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The language of office mates

Right off the bat, this post is in no way piggybacking on all the obesity-your social circle debate. I've worked in a ton of different workspaces--part of that is the (desultory) nature of my business, part of that I attribute to an especially roiling tween & teendom. But everywhere I've worked, there were always a few people with whom I experienced a workaday yet still severe kind of infatuation--either out of desperation because the job was either scary or boring or actually dangerous, or sometimes because the job was too good to be true and so was everyone in the office. What grew out of these infatuations, was, inevitably, lingo. A shared language. Of course there are always inside jokes 100% endemic to your suite number, and conversations that pick up exactly where they left off at the next lunch or coffee or perhaps smoke break. But I'm talking about the lexicon that develops at a work place, and its staying power.

Now, of course this verbal appropriation happens in close friendships and romantic relationships, but I'm particularly interested in how our officemates shape our phraseology--mostly because office life and language is more functionally public, more sanctioned, and perhaps more in need of verbal ciphers.
At my current office, I find myself calling everyone "Mary Louise." It's not because this is the name of anyone I know or aspire to know (though I'd love the opportunity!)--it's just a saying one of my coworkers started, and it took over the entire office. Any proper pronoun is now predicated by "Mary Louise." And anytime someone needs to be corrected on a work-related issue, we firmly say: "Absolutely not." Often: "Mary Louise! Absolutely not." This habit has so inculcated my daily routine that I now find myself addressing cars as such: "Mary Louise! Absolutely not."

Via another office, I found myself saying (wince) "For sure!" to any request, and then just in place of "Got it," or "I understand," in place of all affirmations: "For sure"--though it eventually morphed into a single Frrsurr. In all my West Coast offices, I quickly learned that everything was "hateful" instead of horrid or rotten or anything else, and I was quick to conform. Hateful, hateful, hateful. But beyond the workplace, I'm not sure my friends took these developments in my vocabulary to heart, but maybe that's because I was too busy noticing the words and phrases they'd picked up. The offices where this kind of magical sparring was most prevalent were all busy offices, and I suppose all this talk was a shorthand I haven't even begun to psychoanalyze--any linguistic determinists out there who'd like to try? Every place I work seems to turn into its own Wayne's World. Otherwise, have you noticed/spearheaded anything like this in your workplace?

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Kohske Takahashi, i-Perception (2017)
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Can You Figure Out This Newly Discovered Optical Illusion?
Kohske Takahashi, i-Perception (2017)
Kohske Takahashi, i-Perception (2017)

Ready to have your mind boggled? Take a look at the image above. What shape are the lines? Do they look like curves, or zigzags?

The image, spotted by Digg, is a new type of optical illusion published in the aptly named journal i-Perception. Discovered by Japanese psychologist Kohske Takahashi, it’s called the “curvature blindness illusion,” because—spoiler—the contrast of the lines against the gray background makes our eye see some of the lines as zigzags when, in fact, they’re all smooth curves.

The illusion relies on a few different factors, according to the three experiments Takahashi conducted. For it to work, the lines have to change contrast just at or after the peak of the curve, reversing the contrast against the background. You’ll notice that the zigzags only appear against the gray section of the background, and even against that gray background, not every line looks angled. The lines that look curvy change contrast midway between the peaks and the valleys of the line, whereas the lines that look like they contain sharp angles change contrast right at the peak and valley. The curve has to be relatively gentle, too.

Go ahead, stare at it for a while.

[h/t Digg]

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Vivid Imagery Makes Poetry More Pleasurable, According to Psychologists
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iStock

Contrary to what English teachers led us to believe, most readers don’t judge poetry based on factors like alliteration and rhyme. In fact, a new study published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts suggests that vivid imagery (i.e. sense-evoking description) is what makes a poem compelling, according to Smithsonian.

To determine why some poetic works are aesthetically pleasing while others are less so, researchers from New York University and the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Germany, had more than 400 online volunteers read and rate 111 haikus and 16 sonnets. Participants answered questions about each one, including how vivid its imagery was, whether it was relaxing or stimulating, how aesthetically pleasing they found it, and whether its content was positive or negative.

Not surprisingly, taste varied among subjects. But researchers did find, overall, that poems containing colorful imagery were typically perceived as more pleasurable. (For example, one favorite work among subjects described flowers as blooming and spreading like fire.) Emotional valence—a poem's emotional impact—also played a smaller role, with readers ranking positive poems as more appealing than negative ones. Poems that received low rankings were typically negative, and lacked vivid imagery.

Researchers think that vivid poems might also be more interesting ones, which could explain their popularity in this particular study. In the future, they hope to use similar methodology to investigate factors that might influence our enjoyment of music, literature, and movies.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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