Saturday, December 31, 2011

words rated for emotional content

In these billions of words is not a view of any individual's state of mind. Instead, like billions of moving atoms add up to the overall temperature of a room, billions of words used to express what people are feeling resolve into a view of the relative mood of large groups.
These billions of words contain everything from "the" to "pancakes" to "suicide." To get a sense of the emotional gist of various words, the researchers used a service from Amazon called Mechanical Turk. On this website, they paid a group of volunteers to rate, from one to nine, their sense of the "happiness" -- the emotional temperature -- of the ten thousand most common words in English. Averaging their scores, the volunteers rated, for example, "laughter" at 8.50, "food" 7.44, "truck" 5.48, "greed" 3.06 and "terrorist" 1.30.



Some common normative terms are: ought; duty; obligation; permissible; and forbidden. When applied to actions, appropriate and inappropriate are normative terms. [Note that not all NORMATIVE terms are MORAL terms. For example, ought can be used in a NON-MORAL, PRUDENTIAL sense, as in: One ought to eat nutritious foods.]

Simple, but maybe not all that original. The colors white and black have carried layers of moral meaning since long before Americans’ infatuation with cowboys and automobiles. Indeed, some scientists believe that our conception of blackness and sin may be entangled with a fundamental and ancient fear of dirt and contagion that remains deeply wired in our neurons today.

D - Europe's debt crisis is referred to overtly as a contagion. I guess an analogy of flames and firewalls was not incendiary enough.


A connotation is a commonly understood subjective cultural or emotional association that some word or phrase carries, in addition to the word's or phrase's explicit or literal meaning, which is its denotation.
A connotation is frequently described as either positive or negative, with regards to its pleasing or displeasing emotional connection. For example, a stubborn person may be described as being either strong-willed or pig-headed; although these have the same literal meaning (stubborn), strong-willed connotes admiration for the level of someone's will (a positive connotation), while pig-headed connotes frustration in dealing with someone (a negative connotation).

D - Greta Vosper generated 2 sets of words for the Church. The 1st was positive (community, hope) and the other negative (judgement - even salvation I think - it implies the need for saving).

Compare denomination, sect and cult.
There is a hidden soc-psy appeal to popularity.

Or religious person versus atheist.
Contrast with atheistic person and religionist.
Only 1 side gets to be a person.

Friday, December 30, 2011

kids don't classify world in words

"But for children, words are just another feature among many to consider when they're trying to classify an object."
For example, suppose that someone you trust shows you an object that looks like a pen and says that it is a tape recorder, Sloutsky said.
Your first reaction might be to look at the pen to see where the microphone would be hidden, and how you could turn it on or off.
"You might think it was some kind of spy tool, but you would not have a hard time understanding it as a tape recorder even though it looks like a pen," Sloutsky said. "Adults believe words do have a unique power to classify things, but young children don't think the same way."
The results suggest that even after children learn language, it doesn't govern their thinking as much as scientists believed.

D- maybe has to do with when they develop linear historical memory?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

a dissenting view- the anglosphere. a book.

Author of the 2010 best-selling The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, Mr. Kotkin is singularly optimistic in his latest assessment of a world in which the anglosphere appears to be in truculent decline. The U.S. and Britain, after all, are experiencing serious crises of confidence. Now, in The New World Order, a study published in November by the London-based Legatum Institute, Mr. Kotkin and nine academic associates conclude that the anglosphere will remain the ascendant player on the world stage for a long time to come.


D - there will be a time lag between when the BRIC group achieves parity the USA / UK and when English gets dislodged as the lingua franca of our time.
But Latin and French both went the way of the dodo, so there is no reason to believe that eventually English will retain its pre-eminence.

Though I'd point out that English is widely used in India to bypass partisan local language agendas.

Listening to the radio, I have been noticing a trend toward a more regular 'international' English, even within my English speaking Canada. This mostly entails the use of more regular plural nouns and past tense verbs.

I was thinking about how we structure questions. Do- (et al). Whereas we don't say I DO (et al), except for emphasis. E.g. Do I close the door? I close the door.
Whereas in the future and past forms, the interrogative is more obvious.
I did close the door. Did I close the door?
I will close the door. Will I close the door?
Ultimately, the accomodations to English to make it more accessible to foreigners has been pretty superficial.

In Canada, we have this problem that we import highly qualified immigrants, but then refuse to provide them with the 1 year work experience in their field required for them to recertify here. This is an inane policy and one that greatly upsets new immigrants.
D - this is the typical knee-jerk uninformed reaction from red-necks.

I volunteered for improv "Coming to Canada" skits with new young immigrants, and this complaint was frequently heard. Having said that, well, English IS a job skill and being able to communicate clearly IS a prerequisite of most jobs. Sadly English is devilishly tricky in the details. I suspect the first nation (or region or whatever) that adopts a well designed IAL will end up with a strong competitive edge. Note that I said well designed...

“We’re losing out,” said Jane Allen, partner and chief diversity officer at Deloitte. “We’re making our productivity situation worse by not capitalizing on the skills that new immigrants are bringing.”

Canada’s labour productivity – a measure of what the economy produces in each hour of work – is often criticized for lagging that of other industrialized countries. It has increased by an average annual rate of 0.5 per cent since early 2005 versus 2.1 per cent in the United States.

While some professional associations have started streamlining the recognition of foreign credentials, much work lies ahead since there are more than 440 regulatory bodies in Canada. As a result, Deloitte found there is a growing fear among progressive companies that Canada is going to lose workers to other countries if these systemic problems are not corrected.


Currently, Canada is known as a country with a broad immigration policy which is reflected in Canada's ethnic diversity. According to the 2001 census by Statistics Canada, Canada has 34 ethnic groups with at least one hundred thousand members each, of which 10 have over 1,000,000 people and numerous others represented in smaller amounts. 16.2% of the population belonged to visible minorities: most numerous among these are South Asian (4.0% of the population), Chinese (3.9%)...

D - whoever implements a well-planned IAL policy first should manage a great increase in workplace productivity.

Monday, December 19, 2011

BRIC to surpass the First World nations

God I hate you Google. Your blog interface is broken.

D - image is economic growth in Billions.

Brazil, China and India trade places with the various Western powers.
Collectively their clout will match the "First World" by 2030.
That means I need to focus on Urdu, Hindi, Mandarin, Cantonese... and Portuguese.
And English.

I'm reading a book called "The Rise and Fall of Empires" by Kennedy right now.
Very illuminating. It does make me think Canada needs to focus on productivity and economic growth more than it is presently.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dothraki language designer from Game of Thrones

Next, Mr. Peterson tried to establish words that would be native and basic (meaning they are not derived from another Dothraki word), toying with letter combinations and sounds he liked. His favorite sound is "JH" as in "genre," so he made the word for man in Dothraki mahrazh.


After he amassed a small vocabulary, Mr. Peterson tested out basic grammar. He adored the 18 noun classes in Swahili and the negative verb forms in Estonian, both influences in his created languages. He scribbled sample sentences and added suffixes and prefixes to expand the vocabulary.

