Maps

Today is 15 years since I went to Korea the first time. We were planning to travel there last year, probably for Chuseok, before continuing to Europe, but that got knocked on the head. We hope to travel as soon as we can, but that is obviously not going to be soon.

I have been watching a lot a hiking videos and reading travel websites and blogs. My default maps is Google. Although its coverage is limited, it gives me most of the information I need. I have also investigated Naver Maps. Their maps and satellite are better than Google’s, but they have no street view, at least that I’ve been able to find. (Their default language is Korean, not surprisingly. There may be a way to switch that to English.) A few days ago I read a blog which mentioned Kakao Maps, which has better maps and satellite and more extensive street view than Google. (And is also in Korean, but the blogger said there’s a way to switch languages.)

These three maps show the area including Deoksugung Palace (lower left), Seoul City Hall, Cheonggyecheon and Jongno Tower (upper right):

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What is a hyphenated Australian meant to do?

Tonight is census night in Australia. One question asks about our ancestry. There is a default list of the most common answers from the last census and a text box to type in any other answer. In the list are English, Irish, Scottish and Australian. Yes, my ancestry is Australian for 4-6 generations, but I think selecting that tells an incomplete story. Fine, I’ll select English, Irish and Scottish and type in ‘Cornish’. Except … I’m only allowed to choose two. So, either I tell an incomplete story by selecting ‘Australian’, or I tell an incomplete story by selecting and/or writing any two of those four. But which two? Numerically, my ancestry is more English and Scottish, but I identify less as English and more as any or all of those other four, to the extent that it matters 140 years after my last ancestors arrived in Australia (from England, as it happens). Maybe I should have tried typing in Anglo-Saxon-Celtic-Australian or Normo-Dano-Anglo-Saxo-Juto-Romano-Celto-Australian and seen if it would have accepted it.

Good luck getting there

(Google Street View)

This sign straddles a motorway west of Seoul. Most notable is the panel at the left. While it used to be possible for some people (workers, tourists in authorised groups) to travel as far as Gaeseong, travel to Pyongyang hasn’t been possible for as long as this motorway has been here. I suspect that everyone driving here knows that. I have a memory that a sign gives distances. Either I’m misremembering or there’s another sign. Seoul and Pyongyang are 195 km apart, and it is theoretically possible to cover that in approximately 2 hours. Practically …

The text at the bottom of the left-hand panel says South-North exit/entry ticket office

(I suspect that the road signs on the other side of the border don’t include Paju and Seoul.)

Google bedroom view

I have been using Google Maps to explore South Korea, retracing places I’ve been to and finding places I haven’t. Naver Maps has better maps and aerial, but no street view or user-submitted photos, from what I can see. I managed to trace one brother- and sister-in-law’s house in a densely populated suburb of Seoul. I noticed that there was one user-submitted photo nearby. A presumably young woman has submitted a photo of her bedroom, in an apartment immediately above the office where my wife used to work. There’s nothing revealing about the photo, but it seems an unlikely thing for anyone to submit to Google Maps. 

“Swimming dancing to music”

Nine years ago I used the then-current London Olympics to talk about the Olympic Games, Olympic sports in particular and other sports in general, especially those popular in the students’ countries or which they played, which also gave a lot of opportunities for asking questions with who, what, where, when, how, how much, how many, how many times, how long and why. At the time, I had two students from Greece in my class, who actually lived within sight of Mount Olympus. One of them especially said “Oooh, is Greek word” any time we encountered a Greek word, which was obviously a lot during this class. The other one thought very carefully and said “swimming dancing to music” as an Olympic sport. With a little bit of knowledge of Greek I was able to guide him towards swimming with (σύν, sún, syn-) music and in time (χρόνος, khrónos, chron-) to it.

“Swimming dancing to music” is actually a very good attempt to communicate when he didn’t know the actual word.

No more unweder

For the last six days, the east coast of Australia has received very heavy rain, up to the average total for March each day in some places. Some parts have been flooded and more are waiting on rising river levels. Yesterday evening my wife asked me if there would be “more rain” today. Well, yes, in the sense of additional rain, but no, in the sense of a greater quantity of rain. Today was least wet day of the six; indeed it stopped raining, the clouds mostly dispersed and we got a few hours of mostly blue sky and sun. The entire night sky is now clear, and tomorrow’s temperature is predicted to be warmer than an average summer’s day.

