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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

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A World of Words

This is a place for lexiophiles  and linguaphiles! We are an international site, we communicate in English as lingua franca; many of us know more than one language and we love the word. Let's talk about language!

Location: #culture
Members: 45
Latest Activity: Nov 14, 2013

Many thinkers have proposed that language is what makes us unique, what makes us human. We come equipped with a very powerful, instinctual language module in our brains, a universal grammar. Nevertheless, there are thousands of languages in the world and it's fascinating to think about how they all came to be, how languages evolve, and what makes some endure and spread and some disappear.

 

This is a place to discuss everything that has to do with language, any language, dead or alive. Topics can include the origin of language, linguistics, history of languages, words that we love, world literature, and even neuroscience or evolutionary studies if they have to do specifically with language.

Discussion Forum

The New Words Thread: Things you ran across, remembered, or had to look up

Started by A Former Member. Last reply by Marianne Jun 4, 2013. 91 Replies

As the title implies, this is a thread to add the new words you come across from time to time, or words that you had to look up, or words you found intersting and wanted to share. I'll start with…Continue

Tags: adjectives, adverbs, verbs, nouns, language

Sex Symbols

Started by A Former Member. Last reply by Marianne May 30, 2013. 9 Replies

From the Grammarphobia blog.Q: In a recent radio appearance, you said the idea that “he” can refer to any human being – man or woman – was introduced in the 18th century by a female grammarian. I…Continue

Tags: singular, plural, pronouns, language, male

A Man of Many Words

Started by A Former Member May 7, 2013. 0 Replies

Another interesting book to add to the list. -- DallasA Man of Many WordsFor more than 150 years, writers of all stripes have relied on Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrasesas an elegant,…Continue

Tags: linguistics, vocabulary, language, Roget, thesaurus

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Comment by doone on March 9, 2013 at 3:47pm

Show Us Your Tittles

MAR 9 2013 @ 1:29PM

And other obscure words you probably don’t know:

Relatedly, Carmel Lobello compiled a list of “uncommon or obsolete words that we think may have died early.” For example:

Lunting: Walking while smoking a pipe

Groak: To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them

Jirble: To pour out (a liquid) with an unsteady hand: as, he jirbles out a dram

Comment by doone on March 5, 2013 at 8:47am

ENCAPSULATED UNIVERSES: A CONVERSATION WITH LERA BORODITSKY

Leraboroditsky_0

Over at Edge:

I'm interested in how the languages we speak shape the way we think. The reason I got interested in this question is that languages differ from one another so much. There are about 7,000 languages around the world, and each one differs from the next in innumerable ways. Obviously, languages have different words, but they also require very different things from their speakers grammatically.

Let me give you an example. Suppose you want to say even the simplest thing, like "Humpty Dumpty sat on a …" Well, even with a snippet of a nursery rhyme, if you try to translate it to other languages, you'd immediately run into trouble. Let's focus on the verb for a moment. Sat. To say this in English, if this was something that happened in the past, then you'd have to say "sat." You wouldn’t say, "will sit" or "sitting." You have to mark tense. In some languages like in Indonesian you couldn't change the verb. The verb would always stay the same regardless of whether this is a past or future event. In some languages, like in Russian, my native language, you would have to change the verb for tense, but you would also have to include gender. So if this was Mrs. Dumpty that sat on the wall, you'd use a different form of the verb than if it was Mr. Dumpty. 

In Russian, quite inconveniently, you have to mark the verb for whether the event was completed or not. So if Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall for the entire amount of time that he was meant to sit on it, that would be one form of the verb. But if he were to say "have a great fall" that would be a different form of the verb.

In Turkish, and this is one of my favorite examples, you have to change the verb depending on how you came to know this information. If you actually witnessed this event with your own eyes, you were walking along and you saw this chubby, ovoid character sitting on a wall, that would be one form of the verb. But if this was something you just heard about, or you inferred, from say broken Humpty Dumpty pieces, then you would have to use a different form of the verb.

