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Formed in 1994, Kwela specialises in African writing - fiction and non-fiction. Their main aim is to "broaden the scope of Southern African literature, and to document stories that have not been told".
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La délégation de nos décisions au smartphone prend chaque jour davantage d’ampleur. Ecrire à la main, lire une carte, parler une langue étrangère sont autant de compétences menacées

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Google, Uber, Amazon: comment la disruption transforme des industries entières
Du choix du restaurant à celui du chemin à prendre pour nous amener à un rendez-vous, les décisions de tous les jours sont de plus en plus déléguées au smartphone. Ce processus devrait gagner de l’ampleur. Cinq compétences pourraient bientôt se révéler sans intérêt, selon le futuriste bâlois Gerd Leonhard.

Apprendre une langue étrangère

Avec «Skype Translate» ou l’application «Say Hi», nous pouvons dès maintenant nous adresser à des étrangers dans notre langue maternelle. La traduction est ­réalisée en temps réel et notre message parvient à notre interlocuteur dans sa propre langue. A l’avenir, notre téléphone portable se chargera de la traduction simultanée, par exemple au restaurant.

S’orienter dans l’espace

Auparavant, nous apprenions à lire une carte qui se présentait sous une forme de vaste dépliant. Nous pouvions aussi nous orienter à partir de certains bâtiments, d’églises ou de l’horizon. Pour beaucoup d’entre nous, il n’est pas aisé de s’orienter dans une ville ou de comprendre une carte routière qui ne soit pas digitale. La raison en est claire: chacun s’est habitué à la géolocalisation (GPS) et aux cartes interactives des portables. Le sens de l’orientation est menacé.

Le voyage découverte

Auparavant, nous partions spontanément sans trop savoir où le voyage nous mènerait. Aujour­d’hui, l’individu ne laisse plus guère de place au hasard et se réfère à YouTube, Tripadvisor, Google Maps, Waze et Facebook. Les «apps» et les «maps» nous font des propositions et des évaluations de curiosités, de restaurants et d’hôtels. Il en résulte souvent un microcosme trompeur construit à partir d’algorithmes et les données triomphent de l’intuition, selon le futuriste.

Savoir bien écrire à la main

Auparavant, il paraissait normal de pouvoir écrire une lettre à la main. La nouvelle société est différente. Elle est visuelle et orale. Nous n’avons plus besoin d’écrire. L’ordinateur nous écoute et répond à nos indications. ­Dorénavant, nos gestes servent surtout à gérer des outils différents du stylo. Pourquoi apprendre à écrire?
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March 29, 2015 4:00 pm
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Google deals with over 40,000 searches every second (on average). Many of these queries ask it to translate certain words or phrases. With nearly 3 million downloads of the Google Android app alone, we can safely say that a lot of foreign communication is informed by Google.

But does that mean professional translators may soon be a thing of the past? The answer is: not anytime soon.

Translators may have to up their game

The advances in translation technology and free apps may mean translators will be taking on more technical work. With apps like Google translate beginning to provide some very basic insight into foreign language text, we’ll have a diminished need for more germane translation.

However, the demand for technical translation, necessitated by global commerce, is likely to continue to produce a sustained demand for human translators.

This is largely because in any technical translation small errors can cause big problems. A piece of translation software functions on an algorithm that tells it what each word means and thus does not have an awareness of what a sentence is saying.

A professional with specific knowledge of an industry and both of the translations languages is going to do a much better job. This does mean though that there will likely be a call for many translators to acquire specific knowledge of various industries. They will have to become specialists in their chosen field as well as the required languages.

The view from the industry

Industry professionals have not, as some may assume, taken a negative stance against the technological advances. In fact the response has been quite the opposite. According to London Translations, Britain’s first translation company to be awarded with the British Standard for Translation, Google Translate and machine translation are a good thing. They help to open people’s minds to the possibilities of working with overseas clients.

If you’re travelling for business and you need to get basic information across then one of the 5 best translation apps for business travellers may do the job, but it would be dangerous to rely on such programs for anything more critical.

Professional translators understand content and colloquialisms

Machine translation technology functions on algorithms. Unlike fluent speakers of a language they do not understand what they are translating and thus cannot utilise logic and common sense to translate at the highest standard. They work on literal translation.

This can be very detrimental to important documents. Translation technology can be used most effectively when it is backed by human ability that can logically rectify errors. For professional services a person can work with such software in order to become more efficient.

For example if using translation to any medical purposes the mistakes can be life or death. There is a big difference between someone being “trained as a doctor” and having been “on a train with a doctor”.

Of course this a very extreme example, but it illustrates the problems in effective translation that an algorithm that has little alternative than to work literally, can cause.

It seems apps aren’t eradicating the world of professional translators – it’s just making them better.
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BEIJING—A popular U.S. coding website is enduring an onslaught of Internet traffic meant for China’s most popular search engine, in an episode that security experts say represents a likely attempt by China to shut down anticensorship tools.

The attack on San Francisco-based GitHub Inc., a service used by programmers and major tech companies world-wide for software development, appears to underscore how China’s Internet censors are increasingly reaching outside of the country to clamp down on content they find objectionable.

The Cyberspace Administration of China didn’t respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

Security experts said the traffic onslaught—called a distributed denial-of-service attack in Internet circles—directed massive amounts of traffic from overseas users of Chinese search giant Baidu Inc. to GitHub, paralyzing GitHub’s website at times. Specifically, the traffic was directed to two pages on GitHub that linked to copies of websites banned in China, the experts said. One page was run by Greatfire.org, which works to help Chinese Internet users circumvent government censorship, while the other linked to a copy of the New York Times’ Chinese language website.

The attack began Thursday and was continuing Sunday. According to data on Github’s website, Github.com was unreachable by users at times during the period.

Greatfire.org, which doesn’t disclose personal information about its founders, didn’t respond to requests for comment. On Twitter it asked users to send them samples of the code behind the hack.

A spokeswoman for the New York Times declined to comment. It isn’t clear who controls the GitHub site that contains the copy of the paper’s content. The Times—like other media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal—is blocked in China.

GitHub declined to say what content was targeted by the attack or who it believed was behind the incident. “Based on reports we’ve received, we believe the intent of this attack is to convince us to remove a specific class of content,” GitHub said in a post on its website dated Friday. GitHub said it was the largest cyberattack the website has seen since it was founded in 2008.

GitHub said early Sunday its efforts had mitigated some of the impact. The Greatfire.org and Chinese New York Times pages on GitHub weren’t reachable Sunday, at least for some users.

Baidu said it wasn’t involved in the attack and its systems weren't infiltrated. “After careful inspection by Baidu’s security engineers, we have ruled out the possibility of security problems or hacker attacks on our own products,” Baidu said in a statement.

Mikko Hyponen, chief research officer of cybersecurity firm F-Secure, said the attack appeared likely to be done by Chinese authorities since the hackers were able to manipulate web traffic at a high level of China’s Internet infrastructure. He said the attack appeared to be a new type for China.

“It had to be someone who had the ability to tamper with all the Internet traffic coming into China,” he said.

Though Baidu is the largest search engine in China by a number of measures, the attack appeared to use traffic from its users outside the country, security experts said. They said that when a user navigated to the Baidu search engine, a code was activated that sent continuous requests for information from the user’s computer to GitHub. By tapping overseas users, the hackers made the attack harder to block, because the requests to GitHub came from all over the world and looked like typical requests for information.

China frequently blocks individual websites as part of its effort to control Internet content. But because GitHub’s site is encrypted, outside observers can’t tell whether users who go there are seeking ordinary programming code or anticensorship content like what Greatfire.org offers. Blocking the whole site would also cut off access to technology companies that use GitHub. China briefly blocked GitHub in 2013 but restored access following outcry by Chinese software developers.

Greatfire.org’s GitHub page contains links to copies of 10 websites blocked in China, including an uncensored version of popular social media service Weibo.

The attack comes after other recent shows of force by China’s web censors. China earlier this year began directing some traffic from banned websites to seemingly random real websites outside of China, temporarily taking those websites offline. China also cracked down at the beginning of the year on virtual private networks, the most popular type of tool for circumventing the firewall, although many VPNs are now functioning again.

—Josh Chin contributed to this article.

Write to Eva Dou at eva.dou@wsj.com
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After the allegations that the search engine giant has used a way to bypass Safari browser security in order stealthy install tracking cookies on unsuspecting users desktops or mobile devices, users in Great Britain were given the green light to sue the company.

The above mentioned actions go way back in time at the end of 2011 and were only discovered in 2012. In the US alone Google had to pay around $18 millions in individual U.S. states as fines. FTC also ordered the company to pay $22.5 million. Google representatives commented that giving consumers the right to sue it was not necessary with this recent British ruling. In the end the users did not suffer any financial harm. Despite this the British Court of Appeals ruled the following:

"Google, a company that makes billions from advertising knowledge, claims that it was unaware that was secretly tracking Apple users for a period of nine months and had argued that no harm was done because the matter was trivial as consumers had not lost out financially.
The Court of Appeal saw these arguments for what they are: a breach of consumers’ civil rights and actionable before the English courts. We look forward to holding Google to account for its actions."

A great part of the company's revenue comes from advertising. There are many users who want no part into this although they use services from Google everyday. Such users install anti-tracking software and even ad blockers. For them seeing Google trying to go around what they do in order to still track them is a little evil and this is contrary to what Google really stands for.
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NEW YORK -- Google is joining forces with Johnson & Johnson to develop a robotic-assisted surgical program, moving into a growing field of medicine as the search-engine giant expands its health-care investments.

The companies will explore ways to add advanced imaging and sensors to surgical tools, helping doctors during operations. The partnership is through the life-sciences division of Google X labs, the company's research unit that has funded projects such as self-driving cars.

"We look forward to exploring how smart software could help give surgeons the information they need at just the right time during an operation," Andy Conrad, head of the life sciences team at Google, said in a statement Friday. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

The partnership will help J&J, the world's largest maker of health-care products, build upon the prototype it's already developed for the core of a new robotic surgical system.

"We knew that we needed a partner with a different skill set," Gary Pruden, worldwide chairman of the global surgery group at New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J, said in a telephone interview. "We're early in the partnership with Google life sciences. I would certainly say we have a multigenerational plan for the development for a fully capable product to bring to the market."

He said the plan is to build a "radically" different product that's more flexible and more cost-effective than what's currently available.

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Robotic surgeries have been growing in popularity, and the pact will help J&J better compete against companies like Intuitive Surgical Inc., a major participant in the industry. Still, such procedures aren't without risks. A 2013 complaint by the Colorado Medical Board alleged patients suffered injuries or complications from robotic surgeries including punctured or torn arteries.

