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Saturday, December 21, 2019

A linguistic blow to multiculturalism

It is becoming abundantly clear that not only is it impossible for people of different cultures to successfully live together, it is not possible to correctly understand cross-cultural communication even when both sides think they are speaking the same language:
Many languages have words whose meanings seem so specific and nuanced that there’s no way to translate them; they can only be imported wholesale. Consider the German “schadenfreude,” the pleasure derived from another’s misfortune, or “sehnsucht,” a sort of deep yearning for an alternative life.

Those kinds of emotion words often feel rooted in the culture from which they emerged, said Asifa Majid, a cognitive scientist at the University of York in England. She pointed to the feeling of “awumbuk,” which Baining people in Papua Guinea experience when their guests depart after an overnight stay. It leaves people listless, she wrote in a commentary that accompanies the study, something akin to a “social hangover.”

Yet many languages also have words that English speakers might think of as “basic” emotions — love, hate, anger, fear, sadness, happiness. Early theories, influenced by Charles Darwin and pegged to shared biological structures in humans, suggest there are certain universal emotions that serve as the source material for all others, as primary colors might be blended to create many new shades.

But just as later work has suggested that different cultures do not always categorize color in the same ways, there’s a growing understanding that even those supposedly “primary” emotions may hold their own meanings and nuances in different cultures that aren’t directly translatable.
Good fences make good neighbors. And strong borders make friendly relations possible.

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85 Comments:

Blogger Lamarck Leland December 21, 2019 8:09 AM  

Wait until scientists discover that there is no universally agreed upon concept of what the word "human" means.

Blogger bodenlose Schweinerei December 21, 2019 8:11 AM  

there’s a growing understanding that even those supposedly “primary” emotions may hold their own meanings and nuances in different cultures that aren’t directly translatable

I have the growing feeling that upwards of 90% of "scientists" are doddering morons stating the bleedin' obvious and think it's an amazing discovery discernible only through their profound intellect.

Also note the projected slam on we ignorant Westerners: "Yet many languages also have words that English speakers might think of as “basic” emotions". Yep, only English speakers could make such a terrible faux pas, excepting, of course, our faithful language guides, like that lovely English rose, Asifa Majid.

Blogger pdwalker December 21, 2019 8:17 AM  

anyone who studies languages discovers words that would take a paragraph to explain in their native tongue.

i’m always amazed when i’m asked, “you have no word for in English?”, because it drives home the point that some word concepts are completely foreign to my native tongue.

i’m now even more amazed when a word concept actually matches.

Blogger Shane Bradman December 21, 2019 8:18 AM  

There is no English word for the Japanese 癒し系. All English words you could use to describe this feeling come short of describing what it is. Even colours don't translate properly to Japanese. あおい is sort of green and sort of blue, but it's not all greens or all blues. It fits in a weird part of the colour spectrum that English speakers wouldn't consider when thinking of colours. If we're struggling to communicate emotions and colours, it's a miracle that we're not warring all the time.

Blogger Rek. December 21, 2019 8:22 AM  

I came to that same conclusion years ago by being observant in public transportation.

Blogger Johnny December 21, 2019 8:32 AM  

There was this entertainer named Will Rogers who billed himself as the Cowboy Comedian. He often opened his act by say that he "never met a man" he didn't like. He would say it with a certain enthusiasm and a big grin. My fantasy come back line was, "Apparently you have never met some of the people I know."

The idea that the nicest possible person will like everybody, and that being like that is a good thing is embedded in our culture. And it is also nonsense. It doesn't even begin to work out there in real life.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan December 21, 2019 8:51 AM  

But Vox if we don't have universal values how are the Healers gonna run their deal of healing the world? Never mind what it will do to the CONservative grifters peddling the real estate of magic dirt.

Blogger FUBARwest December 21, 2019 8:58 AM  

Is it possible, then, for people of different races/nations/cultures to understand/empathize with each other and their situations in any meaningful way?

Blogger SmokeyJoe December 21, 2019 9:10 AM  

But...But...Muh magic dirt!

Blogger Doktor Jeep December 21, 2019 9:11 AM  

The English word "figures", which we use every time the latest affront to all reason and decency is found to have someone with a name ending in "berg" or "Stein" , is apt to be taken out of context by bergs and steins. Usually to the presumption of Hitler's second coming.

Blogger Zaklog the Great December 21, 2019 9:16 AM  

Good fences make good neighbors. And strong borders make friendly relations possible.

Having had the pleasure of speaking online with an Israeli Jew and the annoyance of dealing with numerous diaspora Jews, I agree. Borders and distinct nations are good for people.

