Re: Intrusive questions

1

There are those who say there's an ethnic factor involved.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:01 AM
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At work, a woman that I work with fairly closely said that she wanted to ask how I was feeling (in context of the pregnancy), but didn't want to intrude.

Comments like that make me suspect that I tromp all over Texas Courtesy without ever realizing the half of it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:14 AM
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trample, stomp, whatever.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:17 AM
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But why would you write a post like this?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:19 AM
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When meeting someone I'm dating, my mother is really reserved and overly nice until she has a single glass of wine. Then she starts weepily asking about every sensitive topic imaginable. Last time, when she was having dinner at my then-boyfriend's house (said boyfriend was 20 years my senior and had two grade-school-aged sons), she slipped suddenly from gushing about the meal he'd made to asking what Max planned to do about the fact that kids these days are getting blowjobs at school by age 12.

Max, who shares my mom's holy-shit worldview but not her politics, says, "Well, I guess we'll have to make sure their girlfriends are all on birth control from 7th grade up!"

My mother gasped, burst into tears, and began peeping helplessly about "But those sweet innocent boys! You would (sob) abandon them, GODLESSLY, into adult sexuality? In junior high?"

Meanwhile, Max, whose own views on this topic are about as repulsive to me as my mom's, sits there flabbergasted, trying to understand how it's not common understanding that birth control ought to be pumped into the water supply. Watching her trying to get her to stop crying was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:20 AM
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Watching herhim trying


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:21 AM
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You know, I think this explains both your Down syndrome/abortion post and the reaction it got. I don't think I said, but I was certainly thinking "Of course you don't hear people blithely discussing the abortions they've had after finding out they were carrying a fetus with a chromosomal syndrome, it's really really private and touchy." But if that's a consistent blind spot of yours, the post makes perfect sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:25 AM
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Once a Baptist hits the bottle, that's it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:27 AM
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But if that's a consistent blind spot of yours, the post makes perfect sense.

I find the characterization of h-g's folkways as a "blind spot" insensitive!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:29 AM
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7: Well, hang on. I don't expect it to be work conversation - I'm not totally tactless. But it doesn't come up on personal blogs very much, where people describe all sorts of nutty-ass intimate details in inexcruciating detail, either.

I think the difference is of course that it's fairly rare, and so the intersection of loudmouth over-sharers with people who've actually found themselves aborting fetuses with chromosomal abnormalities is tiny.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:34 AM
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The problem with being asked an offensive question in person is that you can't totally ignore it.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:36 AM
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it doesn't come up on personal blogs very much, where people describe all sorts of nutty-ass intimate details in inexcruciating detail

That probably just reflects the fact that there are still (unspoken) guidelines about which kinds of intimate details have become okay to share, and which aren't.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:49 AM
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Yeah, you really need to develop the astonishedly blank stare in response. And you can't even do that unless it's someone you're comfortable with slapping down.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:50 AM
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aren't haven't.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:50 AM
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I think the Down's syndrome abortion post, on my end, was quite a bit like in eighth or ninth grade when Nancy Reagan's Don't Do Drugs campaign started to fall apart in my eyes.

Previously, I heard this extremely black-and-white "This is your brain on drugs" presentation of the issue, and when I started to see ordinary recreational drug use, it was like, "Whaaa? I didn't realize this was an option."

Most abortion talk in this country is couched around teenagers who got knocked up, a la "this is your brain on drugs." I'd expanded my basis of people who get abortions to include women of all ages, in or out of relationships, who didn't feel like it was the right time to have a baby.

I didn't realize that the medical profession will facilitate an abortion in a very conservative part of the country, in the case of chromosomal abnormalities, until they started walking me down that path, should I want it to be available.

I still don't get why everyone infers I'm judging women who do this, and that's the part that frankly pisses me off.

Okay, I don't mean to re-open this can of worms. It's touchy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:56 AM
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The problem with being asked an offensive question in person is that you can't totally ignore it.

My problem with being asked an offensive question is that my alarm bells don't even go off, and I just start earnestly answering the question.

It's only when I tell it to someone else and here their response does it occur to me that there was a problem. Or I'll realize it on my own a day or two later.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:58 AM
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I still don't get why everyone infers I'm judging women who do this

Titling your post "Sluts vs. Tards: D&C Deathmatch" couldn't have helped.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:00 PM
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17: Because I'm ignoring the double-minority group?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:02 PM
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I still don't get why everyone infers I'm judging women who do this, and that's the part that frankly pisses me off.

Seriously, I was trying to address this. It looked like you were being judgmental because most people would have done the "I haven't heard people mention this first-hand because it's way too private and touchy for most people to talk about" math without even thinking about it. So from most people, a post saying "People really do this?" would be, on some level, disingenous faux-surprise, covering being judgmental. And I think that's why the post got the reaction it did.

I took your surprise at face value, but didn't really understand it. Now that you say you have your privacy instinct set a lot lower than most people's, the surprise makes sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:09 PM
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The problem with being asked an offensive question in person is that you can't totally ignore it.

I find totally ignoring it to be relatively effective. People seem less willing to repeat these things than to say them the first time around.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:11 PM
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No one bit on my #1, so I'll say that people from strongly-individualistic cultures are very touchy about intruding in other people's personal business, or having others intrude on theirs. Definitions of "personal business" vary, but you learn them when you step over the lie.

In more familial cultures people are always prying, meddling and giving advice. It's a part of friendship.

This cuts across the conservative / liberal divide. Many very conservative Christians are reluctant to meddle in areas not covered by church doctrine. Some kid will be acting crazy on his motorcycle (or anything not taboo as per the Bible), and the parents will say nothing. When he croaks himself, they'll say something about God's will or whatever. Or "at least he was doing what he loved to do".

This is noticable also with drinking problems. Around here, people are very tactful and indirect about talking about them. "When I start drinking at 8 am on Saturday, I often find that it ruins the whole weekend". "At some point I started to feel that it wasn't a good idea to be stumbling around drunk in sketchy areas at 3 a.m."

Notable meddlesome cultures are Chinese and Jewish. A friend of mine said that in his Jewish family, friends and family start warning you about alcoholism approximately when you open your third beer. He spoke of it as an ethnic trait. In China I had total strangers I met on the train give me sensitive advice about marital questions ("Go back to your wife!") You just don't have that privacy barrier.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:14 PM
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I was waiting at the gate for my connection the other day (f***ing commute) and this guy sits down and starts telling me about how happy he was that there was no giant line for security (as there often is at LAX) and how everything was going smoothly till the TSA people found his giant recycled pill bottle half-full of liquid colon-cleanser. "They had to take it away and test it. I think they tried to set it on fire. That stuff is expensive. I have to take 1.5 teaspoons every day. But at least they let me have it back."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:15 PM
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I do feel slightly judgmental about it when the super-conservative anti-abortion folks treat Palin like she's basically a saint for not aborting Trig. And when a victim of incest or rape, or a woman whose own health is threatened, can't get an abortion, but women are quietly aborting healthy babies with Down's left and right, and no one's talking about it, it's a problem, and a ridiculous and weird double standard. Is it like any fetus is a full human being with rights as long as they don't have Down's? Do even conservative anti-abortion folks feel like Down's kids aren't fully human beings in the way they envision other fetuses to be?

That's what bothers me about it. People should be free in this country to make the abortion-related decisions that are best for themselves and for their family because no fetus ("normal" or not) should be granted full rights as a citizen, especially over the rights of the mother. But if you work all the time to prevent abortion from being a choice, yet you think it takes a saint not to abort a Down's baby, you're a fucking asshole.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:17 PM
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Notable meddlesome cultures are Chinese and Jewish. A friend of mine said that in his Jewish family, friends and family start warning you about alcoholism approximately when you open your third beer.

That is so my parents. They're just bringing it up! Making small talk! Why are you interpreting it so personally?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:18 PM
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I took your surprise at face value, but didn't really understand it. Now that you say you have your privacy instinct set a lot lower than most people's, the surprise makes sense.

I see what you're saying. And it makes sense. I'll buy that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:19 PM
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22: Gonerill! You don't find that kind of sharing totally amusing and charming?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:20 PM
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22: Gonerill! You don't find that kind of sharing totally amusing and charming?

Maybe after the fact. While it's happening, I generally just sit there, goggling.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:22 PM
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23: Me too, totally. How is she a hero for chrissakes, unless it would have been reasonable for a lesser soul to abort the damaged goods?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:26 PM
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The problem with being asked an offensive question in person is that you can't totally ignore it.

You totally can. The gentle art of not hearing shit that you don't want to deal with is something everybody can and should practice. If meddlesome aunt has asked the same question four times, crescendo, before you turn round and tell her politely to STFU, everybody else is already on your side.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:28 PM
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27: Well, right. True enough. The last time I had this was next to a woman roughly my age in some airport who told me how pretty I was, and even without make-up! For she couldn't face going out without it, and she despaired of this, but it was what it was.

Ayup.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:28 PM
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The last time I had this was next to a woman roughly my age in some airport who told me how pretty I was, and even without make-up! For she couldn't face going out without it, and she despaired of this, but it was what it was.

This does not strike me as quite the same kind of oversharing as colon-cleanser talk.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:36 PM
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32

You know, the other thing about relentlessly nosy and intrusive families is that you'd be less likely to be bothered by it if you're reasonably sure that your answers won't offend or alienate the family. Or the questioners in general.

Obviously, if you pretty much know your answers will alienate or offend, you come to register such questions as intrusive.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:41 PM
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Oh yeah, 32 strikes me as dead-on. My family is nosy and intrusive, but there are no hidden landmines either.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:44 PM
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also, to Heebie's post, "not everyone interprets curiousity as a sign of love, and not everyone withholds questions out of disinterest"

I suddenly realized that I think I make my friends nervous sometimes, with a lack of questions. I'm just trying not to be pushy! I kind of assume people will tell me what they want to tell me, when they want to, but lately I've gotten a lot of "are you not surprised that we broke up?" and "are you upset that I'm telling you about this?"

No! It's okay! I'm just letting you go at your own pace!

People are so complicated.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:44 PM
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31: Not exactly. But it came across from her as a confession that she feels she looks like a total dog without makeup, and couldn't believe I had the guts to do that, truly unbelievable that I was willing to go out in public that way. Which, you know, not a conversation I'd have expected with a stranger.

Not quite the same, but it resulted in a sort of goggling response on my part. She was clearly rather nervous.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:54 PM
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A friend with facial piercings was told that it was a good thing she was pretty, because facial piercings only look good on pretty people. Gee, I'm sorry the rest of us wilderbeests are scarring your sensiblities.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 12:57 PM
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I've found that if you want to stop a conversation, topics having to do with feces, excretion, and the lower GI tract are really effective.

However, you have to learn to recognize beforehand those few who are eager for these conversations.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:04 PM
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The dad of my five year old's BFF is rapid fire questioner. The only thing that bothers me about it is that I walk away from the conversation knowing about him only a tenth of what he knows about me.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:05 PM
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37. Very true, but sometimes these are not the obvious topics to raise when someone is prying into the intimacies of your relationships.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:07 PM
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Gee, I'm sorry the rest of us wilderbeests are scarring your sensiblities.

I think people just can't hear the possible (usually left unspoken) dialogic responses to their words when they blurt these things out.

The most obvious example is asking a young man or woman why he or she doesn't have a girlfriend/boyfriend yet. Um -- maybe because I'm gay. Probably you should think before you ask things like that. It's when people begin to clue in to the possibilities that they either begin to stop asking these questions in a leading manner, or adjust the questions more sensitively, to account for possibilities.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:08 PM
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||

Alan Page of the Minnesota Vikings was the first active NFL player ever to compete a marathon. Later on he ran a 62-mile ultramarathon. He's now a member of the Minnesota Supreme Court. He may be the best runner among judges anywhere ever. He started running when he found out about the life expectancy of NFL down linemen.

|>


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:09 PM
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asking a young man or woman why he or she doesn't have a girlfriend/boyfriend yet.

Come the revolution, this one will be a capital offense. Deliberate rudeness is absolutely permissible in this context.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:10 PM
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My family is nosy and intrusive, but there are no hidden landmines either.

It's ok to be intrusive as long as you aren't intruding, in other words.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:12 PM
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23: Me too, totally. How is she a hero for chrissakes, unless it would have been reasonable for a lesser soul to abort the damaged goods?

I think you're underestimating how seriously they all take the "women aren't to blame, it's those evil abortionists and our Culture of Death!" thing. Remember, a lot of pro-life activism is fundamentally driven by a concern over traditional gender roles, especially w.r.t. motherhood. But of course it's not just that women prefer these roles, it's that they're *natural*, ordained by God, etc. So the fact that so many women do get abortions shows, not that women are naturally inclined to murder their little babies, but that our culture is deeply disordered, so fervently pro-death that it takes real virtue to avoid the temptation to abort. This set of beliefs accomplishes a bunch of things: if provides a rationale for not advocating jail, etc., for women who get abortions (which would be political kryptonite); it helps assuage the consciences of the many pro-life women who do get abortions ("it's ok, you were tricked into it, &c."); it gives pro-life women who don't abort an ego boost; and, of course, it helps frame a pro-forced-childbirth agenda as somehow pro-women (e.g., Kennedy's opinion in Carhart).

It's the same "we traditionalists are actually the oppressed minority" ju-jitsu we've seen with so many other things--just like feminism coerces women to have unsatisfying jobs, it also coerces them into getting abortions. See also the victimhood complex of college conservatives. Another benefit of this move is that it helps build group solidarity.

Ugh.


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:15 PM
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Good luck with that, OFE.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:18 PM
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Having grown up where I did, personal questions are one of two things:

(a) unconscionable rudeness damning one's raising

or

(b) an attempt to walk the questionee right over top of a landmine by use of Jersey barriers, neon signs and a real live traffic cop.

My sister and I, who have finally reached the point of having serious conversations, do a lot of saying, "I know this is a personal question, but..." and it always involves the same ritual dance of recognizing boundaries, intruding upon them and then apologizing profusely. I am trying to help break her out of this by being just slightly over-the-top with my convictions. It helps that her fantastic husband is a nosy Jewish guy from up north. He'll say anything to anybody and I love him for it.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:19 PM
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Whereas among normal folk, "raised by wolves" is a kind of compliment.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:28 PM
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I am trying to help break her out of this by being just slightly over-the-top with my convictions.

I think this can work. Certainly with my brother, who's gay and now HIV-positive, unfortunately, and pretty much needs to be in the closet with the rest of the family, my clear message that nothing he can say will surprise me, and I'll demonstrate by voicing my own views, has more or less eradicated the ritual dancing around topics. Yay.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:30 PM
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I can tell you from experience, parsimon, that having a sister who says that any topic is OK to discuss, and means it, is one of the best things that can happen to him. (Our other sister was always the person to whom everyone could go about anything.)