Intuitive said procedures grew at a rate of 9 percent in 2014 and that it expects the pace to be 7 percent to 10 percent in 2015. The company's system is used for a range of surgeries including colorectal surgery and hernia repair.

It will probably be a few years before a competing product enters the market to upend Intuitive's leadership position, since any new contender would have to go through regulatory scrutiny, said Vijay Kumar, an analyst at Evercore ISI.

Still, he expects other companies to move into the arena of health-care robotics.

"If you look over the last 10 years, robotics has been one of the fastest growth areas," said the analyst, who advises buying Intuitive shares. "I wouldn't be surprised if the field attracts a lot of nontraditional players."
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Yahoo has been using Microsoft's Bing since 2010 when the company decided to scrap its own search engine. The continuation of the collaboration is currently under scrutiny and it seems that there are some problems finding a solution, Reuters reports.
The ongoing negotiations between Yahoo and Microsoft have been extended by another month after the original deadline was set to February 23. Obviously a solution that satisfies both parties is yet to be found, even after not one but two extensions.

The original contract is valid for 10 years but included was an agreement for possible reconsideration after half way point – where we are at now in 2015. The partnership has not managed to sway search engine usage much to their favor as Google still dominates.

Both Microsoft and Yahoo CEOs have changed in the past five years. Especially under the leadership of the new CEO Marissa Mayer, Yahoo has been said to be investing in areas that would allow it to separate from the Microsoft partnership
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Para el sector editorial español -compuesto tanto por empresas del sector de libros, como por las que realizan publicaciones periódicas o productos editoriales en soporte multimedia-, la presencia en ferias internacionales es una de las vías más eficaces con que cuentan para incrementar sus exportaciones y la venta de derechos de traducción. Y abril es el mes que ofrece una mayor concentración de eventos en este ámbito.

La Feria de Bolonia, centrada en el público infantil (del 30 de marzo hasta el 2 de abril), la dedicada a la venta de derechos de traducción en Londres (del 14 al 16 de abril) y la del Libro del Buenos Aires (del 21 de abril hasta el 11 de mayo), constituyen, cada una de ellas con sus características particulares, certámenes  de referencia mundial para el sector.

En las tres ha organizado ICEX España Exportación e Inversiones una participación de empresas españolas, en colaboración con la Federación de Gremios de Editores de España (FGEE).

Bolonia

Anualmente, Bolonia constituye la cita internacional más importante para el libro infantil y juvenil. Allí acude el sector español con aproximadamente 50 editoriales.

El libro infantil y juvenil representa el 18 % de la producción editorial española y el 15 % de su exportación.

En esta feria se reúnen editores, autores, ilustradores, agentes literarios, productores de cine y televisión, distribuidores, impresores y libreros, que acuden a Bolonia para comprar y vender derechos, establecer nuevos contactos o consolidar relaciones profesionales, explorar y desarrollar nuevas oportunidades de negocio y observar las últimas tendencias en el libro infantil y juvenil.

Londres

Uno de los grandes retos del mundo editorial es la venta de derechos de traducción. Durante los tres días de la feria, Londres se convierte en su capital. El sector editorial español acude allí con nueve editoriales y diez agencias literarias que presentan las novedades -tanto de ficción como de no ficción- que por sus características tienen proyección internacional.

Se estima que la venta de derechos supone 200 millones de euros de facturación internacional. Francia y Portugal son los mayores compradores de licencias españolas.

Buenos Aires

Detrás de Fráncfort y Guadalajara, la Feria Internacional del Libro de Buenos Aires, que cumple su edición número 41, es cita ineludible para nuestras editoriales y revistas. El certamen cuenta con dos vertientes: la comercial y la cultural.

La presencia de autores españoles como Rosa Montero, Javier Cercas y Arturo Pérez Reverte refuerza la importancia del sector editorial español en el mundo latinoamericano; Planeta, SM, Océano o Santillana cuentan con filiales repartidas en diversos países del subcontinente. La feria contará con 25 editoriales españolas.

Iberoamérica es tras la Unión Europea el segundo destino de nuestras exportaciones con un 33 % del total. México y Argentina representan los dos primeros compradores en la zona.

De forma previa a la feria, ICEX organiza el webminario “El mercado del libro en Argentina: desafíos y oportunidades” en Aula Virtual, del 9 al 16 de abril, lo que brinda una oportunidad para plantear preguntas al equipo de expertos de la Oficina Económica y Comercial de España en Buenos Aires.

A pesar de las barreras a la importación, en 2014 España ha exportado libros a Argentina por valor de 14,3 millones de euros (una cantidad similar a lo exportado a Chile, Brasil o Estados Unidos).

Es de esperar que después de la condena del régimen de comercio argentino por parte de la Organización Mundial del Comercio, las circunstancias varíen y sean más favorables para la exportación.
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Efforts should be made to translate regional works into Hindi, he said addressing the Joint Regional and Official Language Conference of South and West regions, organized by the department of official languages under the home ministry, at Hotel Ocean Pearl here.

South India was a Ganga of knowledge where great thinkers and scholars had made great contributions to the languages of Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. These works should be translated into Hindi so that the people of the entire nation could read them, he said.

Learning Hindi was equally important as learning English he said adding that the Constitution had accepted Hindi as the national language.

The convention was meant to promote the Hindi language, Snehalatha Kumari of Rajbhasha Vibhag who presided over the programme said. Hindi was an easy and effective language and was linked with the tradition and culture of our people. Poonam Junaid and Malai Chatterjee of Rajbhasha Vibhag were among those present on the occasion.
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In the early 1880s, a Civil War veteran and surgeon named W.C. Minor stumbled upon an appeal for volunteers to collect in-print quotations of words and their usage. The purpose of these quotations was to show precisely how words and their meanings change over time. In sum, the quotations would become the basis for the first Oxford English Dictionary.

It took more than 70 years to complete the 12 volumes of the dictionary. Amazingly, the first edition used 1,827,306 quotations to help define its 414,825 words. Minor would submit more than 10,000 quotations himself. What made Minor’s contributions to the OED particularly amazing was that he collected quotations from the confines of a prison cell for the criminally insane.

This intriguing story plays out in the book "The Professor and the Madman" by Simon Winchester. It’s a book that I’ve only read once but that has remained on my shelves for nearly 20 years. I think it’s escaped culling because I, too, am a collector of words. And though I’m far from a lexicographer, I love words and all their nuances.

When I asked my husband if it would be odd to share a list of my favorite words with readers, he stared at me, blank-faced. After a few moments, he conceded, “Well, it might be for most people I know, but not for you.” He’s a good enough sport to tolerate my word-loving ways, though he has been known to give me “the eye” when I prattle on to people who may not share my enthusiasm.

I humbly find myself among many writers and orators who’ve catalogued lists of their favorite words. The poet Mary Oliver declared that “love, mirth, and constancy” are among her favorites, while Bertrand Russell counted “terraqueous and begrime” as words he loved. Other authors have used words so frequently that it’s clear that they are favorites. “Sweet” appears 840 times in Shakespeare’s complete works.

Apparently, I have a penchant for French words, because the majority of my favorites are of French origin. Though I do not necessarily use these words in everyday conversation (because to do so would no doubt elicit some raised eyebrows), I keep a running list of them close at hand. I scribbled “joie de vivre” (zhwä-də-ˈvēvr) in the margin of a notebook many years ago. This particular package of syllables translates to “joy of life.” What’s not to love about such a vivacious noun?

Spell check rejects some of other words I love, such as “flaneur,” a noun which means “idler or wanderer.” Its first known usage was in 1854, and though it’s clearly fallen out of everyday conversation, I think our world would be a better place if we all learned the fine art of the flaneur.

Another unusual, but descriptive, noun I hold dear is “bibliophile,” which is defined as a “lover of books, especially for quality of format.” As a bibliophile, I can appreciate the convenience and ease of e-readers, though it’s probably going to be a cold day in you-know-where before I’ll give up the tactile sensation of holding a book in my hands.

These words, and the others I’ve compiled over the years, are like a rich chocolate mousse. I indulge in them infrequently, but when I do, I think they’re worth savoring—and when I get the chance—worth sharing.
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It is currently a breach of the Guardian style guide to use the word ‘trove’ alone.
Sunday 29 March 2015 19.00 BST Last modified on Sunday 29 March 2015 19.03 BST
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When to give up the ghost and when to battle on resisting change is the question. Sorry about the mixed metaphor, but my colleagues and I are grown weary of holding the line on some entries within the Guardian’s style guide and seek advice.

For instance, it is a breach of the guide to use the word “trove” alone. The guide says “treasure trove … the noun comprises both words – there is no such thing as a ‘trove’; if you don’t want to call it a treasure trove, the word hoard may be useful”.

A reader fighting the good fight pointed out that we had done it again “on page 15 of Tuesday 24th edition, towards the top right-hand corner, under the heading ‘Cables reveal Israeli spies at odds with Netanyahu’ … ‘While the Snowdon trove revealed the scale of technological surveillance…’

“Surely the word ‘trove’ is derived from the French ‘trouvé’ – found. Treasure trove is treasure that had been found – maybe only one gem, or a small ring. ‘Trove’ does not, I think, mean ‘cache’ or ‘hoard’.”

However, we believe in this case that the battle may be lost and won, and as a result we published this correction in the print edition of 2 March: “An article about a cache of hundreds of dossiers, files and cables from the world’s major intelligence services that were leaked to the al-Jazeera investigative unit and shared with the Guardian (Secret cables reveal Israel’s spies at odds with Netanyahu on Iran, 24 February, page 1) referred to the earlier leak of tens of thousands of NSA and GCHQ documents by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden as ‘the Snowden trove’. That upset some linguistic purists who – like our style guide– insist that ‘trove’ should only be used as part of the noun phrase ‘treasure trove’, and that there is no such thing as a ‘trove’. But perhaps we should now accept that it’s a useful word on its own.”

This was written by my colleague Rory Foster, who received support from Michael Quinion, a British etymologist, whose website WorldWideWords is devoted to linguistics.

Quinion noted that in fact trove had been used by itself to “mean a hoard or a valuable find” since the 1880s. He gave several examples, including this usage from Rudyard Kipling: “The value of her trove struck her, and she cast about for the best method of using it.”

Other words that may be lost (or losing) causes include bored with/by/of, enormity, who/whom, and swath/swathe
He concluded: “Language has moved on. Trove is now too widely used to be dismissed as bad English. Dictionaries include it (the Oxford English Dictionary has had an entry for it since 1989), though some refer the enquirer to treasure-trove. American ones are readier than British to accept that trove is now a noun and a valid abbreviated form of treasure-trove. The Guardian itself acknowledges this in its Corrections and Clarifications item: ‘Perhaps we should now accept that it’s a useful word on its own.’ Indeed.”

