Category Archives: language and linguistics

Desire | بهر آن میلست

For Sashels…

بهر آن میلست در ماده به نر
تا بود تکمیل کار همدگر
میل اندر مرد و زن حق زان نهاد
تا بقا یابد جهان زین اتحاد
میل هر جزوی به جزوی هم نهد
ز اتحاد هر دو تولیدی زهد
شب چنین با روز اندر اعتناق
مختلف در صورت اما اتفاق
روز و شب ظاهر دو ضد و دشمنند
لیک هر دو یک حقیقت می تنند
هر یکی خواهان دگر را همچو خویش
از پی تکمیل فعل و کار خویش
زانک بی شب دخل نبود طبع را
پس چه اندر خرج آرد روزها

bahr-e-an meilast dar madeh beh nar

ta bud takmil kar-e-hamdegar

meil andar-e-mard o zan haqq zan nehad

ta baqa yabad jahan zin ettehad

meil-e-har jozui beh jozui ham nehad

ze ettehad-e-har do towlidi zahad

shab chenin ba ruz andar-e-etenaq

mokhtalef dar surat amma ettefaq

ruz o shab zaher-e-do zedd o dashmanand

leik har do yek haqiqat mitanand

har yeki khahan degar ra hamchu khish

az pay takmil-e-fe’el o kar-e-khish

zank bi shab dakhl nabud tabe’ ra

pas che andar-e-kharj arad ruzha

/purpose [of]/that/desire/is/in/female/for/male/

/so [that]/was/complete/work/[of] each other/

/desire/into/man/and/woman/Truth/from it/put/

/so [that]/survive/[would] be/world/from this/union/

/desire [of]/one part/to/one part/also/placed/

/from/union/both/a product/give/

/night/the same/with/day/in/embrace/

/different/in/form/but/unison/

/day/and/night/appear/contrary/and/enemies/are/

/but/both/one/truth/… [proclaim]/

/each one/wants/[the] other/just like/self/

/for/completion [of]/action/and/work/[of] itself/

/from that/without/night/income/[would] not be/nature/[to]/

/then/what/[into]/outside/spend/days/

Woman’s desire and man’s

exist to complete each others’ work.

From the absolute, desire emanates

into each

For the world of form to be preserved.

The desire of one incompleteness for the other

likewise exists

so that from their union, newness is born.

Just like this, night embraces day.

Opposite in form, always already one.

To the senses day and night appear in contrast to each other.

But both silently attest to the same sweet truth.

Each desires the other as its own self

to complete some hidden purpose.

And as for human nature,

without night,

what income would it receive?

Without that sweet shared mystery,

its days would have nothing to expend.

Mowlana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi ‘Rumi’ — Mathnawi III 4414-20

–translation by halewi

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Gifts | گر بیان معنوی کافی شدی

گر بیان معنوی کافی شدی
خلق عالم عاطل و باطل بدی
گر محبت فکرت و معنیستی
صورت روزه و نمازت نیستی
هدیه‌های دوستان با همدگر
نیست اندر دوستی الا صور
تا گواهی داده باشد هدیه‌ها
بر محبتهای مضمر در خفا

gar bayan-e-ma’anavi kafi shodi

khalq-e-‘alam ‘atel o batel budi

gar mohabbat fekrat o ma’anisti

surat ruzeh o namazat nisti

hediyeh-ha-ye-dustan ba hamdegar

nist andar-e-dusti ela savar

ta govahi dadeh bashad hediyeh-ha

bar mohabbat-ha-yeh-mozmar dar khafa

/if/spiritual discourse/enough/had been/

/creation of the [temporal] world/useless/and/vain/was/

/if/love/thought/and/[temporal] meaning/is/

/form/fasting/and/prayer/is not/

/gifts of friends/to/each other/

/is not/as to friendship/but/forms/

/so that/witnessing/being given/gifts/

/to/tacit loves/in/mystery/

If spiritual words were enough

the created world would be useless and vain.

If love was all thought and sense

fasting and prayer would not exist.

Friends’ gifts to each other,

compared to friendship,

are nothing but forms.

But their giving is what

testifies to those mysterious loves unseen.

 

Mowlana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi ‘Rumi’ — Mathnawi I 2625-27

–translation by halewi

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Words

WNYC – Radiolab » Bonus Video: Words.

