22 August 2006

Book Meme - Take 2

I've been tagged by Jewish Atheist .

This time for real.

1. One book that changed your life? "A brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking. This book opened my eyes not just to the underlying science of cosmology, but even more importantly as to how brilliant Man can be to figure this stuff out. People like Galileo, Newton, Hubble, Einstein, etc make me feel real insignificant.

2. One book you have read more than once? "A world lit only by fire" by William Manchester. This is an interesting readable book about medieval times, the Church and Magellan. It is great "light" historical reading that's interesting and fun. It is superbly written. Easily one of the most memorable book I've read. This will not disappoint.


3. One book you would want on a desert island? This is tough. First there's the obvious such as "Boy Scouts survival Guide" or conversely "100 ways to kill yourself". Other than that and excluding anthologies, it would have to be something that would keep me busy for a very long time or something I can read over and over again. Hmmm. Maybe the Bible? Or maybe a Brief history of Time. Just this time, I'll make sure I understand every particle and Quark, which may take me till the end of time.

4. One book that made you laugh? I can't think of any. How sad. I better get this Calvin and Hobbes that others mentioned.

5. One book that made you cry? Jewish History books make me cry. Then there's "Love Story" by Erich Segal. This book goes way way back. What a tear Jerker.

6. One book you wish had been written? "The Bible - The making of the worlds bestseller." Now that would be a real bestseller.

7. One book you wish had never been written? I second the choice of the Protocols of the elders of Zion.

8. One book you are currently reading? Sorry, here's three: A) "The Language of God" by Francis Collins. Francis is the head of the government Genome Project which decoded the entire human Genome. A firm believer in Evolution and self proclaimed basher of Intelligent Design, he nevertheless tries to build a case for God. It's a great introduction to Genetics and Evolution, I finally understand the difference between DNA and RNA. Sadly, the case for God seems to be based on Jesus. I'll keep you posted when I finish the book. Maybe there's a good punchline. B) "Cell" be Stephen King. Creepy tale of something gone awry with our Cell Phone service; whoever was on the phone at the time the pulse hit, goes violently mad. Vintage King - End of civilization (remember "The Mist"). Hey, I need some diversion too! C) "Godless" by Ann Coulter. I'm still at the beginning. Wow, she really hates liberals. Why are some people so one-sided?

9) One book you have been meaning to read? Some of Darwin's works. I just don't see how I can sneak that one into the house.


So, please let me know if your reading matches mine in any way.


Now is when I'm supposed to Tag 5 others to continue this diversion. I don't believe in Pyramid Schemes because eventually everyone tags everyone. So feel free to join - or not.

JA, thanks again for the honor.

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    41 Comments:

    At August 22, 2006 12:51 PM, Blogger Moshe Kappoya said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
    At August 22, 2006 12:53 PM, Blogger Moshe Kappoya said...

    know you said stay away, but this one is too good to pass up, so here goes.

    1. What about Rabbi Akiva, Rashi, Rambam, Chofetz Chaim, R' A. Kotler, R' Y. Kamenetzsky, R' M. Feinstein, R' J.B. Soleviechick, etc., etc. ?

    2. Have not read it.

    3. I'd take the book with the most pages, a must have for starting fires.

    4. You REALLY need to have more fun.

    5. Can't fault you here.

    6. Already been done. It's called Talmud.

    7. ???

    8. Stephen King - Now I know where your kifera comes from. Ann Coulter - She tells it like it is, there is no other side.

    9. Don't even think about it.

     
    At August 22, 2006 1:20 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    MK,
    > 1) What about Rabbi Akiva...


    I assume you mean "do I feel insignificant compared to them" (as opposed to "did their books change my life"). The answer is no. They may be brilliant, wise, holy, etc. But I wouldn't call them creative in the sense that they turned then-current thinking on it's head. To be correct when something is counter-intuitive is to be special.

    "A world lit only by fire" is safe even for non-skeptics. It's quite fascinating.

    Protocols of the elders of Zion. Antisemitic work that's fraudulent and claims to be a book about Zionists wanting to take over the world. It caused lots of Tsuros for Jews.

    Stephen King, Koifer? How so?


    BTW, MK, consider yourself tagged.

     
    At August 22, 2006 1:22 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    Just comment on Ann Coulter... She is so one sided because it got you to read her stupid book!