He aims to eventually expand Dothraki to around 10,000 words - or about the equivalent of college-level foreign language proficiency.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

10 words you did not know were ono(mutter)

Cliche. (alt-0233 for accent)

What it means:

A trite and overused phrase. Like "A dark and stormy night" or "Time heals all wounds" or "Did you drink all my nail polisher remover?"

What the hell is it supposed to sound like?

The forging of a metal printing press plate.

Read more: 10 Common Words You Had No Idea Were Onomatopoeias |

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

chomsky's language organ - also pathways

Two brain areas called Broca's region and Wernicke's region serve as the main computing hubs underlying language processing, with dense bundles of nerve fibers linking the two, much like fiber optic cables connecting computer servers. But while it was known that Broca's and Wernicke's region are connected by upper and a lower white matter pathways, most research had focused on the nerve cells clustered inside the two language-processing regions themselves.

Working with patients suffering from language impairments because of a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, Wilsons' team used brain imaging and language tests to disentangle the roles played by the two pathways. Their findings are published in a recent issue of the scientific journal Neuron.

"If you have damage to the lower pathway, you have damage to the lexicon and semantics," Wilson said. "You forget the name of things, you forget the meaning of words. But surprisingly, you're extremely good at constructing sentences."

"With damage to the upper pathway, the opposite is true; patients name things quite well, they know the words, they can understand them, they can remember them, but when it comes to figuring out the meaning of a complex sentence, they are going to fail."

Friday, November 25, 2011

the languages of modern Greece

Growing up in Greece in the 1970s, I had to learn not one but three Greek languages. First was the demotic parlance of everyday life. But at school, we were taught something different: “katharevousa” (“cleansed”), a language designed by 19th-century intellectuals to purify demotic from the cornucopia of borrowed Turkish, Slavic and Latin words. Finally, we had to study ancient Greek, the language of our classical ancestors, the heroes of Marathon and Thermopylae. Most of us managed to learn none of the three, ending up mixing them in one grammatically anarchic jargon that communicated the confusion of our age.

George Zarkadakis is the author of the novel The Island Survival Guide. (Washington Post)

In Canada, instead we (fail to) learn Parisian French and are exposed to a mishmash of British and American spelling. You could say we are a confused colony with 2 Imperial masters.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

emotions not part of emotional vocabulary

Does understanding emotions depend on the language we speak, or is our perception the same regardless of language and culture? According to a new study by researchers from the MPI for Psycholinguistics and the MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology, you don't need to have words for emotions to understand them.

"Our results show that understanding emotional signals is not based on the words you have in your language to describe emotions," Sauter says. "Instead, our findings support the view that emotions have evolved as a set of basic human mechanisms, with emotion categories like anger and disgust existing regardless of whether we have words for those feelings."

Monday, October 17, 2011

braille-writing tablet computer for the blind

Dharmaraja and Duran mulled their options before arriving at a clever and simple solution. They did not create virtual keys that the fingertips must find; they made keys that find the fingertips. The user simply touches eight fingertips to the glass, and the keys orient themselves to the fingers. If the user becomes disoriented, a reset is as easy as lifting all eight fingers off the glass and putting them down again.

"Elegant, no?" said Lew. "The solution is so simple, so beautiful. It was fun to see."

Beyond the price difference, touchscreens offer at least one other significant advantage over standard Braille writers: "They're customizable," Dharmaraja noted. "They can accommodate users whose fingers are small or large, those who type with fingers close together or far apart, even to allow a user to type on a tablet hanging around the neck with hands opposed as if playing a clarinet."

"No standard Braille writer can do this," said Professor Charbel Farhat, the chair of the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department and executive director of the summer program. "This is a real step forward for the blind."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

psychopaths and choice of words - detection

D - roomie and I just watched the very first Dexter TV show episode finally.

The words of psychopathic murderers match their personalities, which reflect selfishness, detachment from their crimes and emotional flatness,

Hancock and his colleagues analyzed stories told by 14 psychopathic male murderers held in Canadian prisons and compared them with 38 convicted murderers who were not diagnosed as psychopathic. Each subject was asked to describe his crime in detail.

Psychopaths used more conjunctions like "because," "since" or "so that," implying that the crime "had to be done" to obtain a particular goal. They used twice as many words relating to physical needs, such as food, sex or money, while non-psychopaths used more words about social needs, including family, religion and spirituality. Unveiling their predatory nature in their own description, the psychopaths often included details of what they had to eat on the day of their crime.

Past as prologue: Psychopaths were more likely to use the past tense, suggesting a detachment from their crimes, say the researchers. They tended to be less fluent in their speech, using more "ums" and "uhs." The exact reason for this is not clear, but the researchers speculate that the psychopath is trying harder to make a positive impression, needing to use more mental effort to frame the story.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

China eclipses USA in 2016

The news casts a deepening cloud over the future of the dollar as the world’s dominant currency as well as Washington’s attempts to close the budget gap and rein in the nation’s ballooning debt.
But politicians argue Beijing’s technology is lagging behind and much of China lives in poverty. The Asian country also trails way behind the U.S. in output per person.
In 2009 the IMF calculated gross domestic product per head in the U.S. at £28,000, compared to £2,500 in China.

Read more:


D - they forgot CO2 emissions. China is now in the lead.

When Chindia - China and India - are considered together, we may well see the East eclipse the West more generally. China and India will surpass the English-speaking nations when considered together.

With power comes clout.

Slowly, the language of commerce will shift to that of the most successful commercial nation- China.

Unless, of course, their Mao-leaning next leadership candidate engages in another Cultural Revolution in a coupla years.
Mr. Bo and Mr. Wang are not only provincial Party bosses, but rivals for coveted spots on the nine-man Standing Committee of the Politburo – the top of China's power pyramid – during the once-in-a-decade leadership shuffle set to take place over the next year. And the regions they now govern offer starkly differing models for the direction China should head next.

D. Aside. I'm reading a book on the philosophy of Confucius right now. I can see why the Chinese leaders are hyping it. It does emphasize adhering to one's social role and respect for family elders.
Conversely, it decries a wealth-oriented materialist as a xiaoren - a 'small man'.
The book contains a chapter on the importance of correct naming and terms in language. Or else we get social disorder. This may make the idea of CVN - a Mandarin-friendly precise language- appealing.

I am also reading an introductory Chinese language book. I need to understand their grammar more.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

translations and ad fails around the world


Turn it loose! Good 1, Coors beer. Loose stool in Spanish.
Nova car - no go in Spanish.

And others that are just bewildering.

Wouldn't a nice auxiliary language be nice for moments like this?

Brinn's Uplift war sci-fi setting and 'Galactic Languages'.

D - honing phrases in Toki Pona right now.
Getting insights from this for CVN.
Only a decade old, there are already 'obsolete terms' LOL.

Maybe an inevitable result of so few phonemes, but there are many words with only 1 minimal pair variation. E.g. seli- hot, selo- skin.
Some such pairs are obvious enough that they are not a problem. E.g. sama- same, kama - came. Then nimi- name. Surprise!

