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Vacancies in this network: Translators, Revisers, Editors, etc.
DOOR International delivers vision in sign language.
This startup helps online businesses smash one of their biggest barriers in Asia
Here are two telling stats: less than 15 percent of the 300 million internet users in India are shopping online; and less than 15 percent of Indians are proficient in English. Put the two together, and you get one of the biggest barriers for internet and mobile businesses in India: language.
Bangalore-based startup Reverie claims to have the key to crossing that barrier: an application programming interface (API) that an app or portal can plug in to deliver its content in over 50 languages.
Co-founder Arvind Pani prefers to use the word “localization” for what Reverie does, and not “translation.” He explains why to Tech in Asia:
If you take the word ‘play,’ it would have different renderings in different contexts in Hindi. In sports it would be ‘khelna;’ in music, it would become ‘bajana;’ and in the context of a brand like John Players, it would have to remain John Players, and cannot become ‘John Khiladiyan’ (players translates to ‘khiladiyan’ in Hindi).
Not just a translator
Pani says Reverie APIs have domain intelligence built into them, so that the “localization” is meaningful. For example, native speakers of Hindi routinely use words like “mobile” without translating them into Hindi. So the Reverie API would convert the phrase “mobile and tablet” into “mobile aur tablet” as native speakers would do, translating only the conjunction. Thus, semantics, natural language processing, and an understanding of local contexts become important to ensure that the conversion of content into local languages doesn’t turn into gibberish.
It’s the intelligent contextualization, claims Pani, which sets Reverie apart from others trying to break the language barriers in India, like Process9 and LinguaNext. Besides, the cloud-based Reverie Language Gateway is more than a translator: it enables content creation, search, and analytics in local languages.
For example, it supports a local language search even if the backend is in English. So, if a user types in the word “jootha” (which means “shoes” in Hindi), she would still discover all the shoes on the portal. It also supports content creation or messaging in local languages with a keyboard app called Swalekh which supports a number of Indian languages.
Local language user analytics
Another key component of Reverie that can provide business value to ecommerce sites and mobile apps is user behavior analytics. “How do you understand the consumers who are using various applications and segments of business in local languages? Our platform can provide data to businesses to help them make better decisions around that,” says Pani.
The market for such a service is huge. As Pani points out, over 800 million Indians, representing more than 10 percent of the global population, are literate even if it isn’t in English. Yet, their languages form less than 0.02 percent of the content on the Web.
“Compare this number with the less than 100 million Indian users who transact in English. This is a market waiting to happen, provided it happens in local languages, with quality of experience as easy and delightful as it is with English. Businesses can see a 10x growth in multilingual markets such as India. Reverie makes this possible and delivers it at scale through a pay-as-you-grow model,” says Pani.
Investors agree. Today Qualcomm Ventures and Aspada Investment Company (which has commitment from the Soros Economic Development Fund) announced a US$4 million series A round of funding for the five-year-old Reverie, whose products had earlier won awards from Qualcomm, Microsoft, and Nasscom.
While Arvind Pani earlier worked for Intel, his two co-founders Vivek Pani and SK Mohanty were with the Indian government-supported Center for Development of Advanced Computing which has done pioneering work in telecom and infotech.
Southeast Asia on the horizon
The Indian constitution lists more than 22 official languages, but there are dozens of others spoken by millions. The Indian Market Research Bureau saysthat nearly half the online population in the country access the internet in their local language, even though content available in regional languages is very limited. So it’s safe to assume that a majority of the next 100 million internet users in India will not be doing it in English, especially with services like Reverie gaining ground.
Reverie has visions of making that happen outside India too. Currently, the 50 languages it supports include 22 Indian languages as well as Southeast Asian languages like Bahasa Indonesia and Thai, Middle Eastern ones like Arabic and Persian, and most of the European languages.
With the fresh funds under its belt, Reverie aims to expand into Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.
It took Mugdha Karnik 1.5 years to translate 'Lord of the Rings' to Marathi
Tuesday, 01 September 2015 - 6:49pm IST | Deven Lad | Edited by: Natasha Singh
Mugdha Karnik was not keen on translating fiction but did it for her daughter. Deven Lad/iamin
Mugdha Karnik, director of Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, University of Mumbai, has gained popularity through her translations of novels like Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Karnik spoke to iamin about her latest translation of Lord of the Rings (LOTR) series and her love for Marathi translation.
An avid reader, Karnik took one and half years to translate Lord of the Rings trilogy. Not fan of LOTR, Karnik had only read it once before translation. It was in 2012 when her daughter convinced her to translate LOTR in Marathi as earlier translations of ‘The Hobbit’ in Marathi were ‘poor.’
Karnik agreed to do it thinking that fiction would be easier to translate than philosophical books. “Translating fiction is easier as the author has only one meaning but a philosophical piece might have more than one interpretation,” she said. She found translating LOTR easier than Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.
“Some Marathi readers find it difficult to understand classic English novels because of the language. I had to read the book very carefully as J. R. R. Tolkien had written it beautifully and the language is enriched, making it difficult to translate in Marathi. I took one and a half years to translate as it should not affect an author’s work. A reader told me that I should have used ‘Angathi,’ instead of ‘Mudrika’ (both mean ring) as that is easier to understand. Readers will comprehend its significance only after understanding its context," she added.
Karnik is an admirer of Ramchandra Patwardhan's work, especially the Padas translation of ‘The Yearling’ by Marjori Kinnan Rawlings . “Even though I am not a fiction fan and translation of LOTR is not in my favourite list, I enjoyed how Tolkein describes fictional world through his writing.”
For Karnik, translating is a hobby. It is like extracurricular activity after work. Her first draft is always read by her husband Dhananjay who helps her make changes if required. Karnik is one of the leading Marathi translators who believes that a good translator must know both languages very well. Right now, she is reading a variety of books and looks forward to translate ‘The Foundation Trilogy.’
Los estudiantes de la Universidad de Buenos Aires con dificultades auditivas podrán acceder a las explicaciones de los profesores a través de traducciones en tiempo real, gracias a un programa especialmente pensado para favorecer la accesibilidad, informó el rectorado de esa casa de altos estudios.
Desde la incorporación de nueva tecnología hasta el cambio de un simple hábito en el aula pueden allanar el acceso de muchos estudiantes a las clases, afirmaron desde el Programa Discapacidad y Universidad de la UBA.
“Para los que tienen discapacidad auditiva, habrá un espacio dotado con tecnología e intérpretes en lenguas de señas con formación académica, que posibilitará la transmisión en tiempo real de lo explicado en las clases”, dijo a Télam Susana Underwood, coordinadora del programa.
Además, se ofrecerán “audio-descripciones” para los estudiantes con problemas visuales que asistan a las proyecciones de videos y películas que se utilizan como material de enseñanza; y la “subtitulación” del material didáctico para los que tienen limitaciones auditivas, entre otras estrategias pensadas para allanar dificultades motrices o de aprendizaje, informó Underwood.
Si bien el programa “se apoya en el uso de herramientas tecnológicas que hagan más accesible el camino a nuestros estudiantes –amplió la funcionaria– a veces, un simple cambio de hábito por parte del docente es suficiente para garantizar la correcta comprensión del español”.
Y dio un ejemplo: “dirigirse a la clase de frente o tocar el hombro de un alumno para adelantarle que se hará una aclaración, también forma parte de la accesibilidad a una educación de calidad”, lo que implica incluir la capacitación docente y talleres que aborden el tema de la discapacidad desde diferentes estrategias, criterios y acciones.
Además, se prevé la instalación en el aula “de aros magnéticos rodeando el perímetro de las salas. Se trata de amplificadores que permiten una transmisión del sonido sin los efectos adversos de la distancia o el ruido de fondo para quienes utilizan audífonos o implantes cocleares”, añadió.
“Como docente, pienso en la sensación de fracaso que podremos evitarles a nuestros alumnos, cuando a la hora de acceder a la lecto comprensión tienen alguna barrera que se los obstaculiza”, concluyó la coordinadora, quien defendió la idea de “incluirlos a todos en una educación universitaria de calidad”.
Según el Censo 2011 de la UBA -y sus actualizaciones de 2012 y 2013- 2.498 estudiantes de grado declararon tener alguna discapacidad.
De ese total, 210 dijeron tener discapacidad visual; 356 apuntaron dificultades auditivas, 44, limitaciones para hablar; 659, para usar miembros superiores o inferiores; 91, acusaron alguna combinación; y 1.173 estudiantes refirieron otras no especificadas.
“La pregunta sobre discapacidad no era obligatoria, por lo que no necesariamente refleja la cantidad de personas con discapacidad que estudian en la UBA.
De todas maneras, esa medición nos permitió tener la aproximación”, aseguró Gustavo Galli, a cargo de la Secretaría de Extensión de la UBA y Bienestar Estudiantil, de cuya área depende el programa.
Si bien el programa -que respondió a una convocatoria del Ministerio de Educación de la Nación y salió aprobado- apunta a un diseño universal de la educación, “en la universidad se dan situaciones que requieren estrategias específicas y por esa razón es parte de nuestras actividades”, dijo el secretario de Extensión.
“El proyecto quedó encuadrado por el rector de la UBA, Alberto Barbieri, dentro del objetivo de la universidad de brindar una educación de alta calidad: pero accesible, democrática y que procura eliminar las barreras de la desigualdad, dando las mismas oportunidades para todos”, señaló Galli.
En línea con la Convención de los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad, sancionada por la ONU en 2006, “el programa se orienta a la eliminación de las barreras que impiden el ejercicio de los derechos”, según sus postulados.
Translation of written text is one of the few areas where computers still have a lot of space for improvement compared to humans. Although Google Translate and similar tools are widely used for making sense of stuff you don’t understand, machine translation is not quite ready to replace people when it comes to creation of clean, comprehensive texts.
Machines, however, can significantly improve the productivity of human translators with a number of tools that fall under the Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) category. A newcomer to this industry, SmartCAT, has included the most useful tools and combined them with a marketplace for freelance translators.
SmartCAT translation workspace
A spin-off company with $6 million in seed funding from Russia’s ABBYY LS, SmartCAT makes a translator’s life easier by leveraging the concept of translation memories. This means that all sentences are saved and matched with new translation projects, so there’s no need to translate similar phrases over and over again. In addition to that, a glossary can be created to make sure that the key terms are translated in a consistent way.
“Combined, these [and other] translation automation technologies increase speed by 70 percent and reduce costs by up to 50 percent, as estimated by the company’s internal research,” Jean-Luc Saillard, SmartCAT COO told TNW.