    Can't believe any human being is actually reading that book that isn't part of the cooperation that needs to sell it.


    Anyway..

    I don't get your answer to number 1. Doesn't look very "intelectually honest"

    3. I like your first answer better than your second answer.

     
    At August 22, 2006 1:25 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    >
    I assume you mean "do I feel insignificant compared to them" (as opposed to "did their books change my life"). The answer is no. They may be brilliant, wise, holy, etc. But I wouldn't call them creative in the sense that they turned then-current thinking on it's head. To be correct when something is counter-intuitive is to be special.

    Wow!

    What about Abraham? Was he counter intuitive enough for you?

    To say that Rabbi Akiva was intuitive, says more about how much his thoughts have penetrated your mind than anything else.

    Very common for people to start learning a new subject at 40 and then go on to become the most famous teacher of the generation. Happens all the time.

    Also, those people are only correct for now.

     
    At August 22, 2006 1:57 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Irviner,

    > What about Abraham? Was he counter intuitive enough for you?

    Abraham would certainly qualify. Too bad he didn't write any books I can read.

    > Very common for people to start learning a new subject at 40 and then go on to become the most famous teacher of the generation.


    Sure he became a great scholar. I can't honestly say I'm in awe.

    Remember that Gemara that Moshe rabbeinu was lost when listening to R' Akiva Darshen in the future?

    I think current day scholars are just as scholarly, if not more than Rabbi Akiva. Tannaim just had to reconcile Tanach. Current day scholars have to reconcile Tanach, Mishna, Gemara, Rishonim, Acharonim, etc. a much more difficult job.


    >Can't believe any human being is actually reading that book that isn't part of the cooperation that needs to sell it.

    I like to read various viewpoints. What's wrong with that?


    > Anyway..

    I don't get your answer to number 1. Doesn't look very "intelectually honest"

    You mean Hawking? Why? I re-iterate. The impact the book had on me was not the science, it was the appreciation for the breakthrough and scientific mind. That was a paradigm shift for me.

    3. I like your first answer better than your second answer.

    You mean the Bible? Or the Boy scouts? ;)

    Irviner, you're tagged too.

     
    At August 22, 2006 2:07 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    >>Can't believe any human being is actually reading that book that isn't part of the cooperation that needs to sell it.

    I like to read various viewpoints. What's wrong with that?

    There is nothing wrong with reading various viewpoints. I do hope that when you say you are reading the book, you mean in the bookstore, and have not actually given them any money for it. Its just that her books are not really viewpoints as much as they are hype gatherers.

    >3. I like your first answer better than your second answer.

    You mean the Bible? Or the Boy scouts? ;)
    Boy scouts, and 100 ways to kill yourself.

    >You mean Hawking? Why? I re-iterate. The impact the book had on me was not the science, it was the appreciation for the breakthrough and scientific mind. That was a paradigm shift for me.

    Hmm, perhaps you should read the story of Watson and Crick(sp?) the people who "discovered" DNA.

    I am not denying these people's intelect, however I do doubt thier creativity. They followed the math and science, and they were open minded enough to not be restrained by previous models.

    But these geniouses exist in all sciences and all areas of study. Some of the most important thinkers don't have books written about them, because they didn't have the same PR people.

    For example, the man who invented the transistor and made all modern technology available.

     
    At August 22, 2006 2:24 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    > There is nothing wrong with reading various viewpoints.

    That's not what my Rebbeim say. and you know what? I think they're right, considering their objective.

    > I do hope that when you say you are reading the book, you mean in the bookstore, and have not actually given them any money for it.

    I use the Public library a lot.


    > Boy scouts, and 100 ways to kill yourself.


    LOL, boy scouts and 100 ways were not real answers, just my poor attempt at humour. 100 ways occured to me because of that scene in Castaway(?) Tom Hanks, with his failed attempt to kill himself .


    >Hmm, perhaps you should read the story of Watson and Crick(sp?) the people who "discovered" DNA.

    Yes, that was fascinating as well.

    Or, Darwin and Wallace. see http://baalhabos.blogspot.com/2006/06/krakatoa.html for info on Wallace

    > But these geniouses exist in all sciences and all areas of study. Some of the most important thinkers don't have books written about them, because they didn't have the same PR people.

