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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. Language learning thread #1 - Share your progress, tips and questions

      As discussed and suggested here. What are you learning? How is it going? Share your progress, tips and tricks. Ask other learners questions. Writing in non-English languages is welcome in this...

      As discussed and suggested here.

      What are you learning? How is it going? Share your progress, tips and tricks. Ask other learners questions.

      Writing in non-English languages is welcome in this thread if you want to practice, but please at least include a Google Translate or Deepl translation in a foldable paragraph, using <details>[your translation]</details>

      18 votes
    4. 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
    5. 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
    6. 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
    7. 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
    8. Accuracy and academic credibility of Dr Geoff Lindsey, and his proposal to change IPA?

      Hi, all. I'm (sadly) not a linguist and I have 0 exposure to academic circles of linguistics. However, I'm enthusiastic about learning, especially phonetics and etymology. Recently I've stumbled...

      Hi, all. I'm (sadly) not a linguist and I have 0 exposure to academic circles of linguistics. However, I'm enthusiastic about learning, especially phonetics and etymology.

      Recently I've stumbled across the YouTube channel of Dr Geoff Lindsey. He predominantly calls for a change in the way we represent phonemes in IPA, and his videos are compelling and well-argued. However, as with all YouTube content, it's done in a vacuum, with only references to and from his teacher and colleagues within the videos themselves.

      So far, I'm convinced of the arguments he presents throughout his videos, but I'd be keen to hear what other academics or full-time students/scholars of linguistics think about them and whether there are any weaknesses (e.g. it appears to be centred around British English). I'm also curious how well-known and/or well-respected his views are, if only for my own peace of mind. That's not to say that one needs respect to be correct, but if they have a lot of support from peers then that's good to know.

      I'm not looking to stir anything up, here, but I trust that my fellow Tildelings know that already. I'd love to see discussion if possible.

      Many thanks in advance.

      Edit: Here is one of the key videos in which he talks about the issues with some IPA symbols.

      12 votes
    9. Have you learned a foreign language as an adult? What did you find effective?

      I would love to know of your experiences. I do speak multiple languages, but was lucky to learn them through immersion as a child. I would be super interested to know how people learn languages...

      I would love to know of your experiences. I do speak multiple languages, but was lucky to learn them through immersion as a child.

      I would be super interested to know how people learn languages (with a goal to speak them fluently) as an adult. What techniques worked? What techniques didn't? Do you have any funny stories (perhaps miscommunication anecdotes)? Was it worth it? Or your things generally in relation to language-learning!

      31 votes
    10. Grammagram

      12 votes
    11. What are the benefits in the here and now of linguistic diversity?

      A lot of people argue that we should try to protect "minority languages" and support "linguistic diversity", but I struggle to understand why having more languages is actually a good thing. I...

      A lot of people argue that we should try to protect "minority languages" and support "linguistic diversity", but I struggle to understand why having more languages is actually a good thing.

      I would be very interested to hear about concrete benefits in the present to linguistic diversity.

      Lots of random musings I had on this

      A lot of people say things like "it helps you to think differently" which I have not really understood at all (I speak multiple languages, for context, some quite different), but my sample size is really just me in saying that. They also say things like "protect minority culture" which I think is quite harmful. For example my great-grandmother immigrated to an English-speaking country in the west from Africa (she was Indian-African), and she could not speak a word of English which put her at a massive disadvantage, but also gave other family members a lot more power in their relationship because they could all speak English. [Edit: I think there's a gender aspect where women are expected to maintain the traditional language and the burden is not put on men in the same way]. I get the whole assimilation versus integration, but I think there's a very strong case for trying to assimilate (into the dominant group).

      I have yet to see a case arguing why it is better to have more languages (and thus necessarily less mutual comprehension and a more segregated world) rather than a single one (e.g. if everyone spoke English). My issue is not really with high-level philosophy about what would be better in an ideal world, but multilingualism as a practical concern. For example, Tildes does not really seem to 'believe' in multilingualism because it only allows English (which personally I think is better than if we had people arguing backwards and forwards in many different languages, but I am also a native English speaker so that might prejudice my perspective).

      Most of the arguments about this that I see are from (usually) French speakers bemoaning the decline of their language (and it's kind of ironic to see France becoming a flag-bearer for linguistic diversity given that they exterminated a lot of languages to force French upon the world).

      35 votes
    12. Are you currently learning a new language? Are there any languages that are on your wishlist to learn?

      I grew up semi-bilingual (English as my native language, Spanish spoken at least once a day at home), and went on to study Spanish as my language of choice in middle and high school. Despite this,...

      I grew up semi-bilingual (English as my native language, Spanish spoken at least once a day at home), and went on to study Spanish as my language of choice in middle and high school. Despite this, I would still like to further my Spanish language skills/knowledge with some self-paced coursework, as the Spanish I grew up hearing in the house was much more colloquial and then the Spanish I studied in school was the "from Spain" Spanish, rather than the Central American Spanish my family spoke. I grew up being better able to understand more than what I could speak or write myself.

      When I moved onto to college, I wanted to try studying a different language, so I chose French (bad idea; I could never really get the hang of it between the spelling challenges and the pronunciation being so different from the written word). I took one semester and passed just enough to get credit for the class but moved onto to German -- which was a little bit easier than French but more difficult than Spanish. Beginner classes in it were easy for me to learn, but I started to struggle when I got to upper-intermediate. Plus, I'm not always great at spelling in English, and French and German are not "speller-friendly" languages haha.

      Now as I approach my midlife, I am thoroughly enjoying my ASL for Beginners course through my local community college. I find it incredibly intuitive whenever I learn new signs ("oh, that makes sense, cool" when I see a new sign). My mother-in-law has known and taught ASL (as well as SEE) for over 20 years so she is very helpful with me practicing and being able to correct any small mistakes I make. I don't know anyone who is Deaf, but have had a few friends growing up who used hearing aids (I don't think they knew ASL).

      So what about you? Are you currently learning a new language? If so, what is it, how do you like it so far, and what led you to want to learn it? If not, are there any languages on your wishlist that you'd like to learn someday?

      For me, I wanted to learn ASL as a way to connect more deeply with my MIL in our relationship, as well as have some level of ability to sign with those who are Deaf/deaf. I also wanted to learn it because I wanted an alternative way to communicate with my spouse if we are at a noisy event/party/etc. without having to shout to be heard.

      41 votes