This week in languages: May 27, 2016

by on May 27, 2016



The latest in the world of wearable tech has been toying with artificial intelligence capabilities like language translation with the Pilot, a wireless earpiece created by Manhattan-based Waverly Labs. The technology—that links up with a compatible mobile app—would allow users to select a language from a potential pool of Romance languages like English, Spanish, French, Italian, and perhaps in the future, languages from the Semitic, Arabic, and Slavic groups too. While still in its development and crowd-funding stage on Indigogo, the Pilot is expected to cost USD 249–299 once it hits the markets.

Over in mainly Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong, the Chinese authorities are demanding that local broadcasters use Mandarin instead of Cantonese in their programmes, reported in Business Insider. One such broadcaster, Guangdong TV  has already made plans to make the switch to Mandarin on September 1. “Cantonese is not just a language, but for native speakers it is part of our identity.” The same can be said for 60 million other people in China, not to mention elsewhere in the world like Singapore, where the spread of Chinese dialects has been repressed and left to wither.

The New Zealand Budget 2016 has announced that the next 4 years will see NZD 34.6 million going towards revitalising the Māori language, reports Radio New Zealand. It is hoped that the funds will help key Māori language initiatives attract a wider audience.

Commentaries and Features

More people in the UK are pronouncing their words like Londoners and people from south-east of England rather than using their regional accents. Researchers at the University of Cambridge analysed the initial results of 30, 000 users of the English Dialects app and found “a clear pattern of levelling towards the English of the south-east”.

A programme aired last week by BBC Wales entitled “The Cost of Saving the Welsh Language” has received a number of complaints from viewers who found it to be biased against Welsh and revitalisation efforts. The BBC has since admitted that the programme “did not sufficiently explore different viewpoints”.

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