They do the hard work for you

Is e-mail becoming obsolete? Some believe that, but there are e-mail newsletters that continue to do the hard work of curation for us. Here are a few I have been enjoying recently:


Everything Changes from the Awl— the theme changes, the frequency changes. You never know what to expect. This week there is a list of “tiny kindnesses” that people noticed. Here are a couple:

 

 


Make Your Point — to improve your vocabulary. I posted about this in January.


The Daily Pnut — a daily update of important news, curated for you, from sites like BBC, NYT, the Atlantic,


Elevator Grooves — the name here is still “Sweet Chili” but it’s now called “Elevator Grooves” and is from the Daily Pnut people, a weekly collection of songs you may not have heard. A couple of weeks ago I found some great Cuban music I didn’t know about thanks to them, and was reminded about how perfect for this time of year the Buena Vista Social Club is. The same day I was playing their music again, after forgetting about them for years, this documentary happened to be on TV. Kismet.

Draw a circle

Right now, before you continue reading, draw a circle on a piece of paper.

 

 

Now, try it again on your phone or computer (click on the screenshot below, but try not to read the headline or article yet; just scroll down a little until you see this):

So, did you draw it clockwise or counter-clockwise? Did you start at the top or the bottom?

Read on: “Different languages: How cultures around the world draw shapes differently” (from Quartz)

I think it’s funny that when I think about how I’m drawing it, I draw it clockwise — maybe because I’ve been in Japan so long? But when I’m not thinking about it, I draw it counter-clockwise — my native-English-speaker self is still stronger subconsciously.

“The Power of Language”

This video has five parts.

First: people who create languages for movies and TV.My favorite part of this interview is that the first step in creating a language is not the alphabet or vocabulary, or the grammar, or the sound system; it’s the people. Because if you have a language but no community in which it is used, then what’s the point, right?

I also like how the 5th step they describe is history. It’s a reminder that languages change over time, and we must change with it.


The second part is about Pokemon and 和製英語 (which many people call “Japanglish”).


Part 3 is about a young woman in Peru who is trying to preserve a dying Incan language through pop music.


Part 4 is about a man who speaks 32 languages. He’s a “hyperpolyglot” and his answer to the question, “Can you learn a language just by sitting around studying?” was:

 

Right?

The more languages you can speak and understand, the wider your perspective will become.

It may feel a little unnatural to speak in English or another language you’re learning with your Japanese classmates, but it’s a good chance to practice; for some, it’s practically your only chance.

He also is asked “What’s the most complicated langauge to learn?” What do you think his answer was? Watch to find out.


The last part is about a Deaf poet who performs slam poetry. This section talks about how the rhyming in these performances is more about poetry in movement than in sound.  (Why I capitalized the word “deaf” here.)

Front or back, up or down?


“Language alters our experience of time”

(from The Conversation)

About how different languages view and express the abstract concept of time, and about how bilingual people are, in general, more flexible thinkers.


One interesting idea from the article:

Front or back, up or down?

The Swedish word for “future” is framtid (literally: “front time”), which makes sense to English speakers because we visually the future as being in front of us (and I think Japanese is the same).

But in one Peruvian language, the word for future translates as “behind time”.

And in Chinese, xià (“down” — maybe 下?) is used to refer to the future (so next week is “down week”) and sshàng (“up” — so it must be 上 like in 上海). Let’s see what google translate tells us: I see two translations. Maybe a Chinese major can tell me the difference in nuance/usage. That’s my LQ (language usage question) for today. Let me know on Thursday or Friday!