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White Words – Popula
“Eskimos Have Fifty Words for Snow” is an amazing phrase, because every word in it is wrong.

For Boas, every language has its own unique features and complexity but nothing, in that account, would prevent Eskimo-speakers from learning English words for water or English-speakers from learning Eskimo words for snow. But Whorf takes that idea and emphasizes a mutual incomprehension flowing out of this difference: our singular term for snow “would be almost unthinkable” to an Eskimo, he suggests, and then hypothesizes an Eskimo who helpfully explains why he can’t think it, using phrases like “sensuously and operationally different.”
contrarian  language  theory  opinion  culture 
27 days ago by aries1988
Why language might be the optimal self-regulating system – Lane Greene | Aeon Essays

Now we don’t often need a word for destroying exactly a 10th of something – this is the ‘etymological fallacy’, the idea that a word must mean exactly what its component roots indicate. But it is useful to have a word that means to destroy a sizeable proportion of something. Yet many people have extended the meaning of decimate until now it means something approaching ‘to wipe out utterly’.
language  research  english  pronunciation  evolution 
december 2018 by aries1988
The evidence is in: there is no language instinct – Vyvyan Evans | Aeon Essays
Our brains really are ‘language-ready’ in the following limited sense: they have the right sort of working memory to process sentence-level syntax, and an unusually large prefrontal cortex that gives us the associative learning capacity to use symbols in the first place. Then again, our bodies are language-ready too: our larynx is set low relative to that of other hominid species, letting us expel and control the passage of air. And the position of the tiny hyoid bone in our jaws gives us fine muscular control over our mouths and tongues, enabling us to make as many as the 144 distinct speech sounds heard in some languages.
brain  language  baby  biology  research  linguist  debate  theory  gene 
september 2018 by aries1988
The Mystery of People Who Speak Dozens of Languages
An extreme language learner has a more-than-random chance of being a gay, left-handed male on the autism spectrum, with an autoimmune disorder, such as asthma or allergies. (Endocrine research, still inconclusive, has investigated the hypothesis that these traits may be linked to a spike in testosterone during gestation.)
language  brain  club  world  malta  linguist 
september 2018 by aries1988
Ausländer | Unravel Magazine
The word Ausländer is German for ‘foreigner’ or ‘outsider’, and encapsulates this column’s focus: Second Language Acquisition (SLA). Here, we share our stories on language learning—some experiential, others informed by the formal study of language acquisition—and share our SLA tips and tricks, learning strategies, teaching methods and pedagogical philosophies. So, whether you’re looking to learn how to learn a language, or simply looking to supercharge your already-successful process, you’ve come to the right place.
learn  language  resource  advice 
august 2018 by aries1988
Why I Taught My Son to Speak Russian | The New Yorker
As the psycholinguist François Grosjean stresses, language is the product of necessity. If a child discusses, say, hockey only with his Russian-speaking father, he may not learn until later how to say “puck” in English. But he’ll learn when he has to.

I see friends who came over at the same time as I did but didn’t keep up their Russian raising their kids entirely in English. Sometimes I feel sorry for them and all they’re missing; at other times, envious. They have finally liberated themselves from Russia’s yoke, just as their parents wanted them to. They are free to be themselves around their children, to express themselves with ease. They always know the words for scooter and goat and sheep.

Most of us were more comfortable in English than in Russian, and none of us had any wish to repatriate. Why, then, were we doing this? What did we want to pass on to our children, exactly? Certainly nothing about Russia as it is currently constituted. Perhaps it was fitting that we were listening to children’s songs.
english  russia  language  children  learn  story  song  memory  parents  angst 
june 2018 by aries1988
What Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” Gets Right About Japan | The New Yorker
Anderson is a white, non-Japanese director, but had he not been interested in the power dynamics behind translation, and instead made a twee fever dream imitating Japanese aesthetics, “Isle of Dogs” would have looked and sounded a lot different. His commitment to showing the daily rhythms of a living, breathing Japanese people reveals itself not only in his cast of twenty-three Japanese actors but in his depictions of how exactly a Japanese TV-news anchor transitions to a new topic (“This is the next news”), what milk cartons for elementary schools look like (labelled “extra-thick”), or how a couple of scientists might celebrate—with a clink, “Yo—oh!,” and a clap. The film invites a kinship with a viewer who will find these banalities familiar, and lets these moments flow by, unnoticed, for those who do not.
movie  japan  culture  language  translation  debate  power 
may 2018 by aries1988
Language Log » Differing Cantonese and Mandarin readings of the same headline
Ji4zi2 saang1sing3, beng6 mou5 pui5 gam2 on1wai3 儿子生性,病母倍感安慰
("[Given that] her son is obedient, the sick mother felt redoubled happiness")