Thanks to friend JT for passing this one on. Basically an audio-visual riff on the same theme as homo analogicus:

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Homo analogicus interconnectivus

As i’m toiling away on my first comprehensive exam paper, i thought i’d document my current, perhaps rather muddled, thinking. Lately, when not procrastinating, i’m working on synthesizing the literature on mental models, conceptual metaphor and cognitive anthropology to develop a new (“folk”) model of human cognition–homo (analogicus) interconnectivus –that can be applied to analyzing social-ecological (amongst other) systems.

Without giving too much away (i.e. boring you, the imaginary reader), the core idea here is that humans tend to reason analogically, meaning they make sense of new information largely in terms of past experience. Whenever we’re confronted with some sort of ill-defined conceptual domain (e.g. love), we tend to draw on more familiar, concrete domains (e.g. journey, partnership, attachment) to discuss, think and make inferences about that new domain. And underlying that tendency toward analogical (or ‘case-based’) reasoning lies a pretty simple principle of relative association or, put another way, qualified interconnectivity. (Haven’t really settled on one or the other yet. None is perfect.) Anyway, this is the idea that each object of cognition or memory, be it a word, a taste, an emotion, an image, etc., shares ‘tags’ (in a metaphorical sense) with other objects. What matters for the purposes of cognition and inference is the strength and quality, or nature, of the connection between a given object and  other objects, which we could imagine as a function of tag-similarity, or tag-closeness, etc. This means that objects of cognition exist in a sort of ‘cloud’ of relative interconnectivity with other objects in our minds, which pre-disposes us to making certain inferences, and not others, when confronted with something new.

It likely sounds complex, but that’s just because i’m not explaining it well at all. It’s actually very, very simple, and provides a pretty good shared base for generating (and validating) other constructs related to how humans reason and act in response to their environment (e.g. schemas, scripts, prototypes…). I’m sure someone else has said this before, using much better language. In any case, the task i’ve set for myself in this case is showing how mental models, conceptual metaphor and model-based reasoning all overlap on this core principle, and what sorts of pragmatic utility such a lens affords us when analyzing complex systems.

Below are some of the tag clouds i’m thinking of using as part of a figure in one of my sections. They’re created using Wordle, a fun little online app.

Wordle: analogyWordle: cognition

Wordle: interconnectivityWordle:  culture

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Exhausted Noam Chomsky Just Going To Try And Enjoy The Day For Once | The Onion

Exhausted Noam Chomsky Just Going To Try And Enjoy The Day For Once | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source.

Chomsky tries to clear his head and think of anything but the ills of neoliberalism.

LEXINGTON, MA—Describing himself as “terribly exhausted,” famed linguist and political dissident Noam Chomsky said Monday that he was taking a break from combating the hegemony of the American imperialist machine to try and take it easy for once.

“I just want to lie in a hammock and have a nice relaxing morning,” said the outspoken anarcho-syndicalist academic, who first came to public attention with his breakthrough 1957 book Syntactic Structures. “The systems of control designed to manufacture consent among a largely ignorant public will still be there for me to worry about tomorrow. Today, I’m just going to kick back and enjoy some much-needed Noam Time.”

“No fighting against institutional racism, no exposing the legacies of colonialist ideologies still persistent today, no standing up to the widespread dissemination of misinformation and state-sanctioned propaganda,” Chomsky added. “Just a nice, cool breeze through an open window on a warm spring day.”

Sources reported that the 81-year-old Chomsky, a vociferous, longtime critic of U.S. foreign policy and the political economy of the mass media, was planning to use Monday to tidy up around the house a bit, take a leisurely walk in the park, and possibly attend an afternoon showing of Date Night at the local megaplex.

Sitting down to a nice oatmeal breakfast, Chomsky picked up a copy of Time, a deceitful, pro-corporate publication that he said would normally infuriate him.

“Yes, this magazine may be nothing more than a subtle media tool intended to obfuscate the government’s violent agenda with comforting bromides, but I’m not going to let that get under my skin,” Chomsky said. “I mean, why should I? It’s absolutely beautiful outside. I should just go and enjoy myself and not think about any of this stuff.”

Added Chomsky, glancing back over at the periodical, “Even if it is just another way in which individuals are methodically fed untruths that slowly shape their perceptions of reality, dulling their ability to challenge and defy a government bent on carrying out its own selfish and destructive—no, no Noam, not today, none of that today.”

According to sources close to the thinker, Chomsky also considered taking time to “plop down on the couch in [his] boxers and watch TV,” but grew suddenly enraged when The Price Is Right came on, commodifying the lie of American consumer satisfaction in a pseudo- entertainment context.

