imperialismus's recent activity

  1. Comment on What features would you add to languages? in ~talk

    imperialismus
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    I'm sadly not a real linguist, just a long-time language enthusiast. I've had conlanging - constructing fictional languages - as a hobby for many years, and if you want to create a...

    I'm sadly not a real linguist, just a long-time language enthusiast. I've had conlanging - constructing fictional languages - as a hobby for many years, and if you want to create a realistic-looking language, you need to read a lot of linguistics. So I did, but have no formal education in the subject. Also I studied Russian for a bit which is why that example came to mind.

    2 votes
  2. Comment on What features would you add to languages? in ~talk

    imperialismus
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    The former. If you ask a person to "move a bit to the East" then that is the same direction no matter which way you or the other person is facing. It's a fair bit more complex than that, and I...

    Basically I'm asking if they're using direction as we'd see on a compass or if they borrow N/S/W/E and treat a person's front as North, rear as South, left as West, east as Right.

    The former. If you ask a person to "move a bit to the East" then that is the same direction no matter which way you or the other person is facing. It's a fair bit more complex than that, and I haven't studied the language so I'm far from an expert. But in short, they divide the world into four quadrants roughly corresponding to compass directions, and use those as reference points for spatial discourse. They do also have some relative directional vocabulary, such as "in front of" or "behind", but apparently not "to the left of" or "to the right of". Hand gestures are also commonly applied to reinforce the point.

    You can read a detailed account here but it's written for linguists, not laymen.

    2 votes
  3. Comment on What features would you add to languages? in ~talk

    imperialismus
    Link Parent
    Color is perhaps the single most well-studied domain when it comes to language's effect on perception! Different languages make different distinctions between basic colors. For instance, Russian...
    • Exemplary

    Is there research on domain specific(?) languages and cognition? Would a house painter who worked for 10 years with the guide of a swatch that named 50 shades of grey be better more able to distinguish between those shades than a painter lacking that vocabulary?

    Color is perhaps the single most well-studied domain when it comes to language's effect on perception! Different languages make different distinctions between basic colors. For instance, Russian has different words for light blue and dark blue, whereas in English they are considered sub-categories of the same color, blue. And it turns out, Russian speakers are quicker to distinguish between light and dark blues than English speakers, but this effect can be blocked if they are asked to perform a verbal task at the same time. Which suggests that color perception is influenced by, but not determined by language. English speakers can still distinguish different blues, they're not just as quick about it. It's also interesting that the effect is blocked when linguistic faculties are already occupied with another task - as if they have to fall back on a common, more universal kind of color perception when the linguistic part of the brain is preoccupied.

    A possibly flawed intuition I had about language is that it is like a living record of what is important or a priority in a culture.

    I think this is sometimes true and sometimes false. For instance, there is the famous case of the German word "Mädchen", which means girl, being neuter gender. This is not because Germans think girls are objects or all girls are non-binary or some such nonsense. It's because all words that end in the suffix -chen are neuter. A historical accident, if you will, rather than some kind of deep-seated cultural imagining of girls as objects or as standing outside the normally accepted gender division. It's possible to interpret things that way but that would be a mistake.

    On the other hand, there's the case of the Australian Aboriginal language Guugu Yimithirr, which is the source of our word "kangaroo". In this language, speakers do not refer to objects by the relative terms we know as "left" and "right" (they can make the distinction, as in distinguishing a left hand from a right hand, but would never say that an object is located to their left or their right). Instead, they use cardinal directions. Thus, instead of saying that man walked "to the right of his wife" they might say he was walking "on her east side". I'm much more inclined to believe this is related to an aspect of culture - a culture that greatly values the ability to navigate based on cardinal directions - than in the case of the German "it" girl.

    5 votes
  4. Comment on Bo Burnham's new comedy special "Inside" released today in ~movies

    imperialismus
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    I thought he was done with comedy specials. But I guess this isn't really a traditional standup-and-musical-comedy show like the ones he's done in the past...

