Friday, April 29, 2011

Personal Document Translation Cleveland OHIO

Personal Document Translation Cleveland OHIO

Newest Chrome Update Is Very Cool, Translates Human Speech into 50 Languages

By Chris Gayomali on April 28, 2011

Google’s newest Chrome update, beyond being incredibly cool, could have huge implications in the way we as humans interact with one another. A new functionality not only allows users to translate speech directly to text via a microphone, but allows those results to be translated into 50 other languages (a few of which Chrome can already recite back to you).
Quentin Hardy at Forbes believes this breakthrough to be huge, especially considering that very soon all smartphones will carry the same technology. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that we could be on the cusp of having language barriers made obsolete, and, essentially, we’ll all be carrying an inversely pocket-sized Tower of Babel. Great for vacationers, not as much for anyone who makes a living as a translator.
Click here to read more about it, and try it out for yourself here. It’s still a little buggy, but I can see this as the start of something big.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

English-French Translation Cleveland OHIO

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110414131436.htm

Internationally Adopted Children Shed Light On How Babies Learn Language

 ScienceDaily (Jan. 19, 2007) — Each year, about 40,000 children are adopted across national lines, primarily by families from North America and Western Europe. These joyful occasions mark the growth of new families and also provide the framework for a natural experiment in language development. Although most are infants and toddlers, thousands of older children are also adopted. Typically, these older children loose their birth language rapidly and become fluent speakers of their new language.
Jesse Snedeker of Harvard University believes that these older children can help us understand how infants learn their native language. Early language development follows a predictable series of milestones. Babies initially say one word at a time, and mostly use nouns (“ball”) or social words (“hi”). As they grow older their sentences become longer and more complex, as verbs (“take”) and grammatical words (“about”) begin to appear.
These changes in the infant speech could be due to the child’s increased cognitive abilities or, as Snedeker asserts, they might also simply be side effects of the learning process itself and independent of the child’s age or cognitive abilities. For example, it might be easier for children to learn the meanings of nouns because they often refer to things that we can point to or look at.
To explore the role of cognitive maturation in language development, Snedeker and her colleagues tracked the acquisition of English in children who were adopted from China between 2 ½ and 6 years of age. The researchers followed the children’s progress during their first year in the U.S. and compared them with infants who were learning English as a first language.
Studying internationally-adopted children was vital to this research because their language development is often out of sync with their cognitive development and maturation. Internationally adopted preschoolers begin learning one language and then move to a home in which a different language is spoken. Unlike most second language learners, they have no phrase book to consult or bilingual informants to translate what they hear. In many ways their situation is like that of infants learning their first language: they must discover the meanings of words by listening and watching what happens around them. But they differ from infants in one critical respect–they are older and thus more cognitively mature.
Snedeker found that the preschoolers went through the same stages as the infants. Early on they learned many nouns but few verbs or grammatical words. Like the infants, the preschoolers initially produced one word utterances, followed by short telegraphic sentences (“Mommy eat”). Snedeker and colleagues also found that the adopted children progressed through the stages more rapidly than the infants, which is good news because it suggests that many of these children will eventually catch up with their peers.
These findings, which appear in the January 2007 issue of Psychological Science, indicate that the stages used to characterize infant language development are not solely attributable to cognitive development and maturation. Children who are much older and more mature go through these same stages when they learn a new language via immersion in speech. Snedeker concludes that these stages are side effects of the processes children use to learn words and grammar.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Personal Document Translations Cleveland OHIO

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110315093029.htm

New Research Demonstrates Language Learners' Creativity

ScienceDaily (Apr. 4, 2011) — New research published in Language, the journal of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), shows that language learning goes well beyond simple imitation, and in fact that language learners are quite creative and remarkably smart. Not only are learners able to generalize grammatical restrictions to new words in a category -- in this case, made-up adjectives -- but they also do not learn these restrictions in situations where they can be attributed to some irrelevant factor.