    True. But this meme is about Books.

    Recently, US News and world report had an issue devoted to people who were the "true" firsts in their field. As opposed to the people with good PR.

    So, can we look forward to your take on the 9 book questions?

     
    At August 22, 2006 2:37 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    Done.

    http://irvinechasid.blogspot.com/2006/08/book-meme-what-bloggers-think-about.html

     
    At August 22, 2006 2:47 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    Read your link...

    I have a question though

    When you wrote :

    "in the Jewish world, that Kabbalist will achieve instant fame and status despite all failed predictions of the past"

    Who were you refering to? Because I can't really think of anyone. Or are you just being hypothetical? However, I would dissagree with your hypothetical.

    >> Boy scouts, and 100 ways to kill yourself.


    LOL, boy scouts and 100 ways were not real answers, just my poor attempt at humour.

    Aye, I know.. I thought it was very funny, not a poor attempt. Wish I had thought of it.

     
    At August 22, 2006 2:47 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    Trying to make this a link for you

     
    At August 22, 2006 2:51 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Irviner, I subscribe to your blog. Did you post this book meme? I must have missed it,

     
    At August 22, 2006 2:57 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
    At August 22, 2006 3:00 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    OY link doesn't work..


    This link should work to my blog

     
    At August 22, 2006 3:06 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    >Irviner, I subscribe to your blog.

    Wow, really? I am honoured.

    I'll have to up the quality of my posts now.

     
    At August 22, 2006 3:29 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    IC, I see your post now, for privacy reasons I won't post on your blog right now, I'll try to do so tonight. BTS, I loved the fountainhead, not that I had any idea what the title meant.

     
    At August 22, 2006 4:47 PM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    1. One book that changed your life? John McWhorter's Word on the Street. I think everyone ought to read this book. McWhorter is a linguist who smashes the popular conception that there are "better" and "worse" varieties of language, or that language gets worse over time as speakers "abuse" it by violating grammar. The book opened my eyes to the beauty of all languages. It helps that McWhorter is an eloquent writer in his own right.

    2. One book you have read more than once? Any of the books listed in my profile. Alan Dean Foster's Parallelities might be the book I've read the most times. I discuss the book here.

    3. One book you would want on a desert island? A multi-volume encyclopedia. By the time I'm found, I'll be a scholar.

    4. One book that made you laugh? Gary Larson's Prehistory of the Far Side

    5. One book that made you cry? None. The closest I came to crying from a movie was at the end of the 1992 version of Of Mice and Men.

    6. One book you wish had been written? The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth. I can't stand how uncertain life is. I want someone to feed me all the answers.

    7. One book you wish had never been written? Norman Finkelstein's Beyond Chutzpah. If there's one thing I hate, it's people who obfuscate.

    8. One book you are currently reading? Robert Pennock's Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism (soon to be discussed on my blog)

    9) One book you have been meaning to read? Gregory Maguire's Son of a Witch (the sequel to Wicked). Other contenders: Stephen King's On Writing and the book on which the film Quiz Show is based.

     
    At August 22, 2006 5:00 PM, Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

    Thanks. :-)

     
    At August 22, 2006 5:42 PM, Blogger Moshe Kappoya said...

    they turned then-current thinking on it's head What IR said.

    Reading S. King gives you nightmares which causes you to lose he ability to think straight. JK

    See here for my list.

     
    At August 22, 2006 5:51 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    KP, wow, What an intellectual.

    > One book that changed your life? John McWhorter's Word on the Street. But how did something like this change your life? Lifs of books are interesting and even fascinating. Did you switch careers, etc?

    > 3. One book you would want on a desert island? A multi-volume encyclopedia. By the time I'm found, I'll be a scholar.

    Anthologies or the like are cheating!



    > 4. One book that made you laugh? Gary Larson's Prehistory of the Far Side

    I can go with that one, I love Far Side.

    >I came to crying from a movie was at the end of the 1992 version of Of Mice and Men.

    That was quite sad....


    8. One book you are currently reading? Robert Pennock's Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism (soon to be discussed on my blog)


    I'll look for it.

     
    At August 22, 2006 8:27 PM, Blogger happywithhislot said...

    bhb
    youre telling me your wife would notice what books you read?
    or are you really afraid of your kollel kid

     
    At August 22, 2006 8:50 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    >I loved the fountainhead, not that I had any idea what the title meant.