    I thought he was done with comedy specials. But I guess this isn't really a traditional standup-and-musical-comedy show like the ones he's done in the past...

    5 votes
  5. Comment on What features would you add to languages? in ~talk

    imperialismus
    Link Parent
    It's certainly an interesting sci-fi/fantasy premise. I remember I read some fantasy book (I think it was the Crimson Empire series by Alex Marshall) and there were multiple trans characters, but...

    It's certainly an interesting sci-fi/fantasy premise. I remember I read some fantasy book (I think it was the Crimson Empire series by Alex Marshall) and there were multiple trans characters, but it took me like 300 pages to figure out they were trans because it was never explicitly mentioned (the fictional culture in the book just treats trans people as their preferred gender as a matter of course and never questions it). That was like, a whoa moment.

    I just think as a real-life experiment, the result would be a foregone conclusion, even as a thought experiment. It's more interesting to think about when you're allowed to alter the culture as well as the language.

    2 votes
  6. Comment on What features would you add to languages? in ~talk

    imperialismus
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    Well, nobody qualified to have an opinion believes in strong linguistic determinism (by which I mean the scholarly consensus is that it's not a thing). The degree to which "softer" versions of...

    I would like to see if it's possible to be sexist in a language which doesn't differentiate between men and women other than in explicit discussion of biology/gender.

    Well, nobody qualified to have an opinion believes in strong linguistic determinism (by which I mean the scholarly consensus is that it's not a thing). The degree to which "softer" versions of linguistic determinism exist, in which linguistic features influence but do not determine thought, is still an open topic of research. But if there's one thing we know about how language works, it's that people will immediately and easily invent alternatives when certain words are banned or discouraged. Unless you make the further step of altering the underlying culture to remove all reference to the offending concept, removing words will only lead to people inventing alternatives that mean the same thing.

    By the way, lack of gendered pronouns is fairly common cross-linguistically. Many languages do not make a distinction between "he" and "she". But of course those languages still have words for concepts like man and woman, girl and boy, mother and father etc. I don't know any language that doesn't have any gender-related words, which I strongly suspect is because no culture exists that doesn't have a concept of gender. The details vary widely, including how many genders are generally accepted to exist and what norms are expected of each one, but is there any culture that doesn't have a concept of "male", "female" or "third-gender" or whatever at all? I don't know of any.

    4 votes
  7. Comment on What features would you add to languages? in ~talk

    imperialismus
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    In case you're unaware, this is a real feature of some languages called "evidentiality". Somehow, I suspect making it obligatory doesn't actually make communication any clearer in practical terms...

    It would be nice if there was an established vocabulary to quickly convey things like "experienced first-hand, repeatedly", "99% certain", "I've heard but never looked into", etc. From there it would be nice if this was as required as the gender, in gendered languages.

    In case you're unaware, this is a real feature of some languages called "evidentiality". Somehow, I suspect making it obligatory doesn't actually make communication any clearer in practical terms even though it intuitively seems like it would.

    6 votes
  8. Comment on Elon Musk is not your friend in ~tech

    imperialismus
    Link Parent
    From the YT recommendations I found this video, which might be more appealing. It is critical of Musk but spends most of its time not talking about him or his projects at all, but rather trying to...

    From the YT recommendations I found this video, which might be more appealing. It is critical of Musk but spends most of its time not talking about him or his projects at all, but rather trying to answer the rather interesting question, "what need does Musk's vision fulfill and why are so many people buying into it?"

    14 votes
  9. Comment on NYC snow days: Dismay as school snow days cancelled in ~life

    imperialismus
    Link Parent
    Ooh, I'm seizing this moment! Not a zoomer, but I happen to come from a country where heavy snowfall is commonplace. Snow days did not exist. It's especially odd to hear about kids having fun...