Learning any new language provides insights. Even when a feature exists in my native tongue, seeing it in an alien 1 makes that feature fresh and obvious again.
E.g. kiwen - hard. Palisa - long and hard. <: Don't ask how I remember that LOL.
Naughty stuff is more memorable, so is ideal for memorizing vocabulary.
Linja - 'long and thin'. Liju- 'flat and flexible'. I began to think about a CVN word generation system that combines spatial dimensions with physical properties such as rigid/flexible and hard/soft - even the 4 states of matter (plasma, gas, liquid, solid). The distant future version starts to look like English structure again. I keep returning to the CCCVCCC structure of the word 'strengths', with TENG as the initial core word.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

male immigrants lead to mother tongue

In a meta-analysis of studies that linked genetic markers to cultural heritage in North and Central America, Iceland, Australia, Africa and New Guinea, they found that only Y-chromosome DNA reflected the cultural origins of the local language. Iceland, for example, was colonised by Norse Vikings with women kidnapped from the British Isles. Most mitochondrial DNA found in Icelandic people today is similar to that in the British Isles, while Y chromosomes carry Scandinavian DNA. And the Icelandic language has Scandinavian roots, not English

Linguist Claire Bowern of Yale University, meanwhile, points out that the societies covered by this study distribute power through the male line, and the opposite correlation may be found in societies run by females.

Aside - am reading a book on Confucius. It discusses the use of paronomasia in Chinese culture.


paronomasia (plural paronomasias)

(rhetoric) A pun or play on words

1997, Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon:

Ev’rywhere but at Norfolk, where talk of Passion far outweighs its Enactment,– indeed, the Sailors’ Paronomasia for that wretched Place, is ‘No-F**k’.

D - the book segued into a discussion of Anglo-Saxon (ancient) kenning.

A kenning (Old Norse: kenning, Modern Icelandic pronunciation: [cʰɛnːiŋk]) is a type of literary trope, specifically circumlocution, in the form of a compound (usually two words, often hyphenated) that employs figurative language in place of a more concrete single-word noun. Kennings are strongly associated with Old Norse and later Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon poetry. For example, Old Norse poets might replace sverð, the regular word for “sword”, with a more abstract compound such as “wound-hoe”, and derives ultimately from the Old Norse verb kenna “know, recognise; perceive, feel; show; teach; etc.”, as used in the expression kenna við “to name after; to express [one thing] in terms of [another]”,[2] “name after; refer to in terms of”,[3] and kenna til “qualify by, make into a kenning by adding”.

D - the examples from Norse society are really quite evocative.

Poetry is 'lip stream', blood is 'slaughter dew', and ravens are 'blood swans'. So cool!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

language organelles in the human brain

Out of the nine regions they analyzed -- four in the left frontal lobe, including the region known as Broca's area, and five further back in the left hemisphere -- eight uniquely supported language, showing no significant activation for any of the seven other tasks. These findings indicate a "striking degree of functional specificity for language," as the researchers report in their paper.

Future studies will test the newly identified language areas with even more non-language tasks to see if their functional specificity holds up; the researchers also plan to delve deeper into these areas to discover which particular linguistic jobs each is responsible for.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chinese without tones

This was inspired by a Lingomi Blog.
Many famous scholars write about how characters will (or should) be replaced by a romanized alphabet (link). But I’ve been wondering about whether Chinese could lose something else it’s famous for. Could Chinese ever lose its tones?

Chinese without tones? But aren’t tones kind of essential to Chinese? Yes, they are. If you’re learning Chinese and don’t know your tones, frustration will ensue. Tones are important (a subject I’ve been known to blog about), but there is one situation where tones don’t matter: music.

Why don’t chinese songs have tones, and how can Chinese speakers understand the words without them? (Ask antimoon has a few good answers to this question). The fact that Chinese people do understand music lyrics proves that it is possible for Chinese speakers to understand tone-less Chinese.

But could tone-less Chinese become more widespread?

D - I could not figure out how to post in their comment section.

I was thinking about the Bantu pitch register system.
Chinese is not conveniently sorted in a way that each tone denotes a certain grammatical category.

With 'ma', you might use:

•妈 mā mother
•麻 má bother
•马 mǎ horse
•骂 mà scold
•吗 ma (question tag)
If it helps, try a sentence like: "Mom is bothered by the horse's scolding - yes?" Not an entirely sensible sentence, but it at least catches all the five tones (including neutral) and in the right order.

The Thai language is a tonal language. This means that the same word said with a different tone, can mean totally different things. For example the word “mai” said with a low tone (l) means “new”. “Mai” said with a rising tone (r) makes a question. ”Mai” said with a falling tone (f) means “to burn”. “Mai” with a rising tone (r) spelt a different way means “silk”. So if I ask a Thai person the following question “Mai (r) mai (l) mai (f) mai (r)…. aka mai mai mai mai, I have asked the question “does new silk burn?”

D: if Chinese had a tone that corresponded to, say, verbs, then losing tone would be less ambiguous.
Take the example of "ma", meaning horse, hemp, mother and scold.
That is 3 nouns and 1 verb.
Now if we had ma mean horse, scold, big and quickly, we'd have something to work with.
Rigid SVO word order would ensure that the position of ma in a sentence would denote what grammatical function it served, even without tone.

So I guess I'm saying that while Chinese cannot avoid a vast # of homophones without tone, a designed language reminiscent of Chinese COULD avoid this. It could be used with variable word order by native speakers (or fluent ones) by using the tones in lieu of a 'latinate' affix system.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Advice on apostrophes 'n possessive

To answer the name question first: It varies. Some journals use the apostrophe alone, with a singular name ending in s, some use an apostrophe-s. I vaguely remember being taught to avoid the possessives on names with one syllable (“Keats’ poetry”) and to add it to multisyllabic names (“Davis’s hernia”) – or was it the other way around? Some houses do in fact have variable rules within the same publication. Jesus and Moses, for example, and Greek names such as Ulysses and Socrates, are often exceptions, and are written in their possessive forms without an extra s (“Jesus’ name”, “Socrates’ argument”). The Globe and Mail is admirably consistent on this one: We add the logical apostrophe-s to everything,

But The Globe and Mail’s style guide also notes that recasting these sentences to avoid too many sibilants can itself end up in awkward contortions, and that it is preferable to write “the hostess’s gown” than “the gown of the hostess.” The latter just sounds stilted. And there will always be exceptions to everything: When it comes to odd team names like the White Sox, we don’t add an extra s for a possessive form; we write “the Sox’ losing streak.” How is it possible to keep all this straight?

Friday, August 5, 2011

net search considers relationships


Etzioni proposes that instead of simply looking for strings of text, a web search engine would identify basic entities -- people, places, things -- and uncover the relationships between them. This is the goal of the UW's Turing Center, which he directs.

The Turing Center has developed an open-source tool called ReVerb that uses information on the web to determine the relationship between two entities.


ReVerb is a program that automatically identifies and extracts binary relationships from English sentences. ReVerb is designed for Web-scale information extraction, where the target relations cannot be specified in advance and speed is important.