All these ideas are not new and have already been implemented in other CAT like the de-facto industry standard Trados, Google’s Translator Toolkit or cloud localization startup Smartling.
The new thing SmartCAT has done is the introduction of a freelance translation marketplace, which simply eliminates the need for clients to work with an agency or spend hours on “general-purpose” freelance platforms like Upwork.
The app, named Bridge, is meant to solve “a problem that’s a flaw with the way Facebook and Twitter currently operate.”
By JOSEPH LICHTERMAN @ylichterman Aug. 31, 2015, 11:58 a.m.
Construction of an expansion of Egypt’s Suez Canal was supposed to take three years. But at the insistence of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, it was built in only one — it opened earlier this month.
The day the new canal opened, August 6, was a national holiday. Dignitaries from around the world gathered to celebrate the project, which cost more than $8 billion.
On Twitter, though, a different story was playing out. Users co-opted many of the hashtags around the celebratory event and used them to question and satirize the government’s claims that the new canal would be an economic boon for Egypt. But because most of the tweets were in Arabic, many Western news organizations covered the dissent through posts that were in English. Much of the same happens with other news stories in countries where English is not the main language, from the Greek debt crisis to the ongoing political situation in Mexico.
In an attempt to improve translation of social media posts, Meedan — a hybrid for-profit and nonprofit group that focuses on global journalism and translation — has built Bridge, a mobile-first platform for translating social media posts.
“We’re addressing a problem that’s a flaw with the way Facebook and Twitter currently operate,” Ed Bice, Meedan’s CEO, told me. “Facebook and Twitter are not wired for human-generated translation at this time, so until then, until they get to that point, Bridge is a solution that allows us to take this content across language boundaries.”
Bridge is being built through Meedan Labs, the for-profit arm of the organization. Bice said the group had a contract with a social media company — he wouldn’t say which one — that “allowed us to build out the code base that we’re building bridge on. We have an unlimited license to develop bridge based on the fact that we brought it into them, and we believe that the prototype that we worked on for them will be expressed in the coming years.”
With Bridge, Meedan hopes to convey the nuances of language that often get lost in the machine translations that the social networks currently use. Meedan is planning on releasing an version of the iOS app in the fall for “limited usage,” An Xiao Mina, the Bridge product manager, said. The opening of the new Suez Canal was a first real test run of Bridge.
Meedan is currently focused only on Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese, and for now it’s only offering it as an iPhone app, though there is a desktop reader that lets users follow different feeds of translated posts for various events. The reader should become available publicly within the next few weeks, Meedan said. It ultimately would like to add different languages and expand to Android as well. Additionally, Meedan is thinking about eventually monetizing the app.
“We are thinking about how we bring micropayments, virtual currencies, incentive models into an ecosystem where someone can request a translation, a journalist who is breaking a news story and needs an immediate translation can query the network with a request for translation,” Bice said. “We do have a view of creating a sustainable model around this, but we hope we can do that while keeping the values, the social core of what we want to do, both building a company and building technology.”
Translators using the app can follow different topics or users, and when they see a post they want to translate they can just tap on it. Once they get to the main translate screen, users can call up a machine translation from Bing. Mina said about half of the beta translators prefer to start “with machine translation so they can use it as a reference point or edit it directly.” Users can additionally add in explanations to the translations to provide additional context and background information. Within the app, users can also view a feed of others’ translations, where they can review the and help improve them.
The app also includes an editable dictionary, originally sourced from BabelNet, so translators can look up words they don’t know and similarly add in phrases, including hashtags, so they’re consistent across all of Bridge’s translations. In the coverage of the Suez Canal opening, for example, Bridge translated popular Arabic hashtags such as #Egypt_Delights and #TheSonOfABaldHeadedWomanOpensTheCreek.
“The son of a bald lady opens a creek — that has a really beautiful rhyme in Arabic, so being able to express and annotate and mark that is really important,” said Tom Trewinnard, Meedan’s business development manager. “It adds a lot of depth, I think, to the understanding around what’s going on and how people are talking about these things. That’s as true for humor and satire as it is for hard news.”
Meedan is now working with a small group of vetted translators, but it plans to open up the platform to a wider audience. When that happens, users will be able to upvote and downvote translations, so editors can highlight the best translations on the platform.
Once a translation is published, it then appears in a completed translations feed in the app, and only the best translations will then continue onto Bridge Reader, where the original post is published above the translation. Bridge also lets users share the translations in a handful of ways. It’ll produce an embed code so users can add the original post and translation to their own pages. There’s an option to create a screenshot of the post and translation. Or users can share the translation on Twitter, and the translation will be produced as a reply to the original Tweet, so both the tweet and the translation will show up in their followers’ feeds.
Bridge only works with Facebook and Twitter posts for now, but as Meedan expands its language offerings, it would like to add different networks as well. So if it begins Chinese translations, Meedan would similarly likely begin translating posts on Sina Weibo, the popular Chinese social network.
“The idea here really is about reaching the online communities in a variety of different contexts,” Mina said, and as an example, she highlighted the recent minor earthquake in San Francisco where people from all sorts of communities were posting on various networks in different languages.”Often with big events, in different areas, the conversation…is very much spread out,” she said.
Translation has long been a focus for both Meedan and Mina individually. Meedan was founded in 2006; in 2009, the group translated tweets from Farsi during the Iranian revolution, then continuing its translation work throughout the Arab Spring. Meedan has also worked with journalist Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk — a seven-year project where Salopek (a former Nieman Visiting Fellow) is recreating the spread of humanity from sub-Saharan Africa to the tip of South America — to translate social media posts from around the route of his walk.
Chen Guangcheng has a posse and Ai Weiwei is everywhere: Memes as dissent in China
May 8, 2012
Prior to her work at Meedan, Mina helped translate Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Twitter account into English. MIT professor Ethan Zuckerman connected Mina with Bice and Meedan, and together they “worked to productize this [and] brainstormed what that product would like based on our mutual experiences,” Bice said.
Bridge intimately fits in with Meedan’s other main project (Checkdesk, a free, open-source breaking news verification tool) and its larger mission of supporting journalists and freedom of expression around the globe. And as Meedan continues to develop Bridge, it will work to find new ways for both products to work together.
“[W]e have a vision of both of them integrating with each other,” Mina told me in a follow up email. “Both are being designed to support real-time news in global contexts — in order to do effective verification, we often need translation (both linguistic and cultural), and in order to do effective translation, we often need to verify facts and reports in the media we are translating.”
“THE TOWER OF BABEL” BY PIETER BRUEGEL THE ELDER, 1563.
By Dilip Menon, University of the Witwatersrand
Foundation essay: Our foundation essays are longer than usual and take a wider look at key issues affecting society.
Susa lo-mtunzi gawena. Hayikona shukumisa lo saka
"Move your shadow. Don't rattle the bag." - JD Bold, Fanagalo Phrase Book, Grammar and Dictionary, the Lingua Franca of Southern Africa, 10th Edition, 1977
In South Africa's bad old days white people spoke English or Afrikaans. These were the languages of command. When needing to engage with those who didn't speak English, whites could use Fanagalo - a pidgin based on Zulu and peppered with English and some Afrikaans. It was developed on the country's mines and was good for giving orders, if not having a conversation.
In this piece I want to look in particular at the question of knowledge and our universities in South Africa. There is a struggle afoot to change the racial composition of the faculty and students at universities to move towards transformation.
It is abundantly clear that equal attention is not being paid to the questions of both the language of instruction and the content of syllabi in South African universities. English still dominates instruction at the major universities, as does Euro American knowledge.
There are some small steps towards change. The University of Witwatersrand, where I work, recently tabled a multilingual policy. It will incorporate Sesotho and isiZulu as co-languages, along with English as an official part of campus life, in and outside the classroom.
Are there any lessons that South Africa's universities can learn from India on this journey? After all, from the very moment of independence in India, a debate began about the landscape of language in the university space.
A three-language policy
India's three language formula - mother tongue, regional language and English - was hammered out in 1956. It represented a whittling down from the original six language formula which envisaged the learning of Sanskrit, Persian/Arabic, and a European language.
Because of the government's three language policy, schoolchildren learnt English, Hindi and the language of the region they grew up in. If their mother tongue was different from these three, they could enrol in schools run by the community where they could also learn their mother tongue.
In effect, an Indian child was nearly always trilingual, and more often than not knew four languages.
In many schools Sanskrit was compulsory until high school and could be taken as an optional subject all the way through to the final examinations. This added another language to the four already being taught at school and home.
English as part of the language hierarchy
A cynic might say that the policy's only achievement was that Indians now speak four languages badly. But it remains that, because of this enshrined multilingualism, universities are not dominated by English - as much as an elite would like them to be.
In universities run by the state governments, one had to learn the language of the region within the period of probation or risk losing one's job. Even at the country's Central Universities, where English was the medium of teaching, lecturers always had to allow for the diversity of their students' educational backgrounds and linguistic landscapes.
Against this backdrop a certain economy of language emerged in which English was one of many languages of instruction and of sociability. While I was teaching in Kerala, formal lectures in English were supplemented by after class conversations in Malayalam. In Delhi, formal lectures were sometimes bilingual, but after class interactions were nearly always bilingual, if not trilingual.
Despite all of this, none of the regional languages acquired the epistemological status that English possesses. While universities set up Hindi language translation bureaus, these were often poorly funded and irregularly staffed.
Social and political movements argued for more access to knowledge in languages like Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil, among others. Because of their efforts, a commentary-in-translation industry arose outside the academic realm.
But what about the content?
However, that is the tip of the iceberg. Indian academia remains very much in thrall to the Euro American paradigm, as is the case with most developing nations. There has been a robust engagement with the question of languages in India's universities, but not an equally vigorous struggle with the politics of knowledge.
Our most prominent academics are those who know their Marx, Foucault and Derrida. Or, depending on their intellectual concerns - from environmentalism to feminism and the history of science - the relevant icons and academic literature from Europe and America.
Indian languages and Sanskrit, or Arabic and Persian, were seen as the repository of a literary imagination. At universities, one could opt to study these languages - but not as repositories of concepts and a social imagination.
We have had engagements with the political and ethical language of Islam, but as history. There has been a sustained scholarship on Sanskrit poetics, ritual and political concepts, but within the realm of Indology.
British politician Thomas Babington Macaulay spearheaded the introduction of English as India's official medium of instruction. He sought to produce a vast clerkhood in India working in the service of empire. This clerkhood would have a knowledge of English that would allow Indians at best to become mimic men excised from their intellectual past.
