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 quickly cause international tensions to rise. 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 of China. 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-...

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

How Many Presidents Were Monoglots?

How Many Presidents Were Monoglots?

The first President of the United States came from humble beginnings with little formal education and only spoke English. Something that George Washington had in common with the 44th President (Barrack Obama) and 45th President (Donald Trump). However, many of the early Presidents spoke English, French and/or German. Others studied Ancient Greek and Latin in school and had a workable knowledge of second language. Although born in the United States, Martin Van Buren was raised in a Dutch community and was the only President that had to sequentially learn English as his second language. President Trump, on the other hand, is the only monoglot in his immediate family. His current wife and First Lady Melania Trump is a polygot and speaks Slovenian, English, French, German and Serbian. Among his sons and daughters from different wives, each speaks more than one language. The President's granddaughter, Arabella, speaks Chinese Mandarin, something she shares in common with our 31st Presid...

November 13, 2017

Translating Business in the Growing Global Marketplace

Translating Business in the Growing Global Marketplace

Ever close your eyes and spin a globe before stopping its rotation with your fingertip? It would be nice if unearthing the right opportunities to grow your business were that easy. For many businesses, international expansion may not be necessary but the risk of declining domestic markets has caused some companies to explore opportunities for expanding their potential for future growth. However, there is one big difference in doing business in the United States as compared to the global village, the language. International expansion demands a working knowledge of the language and culture. Entering the global arena to compete in another country's marketplace is loaded with peril. Not only do you face major "ups and downs" with currency fluctuations, it is important to partner with someone who understands how your concept will work in a foreign land. After all, the height of ignorance is to expect other people to learn our language in order to buy from us. Listed below are ...

October 20, 2017

Are You Ready for Polygot Conference 2017?

Are You Ready for Polygot Conference 2017?

This year's conference for polygots, people who know and are able to converse in several languages, is scheduled for October 27-29 at the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavik, Iceland. The modern glass honeycomb structure is conveniently located in the downtown area and serves as home to the national Icelandic opera & symphony. The unique convention center features a distinctive colored glass facade inspired by the basalt landscape of Iceland. Although it might seem a bit remote, Reykjavik is known as "the place to keep you imagining", which seems most appropriate for hosting a conference for multilinguals. For those of us who struggle with our native tongue, it might seem bizarre that people who speak several languages are motivated to meet with other polygots to exchange ideas. But, with globalization and a growing need for cultural openness, multilingualism is a flourishing social phenomenon and polygot conferences are becoming a non-digital social...

October 20, 2017

Possible Dangers of Computer-Generated Languages

Possible Dangers of Computer-Generated Languages

The idea of computer systems shortening their learning curve via artificial intelligence is really nothing new. For readers old enough to remember, people left theaters in awe back in 1968 when Stanley Kubrick released his box office sensation 2001: A Space Odyssey. The story adapted from an Arthur C. Clarke short story followed two American astronauts (and three others in suspended animation) who were sent on a mysterious mission that led to an intense confrontation between man and machine. In this epic sci-fi adventure, the ship's computer (HAL 9000) methodically took control of the spacecraft (Discovery One) as well as the men's lives.   Unfortunately, the vast majority of moviegoers only saw the story's entertainment value and dismissed the fact that Clarke and Kubrick may have been delivering a very intuitive warning. In a recent Forbes online article by Tony Bradley of TechSpective.net, the author revealed that Facebook shut down an artificial intelligence engine after d...

September 21, 2017

Do You Speak the Language of Love?

Do You Speak the Language of Love?

According to the ancient Greeks, love is the madness of the gods. Today, psychologists define love as a desire to communicate and form an emotional union with someone. In 2012, Google announced that "what is love?" was the most searched key phrase and produced the most traffic for search queries in that category. Author Gary Chapman theorized in his 1995 book, The Five Love Languages, that each of us has one primary love language and one secondary love language that we use to communicate and analyze expressions of love. Chapman states that people tend to give love in the same way they would prefer to receive love. The latter statement indicates there is a philosophical element involved in the language of love, as Chapman suggests following the "Golden Rule" in communicating love is often an obvious source of miscommunication. He goes on to recommend the better process for the language of love may be to follow the "Platinum Rule" to express fe...

September 20, 2017

Where Did All the Acronyms Come From?

Where Did All the Acronyms Come From?

In today's world, it is difficult to keep up with all the acronyms, abbreviated words and organizational initialism. Markings on sculpted stones take the earliest word abbreviations back to antiquity. This was mostly due to the fact that there was limited space to write on a stone, so artisans began to use the first letter of each word to abbreviate their inscription. Prior to the Christian era, the Roman Empire adorned doorways, military shields and government buildings with the abbreviation S.P.Q.R. for Senatus Populusque Romanus. From the practice of using abbreviations, the idea of shortening phrases or titles into acronyms was born. An acronym is a word formed by taking a letter (typically the first letter) from each of the words in a phrase to produce an abbreviation that can be pronounced as a word. For example, scuba (which stands for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) is an acronym since it is pronounced as a word and not by spelling out its letters. Initialism...

August 15, 2017

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Thank you very much for making our World Congress an outstanding success. I have a special thank you for you and your team of interpreters. I know it was a huge undertaking, but you made it seem so effortless. The simultaneous interpretation was excellent. Your staff was extremely professional and patient with the attendees. I am looking forward to working with you and your group in the near future. - T. Washington, Convention Logistics Manager
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