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Bengali

The Lord’s Prayer in Bengali:

হে আমাদের স্বর্গস্থ পিতা,
তোমার নাম পূজিত হউক,
তোমার রাজ্য আসুক,
তোমার ইচ্ছা যেমন স্বর্গে,
তেমনি পৃথিবীতেও পূর্ণ হউক,
আমাদের দৈনিক অন্ন আজ আমাদিগকে দাও,
আর আমরা যেমন অপরাধীকে ক্ষমা করি তেমনি তুমিও আমাদের অপরাধ ক্ষমা কর,
আর আমাদিগকে প্রলোভনে পড়তে দিও না,
কিন্ত মন্দের হাত থেকে উদ্ধার করো।
[রাজ্য, পরাক্রম ও মহিমা যুগে যুগে তোমার।]
আমেন।

Bengali (950- ) is the main language of Bangladesh and the neighbouring Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura.

  • Speakers: 245 million (226m or 92% native), the seventh largest language worldwide.
  • Countries: Most speakers live in Bangladesh and India, many in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, US and Britain.
  • Script: Bengali alphabet, written left to right, like English. Each letter stands for a syllable. No capital letters. Most punctuation comes from English.
  • Language family: Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European family.

Similar languages: It is almost the same language as Oriya and Assamese. It is a close cousin of Hindi and other languages of northern India. Hindi and Bengali come from Sanskrit, just as French and Spanish come from Latin, and at about the same time too, about a thousand years ago. As an Indo-European language, it is a distant cousin of English: Bengali and English used to be the same language some 7,000 years ago.

Compare: 

   English:  mother, new,   night, three.

   Latin:    mater,  novus, nox,   tres.
   Spanish:  madre,  nuevo, noche, tres.

   Sanskrit: mater,  nava,  nakt,  trayas.
   Bengali:  mata,   nobo,  ratri, tin.

Even though most Bengali speakers today are Muslim or Hindu by religion, its earliest writers were mostly Buddhist.

At school you learn to write in Standard Colloquial Bengali, which is based on the everyday speech of educated people in Kolkata (Calcutta). There is an older, more flowery literary dialect, Shadhubhasha, where almost half the words are straight Sanskrit. It was common in the 1800s but is rarely used now, thanks in part to Tagore and other writers:

Rabindranath Tagore, a poet, is by far the best known Bengali writer in the West: he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, the first winner who was not born in Europe. He won:

“because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West.”

In other words, he won as an English writer, not a Bengali one! If he is that good in English, think what he must be like in Bengali. He had translated and reworked his book of poems “Gitanjali” (1910) into English, which became a hit in Britain. UNESCO considers it a masterpiece.

With an introduction by Yeats himself, how can you go wrong?

English words that come from Bengali: only one that I know of: jute, in 1746, from jhuto, which in turn comes from the Sanskrit word for twisted or matted hair, jutas. Jute is still a big export from Bangladesh. Most Indian words in English come from Hindi or Sanskrit.

Grammar: Like Yoda, Bengali puts the verb at the end of a sentence. But unlike him, it puts the subject of the verb, not the object, first. Where Yoda would say, “The lightsabre Yoda grasped,” Bengali would say, “Yoda the lightsabre grasped.”

Learning Bengali, for an English speaker, is about as hard as learning, say, Russian or Hebrew. Not as easy as French or Spanish, but not as hard as Chinese or Arabic.

– Abagond, 2017.

Sources: especially ministrants.com (Lord’s Prayer), nobelprize.org (glowing words), aboutworldlanguages.com (learning difficulty), The Atlantic (Yoda grammar), CIA Factbook (jute exports), Online Etymology Dictionary (Bengali words in English), Britannica (overview).

See also:

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The Transcontinental Railroad

The Transcontinental Railroad (1869) is the name given to the first railway built between Omaha, Nebraska and Sacramento, California, making coast-to-coast train travel across the US possible. What used to take four to six months now took just six days.

