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Extended writing Linguistics Metaphor

Fruit loops and metaphors: Metaphors are not about explaining the abstract through concrete but about the dynamic process of negotiated sensemaking

Note: This is a slightly edited version of a post that first appeared on Medium. It elaborates and exemplifies examples I gave in the more recent posts on metaphor and explanation and understanding. One of the less fortunate consequences of the popularity of the conceptual metaphor paradigm (which is also the one I by and large work […]

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Education Extended writing Framing Knowledge Philosophy of Science

5 books on knowledge and expertise: Reading list for exploring the role of knowledge and deliberate practice in the development of expert performance

Recently, I’ve been exploring the notion of explanation and understanding. I was (partly implicitly) relying on the notion of ‘mental representations’ as built through deliberate practice. My plan was to write next about how I think we can reconceptualize deliberate practice in such a way that it draws on a richer conception of ‘mental representations’. […]

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Education Extended writing Linguistics Metaphor

Writing as translation and translation as commitment: Why is (academic) writing so hard?

This book will perhaps only be understood by those who have themselves already thought the thoughts which are expressed in it—or similar thoughts. It is therefore not a text-book. Its object would be attained if there were one person who read it with understanding and to whom it afforded pleasure. (opening sentence of the preface […]

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Education Extended writing Knowledge Metaphor

5 kinds of understanding and metaphors: Missing pieces in pedagogical taxonomies

TL;DR This post outlines 5 levels or types of understanding to help us better to think about the role of metaphor in explanation: Associative understanding: Place a concept in context without any understanding. Dictionary understanding: Repeat definitions, give examples, and make basic connections. Inferential understanding: Make useful inferences based on knowledge about – but without […]

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Education Extended writing Framing Knowledge Metaphor

Explanation is an event, understanding is a process: How (not) to explain anything with metaphor

TL;DR There are at least 3 uses of metaphor in the educational process: 1. Invitation to enter; 2. An instrument to grasp knowledge with; 3. Catalyst to transform understanding. Many educators assume that 1 is enough but it rarely leads to any useful understanding. Explanation is a salient part of the educational process to such […]

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Extended writing Linguistics Philosophy of Science Scholarship

What would make linguistics a better science? Science as a metaphor

Background This is a lightly edited version of a comment posted on Martin Haspelmath’s blog post “Against traditional grammar – and for normal science in linguistics“.  In it he offers a critique of the current linguistic scene as being unclear as to its goals and in need of better definitions. He proposes ‘normal science’ as […]

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Extended writing Metaphor Philosophy of Science

Cats and butterflies: 2 misunderstood analogies in scientistic discourse

Butterfly effect and Schrödinger’s cat are 2 very common ways of signalling one’s belonging to the class of the scientifically literate. But they are almost always told wrong. They were both constructed as illustrations of paradoxes or counterintuitive findings in science. Their retelling always misses the crucial ‘as if’. This is an example of metaphor […]

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Extended writing Knowledge Linguistics Metaphor

3 burning issues in the study of metaphor

I’m not sure how ‘burning’ these issues are as such but if they’re not, I’d propose that they deserve to have some kindling or other accelerant thrown on them. 1. What is the interaction between automatic metaphor processing and deliberate metaphor application? Metaphors have always been an attractive subjects of study. But they have seen […]

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AI Extended writing

3 “easy” things that are hard for both humans and AI

Everybody is agog at what AI systems can do. Nobody thought even 10 years ago that machines could be trained to recognise images or transcribe natural speech as well as they do now. And because of this leap forward everybody has started worrying about AI taking over the world because it will soon be able […]

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Extended writing Metaphor

Innovation is bad for business: 3 more ‘I’ words to compare innovation to

Innovation is the ‘in’ thing. Innovate or die is the buzz up and down the hive mind. Everybody is feeling like they must innovate all of the things all of the time. But is the incessant innovation the right mode of approaching this? We constantly spin up stories of the intrepid innovator and the change […]