When the intellectual class revolted, it was inevitable that they would turn to another European inheritance - Marxism. And Marxism has become the opium of the decolonised intellectual.
In India, thinking through categories of experience, ethics and politics from indigenous concepts has been an enterprise abandoned even before it was begun.
A warning to South Africa
India's experience stands as a warning to South Africa, even as institutions like the University of the Witwatersrand work towards a deeper politics of broadening the landscape of language.
To avoid such initiatives becoming a merely functional multilingualism - a higher version of Fanagalo - all academic faculty must be supported to become bilingual. Translation funds need to be set up for creating a corpus of social science and scientific literature within local languages.
The desire to be ranked among the top 100 universities in the world compels universities in the global south to jump through hoops and show that we are capable of reproducing Euro American social theory competently.
It is not without significance that the most radical intellectual initiative to emerge from India in the last generation -the subaltern studies collective did not address the question of the politics of knowledge at all. The very act of provincialising Europe was done through an assiduous engagement with European thought and a studied indifference to Asian or African modes of thinking.
What would it mean in South Africa's universities to think with traditions of intellectual inquiry within Africa rather than just through a notion of ubuntu that is little more than a Readers' Digest version of everyone getting along fine with each other?
A decolonised imagination would be daring enough to draw upon Islam, Confucianism or the different and radical modernities of the Caribbean and Latin America.
In our universities we think with and teach a theoretical tradition forged in Europe in the last 400 years, rather than affirming that questions of self, community, politics and ethics have been the marrow of traditions of intellection in our spaces for a few thousand years.
We need to rattle our bags to begin with and not just caddy for those who play.
Dilip Menon does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
The Deaf Bible Society has started a movement to bring the story of Jesus in sign language to the deaf community in the Middle East for the first time ever as a way to combat the Islamic State terrorist organization's efforts to recruit the overlooked deaf populations with promises of a "false hope."
As only 20 of the world's 400 sign languages have some form of Bible content available, there is not one sign language in the Middle East that has Bible content available to let those in the region who are deaf know that there is hope that can be found in the Savior Jesus Christ.
Deaf communities are often overlooked in the Middle East, they become susceptible to fall for the sense of empowerment promised to them by IS, a terrorist group that has become renowned for the lies it uses to recruit disenfranchised members of society.
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When IS released a recruitment video in March that aimed to lure deaf people to join the jihadi movement, DBS felt the urge to begin a Bible translation process for sign language in the Middle East as a way to counteract IS' recruitment of the deaf community.
"A lot of deaf communities have really been put down by their societies, so they see something like the IS video and say, 'Wow, a regime that is actually going to give us something, give us a place, give us stature, give us empowerment.' But, it is a false empowerment. It is a temporary empowerment. It's temporary hope, and even then it is not true hope," DBS President J.R. Bucklew said in an interview with The Christian Post.
"So, we have to provide them a resource that they can look at. It's not my words. It's not your words. It's just God's words, so that they can gauge and say what is true hope. Not only hope for today, but hope for eternity."
Although DBS launched a project designed to finally introduce deaf Middle Easterners to the story of how Jesus died for the sins of man, there are quite a few obstacles that stand in the way.
Bucklew said that one of the biggest challenges that DBS and its partnering companies have faced in starting the translation process is finding indigenous deaf people in the region who are willing to be a part of the Bible sign language translation process.
In order to rally indigenous deaf believers, DBS is producing a two-hour video that highlights the story of Jesus in sign language, which aims to gather deaf believers to contribute to the process.
The video is expected to be completed and ready to distribute via microSD cards by the end of 2015, Bucklew explained.
"The video will be the icebreaker and the engagement tool that we and our other partners on-ground, in-country need to reach deaf people," Bucklew explained. "So, once we are able to distribute, we are working with partners for some intentional evangelistic movement among the sign language in the Middle East, and church planting, and working with the deaf, and engaging the deaf, and then, we will be able to draw out sort of an indigenous team."
"Right now, the issue is that I can't just walk in and say, 'Hey, are you a Christian?' They are not going to say 'Yeah, I am,'" Bucklew continued. "But if I show them a video, and they identify with that video, they can say, 'Hey, you must also identify with that video. By the way, I believe in that.' So, we are able to build a team of indigenous deaf people who can then carry on a Bible translation project."
Once a team of indigenous speakers has been established, Bucklew says it could take anywhere from three to five years until a foundational sign language Bible is ready to be released.
"We are working on other models, newer models, some experimenting with methodology and technology to say 'Can we reduce the time, reduce the costs, but increase content?' What will it take for us to do that?" Bucklew asked.
"Our goal would be that once this tool gets out ... that we will then be able to recruit a translation team, who after three years or so, will have significant Bible translation content to support these churches that have been planted in this evangelistic movement."
Bucklew explained that although there are various text translations of the Bible available, the World Federation of the Deaf estimates that about 95 percent of the world's deaf population is functionally illiterate.
"We built the text based on the spoken language, based on sound. So, even for the deaf that learn to read, it's mostly just memorizing symbols that represent a sound that they have no way to identify with," Bucklew said. "Then they are just matching symbols with things that are tangible in front of them. The spoken language in a text form is always a second language to them. They are not able to identify with them as you would a sign language."
One LaaS thing: building the Indian Internet in vernacular languages
Sahil Kini | August 31, 2015 at 2:25 pm
A living language is a throbbing, vital thing, ever changing, ever growing and mirroring the people who speak and write it. Our great provincial languages are no dialects or vernaculars, as the ignorant sometimes call them. They are ancient languages with a rich inheritance, each spoken by many millions of people, each tied up inextricably with the life and culture and ideas of the masses as well as the upper classes. It is axiomatic that the masses can only grow educationally and culturally through the medium of their own language.
– Jawaharlal Nehru, ‘The Question of Language’, 1937 essay
Even to a consummate insider, India’s diversity is staggering to behold. If India is a tapestry that binds together a dizzying array of cultures and cuisines, then its languages are the individual threads that represent them. For Indians, it is the most powerful marker of identity, superseding both caste and religion.
India today speaks 780 languages (‘Peoples Linguistic Survey of India’) represented in 86 different scripts. Twenty nine of them are spoken by at least a million people, 22 are recognized by the Constitution as official languages. One of them, of course, is English. From being the language of colonial oppression, it has now risen to the status of the language of aspiration. Whenever I bring up the topic of the need for the promotion of vernacular languages, I’m waved away by most who say that the rise of English speakers is inevitable. And perhaps it is.
However, for the time being, India is overwhelmingly vernacular. India by most estimates has between 100-120 million English speakers. That’s a measly 10% of the population. However, if one goes by the ability to read English, this number dwindles to between 60-80 million people.
Now consider this: India has 220 mobile Internet users as of today, with 20 million additional users being added every quarter. While English language content accounts for 56% of the content on the Internet, Indian languages account for less than 0.1%. If we assume all those who could speak English were the earliest adopters of the mobile Internet, India still has anywhere between 100-160 million users that have no comprehension of the content presented to them.
Have you ever wondered how that might feel?
Humour me for a second and go to the settings menu on your smartphone. Find the tab that says, ‘Language and Input’ and then select a script you don’t understand. Like Cyrillic or Bahasa. Then hit the home key. Now try and change it back to English. That sense of total disorientation and nervous fumbling is what these 100+ million users experience every single day.
And yet, for all our A/B testing on where to put the ‘buy now’ button and which shade of orange it should be, all our talk about how UX is everything, and all the excitement about India being mobile-first, no one has yet solved this very fundamental issue.
Unlike the Chinese or Japanese Internet which was built in native scripts from day zero, the Indian Internet was built in English. But as a nation, we are at a stage in our Internet growth story where English only just doesn’t cut it anymore. It is no accident that the circulation of vernacular language newspapers far outstrips any English daily. To go truly deep, to reach out to our users, to make a digital India – vernacular is the only way.
This is exactly why we’re extremely excited to announce our investment in Reverie Language Technologies. Reverie is the only company building a Language as a Service (LaaS) platform spanning the full-stack of digital vernacular technology through cross-device font rendering, business grade transliteration and translation, language input through native language keyboards, and contextual search.
All this vernacular goodness is delivered via their platform in a developer friendly package that simply requires an app or a website to integrate their SDK into their codebase.
Now there will always be those who say that people who can’t comprehend English are not high value customers. However, in the same breath everyone in the e-commerce ecosystem will hail the sales they’re generating from Tier 2,3,4 cities. It is self-evident that such arguments are founded in perception and not data. One visit to cities like Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Surat, or Ludhiana is sufficient to change the perception of English supremacy as the language of commerce.
And yet, while small businesses owners and single person entrepreneurs who can read English, self-select into the digital economy and those who cannot are excluded, leaving a huge untapped market. It is inevitable, that these untapped markets will become the next growth engine for the digital economy. E-commerce companies, cab-aggregators, hyper-local grocery startups, and pretty much every other digital property will have to learn to speak to their customers in their language.
This is why we believe that Reverie’s Language platform will become a foundational technology of the Indian Internet.We are very excited to partner with Reverie as their vision is completely aligned with Aspada’s mission to solve hard problems.
Key elements of building the Indian Internet: creation and comprehension
Given the fact that Indian language content accounts for less than 0.1% the total, creating an easy language input interface becomes fundamental to building an Indian Internet. And with consumers creating a vast majority of Internet content, a mobile keyboard becomes the most prudent mode of language input. For app-developers and mobile-based business, the challenge is to present content that can be easily understood. As we’ve already established, companies are great at reaching out to English audiences. Communicating to their non-English speaking customers is where the real challenge lies. However, creating fresh content from the ground up is time and resource intensive; this is where translation or “localization” kicks in.
Content creation – Language input: A basic prerequisite to delivering content in vernacular language is the ability to create content. In the most basic form, this is essentially a keyboard, but on top of this several other systems such as a publisher, word editor and other programs can be built. Language input for Indic scripts can be achieved by two different approaches – Native and Transliteration based input. A great example of both of these input methods can be seen with the Swalekh keyboard developed by Reverie Language Technologies, which combines both these modes of language input across 11 languages, along with predictive typing, and is available for download on the Google Play store.
Native and Transliteration-based typing on Reverie’s Swalekh keyboard
Comprehension or ‘Localization’ or domain specific translation:
Here’s another little test. Let me ask you to translate the word ‘Play’ into Hindi.
