Where I go for AGGREGATED news on Cambodia, plus...   . . .           On Dec 26-29, 1979 [by now, Cambodia under one full year of Vietnamese occupation], the musician Paul McCartney and Kurt Waldheim, the Secre [ ... ]


Has Science Discovered God?     Click to watch this FASCINATING, MIND-BLOGGING video with breathtaking images and you learn science in the process!   Read transcript             God in the Cosmos
Veritas Forum at Yale University  [ ... ]

Johnson: The story of pinyin


One country, two systems

The coexistence of pinyin and Chinese characters highlights the role of emotion in language decisions


The Economist | January 2017



Pinyin has not, of course, replaced the Chinese characters. Rather, it is used as a gateway to literacy, giving young children a systematic way to learn the sounds of the thousands of characters required to be literate in Chinese. Pinyin is also used by most Chinese people to input Chinese characters into computers: type a word like wo (meaning “I”) and the proper character appears; if several characters share the same sound (which is common in Chinese), users choose from a short menu of these homophonic characters.... was Josef Stalin in 1949 who talked Mao out of full-scale romanisation, saying that a proud China needed a truly national system. The regime instead simplified many Chinese characters, supposedly making them easier to learn—but causing a split in the Sinophone world: Taiwan, Hong Kong and other overseas Chinese communities still use the traditional characters.

Mr Zhou, who had been working for a Chinese bank in New York (he was largely self-trained as a linguist), had returned home in a burst of patriotic optimism after 1949. He was drafted by Zhou Enlai, Mao’s premier, in the 1950s to create a system not to replace, but to complement, the Chinese characters....

...another reason for attachment to the characters. They represent tradition, history, literature, scholarship and even art on an emotional level that many foreigners do not understand. Outsiders focus so much on efficiency probably because those who do try to learn the characters cannot help but be struck by how absurdly hard they are to master.

There is a real trade-off between efficiency and culture.




I have no idea of the content, but are those "Western" punctuation marks I see?!


Zhou Youguang,

Who Made Writing Chinese as Simple as ABC,

Dies at 111


New York Times | 14 January 2017



Pinyin (the name can be translated as “spelled sounds”) has vastly increased literacy throughout the country; eased the classroom agonies of foreigners studying Chinese; afforded the blind a way to read the language in Braille; and, in a development Mr. Zhou could scarcely have foreseen, facilitated the rapid entry of Chinese on computer keyboards and cellphones....

Traditional Chinese writing, conceived more than two thousand years ago, is a logographic system, in which each word of the language is represented by a separate character. To the reader, each character conveys mainly semantic, rather than phonetic, information.





Language Is a Rock Against Which Evolutionary Theory Wrecks Itself


Evolution News


As I've noted already, Tom Wolfe has a new book, The Kingdom of Speech, and it's superb. Wolfe's theme is that human language is unique and is not shared in any way with other animals. He argues forcefully that evolutionary stories about the origin of human language are not credible....

Wolfe provides a précis of his argument:

Speech is not one of man's several unique attributes -- speech is the attribute of all attributes!...

...human mind is qualitatively different from the animal mind. The human mind has immaterial abilities -- the intellect's ability to grasp abstract universal concepts divorced from any particular thing -- and that this ability makes us more different from apes than apes are from viruses. We are ontologically different. We are a different kind of being from animals. We are not just animals who talk. Although we share much in our bodies with animals, our language -- a simulacrum of our abstract minds -- has no root in the animal world.








Things native English speakers know, but don't know we know


The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase

Mark Forsyth










You're already appropriating

punctuation marks;

now use them properly


About 5-6 years ago, I started posting pages from some Khmer dictionaries where commas were used (even if very sparsely, sporadically), in particular the 7-page letter of the Venerable Chuon Nath to his 1967 dictionary, in my advocacy for the use of commas in Khmer.