Hi, Yehuda, if you see this.

Blogger Shane Bradman December 21, 2019 9:43 AM  

If you try to become part of a different culture, more often than not you will end up like Lawrence of Arabia instead of doing anything productive and useful.

Blogger Space Monkey December 21, 2019 9:46 AM  

That's even true in western culture. Just have a look in Ballentine law dictionary from the early 20th century and you'll find the common popular definition is completely divergent from the legal one.

Blogger JG December 21, 2019 9:48 AM  

Why is this a surprise to anyone? English speaking countries can't even agree on the definition of "billion", having to use "short" and "long" to distinguish between the two definitions.

Blogger JACIII December 21, 2019 9:58 AM  

Being able to predict the likely behavior of others to a given situation is key to living peacefully together. Some rationals of third worlders are so completely alien to average white folks they are considered fantastical when explained to the. Example: Cargo cults are unimaginable.

Blogger Lovekraft December 21, 2019 10:01 AM  

So Star Wars comes to a close, and it had the potential to be a societal beacon to address issues like this post raises. It could have signaled a clear break from the disastrous decades of social engineering that has only brought increased misery.

Whether the alternate 1950s patriarchal style would have produced anything of greater value is for another debate. I'm talking about the MAGA era and Hollywood's blatant denial of it and overt deflection.

What could have been a film that mattered just ended up being added to the woke garbage pile

Blogger judgeholdem1848 December 21, 2019 10:02 AM  

Marc MacYoung has written about the peril lurking in even benign-seeming cultural differences. The example I remember is the New Yorker who goes to some bar in Kentucky, acts normal, and ends up face up.

I have an uncle who is among the most based people I know. He was telling a great story about a victory achieved at work, worth multiple thousands of dollars to himself.

At the triumphal moment, he lowered his right hand, palm up. I instinctively reached to give him five. He shot me a look of "why the f are you swiping at me" icy discomfiture that would make a convict blink.

My reaction was almost autonomic as was his. It was instantly forgotten. But if we weren't kin, it might have played differently. In this case, certainly not to my own advantage.

Blogger Gallant December 21, 2019 10:14 AM  

To examine this from the other extreme, watch the first 4 episodes of the original British, and then the 4 American, "The Office", which are almost the same script until the shows diverged. Even though technically speaking the same language, to Americans would still need some explaining. The humor in each lands completely differently. The style and substance of the humor later in the brit show would, to Americans, seem abhorrent - not in the 'censors should cut' it sense but 'this is just awful' sense.

And this is between cultures that didn't diverge that long ago. . . . Imagine now between cultures that actually diverged in time, geography, and race. . . .

Blogger Tars Tarkas December 21, 2019 10:16 AM  

bodenlose Schweinerei wrote:

I have the growing feeling that upwards of 90% of "scientists" are doddering morons stating the bleedin' obvious and think it's an amazing discovery discernible only through their profound intellect.


It is worse than you know.

https://read.dukeupress.edu/glq/article-abstract/20/4/439/34905/Black-Anality?redirectedFrom=fulltext

This woman is a Harvard PHD.
Society wasted a 1/2 a million dollars or more to create/educate this woman. Not only that, but her butt was taking a seat which could have been occupied by a person with a triple digit IQ.

All of the universities are filled with this BS. There are entire departments which need to be burned to the ground. Their musings studied in the future where studying the collapse of the US will be a major topic at universities.

Blogger Bernard Korzeniewicz December 21, 2019 10:20 AM  

We are often unable to communicate with our WIFES! Who needs another language?
And yes, there thoughts and meanings specific to my native Polish.
Multi-culti is possible only on the SJW reeeek level.

Blogger Vaughan Williams December 21, 2019 10:23 AM  

I call it the "Babel effect". The confusion of languages is an ongoing process, not a one time event, as per Genesis chapter 10. And seeing over the years all the confusion between multicultural speakers of English, I am confident the Babel story is really about "confusion" rather than the creation of languages out of whole cloth.

Researcher Isaac Mozeson carried forward the principle of classic linguistics and shows how all languages are linked to Hebrew, once you understand the main type of ways that language (and thus mythology) got confused. Tolkien was right to link language and mythology, for both get confused together, the confusion happens at multiple levels of cognition.

I believe that, the closer mankind gets to reversing the Babel effect, the greater the backlash from Heaven will be when He steps in and corrects matters.

Blogger SciVo December 21, 2019 10:33 AM  

The most recent example I saw was where an otherwise English opinion piece used "simpatico" and didn't even italicize it. I know that English has a bad reputation for mugging other languages for spare grammar, but that is just straight-up stealing a word.

