Patterico's Pontifications

9/7/2020

The Insane Story of the USC Professor Suspended for Accurately Quoting Mandarin Filler Word

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:40 pm



The story is a few days old, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

Greg Patton is a professor of clinical business communication at the University of Southern California. During a recent virtual classroom session, he was discussing public speaking patterns and the filler words that people use to space out their ideas: um, er, etc. Patton mentioned that the Chinese often use a word that is pronounced like nega.

“In China the common word is ‘that, that that that,’ so in China it might be ‘nega, nega, nega, nega,'” Patton explained to his class. “So there’s different words you’ll hear in different cultures, but they’re vocal disfluencies.”

The poor students whose mental health has been harmed are being offered counseling services:

On Tuesday evening, the USC Marshall School of Business provided Campus Reform with a statement, confirming that Patton is no longer teaching his course.

“Recently, a USC faculty member during class used a Chinese word that sounds similar to a racial slur in English. We acknowledge the historical, cultural and harmful impact of racist language,” the statement read.

Patton “agreed to take a short term pause while we are reviewing to better understand the situation and to take any appropriate next steps.”

Another instructor is temporarily teaching the class.

USC is now “offering supportive measures to any student, faculty, or staff member who requests assistance.” The school is “committed to building a culture of respect and dignity where all members of our community can feel safe, supported, and can thrive.”

He has been using this example for years. Here’s the video of it:

There’s no intent to antogonize. It’s simply an accurate example.

To the crowd who says they can’t figure out why people signed the Harper’s letter, or what this “cancel culture” stuff is … *this* is what we have been talking about. Utter insanity like this.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has published what is represented to be the strongly worded letter to the USC administration from USC Marshall School of Business Alumni. The whole thing is worth reading but here is my favorite part:

It seems entirely appropriate that the person or persons who brought forth such abusive and dishonest charges should be reprimanded strongly by Marshall not only for the obvious Student Conduct and Integrity violation, but for demeaning the important cause they pretend to stand for.

Amen. It is not the professor who should suffer consequences here, but rather the students who manufactured this ridiculous nontroversy.

103 Responses to “The Insane Story of the USC Professor Suspended for Accurately Quoting Mandarin Filler Word”

  1. Tenured Professor Fired for Accurately Quoting Leading Campus Speech Code Case

    The professor, chair of the Central Michigan University journalism department, was teaching a media law class, and quoted a case that discussed the use of the word “n******r” at public universities.
    …….
    Dambrot v. Central Michigan University (6th Cir. 1995) is one of the leading cases on the First Amendment and campus speech codes. It struck down a Central Michigan University speech code that banned, among other things, any speech

    that subjects an individual to an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational, employment or living environment by … (c) demeaning or slurring individuals through … written literature because of their racial or ethnic affiliation; or (d) using symbols, [epithets] or slogans that infer negative connotations about the individual’s racial or ethnic affiliation.

    But it also upheld the firing of a basketball coach who had used the word “n******r” in a motivational speech….. The court concluded that the speech wasn’t on a matter of “public concern,” and thus not protected against the government as employer, because it wasn’t tied to any broader matters, wasn’t part of classroom teaching, and “served to advance no academic message”……

    Dambrot mentioned the word “n******er” 19 times (as well as “N-word” 10 times, plus “N word” once in a quote). Though using the word to motivate players, the court concluded, was punishable, mentioning the word in describing the facts struck the judge as perfectly proper.

    And I doubt that this was because the author, Judge Damon Keith, was unaware how offensive the word could be; as a black man born in 1922 Detroit, I would guess that he had been called it on many occasions. …….

    Unsurprisingly, then, Prof. Tim Boudreau, chair of Central Michigan University’s Journalism Department, followed the same pattern: presumably thinking it important to accurately quote the facts, and distinguishing in his mind use from mention, he likewise quoted the word twice while quoting the facts of Dambrot.
    ………
    So the word that Judge Keith mentioned 19 times in his opinion, and that has appeared in over 10,000 other opinions (written by judges of all races and all political stripes, of course) and over 10,000 briefs (and likely much more than that)—much more often than “N-word” or “n—r”—now can’t be said at Central Michigan University by a professor teaching a media law class about that very opinion.
    ……….
    This is latest in a series of incidents of professors being disciplined (or fired) for using epithets in classrooms quoting legal opinions or literature. See also “ Quoting Epithets in the Classroom and Beyond.” It is more than “cancel culture,” it is out right censorship and the ending of academic freedom.

    Rip Murdock (b2603f)

  2. “In China the common word is ‘that, that that that,’ so in China it might be ‘nega, nega, nega, nega,’” Patton explained to his class. “So there’s different words you’ll hear in different cultures, but they’re vocal disfluencies.”

    The professor explicitly said “In China” when referring to the offending word and its usage. The students that complained not only demonstrated their own intolerance, but also that they are unable to view or understand a culture different from their own. Ironically, that is what a not small number of black Americans accuse white America of doing on a regular basis.

    The school is “committed to building a culture of respect and dignity where all members of our community can feel safe, supported, and can thrive.”

    Really? They might want to ask the Chinese students and staff about this.

    Dana (292df6)

  3. Since 2013 Southern Cal has received a minimum of $68 million from Chinese donors. SC is loathe to do anything to offend their funding stream.