This point is driven home in an article, "Learning what not to say: The role of statistical preemption and categorization in a-adjective production," to be published in the March 2011 issue of Language. When authors Jeremy Boyd of the University of Illinois and Adele Goldberg of Princeton University asked adult speakers to produce sentences containing made-up adjectives like ablim, they found that people avoided using ablim before the noun it modified, unconsciously treating it like real adjectives that sound similar -- e.g., afraid, which also cannot be used before the noun it modifies (i.e., the afraid cat is a less preferred formulation than the cat that's afraid). This result indicates that speakers readily generalize a restriction against this use -- referred to as "prenominal" -- to adjectives that they've never heard before.
But how is the restriction learned in the first place? Drs. Boyd and Goldberg show that witnessing ablim used after nouns (i.e., postnominally, as in the hamster that's ablim) makes participants even more likely to avoid its use before nouns in their own utterances. While this may sound like learners are simply imitating the adjective uses they see in the language to which they are exposed, the authors go on to show that learning is savvy, and only occurs under certain conditions.
For example, in an analogous learning situation, when children see an adult with his right hand in a cast play a video game using just his left, they do not assume that there is a restriction on how the game can be played -- i.e., that one can only use one's left hand. They immediately infer that the adult would use his right hand (or both hands) if he could, but that the cast is preventing him from doing so. In similar fashion, when a new group of participants witnessed ablim used postnominally, but this time in a context in which there was a reason for its postnominal use that had nothing to do with ablim itself, participants did not learn a restriction against ablim's prenominal use. This indicates that learners carefully evaluate the input they receive, and that learning only occurs when the input is deemed informative.
This research demonstrates that speakers do not learn purely by imitating others, but bring sophisticated and creative resources to bear on the process. This is especially true when it comes to language, where the fact that children routinely produce sentences to which they have never been exposed indicates that they are not simply imitating what they hear.

Monday, April 25, 2011

English-French Translation Cleveland Ohio

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/04/psst-military-theres-already-a-universal-translator-in-the-app-store/

Psst, Military: There’s Already a Universal Translator in
the App Store

On one side of the scale: an app developer that wants to translate Pashto and
Dari on your iPhone. On the other: around $50 million in federal money, this
year alone, for research into a Cadillac version of the same translation tools.
Which sounds like the better deal?
As Danger Room first reported in February, the Pentagon’s
blue-sky researchers are asking Congress to fund three major pushes for
developing a universal translation device. Darpa’s projects admittedly sound
cool. BOLT, the Boundless Operational Language Translation, will be so
sophisticated it can understand foreign slang. Robust Automatic
Translation of Speech — yes, RATS — will know the difference between speech that
needs translating and background noise to discard. MADCAT is a mobile document
reader that translates text.
And while all that goes through the federal funding,
acquisition and development process, along comes the SpeechTrans
app
for the iPhone and iPad. Load the app, record a spoken phrase you want
translated, choose your foreign language, and the app will speak it back to you,
all while displaying both versions of your text on the screen. National Defense reports the New Jersey-based company is
working to add Afghan languages “that troops need in current combat zones.”
The 1.2 version of the “universal” SpeechTrans already offers Arabic.
BOLT killer? Not necessarily.
The Army really,
really wants to equip its soldiers with smartphones. It’s
just also having a hard time saying goodbye to the expensive high-tech
development projects that smartphones appear to make irrelevant.
Nett Warrior, for instance, is a multimillion wearable suite
of computers, sensors, cameras, datalinks and mapping tools. It’s not hard to
imagine a smartphone or a tablet replicating all those functions in a much
lighter and more intuitive device. The defense contractor market is evidently betting on exactly that circumstance. But
Nett Warrior’s program managers say that it’s better to incorporate a smartphone into the
Cyborg-looking gear
than to scrap Nett Warrior and make a concerted push to
give every soldier a Droid or iPhone.
Like Nett Warrior, BOLT, RATS and MADCAT aren’t ready to be
issued to the troops. The tens of millions that Darpa is requesting from
Congress next year are for research. But they’ve also got the distributed
intelligence and experience of app designers acting tacitly as competition. The
Android Market’s got its own translation apps ready to go for travelers. All Darpa’s
programs sound like they’d be much more sophisticated than anything on the
market.
But troops in Afghanistan need translation tools now. And
before any of the service branches gets around to selecting a smartphone for
military use — let alone issuing one — troops are already using the phones they
own in civilian life to help them do their jobs. SpeechTrans could be the next
such example. The “universal” version, which allows translation into multiple
languages, will set you back $19.99 in the App Store.
None of that means SpeechTrans and Darpa have to be in competition. Darpa’s research will surely
draw on existing translation technology. Translation app companies might bid on
the contracts to develop BOLT or RATS. And both projects, once developed, will
likely migrate into civilian markets — as evidenced by the fact that you’re
reading this post on the Internet Darpa created.
But the advance of “good enough” technology still doesn’t move
the military out of its typical R&D cycles. That’s why, say, special
operators — who get around typical bureaucratic obstacles for a living — are
already looking at Android devices to keep
themselves connected. With another round of defense budget cuts forthcoming, the
Pentagon and Congress might ask if commercially available smartphones and
tablets offer a cheaper path to the tech the Defense Department wants. Maybe
SpeechTrans could convert that sentiment into Pentagon-ese.

