Category: language

“These Words Are So Overused They’ve Become Meaningless”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/09/these-words-are-so-overus_n_5447356.html (it’s short. Basically the thesis is that words like literally. honestly, absolutely, etc. used to mean something and now are forever ruined.)
Okay, I hate shit like this. Why? Because all languages have filler words and, guess what, these words change over time and, guess what, if you’re, say, writing dialogue, using them to some extent is essential to recreating the way people actually talk.
 
Would you want to just toss them around in terse prose? Well, no. BUT…
 
Also, to everyone who gripes about shit like “If I was” or “the winner was me” why don’t I just give you an Anglo-Saxon dictionary. You can grind up the pages and snort them.
 
People get their p***ies in a twist over this stuff, but there are SO MANY linguistic changes happening right under our noses (cot, caught. Do they sound the same when you say them?) that no one f***ing notices. It’s when these colloquialisms filter into conservative writing styles that idiot editors, who don’t even know what the Germanic umlaut (it’s not this: ü, ä, ö) or a pitch accent is, apparently become linguistic experts.
 
</end rant>
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Transgender language nerd time!

So I saw an infographic on Tumblr. Basically it went like this: “don’t call trans women transwomen ’cause that others then, makes them sound like some sort of alien freak of nature, not just a type of woman, much like a cis woman.

The thing is, noun phrases like this are always written as a single word auf Deutsch. I wouldn’t say this is offensive. That said, I don’t know much about the German trans community. But it’s important to remember these phrases have a different cultural-linguistic association.

Language defines us and we define language. And it changes and we change and we change it.

Polyglotism, men and women/Poliglotismo, los hombres y las mujeres

English (español abajo)

Okay, so if you are a language enthusiast you’ve probly come across articles about polyglots in your internet wanderings at some point or another. Most claim that the vast majority of such people are male, though no one’s completely sure why. Often phrases such as “the drive to master complex systems is endemic to the male brain” are lightly tossed around. While I don’t want to say that that stereotype is totally wrong (stereotypes are often correct, just not on an individual level) and that it’s not true that once you get passed, say, 10 or 12 languages the vast majority of such polyglots are male, I personally know (and a cursory look at a site like Tumblr will show you) that there are plenty of female polyglots out there, many speaking 5, 6, 7 languages as different as French, Russian, Mandarin, Arabic, etc.

So yeah, are men more likely to go a little crazy, overboard, master 20 or more languages? I’d say probly yeah. But like any other gender trait, it’s really best mapped out with two overlapping bell curves.

I’d suspect that women polyglots tend focus more on the social uses of language (id est, are more interested in using language for activities like activism, making deeper personal connections, et cetera, rather than focusing simply on acquiring new languages). But that’s just a hunch, a stereotype that we could never say should be true for any given individual.

This begs the question, where do trans women fit on here? And trans men? Tentative research seems to indicate that our brains often fall in the middle of the masculine-feminine spectrum: either they were not fully masculinized or were “accidentally” partially masculinized (yeah, I know “accidentally” sounds super cis-normative, but lack of a better term, mates). As far as language learning, would we match our assigned sex more or our identified sex? Or somewhere in the middle?

Seeing as there is just loads of money, waiting to be spent on researching polyglotism in transgender people, I can’t wait to see the results in the upcoming years.

 

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Castellano

Si eres entusiasta para los idiomas, probablemente has encontrado algún artículo sobre poliglotos en tus viajes por internet. Muchos dicen que la mayoría de esa gente son hombres, aunque nadie sabe exactamente por qué. Frases como “el impulso de dominar sistemas complejas es endémico al cerebro masculino” se usan bastante a menudo. Aunque no quiero decir que estos estereotipos son completamente falsos (los estereotipos normalmente son válidos, aunque no en una escala individual) y que no es cierto que una vez llegues a 10 o 12 lenguas la gran mayoría de esos poliglotos son hombres, conozco personalmente (y un rápido vistazo en webs como Tumblr te lo demostrará) que hay muchas políglotas femeninas, muchas que hablan 6, 7, 8 idiomas tan distintas como el francés, ruso, mandarín, árabe, et cetera.

Ahora bien. ¿Es más probable que los hombres se entusiasmen muchísimo con la idea de aprender 20 idiomas. Creo que sí. Sin embargo, como cualquier otro rasgo del género, se representa como dos curvas campanas en superposición.

Sospecho que las políglotas femeninas tienden a enfocarse más en los usos sociales de los idiomas (id est, que son más interesadas en usar los idiomas para actividades como el activismo, en hacer conexiones personales más profundas, et cetera, en lugar de enfocarse simplemente en la adquisición de idiomas nuevos). Pero solo es un presentimiento personal de mi parte, un estereotipo que nunca podremos decir debe ser cierto para una sola persona cualquiera.

Que plantea la pregunta, ¿dónde se quedan las mujeres y los hombres trans? Investigaciones provisionales sugieren que nuestros cerebros se encuentran en el medio del espectro de masculinidad y feminidad: o sea nuestros cerebros no fueron masculinizados completamente o fueron “accidentalmente” masculinizados parcialmente (y sí, sé que la palabra “accidentalmente” parece muy cis-normativo, pero me falta una mejor). Cuando se trata de la adquisición de idiomas, ¿debemos parece más a nuestro sexo asignado o más a nuestro sexo identificado? ¿O tal vez estamos en el medio?

Dado que existen montones de dinero para investigar el poliglotismo en personas transgénero, espero con mucho entusiasmo ver los resultados.

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