Bloody Shovel 3

We will drown and nobody shall save us

Posts tagged as: language

On words and history

I am a linguist by training, so I have this bias for etymology. The word reactionary, which is what the Jacobins called the pious rebels of the Vendeé, just didn't sound right. Still after careful thought, it seems clear to me that the intellectual descendants of the Vendeé farmers are what today we called traditionalists, and it's mostly secular dissenters of liberalism which call ourselves reactionary. If you think about it, we are using an old word for what is a very new movement.

But of course the same could be said for progressives. Whigs became liberals, became progressives, became socialists, which became progressives again. Their particular positions may have changed, but its also very obvious what the inherent ideology is, how it started, how it evolved, what they stand for. We on the other hand don't have it so easy.

What do 'we' stand for? With 'we' I mean all those likely to read this blog, which are also likely to call themselves reactionary. Still it seems to me that the reactionary blogosphere is but a subset, the most coherent, of a wide pool of dissenter blogs. Most of them based in the US, each focuses on the particular aspect of liberalism that is screwing him the most. I discern the following:

1.HBD

2. Anti immigration

3.Anti welfare

4.Anti-feminism

5.Anti Jewish

6.Anti bankstas

7.Anti Democracy

After Handle's suggestion I tried to do a Venn diagram on this, but th...

On Deserving

Moldbug has a new post, where he says:

 when Maistre says that every nation gets the government it deserves, I believe him

Seriously?

'Deserving' must be the most useless and obfuscating word in the dictionary. It's bad philosophy, bad morals and bad manners in general. It's cheap fatalism, escapism from debate, intellectual sloth.

What does it mean anyway? Asian languages don't have the concept, and sometimes doing translation it's very hard to explain. In the end it must be derived from Christian catechesis. In videogame terms, the idea that humans through they daily behaviour earn moral points (let's call them MP), according to which especial events (which happen often during the game) end up being advantageous or disadvantageous. When the self-perceived total MPs and the effect of a random event don't match, we call this not deserving the outcome.

That's a very common view, but it's patently wrong. For one there's no such thing as moral points, and the outcome of especial events has little relation with one's moral character. It's funny, because most people think of most life events as kinda random, but at the same time they think there's a direct casual link between one's MP level and the goodies one gets from life.

But it doesn't work like that, although there's a certain plausibility over individuals having MPs. But even if it were true at the individual level, and people did deserve or not deserve thin...

Stuff White People do

The Chinese in their ancestral wisdom, have proverbs for every single situation. In fact one of the hardest parts of learning the language is their reliance on idioms, which tend to be verbatim quotes of classical works. 3000 years of writing in the same language means there's a vast pool of wise insight and sharp wit to choose from, but the old language isn't intelligible as such, so you have to memorise the idioms by rote. Once you do though, you literally have a comeback for everything.

It's so much part of the culture, that the tradition doesn't only rely on classical texts. Chinese are prone to make up idioms in the vernacular just as often. There is one I particularly like, which describes people who do pointless stuff. Some time ago Xi Jinping, the recently declared big boss in China, had these words to say:

有些吃饱了没事干的外国人,对中国指手划脚.

This was translated by the South China Morning Post as: "Some foreigners with full bellies and nothing better to do engage in finger-pointing at us". The translation is quite literal, and pretty good as it is. The point on this sentence is "full bellies and nothing better to do". This is the standard way of describing people who do something pointless out of what it's assumed is too much leisure. As any beginner learner of Chinese knows, full bellies in China used to be a very uncommon sight, to the point that people...

Language is a badge of tribal membership

I dig linguistics, and I dig HBD, so how do you join them both? I've had this idea for some time now, but I hadn't written about it lest some guy stole it and wrote a book before I did. 