Friday, April 22, 2011

English-French Translation Cleveland Ohio

http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/lat-swearing-reduces-pain-neuroreport-20110421,0,7314659.story
By Amina Khan, Los Angeles TimesApril 21, 2011, 1:53 p.m.
 
You know how you yell and curse and say bad things when you drop a hammer on your foot or burn your hand on a stove?
No need to feel bad about it, says a 2-year-old study from the journal NeuroReport that’s been making the rounds this week. Swearing actually helps reduce the pain you feel.
Researchers from Keele University in Staffordshire, England, asked test subjects to put their hands in icy cold water, and see how long they could stand to keep them immersed. (This is a common practice to test pain, because it leaves no mark and does no physiological harm.)
They then had the study participants either say a swear word or a neutral word. They found that those who invoked foul language were able to withstand the pain better than those who kept it clean. 
The researchers think that swearing induces a flight-or-fight response, and thus, “nullifies the link between fear of pain and pain perception.”
This doesn’t mean you should let loose indiscriminately, though. The effect worked best for people who did not swear often. Save it for when you need it, people

English-Spanish Translation Cleveland Ohio

http://www.startribune.com/world/120065079.html

Ukraine's top English-language newspaper strikes after US editor is fired in censorship row

KIEV, Ukraine - Staff at Ukraine's top English-language newspaper have gone on strike in support of their American editor, who says he was fired after refusing to pull an interview with a leading government minister.
Brian Bonner, the editor of the Kyiv Post, says he was fired late Friday following an argument with the newspaper's British owner, Mohammad Zahoor.
Bonner says Zahoor demanded the newspaper kill a sensitive interview with the country's Agriculture Minister, Mykola Prysyazhnyuk, over the government's controversial ban on grain exports. The interview ran late Friday.
The staff said in a statement Monday they are producing articles but refusing to publish their material until Bonner is reinstated. The Kyiv Post is owned by Zahoor's ISTIL Group. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

English-Spanish Translation–Localization LLC Translation Services

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3751079.stm

English-Spanish Translation–Localization LLC Translation Services

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3604069.stm

English-Spanish Translation--Localization LLC Translation Services

http://www.omniglot.com/news/01042003.htm
European Parliament to adopt Latin as official language
By Z. Lamenhof
Brussels, Belgium
Tuesday, April 1, 2003
Romano Prodi, the President of the European Commission, announced today that from January 1st 2004, Latin would become the sole official language within the European Parliament and other EU institutions. Prodi told reporters that the translation budget already accounts for over half the total budget for the European Parliament and that the budget would increase exponentially with the imminent expansion of the EU. The only sensible solution to this problem, according to Prodi, would be to adopt a single language for use in the European Parliament and other EU institutions.
When asked why Latin, Prodi remarked that many of the languages of Europe are either direct descendants of Latin or have borrowed a lot of vocabulary from Latin thus making Latin the logical choice. He also said that no member country would enjoy a linguistic advantage over the others. He also mentioned that knowledge of Latin would give people direct access to a huge range of literature and help them to think logically.
Intensive Latin tuition will be provided for all EU staff, Members of the European Parliament, journalists and politicians from all member countries. The cost of this will be approximately the same as the translation and interpretation budget for six months.
A spokesperson for the Association of Classics Teachers (ACT) expressed her astonishment and delight at the news. She said that the ACT has been campaigning for re-adoption of Latin as Europe's lingua franca since 1834. We never expected to be taken seriously so this decision came as a complete surprise, she told reporters.
British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, commented that it was about time the translation and interpretation issue was sorted out once and for all and that he wholeheartedly supported Prodi's bold move to adopt a single language for EU institutions. Blair disagreed with the choice of Latin stating that English already functions as a lingua franca within the EU and throughout the world, and would therefore be a much better candidate.
Lionel Jospin, the French Prime Minister, expressed his support for the plan and confirmed that he would be lobbying for French to become the official language of EU institutions. He told reporters that it was time that French was restored to its role as the international language of diplomacy.
Note: This article is a spoof intended for your amusement. As far as I'm aware, none of the people mentioned have expressed these particular views and some of the organisations featured are figments of the author's imagination.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Translation Services Cleveland Ohio

