CWA: Your language is your worldview
CWA is the Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Now in it's 63rd year, the conference brings together scientists, politicians, activists, journalists, artists, and more for a week of fascinating conversations. It's free, and open to the public. Think of CWA as the democratic version of TEDtalks. I'm at the conference all this week and will be posting about some of the interesting things that I learn.
In English, we use "I am" statements to describe our current biological state, things that are happening to us, or events that we are experiencing. We say, "I am hungry." We say, "I am dying."
But that's not how it works in Irish. Yesterday, during a panel called There's Perception, and Then There's Reality, Irish storyteller Clare Murphy talked briefly about how the language you speak alters the way that you perceive the world. The Irish equivalents of "I am hungry" and "I am dying", for example, would literally translate into English as, "Hunger is upon me" and "Death is beside me."
I was a little disappointed that this topic wasn't explored further during the panel session, but the cool thing about the Conference on World Affairs is that the conversations I have outside the panels are every bit as interesting as the official discussions.
Over the course of the day on Monday, I spoke with several people—panelists, as well as conference volunteers and organizers—about the links between language and worldview. In one of those conversations, Emily Gunther, a conference volunteer and sign language interpreter, told me about some of the ways that Deaf culture and American Sign Language intertwine.
One of the most interesting things Gunther told me about: A lot of hearing people often describe Deaf people as "rude". Not because of how the deaf communicate, but because of what they say.
Unless they're born into a Deaf family, Gunther told me, most deaf people grow up being at least somewhat excluded from the spoken conversations going on around them. Someone may translate for them, but details are often left out—especially when hearing people try to be socially polite.
Think of all the times we try to describe a person without talking about a characteristic that we're worried it might be offensive to mention. A big schnoz becomes, "You know, that guy. You'll know him when you see him." If your friend shows up with too much makeup on, you might say, "Wow, you're really dressed up today."
It's difficult to translate that unspoken context that ASL without just saying, "That guy who has a big nose." Or, "You're wearing too much makeup." Because of that&mash;and because a lifetime of exclusion from hearing conversations has made many deaf people wary of leaving out information—it's completely normal within Deaf culture to just say things that come off as rude to the hearing.
Image: Some rights reserved by The Accent
These delightful images were created to celebrate an annual food and culture festival in Brazil.
Fenwick writes, “I had the tremendous opportunity to have a public talk with William Gibson when my university asked if I’d would to do a public talk with a public figure. I had no idea I’d be so lucky as to talk with William Gibson when I agreed. I thought you might be a kick […]
When we visited Taipei, my wife and I made it our singular goal to eat at Modern Toilet, even though we knew the bathroom-themed restaurant had caught on and was a bit of a tourist trap. That same spirit has been reignited in me, and my next trip to Seoul cannot come soon enough. I […]
Skip the technical jargon and get right to taking amazing, professional-quality photos with this complete training. The Hollywood Art Institute Photography Course includes 22 modules filled with tutorials on how to profit off of your photography, or simply capture your memories in the manner they deserve.Accredited by the Photography Education Accreditation CouncilDive into this 22 […]
Power up your gadgets in the most unexpected places with the extremely compact SolarJuice battery pack. SolarJuice charges up at home like your average battery pack, but also lets you add extra juice on-the-go using its built-in solar panel—so you’ll never be left unplugged from the digital world.4.5 Stars on Amazon!Simultaneously charges 2 devices at […]
Hold your camera to higher standards with the brand-new iBlazr 2, the most advanced LED flash to date. Simply attach to your smartphone, tablet, or DSLR camera. Conveniently sized and wireless, this premium flash will let you easily take amazing photos in low light situations. It’s a literal snap to use: simply attach to your […]