He and my colleague make a good case for a sensible change, and I don’t think it is one that most readers will lose much sleep over, even though they may disagree. David Marsh, the keeper of the Guardian’s style guide, also agrees: “We do change our style to reflect changes in language use. For example, we used to insist on ‘railway station’ but no one under about 50 says that any more so ‘train station’ is fine.

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“I think ‘trove’ falls into a similar category. Most native English users would be most surprised at our style guide’s assertion that ‘there is no such thing as a “trove”’, and yes I will be changing that entry.”

However, there are other battles. Other words that may fall into the category of lost (or losing) causes include bored with/by/of, enormity, who/whom, and swath/swathe (our style guide insists on swath for the word meaning a broad strip of land but many writers – and readers – prefer swathe).

And then there are the causes that we thought we’d won and still think we should stick to, but on which the Guardian is backsliding. The phrase “dialogue of the deaf” is prohibited in our style guide (for good reason), but appeared in an editorial last week. On this last crop at least I think we should regroup and sally forth once more, but what do the readers think?
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NEW YORK: Multitasking can hamper your performance and may even damage your brain, claim researchers from Stanford University.

The team found that people who are involved with multi-tasking cannot pay attention and recall information than those who complete one task at a time.

The Stanford team compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance.

They found that heavy multitaskers were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time.

The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organising their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information.

They were also slower at switching from one task to another.

"Multi-tasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time," the authors wrote.

When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

The team also showed that in addition to slowing you down, multi-tasking lowers your IQ, entrepreneur.com reported.

Another study from University of London found that participants who multi-tasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines.

The IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an eight-year-old child.

While more research is needed to determine if multi-tasking is physically damaging the brain, it is clear that multi-tasking has negative effects.

Multi-tasking in meetings and other social settings indicates low self- and social awareness - two emotional intelligence (EQ) skills that are critical to success at work.
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If you haven't yet paid attention to contextual search, it's time you did. Contextual search is a form of web-based search whose results are based on their value to the user rather than their relevance to the query, as with traditional engines. And it's nothing new: Leading companies have been developing and investing in this functionality for years. 

Related: Is Your SEO Strategy Ready for Google's New Algorithm?

Clearly, those companies have no doubt that contextual search will eventually fundamentally change the way we search and locate information and content, both personally and professionally, especially for sales and marketing organizations. What's more, contextual search isn't some futuristic possibility. Companies today, right now, are using it to drastically increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their sales and marketing teams; and laggards will soon be far behind the curve.

Indeed, three big names are trailblazing the road to contextual search, and their identities won’t surprise you: Apple, Google and Yahoo have been working for years to offer search results based on signals from and recorded behaviors of users. (These efforts include past searches and oft-accessed web pages or apps.) Just how large is this new craze?

According to Quartz, leading search engine Google is “ready to disrupt itself” with its Google Now service. If Google is doing it, everyone else will be (or at least trying to) soon enough.

So far, contextual search is really only affecting consumers (e.g., mobile phone and Internet searchers). But what does this mean for businesses? More specifically, where does contextual search come into play for companies’ internal content?

This is where it gets exciting for sales and marketing teams. Right now, many sales enablement professionals, tasked with solving the “spending too much time trying to find the stuff we need” problem that sales reps experience, believe that the Google-style keyword search is the only way to navigate the mountains of content housed in SharePoint, Box or any other enterprise content management (ECM) system.

Related: Your Content-Delivery Strategy Can't Start and End at Mobile

But contextual search, unlike traditional search, eliminates some of the steps in the process: Examples include typing in a keyword that needs to be in a title, to be tagged or to show up in a document. In a contextual search, the materials that a sales rep requires in the context of his or her selling situation are just there, and the rep won't be bothered by seeing thousands of other documents show up.

Contextual search seems a bit like sci-fi -- and, here, the spoon-bending scene in The Matrix comes to mind. Sales enablement professionals think that traditional search is the only way to solve the problem of serving up relevant materials to the field, like the unbendable spoon Neo confronts. Contextual search, however, is a mind-bending paradigm shift in the way that search occurs, because, to the sales rep or the person searching for a nearby restaurant on her phone, you don’t actually search at all -- at least not by typing something into a search bar.

There is no spoon.

Whoa, as only Keanu Reeves could say.

The key to how contextual search delivers on its magic is the fact that the most advanced ECM systems are, like Google’s search algorithms, much more knowledgeable about the person searching than we care to admit. What you as a sales rep see is tailored to you because when you sign in, the system knows what types of products you sell and in what geographic areas.

Tie in customer data from your customer relationship management (CRM) system and now the ECM knows what buying stage and industry your prospect is in. Leveraging that data, you as a a rep shouldn’t then see a universe of content you have to manually sort through. Instead, according to Ring DNA, you should see just a handful of useful pieces you otherwise would have spent 30 hours a month searching for on your own, 

All this leads to a logical conclusion: The most forward-thinking sales-enablement professionals will latch on to the same trend that we’re seeing in the consumer market. That trend will entail using contextual search to solve the problem of sales reps finding what they need.

After all, a sales team full of Neo's can’t be all that bad.
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The end may be near for one of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's most celebrated humanities projects, the half-century-old Dictionary of American Regional English. In a few months, the budget pool will drain to a puddle. Layoff notices have been sent, eulogies composed.

"It's a damned shame. It's a shame that this country can no longer support scholarly work of this magnitude," says Grant Barrett, co-host and co-producer of the public radio show, "A Way With Words." "It's one of the great reference works."

The dictionary, often referred to by its acronym DARE, pulls together regional words from 1,002 communities across the country, drawn from newspapers, novels, maps, menus, diaries, obituaries and, most of all, from long interviews with ordinary Americans willing to plow through a survey of more than 1,800 questions. Planned in 1963 by its first editor Frederic Gomes Cassidy, the project stretched far beyond its first deadline of 1976, and even beyond Cassidy's death in 2000 at the age of 92.

DARE finally reached the final volume including "Z" in 2012. A digital version was published in December 2013, by which time editors already had begun working to update the early volumes.

The dictionary captures a language as diverse and sweeping as the country itself, from the beauty of its 79 regional terms for dragonfly to the ugly history contained in 13 pages of entries on the word nigger.Inside DARE's covers is America's story, the waves of immigration represented in words that have settled into our language: the Irish who brought us brogan, a heavy work shoe; the Italians who brought vino, a term for wine; the Germans who gave us hausfrau for housewife; the Polish who brought over paczki, a filled doughnut.

Discovering such words and preserving them may seem a whimsical pursuit, but it has practical applications.

A couple of months ago, Douglas Kelling, a 68-year-old internist in Concord, N.C., was examining an 80-year-old woman when the patient turned to him and said: "Doc, how's my ticklebox?" The baffled doctor asked what she meant by "ticklebox." "Well, my heart, course," the woman answered, resolving this particular moment of confusion.

In almost 40 years of practice, the doctor has heard patients use the terms "Smiling Mighty Jesus," for spinal meningitis, "fireballs of the uterus" for fibroids of the uterus and "old-timer's disease" for Alzheimer's disease.

"And that's just a small sample of the phrases I've run into," Kelling says.

Such moments have convinced Kelling of the value of DARE, which he learned of through a recent article in the magazine Harvard Medicine.

Roger Shuy, a retired linguist in Montana, has used DARE to help law enforcement by profiling criminals in hundreds of cases through the words they use in ransom notes and recorded conversations. Movie actors have relied on the dictionary to help them capture authentic regional speech. Researchers even used the dictionary to expose errors in the Boston Naming Test, one of the most common tools for assessing brain-damaged patients.

For years, DARE has weathered seemingly endless financial crises, somehow always finding eleventh-hour benefactors. This time, though, the project will begin the fiscal year in July with a little under $100,000 — not even 20% of its usual annual budget. And the university has troubles of its own: a proposed two-year $300 million budget cut from the governor.

John Karl Scholz, dean of the College of Letters and Science, declined to comment on the dictionary's predicament, saying, "The DARE team is best equipped to tell their own story."

Chief editor Joan Houston Hall, who has devoted almost 40 years to the project, recently sent layoff and nonrenewal notices to all five DARE staffers, herself included.

"I've lost many nights of sleep trying to figure out where we're going to get funding, and in recent months I just haven't thought of any place left to go. I recognize that the university is stretched to the limit," she said.

"I believe in this project. It has been an important gift to the nation and there is still work to be done."

If she is unable to find more funding, Hall said she may stay on at 20% of her salary and spend the next year, "trying to figure out what goes in the archives and what goes elsewhere."

Living, breathing words

The sense of doom isn't palpable at the dictionary's offices on the sixth floor of Helen C. White Hall, where research continues and words are as alive as ever.

Here, Hall scans the digital version of DARE, looking up the word bittern, a marsh bird, and marveling at more than 50 regional alternatives, including belcher-squelcher, dunkadoo, conk-onk, fly-up-the-creek and wollerkertoot.

Such diversity appears to fly in the face of the long-held belief that regional differences are fading, bringing our language ever closer to a McDonald's-in-every-town, one-size fits all form.

"Every time you crack open a copy of DARE, that myth is shattered," says Barrett, whose radio show reaches hundreds of thousands of listeners in 31 states. "You find history and culture. You find a continuous connection to the past. DARE has information about all of the other languages that have contributed to English.

"It's a giant mirror that shows us who we are and where we've been."

The picture defies simple explanations, showing that words continue to migrate across the country. Hall has discovered that in the 50 years since the dictionary's first survey, Wisconsin residents have begun to change what they call a fizzy drink.

"Fifty years ago it was almost totally pop,'' Hall said, pointing to a map of the state. "Now soda is coming from the eastern United States and it's pushing out pop."

In the office next door, general and science editor Roland Berns, who has worked for DARE for 25 years, is working on the entry for candlefish, a fish so oily that when dry it can be set ablaze like a torch, a fish whose presence on the Pacific Coast was noted by the explorers Lewis and Clark.

Across the hall works the man Berns praises "as the guy who finally solved the mystery of scrod."

For years, fishermen and word experts could not agree on what fish scrod described. Associate editor George Goebel traced the word back to the middle of the 19th century and discovered it was not a term for a species of fish back then, but rather for the process of lightly salting and grilling a fish.

On a recent morning Goebel is updating the entry for beau dollar, an old term for a silver dollar. The word dates back to France in the 1800s. It was used in Southern states, appeared in a blues song in 1941 and was heard regularly in a Milwaukee coin store in the early 1980s.

