2. Quote reflections

“The word is half his that speaks, and half his that hears it”- Michel de Montaigne

This quote resonates with me for it is clear, concise, and makes a lot of sense. Often times (this happened just this morning too) a person says a string of words, yet the person who the words have been directed at does not pick up the same string of words. Through this process, the messages of words and thoughts can be easily morphed. Although the person who initially said the words felt they were conveying a certain message, it is up to the person that hears the words to comprehend them. Often times, this misunderstanding just prompts the listener to ask the person to repeat what they had said. However, there are certainly times when a lear message is received, yet the message received was not the message intended.


Above is a link is a link to an article with a video where a miscommunication creates a hilarious graduation cake mishap. The order was for a “graduation cap” yet the person making the cake created a “graduation cat.” This supports the premise which states that words are partly the person who states it, and half the person who hears it.


“Language was the real innovation in our biological evolution; everything since has just made our words travel faster or last longer” – Steven Pinker

This quote seems to hold true for if one thinks about it, a lot of the technology invented today is for the purpose of allowing humans to communicate with each other. At this moment, Apple and various technological companies are working furiously to construct the best cellular device. which are devices to allow society to connect. Furthermore, there are projects nowadays that are trying to conserve dying languages, which supports the statement that “everything since has just made our words… last longer.”


The link above is a link to a project which attempts to record and sustain dying languages. This further supports the statement that humans are innovating in order to make our words last longer.


4. Blog Questions

How would you try to explain to a blind person what the word RED means? What does this suggest to you about the limitations of definitions?

  • I would explain to the blind man what the word red means in scientific terms, explaining it in terms of electrons, energy drops and wavelengths. However, I do not feel this satisfactorily describes the color, which shows the extent to which language is a limit when one is not defining a concrete object.
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59YN8_lg6-U
  • The link above is a video of a blind man explaining color

To what extent is your use of languages accompanied by images? Does every word conjure up an image or only some of them?

  • I feel when I try to describe an object, I tend to imagine the object I am trying to describe in order to get a better description. However, when I speak academically, I tend to use words which are harder to imagine and therefore do not picture images. Furthermore, when I am speaking at something close to a debate, I often make up my words on the fly so I do not have the luxury or time to come up with the pictures. When speaking, I enjoy being able to picture the words I am using, but often times find I either do not pay attention to them or cannot since my only goal is to project words out of my mouth.

Do you think communication would be improved if we got rid of vague words?  DO you think vague or ambiguous words sometimes serve a purpose?

  • When one is attempting to convey a message, vagueness is often frowned upon, so I suppose communication would be improved if vague words were not used. However, I feel without vague words it would curb the ability of the human to be creative and have leeway on certain subjects. Language is often up to the listener to interpret, and without vague words there would be less room for interpretation. Interpretation and imagination are what make the human race so great, and if we curb our ability to interpret and imagine, we would not be doing ourselves any favors.

Many jokes are based on ambiguity…can you give an example?

  • Police were called to a daycare where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
  • Yes… so more punny than ambiguous but I often find puns to be derived from ambiguity

What would be the advantages  and disadvantages of everyone in the world spoke a common language? What would be gained and what would be lost?

  • Language is one of the ways which societies differentiate themselves from one another, creating individual societies that are unlike any other. The words cultures have developed, the language they use on a regular basis all are a comment upon the values and viewpoint of the cultures. We have so many words that we cannot express through a single word, while other countries have a word to describe it just so. Although I feel a better international understanding can be reached if we were all to speak the same language, the cost of this new understanding would be to lose the culture and values of the societies which inhabit our world.

What kind of texts do you think are easy to translate from one language to another and what kinds are more difficult? Can you provide an example from your study of L’Etranger by Camus?

  • I feel the Western languages are easier to translate into each other, for I feel the ideals of the countries are similar, and thus the words they choose to use are relatively similar. On the other hand, I feel a translation from Eastern to Western or vice versa are harder, for the ideals of the cultures are different, and the words they choose to express their feelings differ as well. Since I do not speak French, a comparison between the translated version and the French version of L’Etranger is exceptionally difficult for me, but according to Mr. Murray, Matthew Ward has done a spectacular job.


5. Comments on 4 Videos:

Stephen Fry kinetic typography

  • I found this video very interesting, for I really enjoy Stephen Fry’s voice and his opinions. Although I feel I fit the definition of a grammar Nazi, for in my head I recognize grammatical errors and the like, since I do not express these concerns every time I see them, I do not feel I am the typical Grammar Nazi. Although Stephen Fry bashes the Grammar Nazi, I still found his viewpoints interesting as I feel they are significant to the world today. With the new technologies we are developing, a change in language is not necessarily a bad thing, and perhaps we need to embrace it.

Stephen Fry Discussion Swear Words

  • This video was interesting as well, for it brought up the point that perhaps we have chosen our swear words incorrectly. We seem to use the words with the worst meanings in everyday conversation, yet when it comes to the pride and joy of the human race we deem the words used to describe them as inappropriate. It makes me wonder if perhaps we should reconsider the swear word and really understand what we are saying and doing.

Twitter is the newest form of literature

  • This video was interesting for it touched upon the use and growth of social media. Not only is social media a place where people can connect, humans are not using it more and more as an alternative source for literature. I found this intriguing for it brought up the point that social media such as Twitter can now be viewed as the newest form of literature, showing that perhaps there is other room for social media to grow.

The Birth of a Word – from Gaga to Water

  • I found this video interesting not just because of its premise but due to its findings. It was interesting to see the man track a small baby to find out where language is learned. Not only was the idea of the experiment interesting, his results were interesting as well. It was intriguing to think that the first words learned were learned in the kitchen. Also, it is interesting to think that babies learn words out of need, for the kitchen is where babies need things the most. Perhaps this is what led to the baby learning the words.