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Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.lifehack.org
A Muddy Road
Once two Zen monks were walking together along a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling. Coming around a bend they met an attractive young girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection because of a big puddle of mud in her way. The girl asked if one of them could lift her across. The younger one said “Certainly not, my vows preclude my touching a woman.” The older monk simply picked her up and carried her across the river. The two monks walked on in silence for some time. Finally, the younger one spoke: “I cannot get over the fact that you carried that woman across the river. Have you no sense of propriety, no self discipline?”
The older one asked: “What did I do when I reached the other side?”
The younger one answered: “You put her down.”
“Exactly,” said the older monk, “And you are still carrying her!”
World and language
Language creates our first connection to the world. The newborn child that takes a deep breath and cries out is both expressing itself and letting the world know it’s there. During infancy, grammar and vocabulary emerge (in all cultures, if you believe Chomsky’s idea of Universal Grammar) and influence how you engage with the world (if you subscribe to a more Whorfian view that language affects perception).
What about people who possess two possible linguistic systems to express an idea or a feeling? For a long time bilingualism was considered negative: The overwhelming opinion was that such an upbringing could cause confusion, especially in small children. Then in 1962, a study from Peal and Lambert that looked at the relationship between intelligence and language fundamentally altered the outlook. More recent studies have even claimed that bilingual people have a stronger “meta-linguistic awareness,” which applies to problem solving in areas outside of language, such as mathematics.
Although we can quantify some of the cognitive benefits of bilingualism, there are still many questions about how the bilingual brain works. Does it “choose” one of the language paths instead of the other? Is this influenced by ease, or context, or which synapses have been most strengthened over time? (This opens up a whole new can of worms – the idea of both languages being “equally strong” is also a red herring.) Researchers such as Lera Boroditsky have described differences between mono- and bilinguals in perceptions of color, and representations of time.
Brot, baguette and cognitive reference systems
The idea of having different linguistic systems can be illustrated by the difference between the German Brot and the French baguette – both essentially referring to bread. On the one hand, you’ve got that warm, golden brown, crunchy baguette, which you might dunk in a coffee or enjoy with a five-course cheese platter. On the other side is dark Brot, pure or with grains, moist and compact, healthy, delicious and filling. The words do not live in the same imaginary worlds; they conjure different memories, emotions and cultural references. They belong to different cognitive reference systems, and a bilingual person who wishes to speak of bread has a variety of means available to them.
A comparison with synesthesia illuminates the concept further. Those affected by synesthesia confuse two senses, like seeing and hearing. A synesthete might literally see music in the form of different colors, and therefore have access to two senses that help them describe the music. As a consequence their description may appear richer, more metaphorical or figurative. Many poems, as well as expressions in everyday use, draw on synesthetic principles – that’s why we speak of warm or cold colors. The more connections in the brain, the more conceptual possibilities are awoken. This so-called cognitive flexibility is associated with creativity and seems particularly pronounced among bilingual people.
Weird and wonderful cross-linguistic inventions can occur when you juggle more than one language on a daily basis. If a word slips your mind, or indeed there is no other way to express something, you can grab for a solution from another language… I remember having coffee with a German friend and making a particularly excellent (okay, awful) pun. She looked up at me with a grimace and asked me “if I’d had a clown for breakfast.” She speaks both English and German, and that creative phrase is how she needed to express herself in that moment.
III – Carpe diem
Only 13% of all UN countries are officially monolingual. If you grew up in one of them (United States, Australia, England, here’s looking at you), don’t despair. It’s not too late to take the plunge. Learning a new language is like exercise for your brain: it helps stimulate and increase brain connections.
Some claim that language learning has influenced their life and personality, that they are more open, creative, confident and tolerant in the new language. It’s certainly true that languages change people – it’s not uncommon to see a different side of them when they’re speaking another tongue. So seize the day – free the clown – and start learning that language.
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Pedro and Héctor discuss raising kids bilingually in Germany
BILINGUALISM SCIENTIFIC STUDIES COGNITION
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Virtual Reality goggles at #rp15
The field of VR is creating a lot of excitement in terms of new hardware products, from cameras to VR goggles and full-on VR domes. The 360 degree viewing format is also gaining a foothold in content areas from numerous disciplines. Along with gaming, the potentials of VR have been discovered by music and fashion industry, science, health, film and journalism and are using the technologies in numerous ways (we think back to the great re:publica 2015 talk on the subject of “immersive journalism”).
Andreas Gebhard, co-founder and CEO of re:publica, explains: “We feel that the current hype surround VR is justified and that is why we are highlighting it at re:publica TEN and featuring the new possibilities this technology provides for so many sectors, including art and music, entertainment and journalism”. To increase our impact and support synergies and dialogue, re:publica has established a new cooperation with Germany’s First Professional Association for Virtual Reality (EDFVR). Arne Ludwig (executive board EDFVR), welcomed this new cooperation: “The whole world has a stake in this new world of technology and so much is yet unexplored. It’s self evident that EDFVR and re:publica TEN should cooperative as immersively as possible. Using hashtag #VR HERE, we will be showing of VR, more VR and even more VR through demos, installations and experiences and invite all participants to engage in talks at the VR Lounge.”
At re:publica TEN, VR will be represented throughout the conference. One attraction will be the DOMZELT in the re:lax outdoor area with a 10-meter radius. In this dome you can experience various VR content in a group. Furthermore our new experimentation space “labore:tory” will feature 3 days and 3 floors dedicated to the topic of VR. The labre:tory, in the Kühlhaus, will become a learning lab open to all participants who can try out and experiment with various VR recording equipment and technologies on the 2nd floor. The 3rd floor will feature hands-on use of VR glasses and goggles, which will enable you to dive in to new dimensions and experiences. The 2 floors will be in the capable and experienced hands of the EDFVR.
The first floor is dedicated to a different thematic focus each day: the Musicday (2 May) will look at various topics in numerous sessions, including binaural VR and 360 degree recording. We would like to thank Berlin’s Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Research for supporting the topics of VR and music. Immersive Arts (3 May) highlights VR and digital art. Immersion means more than simply partaking in the content – we look to dive into the art directly and experience it in a whole new way. Sessions will look at new tools for storytelling through technology. Working practices, possibilities and new perspectives will be highlighted. Day 3 (4 May) will host #FASHIONTECH Berlin and will look at VR’s integration into the fashion industry. Could it even become a fashion accessory?
Photo credit: re:publica/Gregor Fischer (CC BY 2.0)
Sourced through Scoop.it from: re-publica.de
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