    Aww, its a real deep title.

    1. The fountainhead is the guy who owned the Media.

    2. The fountainhead, is sort of like "the godhead", its the spring from which all new ideas come from, even when society tries to knock them down.

    3. I believe the fountainhead was something specific in the book, but its been to long to be sure.

     
    At August 22, 2006 8:52 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    MK,

    your answer to number 1 and number 7 I think have a sense of irony to them.

     
    At August 22, 2006 11:02 PM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    But how did something like this change your life? Lifs of books are interesting and even fascinating. Did you switch careers, etc?

    I think any book that causes us to look at the world very differently falls into this category. For me, reading McWhorter was one step in a larger process that ultimately led me to change my college major. I believe the process started when I began taking Hebrew classes. It was the first time I really started to grasp a foreign language (I didn't even come close in high school) and that alone began to affect my outlook. We monolingual speakers go through life without thinking much about the fact that we're speaking a language. We don't think of the words that come out of our mouths as a huge, complex system of sounds and rules. We comprehend those rules intuitively and subconsciously. Of course, we all know about grammar, but in our society, "grammar" simply means the rules that you have to go to school in order to absorb. There's almost a sense that if you're not taught those rules formally in a classroom, then the language you use won't be rule-bound, or at least will have fewer rules. Linguists, of course, disagree strongly with that belief, but it's the way the average person tends to think about language.

    The funny thing about learning a foreign language is how conscious you become of your own language. At first, it seems weird that Spanish speakers say nosotros and Hebrew speakers say anachnu when we would say "we." But to them, it's perfectly natural and they have a clear link in their mind between the sound and meaning of the word. There's nothing natural or self-evident about the sound "wee" having the meaning it does. It's just the label which our language happens to use for this particular meaning. And I haven't even gotten into the massive structural differences between English and other languages. However odd Hebrew may appear to the beginner, you begin to be conscious of the fact that English is weird also. Is it weird that in Hebrew you inquire someone's age by asking "the son of how many are you"? Maybe. But why is "how old are you" any better? The most logical way to ask someone's age would be to say, "What is your age?" But we English speakers simply don't do that. Instead, we make use of an adjective normally reserved for senior citizens. But no English speaker notices how weird this is until you point it out to them. Same with Hebrew speakers and ben kamma ata.

    Hebrew has the unique and complex system of trilateral Semitic roots and the binyanim into which they fall. But English, in turn, has a highly complex system of tenses using modal and auxiliary verbs. In short, the experience of learning a new language causes you to reflect on the old one. You begin to notice that there are different methods of communicating the same thoughts. Language stops being an unconscious process.

    One day I happened to glance at my bookshelf and see a book entitled "The History of English." I suddenly was massively curious, because I knew next to nothing about the history of my language. I took the book out and discovered to my disappointment that it was merely "The History of English Literature." But I went to my college's library and got out lots of books on the history ofs the English language. Over the course of several months, I self-taught myself the basic principles of historical linguistics. I read many books, both scholarly and popular. McWhorter's was one of the popular ones.

    It spoke to me because I had always hated grammar, even though I was always naturally good at grammar. But I felt after many years that the formal study of grammar had tended to hinder my writing ability. McWhorter showed that a great deal of what passes for "grammar" is just pure schoolroom folklore with no linguistic basis. Some of these rules--like "Don't end a sentence in a preposition"--have gotten enough negative attention that even most grammar books no longer teach them. But McWhorter went further and challenged stuff that even the most liberal grammarians take for granted, like the rule that says "Billy and me went to the store" is an error. Of course it is a violation of formal English. But McWhorter was trying to refute the notion that casual speech is "lazy speech" that is somehow less logical than formal speech. The grammar of formal speech isn't intrinsically more logical or more complex than that of causal speech; it's just different. The same is true when comparing standard English to nonstandard varieties of English, like, say, Black English.