http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=127508

Translation Services Cleveland Ohio

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/opinion/05iht-edmohanty05.html?_r=1&ref=languageandlanguages
I.H.T. Op-Ed Contributor

The Commoner’s Speech

By RANJANI IYER MOHANTY
Published: March 4, 2011
I know it’s coming. The people ahead of me are going one by one. Terror rises in my throat. I try to think of a plausible excuse to leave. I look around for the nearest exit. My turn is drawing nearer and nearer. What is it? Getting vaccinated? Bungee jumping? Death?
No, much worse: introductions. If you stutter, one of the most difficult situations is saying your name when you’re put on the spot.
Stuttering is an odd affliction. Unlike someone who is crippled and can never walk, I can talk fluently when I’m all by myself. I can even sing my name over and over again, loudly and with ease. And since there’s no external sign, strangers are not prepared for my handicap.
Once at a dinner party, when I was introducing myself, I hit a major block. One woman laughed gaily, and asked very wittily if I had forgotten my own name.
Fortunately for me, I have a wonderful family. My parents never treated me any differently and made me believe I could do anything. My younger sister grew up with my stutter and so always waited patiently for me to get my words out, never even turning her eyes away.
In my youth, the problem was milder and so I thought I could hide it by cleverly substituting easy words for difficult ones.
But after much deliberation and in the interest of starting my marriage with a clean slate, I told my fiancĂ© of my speech problem. “Egad,” he said, “I thought you were going to tell me you’re an axe murderer.’‘ “But you d-d-don’t understand,” I persisted, “sometimes I just b-b-block on a word and no sound comes out.’‘ He smiled, “Good; more air time for me.”
When my daughter was 2 years old and sitting on her potty, she pulled her sippy cup out of her mouth and asked me, “Amma, why do you talk like that?” “Like what?” I asked, starting to feel a shade uncomfortable. She thought, and then said, “Starting and stopping.” I took a deep breath, “I have a speech problem.” She looked at me, said “Oh,” and put her sippy cup back in her mouth. She’s never commented on it again.
I watch with awe those who speak well, lightly, effortlessly. I listen to the words tripping fluently off their tongue. Can most people really say whatever they want, whenever they want, without worrying or even thinking about it? They don’t need to point to things on the menu. They don’t need to always drink apple juice on airplanes, because they can’t say tomato juice. They can easily share a good joke that seems just right at a particular time in the gathering, without thinking it through and deciding it’s too risky given all the likely places for blocks.
Stuttering has been brought to the spotlight this week with the Academy Award for best picture going to the movie “The King’s Speech.” It’s the first time stuttering has been the theme of a major feature film and the condition has been exhibited by the main actor.
Perhaps not coincidentally, one of the sessions at the recent annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science was on stuttering. Luc De Nil of the University of Toronto explained how the speech centers in the brains of stutterers were found to be more densely packed and more active — proving my long-standing hypothesis that stutterers are highly intelligent, even if we can’t say so ourselves.
I knew I never should have come to this meeting. I can feel my heart pounding and my hands shaking. And now it’s nearly my turn. Maybe I could yell “Fire!” and run out of the room. Maybe I could call myself by some other name, something easier to say, like Colin Firth…. But several people in the room know me and this would really throw them off. Or maybe I could take a deep breath and try to say my own name. Hoping for the best, I smile and open my mouth.
Ranjani Iyer Mohanty is a writer and academic/business editor based in India

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Translation Services Cleveland Ohio

Remembering Tim Hetherington
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42682853/ns/world_news-mideast/n_africa/?GT1=43001