Posted by Robin Varghese at 08:34 AM | Permalink

Comment by doone on March 4, 2013 at 7:56am

WINNING AT ARGUMENT

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse

Lo Cole ArgumentWe’re currently finishing work on the manuscript for our forthcoming book, Why We Argue (And How We Should), so we’ve been thinking a lot recently about argumentation.  We’ve been especially concerned with how arguments can go wrong.  When evaluating an argument, one of the central questions to ask is whether the stated premises support the proposed conclusion. When the premises fail to provide the right kind of support for the conclusion, we often call the argument (and its form) fallacious.  Fallacies are so pervasive precisely because they are cases in which it looks as if the stated premises provide propose support for a proposed conclusion, but in fact they don’t.  Take, for example, a simple textbook fallacy, that of asserting the consequent

If Bill’s a bachelor, Bill is male.

Bill is male, therefore Bill is a bachelor. 

The trouble with an argument of this form is that it presents an invalid inference -- the premises, if true, don’t guarantee the truth of the conclusion.  So even were the premises and the conclusion true, the proposed argument fails.  Note that the failure is a matter of the proposed argument’s form rather than its content.  The objective of fallacy detection in the formal mode is to reveal cases in which the truth of the stated premises fail to provide the proper kind of support for the conclusion.  

In the formal mode, we also can identify different degrees in which premises provide support for a conclusion.  The highest degree of support that premises can provide for a conclusion is the guarantee of its truth, given the truth of the premises.  Arguments that manifest that feature are called deductivelyvalid.  But note that deductive validity does not depend on the stated premises actually being true.  That is, with a valid argument, the conclusion is guaranteed to be true, if the premises are true.  Accordingly, an argument can be deductively valid even if every one of its stated premises is false. 

Thus we require an additional metric of formal success.  It would seem that an argument that is both deductively valid and has premises that in fact are all true would be bombproof.  Such arguments are called deductively sound.  Notice that deductive soundness encompasses deductive validity in that every sound argument is valid.  A deductively sound argument is a deductively valid argument that has true premises.   Since a deductively valid argument is one that guarantees the truth of its conclusion provided that its premises are in fact true, it should be no surprise that deductive soundness is often considered the gold standard for argumentative success.  Every deductively sound argument actually establishes the truth of its conclusion.  Who could ask for more than that?

Continue reading "Winning at Argument"

Posted by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse at 12:45 AM | Permalink

Comment by doone on March 4, 2013 at 7:50am

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NIV)

The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word. The Bible says, “Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us” (2 Timothy 3:17 MSG).

God’s Word is unlike any other word. It is alive. Jesus said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63 NASB).

When God speaks, things change. Everything around you — all of creation — exists because “God said it.” He spoke it all into existence.

God’s Word generates life, creates faith, produces change, frightens the Devil, causes miracles, heals hurts, builds character, transforms circumstances, imparts joy, overcomes adversity, defeats temptation, infuses hope, releases power, cleanses our minds, brings things into being, and guarantees our future forever! We cannot live without the Word of God! Never take it for granted. You should consider it as essential to your life as food.

Job said, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12 NIV). God’s Word is the spiritual nourishment you must have to fulfill your purpose.

Talk About It

How has knowing God’s Word transformed your life?

- Ask people what they do to stay in God’s Word. But also share with others what you do to stay in God’s Word. Learn from each other!

Comment by A Former Member on February 23, 2013 at 10:11am

That was great. Very clever and funny. He executes the humor very well. I'll have to find more of his videos. 

Comment by Michel on February 23, 2013 at 9:15am

Phonetic punctuation:

Comment by Adriana on February 17, 2013 at 9:46am
Chomsky is very hard to follow. I mostly read about universal grammar through Pinker, who is easier to follow but can be pretty heavy too
Comment by Neal on February 17, 2013 at 8:47am

Dallas - Lolz!

Universal grammar, that's the ticket. I need to read more, but Chomsky isn't the easiest guy to follow.

Comment by Adriana on February 16, 2013 at 9:54pm
I agree, Neal. Except if I you put the child in my home, he will learn English, Spanish, and Italian :-)

Yes, all humans come equipped with a language module. Chomsky's theory is called universal grammar, and I find it absolutely fascinating
Comment by A Former Member on February 16, 2013 at 8:27pm

That does kind of nullify any thought that one variety of human is different, or even superior, than another; right?

Speak for yourself, Neal. I cherish my superiority complex. 

 

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