    Ooh, I'm seizing this moment! Not a zoomer, but I happen to come from a country where heavy snowfall is commonplace. Snow days did not exist. It's especially odd to hear about kids having fun going sledding on snow days when the only time school would be closed here due to bad weather was if it's literally dangerous to be outside. In my 10 years of mandatory schooling, school was closed once due to bad weather, and it was because heavy winds were sending the aluminium ad boards on the football pitch near the school flying through the air like fucking 6-foot ninja stars. I found out school was canceled when I had already walked to school and thus exposed myself to the danger.

    To be serious for a moment, I understand that the cost/benefit ratio of being prepared for heavy snowfall is simply not worth it when it's really uncommon, but it still sounds very exotic. My father works in road maintenance, which includes snow removal and making sure roads are safe to drive on at all times. They have to keep people on call 24/7 for at least 6 months of the year to make it work. The government agency responsible for roads frequently do friction checks, where they use some kind of fancy equipment to measure how slippery the roads are, and if they're even a fraction more slippery than the contract says, the contactor gets a fine. It's really very expensive to be properly prepared for winter weather, but society couldn't function here if it wasn't done.

    7 votes
  10. Comment on California will discourage students who are gifted at math in ~humanities

    imperialismus
    (edited )
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    Let me provide some non-American perspective: the system described in the article is a watered down version of what I went through in Norway. And it fucking sucks. Norway's education system is...

    Let me provide some non-American perspective: the system described in the article is a watered down version of what I went through in Norway. And it fucking sucks. Norway's education system is egalitarian to a fault. There is no concept of gifted classes. Only a couple of subjects in high school are differentiated by ability. Our education law specifies that each child should get an education tailored to their abilities and needs, but in practice this only applies to the academically challenged.

    I remember early on in grade school, I finished my math textbook in record time, because it was too easy. In order to keep me occupied, my teacher gave me another textbook. It was published by another company but covered the exact same material. Teachers had no resources or training in how to deal with even a slightly quicker student. I learned that the reward for excellence was drudgery.

    I didn't experience the joy of learning in a school setting until a couple of high school classes, in which an old, extremely overqualified math and physics teacher completely bewildered half his class with overly advanced material. He was a terrible teacher - he joked that the only pedagogy he ever learned was to use different color markers for different terms on the blackboard - and consequently let down at least half the kids in his class. But it was the first time I met a teacher who actually felt like he actually took my abilities seriously.

    A system in which gifted kids are only able to thrive when the teacher is both overqualified and fundamentally out of tune with the abilities of most of his students, is not a good system.

    15 votes
  11. Comment on What have you been eating, drinking, and cooking? in ~food

    imperialismus
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    I'm not very adventurous with food. Last weekend I made homemade burger buns and my sister and her boyfriend made homemade burgers, which is about as exciting as my meals get these days. It was...

    I'm not very adventurous with food. Last weekend I made homemade burger buns and my sister and her boyfriend made homemade burgers, which is about as exciting as my meals get these days. It was good, though.

    2 votes
  12. Comment on History of dunking culture's transformation into the alt right, the reputation of Tumblr in ~tech

    imperialismus
    Link Parent
    Ok. Probably correct, and not really unique to Tumblr. When Tumblr first started out, there were far fewer teenagers, or people pretending to be teenagers, or teenagers pretending to be dumber...

    Ok. Probably correct, and not really unique to Tumblr. When Tumblr first started out, there were far fewer teenagers, or people pretending to be teenagers, or teenagers pretending to be dumber teenagers than they actually are...

    1 vote
  13. Comment on What is a class in Python? in ~comp

    imperialismus
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    Just search for any basic explanation of object-oriented programming. Basically, a class is a prototype (a kind of recipe) for an object, and an object is a collection of state and related behavior.

    Just search for any basic explanation of object-oriented programming. Basically, a class is a prototype (a kind of recipe) for an object, and an object is a collection of state and related behavior.