And there is no better word for how political alliances get formed, because it basically means the natural similarities between people.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd December 21, 2019 10:51 AM  

Johnny wrote:There was this entertainer named Will Rogers who billed himself as the Cowboy Comedian. He often opened his act by say that he "never met a man" he didn't like.
When I first heard that line as a child, it made perfect sense: I had never met a man I didn't like before I met him. There were plenty I didn't like after.

I'm still not sure if that's what Will Rogers was getting at.

Blogger Nathan Hornok December 21, 2019 11:05 AM  

God invented the world's languages so of course they are much more complicated and nuanced and beautiful than our narrow human imagination would have ever guessed. What's more amazing is how the languages change and merge and diverge over time, yet they never stop being separate from each other. Despite borrowing from each other, they never get fully converged into one universal form. Just like the separate Nations, they will never merge into one. When God gave the human race the gift of separate languages and Nations at the tower of Babel, it was a divine decree that would never be overturned, despite the Promethean's best efforts. God be praised!

Blogger gwood December 21, 2019 11:08 AM  

If you read a bibliography of Mishima, some of the titles are listed as "Untranslatable". Makes you wonder how accurate is something like "The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea".

Blogger The Cooler December 21, 2019 11:09 AM  

Researcher Isaac Mozeson

Is completely full of shit. The patriarch in My Big Fat Greek Wedding had better arguments for all languages being derivative of Greek.

*spritzes Vaughan's poast with Windex*

Blogger Johnny December 21, 2019 11:29 AM  

Among us Americans, holding up a hand while pressing the index finger against the thumb to form a circle is commonly taken to mean okay. Among some Latin Americans the circle is taken as a symbolic rectum and the message is you ass hole.

Anyway, there was this rich guy getting his hot air balloon ready for flight. When the thing was nearly set to go he flashed the okay sign to his Hispanic crew. Not being inclined to take an insult, they all walked off the job.

Blogger Damelon Brinn December 21, 2019 11:34 AM  

A couple years ago, there was a discussion in the comments here about renegotiating deals. Most of us, being white Christians, thought it was a no-brainer: once you shake hands on a deal or sign on the bottom line, the negotiations are over. You could *ask* to renegotiate at some later date if circumstances changed, but you gave your word and you're obliged to keep it.

But some of the regular Jewish commenters said the situation is much more nuanced than that. Negotiations are never really final, they're just wherever they currently are, and they had (to me) a very "All's fair" attitude about what is acceptable in terms of manipulating the other party back to the bargaining table. What one of them called an "art" strikes us simply as cheating, or at best, being a royal pain in the ass.

It was really eye-opening, because the discussion was friendly and respectful enough to go on a while, to where it was clear that we weren't misunderstanding each other. Both sides understood what the other side was saying. We just viewed the question differently on such a fundamental level that no amount of communication could produce agreement. In fact, the more they explained, the more disturbing it was to see that there are people among us who think so differently about something as basic as "shake on it."

And these were people who were here because they agree with us far more often than not, and would probably make fine neighbors most of the time. (Until you made a deal over who was paying for the fence on the property line, and they tried to alter the deal later.) How much wider must the divide be with peoples who don't even have that much in common?

Blogger Dos Voltz December 21, 2019 11:41 AM  

If the Baining people of Papua New Guinea have a bad feeling in their gut after guests leave it could be because they all ate too many termites, or perhaps it is the hosts' feeling of loss that they missed the chance to cannibalize their guests.

Sign me up for this whole "science" thing, this shit is easy!

Blogger Vaughan Williams December 21, 2019 11:45 AM  

@26 You slander a good man when you speak of Isaac Mozeson in such terms. May God lead you to repentance.

Blogger Macs December 21, 2019 11:54 AM  

I can live with other cultures so long as their music is out of earshot and our respective hoods have strong boundaries.

Blogger michimartini December 21, 2019 11:59 AM  

I am reminded of when i once unsuccessfully tried to translate "fossil record" to German. My conclusion then was that Germans would be too empirical to even have a nonsensical term describing a phantasy concept that does not show up IRL.
Also: i find it unthinkable that a grammatical concept as the aorist could arise out of a simpler language that didn't have it. All i ever witness is the loss of grammatical features, like, for example the "ye" from the English language.

Blogger Chief_Tuscaloosa December 21, 2019 12:39 PM  

For example, there's a huge gap in language even within the continental United States. For example, outside the South, some people consider "redneck" an insult.

Blogger LeeWillyMinifees December 21, 2019 12:49 PM  

All i ever witness is the loss of grammatical features, like, for example the "ye" from the English language.

