language

All posts tagged language

UntitledPhoto Credit: .kleine. cc-by-nc-sa.

via The Only Emotions I Can Feel are Anger and Fear – The Seattle Star

You don’t have to be a psychopath or a sociopath to have trouble feeling or identifying your emotions. You could have a recently identified condition called alexithymia, literally, “no words for emotion.” A person with alexithymia isn’t necessarily incapable of naming emotions, but they likely have a very unsubtle sense of what emotion they are feeling. They might interpret the increased heart rate of excitement as fear, for instance. It’s easy to see that such confusion about whether or what one is feeling can lead to many problems with relationships.

Despite the name, the real problem for people with alexithymia isn’t so much that they have no words for their emotions, but that they lack the emotions themselves. Still, not everyone with the condition has the same experiences. Some have gaps and distortions in the typical emotional repertoire. Some realise they’re feeling an emotion, but don’t know which, while others confuse signs of certain emotions for something else – perhaps interpreting butterflies in the stomach as hunger pangs.

In one of his first studies in this field, [Geoff Bird, a professor of psychology at the University of Oxford] linked alexithymia, as measured with a 20-item checklist developed at the University of Toronto, with a lack of empathy. If you can’t feel your own emotions in the typical way, it makes sense that you can’t identify with those of others, either.

“… for a few of our really alexithymic people, while they can tell a smile and a frown apart, they have no idea what they are. That is really quite strange.”

For Rebecca Brewer, a former student of Bird’s and now a lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London, this makes sense. “With alexithymia, people often know that they are experiencing an emotion but don’t know which emotion it is,” she explains.

Some studies indicate that the inability to detect what is going on within one’s own body has a strong correlation with the condition of alexithymia.

The ability to detect changes inside the body – everything from a racing heart to a diversion of blood flow, from a full bladder to a distension of the lungs – is known as interoception. It’s your perception of your own internal state.

In 2016, Bird and Brewer, along with Richard Cook at City University in London, published a research paper that characterised alexithymia as a “generalised deficit of interoception”.

Geoff Bird wants to look at the idea that there are two different types of alexithymia. People with one type don’t produce enough of the bodily signals necessary for the experience of an emotion, so would be unlikely to benefit from the Sussex group’s kind of training. People with the other type produce all kinds of bodily sensations but their brains don’t process these signals in the typical way.

Bird stresses that, although people with alexithymia struggle to understand emotion, that doesn’t mean they don’t care about other people. “For the most part, individuals with alexithymia can recognise that others are in a negative state, and this makes them distressed. The problem is that they can’t work out what the other person is feeling, and what they are feeling, and therefore how to make the other person feel better or how to reduce their own distress. I think that’s important because alexithymia is different from psychopathy in that respect.”

It would be a terrible thing if the only emotions you could feel were fear, anger and confusion. Getting the diagnosis of alexithymia and some techniques and exercises to deal with it could make a big difference in a person’s life, and the lives of those around them.

Read the whole article here.

rjb

Credit Tjo3ya – CC-BY-SA

I wasn’t sure how to kick off this post, so I’ve been skirting the problem. Now I’ve decided to stop beating around the bush and take the bull by the horns. The objective is to get to the bottom of things without going over the top. I hope I don’t get run down trying to run down the rundown so I can run it up the flagpole and run it by you.

An idiom, according to my Concise Oxford Dictionary, Eighth edition 1990, is “a group of words established by usage and having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.” In other words, a phrase that doesn’t make sense in its current usage. Their examples are, “over the moon” and “see the light.” An idiom is also “a form of expression peculiar to a language, person or group of people.” So to speak in the idiom is to use forms of speech that are particular to the speaker’s in-group. Idioms are the bane of anyone trying to learn a language. Imagine trying to learn English and someone says, “Here, let me show you the ropes.” Yes, “idiom” does come from the same place as “idiot.”

I have to admit that would be a tough row to hoe. Maybe I should have left well enough alone, but the cat’s out of the bag now, so it’s a little late to close the barn door. The horses have flown the coop. Wait, is that a mixed idiom? Was I champing at the bit in my teeth, causing me to overshoot the mark? That can’t be helped, I’m afraid. Any attempt at tamping this down is a day late and a dollar short. We’ve rounded the last turn. We’re on the final stretch. There’s no turning back because we’re down to the short strokes. The die is cast and our fate has been cast to the wind. This post is done and it’s time to play the last post for it.