It seems I'll have to give up on that, as science is fast catching up with my awesome blog (see, I just pulled a Half Sigma here). Razib Khan quotes a recent study in Northern Australia that documents how some Abo kids came up with a new language just for the kicks. It fast became cool, and now the young kids of the tribe have a different language from their elders.  As it looks it's a fully new language, with some grammar changes too, not just a bunch of jargon to fool their parents so they can avoid being eaten. A smart guy in Razib's Twitter also linked to an experimental study where they put people to compete in a game, and prompted to develop their own secret speech, which they did.

When you ask a layman they'll tell you that languages are to communicate. But that's patently false, if we wanted to optimize communication we'd all speak the same language. And languages wouldn't change over time. What the common theory is lacking is just a simple modifier. Languages are to communicate w...

Names

This has been going around. Guess I should say something. I really don't know how to comment on that pile of nonsense. I might as well let the sages do it for me.

子路曰:「衛君待子而為政,子將奚先?」

子曰:「必也正名乎!」

子路曰:「有是哉,子之迂也!奚其正?」

子曰:「野哉,由也!君子於其所不知,蓋闕如也。名不正,則言不順;言不順,則事不成;事不成,則禮樂不興;禮樂不興,則刑罰不中;刑罰不中,則民無所錯手足。故君子名之必可言也,言之必可行也。

Confucius and his disciples were gathered at the master's house. One of his disciples, Zilu, asks the master.

Zilu: The Duke of Wei has asked for your opinion in how to rule his realm. He'll call you for an audience any time. What will be the first thing you tell him?

Confucius: Oh, that he must fix the names.

Zilu: What? That? Oh come on, master, what does that even mean. "Fix the names". I don't get it.

Confucius: Shut up, you stupid brat, and listen. It is like this. If the names aren't correct, what you speak becomes nonsense. If you speak nonsense, you can't get things done. If you don't get things done, you can't get the rituals to work. If the rituals don't work, the law isn't applied as it should. If the law isn't applied as it should, the people can't make a productive living. When a ruler names something, he must be able to make sense when talking about it. And when talking about it, he must be able to do what he means.

My translation. Philo...

Social Constructs

Razib Khan recently wrote a good post about how retarded the whole tirade on "social constructs" can be. Gender is a social construct! Sports should be integrated! Come on. As a scientist it's natural he gets pissed at the whole thing.

I commented there a while ago about how, you know, leftists are actually right. Race is a social construct. Gender is a social construct. They got that exactly right. It's a rather profound point, and I've been thinking on exposing my argument a bit better. It's a linguistic argument, but that's what I do.

Let's put it more precisely. Race is, obviously, not a social construct. But "race" is a social construct. As "gender" is a social construct. The same way "car", or "moon", or "democratic republic" is a social construct. Words are social constructs. That's how language works. Word meanings are social conventions. There's nothing else to it. If you raise a child in a community where the word "car" is used to refer to a certain subset of vehicles, then that's what a "car" is. If you raise a child in a community where "fascists" is used to mean a certain subset of low-status people, that's "fascists" are.

Of course there's a lot of details about how children adopt the usage of words. Sure, language, as so much else, is a social convention. Most human behavior, indeed the behavior of most social animals is conventional. People from diffe...

What is True?

 

So let me follow up on my last post on Sam Harris vs. Jordan Peterson, and what constitutes a solid epistemology. The podcast itself is quite painful to listen to, and Jordan Peterson doesn´t do much of an argument there. I think the guy doesn't do debates well. He's best when you let him speak for hours. Just give him a mike and let him ramble. He'll get somewhere. You'll notice he doesn't use notes when he speaks, he improvises all the time.

That's impressive, but there's a reason why most good intellectual output, like for example this blog, is done on writing. We're kinda losing that, now with the popularity of podcasts and Youtube videos with men speaking in pseudoprofound voice tones. You can get away with being incoherent and contradicting yourself in speech if you push the appropriate emotional buttons frequently enough. But in writing you have to make logical sense, else people will stop reading. The Greeks realized that pretty soon; they'd go in the Agora and make some sophist speech, and they'd get famous, because even if people don't like what you're saying, they can't help hearing you blabber, and odds are you'll say some good line sooner or later, and people can't help remembering that one line that made sense.

