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    1. Assume the Sapir-Whorf Linguistic Theory is accurate: What languages would be best to learn, to improve one's cognitive functions and/or worldview?

      Inspired by the recent post about Arrival / The Story of Your Life The idea of linguistic relativity ... is a principle suggesting that the structure of a language influences its speakers'...

      Inspired by the recent post about Arrival / The Story of Your Life

      The idea of linguistic relativity ... is a principle suggesting that the structure of a language influences its speakers' worldview or cognition, and thus individuals' languages determine or influence their perceptions of the world.

      There's, of course, a lot more to it, many variations, and all still at least somewhat in dispute.

      Nevertheless, as the title says, assume it's true, and speculate on which languages would be the most interesting to learn from an "expand your mind" perspective.

      7 votes
    2. How do I fix my (stupid) use of excessive punctuation?

      In online forums I use far too many punctuation marks. I especially use dashes - to separate clauses that don't need a dash (and sometimes I'll add brackets like this because, well, I dunno). And...

      In online forums I use far too many punctuation marks. I especially use dashes - to separate clauses that don't need a dash (and sometimes I'll add brackets like this because, well, I dunno). And sometimes I'll start a sentence with "and" when it doesn't need to be there. My comma use is wild and uncontrolled, but I feel it's a bit more controlled than these other marks.

      Importantly: I do not care how other people use punctuation.

      But I would like to try to fix, or perhaps just improve, my punctuation use. Like the way I just start a new paragraph at random.

      I feel like my posts are the same as those flyers that use 7 different fonts, with bolds and underlines and italics (and combinations of them), and with some words in red and some in green and some in black and there's no rhyme or reason to it.

      I do like a casual tone but I feel that I go far too far in the informal direction. English is my first, and my only, language. (I love Europe, but I am a bad European. "Please look after our star" we said, and most of us said it in English because most of us who said it don't know other European languages)

      Do you have any advice? I'd be interested to hear about books, or videos, or courses, or podcasts, or anything at all that can help. I'd even pay for this. But not Eats Shoots and Leaves please

      29 votes
    3. A new way to learn vocabulary. A story about a word nerd and AI. And a call for help.

      Hi logophiles! I am a total word nerd. Over the last six years--mostly accidently--I ended up creating a bunch of vocabulary learning materials and spent way too much time thinking deeply about...

      Hi logophiles! I am a total word nerd. Over the last six years--mostly accidently--I ended up creating a bunch of vocabulary learning materials and spent way too much time thinking deeply about how we learn new vocab and how to teach it. My story: basically, via word of mouth, people with kids taking the SSAT and the SAT kept asking me for my materials which I continually iterated on as I got feedback. It wasn't my day job, lol, it wasn't even a side hustle.... just an obsession :) As I shared my "system", I kept dreaming of even better ways to make vocab learning effective, easy, and fun.

      Some interesting things about learning vocab. The "keyword method" is extremely effective. (The keyword method is associating a target word with a similar-sounding word (the "keyword") and then creating a vivid mental image connecting the keyword with the target word.) [Ávila & Sadoski, 1996; Shapiro & Waters, 2005]. Further, connecting the new word and its meaning to your own personal experience is much effective than rote memorization. ("...engaging in deeper semantic processing and relating information to personal experiences can activate distinct neural circuits compared to those involved in rote memorization." [Andreasen, O'Leary, Cizadlo, Arndt, Rezai, Watkins, Ponto, & Hichwa, 1995]).

      There are a lot of other cool things I discovered on my (research-obsessive) path to make learning vocab radically easier. A core driver for me has always been thinking about the epistemology of word-learning. What does it mean to "know" a word? "Knowing" a definition is different from truly knowing a word, where you can deploy it effortlessly when the context is right. That led to endless rabbit holes of learning about polysemy, colocations, and a whole lot more.

      The first day I saw Dalle my jaw dropped. This was it! This was the missing piece for learning vocab 2x, 3x, 4x(?) more efficiently than has ever been possible. The image generation AI tools can make a custom image that packs in your own favorite keyword mnemonic and your own personal story into a cool image. Whoa! Because what has been my total obsession could finally be created in the real world, I teamed up with two good friends with the technical chops to build what had been percolating in my brain for six years. We've built a beta version over the last four months and it is ready to test!

      I love Tildes, and I don't want to self-promote, so I am not going to drop the app name / website, but I am here with an ask. We want feedback! We want to make this the dream app for anyone who is serious about growing their (English) vocab. We want you in our beta test group.

      The commitment I'm asking of our beta testers is a bit onerous. I want to hop on a zoom call with you while you use the app for an hour or so and have you tell me what you love and hate. I want to ask you a bunch of questions about what you want to see in your dream learning app. Then I want to give you the app for a month a two; hopefully you'll use it and learn a bunch of words; then I want to hop on a 20 minute call with you and get your hot take on the whole thing.

      It is such an intense passion project for me; I want to make the app just rock-your-world-awesome. That's why I want to do live user interviews. (Which is a little out of the ordinary for sure.) And I can't do that without talking to real people who care about growing their vocab who are willing to hang out with me for an hour or two. :)

      As a thanks for your help, when we go to the paid version, you'll get three months free, and a massive lifetime "friends and family" discount. But more than that, you'll really impact what we build next, and how we can make it better. While it's maybe a little idealistic, or might even sound silly to some, I feel like better vocab = better communication = better relationships. So I am all-in, fervently devoted, and hopeful that you'll come along for the ride and help me make it epic.

