Download Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, by William Alexander PDF

By William Alexander

“A pleasant and brave story and a romping stable learn. Voila!” —Mark Greenside, writer of I’ll by no means Be French (No topic What I Do)

William Alexander is greater than a Francophile. He desires to be French. There’s one small predicament notwithstanding: he doesn’t communicate la langue française. In Flirting with French, Alexander units out to beat the language he loves. yet will it love him back?

Alexander eats, breathes, and sleeps French (even conjugating in his dreams). He travels to France, the place mistranslations ship him bicycling off in every kind of mistaken instructions, and he approximately drowns in an immersion type in Provence, the place, confronted with the riddle of masculine breasts, female beards, and a turkey cutlet of doubtful gender, he starts off to wonder if he should’ve taken up golfing rather than French. whereas taking part in hooky from grammar classes and reminiscence thoughts, Alexander stories at the riotous workings of the Académie française, the four-hundred-year-old establishment charged with conserving the language natural; explores the technological know-how of human verbal exchange, studying why it’s more durable for fifty-year-olds to profit a moment language than it really is for five-year-olds; and, pissed off along with his development, explores an IBM study lab, the place he trades barbs with a futuristic hand held translator.

Does he reach turning into fluent? Readers can be as shocked as Alexander is to find that, in a desirable twist, learning French could have had a much larger effect on his lifestyles than really studying to talk it ever would.

“A mixture of ardour and neuroscience, this literary love affair deals shock insights into the human mind and the advantages of studying a moment language. studying William Alexander’s publication is such as having an MRI of the soul.” —Laura Shaine Cunningham, writer of Sleeping Arrangements
 
“Alexander proves that studying a brand new language is an event of its own--with all of the unforeseen hindrances, wonderful breakthroughs and moments of chic excitement touring brings.” —Julie Barlow, writer of Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be unsuitable  

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Additional info for Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart

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This page intentionally left blank Part I Basic neurons This page intentionally left blank Neurons and conductance-based models Neurons are specialized cells that enable specific information-processing mechanisms in the brain. This chapter summarizes the basic functionality of neurons and outlines some of their fascinating biochemical processes. These include an outline of chemical synapses, the parametrization of the response of the postsynaptic membrane potential to synaptic events, the origin of action potentials and how they can be modelled using elegant differential equations introduced by Hodgkin and Huxley, generalizations of such conductance-based models, and compartmental models that incorporate the physical structure of neurons.

We need to understand what a model is, and, in particular, what the purposes of models are. It is important to distinguish a model from a hypothesis or a theory. Scientists develop hypotheses of the underlying mechanisms of a system that have to be tested against reality. In order to test a specific feature of a hypothesis, we build a model that can be evaluated. Sometimes we try to mimic real systems under artificial means, in order to be able to test the systems by different conditions, or to make measurements that would not be possible in a ‘real’ system.

These include an outline of chemical synapses, the parametrization of the response of the postsynaptic membrane potential to synaptic events, the origin of action potentials and how they can be modelled using elegant differential equations introduced by Hodgkin and Huxley, generalizations of such conductance-based models, and compartmental models that incorporate the physical structure of neurons. The review in this chapter is intended to justify simplifications of following models and to mention some of the neuronal characteristics that may be relevant in future research.

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