Rejection, Language, and Gratitude

A storm just passed through, and the lightworks were awesome! We might be able to sneak in a walk before the next one hits.


Jia Jiang’s TEDx video on rejection has had over 4 million views. The point he makes about seeking out rejection so it no longer has power over him is powerful and yet, terrifying. Come to think of it though, most of my every day interactions, including the ones I had today are an invitation to rejection. But there are so many other things that I don’t do for fear of rejection. An universal problem?


Lera Boroditsky’s talk on How Language Shapes the Way We Think was a serendipitous recommendation this morning too, after a discussion yesterday during our team’s learning hour.  Her examples of language shapes time and how it’s perceived (the Australian Aboriginal Community in a different coordinate space), number words that allow technological innovations that open up the world of mathematics, early effects (color identification is different), broad effects (gender nouns in German vs Spanish), weighty effects (how blame is allocated in different languages) provoked me into thinking about the unexamined language I use everyday.


I’m also grateful to several people who reached out today to share their worry and that they trusted me enough to share them with me, even if all I could be was a patient ear. Also to the person who wanted to say the work I’ve been doing in organising the weekly talks at work for telling me how much they valued it: it gave me a boost in my flailing enthusiasm in coordinating more of them.


How the shutdown would be reported if it happened elsewhere [Article]

The language used to report domestic events in Western nations is often wildly different to similar events happening in ‘hardline’ countries. Slate’s recent article shows the contrast from the US.

While the country’s most recent elections were generally considered to be free and fair (despite threats against international observers), the current crisis has raised questions in the international community about the regime’s ability to govern this complex nation of 300 million people, not to mention its vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

The End of Esperanto? [Article]

Ludwig Zamenhoff invented the simple international language in 1887. The Economist sees doom for the language that has never really taken off.

It remains thin on the ground… partly because language, more than any other tool, benefits from network effects. The more people who speak a language, the more desirable that language will be. This is of course why Esperanto speakers play up the biggest possible numbers for their community—the hopes that others will join, for the benefit of being able to use Esperanto with more people.

How weird is the English language, really? [Article]

English is terribly confusing to a lot of non-native speakers but how hard is it really? Is the world’s most difficult language to learn? For example, guess how “Ghoti” is pronounced? The Economist weighs in and comes up none the wiser:

That doesn’t settle a bar bet along the lines of “Is English hard to learn?” But any topic worthy of a good long argument—”Who’s the greatest boxer of all time?” “‘Dark Side of the Moon’ or ‘The Wall’?”—should have that element of taste and subjectivity to keep it fun.

English is a dialect with an army [Article]

Ta-Nehisi Coates is an American, in France, learning French. He tackles the challenge of being the speaker of only one language, a language that everyone around the world believes is the way to opportunity:

You are the cultural conqueror. You wield the biggest guns. Somewhere in your home there is button which could erase civilization. And then you come to this place and find yourself disarmed. You see that it has its own culture, its own ages and venerable traditions, that the people do not tremble before you. And then you understand that there is not just intelligent life in outer space, but life so graceful that it shames you into silence. 

Emotions for which English has no words [Article]

[optional image description]The Atlantic discovers an interesting infographic by design student Pei-Ying Lin 

You know that sorry state of affairs that is actually looking worse after a haircut? Or the urge to squeeze something that is unbearably cute? Or the euphoria you feel when you’re first falling in love?
These are common things — so common that they’re among the wonderfully delightful and excruciatingly banal experiences that bind us together as humans. And yet they are not so common, apparently, that the English language has found words to express them.