Languages animate objects by giving them names, making them noticeable when we might not otherwise be aware of them. Tuvan has a word iy (pronounced like the letter e), which indicates the short side of a hill.

I had never noticed that hills had a short side. But once I learned the word, I began to study the contours of hills, trying to identify the iy. It turns out that hills are asymmetrical, never perfectly conical, and indeed one of their sides tends to be steeper and shorter than the others.

If you are riding a horse, carrying firewood, or herding goats on foot, this is a highly salient concept. You never want to mount a hill from the iy side, as it takes more energy to ascend, and an iy descent is more treacherous as well. Once you know about the iy, you see it in every hill and identify it automatically, directing your horse, sheep, or footsteps accordingly.

This is a perfect example of how language adapts to local environment, by packaging knowledge into ecologically relevant bits. Once you know that there is an iy, you don’t really have to be told to notice it or avoid it. You just do. The language has taught you useful information in a covert fashion, without explicit instruction.


K. David Harrison, The Last Speakers (via containslanguage)
31.07   +7410    #misc

get to know me meme: 1/10 favorite male characters.
Ned The Piemaker (Pushing Daisies)

31.07   +2842    #pushing daisies

stelmarias:

What the hell was that for?!

31.07   +12431    #elementary
31.07   +612    #elementary
31.07   +1234    #zoe saldana #others

pumpkinprincex:

gender-suspender:

pumpkinprincex:

trans* boys in gryffindor being sent to the girl’s dormitory and then being delighted when the stairs won’t let them up

trans* girls in gryffindor being told they can’t go in the girl’s dormitory (and maybe shown what happens by some cis boy) and then trying it and finding that the stairs DO let them up

Gender fluid gryffindor students falling down as the steps to the girl’s dormitory unpredictably turn into a slide.

you’re a good egg

30.07   +62838    #harry potter
though the truth may vary, this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore.
30.07   +10280    #star trek

A 19th century painting of the Ballroom in the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia. Tsar Alexander II can be seen sitting in the background.

30.07   +30011    #misc

The cast and crew of ‘12 Years a Slave’ celebrate after winning the Best Picture award onstage during the 86th Annual Academy Awards

30.07   +64383    #others #films
A ballet dancer goes onstage on a given night, in a specific theater, in a specific ballet and executes, in a specific fraction of musical time a movement that is already past just as it appears. And it takes far more than 10,000 hours of practice and repetition to make this movement exquisite, worthy. A dancer’s entire career consists of these moments of non-existence; they are not even fleeting, they are, somehow, never there at all, a shadow in someone else’s mind at best.

Toni Bentley (via theballetblog)
30.07   +1182    #misc
irenidae