1. 返工 Mandarin fǎngōng: rework, redoing; Cantonese faan1 gung1: return to work, redo a job
2. 心机 Mandarin xīnjī: scheming, mentality; Cantonese sam1 gei1: serious mind
3. 张飞 Mandarin Zhāng Fēi: a name; Cantonese zoeng1 fei1: one fare / ticket
4. 出面 Mandarin chūmiàn: to perform, act on behalf of; Cantonese ceot1 min6: outside
5. 口齿 Mandarin kǒuchǐ: mouth and teeth, the way to articulate; Cantonese hau2 ci2: credit, promise
6. 人工 Mandarin réngōng: artificiality, manpower, manual labor; Cantonese jan4 gung1: salary, pay
7. 偷鸡 Mandarin tōu jī: steal chicken; Cantonese tau1 gai: be indolent in one's duty
8. 挂住 Mandarin guà zhù: hang, put up; Cantonese gwaa3 zyu6: miss, care for
from:rss  canton  dialect  language  chinese  fun 
april 2018 by aries1988
The Left-Handed Kid
By the early 20th century, baihua, or ‘plain speech’, reformers were making arguments that recall Boulez’s line about having to set the Louvre on fire before civilisation can be freed.

Written speech is a negotiation between the visible and invisible worlds, whose governing idea is that what can’t take tangible form can’t exist.
book  china  chinese  invention  language 
march 2018 by aries1988
Global Latinists by John Byron Kuhner
W he n Leni Ribeiro Leite stood up in the main auditorium of Memorial Hall this past July, her name and appearance were enough to distinguish her: it’s still…
language  latin  learn  culture  world 
february 2018 by aries1988
异乡人——雷立柏:东西方的对话不只有手机和高铁,还有孔子和柏拉图|一周精选|深度|异乡人|端传媒 Initium Media
gaijin  beijing  latin  language  study  greek  science  history 
february 2018 by aries1988




region  explained  canton  culture  hongkong  china  independence  comparaison  nation  conflict  language  moi  philosophy 
february 2018 by aries1988
History of the word "tea": How the word "tea" spread over land and sea — Quartz
The map demonstrates two different eras of globalization in action: the millenia-old overland spread of goods and ideas westward from ancient China, and the 400-year-old influence of Asian culture on the seafaring Europeans of the age of exploration. Also, you just learned a new word in nearly every language on the planet.
tea  story  world  trade  language  history 
january 2018 by aries1988
Online French Vocabulary Size Test
Answer these simple questions to know your French vocabulary size now! No registration, no bullcrap.
vocabulary  français  quiz  test  online  language 
october 2017 by aries1988
Letter of Recommendation Translation
If both you and the world agree about who you are, then you might not worry much about how you would be read in a foreign context.
language  translation  poetry 
october 2017 by aries1988
How Latin became the language of the Roman Empire | Unravel Magazine

most importantly of all, the Etruscans gave the Latin-speaking people the means to make Latin a written language: an adapted version of a Greek alphabet.