    Rip Murdock (b2603f)

  4. It’s hard to see how this wouldn’t offend their Chinese donors. The offending word is a commonly used word in China, and a select group of non-Chinese students are upset about it. It would seem like the donors would be culturally offended by the students’ inability to recognize their culture and language as different from their own.

    Dana (292df6)

  5. You know, I have come to expect kids to react this way way. It’s baked in these days. With that, however, I am always surprised to be reminded that there are no adults left in the room. Not the professor, who ended up apologizing to students, and not the administration that jumped in to save the endangered children. No adults left to tell them firmly, “no!”

    Dana (292df6)

  6. What is the English translation for the Chinese words Mah or Ma? That might be an interesting twist on a well known Denzel Washington Training Day meme.

    urbanleftbehind (321612)

  7. Since 2013 Southern Cal has received a minimum of $68 million from Chinese donors.

    Given that USC has a $5.73 billion endowment and a $5.3 billion annual budget, $68 million strikes me as a niggardly amount.

    nk (1d9030)

  8. Tell me again what this “tenure” thing is all about.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  9. “Cancel Culture”— nothing new. Case in point:

    “My Old Kentucky Home” was quilled by Stephen Foster in 1852. Abolutionist Frederick Douglass even promoted the song in his time. Today, the original lyrics are deemed offensive and routinely changed.

    The original Stephen Foster lyrics of the song, were:

    The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home.
    ‘Tis summer, the darkies are gay,
    The corn top’s ripe and the meadow’s in the bloom
    While the birds make music all the day.
    The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
    All merry, all happy, and bright.
    By ‘n by hard times comes a-knocking at the door,
    Then my old Kentucky home, good night.

    Weep no more my lady, oh! weep no more today!
    We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
    For the old Kentucky home far away.

    They hunt no more for the ‘possum and the coon,
    On the meadow, the hill and the shore,
    They sing no more by the glimmer of the moon,
    On the bench by the old cabin door.
    The day goes by like a shadow o’er the heart,
    With sorrow where all was delight.
    The time has come when the darkies have to part,
    Then my old Kentucky home, good night!

    Weep no more my lady, oh! weep no more today!
    We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
    For the old Kentucky home far away.

    The head must bow and the back will have to bend,
    Wherever the darkies may go.
    A few more days and the trouble all will end,
    In the field where the sugar-canes grow.
    A few more days for to tote the weary load,
    No matter ’twill never be light.
    A few more days till we totter on the road,
    Then my old Kentucky home, good-night!

    Weep no more my lady, oh! weep no more today!
    We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
    For the old Kentucky home far away.

    Most modern renditions of the song change the word darkies to people (with the Commonwealth of Kentucky officially adopting this change in 1986). – source, wikiwhatcolorisyourlawnjockeypainted.org

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  10. So, if a black* coach referred to members of his 80% black team as “n….rs”, and blacks often do, would the white players need counseling for hearing this racial epithet, bring back memories of their racist grandparents, and their shame for being white?

    ———–
    * or is that Black coach now, the Newspeak editions are coming out more frequently now.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  11. They seem to ignorant in any language.

    Bolivar di griz (7404b5)

  12. Would be nice if Black Americans stopped trying to force other black people from around the world and force every other culture to view race and color through only a Black American perspective. Apologies and credit to Kelvin Odanz for a paraphrase of his twitter comment.

    Marci (405d43)

  13. I await the EDIT button.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  14. 1. I can’t believe people risked prison to send their kids to these places.
    2. I feel sorry for the students, the whiners and non-whiners both, who are taught this crap.
    3. I would feel sorry for the professor if he were not a member of the gang himself.

    nk (1d9030)

  15. Would be nice if Black Americans stopped trying to force other black people from around the world

    Not so long ago, the word was “African-American” and I remember a committee trying to devise a survey form for an international organization. There were some black folks on the committee and they were adament that the Ethnicity questions should have only “African-American” as the choice for black folk. Suggesting that Brits or Canadians or Senegalese might have issues with that was not acceptable to them.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  16. Good grief academia you people are a con.

    mg (8cbc69)

  17. UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has published what is represented to be the strongly worded letter to the USC administration from USC Marshall School of Business Alumni. The whole thing is worth reading but here is my favorite part:

    It seems entirely appropriate that the person or persons who brought forth such abusive and dishonest charges should be reprimanded strongly by Marshall not only for the obvious Student Conduct and Integrity violation, but for demeaning the important cause they pretend to stand for.

    Amen. It is not the professor who should suffer consequences here, but rather the students who manufactured this ridiculous nontroversy.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  18. The students have awful teachers.

    mg (8cbc69)

  19. He actually prefaced by saying in chinese its ‘nega’ it makes your brain hurtm

    Bolivar di griz (7404b5)

  20. That’s a terrific letter, and I’m glad that Volokh published it in full. USC Annenburg Media mentioned it briefly in their report:

    In a petition sent to Garrett, 94 Marshall alumni expressed their support for Patton.

    The alumni said they represent more than a dozen nationalities and ethnicities. They called Patton’s example “an accurate rendition of a common Chinese use, and an entirely appropriate and quite effective illustration of the use of pauses.”

    The students have done the everything that they are complaining about. There’s a word for that in English, and I suspect in Chinese as well.

