anonymous asked:

Alert to anyone who uses Roll20! So basically, there's this guy who goes by Arammu, or something of the sort, who is inviting people to games. There's nothing wrong with that, except he's asking male characters to invite female friends, giving women preferential treatment, and forcing them to erp with him in exchange for magical abilities. My friends and I were recently involved in this, and it's fortunate we caught on rather early. It wouldn't be bad if he was honest about wanting... (Part 1)

Mod note: I asked the original sender to re-send as an Anon ask; she originally submitted this from her blog. Obviously, the way this dude is acting is some pretty shitty behavior and pretty much the opposite of the inclusive, at times absurd but always fun, experience we’re trying to encourage with this blog. Take it as you will. — @most-excellent-rectangle

Sound symbolism and the brain

So a few months back, we did an episode about the arbitrariness of the sign, the idea that there isn’t really a deep meaningful connection between sounds and meanings. So, there’s no real reason that [dɑg] should mean “dog”, and in fact, across different languages, you can find a lot of different words that mean “dog”: chien in French, inu in Japanese, kelev in Hebrew, etc.

Now, there’s some obvious exceptions to this, like onomatopoeia. There’s definitely some meaningful link between “quack” and the noise a duck makes. But beyond that, there’s also a class of words called ideophones, which have similar kinds of sound-symbolic resonances as onomatopoeia, but which describe states of being, or kinds of action, or other non-sound-effect things. English doesn’t have many of these, but other languages, like Japanese, do. Like, [waɾaɯ] may be to smile or laugh, but you can modify it: add [nikoniko], and you’re grinning; [nijanija], and you’re smirking; [geɾageɾa] and you’re guffawing, etc.

At first glance, those might seem like things that are specific to Japanese. But like we talked about in the episode, a few months back, a study found that Dutch speakers were actually sensitive to the ideophones - that even without the Japanese context, the sound symbolism helped the Dutch participants learn the new words.

But even cooler - in a new study recently published, they’ve replicated the effect, and added in some neurolinguistic, ERP data on top. One of the authors of the study, Gwilym Lockwood, has written up a really accessible version of it for his blog (with fun pictures, even), and I definitely recommend going and checking it out to get the full details.

And that ERP data is really interesting - it suggests there really is a difference in how well people learn these ideophones, based on how sensitive they were to the sound symbolism as a guide to learning the correct words in the study. There’s an effect associated with learning and memory, the P300, and those Dutch participants who are better attuned to the symbolism show a stronger version of that P300, compared to those who were weaker with the symbolism in the rest of the test, who didn’t show much of a P300 at all. (There’s even a link to some preliminary data from synaesthetics, which is super intriguing.)

This isn’t to suggest that the weaker performers could never learn the relevant ideophones; it’s just that this sensitivity does seem to help with word learning. I’m super biased at this point, but I’ve always had trouble actually remembering all the ideophones, and now I wonder where I fall on this ERP spectrum. However that plays out, though, I’m really looking forward to seeing more of this line of research. Pushing back on arbitrariness is just really interesting - let’s see how far these underlying connections go. ^_^

Bad at therapy?

The past few times I’ve gone to therapy I’ve just wanted to talk about things. I’m technically there for CBT, not talk therapy, but my therapist is pretty open to just listening and talking things out with me. The way my anxiety is playing out these days is more nuanced and interpersonal than my more “obvious” OCD of the past so it’s harder for me to apply the CBT/ERP model in my head. My instinct is to revert to talk therapy, which is the kind of therapy I did for years before getting diagnosed with OCD. My therapist tries to steer me toward the CBT/ERP format but I’m wondering if what I really need right now is less structured talk therapy. I would continue to use the CBT tools that I have, but in sessions I could just talk about whatever is coming up for me at the time without feeling like it has to be OCD-related to be relevant.

It just sucks because I feel like I used to be “good” at CBT. I did my self-monitoring four times per week, did my exposure practice every day and didn’t bring up “irrelevant” things in session. Now, I usually only do part of my homework, forget to bring in my forms, etc. It makes me feel like a bad student, although to be honest, forgetting to do my homework is also a sign of how far I’ve come - I used to remember my homework every day because I spent hours obsessing and compulsing every day, whereas now I have the luxury of forgetting about my OCD a lot of the time because I’m focused on other things. 

I wasn’t in a bad mood today, but I was really tired from not getting enough sleep (still experiencing some degree of insomnia most nights, although it’s less tortured-soul insomnia and more hehe-no-one-can-make-me-go-to-bed insomnia) which made me more emotional in therapy than I might have been otherwise. I talked about a few difficult moments that happened during the weekend and got weepy. My therapist seemed to take this as an indication that I’m not doing so well; she suggested I start self-monitoring four days a week again. I don’t actually agree with this assessment but I didn’t feel like I could tell her that. I’m gearing up for some sizable transitions (going away to work at a new summer camp, M getting ready to move to a different town to go to grad school, starting student teaching in the fall in addition to my regular course load) so it’s a challenging time but has also yielded some positive reflection. I’ll do the self-monitoring but I expect it to be mostly blank.

Some things never change…I was expecting this post to be just a few sentences, but here we are. Let me know your thoughts if you read this <3