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/content/42fad176-
Sarah Lyall interviewed me and came to the New York event for the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/12/
Here's me talking to the New York Times Book Review Podcast: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/
Michael Dirda starts his review of Norse Mythology in a way that sent my stomach lurching, and the review itself was something of a roller-coaster ride (but the kind you are glad you have taken):
And I'm now realising that if I keep linking to reviews, interviews and such on either side of the Atlantic this blog will never end...
So here is the cover of a recent Australian Sunday supplement: do not let its 1977 cover date fool you.
On public events: If you go and look at Where's Neil you will see the public appearances I'm doing this year. Of the events in Spring, Seattle is sold out and so is Santa Rosa and Boston, Costa Mesa is almost sold out, Mesa AZ is going fast, and there are... still lots and lots of tickets in San Diego.
I don't know why this is. However, if you fancy coming to see me talk and read and answer questions and such, and you can't get in to any of the other evenings, San Diego is a two hour train ride from LA and they even have wifi on the train, andit's less than three hour's flying time from Seattle. And right now, there are seats. ("San Diego. It's not just for ComicCon.")
It's free to the Bard community, $25 a ticket for the rest of the world. Info here: http://fishercenter.bard.edu/calendar/
Which reminds me:
AMERICAN GODS now has a broadcast date: the first episode of the first season will be broadcast on Starz on April 30th in the US, and be watchable digitally too, via Starz on Amazon Prime.
I've been appointed a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Refugees. I even have a certificate. (It is blue and the same size as a passport.) I'm not sure what this means in real terms: I'm going to keep doing the work I've been doing since 2013 to draw attention to refugees, to raise awareness and knowledge, and to help them.
I was disappointed to learn I won't get diplomatic immunity from parking tickets*.
Here's the Facebook Live interview announcement, in which I am interviewed by Jonathan Ross and answer questions from the people watching. The interview begins about 4 minutes and 30 seconds in.
*Joke. Weak joke. UN Goodwill Ambassadors pay their own parking tickets, air tickets, hotel bills etc.
Additional small accomplishments: we cut both cats' claws (hey, I said "small accomplishments") and I put a good dent in my email inbox.
Things I did not do at all: Work. Write. Read fiction. I would've liked to read, but I suspect I would've just fallen asleep again. It's the failure to get any work done that stings, though; I probably needed the day off, but ugh.
I feel like some of the day is unaccounted for, but really I think that's just the amount of time that vanished into clearing out a bunch of links I'd favorited on Twitter, which is in keeping with the sense that my brain never quite engaged today. :/
We have a rainfall warning for tonight, and sometime in the last hour the rain started in earnest; I can hear it on the window, which is pleasant but not as lovely as hearing it on a rooftop (which our place doesn't allow for).
Hopefully it'll wash a ton of snow away. We live on a loop, and the stretch of road linking the loop to the main street beyond is still over a third full of snow, although the drain and fire hydrant are plowed out (and the path carved to them through the snow encroaching on the street is somehow more imposing to me than the snow itself). So walking to and from the bus stop involves basically walking down the middle of the road and hoping no drivers turn off the main street too fast to look and see if anyone's walking there. -_-
I have a suspicion that this was meant to get me to talk about Angel Coulby’s Guinevere in Merlin, but alas, I’ve never seen a single episode of it. If I ever do, though, that’s who it’ll be for. (In the past I would have said for Guinevere and Morgan, but I…can’t say I’ve been impressed with Katie McGrath’s acting in the few things I’ve seen her in. Unpopular opinion, I know…)
As far as adaptations go, my favorite Guineveres were probably from the movies First Knight (which may not be a particularly good movie or popular as Arthuriana, but Julia Ormond was amazing) and Camelot, and Kim Headlee’s Dawnflight. I thought Phyllis Ann Karr’s depiction of Guinevere in Idylls of the Queen was very interesting, but there we more get a perspective of her through other characters more than she’s actually on page as a character herself.
There’s always been a Madonna/whore complex in approaches to Guenevere in fiction, with Guenevere serving both roles, but the “whore” side of the equation getting an unfair share of the blame for Camelot’s downfall. A lot of Arthuriana fen-hardcore or supercasual-in my general age group having a pretty strong anti-Guenevere stance for some time due to The Mists of Avalon being so anti-Guenevere (because you can’t redeem the reputation and focus on one major female character without also tearing down another?), though that seems to have died down in recent years. While I grew up with Arthuriana adaptations going in and out of my life quite a bit, I didn’t make it to MZB until my late 20s and, well, we’ll say I don’t respect her as a person at all thanks to things that have come up over the years in regards to her and her husband, but do respect how her books brought more focus and depth to female characters in most adaptations in the last 30-odd years, but her stuff wasn’t for me, and leave it at that.
That said, I think most adaptations still don’t really “get” Guinevere, and probably don’t have much interest in doing so, even when they’re sympathetic to her, unless she actually is a central focus.. I’ll give Starz’s Camelot series a nod for trying, even if (through no fault of the actress’s) they didn’t really do a good job with her overall, but the only thing I can truly give that show good credit for is casting Eva Green and Claire Forlani as Morgan and Ygraine, and being the only adaptation I’ve encountered, outside of MZB, to bother to develop and explore Ygraine as a character and her motivations, even if it let me down in the end there to, in regards to her final fate.
Yixue Yang and I were on a mission to find out what the mysterious "O" in this entry from the previous installment in this series stands for:
laan2 / lán 兰O — stands for gaai3laan2 / jièlán 芥兰O
("Chinese kale / broccoli / gai lan / kai lan order")
Since that "O" occasioned so much discussion in the comments to the previous post, we were determined to put the controversy to rest, once and for all, and we now have done so, as will be explained at the end of this post. For the moment, though, let's look at the bill we received this time (Saturday 2/25/17):
To keep things as simple as possible, the following items include: A. the shorthand version of the entry, together with its Pinyin transcription and literal translation; B. the full form of what A stands for, together with its Pinyin transcription and typical English translation.
- xià cháng 下长 ("below long") — xiā cháng fěn 虾肠粉 ("Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll")
- jiǎnán bìng 甲南并 ("armor south side-by-side") — shāo yā niúnǎn pīnpán 烧鸭牛腩拼盘 ("Roast Duck and Beef Stew Combo")
- suànróng Táng lán 蒜茸唐兰 ("Chinese broccoli with minced garlic") — suànróng Táng jièlán 蒜茸唐芥兰 ("Chinese Broccoli with Minced Garlic")
- hǎixiān zú 海先足 ("sea first foot") — hǎixiān zhōu 海鲜粥 ("Seafood Congee")
zú 足 ("foot; sufficient; enough") — Cantonese zuk1
zhōu 粥 ("congee; porridge") — Cantonese zuk1
As for the "O" that followed our order of broccoli discussed in the second post in this series, the last time we ordered that dish it came with oyster sauce. Consequently some people thought the "O" stood for "oyster" and even that the wait persons were confusing "order" and "oyster". And there were other theories about what the "O" stood for as well. So this time we were very careful to avoid oyster sauce and specifically requested that the broccoli come with minced garlic. Voilà! No "O" on the order slip / bill! We further clarified with the wait staff that "O = order" refers to a small plate of already prepared vegetables kept at the front of the restaurant that can be brought to the customer on a moment's notice, whereas broccoli without the "O" signifies that the dish, larger in size, is prepared individually for the customer in the kitchen and brought to the customer from there, not from the front of the restaurant. End of story.
[Thanks to Fangyi Cheng, Leqi Yu, and Pan Daan]