Surprisingly, it is more structurally similar to Central Asian Turkish than any of the Italic languages, or even its contemporaries farther afield such as Punic, Greek, or Gaulish [4].
latin  language  origin  history  italia  comparison 
october 2017 by aries1988
Iberia’s children: A short history of why Portuguese and Spanish are different | Unravel Magazine
Once upon a time, Portuguese and Spanish were, basically, dialects of the same language: Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. Hundreds of years later, how have Portuguese and Spanish grown apart, and why? And will they always be different?
Iberia  espagna  portugal  history  comparison  explained  language 
october 2017 by aries1988
The unexpected benefits of getting lost in translation | Aeon Ideas
Applying the noisy-channel idea to understanding L2 speakers, we can think of the errors in non-native English as a noisier language model than a native-speaker model. Listeners expect more errors and are therefore more likely to think that L2 speakers mean something sensible when they say something implausible. But if a native speaker says something nonsensical, listeners are more likely to take them literally, because they know their language model has less noise. Kissinger was advising Huffington that, given her accent, listeners would likely give her the benefit of the doubt.
fun  research  language  gaijin  accent  moi  communication 
october 2017 by aries1988
Database - Jyutping

Click "Database" -> "Hanzi to Jyutping" -> Type your Chinese character in the SECOND column ->
Then click on the Jyutping to listen to the pronunciation.

I even made a video on how to use this site.

or you can use this site too

It's a dictionary.
canton  language  online  tool  dictionary  learn  pronunciation 
august 2017 by aries1988

chinese  language  research 
august 2017 by aries1988
Letter of Recommendation Duolingo
I did a couple of French lessons, which took all of five minutes. It was easy, and I was smitten by the possibilities. Maybe I’ll even take up German, I thought as I started the second lesson. I would become cosmopolitan and sophisticated, skipping across Europe and impressing local shopkeepers with my breezy fluency wherever I went. Maybe I would learn to differentiate among various wursts. Anything felt possible.
learn  smartphone  device  self  language  dutch  story 
july 2017 by aries1988
XXVI 汉藏语
终于传上来了 推荐什么的早就忘了。开场曲是企鹅师搞的。
chinese  Tibet  language  linguist  history 
july 2017 by aries1988
Tracing the Origins of Indo-European Languages
A study suggests that the Indo-European family of languages originated in Anatolia, or modern-day Turkey.
language  history  science  europe  infographics 
july 2017 by aries1988
Dialect versus language — what's the big deal?
When does a 'dialect' become a 'language'? And what does it matter? This week on the podcast we look at two places that defy traditional definitions: Scandinavia and the Balkans.
moi  language  dialect  comparison  research  politics  nation  explained 
july 2017 by aries1988
英国人安德鲁・罗伯茨《 英语为什么前所未有的重要? 》一文,令人感觉又好气又好笑。 有读者留言说此文是“某教育机构软广”,点评到位。语言是一种人类现象,安德鲁・罗伯茨的观察有很多局限,对国际通用语的发展历史更缺乏了解。 安德鲁・罗伯茨说:“在中国境外,很少有人把汉语普通话当作第二语言(因为它极其复杂)。”…
language  comparison  europe  chinese  vocabulary 
july 2017 by aries1988
Stuck on one idea of truth or beauty? Rhizomes can help | Aeon Ideas
Why did they invent such strange philosophical concepts as rhizomes? One reason is to help us appreciate the singularity of each thing as well as each thing’s myriad connections to other things. This vision of an interconnected world of singularities, in turn, can change how we act in the world.

According to Nietzsche, the task of modern philosophy is to overturn Platonism, to stop looking for eternal blueprints of how things should be, and instead value this world of difference and becoming. Taking up this assignment, Deleuze and Guattari propose that we think in terms of ‘rhizomes’. A rhizome is a plant such as a potato, couch grass or bamboo. Rhizomes do not have seeds or trunks; rather, they shoot out stems and reproduce when a part breaks off and grows again, each one slightly different from its predecessor. A Thousand Plateaus helps us see the distinctiveness and connectivity of multiple things that compose reality. ‘A rhizome,’ they wrote, ‘ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organisations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles.’ The concept of the rhizome helps us to view our lives as assemblages of words, institutions, songs, medicines, social movements, and countless other things that are related but also distinct.
concept  politics  culture  identity  academia  language  people 
may 2017 by aries1988

