Radio Garden

In case you missed it — Radio Garden:

Radio Garden invites you to tune into thousands of live radio stations across the globe.

By bringing distant voices close, radio connects people and places. From its very beginning, radio signals have crossed borders. Radio makers and listeners have imagined both connecting with distant cultures, as well as re-connecting with people from ‘home’ from thousands of miles away.

Radio Garden is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Our dedicated team is hard at work tending to the garden on a daily basis. Planting seeds for the future and keeping the weeds at bay.

[h/t Bradley Sherman]

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The Garden of Morning Calm

[This is a guest post by S. Robert Ramsey]

You’ve probably heard Korea referred to as the “Land of the Morning Calm.” That’s a nickname for Korea that’s been used in the West at least since the 19th century.

And perhaps because Koreans agree that “Morning Calm” sounds mystical and romantic, it’s been picked up lately—often for commercial purposes—in South Korea, too. Korean Airlines, for example, has frequent flier perks for members of its “Morning Calm Club.” In 1996, an arboretum east of Seoul was given the name, “Garden of Morning Calm.”

But the nickname is a chimera, the result of a mistake—and probably one made by some starry-eyed Westerner infatuated by the mysterious Orient. ‘Morning Calm’ is a mistranslation of an ancient name for Korea, a name known only from ancient Chinese records.

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Anti-Neanderthal prejudice?

“We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms […] And the last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking, that, ‘In the meantime, everything’s fine. Take off your mask. Forget it.’ It still matters.”

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Xy McXface wins again

Mary Divine, "Plowy McPlowFace plows through the competition to win snowplow naming contest", Pioneer Press 3/2/2021:

After all the votes were tallied, it wasn’t even close. Plowy McPlowFace won the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s inaugural “Name a Snowplow” contest with 65,292 votes. The next-closest vote-getter was Ope, Just Gonna Plow Right Past Ya, which garnered 29,457 votes.

[For those who don't know ope,  Wiktionary glosses it as "(Midwest) an exclamation of surprise; oops", and Tod Van Luling discussed it at length a couple of years ago in the Huffington Post.]

Plowy McPlowFace will soon be plowing streets in the Metro District; Ope, Just Gonna Plow Right Past Ya will make its home in District 4 in west-central Minnesota.

The other winning names, in order of vote totals, and their future homes are: Duck Duck Orange Truck in District 1 (northeastern Minnesota); Plow Bunyan in District 2 (northwestern Minnesota); Snowbi Wan Kenobi in District 6 (southeastern Minnesota); F. Salt Fitzgerald in District 7 (south-central Minnesota); Darth Blader in District 3 (central Minnesota); and The Truck Formerly Known As Plow in District 8 (southwestern Minnesota).

MnDOT officials invited people in mid-December to submit possible names for snowplows. Among the submissions were a number of Minnesota-themed names, including Joe Plow-er, Justin More-snow, Kent Brrr-bek, Raspberry Brrr-et and Purple Snow.

One of the most popular suggestions was the phrase “Abolish ICE,” according to an analysis by the Minnesota Reformer, an independent news website, which obtained the almost 23,000 entries in a public-records request. The name, a play on the rallying cry of critics of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, ranked No. 2 among the entries, the Reformer determined.

But MnDOT officials excluded it from its list of 50 finalists.

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Mongolian museum mystery

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Trouble at participle headquarters

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Stream of conscience


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Throat whistling?

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Using automatic speech-to-text in clinical applications

A colleague pointed me to Terje Holmlund et al., "Applying speech technologies to assess verbal memory in patients with serious mental illness", NPJ digital medicine 2020:

Verbal memory deficits are some of the most profound neurocognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia and serious mental illness in general. As yet, their measurement in clinical settings is limited to traditional tests that allow for limited administrations and require substantial resources to deploy and score. Therefore, we developed a digital ambulatory verbal memory test with automated scoring, and repeated self-administration via smart devices. One hundred and four adults participated, comprising 25 patients with serious mental illness and 79 healthy volunteers. The study design was successful with high quality speech recordings produced to 92% of prompts (Patients: 86%, Healthy: 96%). The story recalls were both transcribed and scored by humans, and scores generated using natural language processing on transcriptions were comparable to human ratings (R = 0.83, within the range of human-to-human correlations of R = 0.73–0.89). A fully automated approach that scored transcripts generated by automatic speech recognition produced comparable and accurate scores (R = 0.82), with very high correlation to scores derived from human transcripts (R = 0.99). This study demonstrates the viability of leveraging speech technologies to facilitate the frequent assessment of verbal memory for clinical monitoring purposes in psychiatry.

This is great work, but over-interpretation of such results is likely to be a problem. At this stage in the development of the technologies, experimenting with with speech-to-text in such applications is a very good idea, but relying on it without accurate human-corrected transcripts is a very bad idea.

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Cantonese under threat at Stanford

Opinion article in SCMP (2/26/21), by Brian Chan, Kevin Hsu, and Jamie Tam:

Why Stanford University must strengthen, rather than cut, its Cantonese courses
The plan damages the university’s global reputation and undermines its self-professed commitment to diversity
As the most widely-spoken Sinitic language other than Mandarin, Cantonese offers a more pluralistic understanding of China

The article is accompanied by this intriguing photograph (credited to AFP):

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Articulate Tory gestures

At our most recent Penn Phonetic Lab meeting, we heard a (virtual) talk by Marc Garellek on the topic "Reconsidering voicing during glottal sounds". The talk was quite interesting, but more relevant for a general audience was what happened when someone turned on Zoom's "Live Transcription" feature:

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Coronawords

The Institut für Deutsche Sprache has been compiling a list of "Neuer Wortschatz rund um die Coronapandemie" (New Vocabulary about the Corona Pandemic). German morphology and orthography being as they are, these are mostly new pandemic-related compounds.

The list and its compilation are documented by Abby Young-Powell, "Coronaangst ridden? Overzoomed? Covid inspires 1,200 new German words", The Guardian 2/23/2021:

From coronamüde (tired of Covid-19) to Coronafrisur (corona hairstyle), a German project is documenting the huge number of new words coined in the last year as the language races to keep up with lives radically changed by the pandemic.

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Laws

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