If you said ‘Khel’, you would be right. But what if I was talking about music? You’d instantly go, “Oh, in that case, it should be ‘Bajaao’ ” and with a tip-of-the-hat to Raju band, you’d also be right. But if I was talking about Shabana Azmi and then asked you to translate you’d probably say ‘Naatak’. Also right.
This is exactly why translation algorithms have historically failed to achieve business grade accuracy. This is primarily driven by the fact that popular translation algorithms have adopted a “one-size fits all” approach which is poorly suited to capture the nuances of context, culture, and idioms embedded in Indian languages. As is evident from this example, a translation request without contextual information is bound to fail. Reverie solves this problem by adopting a domain specific approach to translation. Since it primarily serves businesses that operate in particular segments, the contextual data associated with such segments is used by Reverie to ensure higher accuracy when it comes to translation.
Search: The Holy Grail
From “Yeh dil maange more” to “Yenna Rascala”, it is obvious that India’s usage English is very free form. We very liberally shove an English word into a Hindi sentence or throw in words from our native tongue when we can’t find the English analogue.
Imagine if you will that Nitish, a college going student in Allahabad, is feeling particularly dapper, and decides he wants to buy a pair of red shoes for Diwali. Nitish while searching for red shoes on a fashion e-commerce website can potentially type in at least four different strings “Red Shoes”, “Laal Joota” (literal translation of red shoes in Hindi), “Laal Shoes” or “Red Joota”. In such cases the search algorithm must be intelligent enough to identify that all these search terms mean the same thing and deliver identical results.
Indian users are accustomed to using vernacular languages interchangeably with English words and any search algorithm that hopes to work in the vernacular market must hold this to be axiomatic.
To offer a truly rich search experience to users in the vernacular languages, all the other elements of the stack namely fonts, font rendering, native and transliterative input, and domain-specific translation must work together intelligently. Moreover, the input strings may be served in Devanagiri script instead of Roman script, in which case the fluidity of language input must also be accounted for. Another aspect to be covered when it comes to intelligent user-friendly search is recognizing brand names and avoiding literal translation in such cases. For example, if one searches for a John Players (a popular ITC brand of men’s apparel), and requests results in Hindi, the translation algorithm should be able to identify the brand and not convert it to “John Khiladi” which would be meaningless and therefore yield no results. Therefore, we return to the criticality of domain specific search, because without context there can be no comprehension and therefore no search.
Introducing Language as a Service (LaaS)
While there are several players in the market that build individual elements of the vernacular technology stack, there is a dire need to take a full stack approach to solving the vernacular problem with a special focus on mobile platforms. An app-developer or an e-commerce company doesn’t want to deal with a keyboard company, a translation management software, a separate search engine and then spend months of engineering effort integrating them all into their back-end only to see a poor UX in vernacular.
Reverie addresses all these issues with their Language as a Service (LaaS) platform. It allows online businesses to integrate local languages into their web and mobile applications with very little effort expended on engineering and integrations. Once the Software Development Kit (SDK) is integrated into their application and servers, Reverie’s cloud-based backend takes care of translation, rendering text in multiple languages, language input and analytics.
HDFC securities recently integrated the SDK into their HDFC securities multilingual application to great effect.
We believe that Reverie will have a very real business impact on every app or website. Speaking to customers in their mother tongues will not only improve conversions but will also help users understand messages such as delivery timelines, stockout and other text-based nuances that most non-English speakers miss.
Another key benefit is stickiness. It is no secret that every app’s greatest battle is staying on the phone. Uninstall rates regularly hover around the 70% mark. All that money and effort spent in acquiring a download often evaporates into thin air because the customer has no idea what you’re trying to say. When apps can speak to customers in a language they can understand, communicating the value proposition is no longer a question of comprehension. To put it simply, an app available in a vernacular language has a much better chance of sticking.
Furthermore, every app developer and mobile commerce company is looking for that elusive goal – engagement. Companies want users to spend more time on their app because that means more transactions, more ad revenue, and more stickiness. It’s the reason why we’re bombarded with so many notifications today. Enabling vernacular will mean that the user will finally be able to talk back and let the company and the user community know what they think and feel. Additionally, in today’s marketplace driven ecosystem, engagement from sellers becomes critically important to ensure a high quality catalogue and a pleasant consumer experience.
On a personal note, being a polyglot myself has only strengthened my belief that the vernacular language revolution is upon us. Having grown up in a business family in a Tier-2 town like Mangalore, I have seen first hand that most business is conducted in local languages. If you have ever spoken to a stranger in their mother tongue and seen that inevitable spark in their eyes, then you know the value of speaking another language. Language enables greater understanding, which is the very basis of building trust. And that, in a word is, priceless.
Llevo una hora y media jugando y lo que al principio parecía ser una traducción en sudamericano al final creo que ni en sudamericano llega a este nivel de cutrerío y horror. Ojo, no llega al nivel del The Walking Dead, pero es desastrosa.
A tirarte rápidamente en el suelo lo llaman "sumergirte". Explicitamente pone "Pulsa cuadrado para sumergirte". Sin duda se trata de una traducción literal del original "To dive", que significa bucear, sumergirse y tirarse al suelo.
Para pedir inteligencia dicen "Hacer un llamado de inteligencia"
A los prismáticos los llama binoculares, lo cual a pesar de ser correcto la impresión de ser también una traducción literal de "binoculars" ya que es más común decir prismáticos.
A la Mother Base la llaman "Base Madre", para eso que dejen Mother Base tal cual que es como la conocemos todos. Otra vez traducción literal.
Hacen un abuso de "él" "ellos" cuando por el contexto es innecesario, ya que si por ejemplo digo "Kaz fue capturado y está atrapado" en el juego pone "Kaz fue atrapado y él está atrapado", así en cualquier frase donde sea totalmente innecesario ya sea porque el verbo indica la persona y género o simplemente por redundante, lo cual es otro síntoma de traducción literal ya que en inglés siempre hay que poner "he" "she" etc.
Aún no he llegado a un punto donde usen la segunda persona del plural "vosotros/as" pero me temo que si van con el mismo rollo van a meter "ustedes" ya sea para hablar a unos amigos que para hablar formalmente, sudamerican style. ¿alguien puede confirma que al menos han respetado el vosotros/as?
Con Metal Gear Solid
Editado por paposi, Ayer, 17:59 .
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Pinturas de Miguel Elías y fotografías de José Amador Martín acompañan a los versos de Spíndola. ‘Me gustó mucho la reverencia de A. P. Alencart a Salamanca’, comenta Lucas
El último poemario de la destacada poeta brasileña Alíce Spíndola, ‘Bajo el zumo del tiempo’, publicado recientemente bajo el sello de la Editora Kelps, de Goiânia, sigue cosechando reconocimientos y comentarios elogiosos. Si el poeta Alfredo Pérez Alencart, traductor y prologuista de la obra, recibió –hace pocas semanas- el Premio Umberto Peregrino, concedido por Unión Brasileña de Escritores de Río de Janeiro, ahora Fábio Lucas (Esmeraldas, Minas Gerais, 1931), considerado uno de los más relevantes críticos literarios brasileños, acaba de escribir una nota sobre este poemario que tiene su vertiente salmantina, no sólo por los aportes de Alencart, Elías y Amador, sino también porque Spíndola se lo dedicó a Pilar Fernández Labrador, “por tu trayectoria de vida, por tu amor a Salamanca y lo que esta ciudad representa para el mundo, este justo y auténtico aplauso”.
Fábio Lucas, quien ha sido profesor en quince universidades de Brasil, Europa y Estados Unidos, además de haber dirigido varias instituciones culturales de su país, entre ellas el Instituto Nacional del Libro, acaba de escribir, a modo de carta, un contundente parecer sobre el nuevo poemario de Alice Spíndola (Ponte Nova, Minas Gerais, 1940), quien el año pasado participó en los Encuentros de Poetas Iberoamericanos que se celebran en Salamanca.
Aquí un fragmento del texto de Lucas, ‘un riguroso crítico que no hace concesiones’, según muchos escritores y especialistas brasileños: “Apreciada Alice Spíndola: (…) Le agradezco el envío de ‘Bajo el Zumo del Tiempo’, hermosa colección bilingüe (portugués-castellano) de sus poemas y creaciones literarias. Los textos dialogan con las imágenes en el maravilloso viaje que la sensible memoria evoca. Usted proporciona al lector el placer inteligente de la lectura. Abraza la visión mítica del universo y profundiza el deleite musical con el que la poesía lírica se enriquece. Más allá de eso, por sobre la imagen acústica, la edición amplía el campo de captación de la belleza escénica, visual, ofreciendo nueva luz a los encantos de la naturaleza y otorga plena armonía a las relaciones humanas, llenas de afecto. Enhorabuena. La conjugación de los dos efectos, auditivo y óptico, se asocian con su competencia de articulación verbal. Creo que sus hallazgos poéticos se amalgaman con la dimensión lírica y especulativa del traductor A. P. Alencart. Me gustó mucho el inicio de la obra con los decires de ‘dejé mi habla’ (Poema ‘Susurro’, transcrito en la solapa) y con la reverencia de A. P. Alencart a Salamanca. Ambos practican un saludable espiritualismo. En fin, usted, con esta obra tan rica, dio alas al ‘inmenso territorio del sueño’ (p. 132). No me extiendo sobre las anclas temáticas –el amor, el tiempo, el río, el silencio, etc. – y de los grandes poetas presentes en la obra, de amigos escritores (Afonso Félix de Souza, Ronaldo Cagiano, Eugênio de Andrade y otros) para no alargarme. Reciba el abrazo y la admiración de Fábio Lucas”.
The translation of Kieu, an expedition into Vietnam’s literature
The translation of the Tale of Kieu by Nguyen Du into foreign languages has never been an easy task. Up to present, the Tale of Kieu has been translated into 20 languages and is available for readers in many countries and territories around the world.
23-year-old Jan Komarek of Charles University in Prague, the Czech Republic completed the translation of 200 sentences in the Tale of Kieu from Vietnamese into the Czech language. With this project, Jan was awarded the Czech title of young translator less than 35 years of age.
Jan said there are 60,000 overseas Vietnamese living in the Czech Republic but there are only a few Vietnamese literature works translated into Czech. They include Ho Xuan Huong poems, Ho Chi Minh’s prison diary, and the Tale of Kieu.
Jan added there are two translation versions of the Tale of Kieu in the Czech language, both of which were translated in 1926 and 1958 from French into Czech, not from Vietnamese.