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:36 PM
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recalled a woman patient, 37 yo, old mother who had renal failure, preeclampsy and still wanted her baby at 8 mo pregnancy, i had to transport her to the maternity hospital, it was heartbreaking how she kept asking me whether i can still hear the fetus heartbeats
i don't know what happened to her after that, most probably both of them died and if they lived both would have been very ill or hopefully the doctor convinced her to abort, though maybe it was too late to save even the mother
the other day i caught an elevator very luckily, right when it was shutting the door, there was a man inside the elevator and he started telling me how it's nice that somebody rushed into the elevator, usually people shy away something
all of which i did not get at the time, i just listened what he's saying without understanding and smiled and nodded then got off at my level
then recalled what he was saying and got it was something like that, so slow reception, i can understand radio, tv, podcasts very well, but real people especially just strangers talking is pretty difficult to get
does not know how to respond to the small talks like that too


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:46 PM
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Yay! I should call my brother. He never answers his email. I figure pestering is still okay from sisters every once in a while.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:47 PM
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all of which i did not get at the time, i just listened what he's saying without understanding and smiled and nodded then got off at my level
then recalled what he was saying and got it was something like that, so slow reception, i can understand radio, tv, podcasts very well, but real people especially just strangers talking is pretty difficult to get

I used to have that feeling in Samoan all the time -- someone would babble incomprehensibly at me, and I'd smile and nod, and then realized that I knew all the words he'd used and the sentence made perfect sense, I just needed thirty seconds of contemplating it to understand it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 1:53 PM
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I have that time-delay comprehension in English. I just can't quite hear strangers; their speech patterns don't resolve into familiar word-waves in my ears or something.

I had a really really vivid audio hallucination the other day, though. Fucking cellphone.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 2:00 PM
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I do too, if I'm not paying attention. If I'm reading, and someone says something, there's a real time lag before it penetrates.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 2:03 PM
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need more practice talking, i think I didn't talk with Dr. Oops comprehensibly too, i recall her name was very nice, French or German sounding, not English i thought at the time
and i thought once that parsimon at flikr looks like the dutch masters' paintings' women faces look


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 2:04 PM
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Her first name is French (not our family, just the name), last name Welsh but is pronounced and spelled exactly like a German word. So you got it exactly right.

Yeah, I think there's nothing like practice for conversation. Your written English is wildly improved since whenever it was you started commenting here -- I wonder if your spoken English has been improving at the same rate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 2:14 PM
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My in-laws' culture is intrusive and judgmental.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 2:27 PM
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My honey's culture is judgmental, certainly, but laterally intrusive. Everyone is all up in everyone's business, but never by asking directly. It can be infuriating.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 2:33 PM
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Renegotiating your relationship with the previous generation of relatives to make them understand that they have to treat you as equally adult, and will respect the boundaries that you have set whether they like it or not, is the most important and liberating thing you can do with your 30th year, for them as well as you. If you can do it sooner, good luck to you, but don't leave it much later.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 2:34 PM
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I'm at the far end of the spectrum from heebie's family. I wont talk about anything even slightly personal unless I've known the person for many years. On the plus side, I know how to keep a secret. There are things I know about my friends from high school that I've never told anyone, not even my (now ex-) wife. I'm a colossally bad gossip, with the sole exception of people I actively dislike. For me gossiping is always an act of malice, which makes it very hard to deal with people who gossip out of a genuine positive interest in the subject of the gossip. It's a mindset I have a hard time wrapping my head around. I've adopted a sort of shrug and just accept it attitude towards it, sort of the same way I deal with furries.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 2:34 PM
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I'm also Jewish, and I also interpret near-smothering levels of emotional engagement, nosiness, and over-sharing as love. And I tend to have romantic problems with WASPS who don't.

But I will say that even within a meddlesome culture, it is quite easy to tell the kind/loving intrusive people from the manipulative/nasty ones. Some intrusive questions are the verbal equivalent of wanting to cuddle, and others the equivalent of pokes and slaps.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 2:38 PM
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"I suppose it never came up--I suppose you never asked. You never ask, much, Stephen."

"Question and answer has never seemed to me a liberal form of conversation," said he.

[from "The Surgeon's Mate" by Patrick O'Brian]


Posted by: Gdr | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 2:43 PM
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I have time-delay comprehension issues sometimes, which I attribute to hearing loss. I tend to react to even marginally personal questions with various tics indicating discomfort, which I eventually subsume under a mask of genial good humor, at which point I'm able to give a seemingly thoughtful or amusing response to the question which reveals nothing genuinely personal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 2:45 PM
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On the other hand, get a little booze in me and I start asking questions that -- depending on your perspective (mine vs. not-mine) -- are either bracingly frank and thought-provoking or blatantly dickish.

So all in all a good system, I think.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 2:46 PM
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53 I just can't quite hear strangers; their speech patterns don't resolve into familiar word-waves in my ears or something.

I know exactly what you mean, Jm - this is a large part of why I hate doing business on the phone. If I don't know the speaker, or don't have a very good idea of what they might be saying, I just can't seem to parse it at all. Is this because I've spent so much of my life interacting with people in text rather than in speech? Have my speech comprehension centers totally atrophied?

Anyway, thanks for mentioning it, because it's relieving the crushing loneliness I'm feeling today to know that someone else has the same quirk.

Oh wait, was that over-sharing?


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:00 PM
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63: The humor gambit is one I use too. It's an excellent way of satisfying the bonding interest that is implicit in the excessively personal question while deflecting the substance. I think most casual conversation is really about nothing - it's monkeys picking lice out of each others fur. Humor can help to both bond and keep at a distance.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:00 PM
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65: I have the same thing, but really, are you sure it's not just a product of regular ol' hearing loss? The cocktail party problem is one of the most difficult tasks in audition, and often becomes difficult before other symptoms are necessarily obvious. Have you and JM spent a good bit of time listening to loud music, by any chance?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:07 PM
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65 -- It's funny, but my interaction with you people has probably made me more intrusive and more tolerant (a little) of intrusion.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:12 PM
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67: I think it is poor hearing -- while I can't blame it on loud music, my hearing is definitely not great, particularly in any situation with background noise. I hate bars with music, because I can't manage conversations in them at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:14 PM
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67: Not sure, and I have spent more than the optimal amount of time listening to loud music, but my auditory system is extremely good in some other tasks - localizing and identifying fairly quiet sounds in another room (albeit in relatively quiet situations), for example, when other people don't notice the sounds at all.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:16 PM
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69: Huh, what?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:16 PM
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70: that doesn't necessarily mean much. Because hearing loss tends to happen in certain frequency ranges more than others, you can have perfectly sharp hearing for many or most things but be missing some set of frequencies that are important for easily comprehending speech.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:22 PM
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I was on the verge of saying "hey, you should get your hearing checked anyhow", but then remembered the number of times I've gotten that advice, and the equal number of times I've blown it off, because all they're going to do is remind me not to scuba dive and try to get me to wear a hearing aid.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:23 PM
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localizing and identifying fairly quiet sounds in another room

That could just as arguably be a function of attunement to the environment at hand -- at home or office, an environment you're very used to, so that anything beyond the normal ambient sound is noticed, though others are less attuned.

This is just going with the theory that some of us are very attuned to what's out of the ordinary, whether it's a smell, or sound, or objects being out of place. It sometimes astonishes me that other people in my usual spaces don't notice these things.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:23 PM
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57 -- Indeed, at this very moment, the wife is out buying me new shirts so her relatives won't worry that we're destitute, when we see them at Christmas. I'll wear them -- domestic tranquility is worth that much -- but I'm not interested enough in shallow opinions that some people might come to to spend the day at the mall.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:43 PM
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The capacity to filter out normal sound is also something that varies wildly. I grew up in a city apartment with a lot of street noise, and I'm very good at 'not hearing' noises that aren't my problem -- sirens on the street, traffic, elevated trains. I can hear them just fine if someone draws my attention to them, but I will never notice them left to my own devices.

I'll occasionally be sitting around with Buck, and will notice that he's getting tense and unhappy. And it'll take me a while, but eventually I'll start deliberately paying attention to see if something noisy is happening, and usually that's it -- there was a car alarm, or someone playing loud music, or something, that I simply didn't notice until he reacted to it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:43 PM
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At least I can always pretend not to understand any question I don't like.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:44 PM
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77: And if things get really ugly, there's always just bringing up Hitler.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:46 PM
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I wonder if it'd be easier to make a program pass the Turing test if you designed it to be super intrusive and judgmental? It seems like it would limit the novel concepts it would have to construct.

I still think my other idea -- a program that acted like a snotty 13 year old gamer -- would be easier to implement, but I dunno, maybe CharleyCarp's in-laws are a good model for AI research.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:46 PM
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73: Wait a minute. My hearing is semi-fucked from too loud music, but that means that I am not supposed to SCUBA dive? I like SCUBA diving! Really?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:51 PM
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Hasn't artificial stupidity been done already?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:52 PM
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80: you're probably okay; diving can cause hearing loss, so it's contraindicated if you have significant hearing loss in one ear, because you're fucked if the other ear gets damaged.

On the other hand I wasn't supposed to spend a decade listening to loud music either, and that worked out fine, so fuck you, doctors!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:54 PM
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The Pope has just decided to forgive John Lennon. Bet they'll be sainting him next.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:55 PM
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81: has it? I haven't researched it yet; just thinking about it idly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:55 PM
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78: Sometimes I wish that this would work for me, too.


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:55 PM
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It's been done as a joking blog post, anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:56 PM
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83: That completely cracked me up. You have to wonder what else is on the Vatican's to-do list now that they've checked off forgiving Galileo and John Lennon.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:57 PM
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78 -- The ultimate in intrusive judgmentalism. If they picked up WASPish facial expressions and conversational lacunae, I'd be in trouble for this all the time. Maybe they just pretend not to understand.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 3:59 PM
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If they picked up WASPish facial expressions and conversational lacunae, I'd be in trouble for this all the time.

My maternal grandmother was not only intrusive, but also kind of insanely hostile and aggressive. My father is a big staid boring WASP (well, boring when tense. When relaxed, he's a goofy nitwit.), largely impervious to being baited.

Apparently, not long after they met, Grandma spent a long family dinner jabbing at Dad, looking for a weak point that would make him react entertainingly, and got nowhere. Finally, consumed by frustration, she looked at him and hissed "And you, you with yer flat eyes!"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:03 PM
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Finally, consumed by frustration, she looked at him and hissed "And you, you with yer flat eyes!"

Interesting relationship.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:08 PM
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Goofy nitwit.

Underappreciated by judgmentalists everywhere.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:10 PM
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91: ain't that the truth.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:10 PM
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90: Grandma was what can only be described as a real piece of work. At her funeral, the air of relief was palpable, and several people surreptitiously flipped cloves of garlic into the coffin to ensure that she wouldn't walk.

Actually, she and Dad got along quite well, generally, compared to how she got on with most people.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:15 PM
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It ends up being a little more serious. Your typical wolf, upon finding that the one piggy lives in a brick house, goes off looking for a pig living in a house of straw. Pick on my 5 year old, and see how amiable the goofy nitwit remains.

I guess I shpould have helped the wife with the shopping.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:16 PM
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67.---I have the same thing, but really, are you sure it's not just a product of regular ol' hearing loss? [...] Have you and JM spent a good bit of time listening to loud music, by any chance?

Oh, I'm so fucked when it comes to hearing. My mom's side of the family has a nasty genetic degenerative hearing loss pattern; we don't know yet how resilient dad's genes will prove for us. And then I spent a lot of time out of my head at raves and the like. I haven't gotten my hearing checked recently because fuck it. Everyone else needs to enunciate more clearly anyways.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:16 PM
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Con't to 94 -- All defended on the principle that intrusion & judgment are symptoms of affection. I don't have a 5 year old, but I did 17 years ago, and I don't think much has been forgotten.

I'm not much with the 'I only trespass because I care.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:29 PM
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Last time I checked my hearing range on the top end was down to around 17 kHz, which is 1 kHz down from when I was a teenager. My stupid friend could hear up to 20.5 kHz back then. I wonder who's ahead now, eh?

Fortunately, hearing loss doesn't kick in until you can't hear 15 kHz, so I'm good for a while.

Does hearing loss affect the low side of the range as well? I would think that normal hearing loss wouldn't but exceptional cases might.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:29 PM
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I guess I shpould have helped the wife with the shopping.

Ha! No, but it really depends on how bad your existing shirts were/are, I think.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:31 PM
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BTW, CRT television sets emit a whining tone around 14-16 kHz. If you can tell when the TV was left on even when it's black and silent, you know your hearing's still pretty good.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:31 PM
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I keep thinking I have hearing loss, because it's sometimes really hard for me to separate other people's sounds into words and stuff, and I'll say "Huh?" just to get them to say it again while my brain makes sense of the sounds. But when I've had my hearing tested, it's fine. I think it's a cognitive thing. It helps a lot if my interlocutor is making eye contact with me. It helps even more if my interlocutor is interesting, because then I can really focus on them while they speak.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:33 PM
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Does hearing loss affect the low side of the range as well? I would think that normal hearing loss wouldn't but exceptional cases might.

Depends what kind of hearing loss it is. It's definitely possible, but yeah, not common.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:36 PM
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I keep thinking I have hearing loss, because it's sometimes really hard for me to separate other people's sounds into words and stuff, and I'll say "Huh?" just to get them to say it again while my brain makes sense of the sounds. But when I've had my hearing tested, it's fine. I think it's a cognitive thing.

I have a vague memory that it's possible to have real hearing loss in terms of 'resolution', rather than simply losing frequencies, or only being able to hear louder sounds. By analogy with eyesight (very, very, weak analogy -I'm not clear at all how this works in an auditory sense) being unable to bring distant objects into focus is distinct from having the world appear dim to you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:39 PM
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In the meantime, a really valuable skill to acquire is the ability to interrupt someone with "I'm sorry, you're going to have to speak more loudly and clearly." Or to say to a roommate "hey, come here and say that to me where I can watch your lips moving!"

If I taught one useful thing to my students, it was that you have to speak loudly, slowly, and clearly when giving oral presentations. "EH? WHAT? TALK LOUDER!"


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:42 PM
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it's possible to have real hearing loss in terms of 'resolution'

My mom swears that until the upper frequencies went, this described her problem. Of course she should have been wearing an aide from the age of about 40, so.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:44 PM
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Part of it is that some people seem to be speaking as if they are not imagining the sound traveling to your particular ears. It's something you can learn to do in voice training, and it's really neat how you can focus your voice at particular people. Most people do it fairly well naturally, but others have a hard time. Many of those latter people seem to be taking one of my classes.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:46 PM
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My brother is an inveterate mumbler, so much so that he inevitably accuses anyone close to him of requiring a hearing aid. And he wants to be a trial lawyer! (And he's still single ... laydeez!)