其實只要在神州大地走上一圈,那些不 懂中國特殊國情的老外就會發現,中國遊客就是中國人,平時在家如何,到了外頭就是如何,對內對外一致平等。沒錯,很多人在國內就很習慣進店不打招呼,視侍應和店員如無物。我曾經以為,這是當代中國社會權力結構的表現,就和低級公務員看見高官要低腰打哈,公司職員一見上司就「總」前「總」後,而在上位者則可以挺着肚子當他們不存在一樣;是我們進來花錢的人做老闆,你這個服務員算老幾?我憑甚麼要多瞧你一眼。

etiquette  chinese  language  comparison  people  life  shopping 
may 2017 by aries1988
南方周末 - 统一文字是果,统一国家才是因
language  nation  state  comparison  europe  china  chinese  latin  opinion 
may 2017 by aries1988
The Kekulé Problem - Issue 47: Consciousness - Nautilus
I call it the Kekulé Problem because among the myriad instances of scientific problems solved in the sleep of the inquirer Kekulé’s is probably the best known. He was trying to arrive at the configuration of the benzene molecule and not making much progress when he fell asleep in front of the fire and had his famous dream of a snake coiled in a hoop with its tail in its mouth—the ouroboros of mythology—and woke exclaiming to himself: “It’s a ring. The molecule is in the form of a ring.” Well. The problem of course—not Kekulé’s but ours—is that since the unconscious understands language perfectly well or it would not understand the problem in the first place, why doesnt it simply answer Kekulé’s question with something like: “Kekulé, it’s a bloody ring.” To which our scientist might respond: “Okay. Got it. Thanks.”

Problems in general are often well posed in terms of language and language remains a handy tool for explaining them. But the actual process of thinking—in any discipline—is largely an unconscious affair. Language can be used to sum up some point at which one has arrived—a sort of milepost—so as to gain a fresh starting point. But if you believe that you actually use language in the solving of problems I wish that you would write to me and tell me how you go about it.
thinking  language  brain  linguist  scientist  dream  consciousness 
may 2017 by aries1988
George Orwell: Politics and the English Language

But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely.
english  writer  language  opinion  origin  today 
april 2017 by aries1988
Learning Arabic from Egypt’s Revolution

In Dardasha, icons of little bombs with burning fuses had been printed next to the kind of phrase that, even during a revolution, qualified as explosive: Your son is really smart, Madame Fathiya. Fortunately, this compliment-bomb was promptly disarmed: This is what God has willed, Madame Fathiya, your son is really smart.

Grammar functions as a kind of spice, similar to the way that Sichuanese cuisine uses strong flavors to create satisfying meals that actually contain little meat.

Western academics call it modern standard Arabic, although the language retains strong links to the time of Muhammed. Back then, Arabic lacked a strong written literary tradition, and, in the eyes of believers, the Prophet’s illiteracy is evidence of the divine nature of the Quran. Even a skeptic like Rifaat told us that the Quran is so beautiful that it could only have come from God.

In China, the Han dynasty, which was founded in 206 B.C.E., codified and standardized the Confucian, or Ruist, classics, a process that helped set the terms for the writing system. By taking these centuries-old texts as their model of proper Chinese writing, the Han prescribed an idealized language—classical Chinese—that was probably never spoken in day-to-day life.

traditionalists feared further cultural damage. It will not be long before our ancestral language loses its form, God forbid, an editor at the newspaper Al-Ahram wrote, in 1882. How can we support a weak spoken language which will eliminate the sacred original language?

Most important, classical Chinese wasn’t tied to a religion or a divine text.

while places like German Switzerland also practice diglossia, the use of two languages, the difference is that both Swiss German and High German are living, spoken languages. The majority of Arab children are put in a position that I cannot think of an equivalent for any other group of children in the world, she said.
language  speaking  culture  arab  egypt  today  politics  news  journalism  story  learn  american  history  explained 
april 2017 by aries1988
Pourquoi est-on plus à l’aise pour dire des grossièretés dans une langue étrangère ?

De nombreuses personnes plurilingues décrivent en effet l’impression de ressentir moins de choses dans leur seconde langue, qui ne porte pas le même « poids émotionnel » que la langue maternelle. En se sentant moins lié émotionnellement à la langue que l’on parle, on peut plus facilement jurer et/ou raconter des détails de sa vie intime. Le terme scientifique pour cela est « résonance émotionnelle réduite du langage », nous apprend Wilhelmiia Toivo.

