Preoccupations + language   373

BBC - Travel - How the Finnish survive without small talk
“Silence is gold, talking is silver.”

BBC - Travel - How the Finnish survive without small talk

‘The Prime of’, c1: ‘Speech is silver but silence is golden.’
Finnish  language  speech  silence  Muriel_Spark  from twitter
october 2018 by Preoccupations
Will Davies — Weaponising Paperwork: the ‘hostile environment’ strategy
“There is nothing accidental about the grotesque events that have befallen the Windrush generation. We need to ask how public policy and administration became so warped as to enact them. Not only has the politics become delusional, nowhere more so than in the case of Cameron’s pledge: our entire way of understanding and talking about migration has gone awry. When home secretaries speak of ‘illegal immigrants’, they mostly mean people who entered the country legally. When they speak of ‘borders’, they often mean hospitals, homes, workplaces and register offices. As the experience of the 20th century warned, when language stops working, all manner of things are possible.”
LRB  Will_Davies  2018  immigration  UK  Theresa_May  racism  borders  language 
april 2018 by Preoccupations
Wyrd - Wikipedia
“Mentions of wyrd in Old English literature include The Wanderer, "Wyrd bið ful aræd" ("Fate remains wholly inexorable") and Beowulf, "Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel!" ("Fate goes ever as she shall!"). In The Wanderer, wyrd is irrepressible and relentless. She "snatches the earls away from the joys of life," and "the wearied mind of man cannot withstand her" for her decrees "change all the world beneath the heavens".”
Wikipedia  fate  words  English  language  Old_English  Anglo-Saxon 
august 2017 by Preoccupations
Research Blog: Zero-Shot Translation with Google’s Multilingual Neural Machine Translation System
"the network must be encoding something about the semantics of the sentence rather than simply memorizing phrase-to-phrase translations. We interpret this as a sign of existence of an interlingua in the network"
languages  language  translation  Google_Translate  research  Google  2016 
december 2016 by Preoccupations
Autistics, freed from face-to-face encounters, are communicating in cyberspace. -
"Other autistics, many of them skilled computer programmers, look at the protocols governing exchange between networked machines as models for the sort of structured interchange they are most comfortable with. For example, a 26-year-old computer professional informed Independent Living that as a teen-ager he conceptualized orgasm as ''a burst-mode file transfer over a high-bandwidth circuit.''

The metaphor of wiring emerges not only from cybernetics but from neurology, and therefore reaches many people who may have little to do with autism or computers. With a prestige afforded by the popularity of Prozac and other neuron-twiddling drugs, neurology stresses circuitry over psyche, mental hardware over childhood trauma. For some, like autistics, this new emphasis comes as a relief."
NYT  1997  autism  Temple_Grandin  language  metaphor  geeks 
may 2016 by Preoccupations
Why we don’t understand Kafka | TLS
"something written, and often written in the heat of inspiration … is less a “text” than a process"; ""How many words there are in this book! They are meant for remembrance! As though words could remember! For words are poor mountaineers and poor miners. They cannot bring down the treasure from the mountains’ peaks, or up from the mountains’ depths”"; "then the vertical is, as it were, subsumed into the horizontal, as the pronouncement of judgement is turned into the endlessness of (merely human) writing"; "European modernism grew out of a combined sense of rootlessness and comradeship"
Gabriel_Josipovici  TLS  Kafka  2012  writing  memory  language  modernism  cafés 
april 2016 by Preoccupations
A Clerk of Oxford: Anglo-Saxon Autumns
"Fus sceal feran, fæge sweltan
ond dogra gehwam ymb gedal sacan
middangeardes" - 'Those who are ready must go; the doomed die
and every day struggle against their departure
from the world'.