Open Information Extraction (IE) is the task of extracting assertions from massive corpora without requiring a pre-specified vocabulary. This paper shows that the output of state-of- the-art Open IE systems is rife with uninformative and incoherent extractions. To over- come these problems, we introduce two simple syntactic and lexical constraints on bi- nary relations expressed by verbs. We implemented the constraints in the ReVerb Open IE system, which more than doubles the area under the precision-recall curve relative to previous extractors such as TextRunner and WOE-pos. More than 30% of ReVerb's extractions are at precision 0.8 or higher— compared to virtually none for earlier systems. The paper concludes with a detailed analysis of ReVerb's errors, suggesting directions for future work.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Globe and Fail. Semicolons.

"The company is counting on the new devices to help it weather the rough transition to the more advanced QNX software platform next year. In the meantime, all of the new BlackBerrys – a full touchscreen device; a touchscreen version of its popular Bold smart phone; and a more powerful version of the Torch – run on a sleeker, updated version of the company’s operating system."

(From Wiki)
Applications of the semicolon in English include:

Between items in a series or listing containing internal punctuation, especially parenthetic commas, where the semicolons function as serial commas:
She saw three men: Jamie, who came from New Zealand; John, the milkman's son; and George, a gaunt kind of man.

Between closely related independent clauses not conjoined with a coordinating conjunction:
I went to the basketball court; I was told it was closed for cleaning.

Between independent clauses and semi clauses linked with a transitional phrase or a conjunctive adverb:
Everyone knows he is guilty of committing the crime; of course, it will never be proven.

Of course, the simplest solution would be to write that passage as two separate sentences.

I am learning Office 2010 right now.
I wonder if it can detect those mistakes?
Grammar checkers have progressed since my U days.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

modernized bible language

Along with switching out Jesus' well-known descriptor, the new $3.5 million Bible translation that took four years to complete, also tossed out “alien” and “foreigner” in places (read Exodus 22:21) in lieu of “immigrant”; shifts toward a more gender-neutral approach (“brother or sister” versus just “brother” when Jesus teaches to “warn,” not “rebuke” in Luke 17:3-4); adds in plenty of contractions; uses words such as “insulted” instead of “defiled” (1 Samuel 17:45); and eases up the language of the Lord's Prayer (found in Matthew 6:9-13) by switching out “hallowed be thy name” for “uphold the holiness of your name,” among other shifts.

D - the Human One.
Got it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

the etymology of Tao

I'm reading a book on Confucius right now.
It touches on alotta Taoist concepts.

Tao or Dao (道, Pinyin: About this sound Dào (help·info) ) is a Chinese word meaning 'way', 'path', 'route', or sometimes more loosely, 'doctrine' or 'principle'. Within the context of traditional Chinese philosophy and religion, Tao is a metaphysical concept originating with Laozi that gave rise to a religion

The etymological linguistic origins of dao "way; path" depend upon its Old Chinese pronunciation, which scholars have tentatively reconstructed as *d'ôg, *dəgwx, *dəw, *luʔ, and *lûʔ.

Victor H. Mair proposes a Proto-Indo-European etymology for dao 道, supported by numerous cognates in Indo-European languages, and semantically similar Arabic and Hebrew words.

This links it to the Proto-Indo-European root drogh (to run along) and Indo-European dhorg (way, movement).

The most closely related English words are "track" and "trek", while "trail" and "tract" are derived from other cognate Indo-European roots.

D - well how about that.

censored TV words

Notice anything?
Other than a few identifiable minority group epithets,
ALL the words are sex.
Most, if not all, of these words in most, though not all contexts are
pretty much legal these days.
Whereas reference to terrible acts of violence seems OK.
Makes you wonder about our priorities...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

subtle sexism in everyday language

Things such as calling women "girls" but not calling men "boys" or referring to a collective group as "guys" are forms of subtle sexism that creep into daily interactions. The study helps not only identify which forms of sexism are most overlooked by which sex, but also how noticing these acts can change people's attitudes.

D: funny, I've been annoyed at a counter-example for years.

Somehow, it is more socially acceptable to insult a man based on his genitals than doing the same to a female.
The usual reflexive knee-jerk reaction is, "well, that's DIFFERENT" but it is the same thing.

An IAL that requires optional affixes to denote details about a person would make such considerations explicit, and presumbly more consciously done.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

language at high level of abstraction in brain

Each math problem was structured in one of three ways. With "high-attachment" syntax, the final operation of the problem applied to a large "chunk" of the earlier part. For instance: 80 -- (5 + 15) / 5, where the final division (/ 5) applies to the previous addition term (5 + 15). With "low-attachment" syntax -- say, 80 -- 5 + 15 / 5 -- the final operation applied to a smaller previous chunk. A third category -- "baseline" problems like 80 -- 5 -- implied neither high nor low attachment.

After each equation, the participant was given a sentence fragment that could be completed with either high or low attachment syntax. For instance -- The tourist guide mentioned the bells of the church that … A high-attachment ending would refer to the entire phrase the bells of the church and might finish with "that chime hourly." Low attachment would link only the church to the completed final clause -- say, "that stands on a hill."

The subjects were variously successful in solving the problems. Their choice of high or low attachment sentence completions also revealed complexities -- some perhaps related to the preference in English for low-attachment syntax.

Still, in significant numbers, high-attachment math problems primed high-attachment sentence completions, and low-attachment problems made low-attachment completions likely.

What does all this mean? Our cognitive processes operate "at a very high level of abstraction," the authors write. And those abstractions may apply in similar fashion to all kinds of thinking -- in numbers, words, or perhaps even music.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

best phonetic articulation animation site

So amazing, I had to highlight it here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

linguistics and insights in physics

D: he discovered quarks.
He was very interested in Latin/Greek etymology early in life.
The idea of bound morphemes and prefix/suffix forms may have helped his insight.
After all, quarks are always hidden inside secondary particles like neutrons or protons.

I was reading the Discover mag on scientific genius recently.
It short-listed Fotini over at the Perimeter Institute, which I walk by every day on the way uptown, as a top-6 mind to crack "Grand Unified Theory".

I was supposed to have lunch with her a coupla times. But was never sure if that was intended as a diplomatic brush-off.
Anyway, her recent work suggests that spacetime is a secondary emergent property of a prior fundamental aspect of the universe.

The thinking would seem to be similar to what Gellman required.

Her folks are Greek, and she has an accent.
I wonder if a linguistic background growing up with agglutinative languages that use derivation helps with these sorts of scientific problems.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

645 meanings of run

"The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary."

When they prepared the first edition of the OED, which took them 70 years to do, so they began this in 1857 and finished - the first edition was published in 1928 - the longest word then or the one with the most definitions was another three-letter word. It was the word set.

Well, during the 20th century, that word was displaced by another rather similar word, which was the word put. You put things on the table. You put things on a piece of paper. You put people down and so on. It became a much more complex word.

And after that, a four letter word, take, which we, I guess, we won't discuss today. But those first nine letters occupy, well, in the verb form alone, well over 1,000 meanings - 1,200 meanings, I think.

