This week in languages: May 6, 2016

by on May 6, 2016



As the Klingon language controversy continues, Salon spoke to David J. Peterson, the creator of Game of Thrones language Dothraki, and asked him for his take on the issue. Peterson places himself firmly on the side of the fans: he believes that once a language is created, “anyone can use it”. He also talked a little bit about the process of bringing a constructed language like Klingon to life, and its complexity.

Talk about wearable technology going social: A new headset called SayWAT works with Google Glass to give live feedback to language learners and autistic people on their conversational skills. For example, a volume icon on the Google Glass appears if the speaker is speaking too loud or ‘flat’—which might unintentionally convey boredom, Anna Nowogrodzki reports for New Scientist. Language learners can also use the system to practise speech in a foreign language, for example, getting live feedback for a mispronounced R in French, or the wrong tone in Mandarin.

In a bid to shore up the position of French in Quebec, the provincial government is amending its language laws to ensure that French is featured on all outdoor signs and storefronts. This initiative is forecasted to cost businesses around $5,000 to $9,000, but some say that it makes perfect sense to communicate with clients in the province’s official language. Businesses that fail to comply within a certain period may face steep fines of up to $20,000.

Commentaries and Features

Over in Spain, mass is celebrated in Sign language in 24 Catholic churches every week. The Spanish Catholic Bishops Conference, collaborating with the ONCE Foundation, has also announced plans to install hearing loops in at least 12 churches to help the hearing-impaired participate more fully in Mass. However, most hearing-impaired persons still have to travel long distances to reach a church where mass is celebrated in Sign.

The Latvian State Language Centre, which regulates the use of the Latvian language, has launched an initiative to improve the language that its media uses. Prizes for best language usage are set to be given out later this year.

Will artificial intelligence take over humans in the field of translation? Kwan Joong-chol defends human translators in Korean Joongang Daily, noting that “computer interpreting and translation is based on statistical probability, meaning it will never be able to replace human interpreters and translators”. Translation services are utilised especially in the EU where 24 languages need interpretation for official purposes.

2 Responses to “This week in languages: May 6, 2016”

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