Goebel also has been working to modernize the dictionary's storage and editing systems, which hark back to another era. Many of the entries are still kepton the original paper slips collected in the 1960s by DARE fieldworkers as they crisscrossed the country in specially equipped "word wagons" interviewing sources. From paper slips, Goebel has been creating databases.

"It's all an investment in the future," he says, pausing to add, "if there is one. We have to go as if there is."

About Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson covers health and science. He is a Pulitzer Prize winner and three-time finalist.
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The Impact of Moroccan Students’ Attitudes towards English Language on Speaking Skill – Part 1
Sunday 29 March 2015 - 10:54

Zakaria Bziker

Zakaria Bziker is a Ph.D. student at Ibn-Tofail University (Kenitra, Morocco). He obtained his bachelor degree in general linguistics and his master degree in education (TEFL). He is currently preparing his dissertation on intercultural communication and ...


Kenitra – “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” – Winston Churchill

1 – Understanding attitudes

It is fairly clear that embarking on this research requires the definition of the most relevant concept. The word ‘attitude’ is a flimsy one. Its meaning is evasive. The word is used in different contexts interchangeably with other words such as ‘motivation’, ‘beliefs’, or ‘impression’. If we were to pin down the one single meaning of the word, we may find ourselves talking about perception, culture, past experiences, assumptions, beliefs, impressions and so on and so forth. All these concepts undoubtedly have a strong tie with the word. Although it is not an easy one to define, some definitions seem to be more favored than others. One of the most cited definitions for the word is that of Sarnoff. He defines it as “a disposition to react favourably or unfavourably to a class of objects” (1970: 279). Based on this definition, attitudes can have two directions: positive and a negative one.

“An attitude is a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favour or disfavour.” (Eagley and Chaiken 1998: 269)

Sarnoff, Eagley, and Chaiken in their definitions of attitudes recognize the binary nature of attitudes; that they either have to be positive or negative. However, that is not the end of the matter. There is more to attitudes than just two dichotomic inclinations.

“The concept of attitudes is central to explaining our thoughts, feelings, and actions with regard to other people, situations, and ideas.” (Bordens and Horowitz – 2013 158)

According to Bordens and Horowitz, attitudes are at the heart of mental processes. They are the key concept to understanding personal and subjective experiences. Yet, this definition seems vague and does not render the concept into a graspable and unambiguous meaning. It could be that the ambiguity of the word is what makes it enjoy a sort of flexibility in its use. A more elaborate definition is in order: Attitudes are:

“a mental and neural state of readiness, organized through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual’s response towards all subjects and situations with which it is related.” Allport (1954: 45)

Allport relates attitudes to personal past experiences. He makes attitudes seem like a repository of impressions accumulated through experience. These impressions filter one’s subjective perception as well as one’s external practices. Although attitudes per se may seem passive and have nothing to do with decision-making, they can have huge influence on one’s behaviors. Pioneered by LaPiere (1934), ‘the relationship between attitudes and behaviors’ triggered a wide range of research in different fields and language teaching/learning makes no exception.

In general, the given definitions capture the most prevailing feature consisting attitudes, if not just the most acknowledged ones. Conventionally, an attitude is a permanent value judgment (Eagly and Chaiken, 1993, 2007) responsive to any given situation.

Now, if pinning down the concept of attitudes may not be achievable, let us then try to break it down into constituents. Baker (1992) divides the concept into three constituents: affective, cognitive and conative. The first constituent has to do with feeling and emotions, the second with thoughts and beliefs, and the third with behavioral intentions. Tension between these components can take place, stresses Baker. For example, somebody may have an inclination to learn English although they may not like the learning process. However, these components unify themselves at a higher lever to represent the larger concept of attitude. In general, this division is very well appreciated in social psychology (Rosenberg and Hovland 1960; Ajzen 1988; Oppenheim 1992; Böhner 2001) although the importance of each constituent may vary from one scholar to another (Bartram, 2010:36).

After having divided the concept into three major parts that may or may not overlap, now we move into differentiating attitudes from motivation which is relevant to the scope of this research.

“Research into motivation and foreign language learning reflects some difficulty with the distinction between motivation and attitude.” Chambers (1999: 26)

There is no dividing line between the two concepts. Most studies regard motivation as being encompassed by attitude (Bartram, 2010:37). However, this is not to say that there is no uncertainty about the nature of the relationship between the two. Schiefele (1963) defines motivation as a mixture of motives and attitudes. Baker (1992) on the other hand differentiates between the two concepts by making attitudes object-specific and motivation goal-oriented. In other words, Baker relates attitudes to the referent object, a foreign language for example; whereas motivation is related to a broader goal, going abroad for example. Nevertheless, this may just be another way of distinguishing between the cognitive and affective components of attitudes themselves (Bartram, 2010:38), and thus motivation is still encompassed by attitudes in this sense.

2 – Understanding attitudes in relation to language learning

Attitudes play a major role in language teaching and learning. The relationship between the two is very intricate.

“Interest in attitude research can also be explained by wide acknowledgement of the relationship between attitudes and successful learning” (Bartram, 2010:33)

Before proceeding to subsequent details, it is of necessity to provide a definition to the linguistic attitude concept. The linguistic attitudes construct is operationalized in the Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics (1992) as follows:

Linguistic attitudes are: “the attitudes which speakers of different languages or language varieties have towards each other’s languages or to their own language. Expressions of positive or negative feelings towards a language may reflect impressions of linguistic difficulty or simplicity, ease or difficulty of learning, degree of importance, elegance, social status, etc. Attitudes towards a language may also show what people feel about the speakers of that language” (p:198)

Understanding the effect of attitudes on L2 and foreign languages is not an unexplored area in language teaching enquiries (Bartram, 2010:33). There is certainly a relationship between language proficiency and attitudes towards the language, but the question is: how can we be sure that we are dealing with attitudes but not something else. Can we isolate attitudes from all other possible variables? Oller and Perkins (1980) for example found that there is zero correlation between second-language proficiency and attitudes.

“In spite of the generally acknowledged importance of attitudes, however, there is much disagreement on their precise nature, their constituent components, classification and their status as a ‘free-standing’ concept in the field of language learning.” (Bartram, 2010:33)

Could not it be possible that the presence of attitudes is merely being assumed for the practical use they provide, that of holding them accountable for behaviors we do not know or understand where they come from?

After having previously approached the concept of attitudes from different sides, it is clear by now that attitudes are not observable behaviors. We only wish to isolate the possible behaviors or inactions that are somehow supposed to be caused by something we call attitudes.

“attitudes are related to behaviour, though not necessarily directly” (Gardner 1985: 9)

Fazio (1990) and Tesser and Shaffer (1990) disapprove of the association between behaviors and attitudes and their use in explaining learning attitudes. Baker (1992), too, refuses to have behaviors as a window to observing language attitudes.

“to ignore the accumulated experiences that are captured in attitudes and concentrate solely on external behavior is unjustified” (Baker, 1992:16)

The cognitive endeavor is by nature always filled with uncertainties like these for the human mind was and still is a black box despite the recent advancement in psychology, neurology and other cognitive disciplines.

Attitudes in relation to language learning is defined in details in Chambers’ quote:

“Attitude is taken to mean the set of values which a pupil brings to the FLL[1] experience. It is shaped by the pay-offs that she expects; the advantages that she sees in language learning. The values which a pupil has may be determined by different variables, such as the experience of learning the target language, of the target language community, experience of travel, the influence of parents and friends, and the attitudes which they may demonstrate and articulate.”(1999: 27)

Most of time pupils or students do not know the cause of their disapproval with a language. It could be that the work of attitudes is probably the most subconscious and complex factor in determining students’ stand on a language. Chambers definition is relevant to the present enquiry since it gives a definition of attitudes in a loose sense and in relation to language learning and it enlists the different variables that will be scrutinized in the practical part.

Some scholars, on the other hand, tried to identify types of attitudes towards foreign language. Gardner and Lambert (1972), who are regarded as the leaders in modern foreign language learning, differentiate between three sorts of language attitudes. The first concerns itself with the target language community. The second concerns itself with the language per se. The third concerns itself with learning foreign languages in general. This classification seems useful and there is relatively a general agreement about it; however, they are far from being uncontroversial (Bartram, 2010:39). Young (1994b) for example disapproves of classifying attitudes because it is too simplistic and that there is more to attitudes than just three categories (p: 31).

Gardner (1985) thinks that motivation can play a decisive role in determining the nature of attitudes. According to him, attitudes are of two types: those of instrumentality and those of integrativeness. The latter can give the learner a strong desire to learn the language without expecting any reward. The reward is in the process itself. Instrumentality attitudes can generate positive attitudes as well but not as strong as the integrativeness ones. This type is more of a means than an end in itself (e.g. learning a language to ensure having a job). Integrativeness is an individual factor and has nothing to do with sociocultural. Young (1994b) highlights some of the individual factors such as personality, intelligence, cognitive style, age, and aptitudes. These factors are as important as the sociocultural and educational ones. For example the inability to do something can generate negative attitudes.

“The considerable divergence between very positive, enthusiastic pupils and the more reluctant, sometimes negative pupils seems to correspond largely to ability.” (Clark and Trafford 1995: 316)

However, this latter point cannot escape the causality conundrum (Bartram, 2010:41). Do negative attitudes cause personal inability or that inability gives rise to positive attitudes? Crookes and Schmidt (1991), for example, discuss this dilemma and conclude: “achievement might actually be the cause instead of the effect of attitude” (1991: 474). On the other hand Baker (1992) thinks that external factor are the main determinants of attitudes.

“Attitude appears more strongly connected with the environmental variables than individual attributes.” (Baker 1992: 68)

In general, attitudes play a major role in the process of language learning whether one recognizes their existence or not.

Learners’ attitudes related to the educational sphere

The teacher

In this part we are going to investigate some of the external variables that may have causal or correlative relation with attitudes. Like other external factors, the educational environment is not an unimportant one. The main important part in the educational system is the teacher. Anyone, at some point in their past, must have been influenced by one teacher or another. Many teachers must have changed the course of some students’ life either in a good or a bad way, consciously or unconsciously. The teacher’s influence is undeniable. It follows that the teacher can have influence on students’ attitudes.