Catch you on the round-a-bout,

rjb

Lorie Shaull (Flickr) / Creative Commons

The website FactCheck.org has a look at the conspiracy theories that have arisen, and have been promulgated deliberately, after the mass murder and terrorization of school children in the United States on Valentine’s Day 2018. Initially the murderer was the focus of the rumors, but after the surviving children began calling for better gun controls, the conspiracy theories became about them. The gun proliferation advocates began to attack the credibility of the survivors who were speaking out.

The internet has been rife with rumors about the school shooting that left 17 dead in Florida on Feb. 14. We’ve debunked several of them.

Initially, the rumors focused on the alleged shooter himself, Nikolas Cruz. But, as students who survived the shooting started advocating stricter gun controls, new rumors focused on the most vocal among them. Those falsehoods grew into full-fledged conspiracy theories, one of which briefly topped the list of trending videos on YouTube.

Go to FactCheck.org for the rest of the story, and go to WNPR to hear an interview with with people covering this story. Here is a direct link to the interview. Total time: 49:23. This story starts at about the nineteen minute mark.

via School Shooting Spawns Conspiracy Theories – FactCheck.org

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Photo: StockSnap. CC0/Public Domain license.

I’ve posted on free speech and freedom of expression before here on Green Comet. I talked about how people confused the right to free speech with the right to freedom from criticism for what they say. Some people think that their right to freedom of expression means that they get to say whatever they want and no one can challenge them on it. But there is another way that the idea of freedom is perverted: when it is used to justify hate speech and bigotry. This article on The Seattle Star does a good job of looking at that.

Over the past year, the far right has held a number of “free speech” rallies that are, in reality, testing grounds for how many people they can publicly assemble and launch violent attacks on people …

It really shouldn’t be that hard to tell the difference between free speech, as in the fundamental democratic right; and free speech, as in the amoral, we’ll-attack-whoever-we-want manifesto of the far right.

We’re living in a time when actual free speech rights are as precarious as ever–consider, for example, the autocrat in the White House who orders professional football team owners to fire players who take a knee during the National Anthem. Or the FBI targeting supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement as dangerous “extremists.”

We look back on the foolish things people have allowed to happen in the past and shake our heads. “How could they not see?” we ask. Who will be shaking their heads at our foolishness?

via The Free Speech of Fools – The Seattle Star

rjb

Credit Matuschka CC-BY-SA

Grammar of the Day – Bring and Take

I imagine this conversation in front of a restaurant where two people have just had lunch and they’re getting on with the rest of the workday:

Person One, handing Person Two a file folder: “Bring this to the office. I’m going to meet a client.”

Person Two: “Do you mean you want me to bring it to you at the office when I come in tomorrow?”

Person One: “No. I want you to bring it to the office now.”

Person Two is confused because Person One is going to meet a client and won’t be at the office to bring it to. Then their face lights up as they get it. “Oh! You mean TAKE it to the office.”

Person One, frowning: “That’s what I said.”

Some English language users use the word “bring” where the rest of us would use the word “take.” Most of us speak with the sense that things are brought here and taken there. “Please bring the coffee here, to this table.” “Please take the coffee there, to that table.” But some people use “bring” in both cases. (Is anyone else beginning to think that “bring” sounds funny?) To us, that usage just sounds wrong, while to them it’s perfectly natural. I’ll bet they can’t even see why it would be a problem. The truth is, I can see their reasoning. When they are taking the coffee to that table, they are going there and bringing the coffee with them. When looked at in that light, from the point of view of the destination rather than from where the statement is made, the concept of bringing becomes synonymous with taking. Therefore, the people making that mistake have no compelling reason to change, nor to even see that anything is wrong.

This grammatical error is probably permanent.

Brief definition in the Oxford dictionary.
Longer definition in the Cambridge dictionary.
Quite long discussion by the Grammar Girl at Quick and Dirty Tips.

rjb