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Posts posted by Strange

  1. 6 hours ago, studiot said:

    Since I stopped being involved in "my daddie's car is bigger than your daddie's car" arguments when  was six, I consider the title question rather pointless.

    I know exactly what you mean but ... do you know which island has the most languages?

    Papua New Guinea has over 800 different languages, many with no obvious genetic relationship to one another. This is fascinating and should, presumably, tell us a lot about language development and how new languages arise. Unfortunately, it is not an area (geographically and linguistically) that I know anything about.

  2. 1 hour ago, studiot said:

    No its very widespread.


    It is just a statement of the equation for a control volume

    The base is the input.

    If you subtract the output, what remians must be left inside the control volume ie is the accumulation.

    Think income minus expenditure = addition to bank balance.

    Yes, I can see that input - output = accumulation would make a bit more sense.

  3. 1 hour ago, studiot said:

    No they are defined in English according to IUPAC, which is purely conducted in English.

    But they become French words when used in French.

    1 hour ago, studiot said:

    Just as there is no French word for 'rugby' .

    There is a word in French for rugby: le rugby. It is now a French word.

    1 hour ago, studiot said:

    We have already seen examples of where English does the same from other languages.

    Exactly. "Deja vu" is an English word, for example. And アルバイト (from the German arbeit) is a Japanese word.


  4. 58 minutes ago, studiot said:

    How about the list of organic compounds - there are several million of these.
    Each one is an English word.

    They are generally words in most other languages, as well. (I know you are not making that point, but just in case)

    58 minutes ago, studiot said:

    So should the title ask "How many meanings can a language denote ?"

    There is no limit. One of the defining characteristics of natural language is that it can be used to express any idea at all (despite all the "language X has no word for Y" articles you see on line). It is always possible to write a sentence that no one has ever seen or heard before, and for it to be understood by the listener/reader. Human brains are amazing.

    58 minutes ago, studiot said:

    Scientifically how many living creatures are there ?

    Don't they all have Latin names ?

    We have identified and named something like 10 million species, I think. But there may be billions more out there.

  5. 13 minutes ago, joigus said:

    Consider the word "smart." It means something in the UK, and has a different meaning in the US. And even today these meanings may be evolving towards a cluster of different meanings around the same word, due to the effects of more, and more efficient, communication bridges opening up across the Atlantic.

    In japanese, the word スマート (sumaato < smart) means "slim", a pretty large semantic shift. (But maybe it is no longer the same word.)

  6. 10 minutes ago, joigus said:

    Do you consider ebonics, English-based creoles and pidgins, like walpiri, as English?

    They all have different degrees of English features.

    Interesting question.

    One might be tempted to ask: which language has the most dialects. But, even more than with words, there is no good definition of what is a language and what is a dialect!

  7. 1 hour ago, Charles 3781 said:

    Has the English language got a larger vocabulary than any other language?

    Please cite another language  with a larger vocabulary.

    This is an interesting but, ultimately, fairly meaningless question. (Also, it isn't obviously related to the original point about English being "most rational, and sophisticated")

    The problem is, mainly, how do you define a word. Do you count inflections as separate words: e.g are "dog" and "dogs" one word or two. What about different meanings: "dog" the animal versus the verb "to dog"; and what about all the different meanings of that verb. And then the conjugations of the verb (dog, dogs, dogged, dogging, etc). Is a hyphenated term one word or two (or more).

    If you decide that the forms of a verb are separate words, then what about languages that have more complex verbs forms, or those that gave none.

    Then, English uses a sequence of separate words to express a concept while Japanese, for example, uses a single word with multiple suffixes (e.g. "I did not want to eat" vs. "tabetakunakatta"). Does that make English or Japanese more "sophisticated? 

    Then again, English has lots of irregular verbs (it sometimes like they are all irregular) whereas Japanese has only two common ones. So which is more "rational"?


    Have you heard language experts say that English has more words than other languages? The claim is made but it’s practically impossible to verify.


    A blog post for The Economist agrees that English is rich in vocabulary, but comparisons with other languages can’t be made for several reasons.


    Another way of measuring the vocabulary in a language and comparing counts is by counting the number of words listed in a standard authoritative dictionary in that language.


    Let’s ask a different, and we think more important, question:

    Does it really matter?



    p.s. I put this in "Other sciences" because I think linguistics counts as a science

  8. 50 minutes ago, Charles 3781 said:

    I've no idea what "the curvature of spacetime" means.  Nor, I suspect does anyone.  But - Einstein said it.  So will you "bow the knee"?