    6 votes
  14. Comment on Synesthesia in ~science

    imperialismus
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    I think low-grade synaesthesia is very common, and might even be the norm, while full-blown synaesthesia may be as rare as the cited four percent. My main reason for thinking that is the...

    I think low-grade synaesthesia is very common, and might even be the norm, while full-blown synaesthesia may be as rare as the cited four percent. My main reason for thinking that is the bouba/kiki effect, where non-synesthetic individuals show a very strong preference (around 90%) for pairing a certain shape with a certain sequence of sounds, even though the word is entirely imaginary. It is kind of a mantra in linguistics that word-idea relationships are arbitrary; and most probably are, because of historical sound change, but still, there seem to be certain associations even beyond onomatopoeia that exist between concepts and sounds almost universally.

    I don't consider myself to have synaesthesia - I don't have any particular consistent association between sounds and colors, or graphemes and colors, or tastes and sounds, or anything like that. But I remember in an art history class, we were talking about Wassily Kandinsky's paintings based on Modest Mussorgsky's music - Pictures at an Exhibition, a suite of music that was itself inspired by a set of paintings - and I had a strong sense of wrongness: Kandinsky's paintings were somehow either too round or too angular for the music. I think that's an example of the same sound-shape symbolism as the bouba/kiki effect - and an example of everyday low-grade synaesthesia.

    3 votes
  15. Comment on History of dunking culture's transformation into the alt right, the reputation of Tumblr in ~tech

    imperialismus
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    Got a summary of what she says about "old tumblr"? Because I'm not sure I have the patience to sit through an hour of this, but I happen to be intimately familiar with the early days of tumblr.

    Got a summary of what she says about "old tumblr"? Because I'm not sure I have the patience to sit through an hour of this, but I happen to be intimately familiar with the early days of tumblr.

    1 vote
  16. Comment on What are you reading these days? in ~books

    imperialismus
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    Currently reading the Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. It's amazing to me that Cornwell managed to write a series about King Arthur in which Arthur is genuinely the least interesting character.

    Currently reading the Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. It's amazing to me that Cornwell managed to write a series about King Arthur in which Arthur is genuinely the least interesting character.

  17. Comment on Users are losing out against Big Sur’s sealed System in ~tech

    imperialismus
    Link Parent
    Actually I have and struggled to find out how to turn it off...

    Actually I have and struggled to find out how to turn it off...

  18. Comment on NASA needs to rename the James Webb Space Telescope in ~space

    imperialismus
    Link Parent
    Yeah, okay, I understand what you mean. I happen to be a person who is overly fond of foundational work (like Gödel, Russell, Turing, Church, Hilbert and Einstein) but I understand it is not the...

    Also, when I say not relevant I don't mean not foundational or not impressive, I just mean that it's not super relevant to the day-to-day.

    Yeah, okay, I understand what you mean. I happen to be a person who is overly fond of foundational work (like Gödel, Russell, Turing, Church, Hilbert and Einstein) but I understand it is not the kind of stuff one encounters in the day-to-day.

    2 votes
  19. Comment on TIL: Coldplay's *Talk* is a direct reference to Kraftwerk's *Computer Love* in ~music

    imperialismus
    Link Parent
    I've always loved this song because my Dad is a big fan of Coldplay, while I find them interminably boring, but Kraftwerk is more my speed... This song is a good compromise. Maybe check out this...

    I've always loved this song because my Dad is a big fan of Coldplay, while I find them interminably boring, but Kraftwerk is more my speed... This song is a good compromise. Maybe check out this mashup.

    2 votes
  20. Comment on Users are losing out against Big Sur’s sealed System in ~tech

    imperialismus
    Link Parent
    At least it isn't Windows updates... Fuck me but I feel like I'm postponing an update the day after I did a massive update.

    At least it isn't Windows updates... Fuck me but I feel like I'm postponing an update the day after I did a massive update.

    3 votes