After more than one year in the grip of a global pandemic, our daily lives have changed extensively. The way we work, travel, socialize and decompress have all undergone strange transformations. And these changes have begun to be reflected in the way we use language.

The Leibniz Institute for the German Language, an organisation for documenting and researching contemporary German language, has published a list of 1,200 brand-new pandemic-related German words. The German language is infamous for its long expressive compound nouns, so it’s no surprise that the pandemic has spurred the creation of many more.

Most of these words…


Part 2: Rock That Body

After having looked very briefly at the general system of Stoic physics and cosmology in part 1, and how it forms the basis for Stoic ethics, today I’d like to get a bit more into the nitty gritty of Stoic causality.

Let’s get physical!

We already noted that the Stoics were so-called physicalists, i.e. they stated that only “bodies” exist. These “bodies” are three-dimensional and solid, as Diogenes Laertius writes:

“Body is defined by Apollodorus in his Physics as that which is extended in three dimensions, length, breadth, and depth. This is also called solid body.” …


A different view of the cosmos and our place in it

Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

Founded around 300 BCE by Zeno of Citium, the Hellenistic school of Stoicism has recently come to the fore again, popularized by YouTube channels and easily shareable pithy quotes on Facebook and Twitter.

And when I read how Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are embracing “Stoicism”, taking cold showers to improve their productivity, reframing their business failures as “indifferents” and steeling their resolve with autosuggestive “mind-hacks”, I cannot help but wonder what the ancients would have thought about all of this.

Stoicism is often touted as a practical philosophy that doesn’t waste much time with erudite discourses but deals with the stuff…


German and English are both Germanic languages, so not only do they share some grammatical features but also have a lot of similar words. For example, when you know English and you hear the German word “Haus” you immediately know what it means: house. The spelling is different, but it sounds exactly the same!

Similarly, a “Freund” is a friend, “Sand” is sand, “grün” is green, and so forth. And as it happens when two languages are very close, there are also many words which seem the same but mean completely different things.

Gherkins in Your Face

When you walk into a store in…


photo via morguefile.com

Lately, an interesting writing app has been making the rounds. It’s called Hemingway, and it promises to “make your writing bold and clear”.

The way it works is that you type or paste in a few paragraphs, and then the app will try to highlight long and complicated sentences, unnecessary adverbs and overgenerous use of the passive voice.

Its algorithm also presents you with a so called “Readability Grade” at the end. By correcting your highlighted sentences and words you can achieve a higher “grade”.

The App That Makes Us Write Like 3rd Graders

The Hemingway app has garnered some criticism by people around the web who are saying…


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Slaying dragons and fighting epic space battles may be an entertaining way to kill some time, but it’s not exactly what most people would associate with learning a new language.

Sure, it’s easy to change the in-game language of your favorite first person shooter or RPG, but what’s the use of knowing the French word for “two-handed sword” or “kinetic mine” in everyday life?

1. Authentic Situations

Playing video games in your target language can have many benefits. Above all, it puts you in authentic situations. What’s authentic about slaying orcs? Well, it’s not the content, but the context. An authentic learning situation…


Essay

A meditation on the world of stuff.

Photo: Frank Lindecke via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

As human beings, we live in a world of things. There are small ones, big ones, raggedy, round and shiny things all around us. Some of these things are made in factories, others are made by hand. Some are complex, others seemingly simple. Some are expensive, others are cheap. Some are revered, others just lie around.

As long as things are useful we treasure them. And when they are used up, they land on the trash. The dividing line moves swiftly and before we know it, today’s eagerly ogled artifacts are lining the bottom of tomorrow’s landfills.

They are all…


Photo by Wu Jianxiong on Unsplash

Everyone who has ever seriously tried to learn a new language knows that it is hard work. Perhaps the best proof for this simple fact is the onslaught of shady offers with promises like: “The Secret Method Nobody Wants You To Know! Learn German in 10 Days!” — “Master Japanese in Your Sleep!” — “With Patented Snake Oil 3000™”

Let’s be honest for a second, okay? There are no silver bullets, no well-kept secrets or shortcuts to learning a language. It takes some serious time and effort. You can literally invest yourself infinitely in any given language. But here’s the…


On the striking similarity between Buddhism and Stoicism

When spiritual teachers from the East first started arriving in the West in the 60s and 70s, many young people who had grown weary of the Judeo-Christian tradition and everything that it stood for in terms of societal and cultural norms found a brand new world laid open before them.

A whole generation “turned on” to Hinduism, Taoism and of course Buddhism. Here was a religion that seemed so different from what they’d grown up with: a life philosophy, at its core, that didn’t require faith in a Creator God, but instead offered practical exercises for cultivating wisdom, mental calm…


On the false dichotomy of labour and leisure.

still from Stanley Kubrick’s Shining (1980)

Regardless of its specific form, work is an essential part of our lives. We work for good grades, to get a good job, then we work overtime, day and night, all week long: we work until we drop.

Our language reflects the importance of work in a million different ways. Relationships, like machines, either work, or there’s disagreement, dishonesty, distrust — the works. When faced with problems, we work through them, and when we don’t succeed we often get worked up, in which case we have to work off the frustration by doing a workout.

In stark contrast the part…

André Klein

Born in Germany, currently living in Israel, André Klein is the founder of learnoutlive.com and author of various books and short stories in English and German.

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