    It is shorthand for the mathematical description of the geometry we use to describe the effects of mass and energy. As you have already been told, it is nothing to do with "Einstein said it" or "bowing the knee"; it is all about how well the model matches observation (very well, indeed).

    52 minutes ago, Charles 3781 said:

    You're absolutely right.  The English language is the most rational, and sophisticated, medium of linguistic communication ever devised.

    It is precisely no more and no less rational or sophisticated than another language.

    52 minutes ago, Charles 3781 said:

    Is it any any wonder that almost all major scientific advances have been achieved by speakers of English.

    Obviously not true.

  9. 3 hours ago, Charles 3781 said:

    But the noun "space"  just seems to be an abstract  word.  A kind of shorthand for: "the separation between objects".

    And more than that, "the curvature of spacetime" is shorthand for "the curvature of the geometry of our measurements of space and time" (or something like that)

  10. 50 minutes ago, Alloverthemap said:

    I don't believe there is any deception at work here. My confidence stems from my experience in creating music in my dreams. I have none of this ability in a conscious state, but for many years was convinced that I was composing melodies I'd never heard before while awake. Finally I started recording them vocally immediately after awakening to be sure I wasn't "dreaming". And yes, the melodies when I would play them back the next morning stood up just as I'd perceived they did when recording them following the dream. They were good and they were original. Therefore I do not believe there is a translation error from dream to conscious state when trying to recapture what you believe you've dreamt.

    Just because some things can be recalled accurately from dreams does not mean everything is.

  11. 37 minutes ago, Charles 3781 said:

    How would you define someone who claims to be a "Philosopher?

    Is it someone who has big ideas, and would really like to be a Physicist.

    But can't do the maths.

    I would say someone capable of critical thinking, who asks probing questions, who thinks about the meaning of the words used, etc.

    They don't have to have any big ideas, just able to analyse ideas.

  12. 5 minutes ago, Charles 3781 said:

    What I mean is, have any experiments been conducted with a rocket-ship accelerating away at near light-speed from the Earth, looping round Alpha Centauri, then coming back. And the crew getting out years younger than they should be.

    Well obviously not.  In the present state of our technology we can't do it.  So isn't the idea just theory.  Where's the experimental verification?

    You don't need to travel at near light speed or loop round Alpha Centauri. The effects happen at slower speeds and shorter distances. They are just smaller. But luckily, we can build instruments accurate enough to measure them.

    There are a huge number of experimental confirmations of relativity (that is why it is a theory, i.e. a really solid and well tested explanation, rather than just a guess)



  13. 38 minutes ago, Charles 3781 said:

    Thanks swansont. You are always pithy.   But can "space" really "expand".   What does the word  "space" actually mean?

    "Space" in this context means the distance between things (in three dimensions). And, yes, that distance really can increase as predicted by theory.

    39 minutes ago, Charles 3781 said:

    But the noun "space"  just seems to be an abstract  word.  A kind of shorthand for: "the separation between objects".


  14. 10 minutes ago, Area54 said:

    Come on now! In the space of ten seconds, with my eyes close, I just "created" the view of Manhattan from the top of the Empire State Building,  a panorama on Mars, a view down Singapore's Orchard Road and a ferry crossing to a Scottish Island. Lot's of detail in each of them, but possible because my brain can pull material together from memory.

    People vary enormously in the ability to visualise things in their "mind's eye". I am not completely aphantasic, but I certainly can't conjure up a detailed view of things like that in my imagination.

    However, when I remember a dream, I remember it being a complete and vivd realisation. However, I have no way of knowing if that is because my dreaming brain is able to do things that my conscious brain cannot, or if I just think it was that detailed after the event (in the same way that I dream about speaking fluently in a second language, that I know I couldn't do; or saying something hilariously funny that isn't funny at all when I wake up). Our impressions about what our dreams were like are even more unreliable than eye witness testimony of things that actually happened (which are pretty unreliable to start with).

  15. The "things I won't work with" category on that blog is worth a read: it includes compounds that are stupidly explosive and unstable ("compounds that are just trembling with the desire to explode"), incredibly toxic compounds and things that smell really, really (no, really) bad. He has hilarious descriptions of how bad these things are.



    In a comment to my post on putting out fires last week, one commenter mentioned the utility of the good old sand bucket, and wondered if there was anything that would go on to set the sand on fire. Thanks to a note from reader Robert L., I can report that there is indeed such a reagent: ...


    1 hour ago, Ghideon said:

    I do not know the answer but do you mean"slow" reactions? Example: there are Calium Oxide* based compounds that can be mixed with water and then used to split rocks.

    And even plain old ice will do that.

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