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  • Language Log argues that, despite a lack of official or public support, Cantonese remains the dominant language of Hong Kong.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money makes the case for the global relevance of the Cranberries' song "Zombie."

  • Marginal Revolution seems to like the end results of Canada's immigration system.

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  • Out There's Corey S. Powell interviews an astronomer about the very strange Przybylski’s Star, rich in rare radioactive elements.

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  • blogTO notes that the old HMV store in the Dufferin Mall is now a fidget spinner store. This has gone viral.
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  • Language Log notes efforts to promote Cantonese in the face of Mandarin.

  • The LRB Blog wonders if May's electoral defeat might lead to the United Kingdom changing its Brexit trajectory.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that cars have more complex computer programming these days than fighter jets.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that the counter-cyclical Brazilian fiscal cap still makes no sense.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is edging towards an acknowledgement of its involvement in the Ukrainian war.

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  • Language Hat reports on the Wenzhounese of Italy.

  • Language Log writes about the tones of Cantonese.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money writes about the costs of law school. (They are significant, and escalating hugely.)

  • Marginal Revolution reports on the problems facing the Brazilian pension system, perhaps overgenerous for a relatively poor country facing rapid aging.

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  • At Wave Without A Shore, C.J. Cherryh shares photos of her goldfish.

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  • blogTO shares the new face of the Broadview Hotel.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about the joys of the unscreened life.

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  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on the discovery of five sizable planets orbiting HIP 41378.

  • Language Log reports on the perils of 7 and 9 in Cantonese.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the usefulness of The Battle of Algiers.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reacts to the Elon Musk proposal for colonizing Mars.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer responds briefly to the question of what Mexico can do about Trump.

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  • Antipope's Charlie Stross considers the question of how to build durable space colonies.

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  • Language Log looks at new programs to promote the learning of Cantonese, outside of China proper.

  • Towleroad notes the sad story of a Belgian man who wants euthanasia because he's ashamed of being gay.

  • The Financial Times' The World worries about the possible spread of illiberal democracy to Croatia.

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  • Bad Astronomy notes the literally cosmic homophobia of Louie Gohmert.

  • The Big Picture notes a Chinese factory set to make a fortune off of making masks of the American presidential candidates.

  • blogTO notes the raising of the Trans and Pride flags at Toronto City Hall, marking the beginning of Pride month.

  • Crooked Timber notes the racism that erased the genealogy of African-Americans.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that Britain's NHS has rejected PrEP again.

  • Language Log notes the sensitivity of the local version of the name "Pikachu" in Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong.

  • The LRB Blog reports from the scene of an active volcano in Nicaragua.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that witchcraft apparently does hurt economic progress.

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  • blogTO shares the exciting news that the new Star Trek series will be filmed in Toronto.

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  • The Dragon's Tales notes France's winning a contract to build Australia's new attack submarines.

  • Language Log notes a Hong Kong government initiative promoting Cantonese.

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  • Transit Toronto notes a recent joint meeting of the TTC and Metrolinx councils.

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  • blogTO looks at Toronto's north/south-divided streets.

  • The Dragon's Gaze suggests that there might be lightning in protoplanetary disks.

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  • Joe. My. God. let George Takei explain why he stayed in the closet.

  • Language Hat likes the poetry of Pasternak.

  • Language Log notes a bizarre clip from 1930s New York City featuring a boy scout speaking Cantonese.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper suggesting that economists overlooked the rise of the 1% because of sampling issues and argues that power couples worsen economic inequality.

  • Cheri Lucas Rowlands shares photos from Paris in December.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes unhelpful reactions to the decline of Russian as a language of wider communication.

  • Window on Eurasia notes turbulence in the Russian Orthodox Church (1, 2) and suggests the Donbas is likely to evolve into a second Chechnya.

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  • Bad Astronomy notes that there is as yet no evidence for distant planets beyond Pluto, merely suggestive evidence deserving of exploration.