Modern Chinese is more complex grammatically than Middle Chinese, which was more simple than Anciet Classical Chinese. These things go in waves.

Blogger Newscaper312 December 21, 2019 12:52 PM  

@28 Damelon re fundamental attitudes
Im about to be 55 in January. My father was born in 1929 a few weeks after the stock market crash, and wasn't quite 16 when WW2 ended, so I think counts as Silent Generation. College educated but realistic about both blacks and jews from personal experience.
I still remember how I was startled, maybe around age 25, to hear him talking about some memories growing up in the Depression. They were city people in Montgomery, not wealthy but had it less hard than many. Told me about people drifting through town looking for work - not bums- might just ask for some water, and his mom or grandmother would also scrape up a sandwich or an apple for them.
By contrast the housewife of a jewish family who lived across the street for a few years would always yell insults at the people telling them to keep moving and get off her property. Punchline...
Startled to hear my dad say matter of factly "If enough jews acted like that in Germany he could easily see how Hitler turning on them was popular.

Blogger Monotonous Languor December 21, 2019 12:54 PM  

I've always been suspicious of that phrase, "God is love".

Blogger Rek. December 21, 2019 1:07 PM  

Speaking of. Could someone tell me what Owen's "Git!!" means?

Blogger The Cooler December 21, 2019 1:18 PM  

@30 Isaac Mozeson is another Jewish grifter, very much in the same vein as Shapiru and Prager, attempting to lay obviously tremulous Jewish claim to Western civilization while ignorant Judeo-Christians, the room temp IQ set and clueless windmill tilters cheer him on.

The man argues amenable to be derived from amen...

Any questions or you wanna hit me with more butthurt indignation cloaked as righteousness?

*Windex*

Blogger Ominous Cowherd December 21, 2019 1:26 PM  

@30, Vaughan, don't be a twit.

Blogger Vaughan Williams December 21, 2019 1:32 PM  

Mozeson is nothing like Shapiru and Prager, nor is he "laying claim to Western Civ". He traces all humanity back to Babel. If Mozeson makes the occasional mistake, well, he's got a lot on his plate and being an Orthodox Jew, sometimes he interprets things through a doctrinal lens, when his own method left to itself gives a better result. For the most part though, Isaac Mozeson is spot on.

Anonymous Anonymous December 21, 2019 1:36 PM  

@5 Rek are you in a big city USA?

Blogger sammibandit December 21, 2019 1:40 PM  

When in doubt, it always comes back to strudel.

Blogger Unknown December 21, 2019 1:49 PM  

Uh, this seems like a representation question. Of course there must be a translation, a change in representation of different emotions, it doesn't matter what your 《primary》 emotions are. The existence of a translation is evidenced by our same emotional system, as stated in the article. Scientists are getting dumber by the day.

Blogger DonReynolds December 21, 2019 1:52 PM  

Two tiny points.

Missing Words, which are words that simply do not exist, because it is not any part of the thinking in that culture or their experience. My first nominee in this category is the English word "compromise", which simply does not exist to a hispanic, most particularly the Mexican audience.

I have tried many times over the years to introduce this important English word to hispanics in Texas and it really is beyond their thinking. In their culture, either you are in charge or they are. The notion of power sharing or cooperating on solving a problem or making helpful suggestions, even if they see something obvious. I Never had any success. There is no compromise with hispanics. They readily accept the gringo being in charge, until they think THEY are.

For the other category, I nominate Lost Words in the English language...words that had strong meaning in the past but have been ignored so long as to be totally useless. I nominate the word "shame" for this category. The Japanese still know what shame feels like and it is a serious experience, but among English speakers the word "shame" has pretty much lost all meaning. The is no shame because there is so little responsibility and this puts honor and dignity at serious risk. Shame, or rather the avoidance of shame, was a major motivator in the past, but I have not seen it in decades. I know that it still existed in this culture during my lifetime, but all use seems to have stopped years ago.

Blogger Dan in Georgia December 21, 2019 2:05 PM  

“Scram!” “Go away!” “Get outta here!”

What you would yell at a cat eyeing your canary.

Blogger Daniel December 21, 2019 2:24 PM  

Jack Vance has a good sci fi novel around this subject.
It is name The languages of Pao I think

Blogger SirHamster December 21, 2019 2:29 PM  

Rek. wrote:Speaking of. Could someone tell me what Owen's "Git!!" means?
Git can also be used as a replacement for “get” ; ex: “Sup dawg, I’m gonna finna git (get) outside.” or “You better be gitting (getting) over there.”

