What Our Language Habits Reveal? A review of Steven Pinker

In Steven Pinker’s “What our language habits reveal?” TED talk, the Linguist Pinker debates about our language habits but also questions the very nature of our thoughts and existence. The specific TED Talk took place in 2005 and Pinker gave some very specific points on language and how it comes into play but also discussed how he was writing a book to shed light onto a number of aspects in human nature. In most forms language is legislated by an academy but in all actuality language emerges from human minds interacting with one another. When it comes to language their will always be a visible and unstoppable change whether it come from: jargon or slang, dialect divergence, or something as simple as the language formation. These factors essentially cancel out the idea of language being legislated. Language is not necessary a creator of human nature but more so a window into it.

Dative construction is defined as a grammatical way of constructing a sentence with the subject in a dative case and the direct object in the nominative case. These types of construction extract generalizations so we can produce and understand new sentences. Another important aspect is how verbs are constructed and used. What most individuals do not realize is that verbs are the framework for a sentence. They basically are the wireframes in fact. Once you can understand which verb tense go in which construction then you can effectively communicate properly.

We communicate more than we realize because the construction in the English language is used metaphorically. We tend to transfer things or “transfer” ideas. This is because we conceive ideas as objects. We used space as a metaphor as well whether it is space, state, or time. We also do this with force whether it is physical force, interpersonal force, or intrapersonal force. Our ability to conceive a giving event in two different ways is a fundamental feature in human though. Human intelligence consists of a repertoire of concepts (objects, space, time, causation, and intention) useful in social, knowledge-intensive species and a process of metaphorical abstraction. Overall the vagueness of our language is one most important feature of our language because it is based off of interpretation.


Steve Pinker: What Our Language Habits Reveal

On this video, it tells mostly about about how the change of wordings and the words itself can affect the listener (or possibly reader). Steve Pinker has mentioned that the language changes consistently as language comes from the human interaction of that time period. The good example of that would be, people have hard time or even cannot understand the books that are from the 18th century England. The language is still the same language (English) that I am currently writing, but it sounds different as of the culture, perspective, and the way people talk has changed.

Depending on the wordings, meaning could be changed totally. Steve Pinker has shown us the example of ‘Invading Iraq’ and ‘Liberating Iraq.’ The deep meaning is still the same of attacking Iraq, yet depending on how you portray it, it could be shown as cruel invaders or the savers of democracy. I personally believe this is already used well in advertising and marketing.130808_RIVAL_AvisLittleFish

Every product has the problem or the weak spot, but it is how we portray it. Bernbach has used, “When you are only No.2, you try harder. Or else” for Avis. Just like that, it is how you say it, but customers will take it totally differently. Each wording is especially important these days. In the past, people have read the long long body copies. But do we still do that? Advertisers might have less than 3 seconds to give the impact with our language skill (visual skill or copywriting skill) to interact with the customers. On that limited time, we have to show, what makes our product special compared to other hundred brands that are selling the same product with a little bit of difference. This TED talk have made me to think more deeply about the power of the words itself.

Susan Cain’s “The power of introverts”

In Susan Cain’s TED Talk, “The power of introverts,” she speaks about the cultural focus on productivity and the effect it has on the individual. When she went to school students sat in rows and “worked nearly autonomously.” In today’s world, at work and in school, high value is placed on working well with others. As a result, introverts have been cast as less desirable.

Cain, herself, is an introvert but identifies with the “animal warmth” of human comfort while exploring the mind, or working independently. In  jobs, an emphasis on free-form and “think tank”  style environments have emerged. In education as well, where independent work once dominated, class activities are being broken up and distributed to teams in hopes of increasing productivity. Cain thinks this one size fits all style of education is just the polar-opposite of the previous education system that fostered solitude and quiet intellectualism.

Even though teamwork is not going away any time soon, a negative trend is emerging. Ideas can be stifled in groups by whoever speaks the most, and not necessarily the person with the best ideas. This causes a problem, but also offers some solutions. Being able to work independently while not fearing rejection is extremely important for group happiness and productivity. Practicing public speaking is also key, she says, as speaking at TED is not her natural habitat. To prepare for TED, she said she spent a year, “speaking dangerously” which increased her confidence and helped her gain new abilities. The most important thing

In the end she has three important calls to action:

