Phys .org: Pace of prehistoric human innovation could be revealed by ‘linguistic thermometer’

Phys .org: Pace of prehistoric human innovation could be revealed by ‘linguistic thermometer’. “Multi-disciplinary researchers at The University of Manchester have helped develop a powerful physics-based tool to map the pace of language development and human innovation over thousands of years—even stretching into pre-history before records were kept.”

New York University Abu Dhabi: Researchers Develop Large-scale Readability Leveled Thesaurus in Arabic

New York University Abu Dhabi: Researchers Develop Large-scale Readability Leveled Thesaurus in Arabic. “Researchers from NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) have developed an Online Readability Leveled Arabic Thesaurus. The work was conducted by Associate Professor of Practice of Arabic Language Muhamed Al Khalil in collaboration with Professor of Computer Science Nizar Habash, who also leads the Computational Approaches to Modeling Language (CAMeL) Lab. The one-of-a-kind interface provides the possible roots, English glosses, related Arabic words and phrases, and readability on a five-level readability scale for a user-inputted Arabic word.”

Unseen Japan: A wild theory about how the Japanese word for ‘I’ was corrupted by Allied occupiers leaves Japanese Twitter users shaking their heads.

I’m not 100% sure why I’m including this story. I think it’s a combination of interest in the idea that misinformation turns up in the oddest places, and an interest in how it’s refuted by crowd action. Anyway, Unseen Japan: A wild theory about how the Japanese word for ‘I’ was corrupted by Allied occupiers leaves Japanese Twitter users shaking their heads.. “Languages evolve constantly. I’ve discussed this evolution in past articles – e.g., the drift from ‘nippon’ to ‘nihon’ for the name of Japan. Many times, this influence is just a natural, internal progression. But sometimes, it happens through outside influence or even force. In Japan, one story about a supposed forced change in the way that people spell a simple Japanese word recently made the rounds on Twitter. However, in this case, the ‘change’ appears to be nothing more than a post-World War II conspiracy theory.”

Endangered linguistic heritage: a new website for the Pangloss Collection (EurekAlert)

EurekAlert: Endangered linguistic heritage: a new website for the Pangloss Collection. “Like certain animal and plant species, some of the world’s languages are in danger of extinction. Fortunately, the Pangloss Collection, an open archive started in 1995 by the Langues et civilisations à tradition orale laboratory (CNRS/Université Sorbonne Nouvelle/Inalco), makes available recordings of endangered languages in order to preserve this linguistic heritage and make it open-access. Languages without a written tradition (the vast majority) could otherwise disappear completely when their last speakers pass away. Other relatively undocumented languages are also included in the collection. Thanks to the support of the CNRS, the Pangloss Collection is now being revamped with a new website, also accessible to the general public.”

Garbage Language: Why do corporations speak the way they do? (Vulture)

Vulture: Garbage Language: Why do corporations speak the way they do?. “Garbage language isn’t unique to start-ups; it’s endemic to business itself, and the form it takes tends to reflect the operating economic metaphors of its day. A 1911 book by Frederick Winslow Taylor called The Principles of Scientific Management borrows its language from manufacturing; men, like machines, are useful for their output and productive capacity. The conglomeration of companies in the 1950s and ’60s required organizations to address alienated employees who felt faceless amid a sea of identical gray-suited toilers, and managers were encouraged to create a climate conducive to human growth and to focus on the self-actualization needs of their employees. In the 1980s, garbage language smelled strongly of Wall Street: leverage, stakeholder, value-add. The rise of big tech brought us computing and gaming metaphors: bandwidth, hack, the concept of double-clicking on something, the concept of talking off-line, […]

Machine Non-Learning: The Chinese Words That Trip Up Google Translate (The Bejinger)

The Bejinger: Machine Non-Learning: The Chinese Words That Trip Up Google Translate. “Humankind now speaks more than 5,000 languages, which as anyone who has traveled or lived in a foreign country can attest to, makes life more interesting, if not at times several times more complicated. It is fairly common then for us to turn to translation tools for help, and Google Translate is probably one of the most trusted popular among them (despite the hurdles of the GFW). Yet when translating a language like Chinese – one that is radically different from the Latin language family – digital translators may not be savvy enough to provide a nuanced, reliable definition after all.”

Phys .org: The use of jargon kills people’s interest in science, politics

Phys .org: The use of jargon kills people’s interest in science, politics. “In a new study, people exposed to jargon when reading about subjects like self-driving cars and surgical robots later said they were less interested in science than others who read about the same topics, but without the use of specialized terms. They were also less likely to think they were good at science, felt less informed about science and felt less qualified to discuss science topics.”

Science: World’s largest linguistics database is getting too expensive for some researchers

Science: World’s largest linguistics database is getting too expensive for some researchers. “To help cover its nearly $1 million in annual operating costs, Ethnologue got its first paywall in late 2015; most nonpaying visitors were turned away after several pages. Since October 2019, the paywall has taken a new form: It lets visitors access every page, but it blots out information on how many speakers a language has and where they live. Subscriptions now start at $480 per person per year.”

The Verge: A history of Simlish, the language that defined The Sims

The Verge: A history of Simlish, the language that defined The Sims. “We listened to their lovemaking in Simlish, their anguish in Simlish, their cries of delight in Simlish. It’s the language forged by the game’s creators over 20 years ago that has underscored the Sims universe since. Forged, because Simlish was not only crafted to last, but crafted to be appreciated over time. Few jokes are able to trap the delights of audiences for 20 years, and fewer still live long enough to see themselves seamlessly integrated into TikTok.”

Games Are Discovering an Expressive New Tool: Internet Grammar (EGM)

EGM: Games Are Discovering an Expressive New Tool: Internet Grammar. “Last year, Gretchen McCulloch published her book Because Internet: Understanding How Language is Changing. ‘We write all the time now,’ she points out, ‘and most of what we’re writing is informal. [There is] a vast sea of unedited, unfiltered words that once might have only been spoken.’ Not only has this constant use of informal written language meant we need ways to inject tone into text, it’s allowed for it by opening up who’s writing and why. Grammar is no longer prescribed by books and formal articles, McCulloch argues. It’s created by all of us.”