In other words, "Go". Don't think Owen's usage has the insulting connotations of the other definitions.

Blogger rognuald December 21, 2019 3:06 PM  

"not only is it impossible for people of different cultures to successfully live together, it is not possible to correctly understand cross-cultural communication even when both sides think they are speaking the same language..."

This explains the problem between Americans and Democrats (and their allies).

Blogger Daniel December 21, 2019 3:09 PM  

I am argentinian and we know what compromise is
Do not blame the language

Blogger Rek. December 21, 2019 3:16 PM  

Europe. French speaking.

Blogger yoghi.llama December 21, 2019 3:29 PM  

The Hopi Time Controversy makes me slightly skeptical.

Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes is one of the best books I ever read. Despite great eagerness to learn, the Piraha simply could not be taught to count in Portuguese.

Blogger Nostromo December 21, 2019 3:53 PM  

A few decades ago, the local fish wrapper published a puff piece about squirrels. They interviewed a scientist who described breathlessly that he discovered squirrels would pretend to bury acorns to fool thieving birds. The squirrel mimes burying a nut, then leaves. The watching burd swoops in, and tries to dig up the nut, but there isn't one. Meanwhile the squirrel squirrel is burying the real nut away from prying eyes.

This was revolutionary in th iij s scientist mind! Meanwhile, I and every other deer hunter in the world had watched this behavior from our first day hunting. Scientist are mostly overcredentialed idiots.

Blogger CM December 21, 2019 4:03 PM  

This explains the problem between Americans and Democrats (and their allies).

Even beyond that.

I can't figure out how to explain that the evilness of pushing trans on kids or the reason why we promote hetero relationships to children of homosexual ones is rooted in the biological and divine compulsion to reproduce.

We don't even share basic assumptions about life in common.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine December 21, 2019 4:20 PM  

"like, for example the "ye" from the English language."

That "y" is actually a stand-in for the Thorn rune, producing a "th" sound, so it was never pronounced "yee old". This is a difference in characterization rather than pronunciation.

Language is based on what a society has experienced and successfully found ways to deal with within some span of generations. More simple languages can grow fractally more complex when the need and ability rises, and more complex ones can be degraded.

If you consume truth, your language can grow, but will shrink when you reject it.

Blogger Jim the Curmudgeon December 21, 2019 4:47 PM  

"Researcher Isaac Mozeson carried forward the principle of classic linguistics and shows how all languages are linked to Hebrew, once you understand the main type of ways that language (and thus mythology) got confused."

That sounds like a giant steaming pile of horse dung. I'd love to see how the languages of Australian aborigines, Mongolians, Pueblo Indians and Bantu were all traced back to a single source in the Middle East. Without hearing the argument, this sounds very much like the linguistics equivalent of the Da Vinci code. Or of those people who argue that aliens visited earth because of pyramids in different locations.

Wake me up when you find a Jewish scholar who DOESN'T argue that Jews are central to history.


Blogger The Cooler December 21, 2019 4:49 PM  

In 1993, in a meat market called Piere's in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I, a Southerner, learned the hard way, from a corn fed ogre, that the terms "bud" and "son" are ones of neither endearment nor de-escalation in the Midwest.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash December 21, 2019 5:25 PM  

Vaughan Williams wrote:Researcher (((Isaac Mozeson))) concocted an explanation from the principle of classic linguistics and shows how all languages are linked to Hebrew,
Vaughan Williams wrote:For the most part though, (((Isaac Mozeson))) is spot on.
Mozeson is neither a scientist nor a linguist. He started with his conclusion and asked himself how he could "prove" it. Frankly, from a linguistic perspective he's full of **it.
Hebrew is a Antique Era language, itself descended from Canaanite, a language closely related to and perhaps descended from Ancient Egyptian, inscriptions of which have been found dating back almost 5000 years.
Compared to Ancient Egyptian, Hebrew is a modern language.

Blogger Kiwi December 21, 2019 5:43 PM  

Fascinating subject. A person tried to explain the meaning of an emotion from their culture to me using English, they could not find the words, it's like describing a colour without using a visual object.

The best way to determine universal emotional responses is with observable and measurable methods, eg blood pressure, eye dilation, skin moisture, heart beat etc. However, even that isn't foolproof if one has advanced understanding of innate responses.

Good to see the Maori get a mention. They should have quizzed them on what Cannibalism was. I've heard them say that's a white mans word. Who am I to disagree, would be culturally insensitive to say the least.

Blogger Ransom Smith December 21, 2019 5:48 PM  

Language breaks apart by region as well.
I was once so befuddled by a New Englander from Massachusetts, that I comprehended if they were retarded.
Different peoples are different.