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 4:53 PM
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106: My roommate is a mumbler. Denies it. After one request that he repeat himself (he does so, I still don't get it), I shrug and give up most of the time. Asking for another repetition annoys him and may garner a look suggesting that I'm deficient in some way. It's hard to know what to do about this that hasn't been done already -- i.e. an explanation that he has a tendency to mumble -- but it's sort of sad, because the result is that I wind up just assuming that we won't be communicating half the time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 5:04 PM
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Question Proposed For Debate:

Extreme concern for privacy and non-intrusiveness, even within the family, is diagnostic of honkitude of the WASP type.

Yes or no?

Does it apply to Dutch- Scandinavian- or German-Americans? Irish- Polish- or Italian-Americans? Black or Latino Americans?

We've already ruled out Jewish and Chinese- Americans.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 5:12 PM
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It's a class thing, too. People with money, especially people whose families have historically had money, tend to be a lot more reticent with the questions. (I think they pry too much in other ways, but they're generally seen as conversationally uptight.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 5:16 PM
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108.---It applies to honkies of the northern-canadian scots-irish type. I may have had about three personal conversations with my dad in my life.

It doesn't apply so much to honkies of the mormon-american english-german type.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 5:17 PM
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Sadly, my defect is that I only have two modes: mumbling or carrying beautifully across great distances. It's good that I have the latter mode, but sort of a bummer for circumstances where I'm not doing public speaking.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 5:19 PM
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My feeling is that it does apply to Scandinavian- and German-Americans, Protestants at least.

One difference is that between laying down the law in an objective way, and talking to someone personally about what you see as a problem in their life.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 5:21 PM
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I have a "heated conversation" mode where I raise my voice without giving it much of a tone or anything, just making it louder, when arguing heatedly with people. People often have to remind me to lower my voice, which they do with an amused/horrified tone without any offense.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 5:23 PM
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It applies to honkies of the northern-canadian scots-irish type. I may have had about three personal conversations with my dad in my life.

True to my experience as well.

I know two families who are extremely close -- and it'd be worthwhile to distinguish closeness from intrusiveness -- but these close families are technically WASPs.

Actually, yes, they're close but not necessarily intrusive/nosy. Healthy respect for boundaries, but still the first people any of them would call with news or issues or a simple need to talk would be family.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 5:28 PM
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Yeah, I don't think it's a class thing, particularly. Is not the monosyllabic farmer a staple of the stereotypical english countryside?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 5:34 PM
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I'm totally close with my dad, and I'd battle anyone who suggested otherwise! We just don't talk about personal matters really at all ever. Not directly. But "sure, I'll play a rubber or two of bridge" means "honey, I'm so glad to spend time with you." And showing me reams of photos from travels means both "I've missed you" and "see, this sort of seeing beautiful countryside is the reason I worked so many years, and isn't it wonderful that your mother and I have figured out how to have an active healthy life in our retirement? and I'd really like that for you, if you want it too." And so forth.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 5:45 PM
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||

Emerson, looks like Friedman's personal financial anxieties are finding expression in projective scolding.

|>


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:00 PM
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Is not the monosyllabic farmer a staple of the stereotypical english countryside?

Yeah, I've been trying to puzzle this through: my own family plays things very close to the vest, and it's a combination of good ol' New England sensibilities, and some vague Scandinavian/Irish thing on the paternal side. This results in a genuine-yet-false joviality (superficiality) and/or the interspersed family member who 'isn't much of a talker', as we say. The latter are mostly men.

Pretty much what people here would consider lower-middle class in origin, and still now, culturally. So what: these are WASPs, I guess, though the paternal side is Catholic. Not a class thing, then.

I'm more interested in the closeness vs. intrusiveness dictinction.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:00 PM
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it's possible to have real hearing loss in terms of 'resolution', rather than simply losing frequencies, or only being able to hear louder sounds.

This is true. Hearing (and hearing loss) is a lot more complicated than eyesight (at least as far as loss of acuity goes). The standard kind of loss due to loud music, work environments, etc is a different kind than usually is due to getting old. The first involves narrow groups of frequencies where you have a loss; the second usually involves a gradual slope from okay low-frequency hearing to bad high-frequency.

These two things can interact, and people also have idiosyncratic and unpredictable abilities to compensate for losses. Audiologists always have to do both tone sensitivity and speech discrimination.

How come don't you guys want to get hearing aids? They make them super fancy now. My friend just got a new one which has built-in bluetooth; she can listen to music from her computer wirelessly.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:04 PM
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I will get a hearing aid once I can program it in python.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:07 PM
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And run linux on it.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:08 PM
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well, boring when tense. When relaxed, he's a goofy nitwit

That describes me relatively well. In fact, I may steal that description.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:08 PM
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I'm boring when a goofy nitwit. When relaxed, I'm tense.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:10 PM
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117: Poor Friedman. If I lost a billion dollars I don't know if I'd be able to take it.

His money was in malls. Someone should go through Friedman's work looking for pro-mall bias.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:13 PM
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120: When I resorted to google to see if you could, all I could find was this.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:14 PM
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Oddly, he's telling people to economize. I guess he's giving up his malls for lost.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:19 PM
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These two things can interact, and people also have idiosyncratic and unpredictable abilities to compensate for losses. Audiologists always have to do both tone sensitivity and speech discrimination.

Which makes sense, because audition is necessarily a cognitive process; even somebody with perfect hearing is piecing together an auditory world from partial information, so it's really the interaction of different levels of impairment at different frequency bands and the way that your brain deals with complex cognitive tasks in audition, with neural plasticity and people's incredible ability to integrate nonverbal cues into the process of comprehension. Which means you can have funny things like somebody who can hear speech perfectly well in person, or not on the phone, or who can hear pretty well as long as they can see the person's face, or who feels like they can hear speech perfectly well, but feels like they have trouble parsing actual meaning.

I think the latter case is kind of neat, actually, because it's an apparent demonstration of the relative processing speed of the brain when you're dealing with familiar tasks in a way you've been learning since childhood vs. dealing with them in a subtly new way. I bet you could do fMRIs on people with problems with speech recognition who otherwise tested pretty okay on hearing tests and you'd see a lot more prefrontal lobe activity during speech processing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:20 PM
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I don't like hearing aids because I feel like they're necessarily not going to have the fidelity that I can get by taking e.g. a good stereo and making it louder. The idea of having the world louder but less faithfully reproduced doesn't appeal to me. Possibly this is an idiotic way to think about it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:22 PM
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124: isn't his entire oeuvre an example of pro-mall bias? Yay, exporting consumerism and importing cheap goods! What could be more pro-mall than that?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:23 PM
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I don't know a lot about it, but there's group of disorders (Auditory Processing Disorders? Specific Language Impairments?) where people test with normal hearing for tones (and often for non-speech sounds) but have real problems parsing speech.

I don't know what the fMRIs look like though.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:24 PM
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I'm expecting him to propose a mall bailout on the theory that the banks will do OK if the malls are healthy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:25 PM
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128: I'm not sure if that's true or not. (Obviously I don't know what it sounds like when you turn up the stereo. One of many variables)

but (a), digital hearing aids are programmed to match your losses so you would (theoretically) get a more faithful version of the original sound. And (b) if you don't like it that way because you're not used to it or whatever, you can set it for just analog volume increase.

And plug it into your iPod. WAY louder than your stereo.

I'm not trying to push hearing aids particularly, I just think it's weird what a societal bias people (in general I don't know you) have about it. And curious about why.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:28 PM
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WHAT'D YOU SAY CECILY? CAN YOU REPEAT THAT PLEASE?

oh I am SO already on it.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:28 PM
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130: I've read about tons of such cases, but it was all with brain damage patients. I haven't heard about that sort of thing as a ... intrinsic? ... disorder. (What's the word for a disorder that doesn't happen because of trauma or disease?)


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:28 PM
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scholar.google search isn't particularly reinforcing my little theory.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:29 PM
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further to 128: audiologists will usually give you a free trial month or so to see if you like it or not.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:29 PM
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digital hearing aids are programmed to match your losses so you would (theoretically) get a more faithful version of the original sound

I think Sifu's probably thinking about "harmonic distortion" (which is a technical thing that can be measured) and other imaginary ways in which sound reproduction can be less than fully faithful.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:30 PM
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But it's also not clear that specific language impairment is a particularly well-understood disorder, or if it's even a single disorder, rather than a whole collection of things.

132: I resist wearing my glasses, too. Dunno.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:30 PM
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137: noise isn't imaginary.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:31 PM
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134: congenital.

SLI

APD

they both (I think) are more often congenital than not, but also (I think) way less common than traumatic/disease-caused brain injuries.

I think.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:32 PM
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Ahh, self-noise. That's a good, non-imaginary measurement. Pretty much the only one, when you're buying recording gear. I also hear the quality of D/A chips can make a significant difference, but I don't think that's quantified.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:34 PM
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And thus, it's imaginary.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:35 PM
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140: yeah, see, I don't think a congenital issue is what we're talking about. It wouldn't surprise me if extremely low levels of frequency-specific hearing loss in adults were enough to throw off your already-existing speech-processing centers such that you had a lot more activity in different areas of the brain which typically have to do with novel or higher level tasks.

But, you know, I just totally made that up, so it wouldn't surprise me if I was wrong.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:35 PM
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yeah I don't really know what you guys are talking about any more. You have left my area of expertise.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:36 PM
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Ooh, what's that disorder where you suddenly become mute, but you can still sing songs? Scott Adams got that for a while, but he got over it, which I hear is what happens. It can last months or years.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:36 PM
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142: but plausible! Certainly the quality of the non-chip components in your DAC can make a difference in the plain ol' meausurable quantities.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:37 PM
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Dude I totally would wear a vacuum tube hearing aid.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:37 PM
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143.... maybe? but people who get diagnosed with any of this kind of thing get a LOT of testing. So low-frequency hearing loss would show up, if that were the cause at root.

And even if it were, wouldn't you call that congenital as well?

Or are you only talking about yourself? I wasn't. I was just ruminating on the varieties of hearing loss etc. Right, yours is probably not congenital, whatever it is.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:38 PM
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Apparently I'm in luck.

It would have to be head-mounted, though. Like, maybe on the crown of the head, with the glowing tube visible.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:38 PM
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I remember hearing it's kind of common for brain damage / other disorders that keep someone from speaking to still let them sing, s.th. about the functions being in different parts of the brain.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:39 PM
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||

I just found out that the new store going in at an intersection a mile or so away is a sex store. I found this out because an "online petition" about it was sent to my neighborhood listserv. Personally, I have zero objection; in fact, since it's right across the street from a mattress store I can't think of a better location. I am so amused by the existence of the petition that I am considering trolling my own neighborhood listserv. This would not be a good thing, however. I must be strong.

|>


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:39 PM
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145 aphasia?


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:39 PM
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It probably could be quantified by doing a roundtrip through digital to analog and back and then taking the mean error, and then by doing A/B swaps you could isolate the contributions of the different components, but that's not anything that's currently advertised about any gear I've heard of.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:39 PM
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138.2: You're going to have to give up that resistance one of these days. Might as well. With hearing loss, as far as I know, you're not further damaging your hearing without correction; with vision loss, you may well be. Don't mess around with that.

This has been your friendly P.S.A. from the Dept. of yer mom.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:40 PM
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whoa this one is crazy


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:40 PM
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Right, yours is probably not congenital, whatever it is.

Well, it might be. I don't actually know. It's inner ear, so it's not a loud music kind of thing. That's like hearing loss frosting on the inner ear hearing loss cake.

148: well, I'm just wondering about the sort of mild symptoms people are talking about in this thread; somebody who occasionally had difficulty hearing what people were saying on the phone wouldn't necessarily go get tons of audiological testing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:41 PM
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152: Sounds like it, yes. But a specific form of aphasia.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:41 PM
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156 okay. I was going at it from the other end. "This thing exists. People who have it get tested a lot to rule out other less complicated things"

I don't think anyone on the thread does either. Sound/age induced hearing loss varies enough, and hair cells are wimpy enough, to expain almost everything.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:43 PM
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ooh oooh I win!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:44 PM
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Man, at first I thought that said "spasmodic dysphoria"


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:44 PM
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153: there's definitely software that measures that, though. People use it to tune installation systems in nightclubs and at concert venues, but you could use it for this as well. Of course you need to know the response characteristics of your mic, etc. etc., but you should be able to get things pretty accurate. This software appears to be an example, dunno how good it is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:45 PM
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As an on-topic-off-topic comment, I have a terrible time picking out a specific friend's voice. When we were in the same raiding guild in WoW I would simply have no idea he was talking when we were in combat. If he said anything to me, someone else would immediately repeat it so that I would hear it. I could hear other people fairly well but him? Never. I've always blamed it - and a general difficulty with voices when in a noisy setting - on marching in front of the drums through high school.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:46 PM
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author of several business commentaries, social satires and experimental philosophy books.

Umm. Srsly?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:47 PM
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He's trained as a hypnotist!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:48 PM
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158: Cecily snappin' on cilia!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:49 PM
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You leave those poor cilia alone, Cecily!


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:50 PM
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stupid weak-ass cilia


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:50 PM
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In a hundred years people will have forgotten Swift and will read Scott Adams in their literature classes.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 6:51 PM
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||
I am writing a C# application that I want to deploy as part Javascript (the javascript part communicating with the server for some parts) but to debug with using a browser control. Am I overly foolish for trying to write a source-to-source transformer for this purpose? And does it help or hurt that I'm making an (interpreted) DSL to do it? (Note, the parsing of the DSL is super-easy.)
|>


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:01 PM
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but to debug with using a browser control

I.e., an embedded browser with C# as the scripting language, which rocks when debugging browser GUIs.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:02 PM
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That doesn't seem like something you'd want to do unless you really, really had to.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:02 PM
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There needs to be like an Occam Warez-razor about not needless multiplying languages.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:03 PM
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I think there is totally a bias against hearing aids in a way that there isn't against glasses, and if I had to guess, it's because the technology to make them comparably helpful lagged far behind. (I don't know when hearing aids came about, but Ben Franklin sure didn't invent BiAudials.) So hearing aids are just still more unknown and perceived as only appropriate for extreme hearing loss.

