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aries1988 : linguist   14

Les tics de langage
Fonction phatique de la langue
Phatic expressions
français  analysis  linguist  life  habit  language  learn  interview  fun  young  generation  explained  kid 
8 weeks ago by aries1988
曲卫国 | 2019复旦毕业典礼的发言

这些年的毕业典礼,我每次都反复絮叨非正式版的民间复旦校训:自由而无用。遗憾的是,翻看前几次的发言,我发现我的心情一年比一年沉重。2017年我主要谈的是无用,non-instrumental。2018年我发现有必要对于自由好好地思考一番,因为说到自由,大家似乎更关注自己的自由权利。
fudan  university  ceremony  talk  leader  linguist  freedom  culture  opinion  2019 
june 2019 by aries1988
Fairy Tales Could Be Older Than You Ever Imagined | smithsonianmag.com | Smithsonian
It turns out that it’s pretty hard to figure out how old fairy tales are using simple historical data. Since the tales were passed down orally, they can be almost impossible to unwind using a historian or anthropologist’s traditional toolbox. So the team borrowed from biology, instead, using a technique called phylogenetic analysis. Usually, phylogenetic analysis is used to show how organisms evolved. In this case, researchers used strategies created by evolutionary biologists to trace the roots of 275 fairy tales through complex trees of language, population and culture.

As they tracked, they found evidence that some tales were actually based in other stories. More than a quarter of the stories turned out to have ancient roots—Jack and the Beanstalk was traced back to the split between Western and Eastern Indo-European languages more than 5,000 years ago and a tale called The Smith and the Devil appears to be more than 6,000 years old.

The findings might confirm the long-disregarded theory of fairy tale writer Wilhelm Grimm, who thought that all Indo-European cultures shared common tales.
linguist  children  tale  history  story 
april 2019 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
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
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
Utopian for Beginners

In his preface, Quijada wrote that his greater goal was to attempt the creation of what human beings, left to their own devices, would never create naturally, but rather only by conscious intellectual effort: an idealized language whose aim is the highest possible degree of logic, efficiency, detail, and accuracy in cognitive expression via spoken human language, while minimizing the ambiguity, vagueness, illogic, redundancy, polysemy (multiple meanings) and overall arbitrariness that is seemingly ubiquitous in natural human language.

What if, they wondered, you could create a universal written language that could be understood by anyone, a set of real characters, just as the creation of Arabic numerals had done for counting? This writing will be a kind of general algebra and calculus of reason, so that, instead of disputing, we can say that ‘we calculate,’ Leibniz wrote, in 1679.

seventeenth-century bishop and polymath, John Wilkins, who tried to actualize their lofty ideals. In his Essay Towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language, from 1668, Wilkins laid out a sprawling taxonomic tree that was intended to represent a rational classification of every concept, thing, and action in the universe. Each branch along the tree corresponded to a letter or a syllable, so that assembling a word was simply a matter of tracing a set of forking limbs until you’d arrived on a distant tendril representing the concept you wanted to express.

Wilkins’s taxonomic-classification scheme, which organized words by meaning rather than alphabetically, was not entirely without use: it was a predecessor of the first modern thesaurus.

the equally ambitious desire to unite the world through a single, easy-to-learn, politically neutral, auxiliary language

Among the Wakashan Indians of the Pacific Northwest, a grammatically correct sentence can’t be formed without providing what linguists refer to as evidentiality, inflecting the verb to indicate whether you are speaking from direct experience, inference, conjecture, or hearsay.

For Quijada, this was a revelation. He imagined that Ithkuil might be able to do what Lakoff and Johnson said natural languages could not: force its speakers to precisely identify what they mean to say. No hemming, no hawing, no hiding true meaning behind jargon and metaphor. By requiring speakers to carefully consider the meaning of their words, he hoped that his analytical language would force many of the subterranean quirks of human cognition to the surface, and free people from the bugs that infect their thinking.
language  story  linguist  russia  thinking  instapaper_favs 
august 2016 by aries1988
Why is English so weirdly different from other languages? – John McWhorter | Aeon Essays

almost all European languages belong to one family – Indo-European – and of all of them, English is the only one that doesn’t assign genders that way.

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.

Crucially, their languages were quite unlike English. For one thing, the verb came first (came first the verb). But also, they had an odd construction with the verb do: they used it to form a question, to make a sentence negative, and even just as a kind of seasoning before any verb. Do you walk? I do not walk. I do walk.

Old English had the crazy genders we would expect of a good European language – but the Scandies didn’t bother with those, and so now we have none. Chalk up one of English’s weirdnesses. What’s more, the Vikings mastered only that one shred of a once-lovely conjugation system: hence the lonely third‑person singular –s, hanging on like a dead bug on a windshield. Here and in other ways, they smoothed out the hard stuff.

English got hit by a firehose spray of words from yet more languages

One result was triplets allowing us to express ideas with varying degrees of formality. Help is English, aid is French, assist is Latin. Or, kingly is English, royal is French, regal is Latin – note how one imagines posture improving with each level: kingly sounds almost mocking, regal is straight-backed like a throne, royal is somewhere in the middle, a worthy but fallible monarch.

Clip on a suffix to the word wonder, and you get wonderful. But – clip on an ending to the word modern and the ending pulls the accent ahead with it: MO-dern, but mo-DERN-ity, not MO-dern-ity. That doesn’t happen with WON-der and WON-der-ful, or CHEER-y and CHEER-i-ly. But it does happen with PER-sonal, person-AL-ity.

What’s the difference? It’s that -ful and -ly are Germanic endings, while -ity came in with French. French and Latin endings pull the accent closer – TEM-pest, tem-PEST-uous – while Germanic ones leave the accent alone. One never notices such a thing, but it’s one way this ‘simple’ language is actually not so.

What English does have on other tongues is that it is deeply peculiar in the structural sense. And it became peculiar because of the slings and arrows – as well as caprices – of outrageous history.
comparison  language  english  history  linguist  culture  scandinavia  origin  vocabulary  instapaper_favs 
august 2016 by aries1988

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