What hieroglyphics, emoji, and stickers have in common

Excerpt from this article:

The oldest written language in the world didn’t have an alphabet. When written language began, it wasn’t used to ‘sound out’ words the way many writing systems do today; instead, each symbol represented a word (or occasionally part of a word). If that sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because speaking with pictures is a familiar concept — modern Chinese (hanzi) is a kind of logographic writing system, as is Japanese kanji. Younger readers, of course, may jump to an even more modern example of a logographic writing system — stickers.

There has been a lot of ink spilled about how stickers and emoji are bringing about the death of modern communication, but that draws an incorrect (and Western-biased, and frankly kind of racist) parallel: that language evolved from a logographic language (hieroglyphics, say) into an alphabetic language (English). In point of fact, English didn’t evolve from a logographic system at all; it’s a cousin, not a child. And Mandarin, whose billion active speakers make it the single most spoken language in the world, uses a syllable-based logographic language system.

Now, linguists may object to the classification of emoji as a logographic writing system.

 

Girl Uses Google Translate To Ask New Classmate To Sit With Her At Lunch

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Two elementary school students in California have proven that friendship can go beyond any language barrier.

One day at school, Amanda Moore noticed a classmate, Rafael Anaya, eating lunch alone. When she spoke to him, she noticed he didn’t speak much English. That’s when she decided she’d simply communicate with a note instead. According to CBS News, Amanda used Google Translate to write a letter in Spanish to Rafael and asked her mom, Kimber Kinard, to proofread it.

We Need a Word for the Feeling of Mingled Happiness and Jealousy Caused by Facebook

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Excerpt from this article:

The heaviest users of Facebook believe that other people are happier. News feeds contain numerous “envy-inducing incidents,” and the more you skim, the more you compare yourself to others, leading to “invidious emotions.” Looking at your friends’ babies and vegetables might seem like a good idea at the time, but all those Anne Geddes shots will probably just make you sad.

But “sad” isn’t nearly a nuanced enough word for the confusing concoction of emotions at play. It’s sadness borne of envy—because your friend has what you want. Even acknowledging such envy can make you sadder, because you realize that underneath the jealousy, you really are genuinely happy for your friend. And there’s self-disappointment in the mix: You should be able to rise above your own jealousy, right? Aren’t you a good friend?

…This word doesn’t appear to exist in the English language, and a quick survey of world languages didn’t uncover it. The feeling turns “schadenfreude” on its head: Instead of happiness over others’ misfortune, it is closer to sadness over others’ success. I’m not a fan of clumsily flipping “schadenfreude” around and calling it freudenschade—although many have had this idea before. Perhaps if we made it freundenschade, layering in the German word for “friend”?

A close pal, upon being informed of the topic of this post, had an immediate, great suggestion: “frenvy.” But it turns out that someone else on the Internet already came up with that word. (I was relieved, as I’d loved the term immediately, and was a little bit jealous—frenvious?—that he, not I, had dreamt it up.)

 

Schooling Siri on Unusual Names

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Like humans, Apple’s virtual assistant can sometimes stumble over names that don’t read the same way they sound when spoken aloud. But as with humans, you can tell Siri the proper pronunciation of the name for future reference.

The next time Siri mangles a name, tap the microphone button and say, “That’s not how you pronounce [Name].” The program should respond with, “O.K., how do you pronounce the name [Name]?” Say the correct pronunciation of your first and last name as clearly as you can.

Siri will then fire back with, “O.K., thank you. Which pronunciation should I use?” and offer a few variations of your first name to play back. After you have listened to the choices, tap Select next to the one you want and then move on to Siri’s attempts to pronounce your last name.

 

What Your Salute Says About You

Related to yesterday’s post on email sign-offs, here is an older article about email greetings, excerpted here:

How you start an email reveals a lot more about your intentions than you know. Common e-greetings for etiquette voodoo.

“Hey,” means you want something from me.

“Hey:” means you expect something from me.

“Greetings:” denotes that I signed up for your dreadful boutique’s mailing list in hopes of impressing somebody in the store, and now I resent all of the parties involved, myself most of all.

“Hello” signifies that you spent too much time thinking about everything that follows, or that you are high.

“Hi,” suggests you think you’re important.

“Hi!” means I’m going to delete your email without reading it.

“Dear,” expresses that—despite your outdated AOL address and the hundreds of forwarded conspiratorial rants in your Sent folder—this is only the third email you’ve ever sent and the details are better suited for our upcoming family get-together.

What “XOXO” Really Means

Excerpt from this article on email sign-offs:

“XOXO”: Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean “hugs and kisses.” If anything, it’s intended to convey light affection, like a pat on the butt from a Texan aunt. You shouldn’t take it as anything more.

“XOX”: This indicates full, throbbing, sexual desire. The person who signs off this way is hoping that you’ll picture her naked silhouette playing the saxophone in some mist.

“XO”: This is like when you lean in to kiss your Texan aunt on the cheek but you both turn the wrong way and kiss on the mouth.

“X”: This is a simple, respectful nod, indicating that everything is going absolutely fine.

“Thanks”: This is completely sarcastic.

“Sincerely”: This is the way Abraham Lincoln always signed off, so take that for what it’s worth.

“Peace out!”: This person probably has an earring in the shape of a turtle, and tries to get everyone to notice it.