Monday, May 20, 2013

Well that explains a lot about Angela Merkel.

So the other day I caught a story on NPR*  about how what language you speak affects your ability to plan financially for the long term.

*yes, the Vizsla is one of those folks that listen to Public Radio.  There is a reason why Vizsla = Knowledge you know.

Now, at first blush you might think, 'Huh.  What a random and not particularly interesting topic.  Must have been a slow news day'.  But you would in fact be wrong.  Because as it turns out it's kind of a fascinating topic.  Plus it was clearly just added to pad out the last 60 seconds or so of the market report in the morning.


Now it might be worth mentioning at this stage that Vizslas - or at least this Vizsla - are huge students of linguistics.  Because the interrelation between how you speak and how it affects your ability to conceptualize the world around you is just about the most interesting thing ever.*  The classic example (that I am legally obligated to mention at this time) is George Orwell's 1984, where the people are controlled in large part by simply not having words for things like 'revolution' or 'overthrow' or 'Hey, aren't we all kind of getting screwed over?'   

*The most interesting branch of this is Orthography, which is the study of how a spoken language gets translated into a written language, but that's another talk for another day.

1984 is an irritating example actually, because it tends to get cited a lot by people like those at Fox news who have never actually bothered to read the book, don't understand what they're talking about, and draw exactly the wrong conclusions because at the end of the day they just don't care and are too stupid to know better.*

So, just like everything else on the network then.

*See Also: People who think Don Quixote is all about windmills, despite that occurring relatively early on in the first of two books.  
I'm sorry, where was I before I got distracted by my poncy intellectual diatribe about Fox news...

Ah right.  Language. 

So, according to this particular item on MPR, the language that most lends itself to prudent and responsible long term financial planning is German.*  The reason behind this being that German doesn't really do 'future tense' in the way that your romance languages tend to understand the term. 

*To the surprise of no one, but not for the reason you're thinking

Therefore, the German words for 'I read' are 'I read'*, whether you're doing it now, next week, or three years from now. The fact that they don't - through language - separate 'now' from 'not now but later' means that they don't really think of the two things as being separate from each other.  It's all just one big vast expanse of 'sort of now' 

* Just assume the TARDIS translated it for you there.

Therefore, when you're future retirement is just as real to you as the current moment you're more likely to actually - you know - actually plan for it.  As opposed to the most common current American viewpoint of  'Oh, that's the future.  I'll just buy a lottery ticket next week or something.'

Now, the most rational response to this information is obviously 'What are the implications of this for Doctor Who'?  And I have to admit I'm not sure on that point.  More research must be done on this issue.

I should mention, I have spent the last few years attempting to learn German through a CD course for a variety of reasons, despite the fact that Vizslas are clearly Hungarian, and the history of relations between Hungary and Germany could be accurately described as lying somewhere between 'Not Awesome' and 'Well, things could be worse*'

*We are not, for example, France.

Anyway, a few fun facts have arisen over the course of Vizsla German Study

1:  If you learn a language by CD it leaves you with no capacity to read the language.  Particularly if, like German, that language involves lots of fun accent marks and in a couple cases entirely new letters just for funsies.

 2:  When learning German you are taught the word for 'Wine'* several lessons before you are taught the word for 'Water'.

*In fact you are taught not only the word for wine, ,you're also taught how to differentiate white wine from red, how to order either and roughly how many Euros you might expect to pay for a glass. In this respect at least the Vizsla must applaud their priorities.

3:  Before you are taught the word for 'brother', you are first thoroughly briefed on the term for 'Bank Branch Manager'*

*it's Bankfiliale-Geschäftsstellenleiter, if you were wondering.

So, Auf Wiedersehen fürs Erste
Das Vizlsa muss viele Weißwein trinken

-Vizsla heraus

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