Archive for Typing

The weirdness of typing errors

In this age of typing on computers and other digital devices, when we daily input thousands upon thousands of words, we are often amazed at the number and types of mistakes we make.  Many of them are simple and straightforward, as when our fingers stumblingly hit the wrong keys by sheer accident.  People who type on phones warn their correspondents about the likelihood that their messages are prone to contain such errors because they include some such warning at the bottom: 

Please forgive spelling / grammatical errors; typed on glass // sent from my phone.

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Cambodian voice traffic

A Rest of World article from November that I missed when it first came out, but am posting on now because it speaks to the comments on several recent Language Log posts (e.g., here and here):

"Fifty percent of Facebook Messenger’s total voice traffic comes from Cambodia. Here’s why:

Keyboards weren't designed for Khmer. So Cambodians have just decided to ignore them", By Vittoria Elliott and Bopha Phorn (12 November 2021)

The first four paragraphs of this longish article

In 2018, the team at Facebook had a puzzle on their hands. Cambodian users accounted for nearly 50% of all global traffic for Messenger’s voice function, but no one at the company knew why, according to documents released by whistleblower Frances Haugen.

One employee suggested running a survey, according to internal documents viewed by Rest of World. Did it have to do with low literacy levels? they wondered. In 2020, a Facebook study attempted to ask users in countries with high audio use, but was only able to find a single Cambodian respondent, the same documents showed. The mystery, it seemed, stayed unsolved.

The answer, surprisingly, has less to do with Facebook, and more to do with the complexity of the Khmer language, and the way users adapt for a technology that was never designed with them in mind.

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Language is not script and script is not language

Trying to clear up the confusion between the two is a battle we have been waging for decades, and nowhere is the problem more severe than in the study of Sinitic languages and the Sinographic script.  The crisis (not a "danger + opportunity"!) has come to the surface again this month with the appearance of a new book by Jing Tsu titled Kingdom of Characters: The Language Revolution That Made China Modern (Riverhead Books, 2022).

The publication of Tsu's book has generated a lot of excitement, publicity, and reviews.  Here I would like to call attention to the brief remarks of an anonymous correspondent (a famous, reclusive linguist) that are right on target:

Reimagining "antiquated" Chinese

Reproduced below is the text of a book review in Science that you may not have seen. It is classified as "Linguistics", though the reviewer is a historian at Cal State Poly, Pomona. Notice that Chinese is assumed to be "antiquated" and in need of being "reimagined"!  There is simply no sign of Science understanding the difference between a human language and a writing system. This is consistent with the way they have always treated linguistics; they have no idea what the subject really is.

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rime-cantonese, a Cantonese lexicon for building keyboards and more

The following is a guest post by Mingfei Lau. A short intro about the author:

My name is Mingfei Lau, a member of The Linguistic Society of Hong Kong Jyutping Workgroup. I am a language engineer at Amazon and I work on different projects on Cantonese resource development in my spare time.


Today, Pinyin is undoubtedly the most popular way to type Mandarin. But what about Cantonese? This wasn’t easy until rime-cantonese, the normalized Cantonese Jyutping[1] lexicon appeared. Lo and behold, you can now type Cantonese in Jyutping just like typing Mandarin in Pinyin.

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The implications of Chinese for AI development

New article in EnterpriseAI (October 21, 2021):

"Language Model Training Gets Another Player: Inspur AI Research Unveils Yuan 1.0",  by Todd R. Weiss

From Pranav Mulgund:

This article introduces an interesting new advance in an artificial intelligence (AI) model for Chinese. As you probably know, Chinese has been long held as one of the hardest languages for AI to crack. Baidu and Google have both been trying for a long time, but have had a lot of difficulty given the complexity of the language. But the company Inspur just came out with a model called Yuan 1.0 that shows significant advances from previous companies' AIs.

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Keyboarding and typing

From Barbara Phillips Long:

When did the word "keyboarding" replace "typing" in my vocabulary? I don't remember. It was hard to look up, because mostly my searches defaulted to "keyboard," which in this case is not helpful. But apparently it is a less common term than I thought. Take a look at these comments at Ask a Manager, where Alison Green provides workplace advice:

 
Richard Hershberger     *September 21, 2021 at 11:48 am

As an aside, when did the word “keyboarding” enter the language, and “typing” drop out? I’m not complaining about it. I am genuinely curious. About five years back I was at Back to School night where my kid’s teacher mentioned instructing in “keyboarding.” She was probably in her mid-twenties. I didn’t know the word, so I asked her if that was what we used to call “typing.” She was befuddled. She had never heard the word.

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