Monday, September 28, 2009

Winner announced

The winner of the giveaway is: Dem81! Congrats!

The rest of you can order the book here: (towards the bottom of the page)

Anthology of award winning short stories and poetry

Storm at Galesburg brings together the best stories and poetry submitted for the Cinnamon Press Writing Award.

The title story by the widely published reviewer and short story writer, Jeremy Worman, is a slow build, full of atmosphere and impeccably controlled. With other stories by award winning Welsh author, Huw Lawrence; the young Irish writer attracting attention for his forensic attention to detail and ability to describe the strange, Miceál Kearney; European writer, Brigita Pavsic’s haunting, honed style and a poignant, disturbing tale from Guatemalan based author, Cassandra Passarelli, the prose in this anthology is sure to delight and engage readers.

The poetry represents some of the best new voices to listen for, with excellent writing from Sally Lewis, Will Kemp, Ben Parker, David Underwood and Aisling Tempany. Lyrical writing which explores the boundaries of language, love and identity.

Storm at Galesburg i s an anthology to savour.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Book giveaway

As mentioned in my previous posts, there will be the launch of the Storm at Galesburg anthology in London, this Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Pages of Hackney bookstore. If you're in London, stop by, there will be authors reading their stories and poetry, you'll get a drink and a chance to chat with a few of the writers. Unfortunately, I can't attend the reading.

But, to make up for it, I'll be giving away one copy of the anthology. All you have to do is comment to this post. You have until Friday 25th, 12 GMT. I'll announce the winner next week. Now comment away. :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What's in a Word?

The connection between language and other human behaviours never ceases to amaze me.

What's in a Word?

Language may shape our thoughts.

By Sharon <> Begley | NEWSWEEK

Published Jul 9, 2009

When the Viaduct de Millau opened in the south of France in 2004, this
tallest bridge in the world won worldwide accolades. German newspapers
described how it "floated above the clouds" with "elegance and lightness"
and "breathtaking" beauty. In France, papers praised the "immense" "concrete
giant." Was it mere coincidence that the Germans saw beauty where the French
saw heft and power? Lera Boroditsky thinks not.

A psychologist at Stanford University, she has long been intrigued by an
age-old question whose modern form dates to 1956, when linguist Benjamin Lee
asked whether the language we speak shapes the way we think and see
the world. If so, then language is not merely a means of expressing thought,
but a constraint on it, too. Although philosophers, anthropologists, and
others have weighed in, with most concluding that language does not shape
thought in any significant way, the field has been notable for a distressing
lack of empiricism-as in testable hypotheses and actual data.

That's where Boroditsky comes in. In a series of clever experiments guided
by pointed questions, she is amassing evidence that, yes, language shapes
thought. The effect is powerful enough, she says, that "the private mental
lives of speakers of different languages may differ dramatically," not only
when they are thinking in order to speak, "but in all manner of cognitive
tasks," including basic sensory perception. "Even a small fluke of
grammar"-the gender of nouns-"can have an effect on how people think about
things in the world," she says.

As in that bridge. In German, the noun for bridge, Brücke, is feminine. In
French, pont is masculine. German speakers saw prototypically female
features; French speakers, masculine ones. Similarly, Germans describe keys
(Schlüssel) with words such as hard, heavy, jagged, and metal, while to
Spaniards keys (llaves) are golden, intricate, little, and lovely. Guess
which language construes key as masculine and which as feminine? Grammatical
also shapes how we construe abstractions. In 85 percent of artistic
depictions of death and victory, for instance, the idea is represented by a
man if the noun is masculine and a woman if it is feminine, says Boroditsky.
Germans tend to paint death as male, and Russians tend to paint it as

Language even shapes what we see. People have a better memory for colors if
different shades have distinct names-not English's light blue and dark blue,
for instance, but Russian's goluboy and sinly. Skeptics of the
language-shapes-thought claim have argued that that's a trivial finding,
showing only that people remember what they saw in both a visual form and a
verbal one, but not proving that they actually see the hues differently. In
an ingenious experiment, however, Boroditsky and colleagues showed
volunteers three color swatches and asked them which of the bottom two was
the same as the top one. Native Russian speakers were faster than English
speakers when the colors had distinct names, suggesting that having a name
for something allows you to perceive it more sharply. Similarly, Korean uses
one word for "in" when one object is in another snugly (a letter in an
envelope), and a different one when an object is in something loosely (an
apple in a bowl). Sure enough, Korean adults are better than English
speakers at distinguishing tight fit from loose fit.

In Australia, the Aboriginal Kuuk Thaayorre use compass directions for every
spatial cue rather than right or left, leading to locutions such as "there
is an ant on your southeast leg." The Kuuk Thaayorre are also much more
skillful than English speakers at dead reckoning, even in unfamiliar
surroundings or strange buildings. Their language "equips them to perform
navigational feats once thought beyond human capabilities," Boroditsky wrote

Science has only scratched the surface of how language affects thought. In
Russian, verb forms indicate whether the action was completed or not-as in
"she ate [and finished] the pizza." In Turkish, verbs indicate whether the
action was observed or merely rumored. Boroditsky would love to run an
experiment testing whether native Russian speakers are better than others at
noticing if an action is completed, and if Turks have a heightened
sensitivity to fact versus hearsay. Similarly, while English says "she broke
the bowl" even if it smashed accidentally (she dropped something on it,
say), Spanish and Japanese describe the same event more like "the bowl broke
itself." "When we show people video of the same event," says Boroditsky,
"English speakers remember who was to blame even in an accident, but Spanish
and Japanese speakers remember it less well than they do intentional
actions. It raises questions about whether language affects even something
as basic as how we construct our ideas of causality."

Begley is NEWSWEEK's science editor.

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