Author Topic: Cardinal Directions and Linguistic Murkiness  (Read 401 times)

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Offline DevoutCatalyst

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Re: Cardinal Directions and Linguistic Murkiness
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2020, 02:03:55 PM »
The claim is not that they use cardinal directions as substitutes or analogies or euphemisms for left, right, etc.  The claim is that they literally speak only of the actual cardinal directions, such that if they were holding a page with its top toward the west, its right margin would be called north but if they turned the page 90 degrees clockwise, the same margin would be called east. In other words, each speaker refers to the direction of objects not relative to himself and his perspective, but entirely using actual cardinal directions.

I was thinking about this and wondered how well these folks would do on a submarine - everything is port or starboard, forward or aft - there is zero chance anyone without instruments could keep track of cardinal directions.

I think they would learn submarine jargon quickly and function the same as anyone else new to submarining.





Online Friendly Angel

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Re: Cardinal Directions and Linguistic Murkiness
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2020, 02:40:30 PM »
I think they would learn submarine jargon quickly and function the same as anyone else new to submarining.

Of course they would, but it would take them longer and the reason why it would take them longer is what is so interesting.  Much harder I'd wager, than eg someone from US learning to drive in Britain.

The point of the podcast, was that language affects how you think, and actually changes how your brain is organized.  The fact that we use left to right reading, and left to right number lines and such, means we subconsciously think of time passing from left to right and it's difficult to undo that.  Navy folks when they're just getting started have to think for a minute about which way is forward, and then determine that port is on the left; it eventually becomes natural.  The people in the podcast don't even have the concepts of forward or left, and their cardinal direction orientation is taken away below deck so their brain has no reference.
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Offline Ah.hell

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Re: Cardinal Directions and Linguistic Murkiness
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2020, 03:40:19 PM »
IDK, I think it might be easier for them. 

For them, direction is always fixed to a reference outside of their own experience.  Forward could easily just be the new South and port, starboard, and aft just follow as a natural consequence. 

Also, its apparently quite debatable as to how much language actually affects our brains structures.  Maybe not at all.

Offline gmalivuk

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Re: Cardinal Directions and Linguistic Murkiness
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2020, 11:46:01 AM »
I mean, presumably a language that develops without relative directions is in a culture that doesn't frequently use rotatable representations if space like maps. Thus you could say it's the culture more than the language that affects the way they think.

(A related phenomenon is that apparently people who don't grow up constantly surrounded by rectilinear rooms and buildings don't respond to perspective and parallel-line-based optical illusions the way we do.)
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Cardinal Directions and Linguistic Murkiness
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2020, 12:05:54 PM »
Ever play Descent 2?


Offline CookieMustard

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Re: Cardinal Directions and Linguistic Murkiness
« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2020, 04:41:44 PM »
Lera Boroditsky is the guest on the most recent episode of Sean Carroll's podcast. They talk a bit about the topic of this thread, and about the relation between language and perception.

https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2020/03/23/89-lera-boroditsky-on-language-thought-space-and-time/

Offline John Albert

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Re: Cardinal Directions and Linguistic Murkiness
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2020, 03:56:54 AM »
Woah, hold the phone...

Sean Carroll has a podcast?!

Offline John Albert

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Re: Cardinal Directions and Linguistic Murkiness
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2020, 03:59:56 AM »
Holy FUCK this is fantastic! He's pulling some top-tier guests.

Just downloaded a bunch of eps.

Thanks, CookieMustard!

Online Friendly Angel

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Re: Cardinal Directions and Linguistic Murkiness
« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2020, 01:51:44 AM »
Woah, hold the phone...

Sean Carroll has a podcast?!

He really does a good job - they're a little long but he keeps them well-structured.  All kinds of great guests and really intelligent conversation.  I'd heard Lera Boroditsky a couple of other times in assorted places, but she covered a lot of new ground with this one.
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