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  • Good points. It's worth noting that in a media-saturated culture like ours, we tend to identify with movies and TV shows (and to a lesser extent, songs and books) even more than things from our history or traditions. How many times in conversation has someone said to you "Have you ever seen some movie?" and when you answer yes, they relate the conversation you're having to a particular scene in said movie? Or if you answer no, they'll describe the scene in detail so you can still understand the reference.

    Curious that it happened in this thread, even... three of us better understand the concept by looking at it through the lens of a Star Trek episode. As time goes on and the internet becomes more influential, how much of a role will web memes play in our daily conversation? I already mention them a lot, personally, but only as inside jokes to people who are "in the know." Someday they may be more widespread.

    October 12, 2007

  • We (US English) use some metaphors that are reminiscent of the Darmok episode. Saying "remember the Alamo" is rather like saying "it is more honorable to remain strong in the face of overwhelming odds than to surrender in defeat," at least in the proper context. It only makes sense if you have the cultural references attached to it. It's not hard to imagine that a language could evolve toward greater and greater use of metaphor over time.

    Southern US dialect is very rich in metaphor compared to most of the rest of US English, albeit not as lofty as the aliens in Darmok. One of my favorites goes something like "If I had a dog that looked like you I'd shave his ass and make him walk backwards." Similarly, I heard a coworker say to another individual who walked in smoking a cigar "You look like Lassie with a turd hanging out."

    Yes, Southerners have a rich tradition of comparing invividuals' faces to dogs' butts...

    October 12, 2007

  • Skipvia, many people have asked that about chained_bear. Beware. They have all been neatly dispatched.

    October 12, 2007

  • Confession, I thought of the same episode! It is kind of funny that the metaphors they spoke in were in English, using words that were meant to have literal meanings... but I suppose a culture could start with one language and then evolve to the point where all the original definitions are lost and only figures of speech remain. Maybe. At any rate, it's just a TV show... ;-)

    October 12, 2007

  • C-B: I had to look that up since I didn't remember the name of the main alien character (Darmok--also the name of the episode; should have asked my children) but there's an excellent Wikipedia article on the episode. So very interesting--I'm not a huge Star Trek fan, but that episode was very evocative on so many levels.

    "Zinda, his face black, his eyes red."

    Are we the same person?

    October 12, 2007

  • What the hell was that "Next Generation" episode in which they found an entire race of people (beings?) who spoke in metaphor? With the result that nobody who was unfamiliar with their culture, history, or literature could understand their language, even if they could understand their words. (Maybe I described that wrong...)

    For some reason that episode just stuck in my head all this time. Fascinating. And to think this Wordie page hauled it screeching out of the dark recesses of my tangled brain... Gee. It's time for me to go have a wodge.

    October 12, 2007

  • A language without a culture. Hmmm...What about mythological references, idioms, or regional variations?

    Back to the Whorf hypothesis--does language influence culture, or is it the other way around?

    Or the Worf hypothesis--is it a good day to die?

    October 12, 2007

  • Look, you can say it has "caught on", but given that it has, from Wikipedia, "1000 native speakers", I'm going to say it hasn't.

    October 12, 2007

  • Here's proof that it caught on: a really weird movie, in esperanto. Starring, naturally, Bill Shatner.

    October 12, 2007

  • I guess you could say that Klingon has caught on with certain groups as well. I imagine it has more speakers than Yu'pik, for example.

    October 12, 2007

  • Hmm. Cute, but Esperanto actually "caught on" over 120 years ago. It has more speakers than a great many of the world's spoken languages.

    October 12, 2007

  • I love it.

    October 11, 2007

  • Someone clinging to the faint hope that Esperanto will catch on one day.

    October 11, 2007