language

Skype Translator Hands-On: Close, But No Babel Fish

When Skype announced its real-time translation program back in May, most of us seized on the sci-fi-ness off it all — Star Trek’s universal translator, Babel fish, etc. But the technology is very real, and has been for years, just it separate pieces. Skype Translator is is the commercial culmination of those efforts, bringing all those things, like speech recognition, automated translation, and machine learning, into one program.


How English Describes Colour Vs How Chinese Describes Colour

Here’s a fascinating visualisation created by Muyueh Lee that shows the differences between how the English language and Chinese language each describe colours. On the left, you can see the number of English names for colour hues (there’s a lot!) and on the right, the number of Chinese names (there’s a little!).


How To Detect When Someone Is Lying Just By The Way They Talk

We all carry a portable lie detector with us at all times — it’s called ears. According to this TED lesson, we can tell if someone is lying just by analysing their language. This technique, called linguistic text analysis, is based on the difference between how we structure sentences in invented and in true stories.


Letters, Ranked (By Futurists Of 1900)

Do you like the letter C? Have any particular attachment to the letter X? How about the letter Q? Well, back in the year 1900, some people thought we’d be rid of them by now. And while they haven’t actually disappeared, the futurists of 1900 were certainly right about that whole condensing of language thing. I mean, LOL WTF BBQ, amirite?


This Is How You Talk Australian (NSFW)

Australia certainly has a rich vernacular, though one close to indecipherable to anyone outside the country. Fortunately, when it comes to language, we don’t take ourselves that seriously — in fact, we take pleasure in having a microscope put it its more ridiculous aspects — so I’m sure you’ll get a few laughs from this video parodying Australian phrases and concepts… from the perspective of a training college for Indian call centre employees. Features NSFW language.


The Untold History Of How Autocorrect Came To Be

Despite the well-documented foibles of autocorrect, it actually is pretty good at turning my gibberish touch typing into comprehensible if profanity-free prose. For that, we have a man by the name of Bill Vaginal to thank. Erh, I mean Vignola.


The World's Offensive Place Names, Mapped

We’ve all sat in the passenger seat, notionally giving directions to a driver and giggling at the slightly rudely named towns on the map. Fortunately, now you can find all those amusingly offensive place names, across the entire world, on one wonderfully juvenile interactive map. Maybe, perhaps, possibly a little NSFW.


Please Stop Calling Everything A 'Hack'

We have a problem. Be you blogger, journalist, tech writer or commenter, it’s time to stop with the gratuitous overuse of “hacking”. Existence itself is not a hack.


Proof That The English Language Is Crazy And Makes No Sense

English isn’t the hardest language in the world to learn, but it’s definitely a crazy one with wacky rules. Things that apply for some words never seem to be considered for similar ones. Change one letter here and it can sound completely different there but sound the same somewhere else. It’s all pretty ridiculous.


Where The F-Word Comes From

In its various incarnations, the F-word can be a noun, verb, adjective, and even an infix. The Crescent wrench of the English language, the F-bomb has been adding emphasis, vulgarity and spice to our conversations for longer than anyone can remember.


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