Saturday, June 27, 2009

what's that you say?

Language. people, and culture. Here's a great read on a theory about the relationship between how cultures think and the affect on language; or vice versa, or vice versa; pick your versa [thanks to Andrew Sullivan]. I've read some Steven Pinker, who knows from language and always intrigues, and this is exactly the type of wonder that runs through my mind every few years - and certainly during my time in Monterey where you made friends who were in myriad language training courses. Some of the differences in how language difficulty was ranked back then were no doubt based on both pronunciation difficulty and some of the psychological aspects of given languages. Spanish and French were grouped together at the lower end of difficulty, followed by Hebrew and others, and it finished at the highest difficulty with Russian, Chinese, and Arabic, among others. When we're exposed to something so distant from our cultural norm, whether a language or a life, we're probably going to struggle not only with the objective language but also with the basis beyond the language; and that's the people. In fact, the most memorable stories that most people have from Monterey (aside from poorly though out and failed marriages) usually revolve around our teachers. All the instructors there are native speakers so the curse and promise of their upbringing and culture had a massive effect on many students results. I'm sure that differing alphabets only add to the worry. Maybe the next time my mind starts to roil with language I'll look at it a bit differently.

The Eastern Market in D.C. is reborn today after two years of restoration following a massive fire in 2007. I was thinking of heading in this afternoon even before realizing the throng of locals and press that may be in attendance; I think I'll step up and head in, regardless. Maybe I'll bring my new camera and pass along some views.

More later.


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