Here are the top 100 words (from tv scripts) in alphabetical order:

a · about · all · and · are · as · at · back · be · because · been · but · can · can't · come · could · did · didn't · do · don't · for · from · get · go · going · good · got · had · have · he · her · here · he's · hey · him · his · how · I · if · I'll · I'm · in · is · it · it's · just · know · like · look · me · mean · my · no · not · now · of · oh · OK · okay · on · one · or · out · really · right · say · see · she · so · some · something · tell · that · that's · the · then · there · they · think · this · time · to · up · want · was · we · well · were · what · when · who · why · will · with · would · yeah · yes · you · your · you're

We see how regular rules for such words allow for rapid basic conversation.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

giant database of metaphors to gain insights

Much more recently, scientists have uncovered those roots in our biology. Turns out, metaphors are more than just figurative flourishes or explanatory shortcuts; they shape our thoughts, beliefs and actions.

Take the conceptual metaphor, “affection is warmth.” People who hold hot cups of coffee are more likely to judge strangers as friendly than those who get iced coffee. Or, “morality is purity”; more people will request antiseptic wipes when they’ve been asked to think about adultery or cheating than when they’ve pondered good deeds.

To solve this problem, Iarpa, the mad science unit of the intelligence community (or Darpa for spies), is asking universities and businesses to help them build a giant database of metaphors. The goal is to “exploit the use of metaphors by different cultures to gain insight into their cultural norms.”

Besides improving communication and interactions in a globalized world, metaphors might help us bridge cross-cultural gaps.

For example, the topic of morality. Americans are likely to think of morality in terms of rights, or things we “possess” or can be “deprived of” — “rights as IOUs.” In China, on the other hand, morality is usually conceived of as bounded space or concentric circles, so you can “overstep boundaries” or “hit the mark.” These two metaphors aren’t really compatible, but if we started talking about a moral right as a “right-of-way” (a path to move along without interference), we might have found a metaphor that carries weight in both cultures.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

language learned in moments of insight- EUREKA

"In past studies of this kind, researchers used artificial stimuli with a small number of meaning options for each word; they also just looked at the final outcome of the experiment: whether you end up knowing the word or not," Trueswell said. "What we did here was to look at the trajectory of word learning throughout the experiment, using natural contexts that contain essentially an infinite number of meaning options."

By asking the subjects to guess the target word after each vignette, the research could get a sense of whether their understanding was cumulative or occurred in a "eureka" moment.

The evidence pointed strongly to the latter. Repeated exposure to the target word did not lead to improved accuracy over time, suggesting that previous associations hypotheses were not coming into play.


TVs are bad for kids.

Early verbal skills help with reading skills later.

D - speaking to kids in an adult fashion helps them relate to teachers in an academic setting.

D - read to your kids.

I cannot find the article, but you need to explicitly indicate a subpart of an object for the kid to get the reference.
For example, the tail of a dog.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

many English don't understand grammar

Dr Dabrowska and research student James Street then tested a range of adults, some of whom were postgraduate students, and others who had left school at the age of 16. All participants were asked to identify the meaning of a number of simple active and passive sentences, as well as sentences which contained the universal qualifier "every."

As the test progressed, the two groups performed very differently. A high proportion of those who had left school at 16 began to make mistakes. Some speakers were not able to perform any better than chance, scoring no better than if they had been guessing.

She adds: "Our results show that a proportion of people with low educational attainment make errors with understanding the passive, and it appears that this and other important areas of core grammar may not be fully mastered by some speakers, even by adulthood.

D - Sounds like an argument to avoid multiple ways to structure the same statement.
If these results apply to the first childhood language, then imagine for a second adult language!

chomsky's universal grammar vindicated

Culbertson reasoned that if knowledge of certain properties of human grammars-such as where adjectives, nouns and numerals should occur-is hardwired into the human brain from birth, the participants tasked with learning alien Verblog would have a particularly difficult time, which is exactly what happened.

The adult learners who had had little to no exposure to languages with word orders different from those in English quite easily learned the artificial languages that had word orders commonly found in the world's languages but failed to learn Verblog. It was clear that the learners' brains "knew" in some sense that the Verblog word order was extremely unlikely, just as predicted by Chomsky a half-century ago.


D - so there are more and less easily learned language designs.

Monday, April 25, 2011

origin of language c. 75,000 years ago

Abstract designs scratched on mineral pigment show up in Africa about 75,000 years ago and are widely accepted by archaeologists as evidence for symbolism and language. "From this point onward there is a growing variety of new types of artifacts that indicates a thoroughly modern capacity for novelty and invention."

While crude stone tools crafted by human ancestors beginning about 2.5 million years ago likely were an indirect consequence of bipedalism -- which freed up the hands for new functions -- the first inklings of a developing super-brain likely began about 1.6 million years ago when early humans began crafting stone hand axes, thought by Hoffecker and others to be one of the first external representations of internal thought.

D - the evidence in language itself is indirect and tenuous.

Scholars estimate that PIE may have been spoken as a single language (before divergence began) around 3700 BC, though estimates by different authorities can vary by more than a millennium.

Proposed genetic connections

Many higher-level relationships between Proto-Indo-European and other language families have been proposed, but these hypothesized connections are highly controversial. A proposal often considered to be the most plausible of these is that of an Indo-Uralic family, encompassing PIE and Uralic. The evidence usually cited in favor of this consists in a number of striking morphological and lexical resemblances. Opponents attribute the lexical resemblances to borrowing from Indo-European into Uralic. Frederik Kortlandt, while advocating a connection, concedes that "the gap between Uralic and Indo-European is huge", while Lyle Campbell, an authority on Uralic, denies any relationship exists.

Other proposals, further back in time (and proportionately less accepted), link Indo-European and Uralic with Altaic and the other language families of northern Eurasia, namely Yukaghir, Korean, Japanese, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Nivkh, Ainu, and Eskimo-Aleut, but excluding Yeniseian (the most comprehensive such proposal is Joseph Greenberg's Eurasiatic), or link Indo-European, Uralic, and Altaic to Afro-Asiatic and Dravidian (the traditional form of the Nostratic hypothesis), and ultimately to a single Proto-Human family.

A more rarely mentioned proposal associates Indo-European with the Northwest Caucasian languages in a family called Proto-Pontic.

Indo-Uralic is a hypothetical language family consisting of Indo-European and Uralic.

A genetic relationship between Indo-European and Uralic was first proposed by the Danish linguist Vilhelm Thomsen in 1869 (Pedersen 1931:336) but was received with little enthusiasm. Since then, the predominant opinion in the linguistic community has remained that the evidence for such a relationship is insufficient. However, a minority of linguists has always taken the contrary view (e.g. Henry Sweet, Holger Pedersen, Björn Collinder, Warren Cowgill and Jochem Schindler).

History of opposition to the Indo-Uralic hypothesis

The history of early opposition to the Indo-Uralic hypothesis does not appear to have been written. It is clear from the statements of supporters such as Sweet that they were facing considerable opposition and that the general climate of opinion was against them, except perhaps in Scandinavia.

