Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I have a tendency of hypercorrection with language. For example, "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put!" (no preposition at the end of a clause). Since English is not my native language, real examples are best illustrated in Chinese.

One example I can think of in English is the refusal of using redundant acronyms, such as "PIN number" and "ATM machine".

Picky eating kids

When kids (say 5 to 8) are picky on the dining table, parents usually say "Did you know? Many people in the world don't even have enough food…". And the kids would say "Then we should give them what I don't want to eat". Does this sound familiar? The reason that this repeatedly happens is because kids think in this way

Some people don't have enough food → this is a problem → the solution is to give them food → I happen to have some I don't want

But the adults think like this

Some people don't have enough food → what if I was in that position

The missing link is "what if I was in that position". Most kids of age 5 to 8 cannot put themselves in others' shoes and think. This is a proven fact in psychology.

In fact, parents make exactly the same mistake in this scenario. Parents do not think "what if I was a 5-year-old…"