jm + language   19

Distilled Identity
Gabriel recently bought a distillery in Barbados, where he says the majority of his team is of African descent. “The sugar industry is a painful past for them, but my understanding, from my team, is that they do see it as the past,” Gabriel explained. “There was great suffering, but their take is like, ‘We built this island.’ They are reclaiming it, and we are seeing that in efforts to preserve farming land and not let it all go to tourism.”

I rather liked this narrative, or at least the potential of it. Slavery was appalling across the board, but countries and cultures throughout the African Diaspora have managed their paths forward in ways that don’t mimic the American aftermath. A plurality of narratives was possible here, which was thrilling to me. I am often disappointed by the mainstream perception of one-note blackness. One could easily argue the root of colonization is far from removed in the Caribbean. But if I understood Gabriel, and if he accurately captured the sentiments of his Barbadian colleagues, plantation sugarcane offered career opportunities to some, and was perhaps not solely a distressing connection to a shared global history. We chewed on this thought, together, in silence.
history  distilling  rum  barbados  african-diaspora  slavery  american-history  booze  language  etymology 
august 2017 by jm
"BBC English" was invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s
Excellent twitter thread:
Today we speak of "BBC English" as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s. 1/
It turned out even within the upper-class London accent that became the basis for BBC English, many words had competing pronunciations. 2/
Thus in 1926, the BBC's first managing director John Reith established an "Advisory Committee on Spoken English" to sort things out. 3/
The committee was chaired by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, and also included American essayist Logan Pearsall Smith, 4/
novelist Rose Macaulay, lexicographer (and 4th OED editor) C.T. Onions, art critic Kenneth Clark, journalist Alistair Cooke, 5/
ghost story writer Lady Cynthia Asquith, and evolutionary biologist and eugenicist Julian Huxley. 6/
The 20-person committee held fierce debates, and pronunciations now considered standard were often decided by just a few votes.
bbc  language  english  history  rp  received-pronunciation  pronunciation  john-reith 
june 2017 by jm
The ultimate off-site backup

So assuming the mission continues well, in 2014 the Rosetta Probe will land on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where it will measure the comet's molecular composition. Then it will remain at rest as the comet orbits the sun for hundreds of millions of years. So somewhere in the solar system, where it is safe but hard to reach, a backup sample of human languages is stored, in case we need one.


As jwz says: 'The Rosetta Disc is now safely installed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.'
rosetta  long-now  history  language  comets  solar-system  space 
october 2016 by jm
The Dutch word for "nitpicker" is significantly more sweary
via James Kelleher on Twitter: "‘Mierenneuker’ — Dutch slang for someone who pays (too much) attention to detail, literally ‘ant-fucker’."; and in German, 'Korinthenkacker', "raisin-shitter".
raisins  funny  words  ants  dutch  german  language  nit-picking  perfectionism 
may 2016 by jm
Fairytales much older than previously thought, say researchers
Analysis showed Jack and the Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when eastern and western Indo-European languages split – more than 5,000 years ago. Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old. A folk tale called The Smith and the Devil was estimated to date back 6,000 years to the bronze age.

The study employed phylogenetic analysis, which was developed to investigate evolutionary relationships between species, and used a tree of Indo-European languages to trace the descent of shared tales on it, to see how far they could be demonstrated to go back in time. Tehrani said: “We find it pretty remarkable these stories have survived without being written. They have been told since before even English, French and Italian existed. They were probably told in an extinct Indo-European language.”
history  mythology  stories  folk-tales  jack-and-the-beanstalk  rumpelstiltskin  language  phylogenetic 
january 2016 by jm
Where do 'mama'/'papa' words come from?
The sounds came first — as experiments in vocalization — and parents adopted them as pet names for themselves.

If you open your mouth and make a sound, it will probably be an open vowel like /a/ unless you move your tongue or lips. The easiest consonants are perhaps the bilabials /m/, /p/, and /b/, requiring no movement of the tongue, followed by consonants made by raising the front of the tongue: /d/, /t/, and /n/. Add a dash of reduplication, and you get mama, papa, baba, dada, tata, nana.