Translation Services Cleveland Ohio

Original Post: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418152332.htm

How the Bilingual Brain Copes With Aging: As Brain Power Decreases, Older Adults Find New Ways to Compute Language

ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2011) — Older bilingual adults compensate for age-related declines in brainpower by developing new strategies to process language, according to a recent study published in the journal Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition.
Concordia University researchers studied two groups of fluently bilingual adults -- aged from 19 to 35 and from 60 to 81 years old -- and found significant age-related differences in the manner their brains interpreted written language.
"We wanted to know whether older adults relied on context to process interlingual homographs (IH) -- words that are spelled the same in both languages but have a different meaning," says lead author Shanna Kousaie, a PhD candidate at Concordia University's Department of Psychology and Centre for Research in Human Development (CRDH).
Does "coin" mean "money" or "corner"?
As part of the study, subjects were asked to read hundreds of trios of words. The first word in the triplet was in either English or French, indicating the language of the IH, putting it in context for readers. The second was an IH -- a word such as "coin," which means "money" in English but "corner" in French. The third word was one that might or might not help the person understand the meaning of the IH more quickly.
Subjects' neurophysiological responses to these words were recorded using an electroencephalograph, an instrument that records the brain's electrical activity.
Kousaie and co-author Natalie Phillips, a professor in Concordia's Department of Psychology and member of the CRDH, found that the older adults processed these letter strings differently, using context to a greater extent to determine meaning.
These findings were based on the relative speed of responses for younger and older bilingual research participants and on the differences in their EEG recordings as they "processed" the word triplets. Both measures indicated younger participants relied less on the first (contextual) word when processing the trios of words in the test.
"As we get older, our working memory capacity and ability to quickly process words declines," says Phillips. "As a result, older adults become a little more strategic with capacity. It's important to stress these are normal and mild age-related changes. Participants didn't have any cognitive deficit. Rather, they were making the best use of mental resources by using context to help them process language."
More than half the world is bilingual
These findings shed light on how bilingual adults process language. Although some 50 per cent of the world's population is bilingual, much language research has so far focused only on single language speakers.
Understanding the effects of bilingualism on the brain may be of more than academic interest. Evidence is mounting that bilingual people have a cognitive advantage over monolingual individuals because their brains are accustomed to "manipulating" two languages.
"Our study suggests that bilingual adults, as they age, are able to find strategies to compensate for changes in language comprehension," says Phillips.
This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Translation Services Cleveland Ohio

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/lunch-break-what-language-reveals/2011/03/11/AFj8vqQD_blog.html

Translation Services Cleveland OHIO

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/sign-language-dancing/2011/04/14/AFvv9CeD_blog.html

Translation Services Cleveland OHIO

Original Post: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110414065107.htm

Weak Evidence for Word-Order Universals: Language Not as ‘Innate’ as Thought?

ScienceDaily (Apr. 14, 2011) — About 6,000 languages are spoken today worldwide. How this wealth of expression developed, however, largely remains a mystery. A group of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, has now found that word-orders in languages from different language families evolve differently.
The finding contradicts the common understanding that word-order develops in accordance with a set of universal rules, applicable to all languages. Researchers have concluded that languages do not primarily follow innate rules of language processing in the brain. Rather, sentence structure is determined by the historical context in which a language develops.
Linguists want to understand how languages have become so diverse and what constraints language evolution is subject to. To this end, they search for recurring patterns in language structure. In spite of the enormous variety of sounds and sentence structure patterns, linguistic chaos actually stays within certain limits: individual language patterns repeat themselves. For example, in some languages, the verb is placed at the beginning of the sentence, while with others it is placed in the middle or at the end of the sentence. The formation of words in a given language also follows certain principles.
Michael Dunn and Stephen Levinson of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics have analysed 301 languages from four major language families: Austronesian, Indo-European, Bantu and Uto-Aztecan. The researchers focused on the order of the different sentence parts, such as “object-verb,” “preposition-noun,” “genitive- noun” or “relative clause-noun,” and whether their position in the sentence influenced the other parts of the sentence. In this way, the researchers wanted to find out whether the position of the verb has other syntactic consequences: if the verb precedes the object for example (“The player kicks the ball”), is the preposition simultaneously placed before the noun (“into the goal”)? Such a pattern is observed in many languages, but is it an inevitable feature of how languages develop?
“Our study shows that different processes occur in different language families,” says Michael Dunn. “The evolution of language does not follow one universal set of rules.” For example, the “verb-object” pattern influences the “preposition-noun” pattern in the Austronesian and Indo-European languages, but not in the same way, and not in the other two language families. The researchers never found the same pattern in word-order across all language families.
Since the 1950s, the American linguist Noam Chomsky has been defending the view that there are universal similarities between all languages. He claims that this is due to an innate language faculty that functions according to the same principle in any human being. On the other hand, the linguist Joseph Greenberg does not put forward the existence of a genetically determined “universal grammar,” but does speak of a “universal word-order,” whereby the general mechanisms of language-processing in the brain accordingly determine word-order and sentence structure. These new results are inconsistent with both of these views. “Our study suggests that cultural evolution has much more influence on language development than universal factors. Language structure is apparently not so much biologically determined as it is shaped by its ancestry,” explains Stephen Levinson.
The next step for the scientists is to examine the evolutionary processes governing language structure in other language families, as well as to examine the diversity of other linguistic features within this evolutionary perspective.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Translation Services Cleveland OHIO--Latest News