Jan has become the first Czech person to translate the Tale of Kieu directly from Vietnamese into Czech: "I think the greatest value of the Tale of Kieu lies in the Vietnamese language. I’ve read the Tale of Kieu translated from French into Czech and I think it would be much better if I could translate the tale from Vietnamese with reference to explanations in Vietnamese, the translation of Huynh Sanh Thong in English, and Dao Duy Anh’s dictionary for the Tale of Kieu."
The translation of the Tale of Kieu into different foreign languages has never been easy, even for some overseas Vietnamese living abroad.
Translator Truong Hong Quang said in 1951, President Ho Chi Minh presented the Tale of Kieu, translated by Truong Vinh Ky, to a German journalist named Franz Faber when Faber was in Vietnam during the Dien Bien Phu campaign.
Franz Faber and his wife translated the tale into German in 1964 which was reprinted in 1980. However, this book was lost and fell into oblivion in Germany.
Truong Hong Quang and some other translators planned to recover the translation of Franz Faber: "We hope to reprint Franz Faber’s translation of the tale of Kieu in bilingual languages, Vietnamese and German. There are about 120,000 overseas Vietnamese in Germany and it would be a great experience for the younger generations of OVs in Germany to explore their own culture through the tale of Kieu."
Translator Nguyen Huy Hoang has encouraged overseas Vietnamese in Russia to join his efforts to translate the tale into Russian. He said: "There are both Vietnamese and Russian translators in our group. The translation will be a joint effort of the two countries and a way to promote Vietnam’s literature to Russia, a cultural power in the world."
Nguyen Du’s Tale of Kieu was written in lục bát or "six-eight" meter. Nguyen Huy Hoang and his friends tried their best to keep the tale’s original content in their translation with certain changes in the way of expressions to make it suitable to Russian readers.
Hoang said: "A good translator must be excellent in Vietnamese, the foreign languages he or she is specialized in, and the translation skills, to get over any linguistics barriers. We’ve done our best to make our translation simple and easiest for readers to understand."
Dans le placard linguistique
Je trouve étonnant, sidérant, ahurissant, démoralisant et carrément dangereux que l’administration Gallant songe à confier à une seule firme privée la gestion de grands pans des services de traduction du gouvernement du Nouveau-Brunswick.
Honnêtement, je ne sais plus par quel bout prendre ça pour essayer d’expliquer cette hérésie qui révèle, sous un éclairage aussi pathétique que cruel, l’inconscience d’un ministre ou d’un gouvernement capable d’envisager une mesure susceptible de mettre en péril non seulement quelques services gouvernementaux, mais susceptibles à long terme de faire s’effondrer l’espèce d’échafaud que constitue le Bureau de traduction du Nouveau-Brunswick et sur lequel sont placés les droits linguistiques que la minorité francophone est parvenue, de peine et de misère, à faire avaliser par des gouvernements précédents.
On sait que le Nouveau-Brunswick est une province où l’égalité des droits et privilèges des deux communautés linguistiques officielles, l’anglophone et la francophone, est reconnue par des mesures législatives provinciales et fédérales, de même que par la Constitution du Canada.
Mais on sait aussi que depuis que ces lois et amendements constitutionnels sont en place, il s’est toujours trouvé de petits esprits malins pour tenter de contourner les lois, pour en gruger des petits bouts, ou pour tenter de restreindre le sens ou la portée des mots et expressions de différents articles de ces législations.
À cet égard, le Nouveau-Brunswick est champion. Ici, on ne cesse de nous rabattre les oreilles avec le fameux caractère bilingue de la province, alors que tout le monde sait que ce qu’il y a de bilingue, fondamentalement, dans cette province, c’est la francophonie, et que, justement parce que cette francophonie est bilingue, on peut souvent, trop souvent, faire comme si cette spécificité francophone n’existait pas puisqu’elle comprend (et vit) en anglais très souvent.
Mon confrère François Gravel mentionnait ici même, en éditorial, mardi, qu’environ «88 % des mots que le Bureau de traduction du gouvernement provincial traduit le sont de l’anglais au français». C’est tout dire.Pour les gens qui ont connu l’époque des Robichaud, Hatfield, Simard et celle du Parti Acadien, époque où l’on avait l’impression que nos chefs politiques faisaient l’histoire, ce 88 % représente un échec et jette un éclairage criant sur l’envers du discours politique actuel.
Le 7 octobre dernier, on ululait de joie dans les chaumières acadiennes.
Pour plusieurs, l’élection d’une grosse talle de députés acadiens préfigurait une nouvelle ère Robichaud, une ère qui effacerait le peu d’empressement francophile manifesté par les McKenna, Lord et Graham qui lui avaient succédé.
Aujourd’hui, on constate qu’on est en face d’une phalange de députés et ministres francophones qui ne veulent surtout pas faire de vague, qui ont l’air gêné d’affirmer leur identité française, et surtout, voilà qui est tragique, qui semblent percevoir le fait français comme une simple truc parmi d’autres, un banal rituel politique auquel il faut s’astreindre, une réalité qui ne demande en fait qu’à être traduite. Pire: que ce n’est qu’un truc comptable!
Mais CE N’EST PAS ÇA être francophone au Nouveau-Brunswick!
Être francophone aujourd’hui, au Nouveau-Brunswick (et au Canada) – et surtout si on est député et ministre! – c’est faire la PROMOTION du fait français, pas seulement d’essayer de ne pas faire de vague, mais AU CONTRAIRE, faire des vagues, faire du bruit, gueuler s’il le faut, et montrer qu’on ne se laissera pas intimider par un système politique, une machine bureaucratique et des groupes d’intérêts qui veulent maintenir la communauté francophone dans le placard linguistique.
Le ministre Donald Arsenault, en charge des langues officielles, a déclaré récemment que le gouvernement a entrepris «une série de révisions structurelles et opérationnelles afin de trouver des gains d’efficacité. Une de ces initiatives porte sur la traduction».
Je regrette, mais quand il est question du fait français, et à plus fort raison dans une province qui se veut bilingue et où la communauté francophone manque de moyens, on n’est plus dans le calcul des coûts et bénéfices des services que l’État est constitutionnellement chargé de rendre à cette communauté à cause de son identité.
Certes, sur papier, c’est beau de parler «d’efficacité», mais l’existence et la promotion de la communauté francophone du Nouveau-Brunswick n’ont pas être passées au crible d’une quelconque «efficacité» gouvernementale.
Les francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick ne sont pas des pions dont on peut comptabiliser l’existence, mais des êtres vivants doués d’intelligence et de dignité.
Oser même penser confier à une seule agence privée plus de 60 % des services de traduction d’un gouvernement officiellement bilingue, c’est exposer cette communauté francophone à toutes sortes de déficiences éventuelles de cette compagnie appelée à chapeauter ce pan ultrasensible du fait français au Nouveau-Brunswick.
Qu’arriverait-il, par exemple, si cette compagnie pour une raison ou une autre, faisait faillite et n’était plus en mesure d’assurer les services linguistiques du gouvernement?
Devrait-on suspendre les droits linguistiques constitutionnels des francophones en attendant que la firme en question règle ses problèmes financiers? Ou qu’on en déniche une autre?
Et après avoir confié 60 % de la traduction à un maître d’œuvre privé, ce sera 100 %? Qu’arriverait-il alors du Bureau de traduction?
Ne peut-on pas le considérer comme l’une de ces «institutions distinctes» protégées par la Constitution? C’est certainement aussi important pour les francophones qu’un autobus scolaire!
On voit bien que le gouvernement s’est lancé tête première dans une aventure (couper 600 millions) sans avoir une vision d’ensemble de ce que c’est qu’un gouvernement, et de ce qu’il compte faire pour le rendre plus flexible, plus près des gens, plus humain. Tout ce qu’on voit, c’est de l’émondage fait par des amateurs à coup de machettes.
En élisant un gouvernement libéral à forte densité francophone, les Acadiens, Brayons et autres francophones de la province croyaient probablement qu’il serait naturel pour ce gouvernement de comprendre leurs doléances et leurs desiderata.
Mais peut-être n’ont-ils élu que des députés francophones qui sont très heureux de fonctionner en anglais à Fredericton?
C’est ce qui arrive quand on pense qu’on n’a pas de pouvoir: on reste dans le placard linguistique.
Le prix de traduction Morgon Lapierre a été remis par le fils du célèbre vigneron Marcel Lapierre au bar la Pointe du Groin (Paris Xème) lundi 31 août. Les vainqueurs ont reçu plusieurs magnums de Morgon 2014 en récompense de leur traduction vers le français d’un poème de Bertold Brecht, La ballade des pirates. Le texte avait été choisi en hommage à l’écrivain, éditeur et imprimeur Alain Braik, créateur de ce concours bien arrosé.
Remise du Grand Prix de traduction Morgon Lapierre à la Pointe du Groin (Paris X)
L’Union des traducteurs et non traducteurs de Villié-Morgon a distingué trois catégories : le Grand prix, le Prix de la musicalité et le Prix de l’audace. L’organisateur de l’événement, Arthur Lochmann, traducteur de l’allemand et de l’américain, notamment pour la collection Western d’Actes Sud, a annoncé avoir reçu quarante versions durant l’été. Une belle récolte pour ce concours oeno-poétique ouvert à tous et clos depuis le 15 août.
Entre sage audace et juste trahison
Le jury, composé de sept germanistes (Matthieu Dumont, Barbara Fontaine, Dorothée Fraleux, Dieter Hornig, Arthur Lochmann, Camille Luscher et Tobias Scheffel) a délibéré de 15h à 18h, peinant à trouver un accord sur le Grand Prix. « Tout le monde ne partageait pas les mêmes critères », explique Camille Luscher du Centre de traduction de Lausanne, venue spécialement pour l’occasion. Après les quelques verres de Morgon qui accompagnaient les délibérations et plusieurs lectures à voix hautes, le jury a tranché entre « sage audace, fidèle au poème, et juste trahison, nécessaire au rythme ».
Alexandre Pateau, qui a récemment traduit sous le pseudonyme de A. Rosenberg, avec Sven Wachowiak, Quand on rêvait de Clemens Meyer (Editions Piranha 2015) est le vainqueur du Grand prix (un jeroboam de Morgon) qu’il n’a pas ramené à la maison, mais débouché sur place pour le boire avec la cinquantaine de personnes rassemblées à la Pointe du Groin.
Les lauréats dans la catégorie « musicalité », Julien Lapeyre et Jorn Cambreleng, n’auront pas eu le plaisir de trinquer avec l’assemblée, le premier retenu à Berlin, le second à Arles, où il dirige le Collège International des Traducteurs littéraires. Mathieu Lapierre non plus, lequel avait fait le déplacement pour apporter les bouteilles et quelques grappes de raisin fraîchement cueilli, mais était reparti aussitôt, la récolte précoce cette année n’attendant pas le lendemain.
