§7. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
is such a contradictory figure that there are, in professional philosophical usage, two of him
. Wittgenstein I had solved every philosophical problem in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
(1921); having nothing else to do, he went home to Austria and became, unsuccessfully, a schoolteacher. In 1929, Wittgenstein I returned to Cambridge, where he began his transformation into Wittgenstein II. He was no longer confident in the Tractatus
, his certainty
in any answers less firm. Wittgenstein II's great, posthumous, work was the Philosophical Investigations
. But Wittgenstein the living man was one, not two: musician
, reader of mysteries
. "If philosophy has anything to do with wisdom," he once wrote, "there's certainly not a grain of that in Mind
, and quite often a grain in the detective stories."
posted by nasreddin
on Sep 7, 2007 -
is a miniature ceramic village sculpted and photographed by Steven Travis, who also invented a language and script called Tapissary
, inspired by American Sign Language, which appears on the images.
posted by Kattullus
on Aug 24, 2007 -
American Sign Language Flash Video Dictionary
is a high quality, free dictionary with a huge number of signs. It includes specialized dictionaries of religious signs, conversational phrases, and ASL for babies. Unfortunately it's not possible to link to specific signs, but if you look inside you'll find words from "Abbreviate" to "Zoom" and phrases such as "I cannot fasten my belt," "has he been neutered?" "I already took a bath," "are you married?" and "I need a better firewall."
posted by alms
on Jul 25, 2007 -
Maintained by John Cowan
, this list boils down dozens of languages, real, invented, and imaginary, to their pithy essences. "Japanese is essentially 16th-century Chinese, 17th-century Portuguese, 18th-century Dutch, 19th-century French and 20th-century English with an abhorrence of consonant clusters."
"Esperanto is essentially Spanish with extra 'x's and 'k's." "Klingon is essentially Arabic spoken through a set of bulky false teeth." "English is essentially a half dozen other languages locked in a small room. They fight."
posted by escabeche
on Jun 25, 2007 -
Judge bans the word "rape" from a rape trial.
Jeffre Cheuvront, a Nebraska judge, "granted a motion by defense attorneys barring the use of the words rape, sexual assault, victim, assailant, and sexual assault kit from the trial of Pamir Safi—accused of raping Tory Bowen in October 2004." This move follows some tightening of language during trials meant to avoid unnecessarily swaying jury members. But has it gone too far this time?
posted by cmgonzalez
on Jun 24, 2007 -
The story of the strange language of the Pirahã
is just as much a story about the state of the field of linguistics. Professor Dan Everett
of Illinois State University, who lived for decades with the Pirahã, first as a missionary, then as a linguist, believes Pirahã casts serious doubt upon Chomsky's theory of universal grammar
. Chomskyites have started to fight back with a reassessment
of Everett's famous paper on the Pirahã
, where he claimed that the Pirahã "have no numbers, no fixed color terms, no perfect tense, no deep memory, no tradition of art or drawing, and no words for “all,” “each,” “every,” “most,” or “few”—terms of quantification believed by some linguists to be among the common building blocks of human cognition." He also claims that it doesn't have recursion, a feature of language Chomsky recently claimed was the defining feature of human speech
. Dan Everett has rebutted
the Chomskyite reassessment of his work. Video interview
with Professor Everett. [Pirahã previously covered on MetaFilter in 2004 and 2006]
posted by Kattullus
on Jun 18, 2007 -
"The old, mean man" vs. "The mean old man."
Here's an aspect of English (and other languages) I've never thought of before. If you're using a string of adjectives, there's a natural order for them to appear in: "opinion :: size :: age :: shape :: color :: origin :: material :: purpose". (Although I find "old, mean," due to it's strange order, sort of striking.) [more info: 1
posted by grumblebee
on May 19, 2007 -
s a resource and gathering place for subtitling films from one language into many languages using our unique subtitling tools. These tools expand the power and reach of films by making it possible for people to view and enjoy films in their native languages. It is very easy to use and has many languages.
posted by k8t
on May 11, 2007 -
Embrace the Suck.
Intensive military activity creates an incubator for slang. By bringing together people from geographically diverse backgrounds, putting them into stressful circumstances, and teaching them a new language of jargon and acronym
, the armed forces create fertile ground for new idioms - many of which return home in civvies when the conflicts are over. In the Civil War
, World War I
and World War II
, in Korea
and in Viet Nam
, servicepeople created or popularized now-familiar terms like shoddy, hotshot, cooties, tailspin, fleabag, face time, joystick, SNAFU, FUBAR, flaky, gung ho, no sweat, flame-out,
and many, many others
Now, the GWOT
brings us a new generation
. Military columnist Austin Bay
has published an early collection of neologisms from Gulf War II
. On NPR, Bay explains what The Suck is
, how to identify a fobbit
, and why Marines look down on the attitude of Semper I
posted by Miko
on Mar 31, 2007 -
The idea: "If we took all the common graphic symbols floating around nowadays, would we have enough to make a viable hieroglyphic language? Would it be possible to translate Finnegan's Wake or Moby Dick entirely into dingbats, whim-whams and clip art?" Matthew White makes the effort to find out.
posted by Kattullus
on Feb 18, 2007 -
A Tranquil Star
...for a discussion of stars our language is inadequate and seems laughable, as if someone were trying to plow with a feather. (via
posted by grateful
on Feb 6, 2007 -
Pompous Ass Words
is a site dedicated to identifying words that shouldn't be used, on the grounds that doing so makes you sound like a pompous ass. With humorous citations and links to examples of pompous word usage by the media.
posted by amyms
on Jan 27, 2007 -
social networking... for words. Catalog your favourite (or least favourite) words — make any variety of word lists, and connect to other users using the same words. Silly, but fun!
posted by Robot Johnny
on Nov 29, 2006 -
is a militant grammarian
: "We all care about language. Your concern may be different from the young hoodie's." On the other hand, he may have a point
: "The simple fact is we cannot afford to be careless with our language, because if we are careless with our language then we are careless with our world and sooner or later we will be lost for words to describe what we have allowed to happen to it." (via
posted by anotherpanacea
on Nov 8, 2006 -
The end of cursive?
When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters. "Cursive -- that is so low on the priority list, we really could care less. We are much more concerned that these kids pass their SOLs [standardized tests]."
posted by stbalbach
on Oct 11, 2006 -