Amazon / iStock
Amazon / iStock

Trivium: The 3 Classical Liberal Arts of Language

Amazon / iStock
Amazon / iStock

In the Middle Ages, the body of learning known as the liberal arts was grouped into two programs of study: the quadrivium, which covered mathematics, geometry, music, and astronomy, and the trivium, which covered grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Where numerical concepts were the basis of the quadrivium, the heart of the trivium was language, and as a foundation for thinking and the communication of thought, it was to be mastered first. It was part of a philosophy of education going all the way back to ancient Greece.

A new book from Bloomsbury’s Wooden Books series, Trivium: The Classical Liberal Arts of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric, brings together short, crisp introductions to the basic concepts in a classical course on language arts. It includes sections on euphonics, grammar, poetic meter and form, logic, rhetoric, and ethics.

Learn about the five types of information that can be conveyed by a verb (person, tense, voice, aspect, mood), the four types of logical reasoning (deductive, inductive, abductive, analogical), the five elements of rhetorical persuasion (invention, arrangement, style, memory, delivery), Aristotle’s list of virtues (courage, temperance, generosity, magnanimity, gentleness, truthfulness, wit, friendliness), and the difference between a sonnet, a villanelle, and a sestina. The book is easy to dip in and out of and lays out the basics in a way that just might help us shore up our ability to think and communicate when we need it most.

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Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
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New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]

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How Bats Protect Rare Books at This Portuguese Library
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Visit the Joanina Library at the University of Coimbra in Portugal at night and you might think the building has a bat problem. It's true that common pipistrelle bats live there, occupying the space behind the bookshelves by day and swooping beneath the arched ceilings and in and out of windows once the sun goes down, but they're not a problem. As Smithsonian reports, the bats play a vital role in preserving the institution's manuscripts, so librarians are in no hurry to get rid of them.

The bats that live in the library don't damage the books and, because they're nocturnal, they usually don't bother the human guests. The much bigger danger to the collection is the insect population. Many bug species are known to gnaw on paper, which could be disastrous for the library's rare items that date from before the 19th century. The bats act as a natural form of pest control: At night, they feast on the insects that would otherwise feast on library books.

The Joanina Library is famous for being one of the most architecturally stunning libraries on earth. It was constructed before 1725, but when exactly the bats arrived is unknown. Librarians can say for sure they've been flapping around the halls since at least the 1800s.

Though bats have no reason to go after the materials, there is one threat they pose to the interior: falling feces. Librarians protect against this by covering their 18th-century tables with fabric made from animal skin at night and cleaning the floors of guano every morning.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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