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September 22, 2022
October 25, 2022

One for grammar nerds

It’s funny how mundane things can become valuable in times of stress.

I remember being incredibly grateful for English grammar when my grandma died, back in the 90s. 

‘She’s died’ was so much better than hearing ‘she’s dead’ because it felt so much more recent – I felt as if the tense was helping to manage the shock of it for me until I would be ready to accept the fact that she was gone forever. 

I wonder if it’s something to do with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which says that the language you speak influences the way you think. 

It says that people from different cultures think differently because of variations in their language. So, for example, Eskimos have a more refined perception of snow because they have so many ways to describe it.

It also applies to tenses

In English, if predicting the weather, you can say ‘tomorrow will be cold’. But in German you can just say ‘tomorrow is cold’. German has a future tense, but they’ve done away with it here because the word ‘tomorrow’ implies the future anyway (insert inappropriate comment about German efficiency here). 

There are other languages that work like this - they’re called ‘weak future-time languages’. English and other languages such as French are called ‘strong future-time languages’.

People who speak strong future-time languages feel the future is further away – this becomes particularly interesting when it comes to saving money.

A study by economics profession Keith Chen compared savings rates in 76 different countries and found that people who speak languages with weak future-time references pay into their savings twice as often as people who speak strong future-time languages. 

It seems it’s more motivational to save for the future if the future feels closer.

But there’s no need to start speaking German if we want to be better savers

We can alter our perception of money another way too.

In 2013 Sam Maglio, a social psychologist, set out to investigate whether people see money differently depending on its location. 

People living in New York were asked to fill in a survey in exchange for entry in a lottery where the prize was $50. Half of participants were told that if they won, their money would be New York, the other half were told it would be in Los Angeles – thousands of miles away. People then had to choose whether, in the event of winning, they’d like to take their $50 straight away or leave it in the account for three months and get $65 instead. 

49% of the New York group said they’d wait for the larger sum. But 71% of the LA group said they’d wait for theirs. It was although the physical distance created a psychological barrier that meant leaving it a bit longer was no great hardship.

So if your client lives in Plymouth and they want to have money in cash, perhaps a Bank of Scotland account might prevent them from dipping into it?

I took much of the above from Claudia Hammond’s excellent book Mind over Money.

Simple hack

Grammarly is a great app for correcting punctuation etc, but it’s new premium version helps make your writing more engaging. You can select goals based on audience. It even has a plagiarism checker.


Scientists in Japan have developed remote control, solar-powered ‘cyborg cockroaches’ that could one day be used to inspect radioactive sites or search for bodies under piles of rubble.

Robot manicure

A little larger than a microwave, this AI-powered robot manicurist paints one fingernail at a time, in your choice of polish in under 10 minutes for under $10.

Smooth operator

For the freshest smoothie possible the BlendJet 2 allows you to make fresh drinks wherever you go. It has a USB-rechargable battery and you can drink straight from the jar.

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