That such words refer to people (typically parents or other guardians) is something we have imposed on the sounds and incorporated into our languages and cultures; the meanings don’t inhere in the sounds as uttered by babies, which are more likely calls for food or attention.
sounds  voice  speech  babies  kids  phonetics  linguist  language 
october 2015 by jm
How gaming terminology is part of modern mainstream Chinese slang
A few years ago, my mom called to ask for my advice on webcams. She explained (in the English-peppered Chinese that's the official language of our Chinese-American household) that some of her friends had started sharing videos of themselves singing karaoke. She thought she could do better. "我想给她们PK一下," she remarked: "I want to PK them a little."
china  language  gaming  pk 
august 2015 by jm
Five Takeaways on the State of Natural Language Processing
Good overview of the state of the art in NLP nowadays. I particularly like word2vec interesting:
Embedding words as real-numbered vectors using a skip-gram, negative-sampling model (word2vec code) was mentioned in nearly every talk I attended. Either companies are using various word2vec implementations directly or they are building diffs off of the basic framework. Trained on large corpora, the vector representations encode concepts in a large dimensional space (usually 200-300 dim).


Quite similar to some tokenization approaches we experimented with in SpamAssassin, so I don't find this too surprising....
word2vec  nlp  tokenization  machine-learning  language  parsing  doc2vec  skip-grams  data-structures  feature-extraction  via:lemonodor 
may 2015 by jm
"Taking the hotdog"
aka. lock acquisition. ex-Amazon-Dublin lingo, observed in the wild ;)
language  hotdog  archie-mcphee  amazon  dublin  intercom  coding  locks  synchronization 
may 2014 by jm
Shapecatcher: Draw the Unicode character you want!
'This is a tool to help you find Unicode characters. Finding a specific character whose name you don't know is cumbersome. On shapecatcher.com, all you need to know is the shape of the character!' Handy.
shapes  drawing  unicode  characters  language  recognition  web 
may 2014 by jm
Transform any text into a patent application
'An apparatus and device for staring into vacancy. The devices comprises a good cage, a narrow gangway, an electric pocket, a flower-bedecked cage, an insensitive felt.' (The Hunger Artist by Kafka)
python  patents  text  language  generator 
may 2014 by jm
A Linguist Explains the Grammar of Doge. Wow.
In this sense, doge really is the next generation of LOLcat, in terms of a pet-based snapshot of a certain era in internet language. We’ve kept the idea that animals speak like an exaggerated version of an internet-savvy human, but as our definitions of what it means to be a human on the internet have changed, so too have the voices that we give our animals. Wow.
via:nelson  language  linguist  doge  memes  internet  english 
february 2014 by jm
The 1940s origins of Whataboutery
The exchange is indicative of a rhetorical strategy known as 'whataboutism', which occurs when officials implicated in wrongdoing whip out a counter-example of a similar abuse from the accusing country, with the goal of undermining the legitimacy of the criticism itself. (In Latin, this rhetorical defense is called tu quoque, or "you, too.")
history  language  whataboutism  whataboutery  politics  1940s  russia  ussr 
august 2013 by jm
The trench talk that is now entrenched in the English language
'From cushy to crummy and blind spot to binge drink, a new study reveals the impact the First World War had on the English language and the words it introduced.' Incredible comments, too...
english  etymology  history  wwi  great-war  via:sinead-gleeson  words  language 
november 2012 by jm
Skeuomorph
word of the day, via a comment on http://www.jwz.org/blog/2012/01/snow-crash-simulated/ : 'A skeuomorph /ˈskjuːəmɔrf/ skew-ə-morf, or skeuomorphism (Greek: skeuos—vessel or tool, morphe—shape),[1] is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original.[2] Skeuomorphs may be deliberately employed to make the new look comfortably old and familiar,[3] such as copper cladding on zinc pennies or computer printed postage with circular town name and cancellation lines'
words  language  history  objects  ornament  design  wikipedia 
january 2012 by jm
Scala: The Static Language that Feels Dynamic
a good intro from Bruce Eckel. We need a good excuse to deploy some Scala ;)
scala  actors  java  language  programming  jvm  coding 
june 2011 by jm
Accentuate.us
'We are proud to announce the free and open-source Accentuate.us, a new method of input for over 100 languages that uses statistical reasoning so that users can type effortlessly in plain ASCII while ultimately producing accurate text. This allows Vietnamese users, for example, to simply type “Moi nguoi deu co quyen tu do ngon luan va bay to quan diem,” which will be automatically corrected to “Mọi người đều có quyền tự do ngôn luận và bầy tỏ quan điểm” after Accentuation. To date, we support four clients: Mozilla Firefox, Perl, Python, and Vim, with more to be added shortly.' cool
accents  language  web-services  typing  text-entry  ascii  unicode  characters  from delicious
december 2010 by jm

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