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Mariana Soffer (F, 44)
Buenos Aires, AR
Immortal since Feb 16, 2010
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I am an artificial intelligence researcher, studied in California a Master in Information Science and specialized in Genetic research there. Currently I am doing research on NLP (natural language processing), particularly in the opinion mining area. I am also interested in neuroscience, Buddhism, literature, music, anthropology among other things.
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    Mariana Soffer’s projects
    Polytopia
    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

    The Total Library
    Text that redefines...
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    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
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    Internet and lanaguage (mostly English)
    Project: Polytopia

    In many languages, Greek and Latin roots constitute an important part of the scientific vocabulary. This is especially true for the terms referring to fields of science. For example, the equivalent words for mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, and genealogy are roughly the same in many languages. As for computer science, numerous words in many languages are from American English, and the vocabulary can evolve very quickly. An exception to this trend is the word referring to computer science itself, which in many European languages is roughly the same as the English informatics: German: Informatik; French: informatique; Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese: informática; Polish: informatyka.

    We live in the age of information. It pours upon us from the pages of newspapers and magazines, radio loudspeakers, tv and computer screens. The main part of this information has the form of natural language texts. Even in the area of computers, a larger part of the information they manipulate nowadays has the form of a text. It looks as if a personal computer has mainly turned into a tool to create, proofread, store, manage, and search for text documents. Our ancestors invented natural language many thousands of years ago for the needs of a developing human society. Modern natural languages are developing according to their own laws, in each epoch being an adequate tool for human communication, for expressing human feelings, thoughts, and actions.

    For the last two centuries, humanity has successfully coped with the automation of many tasks using mechanical and electrical devices, and these devices faithfully serve people in their everyday life. In the second half of the twentieth century, human attention has turned to the automation of natural language processing. People now want assistance not only in mechanical, but also in intellectual efforts.

    We need resources for NLP, the problem is that most of them are in English (such as wordnet and General Enquirer), and only just a few in the other languages. Lexical and ontological resources are fundamental for NLP. This puts non-English speakers in a serious disadvantage.

    The most-used language on the Internet according to Wikipedia is English. Although the total number of native English speakers in the world is about 322 millions, which is only around one fifth of the total internet users; the amount of English web content approaches 80%.

    Generally speaking, when a language has got the position of a universal language, the position tends to be affirmed and extended by itself. Since "everyone" knows and uses English, people are almost forced to learn English and use it, and learn it better.

    Besides the importance of the Internet grows rapidly in all fields of human life, including not only research and education but also marketing and trade as well as entertainment and hobbies. This implies that it becomes more and more important to know how to use Internet services and, as a part of this, to read and write English.

    But English is changing fast too. There is no area of the culture that collision's more intensely than that, for the web has changed English more radically than any invention since paper, and much faster. According to Paul Payack, who runs the Global Language Monitor, "there are currently 988,974 words in the English language, with thousands more emerging every month". By his calculation, English will adopt its one millionth word in late November. To put that statistic another way, for every French word, there are now ten in English.

    So far from debasing the language, the rapid expansion of English on the web may be enriching the mother tongue. Like Latin, it has developed different forms that bear little relation to one another: a speaker of Hinglish (Hindi-English) would have little to say to a Chinglish speaker. But while the root of Latin took centuries to grow its linguistic branches, modern non-standard English is evolving at fabulous speed. The language of the internet itself, the cyberisms that were once the preserve of a few web boffins, has simultaneous expanded into a new argot of words and idioms: Ancient or Classic Geek has given way to Modern Geek.

    Mon, Mar 1, 2010  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    MonseigneurBienvenu     Tue, Mar 2, 2010  Permanent link
    I think all of this this is quite right. French has always been a 'short' language, English has always been evolving and Imperialism did a lot of work towards that end, and modern media does promote the growth of vocabulary. Notions of 'correct' English are outdated only in a spatially limited sense, as the notion was never there originally (we only need note Shakespearian times for a vivid example, he could not even come up with a standard spelling of his own name, as I remember, perhaps wrongly), then appeared and then began to die and morph into something else.

    However, all of these trends are focused on english to the exclusion of at least one other language I can think of, development and spread of which is an interesting phenomenon: Mandarin. Same sort of trends can be seen: adaption, 'forced' learning, etc. Will the trends die out? And what does that tell us about the English language?
    Mariana Soffer     Wed, Mar 3, 2010  Permanent link
    MonseigneurBienvenu: Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts, actually they kept reverberating around my mind for a long time, which left me with did not left me with anything clear to add to it.
    So I would recommend you to take a look at this video that Xarene included in one of her posts, which is a really entertaining analysis of English Spelling. Hope you like it.
     
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