I would love a gadget that helped me hear when there's lots of background noise.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:04 PM
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What would you suggest for easily applying transformations to a tree based on an XPath-like paradigm, but not being forced to serialize the output as in XSL?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:04 PM
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173: If your hearing sensitivity and range is fine (in both ears) then such a thing is probably beyond a mere hearing aid.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:05 PM
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171: So would you think I'd maintain two versions, one C# and one javascript, or just bite the bullet and only maintain the javascript and have to debug using lousy browser debuggers?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:06 PM
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And I'd like it to translate languages, please.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:07 PM
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I think what you're looking for is the bablefish, which killed God. Why do you hate America, heebie?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:09 PM
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173, 175

it's totally within the capability of a hearing aid (they almost all have directional microphones and speech-frequency identification programs available). They just are really really expensive.

re: the glasses thing- but people had those crazy ear horn things forever, right? I mean, that's not stylish, but people in the 50s were also still all "men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses" or whatever. I'm sure it's related to a perception of aging or something, I just don't really get it.

Also people go really out of their way to make hearing aids smaller/less noticable. This for example is ridiculous.

I guess contact lenses are the same kind of thing...


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:10 PM
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It has occurred to me that while I am not so low as to troll unfogged for sex, I am sufficiently low to attempt to pimp out my brother. So, good news, laydeez: your dreams have been answered! He's young and shy, and is thus often overlooked. But he's smart, funny, and even more attractive than me. He works and goes to law school, which means he has no time for you, but this also means he will buy you nice things in a few years. Get in on the ground floor!


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:11 PM
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Er, I meant to link to this in 179


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:12 PM
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180: but where does he live? and does he wear glasses?


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:13 PM
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173: I would love a gadget that helped me hear when there's lots of background noise.

Wouldn't it be better to avoid situations with lots of background noise when you can? I mean, isn't that the equivalent of wishing for a groovy unobtrusive device to allow you to breathe cleanly when there's lots of pollution?

Analogy violation.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:18 PM
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176: you might have to use lousy debuggers, but you'd have a lot less to debug, and a lot clearer path to figuring it where it's broke. There still aren't javascript debuggers that aren't crappy and browser-based? That seems insane.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:19 PM
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Is the entire noise pollution movement an analogy ban violation? We report, you decide.

182: Well, you can attach visual studio to IE to debug, but it still kind of sucks.

Web programming is a nightmare.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:21 PM
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185.2 -> 184, obv.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:22 PM
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My mom has a serious, pricy hearing aid (multiple thousand dollars), and she HATES it. It causes her actual pain. She'll wear it to a restaurant in the hopes of hearing tableside conversation, and instead it'll pick up and magnify a hundredfold all the clinking of silverware and glasses and plates.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:22 PM
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True. Yeah, I don't really know why vision loss is so much less marked as a sign of aging than hearing loss is.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:23 PM
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Because it happens much earlier, generally.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:24 PM
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Wouldn't it be better to avoid situations with lots of background noise when you can?

Like bars and noisy restaurants? Can be quite limiting to always avoid, no?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:25 PM
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Why do you hate America, heebie?

Why does America hate me?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:26 PM
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187- yeah, a major problem is that people don't want to, or don't know how, to tell the doctors what they need. It should never cause her pain. If it's expensive enough, the programs can be changed. But that does require multiple appointments, and paying attention to when it is working and when it is not, etc.

I think people (including me, on many occasions) just get tired of dealing with it. Other people enunciating better or writing notes is far less work on my part.

But if it hurts, there's something wrong, and your mom should see another audiologist. One associated with a university or hospital is way better than one at any of the little chain miracle ears stores.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:26 PM
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I have bad hearing loss against any kind of background noise, and it's starting to affect me professionally -- at multiple-person meetings in high-ceilinged echoey rooms, etc. It already made it impossible for me to, like, pick women up in bars (not that I could ever have done that anyway). Yet I don't get a hearing aid out of vanity, not wanting to look like an old man, etc. But saying "what's that? Could you speak up?" all the time is making me look pretty old anyway.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:28 PM
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192: I think JM's comment does point to an interesting possible problem, though, along the lines of what we were talking about earlier; if you're used to doing your internal processing based on a certain frequency response, levelling out that frequency response will require a lot of re-learning how to hear, no?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:29 PM
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I heard they have these hearing aids that flip everything upside down, and after you wear them for like two weeks, you learn to hear everything upside down.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:31 PM
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192.----It's kinda hard to know how bad it is for her. She has a well-ordered life in which everyone shouts at her and repeats themselves, so when she does wear her hearing aid, she's already departed from her comfort sone.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:32 PM
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I actually walk around people and position myself specially and stuff so my good ear is toward them. When I don't want to hear someone or something, I turn my bad ear that direction.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:32 PM
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saying "what's that? Could you speak up?" all the time is making me look pretty old anyway

See, this is crazy talk! I have a really hard time believing that anyone actually thinks someone else wearing a hearing aid/ admitting to hearing loss adds to their estimated age. Does it really? What about little kids? Do people think I'm older than I am because of it? How old do you have to be for this to be an issue?


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:32 PM
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198: I don't know how old you are, but I'm adding +2 to your age as we speak.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:35 PM
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195 is awesome.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:35 PM
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Yeah, I mean, I've been deaf in one ear my whole life, give-or-take, so it really doesn't register as an age thing for me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:35 PM
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194, 196
I totally believe that people should not wear hearing aids for anyone's benefit but their own. My family was always getting mad at my grandmother because she wouldn't. "CECILY wears them! She is so well adjusted!" and then they would whine to me about it and I would yell at them for being insensitive to both of us.

Anyway if your mom's ears are being hurt, for sure there is a problem, she should NOT use the hearing aids because pain is an indicator that further damage is being done. And if she doesn't feel like putting the work into getting maximum benefit, well I completely and totally understand. That is why I do not have cochlear implants; I don't want to re learn my life again.

However, I do think it's frequent that people have misprogrammed hearing aids or bad audiologists and give up before they are getting the maximum benefit; if this is something that the individual would like (if it's important to still be able to talk on the phone or whatever) it might be worth working at.

Or it might not!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:37 PM
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201: Give or take an ear? That's a huge difference.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:38 PM
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"a frequent occurrence that people have..."


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:38 PM
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What I do know is that when (not "if") I need a hearing aid, I am SO not going to wear a flesh-colored one. Why hide it? If anything, you want people to see it and enunciate better, dammit. I think I'd get blue-green, to match my eyes.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:39 PM
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That is why I do not have cochlear implants; I don't want to re learn my life again.

What's your take on the cochlear implant/deaf culture controversey?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:39 PM
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how many comments do you want this thread to be?


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:39 PM
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206. You ruin everything, Cecily.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:40 PM
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205: Flesh colored ones always look totally gross anyway. "Eww, what's that huge tumor sticking out of... oh, hearing aid."


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:41 PM
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Cecily is inspiring me!

The hearing thing does screw me up. I spend a lot of time nodding politely at cocktail parties, or else hazarding a guess as to what the hell someone is saying and then having everybody look at me funny. "I always felt I needed a yurt too! Oh, your knee got hurt, OK...".

A lot of time people won't even correct deafness-inspired non sequiteurs, they just smile politely and go on.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:42 PM
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190: Like bars and noisy restaurants? Can be quite limiting to always avoid, no?

Sorry, several people said upthread that they had trouble hearing in noisy bars and such; didn't realize you were one of them. Still, yeah, I'd just avoid them. Life comes with new limits over time, I'm thinking. Eventually maybe the noisy restaurants would figure out that people aren't coming in because it's too loud. Maybe not; maybe the loud-tolerant people just hang out with each other. In any case, just putting up with it doesn't seem a good answer, to my mind. YMMV, of course.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:43 PM
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There's got to be a way to make hearing aids look like big-ass ear-jewelry.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:43 PM
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how many comments do you want this thread to be?

One million! Let's go for gold!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:43 PM
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In a hundred years people will have forgotten Swift and will read Scott Adams in their literature classes.

Ugh. At least he won't inspire passionate devotion to Randist beliefs, unlike Rand herself.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:43 PM
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Wouldn't you need two hearing aids (assuming you're deaf in both ears) to get good background-noise processing? Your brain depends heavily on stereo properties of sound to be able to focus on particular sounds well in noisy environments. I guess a single hearing aid could do it, if it's even smarter than your brain. Do you really want to wear a hearing aid smarter than you are?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:44 PM
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Okay then. I think it is an issue that has been overpoliticized by both sides of the issue, to the neglect of the facts and of the people involved and to the inappropriate vilification of the opposition by both sides.

That said, I also think it's not well understood by the general public, and that not only is the controversy itself not understood but several contributing issues like language, culture, best practices in education, the nature of hearing loss, disability civil rights, and the curve of improvement for medical instruments.

So I don't really know how to answer questions about it without being really longwinded and tedius.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:44 PM
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Yeah I'm curious about your thoughts on it, Cecily.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:45 PM
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I do think that trying to understand the Deaf Culture/ASL side of things without knowing about the history of deaf education is probably problematic.

Also ASL is, in fact, a pretty darn cool language.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:46 PM
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The hearing thing does screw me up.

Seriously, PGD, as a child of someone who was in denial for a long time, I've seen how it can isolate people. My mom simply retreated from the problem for too long. It can put a real blow to your self-esteem, too, if you're always coming in late----and wrong---in conversations.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:46 PM
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Cecily unfogged thrives on tedium. Let's run this!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:46 PM
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212 there is, apparently, but to place an order you have to call. On the phone.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:48 PM
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216: Interesting. Do you have any good articles/primers on it?

Also, for the record, I'm totally envious of people signing at noisy restaurants and bars. Or across huge rooms.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:48 PM
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I was trying to learn ASL for a while, but the low quality of the dubs in ASL started bugging me.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:50 PM
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Wouldn't you need two hearing aids (assuming you're deaf in both ears) to get good background-noise processing?

Well you get that this is all relative, right?

Anyway "directional microphones" means the hearing aid does the noise analysis screening for you, and downplays things that are outside of speech-sound frequencies, and that originate from more than a set radius.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:50 PM
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219: yeah, I can see that. I'm very aggressive about asking people to repeat themselves, etc. but it definitely has a negative effect even on me. I've found myself avoiding situations because of it (definitely more reluctant to speak up at parties, but perhaps that's a good thing for all concerned). I'm thinking I should put at least investigating a hearing aid on my to-do list. Maybe best to start with a hospital...I might email you privately about this, Cecily.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:50 PM
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in ASL movies


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:50 PM
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Is there something like a shotgun mike that people could hold in their hand and point at people? You could only listen to one or two people at a time, but it might be better than a hearing aid.

Also, you could eavesdrop across the room.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:53 PM
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221.---Yeah, I can see how that wasn't well thought out. From the description, however----""Simply Earresistibles" is a line of behind-the-ear haring aid covers, that turn ordinary behind-the-ear hearing aids into "works of art." Many of the designs were originally conceived for use by children, but quite a few have been designed for adults, including a variety of styles with rhinestones on them."---I doubt we're missing much.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:53 PM
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pdf, try buying some ASL audiobooks.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:53 PM
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227: they sold those on TV in the eighties, I seem to remember. Disguised as a Walkman!

You could also just carry a parabolic mic around.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:55 PM
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For what it's worth, PGD, your saying that you were slightly deaf in one ear and needed me to speak up, or rearrange our walking arrangement for your good ear, does not register negatively in any way.

That said, yeah, if you're avoiding situations because of it, look into correcting it!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:55 PM
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Any one of these can serve as a fine hearing aid camouflage.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:56 PM
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224: They're called "hypercardioid" or "shotgun" pattern microphones, yes. (A hearing aid probably couldn't fit a real shotgun though...) But that's still much more limited than what your brain can do with two good ears (or two well-aided ears), because the brain really doesn't care about which direction it's coming from. It separates sounds into (probably up to 5 or so) different channels, and you can focus on any one of them at once, or two if you're freakishly multitask-ish.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:56 PM
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So many people are wearing ipods and bluetoothes (blueteeth?) in everyday situations these days that I wonder whether people will even be self-conscious about hearing aids in the future.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:57 PM
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BTW, most microphones are cardioid pattern, which means they pick up more sound in front. Hypercardioid means it only picks up sound directly in front (and some behind). You can find omni microphones (that aren't directional), but they're not quite as common.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:59 PM
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I do think the deaf culture thing is interesting. I can imagine that, for somebody who's profoundly deaf, the idea that you must communicate in a language in which you will never be fluent, just because that's the common language around you, when there's a perfectly good language that you can speak and understand perfectly fluently available, must be galling. Especially since there's been so much effort to stamp it out over the years.

On the other hand there just aren't that many profoundly deaf people around, which means you're putting yourself into a relatively small world of fellow speakers, and trying to enlarge that world by pushing for ASL education as the first and only choice may not be totally fair.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 7:59 PM
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222. Not really. I haven't seen anything that wasn't heavily on one side or the other, and I'm kind of impatient with both of them.

Basically, my personal feelings are that babies should not undergo unnecessary surgery*, that deaf children should be taught in ASL, that hearing children should also be taught ASL, that mainstreaming is bad for deaf kids, that cochlear implants are far more well-designed and effective than they are given credit for by Deaf activists, and that the real issue that people should be all up in arms about is not whether kids have implants or get hearing aids or whatnot, but about how to make deaf children grow up into happy successful individuals.

Kids with implants, in my experience, have tended to be less likely to grow up into happy successful individuals than kids without them. But this is due to a huge number of other factors: kids who get implants have families who care a lot about spoken English and medical teams who tell the families not to let them sign.

If kids got implants and were still put in deaf programs and taught ASL and English, I'd have way less of a problem with it all, although I still feel iffy about babies getting invasive surgery with the sole purpose of normalizing them.

However, I will admit, I feel disinclined to get into a big discussion about disability rights and the relative value of deaf or hearing babies on this website, because I think it will hurt my feelings and make me mad. So I probably am gonna go to bed soon, and if anyone wants more long-winded tedious responses, you could email me.

pdf23df: right. You're not gonna get back to perfect hearing. But you can probably get better than with no little machines.

PGD: yeah email me.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:00 PM
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whoops I forgot my footnote:

*I think a cochlear implant is unnecessary.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:01 PM
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237: What age do you think the implants should be given then, and with what level of consent from the child?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:03 PM
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236- I think it's funny that people always bring this up as an argument. How many people do you need to interact with? And also, if writing isn't good enough, why is it my responsibility to learn how to talk instead of your responsibility to learn how to sign?

I use "my" and "your" loosely here. Very loosely.

Anyway I am too lazy to find it but some study or other showed a way lower rate of depression and loneliness in culturally deaf ASL users as they became old, than their hearing counterparts. This was attributed to (a) the awesomeness of deaf culture (it wasn't a super objective study) and (b) the fact that nobody was having age-related communication problems.

which is food for thought.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:05 PM
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because I think it will hurt my feelings and make me mad.

I was being nosy, wasn't I.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:06 PM
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239: I don't think children should get them. I think it's an expensive, time consuming, unnecessary procedure.

