This week in languages: October 7, 2016

by on October 7, 2016



Speech sound disorders are estimated to affect 10% of children in the US. Byun Lab at the New York University Steinhardt Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders is working to develop an app for speech therapists called staRt! The app is intended to remedy one of the most common—albeit complex—articulatory errors, the /r/ sound. Led by Dr Tara McAllister Byun, the visual biofeedback technology project is aimed at charting speech sounds in real time to enable speakers to manipulate their output. Watch the demo for a staRt.

The Contemporary Wayang Archive (CWA) launched its web-based archive on Friday this week! Developed by a team led by web programmer and head translator Miguel Escobar Varela, the project is a repository of a traditional Javanese art form: Wayang kulit (‘shadow puppets’) with theatre performances in Javanese, Bahasa Indonesia, and detailed “translations, notes and explanations of how the performances were received in their original context.” The team is open to collaborations with or suggestions from researchers or fans of wayang on how to utilise the corpus data in the three languages.

The Linguistic Society of America is providing up to 20 Tribal College and University (TCU) students and faculty with Fellowships to participate in a Satellite Workshop at the annual LSA meeting in January. The workshop will allow these TCU students and faculty to “discuss with each other and with participating linguists how the field of linguistics can support their TCU and individual learning goals”. More information and the sign up link can be found here.

The Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) will be launching a new catalogue! You’ll be able to access information, statistics, and voice/video recordings of people using endangered languages around the globe, or create an account and contribute data for viewers around the world to learn about your (adopted) language. Access ELAR here! The Archive is the brainchild of the Language Archive of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen and London as well as the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Language on the Move is celebrating their 7th anniversary on Oct 4 by giving away five free copies of Applied Linguistics professor Ingrid Piller’s new book “Language Diversity and Social Justice”. Simply subscribe to the peer-reviewed sociolinguistics research site for multilingualism for their free newsletter for a chance to win a copy of the book!

Benjamin Bergen, cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California at San Diego, just this week wrote a passionate op-ed piece about why, contrary to received wisdom, it is okay to swear around your kids. He challenges this notion, the lack of research to prove its ill effects, and emphasises that children can be taught to be context sensitive in their use of curse words.

Commentaries and Features

Singing the Auld Lang Syne, but not knowing what the lyrics mean? In this article, principle teacher, Diane Anderson, speaks to reporter, Michael Alexander, on the difficulties in encouraging Scottish children to embrace the learning and speaking of Scots despite efforts to promote its use in Dundee, Scotland. Both social and historical-political factors were cited as reasons for a decline in the status, if not use, of the language, with its “official capacity” being lost in the early 1700s, and present-day parents being less than keen to encourage their children’s use of Scots in the home. As noted, much still needs to be done to reinstate pride in the mithir tongue among Dundonians, even as “words like bairn or dreich” can occasionally be heard from Scottish children.

Is the use of the period (a.k.a. the ‘full stop’) in text messages dead? Computational linguist Tyler Schnoebelen says it’s not. Schnoebelen analysed 157,305 text messages he’d received or sent over a span of 7 years and found that even though the use of the period had declined, the period was still used to structure particularly long messages and sometimes functioned as “a signal of emotion”.
If punctuation is your thing, look forward to Issue 9’s special feature on Punctuation!

J.J. O’Donoghue writes for The Japan Times about the evolution of emoticons to emoji. Some highlights: studies find that emojis add “additional affect [or] information not already found in the text”. Women also seem to be driving the trend of using emojis, and that emojis tend to be used in groups of 3 ? ? ?.

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