Exams WS 2016/17

These past days I was held up by university exams. I finished the last exam yesterday, let me share the most interesting things I learned this semester:

🂡 The only field in linguistics that strictly conforms to natural science without applying the arts is phonetics. (Not mind-blowing, but new to me~) It studies the human anatomy of sound production and reception and the physics of sound transmission, without basing its science on specific languages/cultures or any philisophical frame whatsoever.

🂮 In articulatory phonetics, one aspect to describe consonants is “laterality”: Consonants can be either lateral (air passes left and right of the obstruction, like when you pronounce an “l”, your tongue lets air pass laterally) or central (air passes on the symmetry axis of your face).
The only known exception is the “Meidlinger l”, a sound attributed to the working class of the 12th district of Vienna. It is unilateral as the tongue is positioned in a way that air passes asymmetrically.
And you just tried to pronounce an “l”, didn’t you? :p

🂭 Humans are born with the ability of language acquisition and not the language itself (psycholinguistics). According to the critical period hypothesis, there is a time frame to learn certain things. In language, the window to learn the grammar of the first language (L1) is from age 5 to 10. L2 learners lose the ability to learn accent in L2 at a certain age.

🂫 Dominant language ideologies are less scientific than they are hostile to linguistic variation (sociology of language, I think). They speak of linguistic variation negatively and try to uphold a status quo of the “correct” language: linguicism (“sprachliche und soziale Degeneration”), conservatism (“Sprachverfall”), purism (“Verfremdung”), homogenism (“Zersplitterung”), standardism (“Fehler”).
Below I copied two citations, a puristic criticism on anglicisms in German, and another criticism thereof, in the form of parodic representations of the respecively opposing stance:

“SUPER YOUNG COLLECTION! Hier ist die Fashion für die young beautiful People! Wer talkt schon noch über die old Collections? Sie sind out, really out! Nichts gleicht dem Feeling der Teenies von heute. Ihr checkt sofort: Das ist richtig gestylt, das ist unser new Lifestyle. Hier ist das Clothing von heute. Gestern ist out, really out!” (Lubeley 1993: 1)

“Mit meinem Apfel gehe ich lieber in den weltweiten Wälzer, denn hier gibt es keinen Entdecker 5.0, bei dem das Runterladen der Weichware zu Abstürzen führt. Als ich neulich mal wieder im Internationalen Netz plauderte, hatte ich die Idee, mir eine Gewebe Kamera zu kaufen, schließlich kann man die mit dem Universellen Seriellen Kanal einfach einrichten.Wenn ich aber neue Aktionsspiele benutzen möchte, brauche ich einen Fenster Rechner, denn hier werden alle notwendigen Einsteck und Spiel Geräte unterstützt. So funktionieren mein neuer Kra  Rückkopplung Spielknüppel von Winzigweich und meine 16 Biß Klangkarte ohne Probleme, sie weisen sich einfach selber eine von den 15 Unterbrechungen zu. In dem Sinne, es lebe die deutsche Sprache!” (Beerheide 1999)

🂪 Humans (mammals?) have a limited number of basic emotions (6-8 depending on researcher). Somehow several psychologists in the 20th century came to the same conclusion more or less independently, but the first who noticed them was Darwin (1872). If those psychologists had read Darwin, it would have saved them some work.
Also, according to Paul Ekman (the microexpressions guy whose science the series Lie to me is based on), the basic emotions are universal, i.e. independent of someone’s culture (1976).

🂨 Citing Barrett (1995, in Magai & MacFadden 1995), babies develop the following emotions in order:

  • birth: disgust, interest, excitement
  • 2 months: joy
  • 7 months: anger
  • 9 months: sadness, fear, surprise (this is when the hippocampus gets active, the brain part responsible for forming memories, so babies perceive object consistency and start learning from experience)
  • 18 months: embarrassment
  • 24 months: pride
  • 30 months: shame
  • 36 months: guilt

🂧 Oxytocin seems to be a super imba hormone (i.e. found in bloodstream neurotransmitter/neuropeptide). It (probably) has, amongst others, anti-depressant effects and causes prosocial and bonding behaviour. Some people refer to it as “das Kuschelhormon”.
Oxytocin levels seem to be linked to the dopamine systems for feelings of reward and positive affects (mesolimbic) and execution of motorics (neostriatal).
Though my knowledge in the fields of neurophysiology is rather wishy-washy, in summary both the oxytocin and dopamine (a neurotransmitter hormone) make people happy and more social. The production (?) of either one or both can be induced by:

  • physial contact (I think this goes for oxytocin, and allegedly stroking someone’s arm for a few minutes suffices to raise their oxytocin levels significantly),
  • some other things I forgot :S most of the course was kinda confusing, yet interesting,
  • synchronisation through music and movements (like singing or dancing together). In a 2014 experiment (Cirelli et al.) babies who were swayed synchronously showed increased prosocial behaviour towards the experimentator, compared to babies who were swayed asynchronously.

🂦 Human babies are popular test subjects for experiments and hypotheses :>

All of my courses were in German, I hope I did not make serious mistakes in the translation of technical terms.

With this, as soon as my grades of this semester are entered in the academic system, I will have a bachelor of arts degree. Not sure yet what I should do next :S Options keep appearing and disappearing, but so far none of them is making me rich.

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