If they get them anyway (against my wishes! How dare their parents!) I think they should still have access to ASL and other deaf children. And deaf adults.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:07 PM
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241 YEAH STAY OUT OF MY PERSONAL SPACE HEEBIE


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:08 PM
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You're not gonna get back to perfect hearing. But you can probably get better than with no little machines.

Nanobots FTW!


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:09 PM
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243: But why? why?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:10 PM
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240: to be honest I'm more sympathetic with the view expressed in my first paragraph. I guess I do think vaguely that you need to leave less-profoundly-deaf people room to make their own decision, but obviously that's perfectly possible if they grow up primarily using ASL.

Certainly I think the idea that non-signing parents can fully understand the implications of both deafness and interventions like cochlear implants is probably wrong, which points towards more education.

Wider instruction in ASL would be neat; really people should just learn more languages in general, ASL among them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:10 PM
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(pst Heebie, click on "fishy fishy" on my blog! type your name!)


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:11 PM
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Yeah, Heebie. you're not her mom or aunt or cousin or grandmother or neighbor or old friend or stranger she met on the bus or anyone else authorized to intervene, and besides, she's from Montana.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:11 PM
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If more people needed to learn a bunch of languages, maybe the idea of getting rid of some of our superfluous languages at some point might be entertainable.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:12 PM
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249: says the man (robot) who wants to write a DSL to do web programming.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:13 PM
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Anyhow I'm not really sure there's such a thing as a superfluous language, unless you're talking about constructed ones.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:13 PM
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the idea of getting rid of some of our superfluous languages at some point might be entertainable.

them's fightin words


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:13 PM
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247: Actually, I already saw it at your place and thought it was adorable! I didn't put in a name the first time, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:14 PM
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you're not her mom or aunt or cousin or grandmother or neighbor or old friend or stranger she met on the bus or anyone else authorized to intervene, and besides, she's from Montana.

I might be the stranger she meets in Montana, from the future. Spooky!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:15 PM
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So, given the role Alexander Graham Bell played in deaf education, and further given the fact that, now that we have the internet and text messaging, it's widely agreed that the telephone sucks, I move to declare that Alexander Graham Bell was kind of a dick.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:15 PM
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252: Obviously ASL is not superfluous.

250: Computer languages are more like grammatical forms and patterns of human languages. Most of human language is found in the vocabulary, which corresponds to the class libraries.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:15 PM
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I've had crappy hearing ever since I was about 10 years old. I was inflating a bicycle tire with a gas station air pump. The air pump must have been pretty powerful because the tire inflated way faster that I expected. Overinflated, in fact, to the point where it exploded, with a tremendous pop, at a distance of about 12 inches from my tender ears. My tender ears were ringing for the next 3 days.

Twenty-some years later, when my wife turns on the TV in the morning, she knows when I've been watching it the night before because the volume is cranked up high.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:18 PM
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252: Obviously ASL is not superfluous

the speakers of whichever languages you think are, will probably disagree. And then fight with you.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:19 PM
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258: In fact, it's already happening. i ba'e bo ko lifra la lojban


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:20 PM
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255: yeah he is not a popular character in Deaf folklore.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:20 PM
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you're right, Lobjan is probably superfluous.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:22 PM
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More seriously, my belief isn't that any one, or any group of, languages is/are superfluous, but rather than the state of having more than one language in the world necessarily involves superfluity. I've already observed on a past thread how contentious this belief is. I refer you to that old thread.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:24 PM
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"more than one spoken language"

of course. Or more than one sign language. Etc.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:25 PM
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262. yes, I read it. I'm a phd student in linguistics, we probably shouldn't talk about this topic. Smiley Face!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:27 PM
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255: it's widely agreed that the telephone sucks

Oh, but no, some still enjoy the telephone.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:27 PM
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You people and your "culture" and "history" and "literature".


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:28 PM
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262: Seriously? I celebrate Babel.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:30 PM
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267: It means that dozens of other fascinating cultures are separated from me by hundreds (or thousands) of hours of study each, or translation that mangles as much as it communicates. That's not something to celebrate.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:33 PM
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Man, I just heard Annie Lennox belting out a song. I just couldn't stand it. I liked some of her stuff some back when you people were in middle school. Either I've changed or she's changed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:33 PM
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How many languages do you use fluently to communicate with people, pdf? I don't mean to judge, but I have a hard time imagining this belief being held by anyone who has used multiple languages to communicate. They're extraordinary things. I even like using multiple languages when communicating with other people who share those multiple languages; we can say things in ways we can't otherwise, and make word-play and create meanings we couldn't otherwise. If there's a superfluity created in that, it's a superfluity of meaning and intimacy, not a superfluity of "words."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:34 PM
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Study's good for you, and so is mmultilingualism. I think that everyone should be bilingual or trilingual.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:35 PM
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The fact that translation "mangles" is exactly the point. There are no synonyms, no direct translations, and so there is no superfluity. We need all those words.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:35 PM
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I remember, back in middle school, thinking Annie Lennox was crap. I have no idea if I'd still feel that way today.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:36 PM
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270: Oh my, you lose puns and I get the histories of entire cultures. In the other thread I admitted that there were tradeoffs, some of them hard.

272: I think that's just wrong. It's the same semantic space being covered, just broken up into slightly different regions. What you lose in precision you gain in life spent doing something more productive than learning languages.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:39 PM
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She seemed to be singing as far out of tune as she could, for expressiveness.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:39 PM
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270 is genuinely not me trying to be an asshole. Some of my best friends are monolingual and all that. But if you think about it in comparison to the languages you use to communicate with computers, isn't it great that there are so many of them, and that each is best for a different task, and that your mind is flexible enough to learn them and make them your own tools?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:40 PM
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Plus, a lot of the interesting vocabulary in one language but not another would have made it into the other language in different forms had the speakers of the latter spoken the former for the past hundred years.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:41 PM
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pdf23ds, I'd give this one up before someone gets hurt. Friendly advice.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:41 PM
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275: Maybe if you got hearing aids you'd like her again.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:42 PM
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274.2 is a wild way of looking at what languages do, but definitely not correct.

On the other hand, I understand the whole not-having-this-argument-again thing, and so won't.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:42 PM
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278: This is Unfogged. Nonsense.

276: Each human language is best for a different task? I have a hard time believing that languages can be boxed in like that.

280: I'm not that far outside the mainstream.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:44 PM
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I think a large part of what might motivate 276 is just the recent history of how prominent authors have used the language and shaped usage, and nothing intrinsic to the language. What's English "good for"? Pretty much anything, because there are so many speakers of it that have done so much with it.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:46 PM
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Parsimon has her bashin' club in her hand, I see.

Basically, without the languages the cultures will be nonexistent or diminished. A monolingual world wouldn't be monocultural, but its cultural world would be much thinner. The difficulty of access of cultures is correlated with their interest.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:47 PM
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281.last: you're pretty much right in line with the mainstream of the early 70s, if I understand the history right.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:48 PM
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281.3: Yes, you are. I have literally never in my life heard this argument made outside of the Kids in the Hall sketch in which Scott Thompson pretends to be a guy who just doesn't understand why there isn't just one language in the world.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:48 PM
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PDF, your proposal sets the value of most poetry and much prose at zero.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:48 PM
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283: As a result of cultural transmission, perhaps. But I think language barriers are too high a price to pay for (arguendo desirable) cultural barriers.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:48 PM
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OK, I'm done.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:49 PM
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When you learn another language you sort of get another personality or another self, it's a freaky experience. Languages are kind of preserved cultural/human diversity. They do divide cultures as the same time as they preserve them though -- the left never wants to fully grapple with the relationship between diversity and division/exclusion.

that hearing children should also be taught ASL

doesn't this seem a little over the top given what a small fraction of the population are deaf? I mean, as I understand it the fraction profoundly deaf from birth is really tiny, like less than half a percent...although admittedly ASL would help as people develop hearing difficulties with age (ahem).

now that we have the internet and text messaging, it's widely agreed that the telephone sucks

totally disagree, but I see this attitude more (actually saw Yglesias say something like that, which flabbergasted me -- if you're doing any kind of journalism, the phone should be your best friend). I wonder if it has something to do with the horrible sound quality and reception on U.S. cellphones, which can make conversation torturous compared to land lines. But if phones didn't exist we'd have to invent them, verbal communication communicates far more than text.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:50 PM
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PDF, you really don't want to know different cultures. You want to know similar cultures. Different cultures are too much work.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:50 PM
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well, also, languages don't exist because they are logically good for a purpose. People use and change language, changing it on purpose, for all kinds of social reasons like including and excluding and demonstrating affiliation etc etc.

So even if you magically convinced everyone in the world to stop using their (natural, native) language, and only use your (artificial, learned as adult) language, and then they only spoke that, and their kids were raised monolingually in it

you would still have lots of non-mutually-comprehensible languages within a generation if not before, as people started pronouncing words in certain ways and making up in jokes and idioms etc.

So obviously, being incomprehensible to some people is not a bug, to most people.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:52 PM
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The problem with the idea that languages are all just different ways of parsing the same semantic space is that several decades of computational linguistics has proven it to be utterly incorrect.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:53 PM
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(I didn't mean all hearing children. Just, on the order of Spanish or French or what have you)


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:53 PM
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291: That would only happen with significant communication barriers between populations. In an internet age like the one we have, I'm not sure it'd happen.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:53 PM
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292: How? Links? My understanding of the failure of computational linguistics is entirely different.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:54 PM
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294: are you kidding? UNFOGGED has uncountably many secret shibboleth type constructions. And that's 5 years old, and without overt discrimination against anyone. People do this on purpose, not just because there's a mountain in between them.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:55 PM
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296: This could not conceivably lead to a linguistic "speciation", though. There's just not enough isolation there. Unfogged's vocabulary is jargon, not a new language.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:56 PM
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how do you think new languages happen? subgroups of one, making subtle changes. Cf. heavy Cockney, broad Australian, or any number of other accents in "English".

somebody smart said "a language is a dialect with an army"

I KNEW I shouldn't start talking about this with you


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 8:58 PM
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And yet Cockney is still just a dialect, if that. Why? No isolation from other (British) English dialects. They're all mutually intelligible. Can you show me one historical instance where co-located and interacting populations developed into two different non-opposing groups whose languages split off from a common one? I'll cede the point if so. And my contention is that the internet (increasingly) and TV (with probably more total impact so far) act as a way to dampen linguistic drift, and so reasoning from history is dangerous.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:02 PM
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(good night! sleep tight! bed bugs, etc)


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:02 PM
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298.3: Irresistable, huh?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:05 PM
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Thanks to unfogged I've made, like, no progress on C# to JS transformation today. Thanks a lot.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:08 PM
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I wonder if it has something to do with the horrible sound quality and reception on U.S. cellphones, which can make conversation torturous compared to land lines.

I'm anti-phone. Some of it undoubtedly has to do with the poor sound quality of cellphones, some of it has to do with not liking pressing a piece of plastic to my ear for a long period of time, and some of it also has to do with the greater "aggression," of sorts, that it takes to initiate a phone conversation. When you call someone it can feel like you are intruding into their space.

And perhaps I don't like the phone because it entails engaging in the the higher (relative to email/IM/comment field) stakes, think-on-your-feet aspects of oral conversation without the mollifying aids of nonverbal signals that accompany in-person conversation. I videochatted with my parents tonight and was reminded again just how much I prefer that format to the plain ol' telephone. The sound quality is much, much better, and being able to see how people are reacting to what I am saying makes the whole thing much more enjoyable for me.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:09 PM
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i thought people were kinda like mean to me always asking to repeat what i said and saying i talk too quietly, especially when i order to eat in the cafeteria, i feel now it's the other way around and i should really increase the volume
the other day i've opened the link here with the Europe's song, so memorable, the song, we used to stay up until 4-5 am to listen to the western music concerts
my classmates would imitate during the breaks between the classes their singing and head shaking and the AC/DC style jumping holding mops instead of guitars, so funny, i remember Annie Lennox's one song i liked back then don't remember what song, not understanding the lyrics though


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:09 PM
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Now can we start talking about the relative value of deaf and hearing babies? I'm thinking the deaf ones are worth more since they're rarer.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:09 PM
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The thing about pdf23ds is his argumentative relentless once he has the bit in his teeth. I admire it in a way. But only in a way.

So obviously, being incomprehensible to some people is not a bug, to most people.

anyone who has ever been a kid or a teenager should know full well what a wonderful feature it is to be incomprehensible to the out-group.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:09 PM
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Oh, good, a link to the Scott Thompson monologue!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:10 PM
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relentlessness.

DC, home of Gallaudet, is full of very beautiful deaf young people signing to each other at restaurants, etc. and looking absolutely thrilled to be part of a cool in-group after what was likely a very isolated time in HS.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:11 PM
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If read survived AC/DC she can survive anything.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:15 PM
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I've been hearing this 'phone sucks' thing all over the place lately, and it seems absurd: if it's the poor sound quality of the cell phone and/or the way calling someone's cell feels like interrupting, why on earth is everyone using (or apparently not using) a cellphone? Are we at the mercy of our technological devices? Honestly.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:25 PM
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of very beautiful deaf young people
it's the genetic disease, i forget exactly what, i used to know a couple of them, friends of my former brother in law, their facial features were a bit like european-looking, elf like as they describe in the medical books iirc, so the two met at the school for the special needs children and got married after graduating, and both died of the berry aneurism rupture, one after another, left their grandma with a kid, don't know whether the kid was deaf too, so tragic


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:26 PM
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I'm going to quote myself, not meaning for it to really respond to anyone in this thread, but rather in response to the (unstated) idea that that Kids in the Hall sketch has anything to do with my positions beyond the superficial level:

But when things really break down, it's when the respondent sees possible implications and assigns them too-high probabilities and then fails to give the speaker the benefit of the doubt when they disclaim those assertions. Often, it's because the respondent is unaware that the implied assertion is not actually explicit in the speaker's words. The respondent is so ideologically separated from the speaker, and often unfamiliar with (or, worse, dismissive of) of the subtleties and variations of different positions similar to the speaker's that they're not familiar with, that they'll obstinately group the speaker's explicit positions with a wide array of other positions perceived to be similar, but that the speaker never explicitly stated (or even implied with a probability higher than 60%). And when this happens, communication becomes much more difficult.

Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:28 PM
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The thing about pdf23ds is his argumentative relentless[ness] once he has the bit in his teeth.

Interesting observation. I don't really know what to make of it, honestly. How many such topics have come up, maybe 3 or 4? I'm not past my allowance, am I? (No malice intended.) I can see being tenacious, but more so than LB? Maybe that I respond to almost all the points individually? Hmm.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:36 PM
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312: I don't think anybody's disagreeing that communications difficulties between people who don't share a common language are problematic, I think they're disagreeing that there's any way to stop the natural process of linguistic evolution from happening and, in my case, I'm disagreeing that language can be broken down into regions over a common (global) semantic space.