1. stop the constant group work

2. have your own revelations — unplug and get inside your own head

3. Be yourself and try to show people that to the highest extent that it is possible

The power of introverts

While listening to Susan Crain, there were many things that stood out to me as far as this idea of introverts and how our society has in a way pushed them away and just sees them as shy people. I think it was very interesting how she talked about introverts when it comes to creativity and leadership and the fact that they are needed in these fields as well, even though society might think that extroverts are better for such things. Also, something that really stood out to me is the idea that our society needs to understand that not everyone can reach their maximum potential or be at their best under the same conditions and that what makes introverts and extroverts different is the way they are stimulated. I do have to say that I agree with her when she says that school and workspaces are designed for extroverts mainly  (at least in the US), however when looking at this and thinking about my personal experiences, back home schools are more balanced in that way but they still believe that the ideal student is an extrovert even though as she explains during her talk, introverts get higher grades and are proven to be better at leadership because not only are they more careful but also have better outcomes than extroverts since they let other people’s ideals bubble up to the surface.
Another thing that called my attention was her idea that culturally we need a  better balance between the two types, mainly when it comes to creativity and productivity. I agree with her that it is  good to share ideas and that group projects are needed because thoughts need to be share, but I also agree with the fact solitude is as important as group work. I think that her point on 20th century society is something very important to look at. It is interesting to see that our society is now based on the culture of personality and that people need to prove themselves to others. I think this has to do a lot with the technology and this idea of being a “social” society. However, as she says, solitude matters and it is only recently that we forgot about it. Western societies as she says have always preferred the man of action rather than the one of contemplation but we need to realize that both are as important and both have an equal impact on society. The more freedom for introverts the more likely they are to come up with their own unique solutions and I believe that the problem with society right now is the fact that we want to put everyone under the same conditions without realizing that we are all different and therefore do not work the same way. We are stimulated differently and trying to make a group fit into another is not going to help the society develop.

You’re Not You When Your Hungry

One of my favorite campaigns is the “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign. In my opinion the most successful advertising is the kind that makes you laugh out loud and reminds you to tell a friend about a funny ad you saw for (Insert Product Here). Centered around the idea that we are not ourselves when we are hungry, Snickers nailed it with their campaign featuring various stars replacing ordinary every day people. My personal favorite in the campaign features “divas” Aretha Franklin and Liza Minelli replacing ordinary guys on a road trip. It is nice to see the likes of Aretha Franklin, Liza Minelli embrace and make fun of themselves in turn for Snickers. All of the commercials featuring everyone from Joan Collins, to Roseanne Bar bring with them a star power and a relateable sense of humor. I’m sure we all know people who just aren’t themselves when they are carving food and this campaign showed us just how hilarious this idea can be. The neat part about this campaign is that it was created out of research conducted by Snickers that because Snickers bars are more thicker and weighty in texture than an average candy bar people compare it to eating a slice of pizza or cheeseburger. This campaign presented ace celebritiy endorsement along with a killer concept.





Dove Real Beauty Sketches

One campaign I really connected with last year would have to be Real Beauty Sketches by Dove. The heart of the campaign was that only 4% of women believe they’re beautiful. Dove took it upon themselves to inspire the other 96% to think the same. The main idea was that the biggest barrier to women feeling beautiful is their own self-perception. Dove called in FBI-trained sketch artist to prove to these women they are more beautiful then what they believe. He drew the women based on their own self-perception, and then he drew the same portraits of these women based off of descriptions of random strangers that met the women earlier in the week. After only 2 weeks, the results were in at 3.8 billion global impressions, 73.4 million YouTube views; it was the 4th most shared ad ever (YouTube).

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35 Under 35

35 under 35 are a series of 35 individuals comprised into categories including inventors, visionaries, humanitarians, pioneers, and entrepreneurs who are considered to be the future of technology and it advances. In the actual MIT Technology Review we get an official look at the 2015 winners of the “Innovators Under 35” each of which focus on the different fields in technology and how they are spawning. Everyone on the list is either nominated by the public therefore solidifying their position or nominated by the MIT Technology Review’s editors.

The site itself reminds me of that of project two, well more specifically the edin template that I choose for the wordpress project 2. The site is set up to where it has different widgets and placement options to where content can be placed and moved. The site itself is set up as a list that is comprised of the candidates name, age, and photo, as where as there initial contribution and what exactly sets them apart. Outside of this article the site does feature other articles including: smartest companies, and breakthrough technologies.

One of the nominee in particular that stood out to me was 30 year old Kurtis Heimerl and his idea of inexpensive boxes could help bring mobile coverage to the billion people that lack it. His specific project is intended to help the poor, rural communities often founder when innovators lack familiarity with life off the grid, which I believe to be such a great idea. Heimerl’s innovation comes in a gray box roughly the size of a microwave oven. It has solar panels on the outside to power cellular equipment inside, along with the software for management functions like billing and analytics. Secure the box somewhere and link it via satellite to a voice-over-IP network, and you’re ready to open shop as a mobile service provider. Overall the site was very informative clean and knowledgeable and gave a lot of incite to future technology and its benefits.