Camille Luscher et le lauréat Alexandre Plateau
L’alexandrin classique préféré pour sa musicalité
Barbara Fontaine, traductrice et enseignante au Centre Européen de Traduction Littéraire de Seneffe, a confié que le jury avait longtemps hésité sur l’usage de l’alexandrin, certains le trouvant bien adapté, d’autres anachronique pour un texte daté de 1917. Le vers classique à douze pieds, utilisé dans les deux versions primées, a finalement séduit l’oreille des examinateurs plus que d’autres formes.
Enfin, le prix de l’audace, très attendu, a été remporté haut la main par le binôme Vincent et Léo Lochmann (le « ch » se prononce « k », ils y tiennent) pour leur version intitulée Le slam du migrant, qui aurait tout aussi bien pu gagner dans la catégorie « musicalité », mais à condition d'opter pour un style sans hémistiches.
Contre les vins sans saveur et les livres sans contenu
Arthur Lochmann a tenu à préciser à ce point de la soirée que les copies avaient été rendues anonymes et Simon Berjeaut, traducteur du portugais qui animait la remise, a clos la session avec quelques citations bienvenues d’Alain Braik. L’Ingénieur Liberté (ainsi surnommé) était ami de longue date avec Marcel Lapierre, instigateur dans les années 80 des vins naturels (sans sulfites, sans insecticides, pesticides et autres engrais de synthèse). Ils s’élevaient tout deux contre le système de la production à outrance, tant de livres sans contenu que de vins sans esprit. Alain Braik avait ainsi inscrit sur une affiche apportée au Salon du livre cette déclaration :
« Nous ne voulons pas que le livre (et le vin, de même !) soit une marchandise comme les autres, soumise à l’impératif de rendement maximal »,
Marcel Lapierre avait par ailleurs signé la préface du recueil Les raisins de la raison qui rassemble la correspondance d’Alain Braik de 1983 à 1988 (Éditions Jean-Paul Rocher). Ils étaient enfin tous les deux amis de Guy Debord lequel assurait ne « connaître aucune déception qui ne résiste à un Morgon Lapierre ». Adage dont on ne peut douter qu’il était le fruit d’une expérience plusieurs fois confirmée et dont les perdants auront pu vérifier la justesse.
Les quatre versions lauréates seront mises en ligne dès réception !
Ils ont un rôle essentiel pour la qualité et la diffusion de littérature, et pourtant les traducteurs sont bien souvent passés à la trappe. Mais, 2015 semble bien être synonyme de progrès. Cette année, les prix littéraires ouvrent de plus en plus leur récompense à ces hommes et femmes, d'ordinaire cachés derrière la notoriété de l’auteur. Le Man Booker International Prize ou le Qatar s’y sont mis. Et ce ne sont pas les seuls…
(Duncan Hull, CC BY 2.0)
Lorsque l'écrivain hongrois László Krasznahorkai a reçu le Man Booker International Prize en mai dernier, il a souhaité que 15.000 £, sur les 60.000 qu'il a reçus, soient distribuées à deux des traducteurs de son œuvre. La réaction ne s’est pas fait attendre : le Man Booker International Prize — tout en absorbant l'Independent Foreign Fiction Prize — a créé un prix annuel qui récompensera les auteurs et les traducteurs dès lors que le livre aura été traduit pour le marché britannique.
Toujours Outre Manche, la Médaille Carnegie, décernée par la CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), a annoncé s’ouvrir l’année prochaine à la traduction de livres étrangers en anglais. « La prise de conscience de la traduction dans la littérature mondiale continue d'augmenter à la fois dans le commerce du livre et parmi le grand public, et cela est vraiment pertinent. Comme prix reconnu à l'échelle mondiale, la Médaille Carnegie CILIP devrait refléter cette réalité », a déclaré à ce sujet Joy Court, Présidente de la Médaille Carnegie ainsi que la Médaille Kate Greenaway. Les traducteurs seront désormais classés dans la catégorie coauteurs afin d’être récompensés pour leur contribution à la narration.
Après l’Angleterre, les Espagnols suivent le pas. L’association ACE Traductores - qui défend les intérêts des traducteurs - a également souhaité faire évoluer la situation. Inspirée par les initiatives précédentes, elle a « adressé une lettre au prix espagnol Princesse des Asturies invitant son directeur à envisager la possibilité de donner plus de visibilité aux traducteurs en espagnol et d'autres langues officielles de l’Espagne ». Plus spécifiquement, la fondation explique avoir demandé que le traducteur soit systématiquement mentionné sur « le certificat de récompense » (Premio Princesa de Asturias).
ACE Traductores n’a d’ailleurs pas manqué de faire référence aux Pays-Bas où le prix européen de littérature (en néerlandais : Europese Literatuurprijs) prend soin de récompenser tout roman écrit dans une langue pratiquée dans l’un des États membre du Conseil de l’Europe, ainsi que sa traduction en néerlandais.
À noter qu'en France, le Prix Pierre-François Caillé récompense chaque année la traduction d’une œuvre littéraire de fiction ou de non-fiction.
Reading emotions in a second language
When reading, we 'embody' less than in our mother tongue
September 1, 2015
International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)
If we read about someone who is smiling and happy, without realizing it, we smile as well. If, however, the text is not in our mother tongue but in a second language, then our mind and body react in a blander manner. This effect may depend on the different way we learn our mother tongue and a second language.
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In the "NeverEnding Story," Bastian feels so involved in the narration that he experiences the same emotions as the characters (and in the end he really enters the book). What happens to the main character of Micheal Ende's book is exactly what happens to each of us when we read a novel or a short story: we literally replicate the physiological processes and emotions of the characters described in the text. Francesco Foroni, research scientist at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste, already demonstrated this phenomenon a few years ago in a study published in Psychological Science (2009). In a new study, published in Brain and Cognition, he now shows what happens when we read in a second language learnt in adulthood.
"The interpretation of these phenomena," explains Foroni, "is accounted for by the theory of embodiment: when we process emotional information, our body 'mimics' the specific emotion by enacting those physiological states that are typical of the emotion." This means, he explains, that when we read about a happy person we smile, whereas if the character is angry we frown (in most cases, these expressions are imperceptible and we are not necessarily aware of them).
"The phenomenon is very intense when we read in our native language but, according to the new study, if we read in a second language learnt after our mother tongue, then this physiological response, while not disappearing completely, is drastically lessened."
Foroni measured the facial expressions (by electromyography, a technique that records muscle activation) of 26 subjects reading texts in English. The subjects were Dutch native speakers who had learnt English at school after the age of twelve. Differently from what was observed in their mother tongue, the facial expressions recorded in response to emotional content were much blander.
The result is in bearing with the embodiment theories: in fact, this view states that we normally learn emotional words "first hand" in emotional contexts (our mother smiling as she asks us to smile at her, for example), whereas a second language is normally acquired in less emotional environments and using formal methods, as occurs, for example, at school. This way, the association between the word representing the emotion and the experience of the emotion itself is looser, "hence, the far milder responses I observed in my study."
The finding has several implications. "Think, for example, of situations in which individuals have to make decisions" explains Foroni. "The literature reports that when we are influenced by emotions we tend to be less rational and make decisions that are not based on an accurate assessment of the problem. It's possible that finding oneself in a context implying the use of a second language may affect the types of decisions we make, by limiting the potential negative impact of emotions."
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
Francesco Foroni. Do we embody second language? Evidence for ‘partial’ simulation during processing of a second language. Brain and Cognition, 2015; 99: 8 DOI: 10.1016/j.bandc.2015.06.006
Cite This Page:
International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA). "Reading emotions in a second language: When reading, we 'embody' less than in our mother tongue." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2015. .
En 2008, la province Nord s’est associée au Laboratoire des langues et civilisations à tradition orale afin de créer des lexiques dans les langues locales qui n’en disposaient pas encore. Les ouvrages devraient paraître l’an prochain.
Une chercheuse recense des mots en langue Zuanga dans la région de Paimboa, à Ouégoa, en 2010.
Photo D. R.
Les linguistes du Laboratoire des langues et civilisations à tradition orale (Lacito) s’intéressaient déjà à la Nouvelle-Calédonie depuis près de quatre décennies. Ses chercheurs avaient d’ailleurs publié plusieurs ouvrages dédiés à des langues kanak, dont certains comprenaient des lexiques. Les idiomes les plus parlés avaient surtout fait l’objet de recherches (lire encadré).
En 2008, la province Nord décide de s’associer à ce processus afin de compléter la bibliographie des langues locales. La collectivité signe ainsi une convention avec l’équipe de chercheurs avec, pour objectif, que toutes les langues kanak parlées dans le Nord possèdent leur lexique. Un ouvrage qui rassemble tous les mots connus et leur traduction en langue française.
« Cette politique permet d’obtenir une base, une photographie de la langue à un instant. C’est aussi ce lexique qui permet que tout le travail de création d’outils pédagogiques, porté par la Direction de l’enseignement, soit ensuite mené », explique Doriane Poymegna, responsable du service valorisation du patrimoine à la Direction de la culture.
Terrain. Un lourd travail a donc été engagé, depuis plusieurs années déjà, pour aboutir à des lexiques en Zuanga (Kaala-Gomen, Ouégoa et Paimboas), en Pwaamei et PwaPwâ (Témala et Boyen), en Hmwaveke (Tiéta) en Hamea (Kouaoua) et en Arhâ (Poya).
Les recherches arrivent à point nommé pour certains idiomes, comme le Pwapwâ, qui ne comptait plus que trente-neuf locuteurs lors du recensement de 2009. Avant que ces mots kanak ne noircissent les pages d’un ouvrage, les chercheurs spécialistes des langues océaniennes ont mené des campagnes, au sein des tribus. Ils y ont recensé tous les mots retrouvés. « C’est un travail de longue haleine. Il faut parfois trouver les personnes ressources, capables de chanter les berceuses ou de dire les contes, enregistrer les locuteurs, transcrire les sons, les traduire. Et puis, un autre travail doit suivre, il s’agit également de trouver la bonne graphie », expose Doriane Poymegna.