Further, unless you manage to get everybody in the world living in a single culture -- which is what people were saying above would be a tremendous loss -- you aren't going to counteract the forces that lead to divergence in language.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:36 PM
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I would also argue that, even if you do have a common language, the contextual references are still going to diverge, so it wouldn't solve the problem you're talking about.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:37 PM
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310: cell phones do a lot of things which don't involve talking into them, these days.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:38 PM
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I would respond to 314, but I said I was done in 288 and I'm sticking to it.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:40 PM
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314.2 is the major issue here, and most linguists (and other people who care about language) see the gradual homogenization of language to be not a triumph of the New World Order but a horrible, unfathomable failure to retain the distinctiveness of local cultures and memories, especially given that the homogenization of language would mean a total loss of access to the cultural past of thousands and thousands of peoples. This is why you're facing such bewildered responses here, pdf. Maybe thousands of years from now on Planet Zog, you can enjoy your one-language world, but this world has a past and it cares about its past.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:41 PM
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318: OK, one small response. My idea doesn't require losing all of that information. It could be translated. That's very expensive. Might not be done, but could be done, to result in a less than total loss. Still a large loss, but not total.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:44 PM
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And one meta comment: I think this argument is so difficult to get anywhere on because the question at hand is "Is pdf's idea worth it?" That question can only be resolved by stacking up everything on each side of the scale and weighing, which is time consuming and laborious and not prone to be done terribly well in a short format like a comments thread.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:46 PM
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316: But at what cost? What cost?*

(Really, I know, but it is interesting, in any case. I still find no substitute for actual telephone conversations.)

* imagine intentionally hyperbolic dramatic voice


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:47 PM
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Translation is not the same as understanding. You seem to be missing this point. Again, I ask, how many books have you read in the original language and in English? And there is nothing lost? Nothing missing? Nothing gone awry? How many translations have you written yourself? They're fucking hard, because you're constantly aware of how much meaning you're losing. (I realized this, painfully, halfway through a translation of Huidobro's "Altazor.")

I can't decide if you're being willfully naive and trolly here or if you truly have zero experience with human communication in other languages.

On that note, I have to teach untranslatable texts tomorrow, very early. Good night.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:48 PM
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Cell phones are interesting because they're the most likely way for wearable computing to start out big.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:49 PM
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322: Did you not see where I wrote "still a large loss, but not total"? The "still large" part was because translation is lossy, as your 322 is all about. God damn.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:49 PM
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Yeah I mean, 319 seems to be implying that it's possible to make a translation of a book that loses none of the nuance of the original. That's not true, although you can possibly get close, but if you get close you lose the prosody and whatever flavor the language might have had. It's a very reductive way of looking at what literature provides, and it's anyhow not a workable solution.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:50 PM
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Not every response of mine (like 319) is intended to demolish the argument it's responding to.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:51 PM
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62:

"I suppose it never came up--I suppose you never asked. You never ask, much, Stephen."

"Question and answer has never seemed to me a liberal form of conversation," said he.

The internet tells me you're correct to attribute this to The Surgeon's Mate, but doesn't Stephen express a very similar sentiment to Clarissa in The Truelove?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:51 PM
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I guess how I can see how my 319 was not as clear as I thought. But I would think I've earned more of a benefit of a doubt than that.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:54 PM
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Arg. One more.

Here's the choice:

You either see the existence of other languages as a tragedy, because you can't, with no effort, understand them, or you can, as people have done throughout all recorded human history, learn the languages that contain information that you want. Humans can do this. It is possible to learn other languages, even many. It makes reading texts written in other languages far less loss-y than reading translations, even if your grasp of that language is imperfect. It allows you to communicate a great deal of cultural understanding and difference, which really exists and is not some crazy idea someone came up with to annoy you and make you feel dumb.

I don't know why I bother. And yes, seriously, this is the only time in my entire life I have ever heard of anyone holding this idea about language. I have known monolinguals my entire life, and never heard anyone suggest that other languages do not contain within them culturally important information that would constitute an irreparable, horrible loss. I throw up my hands. Good night.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 9:59 PM
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328: I actually misread 319. Carry on with your crazy plan, you!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 10:00 PM
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You either see the existence of other languages as a tragedy, because you can't, with no effort, understand them, or you can, as people have done throughout all recorded human history, learn the languages that contain information that you want.

Speaking of losing the nuances!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 10:07 PM
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You either see the existence of other languages as a tragedy, [...] or you can, [...] learn the languages

That's a silly false dichotomy you don't even seem to be thinking about much. Geez, you people. Why can't I think other languages are cool and not learn them because I don't have the time? Why can't I militate for a global interlingua while myself learning dozens of languages?

Your argument, AWB, basically comes down to this: "it's not worth it, and you don't realize this because you're naive or foolish or both." Honestly, I'd rather hear what it is, specifically, that makes it not worth it, what the things are on the other side of the scale, than simple assertions that it's not.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 10:08 PM
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Threads like the "unfogged used to be better" one depress me every so often, but seeing you all bicker so eloquently over something so very inconsequential restores my faith in humanity.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 10:18 PM
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PDF: Don't want to live in your utopia either.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 10:20 PM
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Why can't I think other languages are cool and not learn them because I don't have the time? Why can't I militate for a global interlingua while myself learning dozens of languages?

It's not that you can't, in the sense of not being able to. It's that if you know multiple languages, the chances that you will have that attitude are very very close to zero. Of course the Internet exists to demonstrate that no matter how close to zero you might think those chances are, there's still someone out there who *will* have that attitude.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 10:22 PM
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334: Don't worry, I'll take you off the list.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:09 PM
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||

pdf23ds, the e-mail on your blog is bouncing. Pls to e-mail me.

Also, soup biscuit, if you're out there, you should e-mail me too.

|>


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:13 PM
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Is pdf's Utopia anywhere near will's commune?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:48 PM
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227: they sold those on TV in the eighties, I seem to remember. Disguised as a Walkman!

Dude! I wanted one of those so bad so that I could use it to eavesdrop. I recently saw a revived form of that advertised on some channel of questionable value in the wee hours. One of their selling points was, look, you can use it in church! To demonstrate this they had two old people sitting in church holding them up in the air to pick up the sound. If they thought this made the old people look like non-dorks they were woefully wrong.

Goddamn, I loved those ads.

Years ago I dated a hearing guy who was really into studying ASL. He joined a fraternity for it. I thought that was pretty cool.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:50 PM
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299: And my contention is that the internet (increasingly) and TV (with probably more total impact so far) act as a way to dampen linguistic drift, and so reasoning from history is dangerous.

t3h l337 |-|4x02 473 m4h 54|\||)vv1[|-|


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:55 PM
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340 is genius.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-08 11:59 PM
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I was planning on writing something much like 341 as soon as I finished laughing.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:01 AM
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Yeah, but it's still English, just a different orthography. Actually, I can't read most of it so I don't know if it really is. Anyway, it's still hilarious.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:08 AM
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if you're doing any kind of journalism, the phone should be your best friend

Even opinion journalism? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:08 AM
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Outside of a dog, a phone is an opinion journalist's best friend. Inside of an opinion journalist, it's too hollow and dessicated to read.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:20 AM
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the phone should be your best friend

Will the phone pick you up at the airport?
Will the phone ever come over just, you know, to hang out?
Will the phone offer a hug or a beer after a hard day?
Will the phone listen to a litany of your relationship woes—and talk back?
Will the phone ever be a friend who also offers benefits?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:21 AM
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re: 299

No isolation from other (British) English dialects. They're all mutually intelligible.

Hah hah hah. They are really not. Some British dialects are completely unintelligible to non-speakers. For that matter, some British dialects that are comprehensible to me are probably not comprehensible to you. Whether that makes them dialects of 'English' or a separate language is another question (depending on your criteria for language-hood), but they definitely aren't mutually intelligible.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:57 AM
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And yes, seriously, this is the only time in my entire life I have ever heard of anyone holding this idea about language.

Really? I was pretty sure that I've argued here that life would be better if all the world had a single shared language that everyone agreed to learn fluently. It could be a second language, sure, but it should be taught from the earliest school levels and used as a medium of instruction on equal level with the local language.

I'd rather not rehash this whole argument again, of course. I'm just thrilled by the possibilities of a single means of communication that can be used in any nook or cranny of the world, a language which feels the influence and genius of all the authors and poets on this earth, the greater ease for all the autodidacts of the world and their greater ability to fluently communicate their ideas... It may result in culture loss in the short term, but it would also open up unprecedented new horizons for the average person who doesn't learn 20 languages in their lifetime, from now into the future.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 1:28 AM
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299. Can you show me one historical instance where co-located and interacting populations developed into two different non-opposing groups whose languages split off from a common one?

What, like Spanish and Portuguese? (Never mind the complex process by which this happened.)

Testable prediction: Languages descended from English and completely incomprehensible to British, N.American or Pacific speakers will be in widespread use in India by the end of the century.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 1:54 AM
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348: Esperanto FTW.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 1:58 AM
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George Soros' first language is Esperanto. Didn't do him any harm.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:01 AM
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That should be Esperanto Por La Venki.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:03 AM
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350: Ugh, fuck synthetic languages. It should be a living, breathing language with a large population base, sizable vocabulary, and robust literary history. Mandarin with a letters-based orthography (the common language shouldn't require several years of non-stop study just to dip your toes in) would be fine. Perhaps Hindi? Japanese if it switched entirely to one of the phonetic character sets (plus phonetic for the win!)? Dare I say English (though it's a fucking hard language)?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:07 AM
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Some British dialects are completely unintelligible to non-speakers. For that matter, some British dialects that are comprehensible to me are probably not comprehensible to you

That's without even getting into parlari, thieves' cant and verlan, among other examples of languages/dialects which were invented for the specific purpose of being unintelligible to the wider linguistic community.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:27 AM
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the made-up tongue all the kids* speak -- jamaica-cockney hiphop mashup -- is entirely intended for v.old foax like me to be left baffled and angry (luckily i live on the top floor and have no lawn for them to be on)

*inc.posh white islington kids


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 3:40 AM
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Jamaican is a different language on the criterion that a film made in it (The Harder They Come) requires English subtitles; I've heard similar of Cuban/Spanish, but I can't really comment. The point is that English may be becoming a global language, and some form of American may in due course become a de facto standard, but it's still evolving and fragmenting on the street, and nothing commenters here can do will stop it.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 4:00 AM
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my experience -- for example close lifelong friendship with a trinidadian -- is that she really enjoys the code-switching, and rejoices in and amplifies the differences for fun and drama, something she has that i don't that she can share, but also tease me with... my guess would be that, far from smoothing things out, the shared motherlanguage that TV imposes at the same time actually intensifies the need for a myriad of local havens from it, to express dissent and outrage and make community in-jokes about the stupid lame newscasters

(one of my favourite overheard bus-journey one-end-of-a-mobile conversations ever was a mid-30s caribbean-london woman mocking her friend for always watching "meerkat manor")


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 4:09 AM
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1.8 billion people in the world speak some English. Even if their daily use of English is not comprehensible to a British or US person, there is a dialect of English that people all over the world use to communicate with one another. (There is an academic interest by some compositionists claiming that, because far more people speak Global English--this dialect--than Standard English, that we should at least be studying its rules, and possibly even learning it ourselves.) I guess you can see all this as utopian if you want, but the rise of intercomprehensibility as the sole criterion for judging a language's worth has had a great amount to do with the widespread extinction of languages around the world.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 4:10 AM
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(oops 357 was me)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 4:18 AM
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358. Except that Global English doesn't really exist as a spoken means of communication. Or nobody can agree what it is, which is much the same thing. Aspirationally, there are advocates of a common, simple dialect, but efforts to create such a thing suffer from the drawbacks of all artificial language projects, and in the meantime people comunicate on the basis that a handful of dominant dialects are sufficiently interintelligible for most practical purposes.

Non-native English speakers continue to use the dialect of the people who taught them. I was struck, during the broadcast coverage of the Balkan war in the 90s, how many Serbians spoke fluent Australian. I suppose a language school in Belgrade must have done a lot of recruiting down under. I can imagine a situation where an agreed written Global English becomes universal, like Latin in mediaeval Europe, but remember that even mediaeval Europeans had trouble understanding each other when they tried to speak Latin, because of their different accents.

Meanwhile, back on the street, I imagine the differentiation of South Asian, African and Caribbean Anglo-languages will continue unaffected.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 5:38 AM
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pdf,

Responding to your request in the previous thread for Spanish-Spanish television. Cuéntame cómo pasó is the local flagship prestige drama, a big nostalgic national coming-of-age set in the 70s, the dying days of Franco Spain, & interesting for the stories the culture is telling itself about the period if nothing else.

I also actually like LEX, a sex-and-legal briefs dramedy set in a Madrid law firm that plays a little like Boston Legal. It's reasonably funny, the main characters are cads whose constant squirming & weaseling out of compromising situations is entertaining, & I find it comprehensible. Any television show here becomes twice as interesting because I have to puzzle everything out in addition to watching it.

The problem is, most of the television I watched in the States was HBO-type fare like DEADWOOD or single camera half-hour comedies like 30 ROCK, and neither of those formats really exist in Andalucía, or at least not the television I get.

I watch stuff like Sé lo que hicisteis, because they're young & ironic, but you really have to have been following the news for a few weeks to find it funny. Or public access cooking shows.

Neither of which you can really netflix. So aside from the above . . . I don't know. Movies, I'd have to say. Get your Almódavar on, & rent Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios, or something.

I remember one really entertaining Madrid movie from the 70s called ¡Deprisa, deprisa! where the director used real-life juvenile criminals as actors & they ended up robbing the same bank they fake-robbed in the movie a week after the premiere.


Posted by: Jim Sligh | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 5:57 AM
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360: Some of my students don't understand me in English unless I fake a British accent.

358: I had the equivalent of that moment the other day when I gave two exchange students from the Czech Republic directions in Spanish; we would have been mutually unintelligible without the intermediary tongue, which neither of us could speak perfectly, or without a little difficulty.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 6:01 AM
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362.2 (Jim?) I bet this is actually commoner than you'd think. I got along in bad French with a Spanish and Catalan speaker once for weeks, and I think if we'd hung out a bit longer we'd have evolved a new Romance language, cos our efforts sure wouldn't have impressed the Academie Francaise.

Which British accent does tha fake then, lad?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 6:18 AM
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363: Doubtless nothing that would impress the Queen. Something halfway between Julie Andrews & the BBC.

As the art teacher at my school put it when I was trying to explain the difference in the accent, los británicos cantan más - "sing" more.