    McWhorter's conclusions are taken for granted by most linguists. Yet the general public still tends to think in terms of "good" and "bad" English, even though there's no rational basis for such thinking. Once you understand the position of the linguists, you begin to notice how woefully uninformed the grammar cops sound and how unnecessary the mindset they are locked into is. Language isn't something static but an ever-changing organism. In McWhorter's words (and this is my favorite passage from the book):

    "What we must realize...is that during these changes, because renewal always complements erosion, all languages are eternally self-sustaining, just as while our present mountains are slowly eroding, new ones are gradually being thrown up by the movement of geological plates. Thus at any given time, a language is coherent and complex, suitable for the expression of all human needs, thoughts, and emotions. Just as linguists have encountered no languages that do not change, they have also not encountered any languages whose changes compromised their basic coherency and complexity. We have encountered no society hampered by a dialect that was slowly simply wearing out like an old car. Anthropologists report no society in which communication is impossible in the dark because the local dialect has become so mush-mouthed and senseless that it can only be spoken with help from hand gestures. In other words, there is no such thing as a language 'going to the dogs'--never in the history of the world has there ever existed a language that has reached, or even gotten anywhere near, said dogs" (pp. 17-18).

    > 3. One book you would want on a desert island? A multi-volume encyclopedia. By the time I'm found, I'll be a scholar.

    Anthologies or the like are cheating!


    Who says? I could argue that you're bending the rules by mentioning more than one book when you're told to mention just one. Your stricture, by the way, would exclude the Bible.

     
    At August 23, 2006 9:19 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Moshe K, I checked your Book List. You have a real "Goote Harts." Please stay with Blogs like Lakewood Yid. I do value every "comment", but your Emuna Peshuta is wonderful and I don't want to cause you any problems.

     
    At August 23, 2006 9:23 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Happy,

    >your'e telling me your wife would notice what books you read?

    Maybe.

    > or are you really afraid of your kollel kid

    Why not? And of others still in the house.

     
    At August 23, 2006 9:42 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Kylopod, what I fond interesting is what had the power to change our lives. Or possibly, what we THINK had the power to change our lives. Anyhow, in a book "Genome" language is examined from a Genetic perspective. And a people with a defect in the "language Gene" have difficulty in processing grammar. That is to say, even in their native tongue, they must constantly process the grammar and attempt to figure it out. It reminds me of what you are saying.

    True about the Bible being an anthology. Especially if we include Nach.

     
    At August 23, 2006 1:02 PM, Blogger happywithhislot said...

    BHB
    You didnt tag me but i posted one anyway.
    let me know what you think

     
    At August 23, 2006 1:11 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    >And a people with a defect in the "language Gene" have difficulty in processing grammar.

    If something like this exists, I must have it. Ironically, when I was tested I was told I have a higher language ability than math ablitiy even though I can't spell, can't handle grammer, and do excellent in Math. Go figure.

     
    At August 23, 2006 4:41 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Happy, I tagged everyone:

    Now is when I'm supposed to Tag 5 others to continue this diversion. I don't believe in Pyramid Schemes because eventually everyone tags everyone. So feel free to join - or not.


    I'll check it out tonight.

     
    At August 23, 2006 6:13 PM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    And a people with a defect in the "language Gene" have difficulty in processing grammar.

    I wonder what is meant by "grammar" here. There's a world of difference between schoolroom grammar like "Never end a sentence in a preposition" and the unconscious grammar that native speakers process intuitively, like "adjectives come before nouns rather than after them." A lot of people who claim not be good at grammar actually can speak the language fine; they just don't always follow the prescriptive rules imposed on us by teachers.

    The concept of a "language gene" is controversial, but what I find fascinating is that there's no language on Earth too complex for the average person to learn. When studying foreign languages in a classroom, we make them sound like rocket science, when in fact we're describing a system that children of normal or even below-normal intelligence routinely figure out on their own without any instructions, just by listening to the people around them.

    It reminds me of Bill Cosby's statement that the reason he and his wife took natural childbirth classes is that he and his wife are intellectuals, which means that they study things which people do naturally.

     
    At August 23, 2006 8:25 PM, Blogger Moshe Kappoya said...

    BHB,
    Nothing "Peshuta" about it. I am very fortunate to have an excellent role-model. I challenge you to spend a shabbos with me and see for yourself.
    And thanks for reading. Is it a blog law that says if you tag someone you must read their post?

    IC,
    Sorry, I don't get your meaning.