Translations that have helped shape languages

Correspondent
Published April 17, 2011
http://galvestondailynews.com/story/225630/
The Italian phrase Traduttore, Traditore (translator, traitor) sums up some of the pitfalls of translation I have discussed in previous columns.
Incompetent, malicious or overzealous translators can mutilate a writer’s work by twisting, subtracting or adding to what a writer has said.
But translations also have affected and shaped entire languages such as English and German.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the spread of literacy (primarily among men), the invention of the printing press, and a diffuse pan-Germanic and anti-papal movement in Northern Europe led to the magnificent translations of the Bible by Martin Luther in Germany and William Tyndale (and others) in England.
In both cases, the dialects Luther and Tyndale chose for their translations became the standard form of their respective languages, and many expressions passed into the common speech.
For example, Tyndale gave us such terms as “scapegoat,” “by the skin of their teeth” and “eat, drink and be merry.”
It is said that he is the second most widely quoted writer in the English language, exceeded only by Shakespeare.
In Southern Europe, the situation was quite different. For two reasons, there was no urgency to translate the Bible.
First, even though there was considerable anti-clerical friction, little of it was anti-papal and almost never anti-Catholic.
Second, whereas the traditional Latin of the Church was truly foreign to the Germanic-speaking people of Northern Europe-English, German, Dutch, Scandinavian, etc. — to the neo-Latin or Romance-speaking people of Southern Europe Latin was fairly intelligible because their languages were derived from it.
As one writer put it, if not transparent, Latin was “translucent” to French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese speakers.
There was no rush or reason to translate what they already understood to a certain degree.
Much late, the Bible was translated into the Romance languages but without any noticeable linguistic impact.
Harold Raley is a linguist, professor and writer who lives in Friendswood. He can be reached at haroldraley(at)sbcglobal.net.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Translation Services Cleveland OHIO