When I use teacher-speak normally I talk like a commercial announcer in the States, more or less. When I'm really working hard with them on their pronunciation, though, it's all American: my nasal, grating flat Midwestern vowels come out. My 7th graders find the way a Michigander pronounces the short "a" hilarious.

It ends up looking like the elocution scene from Singin' In The Rain.


Posted by: Jim Sligh | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 6:42 AM
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356: Until my death-ray satellite is complete. Then they'll all learn.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 6:43 AM
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I wouldn't like English as an interlingua unless there was some serious spelling reform agreed upon. That would make the language much, much easier to learn. Though it seems like English depends more on idioms than, e.g. Spanish, and so would still be pretty hard.

||
"More costly"? Means ~ "more expensive". Except that "costly" is modifying "more". "More, in a costly manner". WTF is up with that? In the "adj adj" formulation, which one is the modifier?
|>


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:04 AM
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Don't ask me, pdf, they've completely re-written English grammar since I was a kid. I mean I grew up learning that verbs had about eight or nine tenses, but nowadays they officially only have two. Or so the ESL teachers tell me.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:10 AM
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353: How would you indicate tones in a letters-based orthography? The numbering system kind of sucks, imo. Special accents? Where would you put four new accent keys? Just musing.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:11 AM
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I doubt that any language is more idiomatic than any other. Language which is used mostly for informal, personal, family, neighborhood purposes (e.g. Yiddish) we'll seem more idiomatic.

Idioms aren't really harder to learn than words. You can learn them as chunks without knowing the explanations. Some idioms (toe the line / tow the line) have two different forms with different explanations.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:21 AM
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368: You can use letters that aren't needed, like Hmong RPA does.


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:25 AM
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368. Doesn't Mandarin need 7 tones? What do all the weird accents you get in Symbols mean: ẳẳặế?ẹ? Could we recycle some of them? You only need one extra key, a sort of ShiftChinese, which would insert the accent without advancing the cursor, so that your 4th tone of "e" would be ShiftChinese+4, followed by "e", producing "ể" or something. Just musing.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:25 AM
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371 looks marginally less silly if your browser supports Unicode.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:28 AM
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Mandarin needs four tones. Only stressed syllables need to be marked. My guess is that someone handwriting romanized Chinese would leave off tones unless confusion was possible, or in the case of rare words. A functioning writing system doesn't have to be perfectly phonetic; very few are.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:30 AM
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On computers the tones are easy to make with simultaneous strokes including "Control" or "Alt", though I always forget how to make them. No one uses manual typewriters any more.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:32 AM
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Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:33 AM
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Oops.

Gwoyeu Romatzyh!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:34 AM
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365: Exactly!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:34 AM
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371: Looks like you're thinking of Vietnamese.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:35 AM
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377 S/B "375: Exactly!"

Boy did that joke fall flat. None more flat.

I really hate GR. Learning it is tedious because it has a lot of exceptions, and it looks ugly.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:37 AM
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378. Yes


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:40 AM
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Yes. "And joining us now is Mr. Chern Shoei-Bean!" Last in line when they handed out sublime.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:52 AM
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re: 354

Yeah, and the various 'Irish' cryptolects like shelta/gamin, etc and the (rare, I believe) Scottish equivalent.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 7:57 AM
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It would be nice if david Weman or Martin Wisse showed up, because they're native speakers of smallish languages whose educated speakers are all (or almost all) bilingual or trilingual. (And Sweden and the Netherlands have generally high educational levels).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:01 AM
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Interesting. I was wondering why romanizations of Taiwanese names were often bizarre-looking, containing syllables like "Tzee", "Shinn", and "Cherng".


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:03 AM
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welsh on the other hand i consider Total Cryptolexian FAIL, ever since i watched pobol y cwm and discovered that the welsh for sausage sandwich is "sausage sandwich"

HOWEVER: the word that must -- MUST! -- be in any global uni-tongue is poptyping, which is welsh for microwave oven


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:04 AM
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382. Hadn't realised that "bloke" was a Shelta word.

385. Why would you feel the need to encrypt a sausage sandwich? Unless you were on a diet.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:06 AM
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The Scandinavian peoples seem to have a philosophy opposit to PDF's, because there you have four mutually more or less intelligible standard languages for about 20 million people, plus whatever dialects there are. And Norway has two standard languages for about 5 million people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:07 AM
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filling identity is between me and the rest of the skraelings


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:10 AM
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387. And two completely incomprehensible ones.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:11 AM
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Everybody should be issued their own unique personal language that is mutually unintelligible with all other personal languages. Everyone will be monolingual. Automatic translation machines will mediate all discourse.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:12 AM
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Finnish and Icelandic. Finnish is so unintelligible that Finns talk less than almost any other people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:12 AM
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Finnish is like Estonian without all the õs and Russian loan words.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:14 AM
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re: 386

Yeah, I remember when I first read about the various 'minority' UK languages -- polari, the various Romanii dialects, shelta/gamin, traveller speak, cant, etc -- being quite surprised how many words I knew from both Romanii and polari (just from the penetration of words from both into standard English slang].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:14 AM
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In England, ESL trainee teachers are asked to learn Finnish to get a taste of being on the receiving end. I meant Finnish and Sami, but wiki insists there are 9 Sami languages. So fuck them.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:15 AM
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re: 391

I could read Icelandic at one time.* Slowly. These days I can barely recognize any words at all.

* [When I studied Old Norse].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:16 AM
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Actually, I've read that in New Guinea speakers of small language prize the uniqueness of their languages, many of which are tiny in number of speakers, and introduce difficulties to make it even more unintelligible to outsiders. To the extent that's true language differentiation and evolution might both be accelerated.

Paranoia and magic are the reasons why, IIRC, rather then the desire to develop unique kinds of poetry.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:16 AM
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i once read a book about atlantis that adduced -- as one of the proofs of atlantean civilisation's outreach -- the well-known fact that basque and japanese are mutually comprehensible (because essentially both outlier atlantean dialects)

the book claimed to demonstrate not only the year that atlantis foundered, but the day of the month and the time of the day (a few minutes after noon, atlantean time)

obviously insane books by insane people are generally full of insane claims, but the basque-japanese thing always seemed to me more than usually vulnerable


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:18 AM
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Start with paranoia and magic, and poetry will soon follow. Ask any teenage goth.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:19 AM
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393. "Dad" is Romanii isn't it? My default assumption is that weird words in English slang are cant, but that's obviously too narrow minded.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:19 AM
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the book claimed to demonstrate not only the year that atlantis foundered, but the day of the month and the time of the day

Sunday October 23, 4004 BC, old style? I love harmless nonsense like that. I own a book which argues that Nero survived his downfall and wrote most of the Corpus Tibullianum.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:25 AM
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re: 399

Cant, and from Romanii [lots of the slang used by Del in Only Fools and Horses is Romany in origin] and from Dutch/Flemish [in Scots slang anyway], and Italian [via Polari, lingua-franca, etc] and I don't doubt loads of others. When I first learned Czech I found that some slang words in Scots are slavic [probably fairly recent imports from Poles, mebbe, during and immediately after WWII].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:26 AM
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discovered that the welsh for sausage sandwich is "sausage sandwich

only if you're speaking S4C welsh. A northerner would say "brechdan sosys"

"Poptyping" is two words; "Popty" was the word for "oven" long before they invented poptai which went ping. If you wanted to be totally posh you'd say "Popty meicrodon"


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:29 AM
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at the sadder end of things:
"No complete sentence in the Pictish language has survived. They left a number of inscriptions, elegantly described as 'perfectly legible yet... utterly unintelligible.' One of them reads as follows: ETTOCUHETTS AHEHHTTANN HCCVVEVU NEHHTONS. The last word may be the name of King Nechtan, who gave his name to the battlefield. The other words suggest that there is some mistake here, surely, and make archeologists cry."
(quote i have always enjoyed from a piece by neal ascherson on modern-day pictish political movements)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:32 AM
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The spelling convention that gives rise to HCCVVEVU is pretty seriously cryptic.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:38 AM
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if you wanted to be TOTALLY posh you would hire someone else never to mention the vulgar thing


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:39 AM
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401. When I first learned Czech I found that some slang words in Scots are slavic


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:44 AM
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re: 402

Gaelic and Welsh TV always amuse with the occasional English loan-word.

Hindi/Punjabi is so riddled with English that when I am in a cab and the cabbie has on some Hindi langauge station I sometimes delude myself that I can pretty much follow what is being said.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:45 AM
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406. Wha'ppen? I was going to suggest they might be Nadsat. Horrorshow!


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:45 AM
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re: 408

Heh.

Skinny malinky longlegs, big banana feet,
went tae the pictures, couldnae get a seat, etc


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 8:51 AM
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Everybody should be issued their own unique personal language that is mutually unintelligible with all other personal languages.

Some argue that this has already happened.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 9:05 AM
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Everybody should be issued their own unique personal language that is mutually unintelligible with all other personal languages.

Some argue that this has already happened.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 9:05 AM
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410: As seen in Unfogged threads.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 9:12 AM
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410, 411: They argue this very insistently, but really it's just repeated assertion.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 9:32 AM
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410, 411: They argue this very insistently, but really it's just repeated assertion.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 9:33 AM
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348 and 349:

1. Esperanto is so ridiculous.

2. We need to revive the habit of writing scholarly articles in Latin. The introduction to the Teubner Classics texts are all written in Latin.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 9:49 AM
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re: 415

I think you mean 'esperanto estas mokado'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:00 AM
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415. Anybody up for starting a group blog entirely in Latin? Broadly popularis, but accommodating a few optimates as semi-trolls; eironeia to go (in Greek), and occasional mentula jokes.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:05 AM
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356: that a film made in it (The Harder They Come) requires English subtitles

The original American release of Mad Max was dubbed with "American" English, including replacement of slang terms.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:12 AM
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I'm pretty sure some of Ken Loach's Glasgow set films have had subtitles in foreign (but English speaking) markets.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:17 AM
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"Red Road", too.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:20 AM
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and "Trainspotting".

I have never seen an Irish, Welsh or English film with subtitles as the default American setting, though.

Well, actually I've never seen a Welsh film, period.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:21 AM
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re: 420

Heh. My grandparents lived in those Red Road flats. Before they got all gentrified with the CCTV and the concerted efforts to de-junkify them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:22 AM
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That place was LESS gentrified before CCTV?

The only Irish film I can remember seeing that wasn't a piece of Hollywood hokum intended primarily for foreign romanticists was "The Commitments". No subtitles.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:25 AM
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English: "awesome"
Latin: No matches found

dead as dead can be BY SCIENCE


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:27 AM
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re: 423

Oh yes. In the 70s and 80s it was unbelievable.

They installed the CCTV and started making concerted efforts to harrass the various junkies/dealers, etc out of the place a while ago. But prior to then [early 90s when they introduced that] it was really hardcore.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:28 AM
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Google search for "HCCVVEVU" returns one page, and asks "Did you mean "HCCVVVU". Then I click on "HCCVVVU", and there are no pages at all, and it asks "Did you mean "HCCU".


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:29 AM
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tho "horridus" means "hair stands on end aka makes hair stand on end" = awesome in my book


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:30 AM
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423: The only Irish film I can remember seeing that wasn't a piece of Hollywood hokum intended primarily for foreign romanticists was "The Commitments".

Also recommend the kinda sequels (same family) Then Snapper and The Van (my favorite of the three) also from Roddy Doyle novels (and I think he did the screenplay for them all).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:38 AM
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426: yikes that one page is an ancient very nearly abandoned blog of mine


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:57 AM
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I'm pretty sure some of Ken Loach's Glasgow set films have had subtitles

Indeed.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 11:07 AM
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~||

222: this looks pretty okay. The related documentary (Sound and Fury) is also pretty okay although it's more about the family drama and overreactions and less about the well reasoned positions.

On second thought, the documentary is perfect for you!

|>


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 11:21 AM
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Esperanto is so ridiculous.

So true. Also, the dominant synthetic languages are totally Eurocentric. To level the playing field in a monolingual utopia, we should, say, let me choose a language at random from this here book I have. And the winner is...Maori, ladies and gentlemen!

Lesson 1. Translate:

Ko ngaa puutake nunui eenaa o te whawhai. Koia i kiia ai, "He wahine, he whenua i ngaro ai te tangata."
Hint: it's sexist.

I'll be back to grade your work and provide the correct answer after I take the girls to the park.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:11 PM
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Too many people are already fluent in Maori, giving them an unfair advantage. My nominee for universal language is Nivkh.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:25 PM
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Is the pdf bashing over? Because I wanted to argue that he was wrong, but not unreasonable from-venus how-could-you-think-that wrong.

Basically, cultural politics has always been about finding unity in diversity. In different times and different contexts progressives have pushed for either greater unity or greater diversity. Right now the progressive thing to do is to celebrate diversity, to morn the passage of languages as we do species, etc.

But this does not make the other urge reactionary. The capacity for a common language to generate understanding & unity cannot be underestimated. The emergence of global lingua franca on top of regional languages is basically a good thing. The fact that such vehicular languages have evolved repeatedly over human history (Latin, Sanscrit, Arabic, Mandarin) is evidence of their utility.

The error of those who create artificial languages is thinking that they need to be developed faster than they naturally develop on the free market. Indeed, the reverse is true. Intervention in the free market is needed to save the minority languages. A global lingua franca will come when it is needed.

For my own sake, I hope that it is not English. I'm pretty sure the only thing that would get my lazy ass to learn a new language would be being shut out of important global conversations.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:25 PM
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Behold, a couple giant wav files containing your new lingua nivkha.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:30 PM
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436

Does The Wind That Shakes The Barley count as an Irish film, or is it just a film that happens to be about Ireland?


Posted by: Jim Sligh | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:47 PM
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"Primal is a written and spoken language with its own unique alphabet and sentence structure. Among humans, Primal is a common tongue for the 'furry', 'were', and 'otherkin' communities. In a more general sense, it is a language of therianthropes: part-human, part-animal creatures, such as gargoyles, centaurs, and seraphim."

(i discovered this while googling round for sindarin-klingon translation literature)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:53 PM
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primal link


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 12:55 PM
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439

437/8 is the sort of thing that makes me love humanity in general, and the internet in particular.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 1:01 PM
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(i discovered this while googling round for sindarin-klingon translation literature)

Oh, su-ure, try to pretend you discovered it while engaged in a completely mainstream non-nerd activity.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 1:19 PM
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439: Really? It's the kind of thing that makes me pray for a giant asteroid to blast the planet back to the paleozoic. It's not that I hate furries, I'm just so terribly ashamed to be part of the same species as them. There's a horrible Thomas Kincade type of earnest sincerity coupled with self evident nuttiness that makes me want to point and laugh and cruelly mock them and I feel awful for the shallowness of my impulse and so sorry for the people I'm drawn to mock, but for fuck's sake, dude, you're a middle aged software engineer, not a goddamn bunny rabbit.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 1:27 PM
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OT: I love reading answers to open-ended survey questions.

