Let's Talk About: Language

  • September 21, 2013 · 1:30 PM
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PLEASE NOTE: Due to to overwhelming demand and some unfortunate space constraints at Cafe 28, the location for our first meetup has been switched. We're going to take advantage of the beautiful weather forecast for Saturday (70s and cloudy) by holding our discussion outside in central park at Sheep Meadow. Please bring blankets, chairs, yoga mats, or whatever else you'd like to sit on. Also feel free to bring food and drinks if you like!


I look forward to meeting each of you and hearing your thoughts!

The meetup runs as follows: 

1) The moderator selects one subject for discussion and a date for the meeting. Subjects can be as ephemeral as "love," "god," and "purpose," or as grounded as "politics," "environmentalism," and "family." 

2) At the meetup, people are encouraged to propose a question related to the subject. The moderator will collect all of the questions in a list. 

3) The group will then vote on the questions. In the first round of voting, each individual may vote for as many questions as they like. The top three will then go to a second round, where each individual may vote just once. 

4) The question with the most votes is then discussed. Often, the discussion starts with a narrowing of the question, as it can be challenging to devise a question that can possibly be answered by a small group in just a couple of hours' discussion.

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  • Yen

    George Carlin on "Language:" http://youtu.be/6_zwB6GLpo4#aid...­

    "Pre-board"
    "Freedom Fighters"
    "Minimally-exceptional"

    :D :D :D

    1 · April 9

  • Yen

    Thanks to Ryan for organizing us and the interesting topic. I enjoyed hearing everyone's questions just as much as the actual discussion. Please forgive my grammar and spelling mistakes as I funked English 3 times in college! :D

    1 · September 22, 2013

    • Yen

      No problem. : ) I choose to not take "offense." Each summer, I gave up my summer break to make up the English class I faled...I chose an easier major, physics, because the rules don't change! :D

      2 · September 23, 2013

    • Eleanor Elizabeth F.

      I'm so glad you took my remark as it was meant, as asking for information. I had a C myself once, that I tried to erase in the summer, and instead got a D (in Calculus). This kept me from continuing for the 3rd semester I needed to continue as a Computer Science major. (It was a pointless hoop to jump through, created to weed people out, because they thought too many people wanted to be Computer Science majors!) Since this was a major turning in my life, I was of course curious…

      1 · September 23, 2013

  • Paul O

    I thought it might be a good idea to get a conversation rolling ahead of time, to start to dig into one of the language subtopics suggested - so when we met, we'd already have known each other a bit, and could have furthered (rather than initiated) a discussion. Obviously that didn't work: I responded to someone's comment - but they didn't respond at all. Then again, I like discussing things by email, because there's plenty of time to think about things - but most people aren't comfortable writing, so I may a lone duck there.

    September 23, 2013

  • Jan J.

    I was very sorry to miss this. Although I'd really been looking forward to it, I knew I wouldn't feel comfortable sitting on the grass in the sun for 2 hours. Sounds like it was a very successful event! I hope to attend in the future.

    September 23, 2013

  • Rob M.

    Good time and very interesting discussions. Thanks you all for sharing your stories, and I look forward to more! Thanks for organizing Bryan, and a great job moderating.

    1 · September 22, 2013

  • Bryan

    Wonderful first meetup. It was great to see all of you come out and meet in person!

    2 · September 22, 2013

  • Barbara E.

    Great initial meet up . Looking forward to more of them?

    1 · September 21, 2013

    • Bryan

      Ditto that. It was great meeting you, Barbara. I can't wait for the next one!

      September 21, 2013

  • Bryan

    We have a spot at the South East corner of sheep's meadow. I'm here with my black and white umbrella and straw Fedora. Also wearing a bright blue shirt. Hope to name more of you shortly!

    September 21, 2013

    • Bryan

      See more of you*

      September 21, 2013

  • Rob M.

    I will be getting there around 2pm

    September 21, 2013

  • Eleanor Elizabeth F.

    Sunscreen gets all over my glasses so I can't see, and my clothes…I'd rather miss this one, and come to a less crowded one with shade.

    September 21, 2013

  • Ariel S.

    Stupid schedule conflict, sorry can't make it, but next time!!

    September 21, 2013

    • Bryan

      No worries. See you at the next one!

      September 21, 2013

  • Eleanor Elizabeth F.

    IMPORTANT! Will we be meeting where there's shade to protect us from high UV w/o needing sunscreen?

    September 21, 2013

    • Bryan

      I don't expect so. Bring sunscreen if you think you'll need it.

      September 21, 2013

  • Karina

    I'm so disappointed I won't be able to make it today, but I hope everyone has a great discussion and am looking forward to the next one!

    September 21, 2013

    • Bryan

      Sorry to hear it, Karina. See you next time!

      September 21, 2013

  • Richard P.

    I'd like to discuss the use of the word "like" as a non-simile and what effect that has on discourse and getting more (or less) precision into meaning. Do we think subvocally using this word in this way? What's its purpose and how might the use of it be reduced?

    1 · September 20, 2013

    • Rob M.

      Oh, I like that one!!! I could like it as many times as the average young female uses that word in a 10 second conversation with her friends!

