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Using Technology to Try to Halt Death of 3,000+ Languages By 2100

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, March 13 2014

Screenshot of the National Geographic map of language hotspots

Of the roughly 7,000 languages spoken around the world today, more than half are expected to disappear this century. In an attempt to halt that alarming rate, linguists are working with communities around the world to use technology to try to preserve dying languages.

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How Autocorrect is Creating New Chinese Slang

BY Nick Judd | Monday, July 16 2012

Public Radio International's The World has a fascinating look at how it looks like the autocomplete functionality on mobile phones is changing the way some Chinese people are using their language. PRI reports that as users of phones with English-language keyboards begin typing Chinese in pinyin, the system for transliterating between Chinese characters and the English alphabet, they are presented with the vast array of homophones each word may have. So each time someone starts typing a text message, they're assisted in wordplay by the autocomplete or autocorrect functionality of their phones. In Chinese, many words sound very similar to words that mean nowhere near the same thing. This is helping people to develop new slang and is giving people the opportunity to resurrect old words, PRI reports. Read More

Twitter Makes Another International Move

BY Raphael Majma | Thursday, March 8 2012

Twitter now offers right-to-left language services for Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, and Urdu reading users, it announced Tuesday.

The languages were added to the Twitter Translation Center nearly two months ago. Approximately 13,000 volunteers contributed by providing translations for the site and adapting the software for the respective language; the right-to-left service went live Tuesday.

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John Kerry's Even Worse Sequel

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, September 29 2010

Perhaps it's unfair to pick on John Kerry, but the emails his sends to his list are always such mind-expanding demonstrations of the creative use of the English language. This morning's delight: "Karl Rove is back ... Read More

A Living Record of the California Gov Race

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, June 22 2010

A new project by the Center for Investigative Reporting and California Watch called Politics Verbatim aims to capture the words coming out of Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman in the California governor's ... Read More

The Best Worst Government Writing, 2010 Edition

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, April 26 2010

You might remember that I seriously geeked out on the plain language movement a few weeks back. The focus there was a on the suggestion made by a federal employee that bureaucratese makes it all the harder for government ... Read More

What I learned in Philly's 14th Ward about language, class and the interfaces of political power

BY Liza Sabater | Thursday, April 24 2008

Yesterday I wrote about getting Lost In Hillaryland while driving down to Philadelphia to volunteer for the Obama campaign. In that post at Kenneth Cole’s Awearness Blog, I write about how after the mini-adventure of ... Read More