“Again and again, the teacher is named as the reason, for example, why they like/dislike German, why their learning experience has improved/ deteriorated. The teaching methodology, the textbook, the computers available count for little if the teacher-pupil relationship is lacking” (Chambers 1999: 137)

This view is not only recurrent among students but among teachers as well. Clark and Trafford see that teachers consider themselves “the most significant variable affecting pupils’ attitudes towards languages” (1995:318)

The use of the target language

Another aspect that can play a significant role in determining students’ attitudes in language classrooms is the use of the target language. It is no easy task to make students use the target language because with that comes reluctance and embracement from their part. This is mainly due to students’ self-images, unfamiliarity with the language, and maybe even gender issues. Some students may not even appreciate the teacher speaking in the target language (Phillips and Filmer-Sankey,1993: 93) let alone pushing them to speak. Vasseur and Grandcolas (1997) see that these attitudes are originally caused by communication difficulties. If there were not any difficulties for students to speak or understand, then why would they abstain from speaking or listening to their teacher? Here again the teacher’s role is crucial in having the ability to maintain a down-to-earth communication with students (Bartram, 2010:46). This shows the vital role the teacher has vis-à-vis students’ attitudes.

Teaching methods and students’ attitudes

There is a debate concerning the significant effect pedagogy has on students’ attitudes (Bartram, 2010:46). Some views state that there is no important relation between the two especially when students already have negative attitudes (De Pietro 1994: 90). These views are challenged by other views such as those of Nikolov (1998), Clark, Trafford (1995) and Dörnyei (1998). They study the relation between classroom dynamics and pupil motivation and expose classroom specific motives. One cannot deny that there actually is an influence. Despite the fact that students’ attitudes are stronger than the favorable or unfavorable classroom environment, there is still a degree of influence that can, in some cases, be decisive.

“Study after study demonstrates that although students bring some motivational baggage – beliefs, expectations and habits – to class, the immediate instructional context strongly affects their motivation. Decisions about the nature of the tasks, how performance is evaluated, how rewards are used, how much autonomy students have, and myriad other variables under a teacher’s control largely determine student motivation.”(Stipek 1996: 85)

Students may find some activities boring or may not feel comfortable practicing oral activities and this can play a negative effect on attitudes. Some students were reported to have experienced panic and embarrassment experiences because of oral activities (Bartram, 2010:48). Gender related issues were also explored. Male pupils may experience the fear of being embarrassed in front of their female classmates or visa versa (Court 2001: 28–9). Rehearsal and repetition can also be frustrating to students. Further, test grades can also have a direct influence on attitudes (Bartram, 2010:132), but not necessarily since it is unclear whether attitudes influence grades or visa verse.

The language difficulty

The language difficulty can be decisive in regards to language attitudes. In general, and according to Bartram, language difficulty can be perceived in two levels. The first is individual’s own opinion about the language; the second is what the society thinks of the language (2010:90). If the language is perceived to be difficult, then one may be more reluctant to learn it.

Learners’ attitudes outside the educational sphere

Parents 

Undoubtedly students’ immediate environment has a great influence on their attitudes if not the greatest. Like the teacher, parents shape their children. A great deal of their own attitudes passes on to their children coloring their perception of life.

“a child’s attitudes are largely shaped by its own experience with the world, but this is usually accomplished by explicit teaching and implicit modelling of parental attitudes”. (Oskamp and Schultz, 2005: 126)

The role of parents in influencing their children’s attitudes towards a foreign language is important; however, it seems there is uncertainty surrounding the extent of significance the role parents have in determining their students’ attitudes as well as in influencing their attitudes towards foreign languages (Chambers 1998; Barton 1997; Phillips and Filmer-Sankey 1993; Court 2001: 36).

There are different ways by which parents may pass on their attitudes towards a foreign language to their children, but in general there are two categories that we generally can agree upon, either positive or negative attitudes (Bartram, 2010:66). Besides, these attitudes may be handed down either in a passive or an active way. The passive way would involve the general negative attitudes parents have towards the foreign-language community that may not be shown explicitly. The active way would mean the parents monitoring their children’s language learning. The active role would also apply at the level of beliefs and confidence that can be instilled in the learner; that is to “nurture a feel good and can do attitude towards language learning in general” (Marsh, 2000:10).

Parents cannot escape the responsibility of influencing their children’s language proficiency. Gardner (1975) goes to the extent of suggesting that there is a correlation between parents’ attitudes towards a foreign language and their children’s language proficiency in that foreign language (Gardner 1975: 239).

Peers and friends

Right after the parents come friends and peers. While Oskamp, Schultz (2005) and Bartram (2006c) think that friends and peers play a major role in shaping students’ attitudes; Wright thinks friends and peers are to be considered a very minor factor. Their influence however may become greater when learners reach adolescence. It is the age when children break apart from their parents and start building a personality of their own. Friends and peers at this stage become a major factor. For example male adolescent students may express their independence and self-image to female students by appearing disinterested in the course or neglecting their homework in order to boast about it as a sign of adulthood and strength (Barton 1997:12). This sort of attitude is contagious and can affect other students who may be having positive attitudes towards the language.

“Learner perceptions and experience of peer attitudes concerning school, education, foreign language learning in general or the learning of a particular language in question may exert considerable influence on the individual’s own FLL orientation, attitudes and motivation.”(Young 1994b: 86)

Peers share lot of things among which we find attitudes. If the majority of peers exhibit negative attitudes among themselves, an individual student may have to comply to the group influence willingly or unwillingly, consciously or unconsciously, in order to identify themselves with the group and to maintain their group belongingness (Young 1994b: 47).

The target-language speakers and communities

Students’ attitudes towards the target language community are studied thoroughly by Gardner and Lambert (1972). They think that no foreign language to be acquired if the student holds ethnocentric views and hostile attitudes towards the target-language speakers (1972: 134). The student perception of the target language community is mainly influenced by the sociocultural factor which is omnipresent and immersive. The socioeconomic factor has seniority over other factors and may be considered as the main factor (Salters 1991, Gardner 1975, 1985). A foreign language reputation is highly impacted by this factor for it is the “salient characteristic of another culture” (Gardner 1985: 146). Therefore, from this perspective, positive attitudes towards the foreign language community are a prerequisite for language acquisition (Bartram, 2010:71). They are prior to classroom environment and the teacher.

Within the sociocultural dimension we have the social status of the foreign language. For example, in Morocco, French is held in high esteem. It is seen as the language of the bourgeois and intellectuals. Thus this social status can play in favor of its acquisition and the learner’s attitudes. English, however, is considered a foreign language in Morocco and it occupies the 4th position after French (L3), Standard Arabic (L2), and finally the Moroccan Arabic, if not Berber (L1). This, of-course, is not without exceptions but it should hold for the majority of cases. Despite being a foreign language, English is gaining grounds in Morocco nowadays. Teenagers in particular are using more often English words in their daily life. This phenomenon is more noticed on the on-line social networks in what is known as ‘Trolls[2]’. For example “R.I.P”, “Nothing to do here”, “Please”, “Like a Boss”, “True Story” and the like are being used in local pages and this indicates the growing popularity of the English language use in the Moroccan context. However, does this popularity stem from the educational system and how English is taught in Morocco or from the view of society as a whole?

“the causality conundrum rears its head: are attitudes towards MFLL[3] and its place in the education system in?uenced more by the wider views of society on language learning, or does the education system itself mould these social views through the status it grants languages via the school curriculum?” (Bartram, 2010:18)

Phillipson (1992) attributes positive attitudes towards English to outside forces like economics and politics that maintain the global status of English which is a sort of linguistic imperialism. This, according to Pennycook, can lead to the marginalization of local languages (1995). In general both languages have good social status in Morocco.

Media

“By selecting, emphasising and interpreting . . . they (media) help to structure the nature of ‘reality’, . . . which in turn impels the public to form attitudes.” Oskamp and Schultz (2005: 133)

At a global level, the media is playing a major role in the growing popularity of English as well as spreading positive attitudes towards it. The idolizing of popular music artists and movie stars is a common phenomenon among adolescents. Given that many of these stars are from the English-speaking countries, a positive association between the celebrity and the language spoken or sung may take place, which may, in turn, influence attitudes towards the learning of English as a foreign language (Young 1994b: 247). Woodward (2002) and Gosse (1997) draw attention to the internet influence on language attitude since it enjoys the English-language bias and appeal (Gosse, 1997: 158) for the internet is par excellence American.

Pragmatic motives

The given state of the world nowadays and the increasing need for multilingual citizens oblige people to learn foreign languages in order to meet the job market’s needs and to acquire a window to social integration in a globalized world. Morocco is no exception in the world’s current state of affair. If French is considered the prestigious language in Morocco, English is seen as a practical language and a lingua franca. As will be seen in the practical part, there is a growing awareness of the usefulness of the English language in the professional lives and this in turn shape learners’ attitudes.

3 – Students’ attitudes impacting the speaking skill

Attitudes are the silent thoughts, the deep unconscious beliefs. Their shadow is present in every moment of judgment. Yet, we do not know the nature of attitudes and there is no unit of measurement with which to measure their strength or variation. Maybe attitude after all is just a word we use to refer to an unknown mental phenomenon; or a state of mind whose raison d’être is unclear. Given that it is impractical to pin down attitudes, we tried in the previous sections to approach the concept from different angles. All these perspectives are relevant to the present study since they are the only windows from which we can inspect attitudes. In the present section we are going to zoom in on how attitudes influence the speaking skill on the light of what has previously been presented.

Because learner’s motivation, attitudes and self-confidence can contribute to L2 proficiency (Gordon, 1980; Lett & O’Mara, 1990; Lett & O’Mara, 1990; Clément, Gardner, & Smythe, 1977, 1980; Clément, Major, Gardner, & Smythe, 1977; Laine, 1977; Sison, 1991), it is safe to assume that learners’ attitudes can also contribute to the learner’s speaking skill in different ways. For example, a learner with negative attitudes may deem themselves weak and possibly give up verbalizing their thoughts or improving their speaking skill.

“When compared with the students who hold positive attitude towards speaking, a significantly greater proportion of students with negative attitude perceived their levels of oral proficiency as average or lower.” (Thuc Bui,2013:02)

In general, language learners with positive attitudes would be more involved in speaking activities (Tuc Bui, 2013:01).

“living with a positive bent of mind is the first requisite for acquisition of effective speaking skills in English.” (Gangal, 2012:38)

Previous researches noticed that speaking was the most important skill for beginning and intermediate levels foreign L2 learners (Frey & Sadek, 1971; Harlow & Muyskens, 1994; Houston, 2005; Rivera & Matsuzawa, 2007; Tse, 2000; Walker, 1973). Nevertheless, no previous research has investigated, in particular, students’ attitudes towards speaking activities in class (Carlo, 2008).

