Sure, you can learn French words from an app…

…but if you really want to learn it, get a French lover. Evan’s words of wisdom today reminded me of this commercial — or one like it — that I saw within the last year or so.

We were talking about Bifo’s assertion that children today learn more words from the “linguistic machine” than their mothers. This machine, as we understood it, is the network if caretakers and media that participate in the child rearing process. Bifo was raising the question of the potential effects of severing the emotional connection to the mother from language acquisition, and he pointed out the way that contemporary fiction renders the fragility of affective connections (he mentions Franzen’s The Corrections, and I assume he’s referring, at least in part, to Chip’s strange fall and distance from his family — a drug-fueled affair with a student, stealing fresh salmon by stashing it in his leather pants, etc.).

But this video shows something different altogether:  an attempt to expand the range of potential emotional relationships  via another addition to the linguistic machine. This machine, however, does not teach the user anything, but rather stands in for learning — a mere tool. How does this technology fit into Bifo’s scheme? A way to promote connection? (This seems like a great illustration of a standardized connection rather than a conjunction as a becoming-other). The birth of a new affective relationship– a dependency on the device to expand capacities? (Also understood as another move by the “tryborgs” to make conjunctions, to become-other…thanks to Cheryl for introducing me to this idea).  A deepening of the economic logic that has distanced children from their mothers in the first place? It seems to me like it’s at least some combination of these three things, and probably more.


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