Checking In

Zoom… there goes another month. Assignments have all been handed in, and two exams are already behind me. Just that one more next week, and I’ll be home to enjoy the holidays. (Sadly, I know the holidays will also pass before you know it… but let’s just enjoy the moment for now).

I decided that it would be a good time to check in, seeing that I haven’t done that in a long while. But to be honest, aside from all the stress being (almost) over, nothing has changed much. A month ago it would have been very exciting to see Christmas decorations being put up in the mall. Now it’s well into December, and it should come as no surprise that you hear Christmas carols around every corner. The only difference is that I didn’t get this experience last year… yeah, sure, Hong Kong knows what Christmas is, but they don’t feel it. And by ‘it’, I mean the Christmas spirit – so perfectly portrayed in Love Actually. That’s why it’s the movie that I watch every holiday season, as I’m sure a lot of other people do too.

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Toronto has gotten a lot colder, and the worst is still yet to come. I guess on the bright side, its now cold enough to go skating on those outdoor rinks? I actually probably would go if I had a pair of skates, and maybe some more time to work with. But alas, time is always a valuable commodity.

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If there’s anything I feel guilty about, it’s that I haven’t been running in two months. It’s also one of the only things I like about Hong Kong – the fact that I can run through the winter. Although on the flip side, it does get too hot to run in the summer over there…

I’ve been studying linguistics all day today, and this course provides so many interesting thoughts to ponder about. The main point is that there are no “languages” – each one of us has our own language. It just so happens that if we all speak “English”, the rules of each of our internal languages are very similar. Linguists are fascinated at the rules that we can come up with for different so-called ‘languages’, because these rules all take a similar format – across ALL languages. In essence, we are treating language as a science. And that’s where my fascination comes in. Technology such as Siri on the iPhone would make even larger breakthroughs as more and more rules get added to the system. Not just hard-coded, specific rules (which I’m sure is used a lot in Siri), but general rules that can teach a robot how to speak in any given circumstance – understand irony, hear through accents, etc. Unfortunately, linguists also believe that there is something that we’re born with that allows us to even generate a language capacity in the first place. But still… it’s all exciting stuff.

I’m sure home will be a lot more interesting than Toronto here. It’s funny that I say that, because I know a lot of people won’t consider home as “interesting”… especially when they’re rooted at home. But for me, it’s always nice to go home.

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