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

What Is the Difference Between Creole and Cajun?

What Is the Difference Between Creole and Cajun?

Most people asking this question would likely be referring to food. Ironically, both French-based terms also refer to languages that developed after settlers occupied the southern Mississippi delta region of Louisiana. In the mid-18th century, Louisiana became a melting pot for immigrants; and elements of French, Native American (mainly Choctaw), and African languages were tossed into the pot to melt. Creole is a language that reached America via slaves brought to the region from West Africa. Louisiana Creole French was one of many languages that evolved and spoken in City of New Orleans during the early days. Some African descendants still speak Creole French today. Cajun French evolved when Acadian exiles, who were French-speakers from The Maritimes of Eastern Canada, settled along the Louisiana plains. As was the case with the Creole languages, the Cajun dialects were highly influenced by the melting pot that now included Irish immigrants. Linguistically, this paved the way for ...

August 9, 2017

The Rise and Possible Fall of the Word Well

The Rise and Possible Fall of the Word Well

If you're old enough to rust, you might remember one of the first Kings of Comedy, Benjamin Kubelsky better known as Jack Benny. During his radio show, Benny became famous for playing the violin badly and his single word response, "Well!" It wasn't that the vaudevillian comedian used the word to begin a sentence, it was the sentence. Like many Asian languages, his intonation added meaning to his statement. Used in the traditional sense, well is most often an adverb that modifies a verb by telling "how". However, as a modifier, the word "Well" can be used as a predicate adjective. For example, "Bob was sick, but now he is well." In a recent article on the language of our 45th President, associate teaching professor at Georgetown University's Department of Linguistics, Jennifer Sclafani, pointed to the fact that Donald Trump virtually never began a response to a question with the word "Well". The author of a book due out later this ye...

July 19, 2017

Is Trump's Rhetoric Part of His Effort to Brand Himself?

Is Trump's Rhetoric Part of His Effort to Brand Himself?

Well, we can learn more this fall when the book titled "Talking Donald Trump: A Sociolinguistic Study of Style, Metadiscourse and Political Identity" hits the bookshelves. Although the 45th president of the United States may not have a traceable background in politics, we all know that he is very familiar with marketing, or more specifically branding. According to a theory posed by Jennifer Sclafani, an associate teaching profressor in Georgetown University's Department of Linguistics, "the Donald" may  have used language in a very effective way to create his political brand. The philosopher Plato called rhetoric the art of winning the soul by discourse. If that statement is true, then Donald Trump may be a master manipulator in his use of hyperbole, repetition and short phrases. One of his most famous stands during his campaign to become president was that Mexico must pay for the wall. In almost a blink of the eye, the saying "Build the Wall" was...

July 18, 2017

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