Be Nice, Learn to Talk

Why are we so talkative?  Why can’t some people SHUT UP?

Turns out that you and I aren’t the only ones trying to figure this out.

Some of those brainiac types are asking this question as well.  Better yet, they may have some answers.

Those brainiacs are what journalists call “scientists.”  Yes, those guys.  The ones asking questions based on lots of data that other “scientists” can use to get the same answers.  Big deal.

Well, it is a big deal, actually.

You see, these science guys went and looked at some birds.  Why birds?

Well, there’s lots of different types of birds for one.

And these birds, well, they seem to have this talking thing similar to us people.  As people we don’t call it talking.  We call it singing, or bird calls, or song, or whatever.  But birds seem to know what they are saying.

It turns out that some birds aren’t very social.  In fact, they are downright not nice.  Kind of like some neighbors I’ve had.  Birds called Munia are like that.  Not so social.

That’s compared to the Bengalese finch, a bird that’s been domesticated for 250 years.

Guess what?  The finch has complex songs and can figure out what you might be thinking.  The Munia, not so much.  No complex songs.  Doesn’t care what you are thinking.

You might say, so what about the birds already.  Good point.

Turns out that 50 generations of fox have also started showing these traits.  Bonobos.  We already know about cats, dogs, horses and cattle.  But at least in the case of the birds, there is a direct relationship between talking (alright, singing) and human language.

Here’s the kicker.  Good old Charles Robert Darwin suggested a LONG time ago that perhaps, just perhaps, people domesticated themselves.  It’s long been known that domesticated animals don’t have as much hair and take much longer to “grow up.”

That growing up time can be used to learn stuff.  Like talking.

So the next time you want to say something, say something nice.  Because, after all, if you weren’t nice to begin with, you probably wouldn’t be talking.

Thanks for stopping by.

By the way, the source article is from Science, 3 August 2018, volume 361, issue 6401, page 436-7.  Written by Michael Erard and Catherine Matacic

 

 

 

Man Tongue

Sorry, this isn’t what you may think.  Tongue has to do with language.  Not sure why we call languages, tongues, but maybe it’s because the tongue has a lot to do with it.

I’m working to learn French.  It’s not easy.  They really make your lips and ears work hard.  The tongue?  Not so much.

One big thing that was hard for me to understand was this: Groups are either girls or guys.  In French it’s << elles >> or << ils >>.  (Sorry, the whole double carat is French as well.)

Anyway, say there’s a group of five women walking down the street.  You’d say, “women walking down the street.”

What about five men doing the same thing?  You’d say, “men walking down the street.”

Here’s the fun part.

What if the group is four women and one man?  You’d say, “men walking down the street.”

Yup.  I know, it seems crazy.  Wait.

What if it’s an entire stadium of women watching a football match?  “Women watch football.”

Now, put a single man (he might be married, I meant one person) into the crowd, and guess what you have to say?  That’s right.  “Men watch football.”  Yes, even if the ENTIRE crowd but one has freudian-based penis-envy, you have to say, “men.”

For the longest time this drove me nuts.  It still drives people nuts, because it purposely marginalizes women.  I don’t like marginalizing women.  I like women.

But why does the language do this?

Remember, languages have been around a long time.  Even French.  And there’s a good chance that the French didn’t invent the whole gender bias thingy.  So we have to go back thousands of years to the source.

What was going on thousands of years ago?

Murder.  Mayhem.  Massacres.  Maybe.

In short, it was quite the heyday of times.  Possibly like game of thrones.

If you were a guy, and very sensitive to not dying, and someone was describing a crowd of people to you, what might be of great interest to you?

If it was me, I’d want to know if there were any men in that group.  Specifically, men who might want to hurt me.  If the group is all women, I’d feel better.  Not really.  I know what women are capable of, because I’ve been happily married for a long time.

But if sword thrusting and mace wielding are your concern, then you want to know if men are around.

Result?  You use your language as an early warning system.

It’s only an idea, don’t go ballistic.  But for a real answer, I’d look to this guy.  I enjoy his videos.  In the meantime,

Bonne journée!

 

Space isn’t big enough for: French

Image

As I study French using this great app, I come to a fairly sad realization.

Il n’y a pas de place pour la langue.

Even though space is large, mind-bendingly large, our first colonies aren’t going to be big enough for more than one language.

Imagine there being some kind of emergency, like trying to find the jam in the fridge, and you have to call out without thinking.  What if you used the wrong language?

Alright, maybe looking for jam isn’t the best example.  What if your rocket malfunctions and you need to get help immediately?  Hadn’t everyone better be on the same frequency?  As in knowing how to talk?

Learning french is fun.  The way they organize their thoughts are a bit different from the way us American English people normally do it.  But that’s what makes life here on Earth fun.  If I go to France and order some bread and cheese, but end up with a duck and ketchup, it’s only a moment of embarrassment.

Do the same thing on the moon, and it’s many times worse.  Alright, the bread and cheese example is, cheesy, but you get the picture.  Mistakes on the moon are extremely costly, and speaking more than one language comes with a price.

Sacre bleu!

 

 

 

 

French Purse

What of it?  So what?  Really?  No way!  I don’t believe it!  OMG.

Imagine if there were some way to roll all of this sentiment into one handy little gesture.  Not only this sentiment, but the mild form of this sentiment.  Like, if your best friend came to you and said “Look I just bought this fancy designer-brand purse from the store for an ungodly amount of money!”

You are slightly jealous (only slightly!) and disgusted (what terrible taste your friend is showing) and affronted (why didn’t she ask me BEFORE making such a silly decision) and perhaps even a bit antagonized (why didn’t she ask me to go shopping!).

If you are American you would say something like “No way!”  And your tone of voice would indicate that it was a very mild form of rebuff.

But if you are French! and you want to say all of this in one simple gesture while still maintaining your (constantly on) French coolness, then you will do this.

Step one.  Purse your lips.  That’s it, put them together like you’re going to whistle.  Gently.  Like you don’t care.  Because you don’t.  You’re French!

Step two.  Fill your cheeks with air.  Not too much.  You’re not a fish!

Step three.  Push the air out with your cheeks.  Your lips will hold in the pressure for an instant, then quickly open in an “ah” shape.  The sound you make is a gentle “puh” as in “puff.”

There.  You’ve done it.  The French purse.  Next time you’re with a Frenchie, check it out, especially in Paris.  I don’t know if they do it more there, or if they simply don’t care there more than elsewhere.  But there’s a good chance that if you’re having more than a few minute’s of conversation, you’re going to get at least one purse.  Maybe two.

And if you want to be French, try it yourself.  It comes in kind of handy.

And that’s a purse that’s a true fashion statement.