Károly Rédei, editor of the standard etymological dictionary of the Uralic languages (1986a), rejected the idea of a genetic relationship between Uralic and Indo-European, arguing that the lexical items shared by Uralic and Indo-European were due to borrowing from Indo-European into Proto-Uralic (1986b).

Perhaps the best-known critique of recent times is that of Jorma Koivulehto, issued in a series of carefully formulated articles. Koivulehto’s central contention, agreeing with Rédei's views, is that all of the lexical items claimed to be Indo-Uralic can be explained as loans from Indo-European into Uralic (see below for examples).

D - looks like the jury might be out on this forever.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

octomatics revisited. a 16 base hexadecimal one

D - I am sorry for the quality of this image. My Win7 is disabled, so I ended up taking a webcam shot.

the octomatics project is about a new number system
which has a lot of advantages over our old decimal system.
the name comes from the mixture of 'octal' and 'mathematics'.

what do you think: why do we have the decimal system
in our western world? because of our 10 fingers? why
do we have 7 days a week? why are 60 seconds 1 minute
and 60 minutes 1 hour? why do we have 24 hours a day?
and 31 or 30 days a month? do you think thats a really
good solution? well, here is another one:

...welcome to octomatics !

the new numbers
how many numbers are the optimum? 8? 10? 12? 16?
i think it's 8 or 12. make it 8 and you will be able to read
and work with binary code without any transformation.

i think the numbers should look more technically than
letters. maybe they could look like the following:


D - I agree with him - though chose 12 instead.
CVN will have English-style names for 11 and 12, instead of using the usual 10 and 1/ 10 and 2 convention. If I name stuff after the #s, then this makes for neatness and brevity.



D - Anyway, Octomatics is based on 8. My proposed # system above is based on 16.
Why 16?
Well, really, I just wanted to reach 12 in some sensible fashion.
But now a little review of binary and hexadecimal.

The Indian scholar Pingala (circa 5th–2nd centuries BC) developed mathematical concepts for describing prosody, and in so doing presented the first known description of a binary numeral system.[1][2] He used binary numbers in the form of short and long syllables (the latter equal in length to two short syllables), making it similar to Morse code.


Any number can be represented by any sequence of bits (binary digits), which in turn may be represented by any mechanism capable of being in two mutually exclusive states.

Counting in binary is similar to counting in any other number system. Beginning with a single digit, counting proceeds through each symbol, in increasing order. Decimal counting uses the symbols 0 through 9, while binary only uses the symbols 0 and 1.

Since binary is a base-2 system, each digit represents an increasing power of 2, with the rightmost digit representing 20, the next representing 21, then 22, and so on. To determine the decimal representation of a binary number simply take the sum of the products of the binary digits and the powers of 2 which they represent.

D - fractions are a real bugger though...

Binary may be converted to and from hexadecimal somewhat more easily. This is because the radix of the hexadecimal system (16) is a power of the radix of the binary system (2). More specifically, 16 = 24, so it takes four digits of binary to represent one digit of hexadecimal, as shown in the table to the right.

To convert a hexadecimal number into its binary equivalent, simply substitute the corresponding binary digits:


In mathematics and computer science, hexadecimal (also base 16, or hex) is a positional numeral system with a radix, or base, of 16. It uses sixteen distinct symbols, most often the symbols 0–9 to represent values zero to nine, and A, B, C, D, E, F (or alternatively a–f) to represent values ten to fifteen. For example, the hexadecimal number 2AF3 is equal, in decimal, to (2 × 163) + (10 × 162) + (15 × 161) + (3 × 160) , or 10,995.

Each hexadecimal digit represents four binary digits (bits) (also called a "nibble"), and the primary use of hexadecimal notation is as a human-friendly representation of binary coded values in computing and digital electronics. For example, byte values can range from 0 to 255 (decimal) but may be more conveniently represented as two hexadecimal digits in the range 00 through FF. Hexadecimal is also commonly used to represent computer memory addresses.

Binary conversion

Most computers manipulate binary data, but it is difficult for humans to work with the large number of digits for even a relatively small binary number. Although most humans are familiar with the base 10 system, it is much easier to map binary to hexadecimal than to decimal because each hexadecimal digit maps to a whole number of bits (410). This example converts 11112 to base ten. Since each position in a binary numeral can contain either a 1 or 0, its value may be easily determined by its position from the right:

With surprisingly little practice, mapping 11112 to F16 in one step becomes easy: see table in Representing hexadecimal. The advantage of using hexadecimal rather than decimal increases rapidly with the size of the number. When the number becomes large, conversion to decimal is very tedious. However, when mapping to hexadecimal, it is trivial to regard the binary string as 4-digit groups and map each to a single hexadecimal digit.


D - check out for all sorts of goodies related to alternative #-base systems.


D - why use my 16-base # system?
1) it works with a 7-segment alphanumeric display - so any calculator.
2) the figures are the most minimal possible without unconnected stray "floating"
3) it has all the benefits of Octomatics
4) it works very well with computers due to hexadecimal.

Hope you like it.
I'll try to make a nicer diagram at some point.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

africa shown to be birthplace of languages - study

An analysis of languages from around the world suggests that, like our genes, human speech originated -- just once -- in sub-Saharan Africa. Atkinson studied the phonemes, or the perceptually distinct units of sound that differentiate words, used in 504 human languages today and found that the number of phonemes is highest in Africa and decreases with increasing distance from Africa.

The fewest phonemes are found in South America and on tropical islands in the Pacific Ocean. This pattern fits a "serial founder effect" model in which small populations on the edge of an expansion progressively lose diversity. Dr Atkinson notes that this pattern of phoneme usage around the world mirrors the pattern of human genetic diversity, which also declined as humans expanded their range from Africa to colonise other regions.

Friday, April 15, 2011

study questions language universals

The paper asserts instead that "cultural evolution is the primary factor that determines linguistic structure, with the current state of a linguistic system shaping and constraining future states".

"The [authors] suggest that the human mind has a tendency to generalise orderings across phrases of different types, which would not occur if the mind generated every phrase type with a unique and isolated rule.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

colour-coded pixels to express ascii for code

D: it has applications for any information.
I read a book called "Information Anxiety" about presenting data in a clear fashion.

These days, I use colour themes with highlighters while studying.
For example, a definition is one colour, biographies are another, et al.

My DIY Magnetic Poetry for literacy students will include a colour theme for grammatical category. Not perfect, since sometimes English is unchanged between such categories.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

auxiliary verbs. may versus might

Russell Smith - Russell Smith | The Globe and Mail
Russell Smith: On Culture
Do you know the difference between ‘may’ and ‘might’?
Russell Smith | Columnist profile | E-mail
Globe and Mail Update
Published Wednesday, Apr. 06, 2011 4:44PM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Apr. 06, 2011 4:53PM EDT


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May is an auxiliary verb; its past is might. So you say “I may show up tonight” and your friend then reports “She said she might show up tonight.” Seems simple enough.

