Short true story

Saturday night, 8:30pm. The store closes in 30 minutes and will stay closed tomorrow.

The fitness activity rings on my Apple Watch have yet to be closed. I’m on a streak this whole year, closed the rings every day — albeit sometimes through cheating, like dangling my arm back and forth for 30 seconds while in bed, to convince the Watch I’m doing the standing minute; or sometimes these fake exercises called “Other: Open Goal” by flailing and pacing around in the apartment, somehow that counts — but anyway, it’s a perfect streak for three months and counting. …

A few years ago at a language-related expo, I saw a demo for a vocabulary app. It was for learning Georgian (because purportedly that was the data they had). There was a screenshot of a typical quiz:

What is the meaning of “და” (da)?

The multiple-choice options are:

A. Yes
B. And
C. Auto mechanic

Even the presenter himself was quite amused by Option C.

We have the intuition that a simple sound should correspond to a common word, rather than an advanced concept that became a thing recently.

Imagine in an alternative sci-fi universe where your average speaker is…

A Novella

I’m moving to Hornstull in October. It’s a very old house, built in the 1750s — from the street it looks like the Shire. It has a garden, and is close to the sea and the “Party Mountain”. Well, it’s just a mountain (by Finnish standards, otherwise a small rocky hill) but my landlords said they soon realised the Södermalm people go party there.

Fragments of Thought, 14.10.2020

It was a stream of random thoughts, drifting (at times logically) from one topic to another. The starting point was that I had a “Word of the Day” screensaver and it showed “quale”, which is the singular form of “qualia”.

And the thought jumps to “linguistic zombies”…

... a few small pages’ worth of text generated from a section of Chomsky’s lecture on the “Cognitive Revolution”. The continuation is incredibly convincing in both style and content. Back then when I listened to interviews and lectures of Chomsky, there was often that feeling of noticing the patterns in his ways of…

A review of Finland, the country

A long-held fantasy — a setting of the scene, so-to-speak, that elicits the feeling of a peak experience of human flourishing and wellbeing: emerging from sauna facing luscious greens reflected in glorious golden late-night sunlight of high-latitude summer, ideally from an elevated place overlooking the waters. Apart from missing some props (e.g. lake views, palju, architectural marvels), the fantasy was partially fulfilled in June 2018.

The Good Life

There was an ad on Finnish TV, it was probably about coffee. I could not find the ad itself on the internet, so here are the scenes from memory:

A wanderer hikes through the forests, encounters elevated views and the grandeur of nature, sets up by a stream, opens a watercolour kit, paints the landscape, fishes, cooks over a campfire, and makes some coffee. A moment of quiet enjoyment.

The setting was supposed to be in the early 20th century, but it’s could just as well be some time later. One not-so-subtle message would be that it requires very little…

A place to collect scattered notes


Random thoughts about semantics: to “write” an email means to hit certain keys on a keyboard and cause a copy of the text to be stored as a draft in an email application. With phrasal verbs we talk about “check in code”, “check in at a venue”, “check in on someone“, the meaning is only fully clear when both the situation and the implied actions are described.


Towards the edges of common vocabulary the nature of semantics shifts from lexical to cultural references, consider words such as ‘milquetoast’, ‘pollyannish’, ‘kafkaesque’ – at that point reconstructing the transmission of meaning is…

The Most Predictive German Noun Endings

Part 1: Introduction and Method Description

Time to unbox some results!


How much can a single letter tell us? In most cases, not a lot…

The most applicable one is perhaps ‘-e’, a single letter that predicts a 0.88 chance for the noun to be feminine — with many, many exceptions.


Probability, gender, bigram, example words:

An Introspective Monologue feat. the TBL Thought Experiment

What is self-actualisation? To project creative will into the world and express agency (the ability to act and cause an effect). On the high-achieving end of the spectrum, the expression is amplified through the leverage of capital. To put it tritely, the peak of self-actualisation in the area of entrepreneurial expression is Steve Jobs, not Grigori Perelman.

Seizing the Means of Production

The mythology of entrepreneurship is that one has an idea, pursues that idea, and builds a business out of it. These days I’m more than ever convinced that the competence of building a business, getting customers, landing contracts, hiring teams, making things happen…

An Interplay between Morphemes and the Nature of Things

Academics in social sciences are often bound by the relativist axiom “all languages are exactly equally complex.” A few minutes into a more fact-contingent context like second language acquisition or lexicography, we find out that some languages are more equally complex than others.

Grammatical Complexity

Many questions must be resolved before you can utter a correct sentence in German. Take this example in English:

“I ponder the meaning of life.”

If you think all you need is lexical translations for “ponder” and “meaning of life” to convert the sentence into German, you’re in deep trouble.

Let’s pause and marvel at the German…

David Rosson

A lack of knowledge is more amenable than a lack of inquiry.

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