Our words, our world

Are you under 30? yup. Do you use social media? tick. Do you have friends? yes, bless them all.  

Nice, one more question.

What do you think about youth slang (e.g. lol, fml, lmao)? I wouldn’t use slang in a job interview but otherwise I’m cool with it. 

Same! Looks like we’re surfing the same wave length. Like most individuals, I use slang to connect with my friends (and people I want to be friends with). Our mutual understanding of abbreviated terms and obscure phrases reminds us that we’re the same – we’re young.

This study shows that speaking slang is similar to being bilingual when it comes to positive effects on memory. Which leads me to think: slang is not a ‘lazy’ form of English. As much as it is used to include and connect its users, those who cannot keep up with the constant changes in the language get left behind. It takes effort to stay in the know.

TLDR; slang helps us connect with people and boosts our brain power.

Let me ask you another question.

Do you use kms / fml / rip / ded in conversations? Or have you ever conveyed a neutral situation in a negative way?  Probably…

Yes, I do as well. Everyone who is equipped with youth slang has an enormous toolkit of negative words which they use to build negative conversations. Surprise!

That was meant to be sarcastic – except I was surprised when I reflected on my language use and discovered how much I was complaining and being pessimistic, when I didn’t necessarily feel that way. For example: “fml I have uni tmr”. But I love uni! I’m grateful that I get to go and learn interesting things about the world, and I’m happy to have opportunities to meet new people.

This linguistics theory, called The Sapir Whorf Hypothesis, suggests that the language you speak shapes the way you see the world, the way you think, and the way you behave. What if the language we use in our online conversations change our perspective of life, our real world behaviour and relationships for the worse?

I see the benefits of youth slang, but I also think a large part of it promotes a harmful culture. That’s why we should keep the good parts, the language that facilitates solidarity, and cleanse our system of the negatives. Here’s how:

  1. Think before you type. Is the situation negative or am I making it negative?
  2. Replace negative slang with positive slang. E.g. “fml yas I have work tmr”
  3. Make new words with your friends. Bonus points if they derive from typos.
  4. Just don’t use negative slang. Fullstop.

Change our words, change our world.



Taipei: Asia’s undervalued gem

A mysterious travel genie grants you a chance to visit any three countries in Asia.

Where do you want to go?

Your head is buzzing with the possibilities. You can already see the ludicrously cheap price tags. Your mouth waters with the thought of Asian street food, dumplings, and SUSHI. Okay, definitely Japan. Thailand for the beaches. And maybe Korea, Singapore or Vietnam to top it off.

Probably not Taiwan. Actually, Taiwan didn’t even cross your mind.

Well, same. For as long as I’ve had a travel bucket list, Taiwan was not on it. Why would it be? I’ve heard virtually nobody talk about it, and everyone raves about Japan.

Insert meme: ‘If you haven’t been to Japan, did you really go to Asia?’

Alas, I have not been to Japan (disclaimer: this will change in April 2017), but I have been to Taiwan. And as you may have deciphered from the title of this post: I. loved. Taiwan. The country was rich in culture, history, food, tourist hotspots, and entrepreneurial spirit. My only regret was not asking the street food vendors for their recipes – it’s struggle town here in Melbourne when the cravings hit hard.

Drawing from personal experience, here is my curated list of ‘Top 11 Things to See and Do in Taipei’.

  1. Shop and eat all the street food you can at Shilin Night Market
    • Out of all the night markets we visited, Shilin was a magical mix of the yummiest street food and best clothes/beauty stores. Please don’t leave without trying the Sweet Potato Balls. I am in love, and you will be too.
  2. Hike Elephant Mountain (at night)
    • Another disclaimer: I am not a fit person. For a regular hiker, Elephant Mountain probably isn’t considered a hike; it’s a quick up and down the staircase. For my fellow regular people, this hike is do-able, just remember to bring a drink bottle. The view is well worth it and definitely a better experience than Taipei 101, plus it’s free.
  3. Cycle through Old Caoling Tunnel
    • You can rent bikes from the stall nearby. Try the pedal bikes for a low key workout, or the electric tandem bikes for feelings of superiority when you whiz past other bikers.
  4. Take photos on Rainbow Bridge and chill by the Kee Long River
    • Bring food & drinks for a picnic! Otherwise there’s Raohe Night Market nearby.
  5. Buy clothes, souvenirs and Pineapple Cake in Ximending Shopping district
    • This is the prime location for youths of all cultures; it’s the Shibuya of Taipei. Super vibrant and lively district, and if you’re lucky, you may find someone selling Sweet Potato Balls here too. Bags and shoes were cheap cheap cheap!
  6. Feast on Beef Brisket Noodle Soup and Mango Shaved Ice in Dongmen
    • Best bowl of noodles I have ever consumed in my life. After coming back from Taiwan I watched a YouTube cooking tutorial on how to remake this signature dish, but the skill level required goes way beyond my egg-frying expertise. You have been forewarned.
  7. Pray to the love/money/study Gods at Longshan Temple
    • You can never have enough luck right? But if you do find the one you both have to return and give thanks to the Gods!
  8. Make a wish and release a sky lantern at Pingxi
    • The lanterns were a lot bigger than I anticipated (almost same height as me – 157cm) so you have a lot of writing space. Release the lantern with your friends for a special memory.
  9. Embrace the tea culture by making your own green tea at a tea farm
    • Besides gearing up in tea farming uniform, you also get to engrave your name on your personal tea cup, taste-test the accompanying tea snacks (I took a liking to the green tea lollies), and try a tea whisky if you want. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the name of the tea farm I visited.
  10. Re-enact the scenes from Studio Ghibli’s film, ‘Spirited Away’, in Jioufen
    • Spirited Away was the first anime film I ever watched so it was exciting to see the movie’s architectural inspiration. There are also many restaurants here where you can enjoy a relaxing dinner overlooking scenic mountains.
  11. It wouldn’t be a trip to Taiwan without pearl milk tea from 50Lan, and xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings) at Din Tai Fung!
    • Pearl Milk Tea and Xiao Long Bao, all day every day.

That concludes my first blog post. If you ever encounter an idle travel genie, I hope you consider wishing a visit to Taipei!