Crooked companies making crooked lines: The US government had wanted a transcontinental railroad since at least 1845. In 1862 the contract went to two companies: the Central Pacific, which built the line eastward from Sacramento, and the Union Pacific, which built westward from Omaha. Both companies were hugely corrupt (the Credit Mobilier scandal, for example) – and did not take the shortest route so that they could make more money.

The Union Pacific went across flatter land but had to fight off more Native Americans, whose land they were taking. They employed 20,000 men, about 300 were Black, 3,000 were Irish.

The Central Pacific went across mountain and desert almost the whole way, meaning they had to build more bridges and tunnels. They employed about 12,000 men, some were Black (pictured below), 11,000 were Chinese.

Labour:

  • Irish Americans: paid $35 a month with board, 8 hours a day, Sundays off.
  • Chinese Americans: paid $27 a month without board, 12 hours a day, whippings, Sundays off.
  • Black Americans: ??

Little is known about the Black workers. It seems that some settled in Oakland, California shortly afterwards.

Chinese Americans: The Central Pacific made the Chinese work through the winter of 1866, one of the worst ever, and in the mountains! That spring the Chinese went on strike, demanding the same pay and conditions as Whites. The company, which controlled the food supply, got them to give in – but it did give them $2 more a month. In time they would get $30 a month. It was dangerous work: at least a thousand died, in landslides, snowslides, explosions, etc.

Chinese know-how: Some said the Central Pacific leg was impossible. And it might have been without Chinese know-how, not just in working with explosives, but in how to build things into the side of mountains. Many mountains do not come with a natural rail bed.

Glass ceiling: Despite all that, the management, from the foremen on up, was all White.

The Last Spike was driven by Leland Stanford on May 10th 1869 at Promontory, Utah, at a Whites-only ceremony. Look at the pictures!

Leland Stanford – well, he needs a post of his own. After the “dregs” of Asia, as he called them, built his railroad, he made a fortune and founded Stanford University.

Land: The government gave the companies miles of Native land on both sides of the rail lines. Before then, railroads followed behind White settlers. Now they led the way, placing ads in the eastern US and in Europe to draw in settlers.

The railroad also helped to spread the Ghost Dance, in the opposite direction, which in turn led to the showdown at Wounded Knee.

Central Pacific line in red, Union Pacific in blue.

US transcontinental rail lines in use as of 2011.

Today most of the Nevada and California line is still in use by Amtrak’s California Zephyr. Much of the rest is abandoned or was torn up for its steel for the Second World War.

The California Zephyr near Truckee, California, circa 2013. Via Yahoo.

An abandoned part of the Transcontinental Railroad near Brigham City, Utah, circa 2009. Via abandonedrails.com.

– Abagond, 2017.

Sources: mainly “The Chinese in America” (2003) by Iris Chang; “A Different Mirror” (2008) by Ronald Takaki; “A People’s History of the United States” (2003) by Howard Zinn.

See also:

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Gold Mountain

Chinese American miner, 1853.

Gold Mountain or Gum Shan (金山) is a Chinese name given to California after gold was discovered there. The Chinese first came to the US in large numbers as part of the California Gold Rush (1848–1855).

In January 1848 gold was discovered in the mountains east of San Francisco. It turned the Spanish mission town into a big city – and the Chinese were there almost from the start. By April three Chinese people were living in San Francisco. By 1850 Chinatown was taking shape.

Nearly all the Chinese came came from just one province: Guangdong, in the south of China. It was being squeezed by British banks and torn apart by war.

At first the Chinese were welcomed in California. But after just a few years, by 1853, stuff like this started to appear in newspapers:

“[The Chinese are] morally a far worse class to have among us than the negro. They are idolatrous in their religion – in their disposition cunning and deceited, and in their habits libidinous and offensive. They have certain redeeming features of craft, industry and economy, and like other men in the fallen estate, ‘they have wrought out many inventions.’ But they are not of that kin that Americans can ever associate or sympathize with. They are not of our people and never will be, though they remain here forever …”

That same year the state supreme court, in People v Hall, ruled that the Chinese could not give testimony in court against a White man. That left them with little protection under the law. Whites could pretty much do whatever they wanted and get away with it.

