“This week, stories about people trying their best to turn themselves into something else—like a badger. Or a professional comedian, in a language they didn’t grow up speaking,” on the This American Life podcast.
Scientist Charles Foster wanted to get into the heads of animals, so he did it by spending weeks trying to live life as a badger, sleeping in a burrow and crawling around on the forest floor with his eyes blindfolded, getting by on just his sense of smell. And he ate what badgers eat — worms.
Also: “French comedian Gad Elmaleh is known as the Jerry Seinfeld of France. He sells out arenas. Gets recognized on the street. But he’s deciding to give all of that up to try to make it big in America. In English, which he hasn’t totally mastered. And what’s funny in French, to French people, is not the same as what’s funny in English, to Americans.”
And a New York terrier tries to rediscover his roots as a rat-hunter.
Becoming a Badger – This American Life podcast
It started in sports journalism, says Mark Liberman on Language Log.
The convention of using ALL CAPS to connote SHOUTING dates to before 1856.
CAPITAL CRIMES, PART 1 : SHOUT, SHOUT, LET IT ALL OUT – glennf, meh.com
Don’t Buy the Junk Science That Says Yiddish Originated in Turkey – Jordan Kutzik, Forward
Yiddish strongly resembles German and has almost no resemblance to Turkish or Persian.
Read the article in the original Yiddish.
I am occasionally surprised to be reminded that Yiddish is still spoken by many people. But for how many people is it their native language, as it was for my grandparents?
A family law barrister describes the weird language British law uses for divorce, and listeners to the Allusionist podcast share their worst break-up lines.
A family law barrister describes the weird words British law uses for divorce, and listeners to the Allusionist podcast share their worst break-up lines.
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis holds that language shapes the way we think. It’s an obsolete linguistic theory, but it’s going strong in other disciplines and in pop culture:
Perhaps the most famous invocation of Sapir-Whorf is the claim that because Eskimos have dozens of words for snow, they have a mental apparatus that equips them differently—and, one assumes, better—than, say, Arabs, to perceive snow. (I once watched the wintry film Fargo with an Egyptian who called everything from snowflakes to windshield-ice talg—the same word she used for the ice cube in her drink.) To get a hint of why nearly all modern linguists might reject this claim, consider the panoply of snow-words in English (sleet, slush, flurry, whiteout, drift, etc.), and the commonsense question of why we would ever think to attribute Eskimos’ sophisticated and nuanced understanding of snow to their language, rather than the other way around. (“Can you think of any other reason why Eskimos might pay attention to snow?” Harvard’s Steven Pinker once asked.)