Language universality idea tested with biology method

By Jason Palmer Science and technology reporter, BBC News
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13049700
A long-standing idea that human languages share universal features that are dictated by human brain structure has been cast into doubt.
A study reported in Nature has borrowed methods from evolutionary biology to trace the development of grammar in several language families.
The results suggest that features shared across language families evolved independently in each lineage.
The authors say cultural evolution, not the brain, drives language development.
At the heart of both studies is a method based on what are known as phylogenetic studies.
Lead author Michael Dunn, an evolutionary linguist at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands, said the approach is akin to the study of pea plants by Gregor Mendel, which ultimately led to the idea of heritability of traits.
“By looking at variation amongst the descendant plants and knowing how they were related to each other, [Mendel] could work out the mechanisms that must govern that variation,” Dr Dunn explained to BBC News.
“He inferred the existence of some kind of information transfer just from knowing family trees and observing variation, and that’s exactly the same thing we’re doing.”
Family trees
Modern phylogenetics studies look at variations in animals that are known to be related, and from those can work out when specific structures evolved.
For their studies, the team studied the characteristics of word order in four language families: Indo-European, Uto-Aztec, Bantu and Austronesian.
They considered whether what we call prepositions occur before or after a noun (“in the boat” versus “the boat in”) and how the word order of subject and object work out in either case (“I put the dog in the boat” versus “I the dog put the canoe in”).
The method starts by making use of well-established linguistic data on words and grammar within these language families, and building “family trees” of those languages.
“Once we have those trees we look at distribution of these different word order features over the descendant languages, and build evolutionary models for what’s most likely to produce the diversity that we observe in the world,” Dr Dunn said.
The models revealed that while different language structures in the family tree could be seen to evolve along the branches, just how and when they evolved depended on which branch they were on.
“We show that each of these language families evolves according to its own set of rules, not according to a universal set of rules,” Dr Dunn explained.
“That is inconsistent with the dominant ‘universality theories’ of grammar; it suggests rather that language is part of not a specialised module distinct from the rest of cognition, but more part of broad human cognitive skills.”
The paper asserts instead that “cultural evolution is the primary factor that determines linguistic structure, with the current state of a linguistic system shaping and constraining future states”.
However, co-author and evolutionary biologist Russell Gray of the University of Auckland stressed that the team was not pitting biology against culture in a mutually exclusive way.
“We’re not saying that biology is irrelevant – of course it’s not,” Professor Gray told BBC News.
“But the clumsy argument about an innate structure of the human mind imposing these kind of ‘universals’ that we’ve seen in cognitive science for such a long time just isn’t tenable.”
Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard University, called the work “an important and welcome study”.
However, Professor Pinker told BBC News that the finer details of the method need bearing out in order to more fully support their hypothesis that cultural boundaries drive the development of language more than biological limitations do.
“The [authors] suggest that the human mind has a tendency to generalise orderings across phrases of different types, which would not occur if the mind generated every phrase type with a unique and isolated rule.
“The tendency may be partial, and it may be elaborated in different ways in differently language families, but it needs an explanation in terms of the working of the mind of language speakers.”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Languages We Offer

We offer translation and other language services in the following language combinations*

English <> Afrikaans translation, Cleveland, Ohio
English <> Ainu translation, Cleveland, Ohio
English <> Arabic translation, Cleveland, Ohio
English <> Azeri translation, Cleveland, Ohio
English <> Bosnian translation, Cleveland, Ohio
English <> Bulgarian translation, Cleveland, Ohio
English <> Burmese translation, Cleveland, Ohio
English <> Buryat translation, Cleveland, Ohio
English <> Cantonese translation, Cleveland, Ohio
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Culture trumps biology in language development, study argues

Researchers construct evolutionary trees for four linguistic groups and conclude that cultures, not innate preferences, drive the language rules humans create – contrary to the findings of noted linguists Noam Chomsky and Joseph Greenberg.

 