    Dana (292df6)

  21. USC’s communique refers to “student, faculty, or staff”. If the students knew better, they would not need to be in school in the first place. The onus is entirely the faculty’s and staff’s.

    nk (1d9030)

  22. They can expel kids for violating social distance, they can send them back home for a two-week quarantine because one person in their dorm (not them) tested positive for coronavirus, but they cannot find a way to tell them that foreign languages have homophones that are offensive words in English. In Greek, too — the Malacca Strait is a childhood favorite from geography class.

    nk (1d9030)

  23. There are a lot of words in one language that are homonyms for words in another language. I know that “pizza” sounds like an impolite word for vulva in Polish. “People” sounds like a childish word for penis in German. There are a zillion other examples I’m sure. I know that pharmaceutical companies screen their brand names to avoid such problems.

    Fred (da68eb)

  24. Tuition is $59,260 at USC and, if you’re not living with parentals, the total cost is $79,063.
    Not worth it.

    Paul Montagu (a2078e)

  25. It seems entirely appropriate that the person or persons who brought forth such abusive and dishonest charges should be reprimanded strongly by Marshall….

    Yeah, that’ll happen.

    Who does he think runs Marshall? Trump?

    beer ‘n pretzels (77090e)

  26. It is not the professor who should suffer consequences here, but rather the students who manufactured this ridiculous nontroversy.

    I disagree, in part. It is the DEAN who displayed cowardice in the face of the students who should suffer the consequences, by being fired immediately.

    Apart from the absurdity you have pointed out, he is also doing the complaining students a deep disservice. Instead of helping them grow up, he coddled their stupid inanities. These are graduate students in a business program. If they are so traumatized by this, then how are they going to deal with the stresses of business? How are they going to be able to do business with Chinese speakers (not only from China, but also Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) if they are traumatized by a common Chinese word?

    Bored Lawyer (7b72ec)

  27. Meanwhile…..

    United Nations
    @UN
    ·
    The #COVID19 pandemic is demonstrating what we all know: millennia of patriarchy have resulted in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture which damages everyone – women, men, girls & boys.

    _ _

    Pure lunacy
    _

    harkin (cd4502)

  28. Sheesh Patterico – the guy got a paid vacation and you’re trying to ruin it for him.

    😀

    Dave (1bb933)

  29. Patterico, welcome to my world. I hope to survive until retirement. As for tenure, what a joke.

    Simon Jester (570aff)

  30. 24.Tuition is $59,260 at USC and, if you’re not living with parentals, the total cost is $79,063. Not worth it.

    Until you apply for a job that doesn’t require you to ask, ‘you want fries with that?!’

    Reaganomics.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  31. I know that pharmaceutical companies screen their brand names to avoid such problems.

    When I was in high school Spanish class (way back in the last century), we read about how GM was puzzled that the Chevy Nova, a popular car in the U.S., was selling very poorly in Latin America.

    Then someone pointed that that NO VA in Spanish means “Doesn’t Go.”

    They then renamed the care for Spanish-speaking countries.

    Bored Lawyer (7b72ec)

  32. The same for the Montero. It’s the Pajero in non-Spanish-speaking countries. It means “wanker” in Spanish.

    nk (1d9030)

  33. I’ve got to find (but not particularly urgently) what they call Malacca canes in Greece.

    nk (1d9030)

  34. To the crowd who says they can’t figure out why people signed the Harper’s letter, or what this “cancel culture” stuff is … *this* is what we have been talking about. Utter insanity like this.

    There is no one in this crowd. Everyone knows the game being played.

    frosty (f27e97)

  35. Tuition is $59,260 at USC and, if you’re not living with parentals, the total cost is $79,063.
    Not worth it.

    Most of them have some kind of scholarship. Often paid for by alumni. That may change, too.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  36. Until you apply for a job that doesn’t require you to ask, ‘you want fries with that?!’

    Actually, USC is an actual university. Of course the subject matters. Karma will not smile favorably on the Black Studies majors who wound this up.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  37. Amen. It is not the professor who should suffer consequences here, but rather the students who manufactured this ridiculous nontroversy.

    There’s some admin folks who should get the axe, too. Or do they have the real tenure?

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  38. Most of them have some kind of scholarship. Often paid for by alumni. That may change, too.

    That, Kevin, and their endowment is valued at $5.73 billion. They could cover some tuition with the interest.
    I’m a little jealous. My daughter, Ms. Montagu, went to USD and they had nowhere near the numbers and amounts of scholarships.

    Paul Montagu (a2078e)

  39. USC is an actual university.

    LOL.

    Dave (1bb933)

  40. I speak fluent Chinese, and I can assure you that “nei ge” is indeed a very common word. It means “that”, but it’s also a filler word when you’re trying to think of something, like saying “the…a…the…a…you know, that thing”.

    Now I’m going to do a Gawain’s Ghost, and tell a story.

    When I lived in the Bay Area, I frequented a rather large Chinese restaurant in San Mateo. (I once saw Loretta Swit in there!) It had a small bar inside, and I liked to eat at the bar, because I was usually alone. It was my personal Cheers, and there was a small group of people who were regulars, and yes, they knew my name.

    As a recovering Mormon, I learned how to drink and socialize at that bar. There was only one bartender at a time, but three altogether. They were all middle-aged women from Taiwan, and I became good friends with all of them. I still keep in touch with all of them to varying degrees. One of them is an awesome cook, and we have an agreement to marry in the next life. She can cook anything Chinese.