That made it hard, for instance, to hold onto gold claims that Whites wanted. The Chinese found themselves picking over claims Whites had lost interest in.

Some did become amazingly rich all the same, returning to China to become powerful landlords. But most, knowing that the odds were against them, gave up mining one by one and returned to San Francisco to make their life there.

By 1849 there was a Chinese restaurant. By 1851 a laundry. By 1852 a Chinese theatre, with epic Chinese operas. By 1854 a newspaper, the Gold Hills News.

Restaurants and laundries were particularly successful, serving both Chinese and Whites. This was when “Chinese food” became a thing among White people. There were few women in San Francisco and White men considered cooking and washing clothes beneath them – leaving an opening for Chinese men to make a living without seeming to be a threat.

Chop suey was invented then. The story goes that some drunk White miners came into a restaurant just before closing wanting to be served, so the cook stir-fried some table scraps. It proved a hit.

Before the first Chinese laundry opened, many men, both White and Chinese, sent their shirts to Hong Kong! Then Honolulu. In terms of travel time, California was closer to China than it was to most of the US. That changed in 1869 with the opening of the Transcontinental Railroad.

– Abagond, 2017.

Source: mainly “The Chinese in America” (2003) by Iris Chang.

See also:

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Yoon Mi-Rae: 잠깐만 Baby

Remarks: 

Yoon Mi-Rae (윤미래), also known as Tasha Reid, was born in the US to a South Korean mother and a Black American father. She sings Korean music, everything from pop love ballads to R&B to rap. This song came out in 2016 and uses a mix of Korean and English.

Here is the cover art for this song:

See also:

Lyrics (see the subtitles in the video for the complete English translation):

(잠깐만 Baby 잠깐만 Baby
잠깐만 Baby 잠깐만 Baby)

사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네

오늘도 지나가지
흘러가겠지 눈물처럼
Just livin’ for every moment
I get to have you by my side

나 아무리 원해도
갖지 못했던
마주 봐도 oh boy
닿지 못 했던 너
A love like ours is
in the stars the stars
사랑인 것 같아

Baby come and visit
I just wanna vibrAte
Maybe we can move away
and go and migrate
Baby come and visit
I just wanna vibrAte
Maybe we can move away
and go and migrate

사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네

매일 같은 시간쯤에 깨어나
게으른 아침 기지개를 피워봐
이달에 남은 날짜들을 새어보며
커피향에 지친 날 지친 날 깨워봐
매일 같은 매일같이 뜨는 해
같은 하루 지나가면 반복돼 어제
오늘도 어제 같은 오늘 밤쯤에
갑자기 달라 보여 너 왠지 몰라도
아마 사랑인 것 같아 뭔지 몰라도
갑자기 달라 보여 너 왠지 몰라도
Day dreaming and
I’m thinking of you
Day dreaming and
I’m thinking of you

Baby can I see you right now
Really really really
wanna see ya right now
Just come over baby
just wanna hold you baby
Baby can I see you right now
Really really really
wanna see ya right now
Just come over baby
just wanna hold you baby

사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네

(잠깐만 Baby 잠깐만 Baby
잠깐만 Baby 잠깐만 Baby
잠깐만 Baby 잠깐만 Baby
잠깐만 Baby 잠깐만 Baby)

Source: iLyricsBuzz.

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Afong Moy

Afong Moy (c. 1815-??) was the first Chinese American woman. She was so first that she was known in the US in the 1830s as simply “the Chinese lady”. From 1834 to 1848 she was a museum exhibit and later a P.T. Barnum sideshow along with Tom Thumb. In 1850 Barnum got rid of her in favour of a new Chinese lady, Pwan Yee Koo. After that there is no record of her.