Anyway, the reason I like Jordan Peterson is, besides because he has balls of steel and refuses to bow down to the latest bout of the leftist singularity, where a law has been passed in Ontario saying that self-styled transe...

Behaviorism in Context

Let me explain what I mean when I call myself a Behaviorist. No, it's not about blank slatism, or being able to completely manipulate anyone at will. It's about not taking what people say at face value.

See this tweet:

https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/827054957329260544

No, no. Just, no. Please, somebody just close all the psychology faculties. Or close the whole universities while they're at it. But this is completely wrong. Nonsensical, really. "People believe that..." doesn't make sense. Look at this closely. It assumes that people have stuff inside their heads ("ideas") and that that stuff inside their heads has some causative effect in how they behave. This is an utterly wrong way of thinking about this.

I mean, you don't know what's going on inside people's heads. You just don't. Look at this study in particular. They ask people about their own eating behavior and that of others. The answer to that question is not the "ideas" in the people's heads. I mean, just look at the setting closely. You have:

1. Some college students

Being asked some question by:

2. A professor or grad student

About their own behavior.

And surprise, surprise, they make themselves look good and make others look not so good. Why would they do that? Well... maybe they want to make themselves look good. Because they want to appear high-status because that's what people do.

Imagine this other setting: you are in Berkeley, and leftis...

Uptalk

Chalupas Cowen interviews Ben Sasse. I had no clue who this Sasse guy was, but apparently he's a poster child of a well-adjusted American conservative. The uber cuck. Now this is a bit unfair. The guy does seem smart. And he seems like a good person. A healthy, down to earth family man. He's even written a book about education which isn't half bad.

The guy just seems like a very productive person. A german-descendend guy from Nebraska, when he commits to a job he does it well. Extremely well. And now his job is to be a Republican senator. To be a cuck. So he's a professional cuck. An extremely productive cuck. It's not his fault really, it's just the world we live in. If he had lived in Germany in the 1930s he would have been an extremely productive Gestapo commander. If he had been an Englishman in the 19th century he would have been an extremely efficient colonial conqueror. Alas, he's a Nebraskan in the current year. So he went to Harvard, then was a university manager, and now he's a proffessional Senate cuck.

By the way I wonder what it takes for a white evangelical kid from the Midwest to get into Harvard. Maybe things have changed since this guy's time. But the few non-connected white Christians who get into Harvard must be *extremely* tightly screened.

This post isn't about Ben Sasse himself; there's little I can say about him. I'm no...

Language is Culture

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/26/world/asia/singapore-language-hokkien-mandarin.html?mcubz=0

Damn, New York Times link show up automatically like Tweets now. Talk about privilege.

Anyway; you know what Gell-Mann amnesia is. You read the news, and assume what you're reading is, well, worth reading. It's generally accurate. Then you read something on a topic you have some expertise about, and you find that it's worse than false. It's completely inaccurate and misleading. It just shows how the writer has absolutely no clue of what he's talking about. Then you realize: well, it's some journalist who has no expertise at all except in writing jargon, of course he has no clue.

Then you go on reading more news. As my mother says, you gotta talk about something.

So the New York Times ran a story on how dialects are back in Singapore. Because they're, you know, "vibrant". That's not how I would describe Hokkien, but then I did study some Hokkien, instead of taking journalism classes. The story itself is not very remarkable, besides how inept and ignorant it is. I'm tempted to just become a Chinese chauvinist and blame the anti-Chinese animus of the American establishment, now shaming Mandarin Chinese as something to be avoided. Then it would make some sort of sense. But as they say, never blame malice what is likely just stupidity.

I guess it's just me, but I feel there's few things more harmful than bad linguistics. Take a look at the crap the NYT...

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