    One time I went to her house and she had a big set-up in the kitchen. There were these rods crisscrossing each other, and there was string hanging down. She was making zongzi, which is traditional Chinese rice dish made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves and string, or sometimes with reed or other large flat leaves. In the Western world, they are also known as rice dumplings or sticky rice dumplings.

    Another one of the bartenders was smoking hot. Curiously, she is divorced and lives alone, while the other two are married and seemingly happy. Go figure.

    I made friends with the customers. One of the regulars was a Mexican guy named Mario. He was from Mexico, and had a green card. For some reason he never pursued U.S. citizenship, even though he was smart and spoke great English. Even though he wasn’t a citizen, he bragged about passing as one. He told me he had voted; he also said he had claimed U.S. citizenship at the border when crossing it. Back then, you didn’t need a passport. An oral declaration was sufficient, and if your English was good enough, the immigration officer would just wave you through. We used to do the New York Times crossword puzzle together, and he was better at it than me!

    Another one of the regulars was a black guy named Willie. At some point one of the bartenders or the staff said “nei ge nei ge”. Willie picked up on it, and a conversation ensued. They explained that it was actual Chinese, and had nothing to do with him. He was cool with it from then on. In fact, it became a running joke!

    Unfortunately, the restaurant closed circa 2000. There was a closing party for the regulars. I’m pretty sure both Mario and Willie were there, as was I. Sadly, Mario died of liver cirrhosis just a few short years after the restaurant closed. The chef committed suicide. As for Willie, I ran into him in downtown San Francisco one day. He was standing in line at the immigration building with his new Filipino wife. I don’t know if Tagalog has any homonyms that black people would find offensive.

    norcal (a5428a)

  41. Great story, norcal.

    Paul Montagu (a2078e)

  42. Thanks.

    norcal (a5428a)

  43. I hope we don’t have to fight a world war anytime soon.

    Hoi Polloi (dc4124)

  44. 22. It sn;t een a homophone. To make that into a homophone, you have think of the word n????? with an accent and dropping the R. And besides that the Chinese word has to be pronounced as a native English speaker could.

    There is a Hebrew word “nega” that sounds similar. It means a plague, and in particular a discoloration of the skin. That is what it concerns the first time it is mentioned I think, at Leviticus 13:2 (the word plague is a translation of “nega” originally pronounced more like “negag” because the letter “ayin” at the end of the word wasn’t originally silent.

    The school should never have entertained the complaint as a personal failing (you could say it is an unfortunate homophone and then think about what to do about it.)

    They did it because everybody is afraid of everybody else, like in the French Revolution until they guillotined Robespierre himself. Or like they were afraid of Senator Joseph McCarthy until he was censured.

    Sammy Finkelman (b66da2)

  45. Tagalog has any homonyms that black people would find offensive.
    norcal (a5428a) — 9/8/2020 @ 12:07 am

    There are two words/syllables in English that are homonyms for vagina in Tagalog; nay and neigh.

    felipe (084d77)

  46. and the colloquial for swamp, is a brothel in some dialects,

    bolivar de gris (7404b5)

  47. but you know quanon, are crazy,

    https://freebeacon.com/2020-election/gideon-killed-child-abuse-bill/

    bolivar de gris (7404b5)

  48. Sammy @ 44. A while back, I told my college-age daughter that Deadpool’s new sidekick is a teenage girl who calls herself Negasonic Nuclear Warhead, and she laughed. Apparently, “nega”, pronounced nei-ga, is a new?/”cool”? variant of the n-word?

    nk (1d9030)

  49. watch-trainer-say-all-white-people-are-racists-not-human

    Probably some transhomomatriarchal global communist.

    nk (1d9030)

  50. well have the harpoons at the ready, just in case,

    bolivar de gris (7404b5)

  51. Fo shizzle, my [censored].

    nk (1d9030)

  52. Another insane story of Cancel Culture in academia:

    “ There were a number of comments on the draft, but Romano seems to have been alone among the board’s 24 members to object to phrases like “system of white supremacy” to characterize the whole publishing industry or to accept the notion of critics’ “culpability in the system of erasure of BIPOC voices.”

    In an email to other members that was supposed to be internal and confidential, he wrote, “Equating American book publishing with American police departments, as this claim suggests, is ridiculous.” He supported Black Lives Matter, he said, but the draft statement was unfair to the “white publishers that have been working to elevate Black writers, and Black voices, for years.”

    The response was furious. Wabuke posted Romano’s email on Twitter even as she announced her resignation from the board because, as she put it, “it is not possible to change these organizations from within, and the backlash will be too dangerous for me to remain.”

    Soon thereafter, 15 of the board’s members resigned, some out of solidarity with Wabuke, but others apparently did so because of their disillusionment with what seemed to be the organization’s unstoppable descent into acrimony, and to the fact that Wabuke had herself violated the group’s customary procedures by making the emails public.

    Soon emails began calling for Romano’s resignation. Twitter went wild with accusations of racism and bigotry against him. A change.org petition was started by a freelance writer, Emma Eisenberg, who cited Romano’s “racist remarks” and his “sustained campaign of targeting black people and women” at the Critics Circle, demanding that he be fired from his Annenberg School of Communication teaching job at the University of Pennsylvania.”

    https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2020/09/08/inside_an_elite_cancel_culture_session_where_leftists_meet_the_enemy_and_it_is__one_of_them_125102.html?mc_cid=230887d791&mc_eid=fba478624c

    A secret ‘trial’ to oust a guy for referring to parts of a race pledge as ‘nonsense’.