She arrived on Friday October 17th 1834 in New York. The New York Daily Advertiser reported:

“The ship Washington, Capt. Obear, has brought out a beautiful Chinese Lady, called Juila Foochee ching-chang king, daughter of Hong wang-tzang tzee king. As she will see all who are disposed to pay twenty five cents. She will no doubt have many admirers.”

Captain Obear reportedly paid her father to take her to the US for two years.

By the time she was put on exhibit a month later, the ticket price had been doubled and her name changed to the catchier “Afong Moy”.

New Yorkers had already seen Chinese men: there was no Chinatown yet, but there were Chinese sailors. And Chang and Eng Bunker, the famous Siamese twins, had been there in 1829 on their world tour.

Product placement: Moy was exhibited by Frederick and Nathanial Carne, brothers who imported goods from China. They showed Moy living in a room decked out with the very Chinese goods they sold: hanging lamps, illustrated screens, paintings, porcelain vases, cushioned chairs, mirrors, ornamental boxes, curiosities, etc.

For 50 cents you could see Afong Moy eat rice with chopsticks, sing, count in Chinese, wear Chinese clothes, answer questions through her interpreter, Atung, and, the highlight of the show, walk. She could not walk well: her feet had been bound since she was a little girl. Doctors in Philadelphia measured her feet: they were only four inches (10cm) long. At first she would only show her naked feet to doctors, but later, when the ticket price had been doubled to a dollar (a day’s pay in those days), she showed them to all ticket holders. In later shows she also spoke English, which some found strange.

Part of the 1836 New Orleans ad.

The New-York Mirror refused to have any part of it:

“We have not been to see Miss Afong Moy, the Chinese lady with the little feet; nor do we intend to perform that universal ceremony … The lovely creatures were made for anything but to be stared at, for half a dollar a head.”

Human zoos in the West were yet to reach their height.

She went to the main cities along the coast, from Boston to New Orleans, and probably up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers all the way to Pittsburgh.

In Washington, DC she met Congressmen and President Andrew Jackson, who:

“wished her … the power to persuade her countrywomen to abandon the custom of cramping their feet, so totally in opposition to Nature’s wiser regulations.”

We do not know if she ever made it back home, to Canton (Guangzhou) in the south of China.

– Abagond, 2017.

See also:

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Betty Jo Shelby

Betty Jo Shelby (Tulsa County Jail).

Betty Jo Shelby (1974- ) is a killer cop in the US. On May 17th 2017 she was found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter for killing Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black man. She is White. She said she “feared for her life.”

The trial jury was made up of seven White women, two White men, two Black women and one Black man. The jury met for nine hours to come to its decision. After they gave their verdict of “not guilty”, five of them cried, four women and one man.

The county prosecutor, Steve Kunzweiler,:

“I’m proud of this system. I’m proud of this jury. … We have to live with that judgement.”

To his credit, unlike most people in his position, he charged a killer cop with a crime. That is the exception, not the rule.

The scene of the crime: In Tulsa, Oklahoma on September 16th 2016 Shelby came across Crutcher’s car stopped in the middle of the road. She looked inside the car. Nothing. Then he appeared. He seemed to be on PCP, angel dust: Shelby knew the signs. The toxicology report later showed PCP and traces of Tenocyclidine were in his blood, both hallucinogenic drugs.

Crutcher at no point became violent or threatening. She ordered him to get on the ground. He did not, but he did have his hands in the air. Then, when he leaned against his car, she shot him. She was afraid he was reaching for a gun. But it seems the car window was up – and no gun was ever found.

She blames him for his own death:

“I have sorrow that this happened that this man lost his life but he caused the situation to occur. So in the end, he caused his own [death]”

Deadly force: She says Crutcher was not following orders and seemed to be on drugs – but neither one is a reason to use deadly force. The officer standing right next to her used his taser. She says her training did not call for a taser at that point.

