background preloader

Language

Facebook Twitter

The World's Most Efficient Languages. Just as fish presumably don’t know they’re wet, many English speakers don’t know that the way their language works is just one of endless ways it could have come out.

The World's Most Efficient Languages

It’s easy to think that what one’s native language puts words to, and how, reflects the fundamentals of reality. But languages are strikingly different in the level of detail they require a speaker to provide in order to put a sentence together. In English, for example, here’s a simple sentence that comes to my mind for rather specific reasons related to having small children: “The father said ‘Come here!’” Ali g interviews noam chomsky. How language can affect the way we think. Keith Chen (TED Talk: Could your language affect your ability to save money?)

How language can affect the way we think

Might be an economist, but he wants to talk about language. For instance, he points out, in Chinese, saying “this is my uncle” is not as straightforward as you might think. What "Orwellian" really means - Noah Tavlin. Why is English so weirdly different from other langu... English speakers know that their language is odd. So do people saddled with learning it non-natively. The oddity that we all perceive most readily is its spelling, which is indeed a nightmare. In countries where English isn’t spoken, there is no such thing as a ‘spelling bee’ competition. For a normal language, spelling at least pretends a basic correspondence to the way people pronounce the words. But English is not normal. Spelling is a matter of writing, of course, whereas language is fundamentally about speaking. There is no other language, for example, that is close enough to English that we can get about half of what people are saying without training and the rest with only modest effort.

We think it’s a nuisance that so many European languages assign gender to nouns for no reason, with French having female moons and male boats and such. More weirdness? Why is our language so eccentric? Get Aeon straight to your inbox English started out as, essentially, a kind of German. Why Do Most Languages Have So Few Words for Smells? Describe a banana.

Why Do Most Languages Have So Few Words for Smells?

It's yellow, perhaps with some green edges. When peeled, it has a smooth, soft, mushy texture. It tastes sweet, maybe a little creamy. And it smells like... well, it smells like a banana. Every sense has its own “lexical field,” a vast palette of dedicated descriptive words for colors, sounds, tastes, and textures. Is Beirut the codeswitching capital of the world? At this high-end organic farmer’s market in downtown Beirut, buyers and sellers speak a mishmash of languages, usually Arabic and English or French.

Is Beirut the codeswitching capital of the world?

Just trying to pay for juice I have to switch back and forth from English to Arabic. How language changes over time. 11 Words with No English Equivalent. Have you ever been wandering in the woods, alone, and longed for a word to describe the feeling?

11 Words with No English Equivalent

Now you have one: waldeinsamkeit. Ok, if you’re an English speaker that might not say a lot to you; but if you’re German it could mean something significant. Ella Frances Sanders recently created an illustrated series of 11 such words, all that have no equivalent in the english language. 14 Untranslatable Words and Their Meanings Beautifully Illustrated. What’s in a word?

14 Untranslatable Words and Their Meanings Beautifully Illustrated

Well… a lot, and especially in these highly unusual examples from around the world. While the English language has something like 1.25 million words, there are plenty from other languages for which we simply don’t have a match. How the language you speak changes your view of the world. This article was written by Panos Athanasopoulos from Lancaster University.

How the language you speak changes your view of the world

It was originally published by The Conversation. Bilinguals get all the perks. Better job prospects, a cognitive boost and even protection against dementia. Why Hillary Clinton's Campaign Logo Could Prove to Be a Winner. The growing slate of 2016 presidential candidates had barely had a chance to announce their campaigns before a new contender entered the fray, only to prove immediately divisive.

Why Hillary Clinton's Campaign Logo Could Prove to Be a Winner

The guilty party? Hillary Clinton’s new logo, a blue and red “H” with a bold arrow as the crossbar. Since anything to do with Hillary raises red (and blue) flags, critics assumed that the logo must be packed with symbolism. So, left-wingers were displeased that the arrow is red and points to the right, while right-wingers were annoyed that, when reversed, the arrow points left. The world’s languages, in 7 maps and charts.

These seven maps and charts, visualized by The Washington Post, will help you understand how diverse other parts of the world are in terms of languages. 1.

The world’s languages, in 7 maps and charts

Some continents have more languages than others Not all continents are equally diverse in the number of spoken languages. Whereas Asia leads the statistics with 2,301 languages, Africa follows closely with 2,138. There are about 1,300 languages in the Pacific, and 1,064 in South and North America. 2. Chinese has more native speakers than any other language, followed by Hindi and Urdu, which have the same linguistic origins in northern India.

The numbers are fascinating because they reflect the fact that two-thirds of the world's population share only 12 native languages. George Carlin - Euphemisms. 5 Languages That Could Change the Way You See the World. I went to my neighbor’s house for something to eat yesterday.

5 Languages That Could Change the Way You See the World

Think about this sentence. It’s pretty simple—English speakers would know precisely what it means. But what does it actually tell you—or, more to the point, what does it not tell you? It doesn’t specify facts like the subject’s gender or the neighbor’s, or what direction the speaker traveled, or the nature of the neighbors’ relationship, or whether the food was just a cookie or a complex curry. English doesn’t require speakers to give any of that information, but if the sentence were in French, say, the gender of every person involved would be specified. How language can affect the way we think. Steven Pinker on Grammar Feuds and the Oxford Comma.

Gaza and the language of modern war. The propaganda battle in a modern war begins with its name. Israel's attack on Gaza this summer was given an official Hebrew name meaning "resolute cliff", so as to assure its victims of the futility of resistance. Only a fool would try to fight a cliff, even an irresolute one. The name in English was "Operation Protective Edge".

This, an Israeli military spokesman explained, was chosen to "give a more 'defensive' connotation". (The bombing was supposedly "protective", though not of those bombed.) The people fighting on either side of this "clash" or "conflict" (but rarely "war") were named in ways carefully emphasising a gulf in respectability: Israeli "soldiers" but Hamas "militants".

Steven Pinker: Language & Thought (I) Languages “Lost” In Infancy Discovered In The Brain. Infants begin to be familiarized with sound patterns associated with certain languages while still in the womb. But what happens to those neural pathways when an infant is adopted internationally and is no longer exposed to that first language? New research has found that the unconscious brain still retains the familiarity to that language years later. ToK- language-Why H is the most contentious letter in the alphabet. Is it 'aitch' or 'haitch'? Photograph: Alamy The alphabet is something not to be argued with: there are 26 letters in as fixed a sequence as the numbers 1-26; once learned in order and for the "sounds they make", you have the key to reading and the key to the way the world is classified.

Or perhaps not. Counterterrorism and the English Language. The New York Times is finally calling torture by its name. Why did it wait so long? Alex Torrenegra/Flickr The announcement that the New York Times will now refer to Bush Administration torture by its proper name is welcome news, tempered only by Executive Editor Dean Baquet's unfortunate attempt to rationalize the old policy. "When the first revelations emerged a decade ago, the situation was murky," he wrote. "The details about what the CIA did in its interrogation rooms were vague. Nobel Prize: How English beat German as language of science. HOW DOES OUR LANGUAGE SHAPE THE WAY WE THINK?

Does Language Influence our View of the World? We use language to describe our subjective perception of the world. If I say “I feel cold”, then I use language to describe how I feel. This is nothing new.