    And why do those seeking to destroy a person’s career always declare that its they who feel ‘unsafe’?
    _
    Read it all.
    _

    harkin (cd4502)

  53. Homophonic pedagogues. (Sigh!) Wha’re ya gonna do?

    nk (1d9030)

  54. and this is where it comes from, and remember who was his star pupil

    https://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individuals/derrick-bell/

    bolivar de gris (7404b5)

  55. but to use the untouchables analogy, this is the tree where the apples fall into the bucket, the bucket being media, education corporate america,

    bolivar de gris (7404b5)

  56. I didn’t even read that because I so desperately want to believe they mean a sonogram.

    nk (1d9030)

  57. I know that pharmaceutical companies screen their brand names to avoid such problems.

    When I was in high school Spanish class (way back in the last century), we read about how GM was puzzled that the Chevy Nova, a popular car in the U.S., was selling very poorly in Latin America.

    Then someone pointed that that NO VA in Spanish means “Doesn’t Go.”

    They then renamed the care for Spanish-speaking countries.

    Bored Lawyer (7b72ec) — 9/7/2020 @ 8:12 pm

    Buick Lacrosse had a similar issue in Canada.

    Time123 (cd2ff4)

  58. 31. Bored Lawyer (7b72ec) — 9/7/2020 @ 8:12 pm

    When I was in high school Spanish class (way back in the last century), we read about how GM was puzzled that the Chevy Nova, a popular car in the U.S., was selling very poorly in Latin America.

    Then someone pointed that that NO VA in Spanish means “Doesn’t Go.”

    They then renamed the care for Spanish-speaking countries.

    I read since that this is actually not true (an urban legend)

    After all, most speakers of a language can distinguish between what is one word and what is two words. Theris a pause in between

    I didn’t remember exactly what was the explanation as to the name so now I looked it up some more:

    https://www.thoughtco.com/chevy-nova-that-wouldnt-go-3078090

    The Chevy Nova That Wouldn’t Go

    This Commonly Told Tale Is Just an Urban Legend

    But the Problem With the Story Is…

    Chevrolet’s woes are often cited as an example of how good intentions can go wrong when it comes to translation. There are literally thousands of references to the incident on the Internet, and the Nova example has been mentioned in textbooks and often comes up during presentations on cultural differences and advertising.

    But there’s one major problem with the story: It never happened.

    As a matter of fact, Chevrolet did reasonably well with the Nova in Latin America, even exceeding its sales projections in Venezuela….

    ….Even if you couldn’t confirm or reject the story by looking into history, you might notice some problems with it if you understand Spanish. For starters, nova and no va don’t sound alike and are unlikely to be confused, just as “carpet” and “car pet” are unlikely to be confused in English. Additionally, no va would be an awkward way in Spanish to describe a nonfunctioning car ( no funciona, among others, would do better).

    Additionally, as in English, nova, when used in a brand name, can convey a sense of newness. There’s even a Mexican gasoline that goes by that brand name, so it seems unlikely such a name alone could doom a car.

    This website doesn’t explain it further – how the story arose, who started it…

    This is from snopes in 1999: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/chevrolet-nova-name-spanish

    ..(The sources that repeat this little tale can’t even agree on where the Nova supposedly sold poorly, variously listing locales such as Puerto Rico, Mexico, South America, or simply “Spanish-speaking countries.”) This is another one of those tales that makes its point so well — just like the fable about George Washington and the cherry tree — that nobody wants to ruin it with a bunch of facts. Nonetheless, we’re here to ruin it.

    The original Chevrolet Nova (initially the Chevy II) hit the U.S. market in 1962. (This car should not be confused with the smaller, front wheel drive vehicle which was produced in 1985 as a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota and also assigned the Nova name.) Between 1972 and 1978 the Chevrolet Nova was also sold in Mexico and several other Spanish-speaking countries, primarily Venezuela. Shortly afterwards the great “Nova” legend arose, a legend which a little linguistic analysis shows it to be improbable:

    First of all, the phrase “no va” (literally “doesn’t go”) and the word “nova” are distinct entities with different pronunciations in Spanish: the former is two words and is pronounced with the accent on the second word; the latter is one word with the accent on the first syllable. Assuming that Spanish speakers would naturally see the word “nova” as equivalent to the phrase “no va” and think “Hey, this car doesn’t go!” is akin to assuming that English speakers would spurn a dinette set sold under the name Notable because nobody wants a dinette set that doesn’t include a table.

    Although “no va” can be literally translated as “no go,” it would be a curious locution for a speaker of Spanish to use in reference to a car. Just as an English speaker would describe a broken-down car by saying that it “doesn’t run” rather than it “doesn’t go,” so a Spanish speaker would refer to a malfunctioning automobile by saying “no marcha” or “no funciona” or “no camina” rather than “no va.”

    Pemex (the Mexican government-owned oil monopoly) has sold gasoline in Mexico under the name “Nova.” If Mexicans were going to associate anything with the Chevrolet Nova based on its name, it would probably be this gasoline. In any case, if Mexicans had no compunctions about filling the tanks of their cars with a type of fuel whose brand name advertised that it “didn’t go,” why would they reject a similarly-named automobile?