But it is nothing of the sort. The difference between may and might is one of the most frequent subjects of puzzlement in letters I receive from readers. Purists are annoyed that so many publications seem to use the two interchangeably, and others are confused about why it’s important. Expert sources point out a whole raft of subtleties here.
More related to this story

There's no tense like the present
A nation of language obsessives has roared
At the risk of sounding archaic, I still think that media is plural

Reader Carol Bream sent me a citation from the Ottawa Citizen that encapsulates the problem with the haziness about these verbs. This sentence ran in that paper on March 8: “The new cutting-edge concrete may have made a difference in the deadly collapse of a highway overpass in Laval in 2006 which crushed two vehicles, killing five people and seriously injuring six others who were driving on top of the overpass at the time.” The sentence is ambiguous. A reader may think momentarily that the writer doesn’t know the actual outcome of the accident. The new concrete “may have made a difference” – in other words, there was new concrete there, and we don’t know if it played any role in the tragedy? No: We do know that there was only old concrete involved; what we are wondering is whether new concrete would have made a difference. So “might” is more appropriate in that sentence.

Here is another example to make this tricky point a little less murky: “I was so distracted I might have fallen in a puddle” means “I was at risk of falling in a puddle but didn’t.” “I may have fallen in a puddle” would mean “I don’t have a clear recollection of whether I did or not.”

Here’s another example of what not to do: “He was a highly talented minor-league player, so he may have gone on to the NHL.” This suggests we don’t know if he went into the NHL or not. Using “he might have gone on” would indicate he could have gone if he had wanted to.

In short, use might when you are speculating about what could have affected a situation in the past, use may when you are uncertain of what actually happened. (“He may have thought I was insulting him.”)

Note that these sentences are all about the past. When you’re talking in the present, the differences between the verbs is much less definite. In everyday speech, the two are often interchangeable:

Me - did not know that.

Me - what is with the last comma?

But Mr. Beck’s bombastic, and regularly offensive, commentary had become a drag on the Fox brand.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

gender and pronouns and animals

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, has asked the Committee on Bible Translation to update the New International Version Bible to include more animal-friendly language, according to CNN.

However, experts say making the change may be easier said than done. David Berger, the dean of Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel graduate school of Jewish studies, said given the nature of ancient Hebrew, moving to an English version that identifies an animal's gender would be extremely difficult.

"There’s simply no such thing as a neutral noun," Berger told CNN. "It’s unusual to have a noun that would indicate the sex of the animal."

A modular approach to pronouns could work.
Even a system without pronouns per se.

E.g. gender, and single/plural and human/inanimate optional.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

language of portraying negative #s

Numbers can be seen metaphorically as quantities, points, distances or operations, as constructed objects and as relations.

"But no individual metaphor for numbers can make negative numbers fully comprehensible," continues Kilhamn. "It is therefore important that the deficiencies and limitations of these metaphors are also made clear in teaching, and that logical mathematical reasoning is used in parallel with concretised models."

Her study also highlights a number of problems relating to the fact that the mathematical language used in Swedish schools is a little ambiguous or inadequate. For example, no distinction is made between subtracting the number x and the negative number x if both are referred to as "minus x." There is also no word in the Swedish language corresponding to the English term "signed number."

"Swedish textbooks introduce negative numbers without making it clear that all the natural numbers change at the same time and become positive numbers," she adds. "Another difficulty is the size of negative numbers, which have two contradictory properties that are distinguished in mathematics by separating absolute value (magnitude) from real value (position). A large negative number has a smaller value than a small negative number. This distinction also needs to be made clear to pupils."


D (short for my name. And for duh! if you didn't get that) - some languages may be better able to express math concepts, giving that group a competitive advantage.

We've already mentioned the importance of # names themselves.
I have yet to procure a copy of the book "Outliers" (I think it is called that).

I was looking at typical # naming conventions.
English - zero, one, two, three...
Espo - ?, unu, du, tri...
Visemese - (2-4) ba, cha, da...
Comments - The English # names are challenging to spell for newbies. They are also often long, and so require more working memory.
Espo- ses and sep (6 and 7) have only 1 minimal pair difference, so would be easy to confuse with each other. Both 4 and 5, kvar, and kvin, begin with kv-.
Visemese- even though there is a regular method to the naming (simply listing the consonants, which are each linked to a # concept thereby), they too suffer from the minimal pair issue noted above.

I think the musical note naming convention provides a useful guideline.
Do re mi fa sol la ti...
Both the consonant and (often) the vowel vary.
They are typically of short C-V construction.
By drawing a diagonal line through a chart showing C-V combinations,
we have clear-sounding, short and methodical # names.
In CVN, this seems the ideal trade-off.
This insight can be extended to naming other basic concepts.

I still hope to apply various AUI and syllabary notions to this jumbled mess.
I hope sufficient planning can make for some sort of obvious inherent shorthand system. For example, each letter (small and capital?), #, and so on can be named after, sound like, and stand in for a basic syllable.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Espo, Ranto, Counter-Ranto. My rant.

D: this is a refutation of Ranto.

The main point is as follows:

"he misses Esperanto's main feature : the fact that the language consists of invariable morphemes that combine freely."

D: The argument is that Ranto is a merely theoretical debate about grammar, and is not by somebody competent to speak the language.

Well, I have memorized the entire c. 850 word Vortlistoy from a teach-yourself book by Creswell published in 1992. I'll be teaching conversational Espo this summer in K-W. I just acquired a laser printer, magnetic sheets, and adhesive paper to make Magnetic Poetry of a sort to teach Espo. This approach should emphasize the main strength of Espo, as noted by Claude.

He already noted the main good point of Espo. Now the rest...
the process behind selecting bound morphemes to serve as word root.

The root is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family (root is then called base word), which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents. Content words in nearly all languages contain, and may consist only of, root morphemes. However,sometimes the term "root" is also used to describe the word minus its inflectional endings, but with its lexical endings in place. For example, chatters has the inflectional root or lemma chatter, but the lexical root chat. Inflectional roots are often called stems, and a root in the stricter sense may be thought of as a monomorphemic stem.

My rebuttal about Espo is this - if Esperanto grows from the root, the problem is that the root is rotten. The foundation is unsound. The statue has feet of clay.
And the whole edifice tumbles down, based on this flaw.

Initially, Espo claimed to only need c. 1000 bound-morphemes for a decent vocabulary. These days, I think the total is closer to 10,000. This, IMHO, is due to a sloppy and short-sighted approach to selecting word roots.
The # of times I was bewildered by lexical entries is considerable.
I understand that part of this is my bias as an English speaker. Part of it.

I will cite a meandering list from that book's vortlistoy.