Une fois le travail de collecte terminé, les linguistes présentent le fruit de leurs recherches aux autorités coutumières, avant qu’il ne soit soumis à la province et enfin édité. Les lexiques en Zuanga et en Hamea sont en cours de finalisation, les trois autres étant déjà rédigés. Tous devraient faire l’objet d’une publication l’été prochain. Une partie de ces livres de référence sera alors distribuée aux autorités coutumières, à charge pour elles de les faire vivre et de les partager.
Sensibilisation. D’autres exemplaires seront proposés à la vente mais « le but, ce n’est pas qu’ils restent stockés chez les libraires à Nouméa », lance Doriane Poymegna. D’ailleurs, la province avait déjà acquis tous les stocks des dictionnaires déjà publiés sur d’autres langues par le Lacito afin de les redistribuer aux autorités coutumières concernées. « Les gens qui avaient participé sont souvent encore vivants, ils n’avaient jamais vu le produit du travail effectué », raconte la responsable du service Valorisation du patrimoine. Elle précise que ce travail a d’autres effets très positifs. Il permet surtout de sensibiliser les locuteurs à leur patrimoine, à l’avenir de leur langue.
Souvent, des comités de langue se sont montés à l’occasion des visites des linguistes. Certains, comme celui de Balade par exemple, sont toujours très actifs, bien après le départ des chercheurs. Et puis, tous les documents retrouvés, les comptines enregistrées ou les contes rédigés ont été déposés au centre des archives culturelles. Ils ont ainsi échappé, de peu pour certains, au menaçant gouffre de l’oubli.
Les dicos du Lacito
Le laboratoire créé en 1976 est une unité de recherche du CNRS, qui s’est, depuis 1999, adjoint deux autres organismes de tutelle : l’université Paris-III et l’Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales. Le Lacito étudie 224 langues de par le monde et s’est intéressé, dès sa création, aux langues calédoniennes. De nombreuses publications y ont été consacrées.
Concernant les langues du Nord, Françoise Ozanne Rivierre a ainsi publié, en 1982, un Dictionnaire thématique des langues de la région de Hienghène (Pije, Nemi, Jawe, Fwâi) et, en 1998, un ouvrage sur le Nyelâyu de Balade. Jean-Claude Rivierre s’est de son côté intéressé au Paicî, dès 1983, au Cèmuhî, en 1994 et aux langues de Koné, en 2006. En 2000, le Nêlêmwa et le Nixumwak font aussi l’objet d’un dictionnaire, établi par Isabelle Bril. Trois linguistes du Lacito travaillent toujours sur les langues kanak : Isabelle Bril, Jean-Claude Rivierre et Claire Moyse-Faurie.
Cortana can now translate sentences, phrases & words in nearly 40 languages - Microsoft on Tuesday announced that its Cortana personal digital assistant is capable of making instant translations in almost y40 languages in Windows 10 in the US and China.
The Redmond-based firm added that the capability to translate words and entire sentences is due to the Microsoft Translator app.
The Microsoft Translator team wrote in a blog post that the support for the native translation in Cortana in Windows 10 will arrive in other countries "in the near future."
Analysts maintain that this would help make Cortana a more stronger alternative to Apple's Siri, which currently only works on smartphones and not on desktop. Cortana is without doubt a key feature in Windows 10 and by adding rich translation, the software giant can pitch Windows 10 vigorously.
You can use Cortana for translation by first saying, "Hey Cortana," then saying the words you want her to translate and your target language. For example, you can say, "Hey Cortana, translate 'Where is the nearest bookstore" into French. Alternatively, you can type into the search box, "Translate where is the nearest bookstore into French." A translation onscreen will be shown by Cortana and if Cortana is unable to do it, it will run a web search with your query.
Here's the full list of languages that are currently supported: Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Simplified), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Klingon (pIqaD), Korean, Latvian, Malay, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Welsh.
Industry's Only SAP-Certified hybris Extension for Translation Management Credited with Driving Down Costs and Turnaround Times for Global Content
NEW YORK, Sept. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Translations.com, the world's largest privately held provider of language services and technology solutions for global business, today announced the addition of Strellson, Scott Sports, and Victorinox to the growing roster of clientele utilizing the Translations.com GlobalLink® Connect integration for hybris Commerce Suite.
The hybris and Translations.com integration—first established in 2013 and available in the hybris Extend marketplace—allows global marketers to easily launch and maintain multilingual content without ever leaving the hybris interface.
Key features include:
Automated exports for content requiring translation/localization
Automated re-import of multilingual content into hybris PCM and hybris WCMS
Real-time project tracking for translation and review processes
Integration with centralized translation memory
Translation vendor management and collaboration, including the ability to ascertain quick quotes, assign work to vendors, review translations, and maintain branded terminology
Benefits of the integrated solution to joint customers include:
Reduced or eliminated IT requirements
Faster deployment timelines for global content
Lower project management costs
Improved consistency in translated content
Lower translation costs
"The Translations.com integration is an important offering in our hybris Extend marketplace of leading third-party integrations, enabling customers to scale and manage international user experiences," said Patrick Finn, Senior Vice President, Global Channel & Partnerships, hybris and SAP Customer Engagement and Commerce. "The momentum and success we've seen with several key shared customers proves the strength of hybris and Translations.com to serve this need and to help businesses accelerate revenue growth worldwide."
"A key barrier for digital marketers is the complexity of dealing with content that lives in enterprise platforms like hybris," said Matt Hauser, Vice President of Content Solutions for Translations.com. "GlobalLink Connect allows organizations to deploy global content faster and improve the overall customer experience, no matter the language. We are excited to be a trusted partner of hybris and their clients."
Visit the hybris Extend marketplace to access the GlobalLink integrated solution today or schedule a meeting with a Translations.com representative at hybris Americas' Customer Days and Game Plan, October 19-23, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.
With annual revenues of over $470 million, Translations.com is a leading provider of enterprise localization services and technology solutions. From offices in 90 cities on six continents, Translations.com offers a full range of services in 170+ languages to clients worldwide. More than 3,000 global organizations employ Translations.com's GlobalLink® Product Suite to simplify management of multilingual content. Translations.com is part of the TransPerfect family of companies, with global headquarters in New York and regional headquarters in London and Hong Kong. For more information, please visit www.translations.com.
Microsoft Translator is the translation software that Microsoft crams into a number of apps for smartwatches, tablets, smartphones, and PCs. Microsoft Office also has Translator built in and it powers the Skype Translator as well. The Cortana team has now launched native translation support in Windows 10 US and Chinese versions.
Cortana and Microsoft Translator teamed up to give user's translation tech when they need it to translate anything from single words to phrases and sentences to and from 40 different languages. Thanks to Cortana's voice assistant design you can say things like "Hey Cortana, translate where is the nearest taxi stand in French."
Cortana supports 40 languages including English, simplified Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, and many others. If you ask Cortana to translate something it doesn't understand, or can’t translate it will open a web search page to try to help you translate the word or phrase. If you want to hear the phrase you translated in text-to-speech, you can hit Open Translator to go to the translator page on Bing.
The translation tech behind Cortana is also available as the Microsoft Translator app for Windows Phone and PCs. Those apps are standalone and will work when you aren’t connected to the web. Cortana requires a web connection to translate.
One-Stop Search for African Knowledge: Deep Web Technologies Creates ASKIA Portal for United Nations
SANTA FE, N.M., Sept. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --�The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) launched their Access to Scientific and Socio-economic Information in Africa (ASKIA) portal recently. The federated search-based portal, built and created by Deep Web Technologies (DWT), serves as a one-stop, real-time search of multiple information sources, and includes a multilingual search and translation capability, a localized user interface and a responsive mobile design. Researchers can find information from any device in one of four languages, and translate the results back into their language when the search is finished.�
The UNECA portal contributes to the goals of the ASKIA Initiative, designed to implement a single search of scientific and socio-economic knowledge by and for African researchers, academics, students, economists, policy-makers and other professionals. "This launch was critical in implementing the ASKIA Initiative," said Irene Onyancha, Chief Librarian, Knowledge & Library Services, PIKM Division at UNECA. "The ASKIA portal taps into the major knowledge on and from Africa through a cohesive, centralized search available in the major languages and devices predominant throughout Africa."
Based on Deep Web Technologies' (DWT) Explorit Everywhere!� federated search technology, the ASKIA portal searches 31 knowledge sources simultaneously. When a user performs a search, Explorit Everywhere!�, in partnershipwith Microsoft Translator, translates the user's query from their selected search language, English, French, Portuguese, or Spanish, to the source's language, searches for the user's query, retrieves results to the portal, and translates the results back into the user's selected languages. In addition to the multilingual search, the portal is localized to automatically update the screen text into the selected query language.
The portal includes a responsive, mobile design. Researchers viewing the ASKIA portal from their mobile device will trigger an automatic browser detection which loads a mobile-friendly version of the application. Also included is MyASKIA, which implements the Explorit Everywhere!� MyLibrary feature allowing users to save and tag selected results under his or her account.� Users can email, export, print or download results at any time.
DWT CEO and CTO, Abe Lederman, stated, "UNECA's vision is far reaching. DWT proudly supports the ASKIA Initiative, empowering African researchers to find global information in a single search, in their language, from their phone or tablet. It's truly groundbreaking."
About Deep Web Technologies
Deep Web Technologies (http://www.deepwebtech.com) creates custom, sophisticated federated search solutions, based on its Explorit Everywhere!� service, for clients who demand precise, accurate results. It is the tool of choice when needing to access the Deep Web, a collection of Internet information sources that are generally not accessible to web spiders or crawlers and cannot, therefore, be indexed for search by popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing. Explorit Everywhere!� performs real-time searches of multiple information sources, in parallel, merging the results into a single page. Serving Fortune 500 companies, the Science.gov Alliance, the U.S. Department of Energy, Stanford University, the WorldWideScience Alliance and a wide variety of other customers, partners and research and library alliances, Deep Web Technologies has built a reputation as the "researcher's choice" for its advanced, agile information discovery tools.
Deep Web Technologies
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/one-stop-search-for-african-knowledge-deep-web-technologies-creates-askia-portal-for-united-nations-300135629.html
SOURCE Deep Web Technologies
“Describe the aroma of coffee—why can't it be done? Do we lack the words? and for what are words lacking?—But how do we get the idea that such a description must after all be possible? Have you ever felt the lack of such a description? Have you tried to describe the aroma and not succeeded?” Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations.