    This legend assumes that a handful of General Motors executives launched a car into a foreign market and remained in blissful ignorance about a possible adverse translation of its name. Even if nobody in Detroit knew enough rudimentary Spanish to notice the coincidence, the Nova could not have been brought to market in Mexico and/or South America without the involvement of numerous Spanish speakers engaged to translate user manuals, prepare advertising and promotional materials, communicate with the network of Chevrolet dealers in the target countries, etc. In fact, GM was aware of the translation and opted to retain the model name “Nova” in Spanish-speaking markets anyway, because they (correctly) felt the matter to be unimportant….

    …The one bit of supporting evidence offered to back up this legend is spurious as well. General Motors, we’re told, finally wised up and changed the model name of their automobile from Nova to Caribe, after which sales of the car “took off.” The problem with this claim is that the Caribe sold in Mexico was manufactured by Volkswagen, not by General Motors. (The Caribe was the model name used by VW in Mexico for the car more commonly known in the USA as the Volkswagen Golf.) The Nova’s model name was never changed for the Spanish-speaking market.

    Sammy Finkelman (b66da2)

  59. I had a chevy nova, it was pretty sturdy,
    https://thefederalist.com/2020/09/08/vindman-not-whistleblower-was-driving-force-behind-impeachment/

    the roper or the wing man,

    bolivar de gris (7404b5)

  60. it’s like the joke about the monte carlo, only carlos could drive, same for de soto,

    bolivar de gris (7404b5)

  61. https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2017/04/07/fact-check-the-nova-did-not-sell-poorly-in-latin-america-due-to-its-name

    Beyond the essential misunderstanding that the word “nova” is fundamentally different from the phrase “no va” (the space is there for a reason, just as the presence or lack of a space between words matters in English), Terry points out that “no va” is rather stilted to a Spanish speaker, sort of like caveman-speak in Spanish…

    .. the word “nova,” meaning the celestial happening, is the same in both languages. They are true cognates, if you will.

    Indeed, the word “nova,” as referring to a “new star,” comes from the Latin word “novus,” which means “new.” The roots for the word “nova” and the Spanish verb “ir” (which means “to go”) don’t even come from the same place. So you’d really have to mangle the Spanish language to get to a point where the Chevrolet Nova advertised its fecklessness in its own name…

    …the only Caribe that Chevrolet built was a one-off show car based on the Camaro. As for the poor build quality of the Nova that the tale backhandedly refers to, that’s a discussion for another day.

    From 2011:

    https://www.npr.org/2011/10/19/141473384/letters-the-myth-of-the-chevy-nova

    Well, after a flurry of tweets, we check the website snopes.com, and we apologize to the Chevy Nova, and all its former and current owners. The story is an urban legend. In Spanish, nova means the same as it does in English. You need to insert a space to get to no va, and evidently people didn’t. The Nova sold very well in both Mexico and Venezuela…

    The Lacrosse story, though, may be true.

    Sammy Finkelman (b66da2)

  62. http://zapr.blogspot.com/2008/05/people-who-love-telling-chevy-nova.html

    Now, I can’t remember the first time I ever heard the Chevy Nova story. I know that every textbook I had from high school onward was legally bound to include it somewhere. And every teacher found some excuse to invoke it. But things didn’t reach a critical mass until I started going to business school in 2004. Business school, as it turns out, is not about preparing you to succeed in the professional world. It is actually an elaborate Chevy-Nova-story delivery system, complete with its own staff, campus, endowments and government sponsorship. UNLV had one mission – and it was to tell me the hell out of that story.

    It got to the point where I would start judging the professors on their skill at telling the story, like some ancient Greek Homeric recital where we all know the story, we just want to see the craft of the storyteller. Would there be some flourish of the arms? Would there be some invented detail about how the CEO cast his eyes sadly around the room, and realized he didn’t see a single brown face?….The argument, much like the Nova story itself, is a pungent crock. If I hired a Hispanic person who spoke no Spanish, I’d be no closer to avoiding the Nova disaster. If I hired a white guy who spoke fluent Spanish, I could avoid the Nova disaster. The ethnicity of the employee is irrelevant. If GM wants to launch a car in a new market, they need native language speakers and marketers who are knowledgeable about the target market. Even though experts in Venezuelan marketing would indeed be disproportionately Hispanic, they would not have to be Hispanic. And so to make “being Hispanic” a plus in the hiring decision, you are discriminating unfairly.

    And this, mind you, is in the very limited case of an exporter looking to introduce an American product to a foreign market.

    Sammy Finkelman (b66da2)

  63. Matthew Loop
    @matthewloop

    How does an investigative journalist without a large following get past the gatekeepers and Big Tech censors in today’s time?
    __ _

    Sharyl Attkisson
    @SharylAttkisson
    ·
    I really don’t. My twitter and Facebook are seriously downthrottled; my stories improperly flagged as false; followers automatically unfollowed. Yet I still exist if only in limited form. 😉

    __ _

    Just yesterday I posted a reply to a well-known lib’s comment about the riots.

    I checked a while later to see if he had responded. He hadn’t, but my comment had six ‘like’s.

    I checked again in the evening and it had one like, and that very recent.

    They’ll control the narrative any way they can.
    _

    harkin (cd4502)

  64. 69 Nova, Chevelle and Camaro were all pretty sweet, esp the SS’s.