Blogger Kiwi December 21, 2019 5:52 PM  

@3. pdwalker

Forget word concepts, no numbers blew my mind away.

Blogger The Cooler December 21, 2019 5:58 PM  

If Mozeson makes the occasional mistake

Mozeson does not make the occasional mistake. Mozeson is occasionally, accidentally correct in between re-writing history in favor of Jews. He's the Howard Zinn of wannabe linguists.

Mozeson is nothing like Shapiru and Prager

Yes, he obviously is. Your crush on his horeshit changes nothing.

For the most part though, Isaac Mozeson is spot on.

You are wrong. He is wrong. You liking how he's wrong doesn't make him right.

Grow up.

Blogger Doug Cranmer December 21, 2019 6:20 PM  

The Cooler wrote:In 1993, in a meat market called Piere's in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I, a Southerner, learned the hard way, from a corn fed ogre, that the terms "bud" and "son" are ones of neither endearment nor de-escalation in the Midwest.

Well, you'll be glad to hear the following ...

"New owners restoring Piere’s name, nightclub to undergo remodel.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): New owners have taken over Piere’s, most recently known as “The Hub,” and they plan on restoring the once troubled Fort Wayne nightclub to its original glory.
...
A new security staff will be hired, along with off duty police officers."


Sounds like quite a place. :)

Blogger Kiwi December 21, 2019 6:41 PM  

@ 49. Daniel
We have swarms of Argentinians come down on working visa, some no visa, for the summer. I find they can compromise, but what I've noticed is they genuinely have no idea what I'm talking about when I say that at 6am it isn't appropriate to use a loud voice, even if it is contagious laughter and joyous with song. They get into a lot of local conflict over late/early hours of noise. They also wear not enough clothes and are too huggy. They also called us racist which caused a right stink up for them and people went so low as to reminded them what happened when they tried to mess in the Falklands. However, on the bright side they fill a seasonal work gap and, more importantly, they play exceptional soccer and are the ringers on our local team.

Blogger Johnny December 21, 2019 6:53 PM  

@52 >>They interviewed a scientist who described breathlessly that he discovered squirrels would pretend to bury acorns to fool thieving birds.

That is some painfully bad science. He is assuming a motive on the part of the squirrel that is far from certain. As an example of how you can be fooled, beavers will patch up a dam if it starts to leak. The apparent motive, patching the dam, is lacking. Put a speaker somewhere and have it make running water noises, and the beaver will patch up the speaker with mud and sticks. They are just responding to the noise, not consciously fixing the dam.

Inferring a motive on the part of an animal that can't be proven is always precarious. The only animals that can be shown to think like us are some of the great apes. The rest of the animal kingdom? Could be others, but not many.

Blogger Johnny December 21, 2019 7:23 PM  

>>shows how all languages are linked to Hebrew...

Until modern times any little village was apt to have its own dialect and language drifted a lot through the centuries.

As it was very common for an ethnic group to be identified by its language, what probably made a person a Hebrew was speaking Hebrew. There were very few Hebrew speakers and it couldn't have been around very long as a recognizable dialect of the Semite group because nobody even knows where the Hebrews came from. I suppose you could say they are a bastard ethnic group, no identifiable father.

Jesus probably spoke Aramaic.

>> Wikipedia - Aramaic is a language or group of languages belonging to the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic language family. More specifically, it is part of the Northwest Semitic group, which also includes the Canaanite languages such as Hebrew and Phoenician.

Blogger Akulkis December 21, 2019 7:29 PM  

"By contrast the housewife of a jewish family who lived across the street for a few years would always yell insults at the people telling them to keep moving and get off her property."

Wow. Quite ironic from one of the nation of perpetual refugees.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash December 21, 2019 7:45 PM  

Johnny wrote:Jesus probably spoke Aramaic.
Jesus certainly spoke Aramaic,a nd probably quite a bit of Greek too. Hebrew as a living language was lost during the Babylonian exile. Aramaic was the lingua franca of the Babylonian empire. Among the exiles, Hebrew survived as a Scriptural/Liturgical language. Among the non-exiled Israelites, Hebrew had already been replaced with Phoenician or Aramaic.
By the time of the Roman conquest of Palestine, Aramaic was the local language, and Greek was the language of trade. The Romans imposed Greek as the administrative language as well.
As a small businessman/artisan in Gallilee, Jesus would probably had to learn quite a bit of Greek, just to conduct his trade and pay his taxes.