One of the most noticeable features of speech is accent. It is “the phonetic habits of the speaker”(Ben Said, 2005:03). It is also the “way of speaking typical of a particular group of people and especially of the natives or residents of a region”(Merriam-Webster Dictionary). From the sociolinguistic perspective, accent is seen as a badge of social identity (Ben Said, 2005:03). Social identity can affect the way people speak and judge a certain accent since “some accents, for instance, are believed to be more attractive than others.”(Ben Said, 2005:03). This value judgment is embedded in the attitudes language learners have towards a certain way of speaking. Consequently, the objective of most English learners becomes to speak like native speakers as well as to communicate with them (C. L. Chen, 2003; C. P. Chen, 2002; Chou, 2004; Chuang, 2002; Liao, 2004; Wei, 2003; Yo, 2003). Cook (1999) saw that, in students’ opinion, non-native accents are a sign of failure in learning the English language. Most of the time foreign language learners are unsatisfied with their accent and that is mainly because they keep comparing their accent to natives’ (Derwing 2003). This sort of attitudes may consist an impediment for EFL learners.

The obsession with speech and especially with accent among young EFL learners may prove to be unhealthy for language learning process as well as for communication intelligibility. In a study carried out by Derwing al. (1998), three groups of language learners were given three different language classes. The first focused heavily on accent and pronunciation, the second did not focus on accent and pronunciation at all, and the third focused on higher or macro aspects of speech such as volume, stress, tone, and rhythm. After 12 weeks, an English-native speaking jury evaluated these groups based on the task of narrating a story. The results showed that the jury favored the group that had the macro aspect of speech than the one with the focus on pronunciation and accent or the one with no focus at all on the speaking skill. Fluency and comprehensibility was observed in the favored group that focused on meta-linguistic features.

Another study, carried by Johnson and Frederick (1994), examined the American native speakers’ attitudes towards non-natives’ speech in terms of grammatical and pronunciation errors. Surprisingly, their findings showed that pronunciation inaccuracy were judged less positively than grammatical ones. Although grammar errors can be crucial to communication, American natives considered them of less importance when compared with errors at the level of speech. A further study by Munro and Derwing (1995) explored native Canadian English speakers’ attitudes towards EFL learners’ speech. The results revealed that prosodic inaccuracy affects intelligibility more than phonetic ones. These three studies show that discrepancies at the level of accent and speech are harmful to communication and to one’s speaking skill when they are given more attention than they actually require. These discrepancies might not only be the result of learner’s obsession with foreign speech, but also the result of teacher’s attitudes.

“For decades, traditional language instruction held up native-like pronunciation as the ideal” (Paul, 2012)

Murray J. Munro, a professor of linguistics at Simon Fraser University in Canada and the linguist Tracy Derwing insist that this ideal, of holding native like speech as ideal, is unrealistic and may possibly impose some difficulties like disappointment and frustration among foreign language learners. However, attaining native likeness is not unrealistic after all and in this regard we cannot help but talk about the Critical Period Hypothesis[4] since the subjects of this study are English learners beyond the age of puberty.

The popularity of the Critical Period Hypothesis stem from the observable fact that language acquisition that takes place after the critical period[5] is almost never identical to L1 acquisition (Seel, 2012:1722). The statistical high improbability of attaining a full mastery of a language after the critical period seems to be the strongest evidence in favor of the hypothesis. However, the hypothesis does not completely exclude the possibility of acquiring language after the mentioned period, but it just may be less successful. Many scholars think that native likeness is still possible even after the age of puberty except in pronunciation (Scovel 1988 Paraphrased in Bot, 2005:65). Some think that it is rather the mother tongue interference that prevents learners from becoming native-like speakers (Flege 1999 paraphrased in Herschensohn 2000:43). Finally, Bongaerts, Bialystok, and Herschensohn see that it is still possible to achieve native likeness at all levels (Bongaerts, 1999:155; Bialystok, 1997:116; Herschensohn, 2000:43). So assuming that native likeness at the level of speech is possible, the focal question then is: should it be the main goal for EFL learners?

“new research suggests that we would make better progress, and be understood more easily by our conversational partners, if we abandoned a perfect accent as our goal in the language learning process.” (Paul, 2012)

“Students of language should be guided by the ‘intelligibility principle’, not the old ‘nativeness principle’.” (Paul, 2012)

The urge to be identified with the target language community may be so strong that the only thing that would matter to the learner is to sound native regardless of the intelligibility and comprehensibility of one’s speech. An important point to be mentioned here about attitudes is that positive attitudes are not the main engine that drives students towards language proficiency. Positive attitudes are not all that it takes to acquire a foreign language efficiently but the way these positive attitudes are implemented, exploited, or directed is what matters most. Having good attitudes with nativeness principle may not be the perfect match.

Here again we come back to the issue of culture. It is probably the case that students may experience this admiration for a culture that is not theirs. As a result they tend to imitate what they like which is, as a matter of fact, part of human nature.

Notes

[1] Foreign language learning

[2] Sarcastic or funny posts on on-line social networks that depict an aspect of reality in real life.

[3] Modern Foreign Language Learning

[4] “Is the notion that language is best learned during the early years of childhood and that after about the first dozen years of life, everyone faces certain constraints in the ability to pick up a new language” (Scovel 1988:2)

[5] “…a time during post natal life when the development and maturation of functional properties of the brain, its ‘plasticity’, is strongly dependent on experience or environmental experience”– Sengpiel (Quoted in Marc B. Taub 2012: 275)

© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission
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Loin de se reposer sur ses lauriers, la jeune fille vient de représenter la Loire au festival des Cultures et des Langues organisé au niveau national par « Étude plus » qui fait du soutien, scolaire. Elle a même décroché une place pour la finale nationale prévue le 5 avril à Lyon.

« À la finale régionale qui se déroulait à Annecy, j’ai été choisie pour représenter Rhône-Alpes devant d’autres candidats. Si je passe la sélection nationale, j’irai représenter la France à la finale internationale, le 12 avril, au Casino de Paris ». Ce festival comporte plusieurs disciplines chant, danse et poésie. Ouvert aux cultures du monde ce projet est franco turc et Amanda n’a pas hésité une minute à prendre des cours de Turc pour chanter dans cette langue aux sélections. Elle a choisi comme chanson en français Quand on a que l’amour de Jacques Brel.

Animée par la passion pour le chant, elle travaille sa voix tous les jours, elle garde la tête froide et ne néglige pas ses études, mais elle veut faire du chant son métier. « Quand je chante je suis bien ».
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Monsieur Gérard Bouchard,

Avant tout, permettez-moi de vous dire que je vous lis (romans, essais et chroniques) depuis plusieurs années et que j'apprécie depuis longtemps vos analyses intelligentes et enrichissantes.

Aujourd'hui quinquagénaire, j'ai longtemps été chercheur scientifique dans le milieu universitaire. Je parle l'anglais sans accent et je travaille pour une multinationale québécoise qui m'amène à offrir mes services à des gouvernements et autres grandes organisations privées dans des domaines de pointe.

Ceci étant, j'étais récemment en Californie dans un congrès avec des gens de plusieurs origines et pays. Un congressiste de Chicago m'a questionné sur le Québec et sur «mon français», plus particulièrement sur la perception qu'avaient les Canadiens quant à la qualité et la manière particulière dont nous parlions notre langue.

Je vous répéterai ce que je dis toujours à des Français, des Canadiens ou des Américains: «Ma langue est au français parlé en France ce que l'anglais américain est à l'anglais parlé en Angleterre.» Ma langue est franchement nord-américaine. Elle participe au nouveau monde et sa mixité ethnoculturelle au même titre que la multitude de variantes de l'anglais et de l'espagnol qui sont parlés dans les Amériques.

Comme l'anglais, ma langue évolue en empruntant aux autres langues. Elle ne s'appauvrit pas: elle évolue dans sa forme. Par ailleurs, c'est dans sa nature depuis mille ans maintenant d'emprunter aux autres influences arabes, latines, saxonnes, africaines et de franciser pour s'approprier le sens et la référence.

Dans votre chronique, vous évoquez une nostalgie de la France et un passé imaginé (ou imaginaire) qui ne m'appartient pas et que je rejette avec chacune de mes cellules.

J'ai aimé rappeler à cet homme de Chicago - il y avait aussi une dame française à notre table - les origines et la prononciation correcte d'«Illinois», «Des Moines», tout en faisant un rappel historique rapide de notre histoire nord-américaine. Dans ces circonstances, j'aime aussi émettre l'hypothèse qu'entre 1760 et 1763, les Français ont compris qu'il était dans leur intérêt d'organiser leur armada et de reprendre le Saint-Laurent et les Grands Lacs, le Mississippi et tout le coeur du continent jusqu'aux Rocheuses, et, avec la complicité de la Couronne espagnole, le contrôle de l'Amérique.

Finalement, imaginez, monsieur Bouchard, qu'avec l'Amérique du Nord française, aujourd'hui, c'est MON français avec tous ces accents qui serait la norme et non ce vieux français archaïque figé dans le temps et rébarbatif aux changements. Comprenez que je suis complètement affranchi de cette vieille France qui, en fait, nous a trahis et abandonnés avec l'ennemi en 1763. Il est temps que nous assumions notre place sur le continent par rapport à son histoire.

C'est NOTRE français qui est moderne et complètement adapté à sa situation géographique et sociale. Comprenez que j'en suis un ardent défenseur, pleinement convaincu de sa valeur et de sa richesse. Le français québécois est multiple, et ce, à plusieurs niveaux. Il est pauvre dans sa forme commune, mais riche dans sa forme éduquée, comme toutes les langues. Évitons de tout ramener vers le bas et de mettre tout le monde dans le même bateau. Vous savez mieux que quiconque que les huit millions de Québécois ne forment pas un bloc monolithique et que notre histoire est aussi une histoire de contestations et de résistance tout autant que de survie, d'émigration, d'immigration et d'accueil de l'autre.
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Google Traduction, service de traduction automatique du géant américain Google, est souvent pointé du doigt pour son manque de sérieux ou ses traductions trop approximatives ou inexactes. C’est bien le point faible de tous les services de traduction automatiques : la qualité des retranscriptions en langue étrangère est bien souvent médiocre. Vous pourrez ainsi tester « hot dog » en français et vous retrouver régulièrement avec un bon « chien chaud ».



On ne doute pas du travail réalisé chaque jour par les équipes de Google Traduction pour améliorer la qualité des traductions et l’expérience utilisateur, et c’est justement d’expérience utilisateur dont il est question aujourd’hui. Google Traduction propose en effet une fonctionnalité très intéressante sur son application mobile, qui en intéressera plus d’un, surtout si vous partez en voyage. Depuis l’application mobile Google Traduction, vous pouvez lancer une fonctionnalité de réalité augmentée : vous visez un panneau ou une indication avec votre smartphone, et via l’appareil photo de celui-ci et l’application Google Traduction, vous aurez la traduction de ce panneau dans la langue de votre choix, directement affichée sur votre écran.

