Ian Bogus, Grant Barrett, Martha Barnett discussed on A Way with Words: language, linguistics, and callers from all over


On the line. Yeah. And I love that so it's funny because my wife and I are both lawyers. So it's hilarious that ended up being illegal to so yeah, hair splitting is in your history. These are the kinds of conversations you have on the road then. So what's the difference between the part where your calling someone into court and you vouch someone by actively making them come to the legal field and then the part where they actually like the vouch for like bringing someone. Like how did you get on the same side of the V, if that makes sense? How did you get on the same team? Yeah, so in the legal sense to prove that somebody own land, you literally would have somebody show up and saying, yes, I can verify that Martha doesn't own these acres that she says she owns because I was there. And they were bequeathed to her by her mother, blah, blah, blah. So that's part of the vouching, the legal vouching process was witnesses coming to say it because you might have a whole body of people who couldn't read and write. So the word of your neighbors or the word of your community was as important as paper. So that's why vouching really mattered. I would call them as my witness because I believe in this as well. Yeah, calling. Yeah, that was like mark that was saying. Yeah. So that vote caught it. It's funny how often it shows up and vocal, of course. And evoke call to mind or convoke called together provoke to call forth. I love the hair splitting that you do. It's very much worth what we do. Well, thank you. This is fascinating. Yeah, it is. Emma, thank you so much for your call. Call us again some time when you've had this road discussion. Okay, well I love your show. I really appreciate being on so thank you. Thank you so much and we appreciate it. Take care of yourself and be well. Thanks for calling. Bye bye. And come to think of it, the word voucher followed a somewhat similar path originally voucher was a legal term that meant the calling of a person into court to warrant the title to a property, and then in the 17th century, it was used as evidence of a transaction, a business receipt, and now it's a document that you can exchange for goods or services, like school vouchers, for example. Yeah, exactly. Every time I think about it, I'm amazed. I never stopped being amazed. The fact that these history of this language persist this Latin shows up again and again in our everyday language. It's astonishing that something should have such endurance. Indeed. When you talked about volcano, meaning call, having and it does have all this history and language, but you know, it doesn't give us the word call. And you can call us 877-929-9673. Here's a tweet from writer Ian bogus that I think you'll appreciate. He's suggesting the name for a bar. And he says, a bar called the copy desk, where they offer an alternative to your drink order, and you get kind of really upset for a second, but then realize, no, that's, in fact, a better order. Oh, that makes sense because at a newspaper or a print publication, the copy desk is where you submit your story for editing and you get it back and you realize they've changed it and your first year upset and you're like, oh wait, this is a better story and I'm going to look great when this goes to print because my name is on it and there's this exactly. A good editor is worth their waiting goals. Absolutely. And they don't get credit. You get the credit. They're just like, you know, in tiny prints on the masthead somewhere, you know, and that's that page somewhere. So shout out to copy editors. 877-929-9673 words at wayward radio dot org. This show's about language seen through the lens of family, history, and culture. Stick around for more. You're listening to away with words, this show about language and how we use it. I'm grant Barrett. And I'm Martha Barnett. If you pull down an English dictionary from the shelf, it's a fairly simple matter to look up a word. You know that word starting with a, you're going to be at the beginning and words that start with Z are going to be at the end, and if a word shares the same initial letters as in other words, like, say, the words, production, and progress. You just keep looking letter by letter from left to right until you find what you want. And that's simple. All you had to do to understand this system was learn your ABCs, just 26 letters. Using a Chinese dictionary, though, is quite different. A Chinese character is a unit of meaning. It's roughly equivalent to a word. And to look up a Chinese character, you pull down that dictionary, and you first either go to the front or the back of the book where there's a table that lists the particular components of Chinese characters. In these components of strokes are called radicals. There are 214 of those, and assigned to each radical is a number and you follow that number to another table and you find all the characters that contain that radical and there can be as many as 64. And then once you find the character you want in this table, now you have the page number in the actual dictionary itself. So you turn to that page and you hunt until you find the character and the definition. So it's a lot more complicated or consider typewriters. The first qwerty typewriters were marketed in the United States in the early 1870s and these were portable and relatively easy to use. But the first Chinese typewriter, which was invented a few decades later, looked like a small table with this huge flat disc containing more than 4000 commonly used characters, arranged in concentric rings. And you would use one hand to rotate the disc and use a long, thin pointer to select the character you want, and you use the other hand to position the carriage that holds the paper underneath. All of which means that a century ago, China faced a huge challenge. How do you adapt this magnificent Chinese script into modern technology? How do you reinvent the Chinese language so that you can more easily use things like computers? It's a fascinating story and it's told in a new book called kingdom of characters, the language revolution that made China modern. It's by Jing su, and she's a Professor of East Asian languages at Yale, and she's written a history of this massive technological transformation in China, and she also writes about this colorful assortment of innovators through the years who were passionate about the Chinese language and about reinventing it for the modern age. It's a fascinating read grant. Yeah, it sounds fascinating. Wow, it took so many brilliant bright people to sort that out to take this sophisticated script and put it into our computers and to make it possible to produce all these great books and beautiful text and newspapers and so forth. Well, speaking of great books, this one is called kingdom of characters, the language revolution that made China modern and is by Jing su that's Ji and G TSU.

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