Friday, 13 April 2018


 Approaching the subject through the lens of Chinese customs that regale holiday gatherings with words that sound similar to those of good luck and fortune and eschewing those that rhyme with death, disease and ill-will, Nautilus contributor Julie Sedivy reprises an interesting essay that examines how language reveals in ambiguity and how we give meaning to our sounds that favour pun and entendre.
On a broad-scale, considering the number of speakers of Mandarin, Cantonese and English, one wonders how attraction and aversion and the density of definition influences our behavior and decision-making. Oh to be the sort of polyglot who could appreciate this nuance and make this sort of equivalent formulation but apparently because of the way that Chinese languages are constructed (phonetic real-estate is crowded) it would not be considered abnormal for a speaker not rely too heavily on context and spell out that they are dashing off to the bank—that is a financial institution and not the water’s edge—to get some money. What do you think? One would expect less ambiguity and greater precision, leaving less room for confusion, would be the better course of action linguistically but we seem to have a penchant for over-burdening our speech with a vagueness that we’ve become accustomed to, begging insight into the ways language and culture reflect the unplumbed architecture of cognition.