What else would you like us to know about you?

I am a liondancer.

I have asthma and bronchitis.

I like this place.

I have a bad temper.

My nickname is Spike.

[I] look way better than [other participant].


(Yes, they're all different respondents)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 1:30 PM
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I walked past a pet store last night called "Furry Heaven" and shrieked as quietly as possible.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 1:32 PM
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441: The furry language gave me the same reaction I had when I saw the Sumerian legend of Inanna recreated as a series of dioramas featuring Barbie dolls in bondage gear. It wasn't so much that the thing itself was cool. It was that someone thought to do it, and then actually took the effort to do it.

In fact, I'm having the same experience right now, looking at the wikipedia page for Inanna, and seeing that someone has thoughtfully provided the cuneiform symbols for Inanna after her name, the same way that you see a loan word from, say, Hebrew, written in the original characters after the English entry in Wikipedia.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 1:37 PM
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Oddly, while I think recreating the Inanna myth using Barbie dolls is brilliant, everything furry puts me in the giant-asteroid-killing-us-all camp. I think it's the sincerity of furries that gets me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 1:47 PM
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Apparently a significant number of furries get their first shock of recognition from Disney's Robin Hood fox character.

When I was told this, I could not help but recall my strong sense of identification with that character. Who among us is not part furry?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 1:52 PM
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related: when garth algar came out in respect of bugs bunny dressed as a girl


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:01 PM
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445: This for example.

Seriously, what rights are being denied furries? Is there a law against a guy dressed like a giant panda marrying a woman dressed up like a kangaroo? No, there is not.

I'm starting a new movement for people whose true identity is that of a gastropod. We will be called "Slimies."

Come out of your shells and join the fight for Slimy liberation today!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:20 PM
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It's the kind of thing that makes me pray for a giant asteroid to blast the planet back to the paleozoic.

How do you feel about the words "yiff" and "squee"? Possibly, (very possibly) I'd feel the same way if spent any time with the furries, but from a distance I'm enthralled by watching people wave their freak flag high.

How else could the world give us this story, about the cigar smoking furry who stalked Obama's grandfather?


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:20 PM
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It's not that I hate furries, I'm just so terribly ashamed to be part of the same species as them. There's a horrible Thomas Kincade type of earnest sincerity coupled with self evident nuttiness that makes me want to point and laugh and cruelly mock them

Huh. I would never put Kincade and furries - or earnest sincerity - in the same box. Kincade himself I presume to be the most cynically exploitative fuck this side of a megachurch, and people who like his shit to have stopped their aesthetic development somewhere around, "ooh, that's pretty."*

Meanwhile, I can't help but feel gently amused by them - ridiculous, yes, but harmlessly so. I don't think I could handle them socially, but I don't have to. Meanwhile, my rather stodgy and old-school city has become a favorite destination of furries - they held a convention here a few years back, and were so pleased at how they were treated that it has become annual.

* Which, based on my daughter, is approximately age 4 or 5.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:26 PM
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wikifur is rather censorious regarding yiff: "Yiff is an onomatopoetic word that was originally coined in 1990 by Foxen while roleplaying his fursona littlefox. It was originally a positive exclamation in Foxen's Foxish language, but the word has degenerated over time from its original meaning of "a cheerful greeting, an energetic 'yes!'" to an expression of sexual interest or activity (...) In Foxish, yiff initially meant "yes!" or an enthused "hello!". Later, "yiff" was assigned a more sexual connotation (...) (It should be noted that, while it is a matter of preference, many people highly dislike the use of "yiff" as a verb and prefer seeing the real English equivalents used, as they find that "yiff" makes sentences awkward, lacks a clear definition, or "sounds stupid.")


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:28 PM
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I'm starting a new movement for people whose true identity is that of a gastropod.

There was a great painting reproduced in Harpers called "My squid suit brings isolation." Sadly, the only copy I can find is a thumbnail, with the full version behind a paywall.

So, yeah, gastropods may not have much of a following, but cephalpods would give you an instant movement. Maybe you could lure PZ Myers.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:29 PM
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I would align myself with 449.1 - the same "I'm done talking to you now" feeling I get from overly earnest New Agers, yes, but nothing stronger than that.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:30 PM
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I AM HUMAN AND I NEED TO BE LOVED, JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE DOES


Posted by: OPINIONATED FURRY | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:31 PM
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449 - OK, I followed some of the S,N! links and I'm loving the story of Cigarskunk.

450: It's not Kincade who is earnestly sincere - he's clearly churning out what he knows is crap in order to make a buck. It's the people buying his paintings, the ones who graduated from posters of crying clowns into more serious art.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:35 PM
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Too many people are already fluent in Maori, giving them an unfair advantage

Bah. I, for one, welcome our new Maori overlords. Imagine a world in which all social interactions begin with a haka.

The passage above translates, "These are the two great causes of strife. Hence it is said, 'By women and land were men destroyed.'"

||
JRoth, what books have you used to introduce your daughter to the Greek myths?
|>


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:37 PM
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what books have you used to introduce your daughter to the Greek myths?

As board book aficionados are already aware, Rosemary Wells has rather inexplicably done Greek myths as part of her Max and Ruby series.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:49 PM
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I really don't get the extreme hatred for Kincade -- other then just pure snobbishness.

,i>people who like his shit to have stopped their aesthetic development somewhere around, "ooh, that's pretty."

That is a perfectly legitimate response to a painting -- much more genuine that "that's interesting" which usually means something like, "it's ugly, but I know that would sound stupid."


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:53 PM
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458: Take 2

I really don't get the extreme hatred for Kincade -- other then just pure snobbishness.

people who like his shit to have stopped their aesthetic development somewhere around, "ooh, that's pretty."

That is a perfectly legitimate response to a painting -- much more genuine that "that's interesting" which usually means something like, "it's ugly, but I know that would sound stupid."



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 2:54 PM
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459 - snobbishness has a little to do with it, but much more is the fact that the man has built up an empire based on painting basically the same picture over and over again, and he's using techniques that are hundreds of years old and fucking them up. Seriously - look closely at a Kincade painting - at least half his work bolloxes up simple things like shadows, and this from a guy who calls himself "The Painter of Light."


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 3:05 PM
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460: Why are you judging it by realist standards?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 3:08 PM
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That is a perfectly legitimate response to a painting

I certainly hope so. It's pretty much my only response to abstract expressionism, but I still really like a lot of it.

That said, Kinkade does kind of suck. We all know that the true Painter of Light and Americana is Brandon Bird.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 3:09 PM
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Thomas Kincade is a marketing genius. Check out his website (thomaskinkade.com, no ability to link to individual pages or anything) for his special "Impressions of Israel" collection. And whoever is writing his ad copy has that perfect airplane-catalogue-magasine non-threatening style.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 3:21 PM
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461 - I guess because everything about his style screams realism apart from the bits he fucks up. It could be that he's actually doing something deeper and more subtle than I assume, but that's hard to square with his core market.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 3:26 PM
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JRoth, what books have you used to introduce your daughter to the Greek myths?

We actually started with oral storytelling (backed up with post-bedtime runs to wikipedia to clarify my sometimes-hazy memories and/or answer unanticipated preschooler curiosity), and I've never found a comprehensive book I'm really happy with - my artistic standards are high, and my mythical preferences are highly refined and idiosyncratic (plus points for more authentic transliteration; use of Roman names is banned).

That said, this one is pretty good - the illustrations are a bit, um, childish, but it does a nice job of telling and showing a number of stories about a given god/dess on a pair of facing pages. So it's a nice jumping-off point - for instance, the Hera page tells briefly of Zeus charming her as a cuckoo, of Zeus chaining her to a cloud, and presumably another story or two; if your kid's interested in one for the stories, follow up the next night with more detail.

Believe it or not, the slightly tacky-looking Mythology Handbook (one of the Ologies series, the ones that look like scrapbooks) seems to be pretty good. We don't own it and it's not in the library, but I spent a good half hour with it at the bookstore and was fairly impressed.

For specific tales, the following are favorites: Atalanta, Medusa, and an absolutely wonderful Odyssey; I can't emphasize enough how much I like that edition of the Odyssey, which has been my favorite story since third grade, and which I've read countless times (in translation).

There's also a good Bellerophon out there that I can't find online - the existence of the publisher of that name makes it difficult to locate.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 3:28 PM
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That is a perfectly legitimate response to a painting -- much more genuine that "that's interesting" which usually means something like, "it's ugly, but I know that would sound stupid."

Picture it being said by a preschooler eyeing pretty much any object featuring swirly pink and purple colors.

Most Renaissance paintings are very "pretty," yet it's not hard to see ways in which they are superior to Kincade. Kincade appeals to people who look at his stuff and at genuine masterpieces in accessible styles, and choose the prettier, brighter "Painting of Light"™.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 3:34 PM
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Also, "interesting" is a cliched response to art you don't understand, but it's also a legitimate response to art that is, well, interesting - that holds one's interest for any of a number of reasons. Stuff doesn't have to be difficult to be good, but it does have to be interesting (otherwise how could it sustain one's attention?).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 3:36 PM
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Picture it being said by a preschooler eyeing pretty much any object featuring swirly pink and purple colors.

This is actually an aesthetic state I aspire to return to.

I don't think Kincaide's audience is responding to form or color much at all. I think they are responding to nostalgic imagery, often marketed through churches. People purchase it as a cultural identifier. They probably also purchase Normal Rockwell posters, but don't look at them long enough to even notice that they tell stories, or really any of their aesthetic merits or demerits.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 3:45 PM
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The Kincade/Rockwell comparison is actually very instructive.

First, neither are realist painters. They exaggerate in all kinds of expressive ways. They are only realist in the "depicting recognizable objects" sense. Both also traffic in nostalgia.

But Rockwell also belongs to an interesting story telling tradition, and only occasionally makes technical mistakes. Kincade slathers paint on with a trowel in order to maximize speed and output, and rarely achieves a freshman in art school level of technical competence.

Kincade is also flat out running a scam. He runs his franchise of gallerias as a pyramid scheme, and has gotten in legal trouble for it.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 3:51 PM
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It would be funny if Kincaide led to a birth of a new school of representational art by people who were inspired by him when they were young, but who took the inspiration to make something good. Art historians years later would have to come up with tortured reasons why Kincaide was actually good.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 3:52 PM
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JRoth, what books have you used to introduce your daughter to the Greek myths?

The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony

Guys, it's "Kinkade". It's as if you don't even read my blog.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 4:01 PM
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Next I'm going to be hearing that "Dogs Playing Poker" isn't "serious art". The hell with you elitist motherfuckers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 4:05 PM
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Not merely as if, Ben.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 4:14 PM
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OK, that said, the linked post is beyond brilliant. I feel a visceral thrill at it.

Although I don't want to take any credit for its brilliance away from young Ben, I will note that a hack like Kinkade talking about his "art" is pretty rich ground to till.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 4:16 PM
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Now here's art:
A spam blog (Blogging for famous artist paintings reproduction on canvas.) pushing counterfeit Thomas Kinkade reproductions with the text of the post taken from William Styron's The Long March.

They turned away from bleak cell-like rooms offered at five times their value, were shown huts and chicken-coops by characters whose bland country faces could not hide the sparkle, in their calculating eyes, of venal lust.

Most of the other "posts" link to more traditionally accomplished artists, so you can get Boucher with Harry Potter text and Caravaggio with Satanic Verses.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 4:32 PM
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463: For more pain, check out the painting titled "The Prince of Peace" (under inspirational) and it's accompanying caption: "As I went through the motions, my eyes on the disinterested model posing for the class, I was suddenly struck with a powerful vision."

Yes, and it was the Son of God with a ridiculously broad, naked chest with no nipples!


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 4:32 PM
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Speaking of "ridiculously broad, naked chest[s] with no nipples", romance publishers of America, why must you humiliate your readership? You put together a nice frothy product with some humor, some spiky heroines, even some decent writing, and then you put it in a package that most of your audience is going to want to hide. Fabio-clones are just embarrassing/i>, people.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 4:59 PM
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465: Thanks.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 5:13 PM
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471 is brilliant.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 9:03 PM
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So true. Also, the dominant synthetic languages are totally Eurocentric.

Lojban strives for cultural neutrality, as far as the designers found possible. The vocabulary is design to sound mainly like Mandarin and English, but also like Hindi, Arabic, and Spanish, and I think maybe Russian? I forget all the source languages. Beyond that, grammatical elements from many different languages that aren't found in English, and a couple that aren't found in any, were included. I hope people don't think "Esperanto" (or even "Loglan") when they hear "Lojban".


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 11-24-08 10:33 PM
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Lesson 1. Translate:

Ko ngaa puutake nunui eenaa o te whawhai. Koia i kiia ai, "He wahine, he whenua i ngaro ai te tangata."

Hint: it's sexist.

-- don't you have macrons?

And, embarrassing attempt at translation without resort to dictionary:

(Then:) Koia i kiia ai, ``He women, he land/place i ngaro ai the (singular) people.''

So: something about women, places, and people.

Also: Imagine a world in which all social interactions begin with a haka.

Boring formalities are pretty boring even in another language -- especially Ka Mate or Toia Mai umpteen times. (See: Peak Haka.) And it'll just piss off the English even more.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-25-08 12:31 AM
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I rather liked the Private Eye cartoon of a British/New Zealand rugby match; on one side, the All Blacks are going through their haka, while on the other side the Brits have formed into two lines for their own pre-match intimidatory ritual: "Rear rank - reload! Front rank - fire!"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-25-08 5:35 AM
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don't you have macrons?

Heh. I procrastinated from my dissertation for the better part of an hour last weekend trying to find a way to use macrons in Word. Won't work with the fonts I have.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-25-08 6:58 AM
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Blume--You should take the weekends off. Set up a workday schedule. (Man, my tone sounds awful, but I've heard that can be helpful.)


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-25-08 7:12 AM
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483. Aye, that's bugger, I hadn't realised. What fonts are you using and what chars do you need macrons with? If you're using common fonts (TNR, Arial, etc.) and unaccented vowels, you can assign easy shortcuts to the chars in Symbols, which is a kludge but works. Beyond that, was easier to do on my dad's old IBM electric typewriter, at least you could overtype.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-25-08 7:27 AM
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477: A friend of mine had an affair with Fabio. Lasted about two weeks, they never ended up sleeping together. But she was quite fond of him.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-25-08 8:02 AM
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So you're saying she was unwilling to accept responsibility for having plotted to break his nose with a goose?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-25-08 8:05 AM
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thanks dış cephe.


Posted by: dış cephe | Link to this comment | 11-25-08 8:39 AM
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