Do You Need to Communicate in Punjabi?

Do You Need to Communicate in Punjabi?

In recent years, the need to communicate in Chinese Mandarin has grown with China playing a major role in global business and worldwide trade. With a population of 1.38 billion, China has a massive human resource. However, India is now set to surpass China as the world's most populous country and sooner than many analyst previously thought. According to the most recent forecasts, India will have 1.5 billion people by 2030, whereas China's population is expected to remain stable with the possibility for small declines. In 2015, Punjabi (an Indo-Aryan language) was spoken by over 100 million native speakers worldwide, ranking as the 10th most widely spoken language globally. Punjabi is a term that is used to identify ethnicity, race and language. Punjabis are people who reside or originated from the region of Punjab in northern India along the Pakistan border. Punjabi is also used to identify the language that grew out of this region. Today, the language is the most widely spoken in ...

April 17, 2018

Digital Lingua Franca: Do You Speak Emoticon?

Digital Lingua Franca: Do You Speak Emoticon?

A smiley face was the original emoji, an ideogram used in the digital world that originated in Japan in 1999. Shigetaka Kurita is credited with creating the first emoji, a gumdrop shaped smiley face. Although the word 'emoji' resembles the English word emotion, which is the origin of the word emoticon, the word emoji is strictly Japanese in origin and combines the symbolic words for picture "e" and character "moji". Kurita was part of a team working on an i-mode internet platform for Japanese mobile phone companies. Originally mobile companies like NTT DoCoMo, Au and Vodafone (now SoftBank Mobile) had proprietary variants and used emojis to distinguish their company's features and services. Today, emojis exist in various genres, including facial expressions, common objects, places and types of weather, and animals.  Emoticons, which are representations of human facial expressions, were originally created using only letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Bu...

March 13, 2018

Why Do So Many Words Have Silent Letters?

Why Do So Many Words Have Silent Letters?

Well, as for the English language, it might be easier to explain punctuation and why a comma precedes the word "which" and not the word "that". If you are a student of linguistics, you might be familiar with historic shifts in the English language. However, if you are teenager that sends text messages sixteen hours a day, you likely don't care. As for the truth of the matter, spelling, grammar and punctuation have been evolving forever and there is no indication that it will not continue to do so, especially in an age of digital communications. Although the English language was spread around the world (literally) between the late 16th to early 18th centuries, the truth is people speak differently in different parts of the same country, eh? From a historic perspective, vowel shifts that influence how words and/or silent letters are enunciated are nothing new. We can start with the "Great Vowel Shift" that occurred in the homeland of the English language...

March 13, 2018

Multilingualism in Morocco is a Sociolinguistic Phenomenon

Multilingualism in Morocco is a Sociolinguistic Phenomenon

From antiquity to present day, few parts of the world have experienced a more colorful blend of languages as Morocco. In part, it is one of only three nations (along with Spain and France) to border the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Due to its close proximity to the Spanish mainland, Moroccan history is filled with foreign occupation and colonization, but it is uniquely distinguished by its Berber and Arabic cultural influences. Berbers (or Amazighs) are an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa and possibly inhabitants of the Barbary Coast as far back as 10,000 BC. There are an estimated 30 million Berber speakers in North Africa today but most also adopted other languages, which explains the large multilingual population in Morocco. Berber identity goes well beyond language and ethnicity, and encompasses a broad range of societies and ancestries. Due to the narrow Strait of Gibraltar, that separates Peninsular Spain from Morocco, this portion of North Africa has a ri...

February 8, 2018

Could You Be Talking to Animals Soon?

 Could You Be Talking to Animals Soon?

With the speed at which technology has been putting new devices in the home, it is not that farfetched that the world will soon join Dr. Doolittle in talking to the animals. Who knows, maybe our pets are just waiting for the chance to tell us what’s on their minds. Although most pet owners are usually good at figuring out what their dog or cat wants, there are still times where pet owners would love to have a real conversation with their furry friends. That dream may soon be a reality thanks to Dr. Con Slobodchikoff. The Northern Arizona University biology professor  has devoted much of his career to studying the communication among animals (particularly prairie dogs). Although it might seem odd to start with these chirpy critters, it turns out prairie dogs are surprisingly sophisticated in communicating with each other.   Dr. Slobodchikoff has been using artificial intelligence (AI) to interpret distinct vocalizations used by prairie dogs to signal specific predat...

