Blog posts tagged "language"

Bi-Lingual Weddings

June 12th, 2006

The last 4 weddings I’ve attended have all been bi-lingual, and they’ve all featured a different language (with English being a common thread in all of them).

The modern condition I guess.

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Blizzard, So Last Century

April 30th, 2005

Why is Blizzard charging for the World of Warcraft software? Or, barring the need to cover printing and shipping, why disallow me to use a copy I manage to acquire though alternative methods? How can the $40 they collect up front possibly compare the to recurring amount they would receive if they lowered the barriers to participation? Given that a troll pidgin is quickly becoming a viable 2nd language in this house, I’d happily pay $12/month fee to have an account for the occasional play, and I’d probably go on paying even on off months, to hold on to my limited progress.

How long would I let these low level monthly payments go on? It would roll right into my cost of being online without making a ripple, and they’d have already made their money and more. Dumb, or at least short sighted.

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Money, Power, Sex, and Elephants

November 16th, 2004

Picked up my copy of Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant this evening, and I noticed that it is published by Chelsea Green. Chelsea Green is a progressive publishing house in Vermont who use Eggplant’s MI CMS. A CMS based on the Riot::Core framework we built for our since stalled protest.net re-write. Small world.

While I was there I also noticed that they’re totally sold out of “Don’t Think”, so now would probably be a good time to buy your copy before your local bookstore also runs out.

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QOTW: Truth and Fiction

August 1st, 2003

Aidan: “Truth is stranger then fiction, but we’re doing out best.”

On his conword/conlang community in general, and on Zompist’s non-logographic writing system of grimacing, stone carved faces.

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Linguistic convergence?

February 1st, 2003

I’ve noticed an odd phenomena. When searching Google I consistently see results from projects I’m involved in, people I know, and of course, myself.

A certain percentage of this can be written off to specialized interests. The overwhelming amount of search results I get which point to IMC archives is understandable, for example.

What I don’t understand is why a relatively generic query like “tar over ssh”, would return a message from the LUG at my alma matter(which didn’t exist when I went there), in a thread between 2 people I know well. Thats just odd. And this happens a lot. I’m going to start keeping track, but it happens all the time. (note: I’ve probably destroyed Google’s usefulness for searching for “tar over ssh” now by mentioning it)

I don’t know that many people, a very small number in fact, and even if they all produce content hyperactively, shouldn’t they be drowned out in a sea content? Whats going on?

My thought is perhaps we’re seeing the effect of Google having a language based interface. I search in English, and therefore I’m much more likely to get English results back. Most of the people I know speak English. On the Net however this doesn’t proscribe the field much. I think perhaps it needs to be broken down beyond that, I don’t just speak English, I speak a vernacular informed by age, class, education, social environment, etc. My word choices are a product of culture. For example Mako and Josiah from the above thread have both had significant impacts on the Linux culture I was raised in. Could even my 3 word query display a language bias? If I was a product of a different linguistic micro-culture would I have said “pipe” instead of “over”, asked for “remote” instead of “ssh”, re-ordered the terms?

And if perhaps Google was a taxonomy engine, building a search tree of structured data, and my queries were made in a precise, perhaps numerical, language, then would this convergence disappear? Would it work nearly as well then? A response from my culture after all brings a number of advantages, no one suggested using a tape drive instead, or buying F-Secure.

Some Other Possibilities.

  • Aidan is fast to point out humans are expert pattern makers, and inclined to see patterns where none (of significance) exist. Perhaps I only notice the occurrence when something unusual happens, and this convergence is a false pattern?
  • That for all the millions of internet users, content is created by a mind blowingly small percentage. That a given individual really can know a statistically significant percentage of the population.

World Building Par Excellence

October 2nd, 2002

Tolkien invented his world so as to have a sufficiently complex backdrop with which to play with linguistic theory. My brother has been running a similar project, “playing games with reality’s rules”, over at Sedes Draconis, a multi-civilization, biologically complex thought space. Most recently his Gnomish Culture Test was accepted to the pantheon of culture tests maintained by Zompist.

Whats a culture test?

You can think of culture tests as being similar to those “Which X are you?” tests (e.g. “Which revolution are you?”) but better thought out, and without the cute banner that you can hang on your website. Zompist wrote the first one in response to the claim, “There is no American culture”, and it took off from there. Are you American, Canadian, Dutch, or Verdurian?

Culturally Biased Conceptions of Terrain

I’ve also been meaning to blog Aidan’s critique of Civilization’s terrain model. Civ is one of the most amazing computer games ever, and Civ III improved many of its basic assumptions, providing for more realism and flexibility. However it has a few ideas which they haven’t gone back to re-examine over the years. Like the very common Grassland terrain.
I think what is meant by Grassland is the kind of well-watered, productive terrain common in the American East, and Europe. But. Such terrain is not naturally occurring.
Lots more good stuff, on grasslands, irrigation, rainfall, and the surprising scarcity of iron. If you’ve ever played Civ, and even if you haven’t, interesting stuff.

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