    Cragers required.
    _

    harkin (cd4502)

  65. Theres no point to the story, the nova sold reasonably well in foreign markets,

    Bolivar di griz (7404b5)

  66. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/07/health/coronavirus-superspreading-contagion.html

    In a paper posted Friday to the website medRxiv that has not yet been through peer review, Dr. Schiffer and his colleagues reported that coronavirus superspreading events were most likely to happen at the intersection where bad timing and poor placement collide: a person who has reached the point in their infection when they are shedding large amounts of virus, and are doing so in a setting where there are plenty of other people around to catch it.

    According to a model built by Dr. Schiffer’s team, the riskiest window for such transmission may be extremely brief — a one- to two-day period in the week or so after a person is infected, when coronavirus levels are at their highest….

    ….The length of the so-called incubation period, which spans the time between infection and the onset of symptoms, can be so variable that some people who catch the virus fall ill before the person who gave it to them does. That rarely happens with the flu, which reliably rouses a spate of symptoms within a couple days of infection.

    Sammy Finkelman (b66da2)

  67. Mr Montagu wrote:

    Tuition is $59,260 at USC and, if you’re not living with parentals, the total cost is $79,063.
    Not worth it.

    And one wonders why Lori Loughlin Giannulli tried to get her daughters in on crew scholarships?

    The Dana in Kentucky (9f30da)

  68. DCSCA wrote:

    Most modern renditions of the song change the word darkies to people (with the Commonwealth of Kentucky officially adopting this change in 1986).

    I, along with my classmates, were taught the song in elementary school, which was still segregated until my sixth grade year — I was in the fifth grade during the 1963-1964 school year — and the word people was used.

    However, I must now demand a new word change: “‘Tis summer, the people are gay,” implies that Kentuckians are homosexual, which we most certainly are not!

    The Dana in Kentucky (9f30da)

  69. It’s the paradox of Western civilization. The literate cultures, that is to say the Greeks and Romans, who had developed a written tradition and made it universally available, introduced literacy to the Western European cultures who, to put it charitably, “relied on oral tradition”. Even though, a couple of thousand years later, the Northern illiterates have become the dominant culture, they still have not lost their superstitious awe of “book larnin'” and the academic racket has had that same length of time to find all the possible ways to exploit that superstitious awe.

    nk (1d9030)

  70. The Nova and its Ford category counterpart the Maverick were solid transportation relative to the evil of the respective next level down Vega and Pinto.

    urbanleftbehind (c94a6b)

  71. Oracles and caves, filled with oleander, i was surprised how much frank miller hewed to herodotus.

    Bolivar di griz (7404b5)

  72. The pinto was the one that blew up?

    Bolivar di griz (7404b5)

  73. mr. frank miller could do that only because mr. herodotus wrote it down, mr. narciso

    and mr. julius caesar, too

    where are the germanic and celtic bards and druids to tell their side of the story?

    they’re dead, that’s where

    nk (1d9030)

  74. Well i thought they were fantastic, which they might have been, like the battle mastodon.

    Bolivar di griz (7404b5)

  75. Yes, and the Vega rusted on first touch of rain amongst other problems.

    urbanleftbehind (c94a6b)

  76. “ The Nova and its Ford category counterpart the Maverick were solid transportation relative to the evil of the respective next level down Vega and Pinto.”

    When the Vega and the Pinto came out, our local auto repair magician, Mike the Mechanic, said the American auto industry was finished.

    And my buddy’s dad’s Vega, not a Pinto, caught fire on a trip to Sacramento.
    _

    harkin (cd4502)

  77. Now the auto induustry has to react against an artificial variable, the oil shock of the 1970s, (does that rhyme here)

    Bolivar di griz (7404b5)

  78. I drove a Chevy Nova for a long time, and it was wonderfully reliable. People who really knew cars would tell me “Don’t ever get rid of that!” Eventually I had reason to, but it served me well (aside from the absence of AC and suchlike).

    Radegunda (e1ea47)

  79. Speaking of words that are perfectly safe in one language but eyebrow-raising in another, here’s something that popped up when I was listening to French documentaries.

    Radegunda (e1ea47)

  80. This extortion scheme made certain south american and arab countries rich, but impoverished most of the world.

    Bolivar di griz (7404b5)

  81. The Dana in Kentucky (9f30da) — 9/8/2020 @ 8:35 am

    And one wonders why Lori Loughlin Giannulli tried to get her daughters in on crew scholarships?

    It wasn’t the expense, it was getting in in the first place. They wanted a high reputation school. I am not sure that any scholarships were involved at all.

    Here’s why they tried the method they did (on the advice of William Singer)

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/05/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-college-admissions.html

    Selingo was given extraordinary access to the selection process and the selectors at Emory University, Davidson College and the University of Washington. He uses it in his book to present one of the most nuanced, coolheaded examinations of the admission process that I’ve read. He explodes certain myths — for example, that SAT and ACT scores are absolutely pivotal — and confirms other suspicions, such as the ridiculous advantage conferred on middling students who play arcane sports.

    The book is called , “Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions.” Available Sept. 15.

    Sammy Finkelman (b66da2)

  82. The Dana in Kentucky (9f30da) — 9/8/2020 @ 8:42 am

    , I must now demand a new word change: “‘Tis summer, the people are gay,” implies that Kentuckians are homosexual, which we most certainly are not!

    Although it has roots in a subculture going back much further, the word “gay” didn’t generally acquire the meaning that most often comes to mind now, until 1969. Before that “gay” meant happy or openly joyful. We still have it in the word “gaiety.”