Race: She says, “Race had nothing to do with my decision making.” Her mother-in-law said Shelby was grieving for Crutcher’s family and is not prejudiced. The Tulsa police put a picture on their Facebook page showing Shelby receiving flowers from a Black couple whom she helped following a burglary:

(Tulsa Police, Facebook)

Tiffany and Terence Crutcher (Facebook).

Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany:

“[Police officers] walked by my brother [after Shelby shot him down] to go check on Betty Jo and the last few breaths of his life he laid their alone. And these are officers who are paid to serve and protect us. Trained to deal with people who are supposedly intoxicated or inebriated. But yet you use deadly force. No weapon was found. […] I’m going to make sure that I don’t rest until we get reform for this police department in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and until we change the culture.”

Crutcher’s family is expected to take Shelby, the police and the city to court in a civil case.

– Abagond, 2017.

See also:

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Trump Derangement Syndrome

Do you or a loved one suffer from TDS? Know the facts.

Trump Derangement Syndrome (2015- ), also known as TDS or Trumpophobia, is an irrational fear or hatred of US President Donald Trump that causes cognitive impairment. It broke out in the US in 2015, where it reached pandemic proportions in 2017, affecting 48% of the adult population, 71% of Blacks.

Blacks are particularly vulnerable to TDS.

Symptoms:

  • hysteria,
  • frenzy,
  • hyperventilation,
  • emotional meltdown,
  • Russophobia,
  • Watergate comparisons,
  • Hitler comparisons,
  • opposing all Trump policies,
  • attending street protests and town halls,
  • calls for impeachment (in advanced stages).

Causes:

  • Mainstream Media (left-wing press).

Cures:

  • Republican Bubble (right-wing press).

Patient Zero: One of the first recorded cases was Jennifer Rubin, a right-wing opinion writer for the Washington Post. On August 9th 2015 she wrote:

“The Fox News debate moderators treated Donald Trump like any other presidential candidate. […] Trump and his supporters then spent a good deal of Friday bellyaching that Fox had been too tough on him. He crudely insulted Megyn Kelly [… saying she] ‘had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.'”

Bellyaching? Trump as a bully? Rubin’s cognitive impairment is a clear case of TDS.

Three days later George Will, another right-wing opinion writer for the Washington Post, called Trump “vulgar.” Another case of TDS.

Epidemic: Esther Goldberg of the American Spectator warned the nation that Rubin and Will were suffering from TDS. The CDC, the US government’s centre for disease control, while quick to move against Ebola, did nothing about TDS. The disease spread throughout the Mainstream Media and then across the US. The north-east, the west coast and Hawaii have been the hardest hit, infecting even judges and small children.

Children too can suffer from TDS.

By May 14th 2017, 48% of the US adult population was suffering from advanced stages of TDS, wanting Trump impeached.

By May 16th TDS was observed in Britain by James Delingpole of Breitbart News. Here is his eyewitness account:

“To listen to my debate opponents you would have imagined that the US had recently elected to the presidency a cross between It the Clown, the Boston Strangler, Dr Strangelove and Alger Hiss. I’m fine with a bit of extravagant rhetoric but there were several moments where both Melanie’s and my jaw dropped at the outrageousness of the charges levelled […] at the Trump administration.'”

Mainstream Media outlets, like CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post itself, have advanced stages of the disease. They go nuts over every little thing President Trump says or does, like nepotism, hiding his business dealings, endangering national security, lying, obstructing justice, and giving away secrets to the Russians. Every day is Crazy Town, a crisis – well, at least the last nine days (May 9th to 17th 2017), along with many of the days before that.

Hope: Fortunately other news outlets, like Fox News, RT, and Breitbart News, are still free of the disease. So when CNN and MSNBC, say, talk about “obstruction of justice” by Trump, they can still warn the nation that it is nothing more than hysteria by the Mainstream Media.

– Abagond, 2017.

Sources: Breitbart News, Washington Post, American Spectator, Public Policy Polling

See also:

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