La chercheuse cite le philosophe du langage Ludwig Wittgenstein, qui disait : « Les limites de mon langage signifient les limites de mon propre monde.

une époque où le bilinguisme ne se résume pas à parler les deux langues transmises par des parents bilingues. Le bilinguisme décrit aussi la pratique de deux langues au quotidien, peu importe son degré de maîtrise, en raison d’une migration, d’un séjour à l’étranger, ou d’un échange universitaire. « Alors que le nombre de personnes changeant de langue régulièrement continue d’augmenter, comprendre tous les aspects du langage et comment il influe sur nos vies est essentiel », conclut-elle.
language  psychology  brain  science 
march 2017 by aries1988
The bilingual brain: why one size doesn’t fit all

Studying white matter – which is primarily composed of axons, the long, slender projectiles shunting signals across a nerve cell – is a way to measure connectivity between brain regions. If we think of the human brain as water in a cup (the cup being our skull), then white matter is like a straw in that cup: it constricts water flow in the direction that the axons are travelling. One common DTI measure, fractional anisotropy (FA), maps the overall shape of water flow in the brain. Another more specific measure, radial diffusivity (RD), helps researchers to pinpoint weak spots in the side of the straw, places where water might ‘leak’ out. In the healthy brain, researchers have long held, white matter will show high FA (flow in a single direction) and low RD (leaking of water in other directions).

Specifically, more time spent listening to the second language was associated with lower RD in regions associated with language production (the anterior portion of the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus). More time spent speaking the second language was associated with higher FA in regions of the brain associated with language comprehension.
brain  research  language  debate  children 
march 2017 by aries1988
Sogdien — Wikipédia

L'alphabet sogdien, dérivé de l'alphabet araméen-syriaque, fut transmis et adapté par les Ouïgours, qui à leur tour le transmirent aux Mongols puis aux Mandchous.
language  history  middle-asia  iran 
march 2017 by aries1988
Taiwanese, Mandarin, and Taiwan's language situation
How to Forget Your Mother Tongue and Remember Your National Language

The main reason why written Cantonese could thrive in Hongkong to the extent that it has is due to the unique colonial experience under the British. Freed from the political controls and cultural dominance of the North China mandarinate for a century, the people of Hongkong were able to experiment with true vernacular writing.

Superficially (according to the surface signification of the two characters with which the name is customarily written), "Taiwan" means "Terrace Bay." That sounds nice, even poetic, but it is an inauthentic etymology and has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual origins of the name.

The old sinographic form of this name is 艋舺 , which would be pronounced bɑ́ng-kah in Taiwanese. Here the radicals are useful in helping us to understand that this was an old word of the non-Sinitic indigenes for "boat." It was only during the Japanese occupation that the sinographic form of the name was changed to the two graphs meaning "Multitudinously Floriate." Phonologically this makes some sense in Japanese where they are pronounced banka, but not in Mandarin where they come out as Wanhua.

The main obstacle to the creation of an effective romanization for the whole of society is undoubtedly the affection for Chinese characters felt by a majority of the population.

extreme measures (kǒuzhū bǐfá 口誅筆伐 ["execute with the mouth and cut down with the pen"]) to prevent its happening. The irrational fury and uncomprehending linguistic fallacies that pervade this indignant denunciation of the mere suggestion of written Taiwanese are clear proof of the kinds of intimidation and pressures that have been brought to bear against writing in the regional vernaculars in China.

A century and more ago, it was still very close to the language of Amoy, but has now diverged sharply under the following influences: Malayo-Polynesian substrate borrowings, Dutch usages, Japanese elements, Mandarinisms, English loans, and so forth. Thus, by "Taiwanese" I mean the highly evolved form of Southern Min spoken on the island of Taiwan that can no longer be equated with any language spoken on the mainland of China.

