In this issue, I’ve gathered several of the interesting findings in language and/or localization that I’ve come across over the last few months. From new research findings on Australian languages to talking killer whales, language and communication is forever fascinating. We simply wouldn’t be us without it.
1.) Australian linguists have determined that Australian languages (indigenous) have a single root.
Why is this interesting? Well, in the same way that modern Catalan, French, Spanish, and Portuguese are related derivatives of the Latin language, knowing that the Australian languages are connected makes for interesting conversation. Were the various tribes of Australia at one time unanimous?
2.) The alphabet of the Kazak language is being officially romanticized and converted to a Latin-based character set.
Why is this interesting? Kazak, a Turkic language, has used a variation of the Cyrillic alphabet for most of the modern era. Traditionally the Kazak language has had written variants in Cyrillic, Arabic, and Latin-based scripts, but this mark seems to be a deliberate confirmation of Kazakhstan’s attempt to be more open to the international markets and less tied to the Russian state. It is unlikely that the Cyrillic alphabet will completely disappear from the Kazak language any time soon since many were educated in it and neighboring countries still use it, but this shift may present some interesting shifts in the future. This may also present some interesting localization challenges such as supporting multiple character inputs or language readers in both scripts. A notable comparison to this shift would be Serbo-Croatian where both Cyrillic based and Latin based scripts are still in existence and widely understood.
3.) Researchers have discovered that the age of less than 10 seems to be a strong indicator of an person’s ability to become native fluent in a language.
Why is this interesting? Language acquisition through the eyes of a child is very interesting. Children are in a unique learning state that enables them to absorb a lot of information by observing the world around them, which includes sounds and languages. There are some theories that believe adults are actually better language learners due to their ability to reason among other aspects. Ultimately I think it comes down to the person in many ways. I’ve experienced that a lot of it depends on motivation, interest, and adaptability.
4.) A killer whale has learned to say phrases such as “hello”
Why is this interesting? We often tend to think of communication between humans but we do not study animal communication as frequently. Some animals, such as the parrot, have long been famous for mimicking human conversation, but others scientists and linguists believe that certain animals have complex systems of communication beyond our current understanding. Researchers have long studied whale communication within their species, and there are many tales of the connection humans have with other mammals such as dolphins. Seeing a killer whale mimic human words is very interesting. What will it ask next?
5.) Emojis potentially expanding to account for disabled people.
Why is this interesting? Apple submitted a proposal to the Unicode Consortium for the inclusion of new emojis that represent people with disabilities. We often think of the verbal or physical sides of communication, but don’t always focus on the representation or personal identification in communication. A more holistic set of emojis that covers more people in the population is a really interesting way to allow people with disabilities to express themselves in written speech. This is ever more true in a world where emojis represent a large part of modern online communication. In one opinion, giving more ways to express oneself in an emoji is like giving more words to a language.
That’s it for this issue. Let me know your thoughts and if you’d like to receive more information on this kind of thing in the future. Before leaving, make sure you follow on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to make sure that you get future updates and issues.
About this series:
The “In case you missed it” series is about little snippets of news from around the web that is language, communication or localization related. Here we’ll share updates and weigh in on news articles. Thoughts and opinions on the articles are strictly the authors personal beliefs and are meant to be conversational and thought-provoking.
International at home. Check out the international at home series!