  • blogTO reviews Villa Toronto, arguing it underwhelms and inspires all at once.

  • Centauri Dreams and the Planetary Society Blog both highlight the Dawn probe's images of Ceres.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to a paper documenting that trust is found among chimpanzees.

  • Imageo argues that Arctic exploration for oil and natural gas means that dangerous climate change is quite likely.

  • jsburbidge argues that Jo Walton's trilogy explores Plato's Republic in interesting ways.

  • Language Hat explores the meaning of the title of Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty.

  • Language Log notes new ways to enter Cantontese-language text for the Internet.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes Saudi Arabia's strategy for reducing regulation of fossil fuels.

  • Window on Eurasia notes anger in Armenia at Russia over the Gyumri killings, looks at Russian-supported terrorism in Ukraine, and notes Russian concern at China's growing role in Central Asia.

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  • Bruce Sterling picks up on an analyst's prediction that by next year, more computers--including mobile devices--will be running Google's Android than Microsoft.

  • Centauri Dreams remembers late British astronomer and popularizer Patrick Moore.

  • Claus Vistesen doesn't think much of predictions that a low American birth rate will lead to economic ruin. (Frankly, it's not nearly low enough.)

  • Will Baird at The Dragon's Tales reports on evidence found in geological strata as to an abundance of sulfur-metabolizing bacteria 2.7 billion years ago.

  • Daniel Drezner seems as interested by the ways in which analysts will react to the new Global Briefs 2030, with its predictions of American decline, as anything else.

  • Geocurrents notes the highly scattered and thin population of Australia.

  • The Grumpy Sociology links to a series of posts he made analyzing different aspects of slavery in modern-day Thailand.

  • Language Hat notes the Italian imprint in mid-19th century Odessa.

  • Language Log suspects that Cantonese, by virtue of its base of Hong Kong, is resisting the pressures of Mandarin to a much greater extent than other Chinese regional languages.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer has noted that Chinese sabre-rattlings has succeeded in making the Philippines' government welcome Japanese militarization.

  • Window on Eurasia observes that China is starting to compete for the scarce water supplies of central Asia.

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Journalists and others have commented about how Putonghua is supplanting the various Chinese regional languages, like Cantonese, that have traditionally dominated the diaspora. The Globe and Mail's Mark MacKinnon is the first journalist whose work suggests that the language is threatened at home, too.

At first, Rao Yuansheng didn't even realize he was doing it. He was sitting in the bustling newsroom of Guangzhou Television, worrying aloud about the declining use of Cantonese here in the land of its birth, and he was speaking in Mandarin.

“I guess I'm just used to it,” he said apologetically to the translator, who was also a native Cantonese speaker. The translator, who had also slid into Mandarin, looked similarly embarrassed. “I think it's because we are in an office environment,” she offered as a half-hearted explanation.

Though it is spoken by more than 70 million people worldwide, and is the third most-used language in Canada after English and French, Cantonese is in trouble here in the city formerly known as Canton.

Five decades of Mandarin being promoted by Beijing as China's unifying common language – combined with the influx of millions of migrant labourers drawn to Guangzhou in recent years by the city's economic success – has helped Mandarin displace Cantonese as the lingua franca.

A similar shift has taken place in Chinatowns across North America, as communities once dominated by Cantonese speakers with roots in Hong Kong adjust to an influx of Mandarin-speaking immigrants from other parts of China.

In Guangzhou, however, Cantonese speakers are beginning to gently push back, hoping to preserve their mother tongue. The Latest Trends in Cantonese, a four-minute spot Mr. Rao hosts during the nightly news on Guangzhou Television, is part of the effort to save Cantonese from becoming just another dialect in the land of its birth.

“It's very important to promote Cantonese, because I'm afraid future generations soon won't know how to speak it,” he said before taping a recent episode.


Is Cantonese the 21st century's Provençal, a language with a great and noble heritage doomed to disappear as the nation-state consolidates itself?
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