Blogger Akulkis December 21, 2019 8:09 PM  

@60
"Forget word concepts, no numbers blew my mind away."

1, 2, many is common among hunter-gatherer societies.

Blogger Akulkis December 21, 2019 8:16 PM  

Greek had been the official language to as far south as Egypt and as far east as the Indus river ever since those areas were conquered by Alexander the Great -- hence why the major Mediterranean port of Egypt is Alexandria, and also the site of a lighthouse which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Blogger MrNiceguy December 21, 2019 10:40 PM  

WTeverlovingF? How is this not a joke? I know we had that professor who was submitting fake papers to show how absurd academia had gotten.

Either he's at it again, or academia is worse than he could have guessed.

Blogger Clay December 22, 2019 12:53 AM  

That's funny. Iwas watching some black guys on the typical sports news the other day, and thinking about how they all seemed to have the same problem with pronouncing a word that began with "str". They say skruggle, skrenth, skretch, skreet,...I could go on forever, here...matter-of-fact, I had no idea of just how many words in the English language begin with "str".It's massive.

I used to think it was just a cultural thing, variated with dialects. I have one of the most horrible Southern drawls you could imagine. Still, I can pronounce a word as it was meant to be. But these black guys are from all over the US.

It makes me wonder...is this a "physical" thing, or intentional?

Blogger FrankNorman December 22, 2019 1:20 AM  

There are plenty of words nowadays that not even all English speakers understand the same way.
An obvious contemporary example: the word "Democracy".

Some people think the word means a form of representative government, in which a country is governed according to the wishes of the citizens, as expressed through the electoral process.

But other people seems to think that it means the country is governed according to a specific ideology, typically that of secular liberalism... whether the majority of the population want it that way or not!

So if everyone gets to vote, and they vote the Theocracy Party into power, is that outcome a democratic one?

Blogger rumpole5 December 22, 2019 5:58 AM  

My Caymanian wife and I, married 40+ years, still experience puzzlement at what the other is trying to communicate at times. We are "divided by a common language".

Blogger DonReynolds December 22, 2019 10:02 AM  

There have been married couples, whose only common language was not the native tongue of either of them.

Czar Nicholas II was a native Russian speaker. His wife was from Germany. She spoke no Russian and he spoke no German, but they ended up communicating in English, even in their correspondence.

When I was in college, I was friends with a married couple from China. Not wanting to be an Ugly American, I told them it would not be rude if they spoke Chinese to each other during my visit. They both laughed. Turns out his Chinese is incompatible with her Chinese. The only common language they have is English.

Blogger pdwalker December 22, 2019 12:25 PM  

@73 the differences between men and women are hard enough. But when you add in language barriers and cultural differences...

Well, it does have it's amusing moments, and it's hard ones.

Blogger HouellebecqGurl December 22, 2019 2:00 PM  

I am a white Southern lady from the deepest part of the South. I can't find common ground with most white women in the NE or the West,due to regionalism, and we are basically the same people. Now add in all the other factors like race, religion, culture, language issues that I don't have with these other white people, and each box ticked makes it less and less likely we will find any common ground.
That said, I have had employees in China,Mexico and S Korea for 2 decades now. Great people,we get along just fine. In our own separate worlds, our own separate countries. I know all about their lives, they know about mine, and I've only met some of them in person once or twice. My hubby has had a Japanese business partner for 33 yrs. They split everything 50/50. They've only ever met once.

Blogger HouellebecqGurl December 22, 2019 2:03 PM  

I have a funny story about the word redneck. I recently used the word to describe myself on a YouTube comment section. I got a message from YT to remove the comment due to hate speech.
True story.

Blogger HouellebecqGurl December 22, 2019 2:05 PM  

You are making an ass of yourself-stop it.

Blogger HouellebecqGurl December 22, 2019 2:14 PM  

There is NOTHING horrible about a deep Southern drawl, so stop saying it that way.

Blogger Akulkis December 22, 2019 3:31 PM  

Neither of those definitions are right, FrankNorman. And you should know better.

A Democracy is a system of government in which the general population (with possible restrictions) vote for laws (Laws put into place by "Voter Initiative" or "Ballot Proposal" are examples of Democracy).

Anybody who claims that somebody is "destroying our democracy" is an abject liar just trying to get you to think that we're supposed to be a democracy. Marxists LOVE the idea of democracy just long enough to seize power: One man, one vote, one time), because as Lincoln noted, you can fool "all of the people some of the time", which is all it takes for them to obtain permanent control.

We have Republic. Anybody who tries to transform that into "Representative Democracy" is, again, lying to you.

