5.15.2005

this and that... that or this...

Interesting how the medium of communication shapes the meaning and interpretation of the utterance. Garden State isn't a very cunning movie, but it'll sure bum you out if you were expecting a good movie. Seriously though, what's the deal with that movie? It's a romantic comedy with a bunch of bells and whistles pasted onto it. Look how disconnected Zack Braff (I don't know how to spell his name, and I'm not going to find out) is from reality when he makes a line of toilets flush simply by walking past without batting an eyelid. Or maybe when his shirt is the same pattern as the wall (ed-- right here I typed well instead of wall, strange.). Yawn. This is old news though. Garden State is so six months ago.


One more example: we often read "/" at the end of a sentence as "?" because the two share the same key, and to switch from the key's shifted option to the non-shifted option is a common typo on a standard qwerty keyboard.

And how about the error of hitting an adjacent key? Sole and Dole for example. Or hitting in the wrong order. I have a friend who cannot type "that" to save her life, it always comes out has "htat". The nature of the QWERTY keyboard and of the T-9 function on the phone seems to set up a curious gravitational relationship between the letters. Erroring between Sole and Dole is more likely it would seem than between Dole and Mole or Sole and Mole. The M is too far away on the keyboard for that type of error to made without a massive mental lapse.

The T-9 Word function on cellphones is just great fun. To see all these different words (sometimes hilariously different) brought into such close relationship with another by the functionings of the system. Good stuff. I'll have to keep an eye on things the next time I send a text message, I'm sure a funny error will pop up. Lately I've been learning how to build swear words out of fragments. For example, I would type 2, 7 to get "as" then space then 7 to get "s" then space and then 4, 6, 5, 3 for "hole". Then I go back and delete all the spaces and voila! I've spelt "asshole".

I really see this as all tying back to the block metaphor. One thing that it may not account for is how the system of use changes the blocks. For example, in the qwerty keyboard system the / and the ? blocks would be very similar to one another. However, for someone handwriting a letter this almost little to no chance the same error would be made. The blocks are thus easily distinquishable. Maybe this is where I interject color to the equation? Perhaps "?" and "/" have very similar shapes, but different colors. When you use the QWERTY sytem, you put on the QWERTY glasses which blend the colors of the "?" and "/" blocks. I'm beginning to sense a breaking down of the Block Metaphor as this seems a little flaccid. Glasses? What am I thinking? Although, maybe this can be reconciled. How do different systems of using the blocks become accounted for in a system where the blocks are assumed to be constant... WAIT! Maybe there's more than one block for the same thing... No, that doesn't work. What says you? What says you, Laquer?

2 comments:

Seb (randomly!) said...

This article is only tangentially related, but in a bunch of ways. But I had to share.

1) It's about blogs.
2) One of you mentioned that there is an expectation in formal writing that the author is considered to have total...mm...authority (agency? I forget the word) over the written work, whereas informal writing is read with the expectation of error (is that a fair summary?). The article reminded me of that--it seems to be wary of popular journalism falling from the formality of essay to the informality of blogging. For some reason, the author thinks this is bad (instead of somehow tilting expectations towards what is true).

Maybe that was a "bunch" of only two ways.

Natalia said...

This made me think of DesCartes, but then again, language is a lot like math in general.

Basically, you got your different cartesian coordinate systems - the regular one with y-axis pointing up and x-axis pointing to the right, and an infinity of other ones - each just needs two independent vectors to define the axes, not necessarily perpendicular. And any transformation can be translated from one coordinate system to another, in other words, for two systems with the same number of dimensions, there are always two equivalent transformations (words, sentences, phrases, etc), they are just expressed in different coordinates (languages, block systems). If the systems have different numbers of dimensions, it gets crazier - now the transformations aren't completely equivalent - you lose an axis or a mental block here and there, or you get a new, unrelated one.

On another note... I think it's interesting how the structure of different parts of our body decide on which language elements are similar and which are not in each "coordinate system" we use... i.e., when we are speaking, the similarity between phonetic elements is based on the properties of our mouth and vocal cords, which decide the place and the manner of articulation and phonation, so something like "d" and "t" would be easy to confuse; but, when we are writing, the structure of the muscles in our hand is more responsible for making mistakes, so it's easy to substitute "b" for a "d". When we are typing, it's also the hands that decide the typos, but now the similarities have nothing to do with the actual letters, just with their position on the keyboard, so we make typos like "n" for "b".
I also wonder what role the checkup systems - hearing and vision - play in deciding these differences.

I'm sorry for going all math-science on you... Hope I made at least some sense with all this.

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