      Who is it for? Studying for standardized tests? Oh yeah. This will help a lot. Want to raise the ceiling on what you can read. Let's go! Want to improve your English skills? This is for you. Love words. Yep! I'd love to meet you! Basically, if you love words, and/or have something coming up that requires that you know more words, I really hope you'll be part of our test!

      More interesting stuff about vocabulary:
      --Average high school graduate has a vocab size of 16,000 words
      --Average college grad, 20,000 words
      --Average PhD. 28,000 words

      Tildes is a very smart and well read group, so I' bet the average vocab size around here is 25,000 to 35,000. Want to know your (approximate) vocab size. One of the best (easy and fast) tests is here:
      https://preply.com/en/learn/english/test-your-vocab
      (I have nothing to do with that site or company, and do not endorse them. It's just that their vocab size estimator is really well done.)

      Want to be a beta tester, or just talk more about vocab, shoot me a message!
      pandacat@onmail.com

      11 votes
    4. What learning do you find easy or difficult? And why?

      Recently I have been trying to learn a new language, because I need to more so than I want to, and it's been really tough. While this isn't a shocking revelation, I had a bit of a deep dive to try...

      Recently I have been trying to learn a new language, because I need to more so than I want to, and it's been really tough. While this isn't a shocking revelation, I had a bit of a deep dive to try and think about how and why I don't like learning a language. I do enjoy learning about a great deal of other things in my spare time, why not this?

      So I pose the following questions to you:

      • What kind of thing do you enjoy learning about?
      • Do you find a specific format or type of learning helps you when it's tough?
      • Do you always use the same format of learning?
      • What do you not enjoy learning? Why? Try and explain what it is that makes it difficult compared to above.

      Be interested to hear how different people feel.

      19 votes
    5. What are some cheaper alternatives to Grammarly that are equally as good?

      As a non-native English speaker, I use Grammarly's free tier daily. It is invaluable to help me catch common mistakes, as well as to get a better understanding of the language through the...

      As a non-native English speaker, I use Grammarly's free tier daily. It is invaluable to help me catch common mistakes, as well as to get a better understanding of the language through the explanations it provides. I will need to write even more English in the next few months, so it seemed like a good idea to get the Premium subscription. Unfortunately, Grammarly's pricing ($144 for the year) is prohibitive when converted to Brazilian Reais. And even if I am capable of making that payment now, I would rather avoid becoming dependent on something that is so expensive for me. So, what are some affordable alternatives to Grammarly's Premium subscription?

      Just to be clear, I am aware that it is not ideal to rely too much on that kind of tool. Rest assured that my domain of English is enough that I am entirely capable of taking the suggestions as extra help and not as a crutch.

      20 votes
    6. What is the horrible phrase my wife learned from her grandpa?

      Hello! My wife's grandfather would say the phrase "ʃɛkrɛplj jɛɽɛ" from what I can decode from the phonetic alphabet on Wikipedia, or my best English estimation "shikrepple yere" with a flipped r...

      Hello! My wife's grandfather would say the phrase "ʃɛkrɛplj jɛɽɛ" from what I can decode from the phonetic alphabet on Wikipedia, or my best English estimation "shikrepple yere" with a flipped r if that makes no sense. He would say this when he lost a hand in poker, when she repeated it as a kid got chewed out and told not to say it, and he died without having ever said what it meant. He was stationed in Germany during the Korean War, so our best guess is something Polish..? But we can't find much that matches.

      Tilderinos, can you translate what horrible phrase my wife has been casually repeating to people trying to figure it out and what language it's even in? Apologies if this is a slur or something... And thanks!

      71 votes
    7. News sources or other subtitled media in Traditional Chinese?

      So I recently got back from a very comforting trip to my motherland in Taiwan. I always joke that when I get back from Asia my Chinese gets better by a lot. One thing I kinda wish I was better at...

      So I recently got back from a very comforting trip to my motherland in Taiwan. I always joke that when I get back from Asia my Chinese gets better by a lot.

      One thing I kinda wish I was better at was reading Traditional Chinese, since it's one of the barriers I have for fully communicating with my family and dimishes my confidence when navigating Taiwan.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm fluent in speaking, I've had full on conversations with native Taiwanese and they're always surprised that I'm from America.

      At the same time I feel like I should be keeping up with the news and general day to day life in Taiwan, since I plan on visiting more often because my grandparents are getting older and I really miss the country a lot.

      I know we have a couple of people who are in East Asian countries/Taiwanese/Taiwanese-adjacent, I was wondering if y'all had any suggestions on things like news channels on YouTube or day in the life content that I can follow along with and match characters to practice my reading a bit. I can read at maybe a kindergarten level if that helps LOL.

      15 votes
    8. Recommendations for a grammar checker?

      I'm looking for a French grammar checker. I think I'm in that intermediate-level plateau where I just need to keep talking / chatting in French but I want to eventually get to a point where I have...

      I'm looking for a French grammar checker. I think I'm in that intermediate-level plateau where I just need to keep talking / chatting in French but I want to eventually get to a point where I have correct grammar, maybe even some suggestions for idioms.

      Some info for my use-case:

      • I don't expect to go past 100 "consultations" a month.
      • Would be nice if there was an extension that helps for email / Messenger / Telegram / WhatsApp.
      • Would be nice if it did help with idioms.

      I did my homework and found out that:

      • Grammarly does offer this but only in English.
      • Language Tool exists but it's 20 euros monthly or 60 euros per year, which are both steep prices for just trying it out.
      • Asking ChatGPT works most of the time, but it's a bit annoying to load up that website every time and ask. I'm open to coding something based on the API if that would be the most cost-effective option.

      Thanks in advance for all your suggestions!

      10 votes