Google traduction se lance ainsi dans le marché très prometteur de la réalité augmentée, avec des possibilités d’évolutions sans fin !

Que pensez-vous du service Google Traduction ? Utilisez-vous cet outil de traduction ou plutôt un autre ? Réagissez en commentant cet article !
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New documents that had recently surfaced indicate that Google was just able to avoid a lawsuit due to the anti-competitive activities the search giant did in the United States. These revelations can severely affect Google’s future in the European Union, as it is currently undergoing a similar investigation on nearly the same issues.

The History of the Issue

In 2012, senior level staff of the Federal Trade Commission had recommended the filing of antitrust charges against Google, according to information released to the Wall Street Journal where one of the documents was that memo detailing the possible plan. The suit was dropped after Google was able to enter into an agreement where Google would adjust its practices.

The said agreement was announced by FTC External Counsel Beth Wilkinson, who said, “The evidence the FTC uncovered through this intensive investigation prompted us to require siginificant changes in Google’s business practices. However, regarding the specific allegations that the company biased its search results to hurt competition, the evidence collected to date did not justify legal action by the Commission. Undoubtedly, Google took aggressive actions to gain advantage over rival search providers. However the FTC’s mission is to protect competition and not individual competitors. The evidence did not demonstrate that Google’s actions in this area stifled competition in violation of US law.”

The Aftershocks of the Possible Suit

Despite dodging a bullet, Google’s European operations may be severely hampered, if one European lawmaker’s words are to be followed. According to Spanish representative to the European Union Ramon Tremosa I Balcells, “This new evidence is crucial and could not come at a better time.”

Balcells has been known to be aggressive against Google and was one of the strongest voices in supporting the European Parliamentary resolution calling for the possible break-up of Google, specifically for unfair competition and anti trust violations.

What Google said on the non-suit

As for Google, the search giant said, through its General Counsel Kent Walker, “Speculation about potential consumer harm turned out to be entirely wrong. Since the investigation closed two years ago, the ways people access information online have only increased, giving consumers more choice than ever before.”

The company said that instead of looking at the FTC investigation, the viewpoint that should be taken is that no suits were filed by the FTC against Google.
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Is Google (NASDAQ: GOOG  ) (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) planning to bring Android Wear to Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iPhone? 

Maybe so. French tech site 01net.com (via Macrumors) reports that Google is working on an Android Wear app for iOS, and that it plans to unveil it at its developers conference -- Google I/O -- this May. If so, it could be a boon to the Android Wear platform, allowing millions of iPhone owners to take advantage of the growing number of Android Wear watches.

Of course, this would provide compelling competition for Apple Watch, and could draw Apple's ire, too. But the interoperability between smartphones and wearable technology could yield larger implications for the smartphone market. 

Android Wear on iOS wouldn't be surprising
It's easy to see why Google would want to bring Android Wear to the iPhone. Despite its ownership of Android, Google's primary business centers on advertising, and its ability to sell ads is predicated on the use of its services.

Several of the most popular apps on Apple's app store are Google services -- including YouTube, Maps, Gmail and Google search. Although Android Wear is a hardware platform, it is largely an extension of these services -- its interface centers around Google Now, the search giant's digital personal assistant that integrates data from Google other services and products.

Google will likely update its iOS apps to support Apple Watch, but it would be beneficial if iPhone owners were using an Android Wear device instead. Android Wear supports third party apps, but it favors Google's: the Apple Watch will be far more agnostic.

Unfortunately, 01net's report has not been corroborated by other sources, but some developers have been able to get Android Wear devices to work with the iPhone. Mohammad Abu-Garbeyyeh has created software that allows Android Wear devices to receive notifications from the iPhone, as well as control music playback.

Apple has blocked Google's apps in the past
Apple's app store guidelines are broad: the iPhone-maker can block just about any app for any reason. In 2009, it temporarily blocked Google Voice from the app store, and it could do the same for an Android Wear app. True, it allows smartwatch-maker Pebble to distribute its app on the iTunes app store, but the kick-starter-backed upstart is less threatening than Android Wear.

If Android Wear does come to iOS, it could cause problems for Apple Watch. Although the Apple Watch may prove to be superior to Android Wear devices, it's easy to imagine many iPhone owners preferring the watches offered by Google's partners.

For starters, they're significantly cheaper: the Apple Watch starts at $349; Android Wear devices are available for less than $100, and even higher-end Android Wear devices like the Moto 360 are less expensive. They also offer some functions the current Apple Watch lacks -- the SmartWatch 3, for example, is completely waterproof -- and they come in a variety of different styles.

In fact, if Android Wear doesn't come to iOS, it could eventually cause Apple problems. Apple Watch, as Apple's next product, holds a lot of promise, but the iPhone is far more important to Apple's top and bottom lines. If Android Wear remains restricted to Android, Apple could lose some iPhone customers. It's possible that one of Google's hardware partners could eventually release an Android Wear watch so compelling that it entices some iPhone fans to ditch Apple's smartphone for an Android-powered device instead.

That may seem unlikely, but Android Wear is only in its early stages, which means its best days are far ahead. In fact, luxury watch maker Tag Heuer plans to support the platform, and other traditional watchmakers may not be far behind.

Google I/O could be key for Apple Watch
Apple investors are sure to keep a close eye on Apple Watch's debut next month, but May could be just as influential.

As a product category, smartwatches remain in their infancy, but their relation to handsets will allow them to play a vital role in the future of the smartphone market. As smartwatch platforms continue to evolve, their interoperability (or lack thereof) could be a powerful driver of future smartphone sales.

This $19 trillion industry could destroy the Internet
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You may or may not know this, but Google uses its search algorithms in a way that it ranks sites higher if they feature mobile optimization. It does not matter if you are searching from your phone, or Chrombook, or desktop computer, “mobile friendly” sites got a boost in search result rankings.

How does the algorithm work, and how can site owner tell if their site is affected? No one seems to know, but the factors of Google’s ranking are not applied evenly which explains why many sites may not necessarily be mobile friendly.

In a few weeks, April 21st to be exact, the way Google indexes search results will weigh mobile friendliness even heavier. The change will affect searches worldwide, and Google says the changes will be significant. The goal is to ensure that users get results that are optimized for their devices.

Google has been collecting information from its “Googlebot” to update its rankings for the past month so that its implementation of its new ranking will have an immediate effect. Webmasters and the like have dubbed the 21st as “mobilegeddon,” and there is a push to get sites optimized for mobile before the switch is flipped. It will be interesting to see if we, as users, will be able to notice the change as we use Google search.
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Yahoo, Microsoft extend search partnership talks
SAN FRANCISCO, 9 hours, 33 minutes ago
Yahoo Inc and Microsoft Corp agreed to extend by 30 days the deadline to re-negotiate a ten year search deal, as the two Internet companies attempt to revamp a thorny partnership crafted by former chief executives.

The search partnership, which took effect in 2010, allowed the companies to negotiate changes or to terminate the arrangement entirely after five years. Under the terms of the deal, the companies had 30 days to make changes following Feb. 23.

According to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, Yahoo and Microsoft mutually agreed to extend that deadline to a 60-day period following Feb. 23.
 
"We value our partnership with Microsoft and continue discussions about plans for the future. We have nothing further to announce at this time," Yahoo said in a statement.

Microsoft declined to comment.

It was not immediately clear if the extension signalled progress or lack of consensus between Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

The announcement to extend the talks comes a few days after Nadella's mother passed away in Hyderabad, India, according to a report in The Economic Times.

Yahoo and Microsoft began a 10-year search partnership in 2010, in a deal crafted by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz. The two companies hoped their combined efforts could mount a more competitive challenge to Google Inc, the world's No. 1 search engine.

The partnership has not lived up to expectations. Google still controls roughly two-thirds of the U.S. search market, while Microsoft and Yahoo's combined share of the market is essentially unchanged at roughly 30 per cent.

Yahoo's Mayer, who joined Yahoo in 2012 and who has been critical of the deal in the past, tried to hold off on adopting Microsoft search technology in certain markets in 2013. A court ruled at the time that Yahoo must use Microsoft's search technology. – Reuters
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Yahoo and Microsoft have agreed to extend by 30 days the deadline to re-negotiate a ten year search deal, as the two Internet companies attempt to revamp a thorny partnership crafted by former chief executives.

The search partnership, which took effect in 2010, allowed the companies to negotiate changes or to terminate the arrangement entirely after five years. Under the terms of the deal, the companies had 30 days to make changes following Feb. 23.

According to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, Yahoo and Microsoft mutually agreed to extend that deadline to a 60-day period following Feb. 23.

"We value our partnership with Microsoft and continue discussions about plans for the future. We have nothing further to announce at this time," Yahoo said in a statement.

Microsoft declined to comment.

It was not immediately clear if the extension signaled progress or lack of consensus between Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

The announcement to extend the talks comes a few days after Nadella's mother passed away in Hyderabad, India, according to a report in The Economic Times.

Yahoo and Microsoft began a 10-year search partnership in 2010, in a deal crafted by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz. The two companies hoped their combined efforts could mount a more competitive challenge to Google, the world's No. 1 search engine.

The partnership has not lived up to expectations. Google still controls roughly two-thirds of the U.S. search market, while Microsoft and Yahoo's combined share of the market is essentially unchanged at roughly 30 percent.

Yahoo's Mayer, who joined Yahoo in 2012 and who has been critical of the deal in the past, tried to hold off on adopting Microsoft search technology in certain markets in 2013. A court ruled at the time that Yahoo must use Microsoft's search technology.
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On the eve of the Independence Day, Bangalee volunteers contributed around seven lakh Bangla words and phrases to Google Translate breaking a record. The target was to add 4 lakh words in Google Translate, a free online translation service. But Bangladesh has crossed the target and set a new world record by adding seven lakh Bangla words in Google Translate, said concerned sources. State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak said, ‘The Language Movement in 1952 and the War of Liberation in 1971 under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman helped us to get a state and his daughter and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership has helped us to get this achievement’. With this, the total number of Bangla words and phrases contributed to Google Translate reached around 17 lakh in just last 55 days since February 1, Jabed Sultan Pias, community manager of Google Developer Group (GDG) Bangla said. This record is one of evidences of the feelings of young generation to Bengali language and the country, he said. The words were included with the joint initiatives of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) division and Google Developer’s Group-Bangla (GDG-Bangla). Major work stations were in the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) premises in Agargaon of the city. Other than that, IT society of Dhaka University (DU) arranged work stations in the TSC and Shahid Meenar premises. Alongside students of different universities of the country, Bangla speaking people across the world joined the initiates. Bengali was previously in the 2nd position of the Translate site’s archive, Spanish being the first, according to a news agency.
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Lobbyists are often considered an evil that needs to be extinguished, but truly, everyone has a lobbyist they call their own. Properly regulated, lobbyists are not as evil as we think. Well, lobbyists that are not constantly climbing in and out of bed with government are not too bad.

