Buddha Statue in forest Pak Shong in Thailand
nerd achievement unlocked
I have a theory that sometimes people who do not speak English as their first language speak it more honestly than native English speakers do. As in, their little mistakes and quirks get to the essence of what they mean in a way that my English never will. Not always. But from time to time, and in small but significant ways.
For example! Non-native English speakers always say “how,” and not “what,” in asking for a description of what somebody looks like. Which is grammatically incorrect, but truer, I think, in terms of that for which they’re actually asking.
For another example! I have a Slovak friend from last year who, when she could not understand something I said in English, would say, “lyrics, please.” And she didn’t mean lyrics, of course. She meant subtitles or translation. Except that she did mean lyrics, because she wanted my words deciphered. She wanted to know what the song was about.
For a Georgian example! Georgians, I have noticed, say “hey, come on” when speaking in English. All the time. And they use it in two ways.
First, they say “come on” if you are being unfair about a situation. “Hey, come on,” they will say. Come on, admit it, you’re not being good enough toward whomever or whatever. And native English speakers use “come on” in this way, too. Or I do, at least.
But the second way is used if you are being unfair toward yourself. If you apologize for something that they don’t think requires an apology, or if you thank them for something that they don’t think requires gratitude. Come on, admit it, you’re not being good enough to yourself. And native English speakers do not use “come on” in this way. Or I do not, at least.
But, hey, come on, I should.
Last year I went to a conference in Berlin for “young experts on Eastern Europe.” And I thought that that was funny. That it has been that easy to be called an expert.
But it’s not that it’s that easy. It’s that it’s that simple. To become an expert in something is simple: Pick a topic in which you are very interested and commit to yourself to it. Take it seriously but do not take yourself seriously, because you can always be more of an expert, because your topic is bigger than you are. Work until you know your shit and then keep working. To keep working is a joy and a privilege.
So keep working. Keep working. Keep working.
Only computer science students are able to discuss algorithms for sock matching for like half an hour…
I have a very simple sock-matching algorithm. I buy only black socks and apply Pseudorandom Selection From Heap in Drawer. The best part is that the heap_add function runs in O(1) time.
Umm, today is not the day I need to notice that last year, 51% of the people who took Formal Languages and Automata passed the class, most often with a grade of E. Today on the midterm I wrote a proof of the form: “This language belongs to the class of regular languages, and I can construct two finite state automata that…*half a page of scribbling later*…wait, never mind, no I can’t.”