“Who does not know another language does not know his own” – Goethe
I think that this quote sums up the reason why it is important to learn different languages. From experience, I’ve had to learn two languages simultaneously including my own mother tongue of english. Having to learn proper grammar and formality of different languages teaches you how to structure your own language. For example, I wouldn’t know my present progressive or preterite as well as I do in english if it wasn’t for spanish. In addition, this quote could be taken to a broader aspect of understanding such as cultural conciseness. Learning more than one language expands ones knowledge and cultural understanding therefore making them more well rounded and humble.
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“The word is half his that speaks, and half his that hears it”- Michel de Montaigne
This quote addresses the impact language has on communication and interpretation. For example in a conversation, someone can say something nice but may be interpreted as sarcastic to someone else. We all have different opinions and views on things which influences how we hear and see things. When speaking, one must be careful what is said or how something is said because it could come off as offensive or insincere. For example, some people make jokes about other people’s physical appearance as a joke, but sometimes even though it is a joke, it could hurt the other person’s feelings and make them insecure. Language is a gray area where words can be misunderstood or taken out of context. Words matter and are the main way we communicate and ‘try’ to understand each other however we cannot fully comprehend others except ourselves – although how well do we know ourselves?
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EMOTION: Does the way you describe something affect how you feel about it? What is the power of language? What roles do context, emotion, selection, emphasis, and word choice play in language?
The way you describe something can affect the way you feel about it because its all relates to context, emotion, selection and emphasis of words. The way something is delivered through language can influence and affect someone by either making them feel a certain way either it be inspiring or offensive. Many things are taken out of context so the way things are said or presented (sort of like first impression whether it be the tone used, the word choice such as professional terms) starts the mood of a conversation. Usually the point that is trying to made is emphasized and repeated throughout a conversation to drive the message which can be alarming.
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ETHICS: To what extent should offensive language be censored? Can a language be banned?
The whole situation of cuss words is absolutely fascinating to me. I mean when did someone decide that certain words were offensive? I personally think that there is a time and place for certain words but that all depends how they are intended to be used. Obviously if they are used to be offensive, then I don’t believe that they should be used to belittle someone. However, in this new generation, words have lost their original cuss meaning and have be striped of their power. Although, I think it is better to give words less power because then they are not as hurtful, especially in the case of verbal bullying but then again the beauty of language is its power and meaning. It’s a very controversial and complicated subject. I don’t think cuss words should be banned because it has become a sub-language to express emotion or relief. Words are beautiful even if they hurt but if they hurt doesn’t that mean that people are communicating?
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1. What are some examples of words that have entered the English language as a result of the computer revolution?
So many words have been integrated into our daily lives and dictionaries due to the computer revolution but also pop culture. We’ve gained words like YOLO, Swag, LOL, JK and Google. Words like these and many more sometimes irritate our society because they are over used and too mainstream but I like how we are creating new words – it’s almost like the Shakespearean times where we are Shakespeare making up words!
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2. How would you try to explain to a blind person what the word RED means? What does this suggest to you about the limitations of definitions?
I suppose it would be hard to explain the meaning of red. I guess I would name objects that they are familiar with and then move on to the metaphorical meaning of red such as passion and honor. The lack of ability to describe color to a blind person suggests that the limitation of definitions hinder people from understanding a deeper meaning to perception.
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3. Do you think communication would be improved if we got rid of vague words? DO you think vague or ambiguous words sometimes serve a purpose?
I don’t think communication would be improved if we got rid of vague words because I don’t believe in vague words. Simple words maybe, but not vague. Words like ok, yes, good … even though they are simple, they have an emotion linked to them which indicates they are being “vague” for a reason.
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4. What would be the advantages and disadvantages of everyone in the world spoke a common language? What would be gained and what would be lost?
