Tag Archives: Keyboard

The Dog Says Waf Waf

Arf. Meow. Cock-a-doodle-doo!

We all know that is exactly what the dog says, what the cat says and what the rooster crows.* It’s obvious.

It’s basic onomatopoeia (A word that is spelled the same way it sounds.  For instance, boom or bing or fwoosh or, say, meow.), yeah? The animal makes a sound and that sound is as clear as a bell.

Listen to a dog bark (there’s onomatopoeia for you) and you’ll hear the arf arf arf. It’s just basic. Something that is the same no matter where you go in the world.

Except that it’s not.

Different cultures and different languages, it turns out, have different words for the same sounds animals make.

Where we hear dogs go “arf arf,” the Dutch hear them say, “waf waf.” Yes, really.

Being a wordnerd, I’m always looking for stuff like this. I always love this kind of stuff and, since I’m the one behind the keyboard, you get to hear about it as well.**

wsmbannerI was at the website of Derek Abbot, a dude from Australia, and he has this tremendous chart listing different animal sounds, what word is used to describe their sound in Australian English and the word for that sound in different languages.

Here’s how different languages write down a small dog’s arf arf:
Finnish — hau hau
French — ouah ouah (in a high voice)
German — wau wau (in a high voice)
Turkish — hev hev

A big dog’s bark also has some different interpretations:
Danish — vov-vov (in a low voice)
Russian — gav-gav
Spanish — guf guf

In English, pigs oink. In Hungarian, pigs röf-röf (pron: reuf-reuf).

There’s much, much more at Derek’s website. I seriously urge you dudes go head over there and browse a bit. You’ll definitely leave with a much better appreciation of the words you use every day.

Footnotes & Errata

* If anyone says one word — one word! — about the fox saying something, I will hunt you down and do something appalling to the thing you love most in this world. Do not assume this is a joke.
** Provided you’re unable to actually click the mouse and go to another site. I’m going to assume you’re here for more than that reason. Of course, I like to kid myself so I might be doing that here.

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Maybe The Handwriting Isn’t On The Wall After All

Our brain must understand that each possible iteration of, say, an “a” is the same, no matter how we see it written. Being able to decipher the messiness of each “a” may be more helpful in establishing that eventual representation than seeing the same result repeatedly.

The same research also notes that there could be a difference in the brains of young learners between those who only know how to print block letters (Hello! I’m mostly one of those. Long story.) and those who learn how to write in cursive.

In dysgraphia, a condition where the ability to write is impaired, sometimes after brain injury, the deficit can take on a curious form: In some people, cursive writing remains relatively unimpaired, while in others, printing does.

In alexia, or impaired reading ability, some individuals who are unable to process print can still read cursive, and vice versa — suggesting that the two writing modes activate separate brain networks and engage more cognitive resources than would be the case with a single approach.

That might not be all that much of a big deal, if it weren’t for the fact that cursive writing is disappearing as a subject being taught to the little dudes and dudettes in school. My youngest, Hyper Lad, really only had cursive for about a single year.

He had to learn the letters, try to put them together, and then was forced to write his spelling sentences in cursive each week for the rest of the year. And, really, that was it.

Now it’s years later and, because he didn’t get cursive reinforced in school and because his dad didn’t get a chance to really learn cursive his ownself, I now have to do the reading for him when it comes to cursive notes written by his oldest relatives. Annoying, but also, apparently, only the smallest of problems relating to not knowing cursive.

It turns out, the benefits of learning both handwriting and cursive will last through childhood and into adulthood. Most adults know how to type and consider it an efficient method for taking notes, certainly above using a messy handwriting. However, the very efficiency of typing could be working against adults trying to assimilate new information.

Two psychologists, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, have reported that in both laboratory settings and real-world classrooms, students learn better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard. Contrary to earlier studies attributing the difference to the distracting effects of computers, the new research suggests that writing by hand allows the student to process a lecture’s contents and reframe it — a process of reflection and manipulation that can lead to better understanding and memory encoding.

All of which means . . . what?

I’m not going to say that you must emphasize handwriting in the young dudes and dudettes, but it’s looking like it might be a good idea.

Heck, even just having them handwrite the really important bits from their notes might offer a significant improvement in their ability to assimilate new information. Definitely something to think about as you sit down for your . . . erm. . . their homework come fall.

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The Handwriting On The Wall

The future of school looks a lot like a computer keyboard. . . but maybe it shouldn’t.

Right now, young dudes and dudettes in elementary school, middle school and high school mostly take notes by hand. Every parent knows the nightmare of not getting the right color composition book and having to rush back to Walmart with a sniffling child and rooting in vain amongst the dregs of the school supplies, knowing the color won’t be there and school starts tomorrow and why won’t he just be quiet and for the love of peter just take the green one because it really doesn’t make a difference.

*ahem* Yeah, I might have some issues there. Moving on.

So, most notes are taken with pencil and paper in grades k-12, but that might not last for long. And that could be a problem as life goes on.

While college students still take some notes with pen and paper, I’m seeing more and more computers or tablets on college student desks as they take notes to the clicking of keys and not the clicking of a ball-point pen. And that technophilia is moving down into the primary school years as well.

The future is wall-to-wall computers and our schools are changing to accommodate that. According to some recent research, that could be a big mistake.

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.

Which we will discuss tomorrow when I come back with a bit more about the whole handwriting versus typing debate.

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