Yesterday I mentioned an Anglo-Saxon word list. One of the words is unweder, extreme and unseasonal weather, which might be some comment about the weder in Angle-land. But a friend who moved from England to Australia commented on Facebook that Sydney actually gets more rain than London, which I had to check. Yes, Sydney 1,147.1mm/45.16in per year from 95 rainy days, and London 601.7mm/23.68in per year from 109 rainy days. So in Sydney, when it rains, it pours. Temperature (average and extreme) and hours of sunshine are other factors. I also suspect that London’s rainfall doesn’t change much from year to year, while Sydney’s does. Note that Sydney is at 33 degrees south, and London is at 51 degrees north

Hyphenated Australian

I have occasionally referred to myself as an Australian of mixed British Isles descent, or an Anglo-Saxon-Celtic-Australian. I suspect that the full story might be Normo-Dano-Anglo-Saxo-Juto-Romano-Celto-Australian. My ancestry is half English (my father’s side), a quarter Scottish (two of my great-great-grandparents were born in Ireland, but their families originated in Scotland), an eighth Irish and an eighth Cornish (if you count that separately). My father always assumed that his father’s ancestry was Welsh (his grandfather was born in Shrewsbury and our surname is typically Welsh but from other places as well), but we haven’t actually traced it. His mother was horrified at my suggestion that I was anything other than ‘English’, apparently unaware of her late husband’s possible ancestry and her daughter-in-law/my mother’s actual ancestry.

So while I celebrate St David’s Day for various reasons (despite no known Welsh connection), I am ambivalent about St Patrick’s Day (despite known Irish connection). Part of the reason is that those Irish people are usually so noisy on St Patrick’s Day (which they will, of course, say is most of the point). Maybe the Welsh, Scots and English also are on their respective days, but I have never seen or heard a St David’s, St Andrew’s or St George’s Day celebration in Australia. I can imagine the Welsh celebrating (especially in Wales but also in Australia), but the idea of a Scottish St Andrew’s Day or English St George’s Day seems slightly strange (though see St Andrew’s Day and St George’s Day). St George almost certainly didn’t actually exist (at least in his most popular form), and St Andrew didn’t go anywhere Scotland (and wouldn’t even have known that it existed). A colleague who is more Irish than I am decorated himself and part of the office yesterday (we are dividing our working days between the office and home), but I was unable to fully share his excitement. What is one meant to do when one is hyphenated? Celebrating everything without worrying about it so much is a possibility. I accepted his Irish chocolates, though.

And to think that I saw it in a Dr Seuss book

In 1937, Vanguard Press published And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street, by Dr Seuss, known to his family and friends as Theodore Seuss Geisel. The original edition referred to “a Chinaman”, which was later changed to “a Chinese man”. Chinaman is now seen as offensive though possibly not taboo, and no new children’s book would use it. As far as I can find, there are no direct equivalent instances of [Country] + man. The closest is Indiaman, but that didn’t/doesn’t refer to a person, but rather to a large ship engaged in trade between Europe and India. Dictionary.com notes that Chinaman was originally as neutral as Englishman and Irishman. The difference is that Chinaman is [Country]-noun + man (compare *Englandman and *Irelandman), while Englishman and Irishman are [Nationality]-adj + man (compare *Chineseman). 

The Wikipedia article on Chinaman (linked above) mentions that Chinese uses 中國人 (zhōng-guó rén, China man/person), and I am familiar with Korean 중국 사람 (jung-guk sa-ram, China person). 중국 남자 (jung-guk nam-ja, China man) and 중국 여자 (jung-guk yeo-ja) are both also possible. I would not be surprised if many other languages use this formula. It is certainly not inherently racist. (Also, the Chinese word for a Western foreigner, 鬼佬 (gwei-lo), means ghost or devil man. Hmmm …)

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What is art?

Youtube is suggesting a documentary by NHK Japan titled Art is trash without social impact. I first read that as Art is [trash without social impact], but I think it’s meant to be Art without social impact is trash (or Without social impact, art is trash), but I’m not going to watch it to find out. (Or maybe I will later – I’m in the middle of enough videos already, partly because Youtube keeps suggesting more.)

NHK World is the international service of Japan’s national broadcaster, and I have watched a number of their travel videos.

Who’s who?

I am reading a book on Australian history, and one passage is about Harold Holt, the prime minister of Australia from 1966 to 1967. In one of the more bizarre incidents of Australian history, he disappeared and presumably drowned while swimming at a remote surf beach near Melbourne (though alternative suggestions exist). The book says that his memorial service “drew a crowd of foreign dignitaries such as had not before assembled at an Australian ceremony”, including “the president of the United States … the prime minister of Britain, Harold Wilson … the heir to the British throne, the young Prince Charles … the presidents of the Philippines, South Korea and South Vietnam and the young prime minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore”.

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