Illustration by Mouni Feddag
The best class I took in college was on the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Until that point, I had avoided philosophy of language as simply being too esoteric and hermetic to be of use. David Pears, a prodigious yet modest and approachable figure visiting from Oxford, changed my mind. In large part because of Pears’ instruction, Wittgenstein’s philosophy has been directly relevant to my thinking about computer science, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science. When other scholars were thinking that language and thought could be reduced to a universal, logical language, Wittgenstein turned the matter to practical questions and raised incredibly inconvenient questions that gained traction in artificial intelligence in the 1970s, 40 years after he was working on them.
David Auerbach is a writer and software engineer based in New York. His website is http://davidauerba.ch.
Wittgenstein, who lived from 1889 to 1951, is most famous for a handful of oracular pronouncements: “The limits of language are the limits of my world.” “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” “The human body is the best picture of the human soul.” They sound great; they are also hopelessly mysterious except in the context of Wittgenstein’s entire philosophy. Or more accurately, philosophies. Wittgenstein’s writings, broadly speaking, divide into two periods, and in the second he more or less wholly rejected the underlying conception of the first. In his first lecture, Pears began: “Some philosophers fly; others struggle to crawl.” Wittgenstein flew, then crashed to earth and crawled thereafter.
(Since pretty much no one can agree on anything about Wittgenstein, I’m going to present things in the spirit of Pears’ interpretation, with the caveat that you could probably find a philosopher somewhere who would disagree with every following sentence.)
Wittgenstein’s first period, culminating in 1921’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (which Pears had co-translated), drew heavily on Bertrand Russell’s work in philosophical logic and made a huge impact on the logical positivist movement of the time, which would later in turn influence computer science, artificial intelligence, and linguistics. The Tractatus makes an ambitious and ostensibly definitive attempt to chart out the relationship between language and the world. Alongside Russell’s work, it was tremendously influential on logicians, yet Wittgenstein later ended up rejecting one of its central premises: that our linguistic statements depict true or false states of affairs, and that formal logic provided the structure that regulates our construction of these statements. Language and the world share logical form, which is also the form of reality. This attempt to regiment language as formal logic went on to be an article of faith for many computer scientists and cognitive scientists for decades, as well as exerting a foundational influence on Noam Chomsky’s linguistics.
But after a 10-year hiatus from philosophy, during which he was a schoolteacher and co-designed and built an austere house for his sister, Wittgenstein came to change his mind. Language did not have such a fixed, eternal relation to reality bound by logic. The process of “measuring” the truth of a statement against reality was neither objective nor cleanly delineated. The meaning of what we say can’t be abstracted away from the context in which we say it: “We are unable clearly to circumscribe the concepts we use; not because we don’t know their real definition, but because there is no real ‘definition’ to them,” Wittgenstein wrote. Instead, our speech acts are grounded in a set of social practices.
The idea of words having relative meanings was not new, but Wittgenstein pioneered the controversial linguistic conception of meaning-as-use, or the idea that the meanings of words, relative or not, cannot be specified in isolation from the life practices in which they are used. Instead, language should be studied from the starting point of its practices, rather from abstractions to syntax and semantics. As Wittgenstein put it, “Speaking a language is part of an activity, or of a form of life.”
Unfortunately, this makes the study of language considerably more difficult, since examining the meanings of words now requires not just verbal definitions, but analyzing the whole “language-game” of situations and practices to which they are attached. Wittgenstein introduces the idea of “following a rule” to describe what we do when we use a word in everyday life, but what it is to “follow a rule” is notoriously difficult to pin down. Pears’ interpretation was that following a rule was akin to a judge applying a law in a case: Its validity depends on the past instances of how that rule was used, but also may set a new precedent for how that rule may be used in the future. Most Wittgenstein scholars wouldn’t agree with this account, but most of them wouldn’t agree on much of anything.
The meaning of what we say can’t be abstracted away from the context in which we say it.
For the sake of investigation, let’s consider what Pears’ interpretation might mean. It means that instead of a word having a fixed definition or referent, a word is an evolving entity that carries its own history with it through time, picking up new nuances and discarding old ones as practices (linguistic and life) shift. This is trivially true in a sense, as you can see from dictionaries grudgingly accepting that literally now also means “not literally” and me grudgingly accepting that begging the question will usually mean “raising the question” for the rest of my natural life and I should just start saying petitio principii instead. But the implications are more troublesome when you get to nouns, especially as they get more abstract. The usage of dog has remained somewhat consistent over the years, but try defining love or heavy or Russia in any kind of complete or precise way. You can’t do it, yet we use these words with confidence every day. As Pears puts it, “The fixed rails on which we are supposed to be running when we use a descriptive word are a fantasy.”
Here’s one example. The French equivalents for here and there are ici and là respectively. But if I point to a pen and say, “The pen is here,” the French equivalent is not “Le stylo est ici,” but “Le stylo est là.” In French, là is always used to refer to a specific place or position, while in English here or there can both work. This rule is so obscure I never learned it in French classes, but obviously all native speakers learn it because no one ever uses it differently. It could just as easily be the other way round, but it’s not. The situation is not arbitrary, but the way in which language carves up the interaction between mind and world varies in such a way that French speakers recognize certain practices as right or wrong in a different way than English speakers do. This may seem a trivial point, until you have to program a computer to translate “I pointed to Paris on the map and said, ‘She is here.’ ” into French—at which point it becomes a nightmare. (If you are a translator, on the other hand, this is great news.)
Wittgenstein’s later work is an ongoing, minute examination of these kinds of practices and all the ways in which they can possibly work: in everyday life; in mathematics; and especially when it comes to referring to our thoughts, sensations, and feelings (whatever the hell those are).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Today, Calif. Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 505, authored by Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia). The bill will ensure that California’s Voter Bill of Rights and other election materials are provided to voters in plain, accessible, and easily understandable language. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2016.
“I thank Governor Brown for signing SB 505. Citizens deserve clear communication during elections because it is vital that voters understand their eligibility to vote and how they can receive help with polling place problems,” said Senator Tony Mendoza. “Improving election materials by using plain language techniques is common sense,” added Mendoza.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla said, “Voters should not be confused about their basic voting rights. Giving all voters and poll workers the Voter Bill of Rights in easy-to-understand language is a common sense measure that will help elections run more smoothly.”
“Studies have shown that voters are confounded by the legalese in California’s voter pamphlet, on the outside of the absentee ballot envelope, and on election materials. SB 505 will strengthen our democracy and protect voting rights by requiring that election materials be provided in clear, easily understandable, plain language,” said Senator Mendoza.
“If everyone, not just attorneys, can understand their voting rights, then we have gone a long way towards enhancing and protecting our democracy,” said Mendoza.
The Voter Bill of Rights is provided during every election cycle in the ballot pamphlet and posted at every polling place. It seeks to ensure that voters understand their eligibility to vote, how they can receive help with voting or other polling place problems, their ability to be provided election materials in another language, their rights to be free from intimidation, whether their mail ballot is counted, and more. It also provides a toll-free number for reporting denial of voting rights and other potential violations of election law. The Voter Bill of Rights is provided in ten languages including an American Sign Language video, available on the Secretary of State’s website.
Translation of the Voter Bill of Rights and other election materials has been challenging because standards for translation require direct translation of each word and the statutory wording. When source documents are written in plain language, translation is easier and more effective because the message that needs to be communicated is clearer. The Secretary of State has limited authority to ensure that election materials are prepared and provided in plain language.
Specifically, SB 505 provides the Secretary of State (SOS) with the authority to revise election material wording and implement plain language techniques that are easy to understand and free from technical terms. This bill will improve voter access and usability of election material and help to ensure that voters are better informed about their key electoral rights.
“The time has come for California to translate the legalese on our ballot pamphlet and voting materials. It should not be necessary to be an attorney or to employ an attorney to understand what is written on the state’s ballot materials and at polling places,” added Senator Mendoza.
“California’s voters deserve clear, easily understandable, plain language outlining their voting rights,” said Senator Tony Mendoza.
Increasingly, corporations, state governments, federal agencies, and foreign governments are implementing plain language programs in order to achieve more efficiency and to make informational materials more understandable and effective for their constituents. Plain language programs focus on techniques that eliminate ambiguity, avoid obscure and archaic language and legal terms, and emphasize important messages so the reader can better understand written materials the first time they read or hear them. In addition, documents written in plain language will translate better into other languages and ultimately provide a better overall experience for the reader.
Recently, several civic organizations have conducted studies and focused on how plain language can be used to improve elections. The Center for Civic Design, which is active in plain language evaluations across the country, recently studied election-related plain language matters for California. During their study, when voters were asked whether they understood the Voter Bill of Rights, respondents said that they found it confusing. A key recommendation by the Center is to make plain language changes to the Voter Bill of Rights.
Senator Tony Mendoza, a Los Angeles native and former elementary school teacher in East Los Angeles, represents the 32nd Senate District encompassing portions of Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
Organizational Setting and Reporting Relationships: Reporting to the Head of Language Services and under the overall authority of the Director for Member Parliaments and External Relations, the Senior French Reviser will ensure that the translation of documents into French is provided in a consistent and timely manner, including when necessary by external collaborators.
Responsibilities:The Senior French Reviser:
• Provides accurate, timely and stylistically appropriate self-revised translations of political, legal, financial and administrative texts mainly from English (and another UN language, preferably Spanish) into French;
• Revises translations produced by external French translators where appropriate;
• Coordinates tasks with the English section and other branches of the Secretariat within established priorities; in particular coordinates all requests made to the French section on a day-to-day basis;
• Maintains a roster of qualified and largely self-revised freelance translators; assigns work to them; approves their completed work; and receives their invoices for payment;
• Assists the Head of Language Services in supervising and assisting temporary staff attached to the Service during Assemblies and other IPU meetings and briefs them on the procedures and practices of the IPU and on terminology, as required;
• Takes minutes of meetings;
• Assists the Head of Language Services in the development of policies related to Language Services and language matters;
• Other duties consistent with the role and responsibilities of the position.
Full indication under http://www.ipu.org/finance-e/reviser.pdf
HOW TO APPLY:
Applications should be addressed to the:
Director, Support Services
5, chemin du Pommier Case postale 330 CH-1218 Le Grand-Saconnex, Switzerland
Tel: 41 22 919 4150
Fax: 41 22 919 4160
Applications should be received on or before 30 September 2015. In order to ensure prompt and efficient processing of your application, you are required to provide, along with your resume and IPU Job application form (available at http://www.ipu.org/finance-e/vacancy.htm ), a detailed covering letter explaining how you meet each of the requirements of the position with concrete examples.Applicants will be contacted only if they are under serious consideration. Applications received after the deadline will not be accepted.
Full indication under http://www.ipu.org/finance-e/reviser.pdf