True Form / Counterfeit Form
============================
Monarchy/ Tyrant
(rules to benefit all)/(rules for self)

Oligarchy / Cabal
(rules to benefit all)/(rules for the rich)

Republic / Democracy
(rules to benefit all) / (rules to benefit the poor, the lazy, and crazy).


Blogger Akulkis December 22, 2019 3:40 PM  

Speaking of langauge differences, there was a case famous in navy circles during WW2.

The US and the UK/Canadian navies sent officers for a planning meeting. A particular aspect of anti-submarine warfare came up.

One of the Royal Navy officers proposed to "table the discussion" on that subject. Their US Navy counterparts objected vehemently.

The two groups argued about whether to "table the discussion" or not for three whole days until somebody finally realized that BOTH groups wanted to talk about the subject immediately.

In the UK, to table a discussion means to keep it "on the table" until everything about it is done.

In the US, to table a discussion means to put it on the table, as if a book which you've stopped reading, to be resumed at some indefinite time in the future, if ever.

This, and several other terms lead Churchill to remark that the US and the UK are two nations divided by a common language.


British English:

Blogger Akulkis December 22, 2019 4:15 PM  

"When I was in college, I was friends with a married couple from China. Not wanting to be an Ugly American, I told them it would not be rude if they spoke Chinese to each other during my visit. They both laughed. Turns out his Chinese is incompatible with her Chinese. The only common language they have is English."

That's not uncommon.
The reason Chinese is written with ideographs rather than an alphabet is because the various dialects of Chinese are really entirely separate languages in and of themselves. Mandarin sounds NOTHING like Cantonese, and thus, if written alphabetically, would be as similar as Norwegian and Italian -- which is to say, not at all.

But all forms of Chinese use the same ideographs for the same meanings.

The Japanese written language STARTS with the Chinese ideographs (all 30,000 or so of them), then adds on top of that two different alphabets (an "old" one, and a newer simplified form), and then, for foreign words that don't have at least one vowel after each consonant, they top it off with the English alphabet.

Take a look at the Japanese section on a multi-lingual document (say assembly instructions, or a warranty) that comes with some product as you're unpacking it from the box. You'll see mostly Chinese characters, plus a few strings of significantly less complicated characters (Japanese words spelled out with the Japanese alphabet) and then a few words, usually in English, for all of the technology loanwords.

I studied Japanese on my own a bit in my mid 20's. Never got far with it. Later, I decided to study Russian on my own, and got to the point where I could visit Russia for a couple weeks and not need a translator -- which is not to say that I'm fluent in the language, or even that I understand it very well. I just learned how to phrase my questions so that the answers would be Yes / No, Right / Left, or some other choice between two alternatives. I don't hear it spoken often enough to comprehend it at normal conversational rates.

And interesting thing I have noticed about Russian is that outside of prepositions, Russian and English have very similar overloading of words. Example -- Their word for cancer is the same word as for a crab (the constellation called "Cancer" in English is commonly depicted as a crab). There are better, almost exact parallels, but unfortunately, I can't think of any at the moment.
In contrast though, Russia word order can vary wildly. In Russian, Yoda's manner of speaking is not the slightest bit unusual, as a sentence or question is typically constructed to put the least important concept at the beginning, and the most important part at the end.

"To store went Anna?" => means, Is it Anna who went to the store?
"Anna went to store?" => means, Is it the store where Anna went?
"To store Anna went?" => means, Has Anna gone to the store (yet)?
Russian has no articles like a, an, the, so mentally insert "the" before "store"
and since nouns are inflected, store would be modified with the "prepositional"
ending to indicate that "the store" is the destination for Anna's travel.

I took a some college level courses in Russian a couple years ago. Someone was complaining about the difficult grammar (myself, I took the class primarily because for me, the grammar is the most difficult part).
The instructor, a woman from Saint Petersburg, shot back with, "No. English grammar is crazy. 'Would have been?'"

There is no equivalent for the hypothetical past perfective in Russian. The concept just does not exist. To translate, "If John had gone to the movie, then he would have been caught in the rainstorm coming home." is very difficult to translate into Russian.

Blogger Boaty Bear December 22, 2019 4:48 PM  

So does that mean Christians can make use of the legislation regarding anti-semitism?

Hours of fun!

Blogger Vaughan Williams December 23, 2019 8:41 AM  

Chocolate pudding as known in North America doesn't even have a proper word or name in England. This link has a funny discussion where people try to find the right way to express "chocolate pudding" in British English. Various things come close, but nothing is quite right. https://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/49159/what-do-the-british-call-the-dish-which-is-called-pudding-in-the-us

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