      September 20, 2013

  • larry

    When I think of language I think of communication. What are the variables that come into play that help or hinder how clearly what I think and the words that I use to convey those thoughts are communicated similarly to the way puzzle pieces connect or keys unlock the door. We can use this question as a starting point. Is this question I am asking clear or are individuals interpreting it in a way contrary to how I intended the question to be understood. phew.

    1 · September 13, 2013

    • larry

      yes, in regard to both the speaker constructing ideas into words, and the listener to the extent that the message is clear, and whatever filters are utilized in interpretation.

      1 · September 13, 2013

    • Paul O

      Larry - you ask "what are the variables that come into play" - when you try to communicate. Were there specific variables you had in mind - that you especially wanted to discuss? When I start thinking of how many there are, it seems to be endless. And I'm not sure what I'd do then - once I had a list. So I'm wondering if there's a specific variable you have feelings about - that we might discuss.

      September 20, 2013

  • Paul O

    I'm highly interested in language, and I can easily see pursuing some of the subjects suggested - and people getting together to discuss any of the subjects also sounds appealing - but I wonder how far you (or it) can get with 33 people getting "together" for just two hours. Any discussion worth its vegetables would have to be ongoing, I would think, mostly daily, and maybe even organized into subcategories. I can see an ongoing thread to have a real discussion about any of these issues, but not a weekly or biweekly or monthly meeting with so many people for such a short time. But maybe something will develop that we can sink our teeth into.

    1 · September 20, 2013

    • Bryan

      I'd be happy to stick around after the discussion wraps up on Saturday. Anyone who wants to talk about ways to facilitate more extended or frequent discussions can meet with me in a smaller group to hash something out then. I'm sure we can devise something worthwhile!

      September 20, 2013

    • Eleanor Elizabeth F.

      I may not be able to stick around afterwards, due to a sick cat needing to be fed.

      September 20, 2013

  • Jan J.

    I'd like to discuss how current fads shape language and vice versa. I'm very annoyed that the word "problem" has been drummed out of use. The current fashionable word is "challenge" which of course has a different meaning. I've been in situations where I correctly refer to something as a "problem" and people have had the audacity to correct me and tell me that I should refer to it as a "challenge." Sheesh! "Positive thinking" is becoming mainstream, it has gone too far when people are told how they should think.

    2 · September 5, 2013

    • Yen

      The positive and negative use of language in "Doublespeak,"­ "newspeak" / "doublethink" (1984), PC...?

      September 6, 2013

    • Yen

      How language is used to distort reality, used to distort their natural/intuitive meaning, used to sanction a wrong/create an injustice?

      September 20, 2013

  • Eleanor Elizabeth F.

    Can I make mine a Maybe? I live near 28th St. I might be up for cycling to CPk, but would rather play it by ear.

    September 17, 2013

    • Bryan

      Not a problem! I apologize for changing the venue. There was just no way to fit 30+ people comfortably and I want to make sure everyone can participate. Hope you can make it!

      September 17, 2013

  • Thomas S.

    Thomas Schechter

    This redminds me of an interesting discussion in psycholinguistics-the relationship between language and thought. Is thought possible without lsanguage/ Is language possible without thought? Hwo do various languages affect the way we think Inuit has 33 words for snow, some languages have no tense for verbs, so have no pronouns,some have

    September 16, 2013

  • Paul O

    I once built a software system for a neuroresearch lab, to control their experiments and help them analyze their data - and what it amounted to was designing a language specifically meant for the researchers to communicated with their equipment. The language was an interface between their equipment, the computer controlling the equipment, and the researchers. I suspect each of today's computer applications also amounts to a language - intended to connect the user with whatever functions the application performs. These are the practical applications of language. Human language can also have esthetic "uses" - in which case the discipline is called poetry.

    September 16, 2013

    • Thomas S.

      This redminds me of an interesting discussion in psycholinguistics-the relationship between language and thought. Is thought possible without lsanguage/ Is language possible without thought? Hwo do various languages affect the way we think Inuit has 33 words for snow, some languages have no tense for verbs, so have no pronouns,some have no articles, etc.

      September 16, 2013

  • Paul O

    This is related, although maybe a bit obliquely:
    http://denisdutton.com/language...­

    1 · September 15, 2013

    • larry

      I had to read Judith Butler for a class. so true

      September 15, 2013

    • Bryan

      I like it! Seems like there's another question in there that we could propose - perhaps, how and why is language used as a means of signaling status?

      September 15, 2013

  • barbara

    topic is not of interest to me
    maybe next time

    September 9, 2013

    • Bryan

      Hi Barbara! I'm sorry to hear that you're not interested in this subject. When I attended a similar group in another city I found some of the most interesting conversations to be those based in subjects I'd initially thought would be boring. Well, I hope to see you at next month's meetup!

      September 9, 2013

    • Amanda

      Yeah, a lot of the political topics I wasn't that into until I actually began discussing them and hearing other people's input!

      September 13, 2013

  • Amanda

    Can't wait for the new format!

    1 · September 5, 2013

  • Bryan

    Hello, everyone! I eagerly await meeting and learning from all of you.

    September 5, 2013

  • Barbara E.

    Looking forward to this discussion :)

    1 · September 5, 2013

  • Eleanor Elizabeth F.

    This sounds intriguing!

    1 · September 5, 2013

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