- meet - renkonti (transitive) BUT konveni (intransitive)
- papero - an example of complete ambiguity of whether -er- in an infix of pap-o.
- mang'o (' for diacritic- another fail. I'll use underline in my lessons) - could the word for meal not be somehow related to nutraj'o for food?
- an attraction to idiomatic, awkward words and expressions.
-unexpected sounds shifts. state is sh-tato.
- excessive syllables. university is universitato
- several - plural - pluray - is still plural?
- sitacio - situation / place overlaps with loco - spot place
- necesasas - is necessary, but then with need besono- need? this was a perfect
chance to reduce the need to memorize vocabulary. fail.
- plenkreskulo- all grown up overlaps with adolto. yet more synonyms.
- retpilko is netball. futbalo is football. but ball is globo and foot is piedo. wtf?
- tute ne - not at all. the latinate word order means one is not sure if that following ne applies to whatever follows, or precedes it.
- why have flui- flow and likvaj'o - for liquid too? just nounify flui.
- ekipaj'o - equipment. a perfect example of unclear root/prefix/suffix boundaries.
- it could as easily be ek-ip- aj' -o. but isn't. no idea how to know which.
- overly vague, lacking nuance. fabriko- a factory. a made-noun. of course... not.
- centrifuga (spin), rondo (ring, circle), c'irkau' - massively redundant.
- also with ball et al- ripe for a clever vocabulary system
- rajdi vs raiti- only a voiced/voiceless minimal pair to tell them apart. french n
english will err opposite ways on this one.
-leg'o -law. a number of related words to this and medical could have benefit from
compounding. e.g. kaso.
- a totally random approach to transitive/intransitive in the root verb.
- alparoli- to address. did we need this, given the ways to say say? diras.
- on a related note, did we need 3 words for whisper, speak and shout?
- too short. imagine is imagi. could be image as easily. ditto instruo.
- embedding 'just about to' - j'us - would have made for verb brevity. the anglo
modal/auxiliary verb system was ripe for this. ditto daurig'i- continue
- eraro - not er-ar-o. but no way to tell.
- moorhen - in what word does this rate a 'top 850' core lexical item?
- c'efgvidanto, and at least 2 other words for leader including maejstro and one so vague i could not find it in the vocab list
- on a related note, profesio was ripe for that. there are at least 3 ways to say skilled unrelated to one another
- on that note, there are 3 words that overlap with the concept of serious including serioza and grava and solena
- hearty translates to cordial. of course.
- fremda - foreign - is redundant with exsterlando - abroad.
- funkcii- heckuva tongue-twister in a common word
- exemplaro - copy and multobligi to duplicate. um... same thing!!!
- kirurgo - surgeon - unrelated to obvious root word operacio- operation.
- bileto- ticket. there is no bilo. this is not -et- infix. no way to know...
- gross distortions of sounds based on slavish adherence to spelling (sometimes),
like jug'i - to judge.
- potenco - power BUT malpove - helplessly
- more redundant ways to say various biological/person than can be believed.
- balo- recall from football? nope it means DANCE.
- senerare - faultlessly- redundant with perfecte.
- meal, feast, banquet.... overkill.
- unrelated words for drinking glass - glaso - and okulvitroy - eyeglasses. why?
- talenta for talented but for skillful, another word

So I do find the Ranto criticism - and the retort - off the mark.
There are other, far more serious problems to dwell upon.

I will take the 300 most common or useful English words, and translate them for my basic vocabulary. It will not include macrame or moorhens.
It will not include massive numbers of synonyms.

Ultimately a few minor twists could have went far in salvaging the Espo design.
- a clear indication of infixes, either via reserved phonemes or letter sequences.
E.g. The root could be necessarily containing a CC or VV sequence. E.g. CCVVC- Thus any CV- prefix or -VC infix prior to the -V suffix would clearly be such.

I am glad to teach Espo as a historical oddity, in much the same way a few die-hards maintain operational Model T Ford antique cars.
But in terms of being a practical world language, well let's just say I appreciate certain unnamed national leaders and their reactions to the speakers of Espo...

Successful? With 10,000 fluent speakers in a century, that is 100 per year. The # is NOT increasing. It is on life support. Time is not on its side.

So at 100 speakers per year, a new language can claim to be matching its success.
Reaching 10,000 fluent speakers in 10 years would be a magnitude shift improvement.
Then the same argument Espo uses (and English uses better) for its adoption would be turned against it.
Not that I expect many Espo fans to budge.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

brain can move around language function

Now, a study from MIT neuroscientists shows that in individuals born blind, parts of the visual cortex are recruited for language processing. The finding suggests that the visual cortex can dramatically change its function -- from visual processing to language -- and it also appears to overturn the idea that language processing can only occur in highly specialized brain regions that are genetically programmed for language tasks.

Until now, no such evidence existed for flexibility in language processing. Previous studies of congenitally blind people had shown some activity in the left visual cortex of blind subjects during some verbal tasks, such as reading Braille, but no one had shown that this might indicate full-fledged language processing.

Aside - am encouraging my deaf friend 'C' to learn Morse Code too.
Think it'd be fun to tap out secret messages.

D: I learned it with this variation of NATO call signs.

Update - many thanks to the Espo virtual magnetic poetry site maker.
He's been incredibly helpful!
Does anybody have the audio tapes that came with an orange Espo reader from the 1970s? LOL darn thing has more reference to macrame...

I'm on track to be basically proficient mid-month March.
I hope to have an Espo chat group set up locally by May.

From there, thinking a language Congress and trying Toki Pona.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

stuttering, the tttalk of the town right now

Although my teachers were all supportive, I experienced moments of sheer panic. I had difficulty with consonants – w (what), c (cat), t (two) and d (do) – and particularly if they were in the first words I spoke.

D - maybe this consideration will come up during language design.

D - "The King's Speech" just won an Oscar or more.

The King's Speech also won the directing prize for Tom Hooper and the original-screenplay Oscar for David Seidler, a boyhood stutterer himself.

“I have a feeling my career's just peaked,” Firth said. “I'm afraid I have to warn you that I'm experiencing stirrings somewhere in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves.”

D - and as if not topical enough, stuttering also is the subject of a popular song now too.

"Stuttering" is a song by Canadian singer–songwriter Fefe Dobson from her second (released) studio album, Joy. It was produced by J. R. Rotem, and co-written by Fefe Dobson, J. R. Rotem, and Claude Kelly. The song was released as a single on September 7, 2010 by 21 Music and Island Records and officially impacted mainstream radio on October 12, 2010.[1] The song has achieved success in Canada obtaining the position of #10 in its tenth week on the Canadian Hot 100. The single has received airplay on Radio Disney.

I start to believe you but somethin is wrong
You won't look in my eyes
Tell me Whats going on

Its you and me who danced the world
Thats what You said..Thats what you said
If You can't be honest with me,then am afraid this is the end

Hurry up Hurry up..
If you ever really care about me ..
Tell the truth,Give it up...
You sound guilty coz you are stuttering

Sunday, February 20, 2011

bilingual kids can identify 3rd language is in use

Infants raised in households where Spanish and Catalan are spoken can discriminate between English and French just by watching people speak, even though they have never been exposed to these new languages before, according to University of British Columbia psychologist Janet Werker.

Researcher Whitney Weikum found that infants are able to discern when a different language is spoken by watching the shapes and rhythm of the speaker's mouth and face movements.