    KP,
    Wow, anyone that can get excited about the history of the English langauge, I tip my yarmulka to you. :-)

     
    At August 23, 2006 8:41 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    I spent 13 years in school and 1 year in Israel "learning hebrew" and although Ican read and understand many words, and I can get by in a conversation, I am often wrong about what a word means. In english also. There is a quote that goes something like "I use words exactly the way I mean to say them, but you may not understand them to mean what I say they mean." or something like that.


    Also, nobody knows if a language is too complicated or the average human or not. If the language is too complicated, it would not be transmited and even if it was, it might be transmited differently than designed. Like Esparantu.

     
    At August 23, 2006 8:43 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    >IC,
    Sorry, I don't get your meaning.

    meaning of what?

     
    At August 23, 2006 9:00 PM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    I spent 13 years in school and 1 year in Israel "learning hebrew" and although Ican read and understand many words, and I can get by in a conversation, I am often wrong about what a word means. In english also.

    People with learning disabilities often have some difficulties in language processing, regardless of what language they are speaking. On the other hand, even someone without LD is prone to errors when speaking a language other than his native tongue. I've worked with ESL (English as a Second Language) students, and there are grammatical errors that only an ESL student would make, such as using the when a is needed. Native speakers never have trouble with articles, no matter how bad their grammar supposedly is, but if your native tongue is Russian or Korean, which doesn't have articles, the concept can be very complex to grasp. Likewise, other languages have concepts that native English speakers have trouble grasping. I am sure you have encountered some of them in Hebrew. (Ever said אתה when you should have said את?)

    Also, nobody knows if a language is too complicated or the average human or not. If the language is too complicated, it would not be transmited and even if it was, it might be transmited differently than designed. Like Esparantu.

    What I meant was that any human of normal ability is in theory capable of fluently learning any language on Earth (invented languages don't count). This is an overwhelmingly confirmed fact.

     
    At August 24, 2006 1:06 AM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

    I don't know what "inborn grammar" would stipulate as far as abilities. I'd assume taht it just meant inborn faculties to acquire the language that is spoken in one's native environment.

    I've never really considered the field of linguistics, but McWhorter is a really cool guy. I'll have to look into that book.

     
    At August 24, 2006 9:32 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    > unconscious grammar that native speakers process intuitively, like "adjectives come before nouns rather than after them."

    KP, I believe "Genome" was referring to the former. There are just some people that need to stop and think about grammar construction even when speaking in their native tongue. And it's a familial problem. This Genome book is fascinating. I discussed it briefly here

     
    At August 24, 2006 9:35 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    MK,
    I challenge you to spend a shabbos with me and see for yourself.

    Thanks, but no thanks.

    > And thanks for reading. Is it a blog law that says if you tag someone you must read their post?

    I don't know, it's just mentchlech, I guess.

     
    At August 24, 2006 9:43 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    > What I meant was that any human of normal ability is in theory capable of fluently learning any language on Earth (invented languages don't count). This is an overwhelmingly confirmed fact.

    KP, that reminds me of a joke that even little children find funny. When passing a young child (say 4 or 5) speaking a foriegn langauage, I used to turn to my kids and say, "what that kid is smart, he's only 4 and already he speaks Chinese!

    I would have thought though that a sense of humour is less innate (and more environmental) than ability to learn a language. But I bet I'm wrong. In actuality, I bet a sense of humour is very genetic as well.

     
    At August 24, 2006 5:38 PM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    I would have thought though that a sense of humour is less innate (and more environmental) than ability to learn a language. But I bet I'm wrong. In actuality, I bet a sense of humour is very genetic as well.

    Well, it's like a lot of things. There are cultural elements to humor, and universal elements as well. My brother, who is LD, does not seem able to comprehend jokes more sophisticated than those involving wordplay. He has great trouble understanding irony, and irony is probably the most important mechanism of humor among adults.

    On the other hand, comedy does differ from one culture to another. From watching British movies, I have noticed that there is a distinct British humor which differs from American humor in a number of ways. British is more mean-spirited and surrealistic, American more sentimental and grounded in reality. I have to say, though, that even as an American, I have a great fondness for British humor when it's done well.

     
    At August 24, 2006 8:36 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    >On the other hand, comedy does differ from one culture to another.

    There was a study to find the funniest joke in the world on the internet. I forget the website, but they make very interesting discovries about how humour differed.

     

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