If everyone spoke a common language there would be no barrier in understanding which could eliminate segregation/ imperialism and miscommunication. On the other hand, we would be losing culture and diversity. I love how people speak different languages but I believe that we should be more than mono linguistic. Growing up in Europe, where the average person speaks two language and having the stereotype that Americans are too ignorant to be bilingual, I think that we should break that stereotype and be more proactive in trying to learn different languages than to expect other people speak to us.
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5. What can or have you learned about your own language by studying a second language? can you provide examples from your second language which have no English equivalent? What about idioms (expressions)?
I have learned that english is a very unexpressive language compared to other romantic languages. While other languages have actual words for things such as describing actions of a person, english has to use more than one word to express the same meaning. In a way, english has the benefit because we can alter the meaning while a language that has a word for something is set and there is less wiggle room in calling someone that. In addition, english seems to be the only language that re-invent and create new words while the more traditional language keep their standard language sacred however other languages adopt our swag!
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6. Do you agree with the old rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”? In light of the effects of cyberbullying, how might you analyse this quote?
When I was younger I would tell myself the rhyme over and over again so that words wouldn’t hurt me even though I knew they did but I thought I was just over-reacting. But now that cyber-bullying has become a sub-culture, it is evident that words do hurt and may even be stronger than physical abuse. Boys are always known for beating each other up physically but guys can forgive and forget. Girls on the other hand, they use words and scheming to hurt people and hold a grudge forever – which almost seems more life scarring. When you are punched in the face, their hand does not tell you what they are thinking or feeling while people who use words tell you exactly what they think of you. A bruise can fade away and can be physically seen while the internal bruise of hurtful words can only be felt by the victim. Words hurt and that is why language is so powerful.
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STEPHEN FRY TYPOGRAPHY -LANGUAGE
“Anyone who expresses themselves with originality, delight and verbal freshness is more likely to be mocked, distrusted or disliked than welcomed”. In the video, Fry gives examples such as Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde being literary masterminds however not following the norms of language. In our society, being professional is the common manner and so we smarten up and suite our language to meet such expectations. For example during interviews we use our best vocabulary. Language these days are all about context, convention and circumstance. I like how we are playing with words and making new ones. I always hated grammar in school because I always asked who decided this was considered ‘right’? There should be no rules to language because it’s a way of expressing and expression has no boundaries.
STEPHEN FRY INTERVIEW – FRY’S PLANET WORD – BBC TWO
“Language is under valued”. I completely and utterly agree with this statement made by Fry because we take language for granted. There are so many ways to express ourselves but we are limited through today’s ‘non-social’ social media. Fortunately, we are regaining our communication with Twitter, Facebook and Google Chat. It was interesting to hear Fry talk about how some say that it was a curse that Adam and Eve’s original language was taken away and in its replacements people were split into tribes and spoke different language which caused them to miscommunicate. Based off of the question above, benefits and disadvantages of a common language, Fry suggests that there would be not World Wars nor nationalism. I agree with nationalism because we would all be on common grounds and there would be no reason to be nationalistic against anything but even with a common language people disagree and fight so war would be inevitable in my opinion.
IS TWITTER IS THE NEWEST FORM OF LITERATURE?
Twitter is a micro blogging platform but with a 140 word limit, it creates a constraint yet creativity. “Absence of limitation is the enemy of art”. I do believe in this quote because I think art is not only about breaking the rules but it is also trying to fit inside a box while still trying to be clever. With twitter, we are forced to fit everything we want to say within this word limit and so communication could be considered more effective in that sense because we are not wasting time with the extra ‘fluff”.
BIRTH OF A WORD – DEB ROY
Deb Roy wanted to investigate the influences of social environment on language development by analyzing motion. He set up cameras and microphones all throughout his house to record his newborn son developing his language. His discoveries were that his son wasn’t learning from his environment per say but the environment was learning from him. Roy’s conclusion was, “As our world is becoming instrumented and we have capabilities to collect and connect data of what people say and the context in which they are saying it in, whats emerging is the ability to see social structure and dynamics”. I find this interesting how a family would dedicate seven years to research on language and how social media has in a way given us more to talk about. Would you volunteer your personal life for the name of research?