“Just change the channel, just relax and switch to something that isn’t mindless pabulum for the masses,” said Chomsky, reaching for the remote control. “No need to get furious.”

Chomsky, who often defines himself as a libertarian socialist, then changed the channel to ESPN, taking a moment to acknowledge the role of professional sports as a “weapon of mass distraction,” keeping the American people occupied with trivial competitions so they do not focus on opposing the status quo with grassroots movements against foreign and domestic policies that ultimately harm them.

“Stupid NBA playoffs,” Chomsky said. “At least it’s better than that NCAA March Madness crap. A university is supposed to be a center of learning that questions the state’s crafted messaging, not an entertainment factory.”

Sources said Chomsky took what was supposed to be a refreshing drive in the countryside, only to find himself obsessing over the role petroleum plays in the economic and military policies that collude with multinational corporate powers.

After stopping at a roadside McDonald’s, Chomsky was unable to enjoy the Big Mac he purchased, due to the popular restaurant chain’s participation in selling “a bill of goods” to the American people, who consume the unhealthy fast food and thereby bolster the capitalist system rather than buying from local farmers in order to equalize the distribution of wealth and eat more nutritiously.

Chomsky also found the burger to be too salty.

“All right, all right,” the noted critic and philosopher said, “I’m going back home, writing one—just one—reasoned, scathing essay, and getting it out of my system. But then I’m definitely going back to the park to walk around and just enjoy the nice weather. I’m serious.”

“Because there’s got to be more to life than the way that wage slavery strips the individual of his or her inherent dignity and personal integrity,” Chomsky continued. “Right?”

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George Lakoff vids

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Sitting here, you and I | خنك آن دم كه نشستيم

A first attempt at translating the work of Mowlana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi ‘Rumi’ (in memory of my late grandfather, who would not have understood, but who i loved, and who loved me, nonetheless):

خنك آن دم كه نشستيم در ايوان من و تو
به دو نقش و به دو صورت به يكى جان من و تو
رنگ باغ و دم مرغان بدهد آب حيات
آن زمانى كه در آييم به بستان من و تو
اختران فلک آیند به نظاره ما
مه خودرا بنماييم به ايشان من ه تو
من و تو بى من و تو جمع شويم از سر ذوق
خوش و فارغ ز خرافات پريشان من و تو
طوطيان فلكى جمله جگرخوار شوند
در مقامى كه بخنديم بر آن سان من و تو
اين عجبتر كه من و تو به يكى كنج اين جا
هم در اين دم به عراقيم و خراسان من و تو

khonak an dam keh neshastim dar eyvan, man o to

beh do naqsh, o beh do surat, beh yeki jan, man o to

rang-e-bagh o dam-e-morghan bedahad ab-e-hayyat

an zamani keh dar ayyim bebostan man o to

akhteran-e-falak ayand beh nazzareh-ye ma

mah-e-khod ra benemayyim beh ishan man o to

man o to, bi man o to, jam’ shavim az sar-e-zowq

khosh o faregh ze khorafat-e-parishan man o to

tutiyan-e-falaki jomleh jegarkhor shavand

dar maqami keh bekhandim bar an san man o to

in ‘ajabtar keh man o to beh yeki konj inja

ham dar in dam beh ‘eraqim o khorasan man o to

/cool/that/moment/when/we sit/on/the veranda/you and I/

/in two images/in two forms/in one soul/you and I/

/colours of the garden/and the breath of birds/give/the water of life/

/that time/that/we enter/the garden/you and I/

/the stars of heaven/arrive/to gaze upon/us/

/the moon/itself/we show/to them/you and I/

/you and I/without/you and I/join together/in delight/

/happy/and free/from/scattered extravagant stories/you and I/

/parrots of heaven/all together/liver-eaten/become/

/in a place/where/we laugh/in that manner/you and I/

/this/most strange/that/you and I/in/one/corner/here/

/at once/in/this moment/in/Iraq/we are/and Khorasan/you and I/

Sitting here, you and I, the courtyard breeze is cool

Two images, two forms, one thought, you and I

The orchard-shades, the songs of birds give up the world’s secrets

When we find ourselves here in this garden

The stars of distant galaxies come to gaze on us

You and I, together, we show them the moon

You and I, without ‘you’ and ‘I’, we are absolute joy

Happy, free from empty words, such are you and I

All those birds of paradise, full of childish envy

While in that same place, you and I, we cannot help but laugh

What’s truly strange is  you and I, here together, now

At once here in the west and at once here in the east

such we always were

You

and I

-translation by halewi

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