Prior to this, without the aid of an iPhone, my exchanges with EDUCATED Cambodians on the topic had been one of high emotions couched in identity / Khmer-ness language, masking as reasons -- a non-starter to any rational conversation of substance on this topic of PROPER, CONSISTENT usage of punctuation marks.

Not to mention deep frustration.

So, earlier on, I knew any progress on this matter had to be done by way of example for all to SEE with the physical eyes before the ability to SEE WITH THE MIND'S EYE. This led to my editing of 60-plus books of the Bible in Khmer, only several books shy, with some 500-plus pages of notes. This matter of punctuation should be a cautionary tale, that whenever "It's not Khmer" is employed, it cuts off all discussions, and we should all pause and RETHINK the matter.

For you see, in this matter of punctuation usage, ALL punctuation marks have been APPROPRIATED and of non-Khmer origin, save the Khmer "khan" (period/full stop). To frame the issue as a matter of identity--"It's not Khmer"--is not only silly and unhelpful, but self-defeating and costly. The issue then is not whether this is Khmer or not Khmer (since you're already appropriating most of these marks) but HOW are they to be used that works toward CLARITY and effective COMMUNICATION.

- Theary C. Seng, 15 Aug. 2016










The New Yorker Series

Comma Queen

Mary Norris












Who Really Cares About the Oxford Comma?

The Atlantic | 20 June 2016

I do. I care.

I care for the sake of the clarity, flow, and musicality of prose. I care because words matter, punctuation matters, and there is no other logical position besides being pro-Oxford comma. I care because I like jokes about my parents, God, and Stalin. (Actually, in that case, the joke only works if you take out the Oxford comma, which I refuse to do on principle.)

What is the Oxford comma?

Unless you’re writing for a particular publication or drafting an essay for school, whether or not you use the Oxford comma is generally up to you. However, omitting it can sometimes cause some strange misunderstandings.

I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.


Without the Oxford comma, the sentence above could be interpreted as stating that you love your parents, and your parents are Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty. Here’s the same sentence with the Oxford comma:

I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty.














































The Illustrious Ampersand


















































Pronouns for Pets










































None: Singular or Plural?






























Marks of Distinction


Wall Street Journal | 15 October 2015


Picture the scene: An Anglo-Saxon monk is hunched over his desk, copying a manuscript character by painstaking character. It’s a tedious, unrelenting task to decipher the unspaced, uncapitalized, underpunctuated text, made worse by the fact that the Latin before him is little better than an archaic, half-remembered second language. He mumbles aloud to extract the syllables and words, as readers have done for the past thousand years, and copies out as much as he can remember before moving on to the next phrase. The occasional gaps in his new manuscript—nascent word spaces—measure the precise capacity of his short-term memory.

This is where the first section of “Making a Point,” David Crystal’s engaging history of punctuation, picks up, sprinting from eighth-century Britain to the modern world in less than 100 pages. There is more to the birth of punctuation, certainly, than monks and manuscripts—the Greeks had first marked pauses with tiny, inky dots more than a thousand years earlier—but Mr. Crystal treats his chosen period with enthusiasm and insight.




























ខេមរ ភាសា










Theary's BLOG

Caroline Kennedy Delegation to Palace; Love; I support CNRM; New Year Video Message; Challenges are Opportunities; Free James!; Proportionality; Wolves in Sheep's Clothing; Entrapment; Prince Sirivudh

Kennedy-Niinami Delegation to Khemarin Palace 11 February 2018   Click to watch TVK clip of royal audience with the King and Queen Mother     Prime Minister Son Sann, Jacqueline Kennedy, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Princess Norodom Mo [ ... ]

January 7; Kramanation; 47; Kampot Vegetable Sellers; No more selfies; Facebook Profile Name Change

Theary C. Seng, 11 January 2012
Chaktomuk Theatre, Phnom Penh, January 2010

January 7 is indeed a significant day for survivors of the Khmer Rouge. It arrested the macabre convulsions that would have swallowed all of us into a hellish hole if the [ ... ]


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