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.