Fun with letters and patterns

Anagram fun: Can you think of a US Armed Force that is the anagram for the plural noun form of those active in another force?
Newspapers in Arabic, English, Chinese and French as seen in Cairo.
Newspapers in Arabic, English, Chinese and French as seen in Cairo.

As an example, think of this riddle (and I apologize to any Army fans who are insulted by the wording, but I only had four letters to work with.)  What is the anagram of an armed force when its soldier goes wimpy?  Or more PC-  What given name is the anagram of an armed force?
Answer: Army -> <- Mary. Mary -><-Army.  Uma, Oprah.

There are over 7,000 known languages in the world. That’s almost 34 languages per sovereign state.  Very few of them have been analyzed but what has been noted is that language and the way it is used effects cognitive skills, concepts and thoughts. In other words, all that time reading Chomsky for those Philosophy of Language classes? Wasted.  The truth lies closer to Charlemagne’s “to know a second language is to have a second soul” than Chomsky’s universal grammar.

According to a study published in the Wall Street Journal in 2010, language is closely tied to thoughts and processing.  There is a remote indigenous tribe in Australia, the Pormpuraaw, who do not use terms to indicate what Americans think of as “left” and “right” but speak only in cardinal directions. At this point, I bet at least four people reading this  (Beth, Heather, Deniz and Tara) are laughing; thinking “oh look, your people” because since I cannot tell my left from right without stopping to think about it, I give directions and other things using East, West, North and South.  I did, however, meet some really nice pilots (hint) this way, who were impressed by my orientation skills.

About a third of the world’s languages (spoken in all kinds of physical environments) rely on absolute directions for space. As a result of this constant linguistic training, speakers of such languages are remarkably good at staying oriented and keeping track of where they are, even in unfamiliar landscapes. They perform navigational feats scientists once thought were beyond human capabilities. This is a big difference, a fundamentally different way of conceptualizing space, trained by language.
Differences in how people think about space don’t end there. People rely on their spatial knowledge to build many other more complex or abstract representations including time, number, musical pitch, kinship relations, morality and emotions.
Lost in Translation, The Wall Street Journal

The Pormpuraaw don’t just think of space differently than those who speak languages which indicate left and right apart from cardinal directions.  They have a different concept of time in a linear plane.  Where someone who speaks French may lay out a linear concept from left to right or a Hebrew speaker lay out from right to left, the remote Australians worked from East to West.  Pormpuraaws were asked to lay out the consumption of banana, represented in stages over several different images.  Regardless of what direction they were facing, the progression was presented East to West in sync with the passing of time.

Language isn’t used to just express our thoughts, but also to develop our perceptions and relationships, – temporal, familial and spatial.  Which is interesting, considering languages are man made concepts themselves, developed to communicate those very things it is shown to effect.  All of this lends more to Charlemagne’s second soul – if you learn another language, you develop a new, perhaps more complex way to see the world.

My only question is – do texting abbreviations count?

Check back on Thursday for the answer.

4 thoughts on “Fun with letters and patterns

  1. I’m going with NSEW now since I also constantly mix up left and right. (must be a secret sign of genius)

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