71 posts tagged language
Language affects how we think, “not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about.” (via Cracking Avatar’s Language Codes - Issue 6: Secret Codes - Nautilus)
‘Dreamings’ and dreaming narratives: what’s the relationship?
To imagine what “Australia” was like B.C. (“Before Cook”, or before colonisation), one needs to envision the entire landmass of this island/continent and most of its surrounding islands and waters as crisscrossed by “Dreamings” (in popular parlance sometimes referred to as “Songlines”). Each of the approximately 250 separate Australian languages had their own words for and substantial vocabularies relating to what has now become known in English almost universally as “The Dreamtime” or “The Dreaming”. These usages have now entered other world languages as global tags for Indigenous Australian religion, thereby dramatically reducing outsiders’ capacity to grasp the diversity of Australian languages and cultures. (It should be noted here that “Australian languages” is the linguistically accurate terminology for Aboriginal languages – which have no connection to any other language families in the world. The terminology “Australian languages” also takes on a political edge for Aboriginal language speakers, many of whom regard all other languages spoken in Australia, including English, as foreign imports). In the Ngunnawal and Ngarigo languages, for instance, in and around today’s national capital, Canberra, The Dreaming is called “Daramoolen”, and it’s “Nura” in the Dharug language, in the vicinity of Sydney. Across some of the dialects of Western Desert languages, including Pitjantjatjara, which crosses the borders of three states, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, the word-concept is “Tjukurpa”. As a result of processes of colonisation, all of these words have been reduced to the catch-all English translation, “Dreaming”, or sometimes, “Dream Time”. (via 'Dreamings’ and dreaming narratives: what's the relationship?)
The Algorithms of Our Lives
Software has become a universal language, the interface to our imagination and the world. What electricity and the combustion engine were to the early 20th century, software is to the early 21st century. I think of it as a layer that permeates contemporary societies. If we want to understand today’s techniques of communication, representation, simulation, analysis, decision making, memory, vision, writing, and interaction, we must understand software. But while scholars and media and new-media theorists have covered all aspects of the IT revolution, creating fields like cyberculture studies, Internet studies, game studies, new-media theory, and the digital humanities, they have paid comparatively little attention to software, the engine that drives almost all they study. It’s time they did. (via The Algorithms of Our Lives - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Our surroundings can trigger figurative thinking and influence behavior
Look around. Do you see four walls or an expansive vista? The answer could influence your ability to think creatively. A growing body of research suggests that our sensory experiences can trigger metaphorical thinking, influencing our insights and behavior without us even realizing it. New research reveals ways we might be able to harness these subconscious forces.Consider, for example, the metaphorical idea that the heart is warm and emotional and the head is cool and rational. In a study in August in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers led their subjects to believe they were investigating how people answer questions when using their nondominant hand. To ensure they did not use their dominant hand, the participants were instructed to place their dominant index finger either on their temple or on the left side of their chest. Participants who pointed at their head answered test questions more accurately, and those who pointed at their heart were more likely to let emotions sway their decisions in a moral dilemma. The finding adds to a rapidly growing list of metaphor effects: past studies have found that seeing forward motion can propel us to “move forward” in a metaphorical sense and that feeling smooth textures makes a difficult social interaction feel easier (or go more “smoothly”).