Archives for category: self & others

Q1. Is languages more than words? Respond with reference to one of the activities completed in class in Week 1 or to AT LEAST two haiku.

Haiku can be found here (

Q2. Consider Mark Pagel’s argument about the evolution of language. Do you agree/disagree? Why?

Mark Pagel’s TED talk can be found here (

Q3. In your opinion, where does language come from? Is it innate or learned? Respond with reference to Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, and/or Daniel Everett.

Click through to find out more about Noam Chomsky (, Steven Pinker (, and Daniel Everett (

Q4. Evaluate the usefulness of Natural Semantic Metalanguage

Pages 464-469 in this resource will be helpful (

Q5. Does languages reflect or determine thought? Respond with reference to emotion or colour.

For more about colour, watch this documentary from 11:45 ( For more about emotion, read this journal article (

Q6. Does language express our identity or does it constitute it? Is our language just a reflection of who we are or does our language make us who we are? Respond with reference to endangered languages or translation.

Discover the magic of this website on endangered languages (

Q7. Edward Sapir said “Language is a symbolic guide to culture” and “Vocabulary is a very sensitive index of the culture of a people”. Do you agree/disagree? Why?

We’ve covered this pretty extensively in class, but consider all those words that are “not translatable”…

Q8. Should we fear or welcome netspeak? Why/why not?

For more information, click through to this article ( or this one (

Q9. Must language always change? Can we “protect” it? Keep it “pure”?

To find out more about L’Academie Francaise, read this article ( Alternatively, here’s a link through to an article about new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary (

Q10. Does censorship change thoughts? Why/why not? Respond with reference to scandals about censoring books that children read.

For more information, click through to this article ( or this one (

Q11. Can we “reclaim” words? Why/why not?

For more information, click through to this article ( or this one (


As a short pick me up, it’s commencement season in America which means that there are a bunch of people graduating from America universities and there are a bunch of people who are speaking at those graduations. I’m obsessed with these. Primarily because it’s one of the few times really influential people will say things deeply inspiring and make me want to be them more. Alternatively, it’s also because whether you’re graduating from primary school, high school, college, or university, you’re on the precipice of a new stage in your life and the feeling is the same, the problems you’re having, racking your brain about choices and decisions and life is very similar. Sit back and enjoy.

Michelle Obama
She’s my idol. She speaks truth to trouble and makes you feel like she gets your pain.

David Foster Wallace
This guy is an incredible writer – unfortunately, recently having passed. It’s from a little bit ago but he’s enrapturing.

Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama makes lame jokes about studying but talks about our need to create meaningful lives. He’s cray (but awesome).

What do you think of the skywhale? By now you must have heard about its enormous price tag (~$300 000) – but what do you actually think about it? Do you think it is a symbol of Canberra? Do you think it has a secret message for Canberra? Do you think it is a portal through which we can understand our united hopes, dreams, and anxieties about our nation?

Okay maybe I’m taking this a little far – but consider it. What role does this Skywhale play in developing who we are as Canberrans? How does it help produce the “Canberra” identity?

James Rhodes is a concert pianist and my new favourite human. He argues that it doesn’t matter what we do with our lives if at the end of it we say “I wish I learned to play the piano” or “I wish I went to the beach more” or “I wish I had children”. We have so much time, why don’t we use it?

Read more:


Researchers at the University of Duisberg Essen (it’s real, it’s in Germany, I promise) have concluded that “humans have similar brain function when shown images of affection and violence being inflicted on robots and humans”. As in, humans have a similar response to humans as robots when good or bad things are happening to them.

What do you think of this? Do you think this is the reason why people are so attached to technology? Or is it not really like human interaction at all?

Read more:

‘Allo allo ladies and gents. Hope you’ve been having a good holiday. In light of all the US-based tragedy this past week, there’s been a lot of talk about what life is worth and how much we value it.

Meet Mike Merrill who sold his life on the stock exchange, selling his life choices and letting people determine the value of his life.

Read more:

Speaking of Ben Quilty, this is one of his portraits produced as the official artist for Australia’s deployment to Afghanistan. How does it let us know about the war? What does it let us know? Why would we want to know this…?


Athletes at the Australian Institute of Sport currently do not pay for any of their training. But nurses, doctors, emergency services, really most people in the world who take on further education have to. Is this fair? Ben Quilty says no. Ben Quilty is a national award winning artist who was previously the official artist for Australia’s deployment in Afghanistan. (Why he has something particular to say about sportspeople is interesting in and of itself…)

Is it…

The AIS provides a form of education. We make people pay for further education. Therefore athletes should pay to attend the AIS.

Or is it…

The AIS provides opportunities to people to represent our country. We provide for people who represent the country. Therefore athletes should not pay to attend the AIS.

Or is it something completely different…?

Read more:

This TED talk is near educational law – forcing people to re-think what it means we are doing in our schools, how well we are preparing our students for their futures.