"Modor ne rædeð, ðonne heo magan cenneð, hu him weorðe geond worold widsið sceapen" - 'a mother cannot foresee, when she bears a child, how his journey through the world will be shaped for him'.
Anglo-Saxon  language  English  autumn  2015  life  death  Eleanor_Parker 
january 2016 by Preoccupations
Desecration phrasebook: A litany for the Anthropocene | New Scientist
Robert Macfarlane: desecration phrasebook, 'a dark twin to the hopeful word lists of Landmarks' —
Robert_Macfarlane  words  language  environment  Anthropocene  New_Scientist  2015 
january 2016 by Preoccupations
Guardian Style Guide: learned/learnt
"We use learned, if only to discourage people from thinking that if "learnt' is a word (which it is), "earnt" must be…"
Guardian  style  language  2015 
august 2015 by Preoccupations
Mishearings -
"Playing or even hearing music (at least traditional scored music) involves not just the analysis of tone and rhythm — it also engages one’s procedural memory and emotional centers in the brain; musical pieces are held in memory and allow anticipation.

But speech must be decoded by other systems in the brain as well, including systems for semantic memory and syntax. Speech is open, inventive, improvised; it is rich in ambiguity and meaning. There is a huge freedom in this, making spoken language almost infinitely flexible and adaptable — but also vulnerable to mishearing."
NYT  2015  Oliver_Sacks  hearing  meaning  speech  music  perception  language  Freud 
june 2015 by Preoccupations
The Cathedral of Computation - The Atlantic
"Enlightenment ideas like reason and science are beginning to flip into their opposites. Science and technology have become so pervasive and distorted, they have turned into a new type of theology. … computers have become our favorite idols. … a common account of algorithmic culture, that software is a fundamental, primary structure of contemporary society … seems convincing at first. … we have a long history of explaining the present via the output of industry. … Each generation, we reset a belief that we’ve reached the end of this chain of metaphors, even though history always proves us wrong precisely because there’s always another technology or trend offering a fresh metaphor. Indeed, an exceptionalism that favors the present is one of the ways that science has become theology. … just as the machine metaphor gives us a distorted view of automated manufacture as prime mover, so the algorithmic metaphor gives us a distorted, theological view of computational action. … Once you start looking at them closely, every algorithm betrays the myth of unitary simplicity and computational purity. … Data has become just as theologized as algorithms, especially “big data,” whose name is meant to elevate information to the level of celestial infinity.
2015  algorithms  Ian_Bogost  computers  language  metaphor  technology  data  big_data 
may 2015 by Preoccupations
The Way Things Are and How They Might Be
‘And with this cheating language of equality deep inequality is allowed to happen much more easily.’
Tony_Judt  2010  language  history  politics  equality 
april 2015 by Preoccupations
Alleyways of language: regional words for ‘alleyway’ | OxfordWords blog
RT @UnlikelyWorlds: Re Macfarlane's piece, there are some urban equivalents to feadan, amil, smeuse etc - We need more, maybe.
English  language  words  2014 
march 2015 by Preoccupations
The word-hoard: Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape | Books | The Guardian
"The beauty of this variant surely has to do with the paradox of thaw figured as restraint or retention, and the wintry notion that cold, frost and snow might themselves be a form of gift – an addition to the landscape that will in time be subtracted by warmth." "we increasingly make do with an impoverished language for landscape. A place literacy is leaving us. A language in common, a language of the commons, is declining. Nuance is evaporating from everyday usage, burned off by capital and apathy. The substitutions made in the Oxford Junior Dictionary – the outdoor and the natural being displaced by the indoor and the virtual – are a small but significant symptom of the simulated screen life many of us live. The terrain beyond the city fringe is chiefly understood in terms of large generic units (“field”, “hill”, “valley”, “wood”). It has become a blandscape. We are blasé, in the sense that Georg Simmel used that word in 1903, meaning “indifferent to the distinction between things”." "It matters because language deficit leads to attention deficit. As we deplete our ability to denote and figure particular aspects of our places, so our competence for understanding and imagining possible relationships with non-human nature is correspondingly depleted."
Robert_Macfarlane  words  language  terroir  terrain  landscape  English  Guardian  2015  attention  knowledge  nature  Wendell_Berry  Other 
february 2015 by Preoccupations
Why I never use email
"Whenever I sit on a train, I place a small banana on the table before me. If I find myself opposite someone who forces me to listen to his boring, brain-rotting conversation, I give a loud “brring brring.” Then I pick up the banana and conduct a deafening pseudo-dialogue of soul-killing dullness. If the person opposite protests that I’m sending him up, I ask him in affronted tones whether he has been listening in on my private conversation. … the internet is really an anti-modern device for slowing us all down, returning us to the rhythms of an earlier, more sedate civilisation. … Language is first of all a way of being with other people, and only secondarily a way of getting things done. This is why the paradigm of human communication is not the public relations agency but the pub."
