In Aiden and Michel’s “Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture”, several arguments and claims are made concerning language. It focuses on specific words and develops an idea that states that culture can be defined by our use of words in a language. The article focuses specifically on a man by the name of George Kingsley Zipf, who came up with this theory. It was his idea that words were not all equal, and that there were certain words that a culture valued more than others in a language. In an experiment, Zipf counted every time that a word was used in the book, Ulysses, and recorded it, rating its importance, only to find that his theory was proven to be true. People tend to value words such as “the” and “I” much more than ones like “quintessence”. From my own perspective, this seems obvious considering the first two words portray ideas and connections that are needed in our everyday lives, whereas the latter word is not always necessary to all scenarios because of how specific its definition is. However, what was interesting is this: Zipf found that “There was in inverse relationship between a rank of a word and its frequency of use” (Aiden 34). In other words, the higher up on the list a word appeared, the less important to the language it was.
Now, think about the American language. The reason why many people say it is so hard to learn is because of all the irregulars that are present within it. These irregulars seem to follow no rules and conjugate as they please. In this article, it points out something interesting. The words that appear toward the top of Zipf’s list, or the ones that are more important, tend to have irregular qualities while those near the end of the list all tend to follow the same rules and conjugate accordingly. Now, there’s another theory that I want to bring up that is mentioned quite a bit in this article. This theory states that irregular words and conjugations will change with time. More simply, words will be conjugated differently in the future than they are now. How close does this come to the truth, though? While this theory makes sense considering the evolution from “old english” to current language, I do not believe that our language will change that drastically in the future. The transformation from old English to current English involved the creation, if you will, of an entire new language. The way people pronounced words was different, and the words themselves were completely different as well. The word “thou” is not the same as “you”. I agree with the idea that language may change over time; however, I strongly doubt that conjugations will be the only things that change in our language. If our language is going to change, it will all have to change together, for as long as the past generations are teaching current generations, the word “stinked” will always be incorrect.
After reading the 4 questions that were prompted, the “technology as a medium between relationships” stuck out to me as I immediately thought that a reflection on social media would be simple to do while maintaining an interesting argument. I’ve had my fair share of problems with social media and communication technology so it turned out to be a solid fit in my opinion. I wanted to film outside as it was a nice, reasonably quiet Sunday, and it would make for a more relaxed shot. If I had more time (and better video editing skills) I would have polished the video up, re-filmed numerous times until it was virtually flawless, and redone the script maybe a couple more times. When shooting, I tried to use as much expression as I could (not one of my fortes, unfortunately) to make it more engaging than a simple blog post. There were not many challenges in the strictest definition of the word while making this video, but some irritants included getting the lighting right, and making use of expression and tone of voice.
What does the story tell me about my own relationship with technology?
In my video, I focused on talking about whatever I could relate to in my life today. I decided to have an office setting with technology in the background to make me look more credible and knowledgable about the topic. I thought a lot about how I would present myself; thought the text was important, I realized that presentation can make a significant difference after taking a look at the two videos we analyzed in class. If I had more time to complete my video, I would think about filming different sections of it in different settings to enhance the individual effect of each section and transition better. Although a video is much more personal than a blog post and makes it much easier to target the audience emotionally, subtle aspects such as facial expressions and body language can alter the way the audience interprets the text altogether, which makes filming more difficult.
I chose to focus on the academic aspect as my response to the story because of how I notice myself being affected by technology in my work. If I let the technology do most of the work for me wen writing notes for a history class or completing a math assignment or even writing an email I notice that whatever skill I had in completing those tasks on my own begins to diminish. Spell check is a wonderful tool but if I have realized that if I just let the program fix my grammar and spelling mistakes than I lose the ability to catch those mistakes on my own. If I had more time with this video I would probably talk about different areas where technology has affected how I do certain things. For me producing a video was less challenging than producing an essay. An essay for one, is longer, more thought out, and less personal than a video. Visual communication creates a better connection between the author and his or her audience.