    Sammy Finkelman (b66da2)

  83. And one wonders why Lori Loughlin Giannulli tried to get her daughters in on crew scholarships?

    What gets my goat, TDiK, is that my daughter was pursuing a rowing scholarship at USC, but they turned her down flat because she wasn’t six-foot tall and European (which is where they get most of their top recruits). Ms. Loughlin is 5’6″ on a good day, so it’s unlikely her daughters are much taller, to mention having the grit and stamina to be rowers.

    Paul Montagu (a2078e)

  84. but it served me well (aside from the absence of AC)

    That does not sound like “well” to me. Driving in the hot summer without an AC is rough.

    Bored Lawyer (7b72ec)

  85. @88 — I lived in places where summers aren’t awfully hot, and I could plan road trips to hotter places in cooler months. But I did put considerable effort into finding shade to park in.

    I got very attached to that car, though getting some fancier features was quite nice when I did.

    Radegunda (e1ea47)

  86. ACLU Official Attacks University For Admitting Nick Sandmann While Professor Denounces His “Anti-Intellectual Views”

    https://jonathanturley.org/2020/09/08/aclu-official-attacks-university-for-admitting-nick-sandmann-while-professor-promises-to-monitor-his-conduct/

    __

    But don’t worry. An ‘Assistant Professor and Diversity Scholar’ has promised to ‘closely monitor’ Sandmann.
    _

    harkin (c314b6)

  87. it lasted till the spring of 2001, when the damage from the no name storm was too severe,

    bolivar de gris (7404b5)

  88. There really is a Transylvania University! You would never have guessed where, either.

    nk (1d9030)

  89. Well maybe Dana of prepositional phrases can be the watcher of the self appointed watcher (sure it’s not Klink?).

    urbanleftbehind (c94a6b)

  90. https://www.wane.com/news/12-year-old-suspended-in-colorado-over-toy-gun-seen-in-virtual-class/

    Schoolkid flashes a green, orange, black toy gun during his online class session. Teacher calls the police to respond to his home without contacting his parents. Kid is suspended from school. Teacher assumed it was a toy.

    You’d think remote classes would alleviate some of this intense pressure people put on others, but I guess it’s really just documenting everything, making life a little harder.

    Dustin (1ea540)

  91. A lot of famous Confederates, and a Chicago mayor, went there.

    nk (1d9030)

  92. I have a post up here about the incident, Dustin.

    Dana (292df6)

  93. Gah, sorry Dana!

    Dustin (1ea540)

  94. It’s funny, I always thought it was a bad Hollywood meme, but Japanese really do interject

    “…so, so, so, so, so…”

    in a conversation when they’re surprised by something and momentarily at a loss for words.

    Disclaimer: No protected groups were harmed in the making of this post.

    Dave (1bb933)

  95. Some guy who had been left behind wrote:

    The Nova and its Ford category counterpart the Maverick were solid transportation relative to the evil of the respective next level down Vega and Pinto.

    I (briefly) dated a girl who drove a Pinto, and her joke was always, “Pintos explode from the rear!” The fuel tank was positioned so that a rear-end collision could burst the tank.

    But the Vega was worse, not from a safety standpoint, but they came out with this ridiculous aluminum block engine. That thing warped under heat, and there was a recall in which steel sleeves were fitted into the cylinders, but they gave junk a bad name.

    The Dana in Kentucky (9f30da)

  96. Our Windy City barrister wrote:

    There really is a Transylvania University! You would never have guessed where, either.

    Transylvania College was founded in 1780, and is one of the oldest colleges in the United States. Jefferson Davis is a Transylvania alumnus, and I have eaten at the old Jefferson Davis Inn, a restaurant/bar which used to be located on the first floor of the building where Mr Davis roomed when a student at Transy, 1821-1823. Alas! The JDI relocated since I had been there, and finally went out of business several years ago.

    Don Lane, who was the basketball coach at my old high school — I was not on the basketball team — wound up as the head basketball coach for Transy from 1975 to 2001, and was succeeded by his son Brian.

    In 1975 I dated a UK student, total hippie chick, who lived in a student slums converted-into-apartments house on Broadway, just down the street from Transy. And the best food in the world was served at Loretta’s Korner Kitchen, down the street from Transy. That’s gone, too.

    The Dana in Kentucky (9f30da)

  97. Mr left behind mentioned “Dana of prepositional phrases.” Alas! While our esteemed host had allowed me to change screen names by post, as long as I wasn’t sock-puppeting, the site software now trashes any posts I make under any screen name other than The Dana in Kentucky.

    The Dana in Kentucky (9f30da)

  98. An uninspired lawyer wrote:

    That does not sound like “well” to me. Driving in the hot summer without an AC is rough.

    In July of 1972, whilst driving from the Bluegrass State to Los Angeles — after a girl, or course — I crossed Death Valley in a 1962 Ford Fairlane, six cylinder, three-on-the-tree. Yes, I drove it at night.

    The Dana in Kentucky (9f30da)

  99. Another example o f how a word can be split – but people would in fact understand whether you were talking about two or more make drivers or a particular woman driver.

    Q. Who crushed the bicycle that was chained there by the curb?

    Car men

    or

    Carmen.

    Those two answers would be pronounced differently.

    Sammy Finkelman (0e8c82)


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