We shall examine the processes whereby Taiwanese children are weaned away from their mother tongue and acquire in its stead a second language for the purpose of becoming literate.
taiwan  language  writing  history  china  chinese  opinion 
february 2017 by aries1988
Is Writing a Technology or a Language? Let's Ask Some Aliens | JSTOR Daily

Just comparing a transcript of speech to a purely written text reveals how sentences may often not be formally completed, thoughts backtracked, and how clauses are more sequential and less complex than they would be in a written version. Similarly, in a language like French, the spoken and written forms can be so syntactically different there can be literacy difficulties for even native speakers as they learn the written language. Many linguistic archaisms such as certain verb tenses that aren’t really used in spoken French remain alive and well in its written form.
language  movie 
january 2017 by aries1988
西班牙语和葡萄牙语之间有怎样的关系? - 阿绯的回答 - 知乎
来了来了,分享一下我的所见见闻,后面会涉及到一点理论的内容,如果内容比较枯燥,就看前面部分当听故事好了。 嗯,在正式回答楼主的问题前,我想到一个词“portunhol”。这个词就是“português”和“espanhol”的拼合。一般来说,使用葡语作为母语的人都…
comparison  language  portugal  espagna 
january 2017 by aries1988
Generating naming languages

First off, the majority of words in Mandarin have two syllables. This gives it a very clear rhythmic quality. Secondly, the syllable structure is pretty much constant. Each syllable consists of a single consonant, a vowel or two, and then optionally either /n/ or /ŋ/ (written ng). So 'shan' is a valid Mandarin syllable, but 'stan' and 'nash' are not.

In real languages, words are built out of units called 'morphemes', which are the smallest units of language which still carry meaning. Some words are single morphemes (e.g. 'happy', 'sad', 'platypus'), and some can be divided up into smaller units (e.g. 'un-help-ful', 'rest-less', 're-consider-s'). The relationship between syllables and morphemes, both of which combine to form words, is hazy at best.

Fortunately, we're making up our language, so we can make it as simple as we like. One syllable equals one morpheme.
game  language  invention  howto  comparison  primer  python  map  algorithm 
january 2017 by aries1988
日语口语中清浊音如何区分? - 语言 - 知乎
japanese  français  learn  language  comparison 
january 2017 by aries1988
How to Learn Chinese
The Nincha Team
Our mission is to bring you the best Chinese learning app possible.
We’re very excited about it and we bet we can!

Funded on Kickstarter!
language  via:wunixme 
january 2017 by aries1988
Ted Chiang’s Soulful Science Fiction

Chiang has been described as a writer of humanist sci-fi; many readers feel that his stories are unusually moving and wonder, given their matter-of-fact tone, where their emotional power comes from.
scifi  language 
january 2017 by aries1988
Japanese writing system - Wikipedia
Some words are colloquially written in hiragana and writing them in kanji might give them a more formal tone, while hiragana may impart a softer or more emotional feeling.[7] For example, the Japanese word "kawaii", the Japanese equivalent of "cute", can be written entirely in hiragana as in かわいい, or as the kanji term 可愛い.

Because of this mixture of scripts, in addition to a large inventory of kanji characters, the Japanese writing system is often considered to be the most complicated in use anywhere in the world.[1][2]

... the British linguist and diplomat Sir George Sansom to write:

One hesitates for an epithet to describe a system of writing which is so complex that it needs the aid of another system to explain it. There is no doubt that it provides for some a fascinating field of study, but as a practical instrument it is surely without inferiors.[8]
japanese  language 
december 2016 by aries1988
A linguist on Arrival's alien language.
Right, it’s not phonetic in the way that English is phonetic. So I took the alien language to be that kind of writing system. I still took the visual system to be encoding the same concepts of the oral system so that the aliens would have for any given concept a written version and a spoken version. Logographic systems on Earth are essentially similar. The Japanese have three different writing systems. One of them, Kanji, is shared with Chinese. The spoken languages are very different. The Japanese speaker and the Chinese speaker can’t talk to each other, but they share a writing system because the writing system doesn’t actually match phonetically onto the sounds of the language.

When you think about it, it’s not that weird because we do the same thing with numerals, right? I pronounce the number 7 very differently than a French speaker—I don’t even know the word for seven in French—but if I write it down, they understand the concept.
language  explained  chinese  movie  2016 
december 2016 by aries1988
Johnson: OK computer
How computers can be better language teachers than human beings
language  ai  tool  pc  learn 
november 2016 by aries1988
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