February 7, 2018

Translating and Interpreting Trump's Peculiar Political Style

Translating and Interpreting Trump's Peculiar Political Style

It's undeniable that the current President doesn't have to worry about fading into obscurity with the media. All Trump has to do is answer a question, deliver a speech, make a remark, or post to his Twitter account and it becomes a "shot heard around the world." Although it is definitely not news when the British press openly criticizes political figures in their country, the Independent recently posted an online article about the analysis of the President's first 30,000 words in office. The study compared the off-script remarks (no prepared speeches) of the last fifteen U.S. Presidents and concluded that Trump scored the lowest since Herbert Hoover. President Trump's less diverse vocabulary and simple grammatical structure suggests the 45th President speaks at the level of an 8 year old. But, is his frequent mangling of the English language part of his political genius. President Obama's "Affordable Care Act" scored at a reading level of 13.4 years of education...

January 18, 2018

The Critical Role of Language and Semantics in Taiwan

The Critical Role of Language and Semantics in Taiwan

Taiwan is a culturally rich, small island off the coast of China where "what you say" and "how you say it" can cause a quick rise in international tension. Already in 2018, the Chinese authorities have demanded that major companies like Marriott, Delta Airlines, Medtronic and Spanish fashion brand Zara remove from their websites and online marketing materials any reference of Taiwan as a "country". Although the violations cited may seem like an insignificant argument in semantics to us, China sees Taiwan as part of its territory and not a separate country. Since China is second among the world's largest economies, each company was quick to comply and issued public apologies for their oversight. Hong Kong and Macau are also frequently listed as regions. To the Communist government in China and the democratic ruled region of Taiwan, semantic differences are a reflection of powerful political rhetoric. Taiwan has prospered under democratic self-rule but t...

January 18, 2018

Top 10 Holiday Gifts for Language Learners

Top 10 Holiday Gifts for Language Learners

Without doubt, the holidays are one of the most exciting times of the year, so don't get bogged down trying to find the right present. If someone you're shopping for is learning a new language, here are a few ideas for the perfect gift to support his or her efforts. Pocket Language Translator - If you know someone who is traveling abroad or just learning a foreign language that's spoken in their neighborhood, a pocket translator is a great holiday gift. Foreign Word Magnets - Foreign language magnets are a great way to leave messages when more than one person at a residence is learning a new language. If they are polygots, choose several to add to the fun. Language Calendars - Language calendars support the day-to-day learning of one or more new languages. These are usually quite affordable, so pick up one the home and one for the office. Foreign Language Movies - For movie lovers, there isn't any better way to support learning of a foreign language. It can be a favorite film ...

December 7, 2017

Where Do Our Holiday Words Come From?

Where Do Our Holiday Words Come From?

This time of year "Happy Holidays" is common greeting in United States. But, where and when did the word come from. The word holiday came from an Old English word that was first recorded in 950 AD, as hāligdæg (hālig for "holy" and dæg for "day"). The first recorded spelling as holiday was in 1460 AD. Around the Middle English period, it took on a new meaning as "a day when commoners were exempt from labor". In celebration, people often feasted on a flatfish called butte. Today's halibut got its name from hali or holy and butte or flatfish. Dutch ancestors are credited with the first use of the word Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, who was depicted wearing a bishop's robe until American artists created Santa's popular red and white Christmas garment in the 19th century. In Dutch culture, Santa Claus is a different person than Father Christmas who brought good cheer but did not bring the now traditional Christmas presents. Some li...

December 7, 2017

Pepper Robots May Be the Eyes, Ears and Voice of an Autonomous Future

Pepper Robots May Be the Eyes, Ears and Voice of an Autonomous Future

So, your plans after retirement included a part-time job as a greeter at Walmart? Not so fast! Unless you are willing to learn dozens of languages and truly love to interact with people, your competition may one-up you. SoftBank Robotics, creators of the most humanoid robot in existence, has placed Pepper in hundreds of locations in Japan. The thirty-five year old multinational telecommunications giant put their Pepper robots to work a couple of years ago greeting shoppers at Softbank Mobile stores. According to the human resource department, Pepper has HD cameras in the mouth and forehead and a 3-D sensor behind its eyes. There are also four microphones in the head for input and output. Pepper's mobile base uses two sonar devices, six lasers, three bumper sensors and gyroscope in the torso. Both the head and hands have touch sensors. Like human greeters, Pepper is able to analyze human expressions and vocal tones and respond accordingly. Although not developed as a functional rob...

November 13, 2017

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