Terry_Eagleton  email  funny  2013  speed  language  communication 
september 2013 by Preoccupations
A Guide to the Deceptions, Misinformation, and Word Games Officials Use to Mislead the Public About NSA Surveillance | Electronic Frontier Foundation
"At this point, it seems nothing the government says about the NSA can be taken at face value. … no one should have to read and parse a sentence a half-dozen times, plus have access to a secret government dictionary, in order to decipher its meaning. Yet, that’s apparently how the administration wants this debate to proceed."
Obama  2013  USA  NSA  EFF  surveillance  privacy  rights  language 
august 2013 by Preoccupations
now and in the past
"There's something in who the you is. The web can't decide whether to your you or my you. I always want to write you. (You always want to write you). "
Russell_Davies  2013  design  web_design  language 
august 2013 by Preoccupations
Frontiers | On the antiquity of language: the reinterpretation of Neandertal linguistic capacities and its consequences | Frontiers in Language Sciences
"It is usually assumed that modern language is a recent phenomenon, coinciding with the emergence of modern humans themselves. Many assume as well that this is the result of a single, sudden mutation giving rise to the full “modern package.” However, we argue here that recognizably modern language is likely an ancient feature of our genus pre-dating at least the common ancestor of modern humans and Neandertals about half a million years ago. To this end, we adduce a broad range of evidence from linguistics, genetics, paleontology, and archaeology clearly suggesting that Neandertals shared with us something like modern speech and language. This reassessment of the antiquity of modern language, from the usually quoted 50,000–100,000 years to half a million years, has profound consequences for our understanding of our own evolution in general and especially for the sciences of speech and language. As such, it argues against a saltationist scenario for the evolution of language, and toward a gradual process of culture-gene co-evolution extending to the present day. Another consequence is that the present-day linguistic diversity might better reflect the properties of the design space for language and not just the vagaries of history, and could also contain traces of the languages spoken by other human forms such as the Neandertals."
language  Man  pre-history  research  2013 
july 2013 by Preoccupations
Culture, genes and the human revolution - Matt Ridley
"Many nuanced accounts of human evolution implicitly assume that biological changes must precede cultural changes. … This prevailing logic in the field may put the cart before the horse. The discovery of any genetic mutation that coincided with the “human revolution” must take care to distinguish cause from effect. Supposedly momentous changes in our genome may sometimes be a consequence of cultural innovation. They may be products of culture-driven gene evolution. In certain cases this is obvious. Lactase-persistence mutations did not trigger dairy farming; they spread as an evolutionary response to dairy consumption. The higher alcohol tolerance of Europeans relative to Asians did not prompt, but followed, greater alcohol consumption in Europe. Such examples are mostly drawn from after the Neolithic revolution and the invention of agriculture. But culture-driven gene evolution may have also operated earlier in human history and could be key to understanding our origins. Wrangham’s argument that the invention of fire and cooking altered human gut size 2 million years ago is a case in point, positing that genetic change was contingent on prior cultural innovation. Under the culture-driven view, many critical genomic alterations that facilitated spoken language, for example, might have spread through our ancestors after this trait emerged. That is, prior behavioral changes of the species provide a permissive environment in which the function- ally relevant genomic changes accumulate. The selective advantage of a genetic change that increased language proficiency would likely be greatest in a population that was already using language. … Recognizing the role of culture-driven gene evolution in the origins of modern humans provides a powerful reminder of how easy it is to confuse cause and effect in science."
evolution  Man  genetics  culture  Matt_Ridley  2013  language 
may 2013 by Preoccupations
Prof Brian Cox: physicist or priest? | Eliane Glaser
"In its evangelical, popular guise, science becomes a matter not of reality or scepticism but of anti-intellectual reverence. All we can say in response is, wow. … While all this reinforces the status of scientists, it downplays the extraordinary uniqueness of the human mind. Could it be scientists' inability to explain why we are so different from other animals that leads them to minimise this genuine wonder of life?" via Timo
science  wonder  religion  language  Guardian  2013 
march 2013 by Preoccupations
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