Friday, 17 March 2017

Why did James Joyce write in English?

For two centuries English has been the majority language in Ireland.
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Irish English: What is cat melodeon?

Cat (a): dreadful, no good, awful, very bad. Or for a more emphatic version, Cat melodeon (Sounds like 'melojen')
The Cat Melodeon players
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Irish English: What is a gossoon?


Irish  a boy [C17: from Old French gararçon]

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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Why Academy Awards called Oscars?

There is no definitive explanation as to how Oscar became MGM art director the popular name for an Academy Award. 

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Monday, 13 February 2017

What is the Rorschach test?

The Rorschach test is a diagnostic tool used to gain psychological insight. It uses "10 standard black or coloured inkblot designs to assess personality traits and emotional tendencies." 
Does emotion shape perception?

Who was Rorschach?

Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922) invented the  'ink blot' personality test. The test emerged from the Swiss psychiatrist's lifelong passion for klecksography - turning inkblots into recognisable images. Influenced by the newly emerging field of psychoanalysis, Rorschach began exploring how emotion shapes perception. 

Rorschach had an unusual childhood. He was born into an an artistic family but lost both his parents at an early age and was brought up by a cold and distant stepmother. At school he was prodigy - speaking several languages and excelling as an artist.

As a young man, Rorschach studied medicine in Zurich, specialising in psychiatry. His teachers included Eugen Bleuler - who coined the terms schizophrenia and autism and Carl Jung.  

How did Rorschach develop his test?

The ink blot test emerged out of Rorschach's work with patients with severe psychiatric disorders. He experimented with hundreds of blots before settling on ten that he felt offered the most insight into emotional states. The test drew on some established psychological links - the colour red with danger and excitement, for example, but many of the associations he revealed were innovative.

How is the Rorschach test used now?

The Rorschach Test went on to become a key tool in the emerging field of psychoanalysis. From the 1940s it spread into many other areas - as an element in occupational psychology for example. It is still used all over the world and is particularly popular in Japan.

Hermann Rorschach did not live to see the success of his test. Though medically trained and married to a doctor, the young Freudian did not act on early signs of peritonitis. He died at the age of thirty-seven, less than a year after the publication of his findings in Psychodiagnostik

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Who was Hermann Rorschach?

Principles of Rorschach Interpretation, Second Edition

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Monday, 23 January 2017

Where does the word robot come from?

A rare example of a Czech word ('robota') entering English:

robot was introduced to the public by the Czech interwar writer Karel Čapek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), published in 1920. The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people called robots, though they are closer to the modern ideas of androids, creatures who can be mistaken for humans. They can plainly think for themselves, though they seem happy to serve. At issue is whether the robots are being exploited and the consequences of their treatment. source
Kathleen Richardson points out in this BBC broadcast that our notions about robots are fanciful - they are generally clumsy, ineffective machines.

So robots are not going to rule the world any time soon. But are they going to challenging for the Marathon Gold Medal at the next Olympics? On this evidence, perhaps not:

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Japanese Androids Train for First Ever Robot Marathon

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