Ben Zimmer in WSJ on "Boko Haram"

W Brewer brewerwa at GMAIL.COM
Sun May 11 18:28:01 UTC 2014

Boko Haram & the Roman alphabet.

Seems to me, Boko Haram wants to obliterate Western influences, including
banning the Roman alphabet. And so, I am reminded ... In 2005, I coined
<oblitteration> 'the deliberate obliteration of the origins of a foreign
loan'; or 'an example of such obliteration'; literally, 'the erasing of
letters', based on Latin <oblittera:re> 'to blot out, erase, cancel'. This
was used in describing English-to-Chinese borrowings. Standard Taiwan
Mandarin dictionaries strongly resist direct colloquial borrowings from
English, promulgating instead indirect sinographic calques and paraphrases.
This is a hangover from the days when the Nationalists took over Taiwan
after WW2 and they systematically erased 50 years of Japanese presence on
the island, and went on further even to burn Romanized Chinese dialect
materials, including Bibles.

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list