Google Inc. tends to be one of those companies that have lobbyists on the government preferred lists, perhaps the surveillance aspect keeps them on their A-list. Despite a 2012 Inquisitr report that gave a more rosy picture of the Google lobby, recent reports suggest an entirely different picture.

Google, maker of the Google search engine and the Android operating system, is getting a little too BFF with the White House.

Yes. The company that lives by the motto “Don’t Be Evil” has expanded its co-op and bromance with the U.S. government. Reports have suggested that Google has visited the Obama White House more times than Monica Lewinsky visited the Clinton White House.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a representative of Google has visited the White House once a week, every week, since President Obama was elected in 2009. It has been calculated that it amounts to over 230 times from 2009 until now. That beats rivals like Microsoft and Comcast, who have visited President Obama a whopping 20 times since 2009.

That is not where the connection seems to stop, though. Google employees were the second largest 2012 contributors to President Obama’s reelection campaign. Also, a Google VP, Megan Smith, landed the U.S. Chief Technology Officer position in 2014.

Seemingly, as a result of all the hobnobbing with the Obama administration, an anti-trust suit was dropped by the FTC. Considering the crushing blow Microsoft took with the Microsoft Office debacle, and it would appear that the more time and money you spend and bribe the U.S. government with, the more likely you can get out of trouble. Of course, the potential trade-off is allowing the government to track your customers, but then again, they have been more open and honest than the government about that.

Lobbying is a big budget item for Google. As Forbes has reported, they have 100 individual lobbyists at 20 firms. Their lobbying budget increased from 2010–2014, and is now at $16.8 million. That is double their rival Microsoft, and more than triple their rival Apple.

Suffice it to say, Google and the Obama administration are strange bedfellows. Whether his administration or another’s, one hopes the smartphone and search engine giant does not catch some sort of infection, with all the time Google spends in bed with the U.S. government.

[Image via Creative Commons]
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Language

Even though Arabic is the official language of the Middle East, and it is the fifth most commonly spoken language worldwide, each Arabic country has its own unique dialect and style of pronouncing the language.

There are 26 countries worldwide which have Arabic as the main language, with 10 of these speaking the language alongside another, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, French is fluently spoken alongside Arabic. In Iraq, people speak Kurdish as fluently as Arabic.

Although the Arabic language consists of the same alphabets and words, the way it is used in forming sentences in each region might be hard to understand from one dialect to another, even a small word such as “Hello” differs from the Gulf countries to the Levant than Morocco and Tunisia.

Yet, there are a few dialects that are understood by most people living in the Arab region including Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese accents, due to the popularity of TV shows in these languages.

The differences in languages are often not mainly in the words themselves, but in the grammatical inflections used before or after words.

After the Arab expansion and spread of Islam in the Middle East, which started in the seventh century, Arabic spread across the region. Egyptians were aware of the Arabic language and spoke it  even before it was an Islamic country due to trade with Arabs, but it started to be spoken fluently and became the country’s official language during the time of having the ”Fustat” period, the first capital of the country in the same century.

 


Photo by Nada Deyaa’
Food

George Bernard Shaw once said “there is no love sincerer than the love of food”, and the Arab world is the best region to apply this quote. The eating habits Arabs share is one of the things the makes them unique and special.

As a part of the culture, food is considered a way of showing love. A person shows others how much he honours their visit to his home by the amounts and the kinds of food he services them. Most of the time, welcoming people with food is related to generosity in people’s mind, based on what is culturally known as “the more people welcome you with food, the more generous they are”.

Most of what Arabs do a lot of the time revolves around eating; it is one of the required things in any outing in the Arab region, the main component in any gathering of family or friends, and a must in anything as small as a home film night with no one but yourself. Moreover, in some countries, such as Egypt and the Gulf, the measurement of a good wedding is related to the size, variety, quality and taste of the buffet it has.

As a part of the shared culture from the east to the west of the Arabian world, people have become nowadays expected to provide big and different quantities of food while inviting people over any celebration.

Considering food as a gift to bring people while giving them a visit, is not something you find around the world. It is an old habit that developed to reach having a certain kind of food given in certain occasions.

For instance, bringing a sick person 2kgs of oranges and bananas is a sign of pure love and care in Egypt, while in other Arab countries a box of chocolate is the biggest sign of wishing the person to “get well soon”.

Even though Arabs in different regions and countries mainly share the same culture and background, the way each one of them make their meals differ from one another even if they are made by the same kind of food.

Rice and meat are the most spread types of foods in the region. In the Gulf countries, they are steamed or boiled to produce a famous meal called “Kabsa”. While in Egypt, they are eaten aside a famous soup called “Molokhia” or the rice is combined with lentils producing the famous “Koshary”. As for the Maghreb countries, they are known with their ‘tajines’ that are put in ovens.

Also, some regions are famous for certain things. The Gulf countries are known with having the best kinds of dates, while Egypt is famous with the popular ‘foul and falafel’, as for the Maghreb countries they have a famous repetition in ‘couscous’. Eventually, they all eat the same food, each with a different recipe from their grandparents who produced the food with a different taste.

 

Family Traditions:

The traditions families have inherited over the years in Arab societies are one of a kind. Across Arab counties from east to west they are almost the same, especially that it is one of the things that specialises the region.

It is usually known that the family gathers every week over lunch or dinner, where they talk and discuss about their updates and planes. The gathering is often held at the grandparents’ house or “the big family home” as it is called. That helps in building the connection between family members and strengthening it.

Also, it’s required for all of the family members to gather and have their Iftar together the first day of Ramadan and pray Taraweh prayers. It’s also known that the happiness of Eid is not completed unless the children take the “Eideyah” (an amount of money given from older people to young children to brig sweets with) from their older relatives, and eat the famous biscuits specially made for the event while they are wearing their new clothes mainly bought to celebrate it.

Yet, there are some family traditions only certain societies are specialised with doing such as celebrating Easter in Egypt, with family gatherings in a garden over the famous meal “Feseekh” (type of herring fish), that is not widely spread in the Gulf countries nor the Levant.

Marriage:

The wedding ceremonies in Arab countries and Islamic one’s are unique and spectacular, starting with the dowry, which is an amount of money the groom gives the bride before getting married. In some countries like Libya, the dowry is measured with gold, while in others it is simply with money.

It’s usually known to have a henna party the night before the wedding, where the bride and her friends create designs on their hands with beautiful drawings with Henna, and spend their night dancing and celebrating.

In some countries like Morocco and Tunisia, henna is considered a form of optimism for the new life the girl is having and a good luck charm, while in other countries like Egypt, it’s just a way of prettifying the bride.

In the gulf countries and the Maghreb, at the Henna day, the groom sends a “Dofoo’”, which is a number of huge plates carrying different kinds of colourful clothes, shoes and perfumes.

While in Libya, the “Dofoo’ ” is given with camels, sheep and several food products like oil, tea, sugar, tomatoes and soap.

In Egypt, there’s a tradition called writing down “Ayma” (the list), which contains everything the bride and her family brought to the apartment and the amount of money the participated at the marriage with. That is for her to take them back again in case of divorce or if the groom passed away.

A big glamorous expensive wedding is a must at the region, the more expensive the weeding looks, the classier its owners appear.

In the past, the ceremonies of weddings at the region lasted for seven days of continuous celebration, while nowadays it turned to be just one day.

First thing in the morning, after the wedding night, it’s culturally known for the parents of the bride and the groom to go visit them at their home carrying the breakfast. But in some towns of Egypt, the family of the bride sends a feast to the groom’s family for lunch.


(AFP Photo)
Women

Women in Arab societies once faced the same restrictions and violations over her rights and freedom, most of those restrictions were thought to be religiously-based, even if they are in reality the furthest thing from religious and culturally believed ones.

It’s almost impossible for any girl in the Arab region to live on her own without having any of her siblings living with her allegedly to protect her. That applies on the times she has to be back at home as well, if the woman is not obligated to stay out late in her work or at certain places, she has to be back home at curfews go from 8:00pm to 10:30pm, unless she has one of her siblings with her.

It’s also bad form for a girl to be found smoking shisha or cigarettes; however, this belief has started to change in some societies like Egypt, Maghreb and Lebanon.

But some Arab societies are more conservative than the others, like in Saudi Arabia, it’s restricted for women to drive or even to go out without wearing the ”Abbaya” (long black gown) or without any of their male siblings.

In Jordan, the law states that the man has the right to kill his wife in case of finding her cheating on him with another guy, and to be declared innocent. On the other, other societies like the Levant, Maghreb and Egypt, girls get their freedom in wearing whatever they want, and go out with whomever she likes.

Nowadays, the woman in Arab societies has the right to be will educated, well dressed and played a very strong role in the protests of the Arab spring.  The woman is participating in almost every field of life, and playing a role as strong as the man in building the family.

 

Arab Union in Theatres:

There were a lot of Arabic plays and films which detected the conditions of the region. The gulf is famously known with having strong series about their conditions and social problems, so are the Syrians. But in the African region, Egypt produces strong films, plays and series to the whole region.

Some of the Art work detects the problems of the Arab as a whole, like the play “Seket El-Salama” of the famous actor Mohammed Sobhy, where he points at the Palestinian cause and how Egyptians act towards it. It was produced in 2000.

There’s also the film “El-Hodod” (“The Borders”), produced at 1982, which detected the tragedy of any Arab citizen travelling between the boarders of the Arab world countries.

In the 60’s, the international Egyptian director Youssef Shahin featured the Algerian struggle for independence in his film Gamile Abo-Hred. The film narrates the biography of Abo-Hred and her struggles against French colonialism

In the recent history, the collaboration between different Arab nationalities to produce good pieces of art has been spreading more. In terms of music, the 50s witnessed the famous operate “Watany Habiby” (“My beloved country”) sung by several prominent Arab artists. Afterwards at the late 90s, the famous operate “El-Helm El-Araby” (“The Arab’s dream”) was produced after the Second Intifada of Al-Aqsa.

They operate showed the deterioration caused by Israeli Occupation and the sufferings of the people on the hands of Israeli soldiers. Several artists from almost all the Arab region participated in it.
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Charles Tiayon

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