By Amina Khan, Los Angeles TimesApril 14, 2011
Are the rules of language encoded in our genes, or are they primarily shaped by the speaker’s cultural context?
Leading linguistic thinkers have argued that our brains are hard-wired for languages to follow certain sets of rules. But a team of scientists is challenging that premise in a study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.
The team used biological tools to construct evolutionary trees for four language families and found that each of the families followed its own idiosyncratic structural rules, a sign that humans’ language choices are driven by culture rather than innate preferences.
The authors say their findings run contrary to the idea of Noam Chomsky‘s generative grammar, which says the brain has hard and fast ordering rules for language. They also contradict the “universal rules” of Joseph H. Greenberg, who said languages tended to choose certain patterns over others.
“Culture trumps the innate structure of the human mind,” said study coauthor Russell Gray, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “We need to take much more seriously the role of cultural factors in changing language diversity.”
But many linguists challenged the study’s conclusions and said that, in any event, they did not contradict Greenberg’s ideas.
About 7,000 languages are spoken today, each with a unique blend of sounds, words and structure. Some languages place the verb near the beginning of a sentence, while others stick it at the end. Some have genitives (like the possessive in “Mary’s dog”); others do not.
For decades, linguists have studied the diverse structures of languages with the idea that there are underlying principles all languages follow — principles that many presumed were programmed into our brains.
Chomsky argued that a small set of hard-wired rules determined the underlying structure of all languages. Greenberg statistically analyzed a multitude of languages and identified a universal list of ordering relationships within them. For example, if a language puts verbs before objects (as in the English “eat bagels”), it also will put prepositions before nouns (“in school”). But if it puts verbs after objects, it will have postpositions instead (as Hindi does).
To test whether languages followed such rules as they evolved, Gray’s team built four family trees. One was based on 82 Indo-European languages (including Spanish, English and Hindi), another was based on 400 Austronesian (including Indonesian and Hawaiian), a third analyzed 34 Uto-Aztecan (including Hopi and Yaqui) and a fourth included 73 Bantu (as well as two Bantoid) languages.
Theoretically, if a language changed its verb ordering, for instance, its preposition ordering would switch too. But the data showed that this didn’t happen consistently — some languages would change one rule without changing the other.
Gray’s team also looked at eight of Greenberg’s ordering categories (verb-object, adjective-noun and others) and mapped how they were related within each language family. If Greenberg had been right, they said, the four language families would share similar relationships between these categories.
Instead, the researchers found that while there were strong correlations within families, there were few similarities across them.
“Rather than being constrained by our psychology, they’re constrained by the local features of the language,” Gray said.
However, many linguists criticized the study for misunderstanding the foundational linguistics theories it claimed to contradict.
According to Greenberg’s model, languages change gradually, so it’s not necessarily surprising that the object-verb order could change without an accompanying change in preposition-noun order, said William Croft, a linguist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. “You’d expect one order to change first, then the other,” he said.
“There are many logically possible word orders that languages could choose, and don’t,” UC Davis psychologist and typologist John Hawkins said. And since the study doesn’t consider other factors that contribute to language development, he said, it “leaves you with a somewhat unsatisfactory taste.”
amina.khan@latimes.com
// Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times
Original Post: http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-language-20110414,0,1473928.story
 
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

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Original Post: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/technology/personaltech/17smart.html?_r=1&ref=languageandlanguages
You can use a smartphone to save a few dollars on an airline ticket, buy a Starbucks latte or gain the inside edge on draft news in fantasy sports leagues.
Or you can use it to save your skin in a place where no one speaks your language.
Google introduced a free new iPhone app last week, Google Translate, which puts a more phone-friendly interface on its Web-based translation service, making it useful in situations where you’d need it most.
The app joins a surprisingly cluttered lineup of mobile software from established companies and newcomers. Some of the competition is good, and international travelers will need to consider titles like Odyssey Translator (for iPhone) and Lonely Planet Phrasebooks (for iPhone and Android). But for many, the new app on the block will be all they need.
Google’s iPhone app works much like the company’s Translate app for Android.
It’s fairly amazing stuff. Push a button, speak a query in one language and it displays a translation. Fifteen popular languages are covered by this feature.
You must speak carefully for the app to recognize your query, but if Translate misconstrues a word, you can edit the query with the phone’s keypad.
The app will also speak the results in 23 languages. You’ll have to listen carefully, though, because the translator’s computerized voice is occasionally hard to understand.
The quality of the translations is identical to what you will find on Google.com — good, but inconsistent.
Translate for Android recently added a useful feature for conversations between Spanish and English speakers, in which participants use their native tongue, and the app translates without anyone typing a word.
Google doesn’t disclose plans for future product rollouts, but those seeking this feature in other languages, or on iPhones, should stay tuned.
Whether on iPhone or Android, the app’s big drawback is that it relies on a network connection, so if you use it often while in another country you can incur huge data charges, and if you can’t find a network, you’ve just lost your digital translator.
Unless you plan ahead, that is. Google Translate lets you store and retrieve queries without a connection. But so much can happen on a foreign trip that you will have to store a lot of queries to cover all your possible needs.
Those who are willing to spend a little more can avoid such hassles.
Of the apps I tested in the low-price category, I liked the Odyssey Translator iPhone series features the most. There are seven foreign titles under the Travel Pro brand, for $5 each, and each title in the series has a limited, free version (through the Odyssey Translator Travel Free titles) for those who want to try before they buy. The app takes a different approach than competitors. Odyssey Translator starts you with more than a dozen major categories, like Emergency, Transport and Conversation, and within each category it offers more subcategories, like Directions, Taxi and Train.
Then, within each subcategory, the app displays three columns of oft-repeated phrases, in English, which you mix and match according to your needs.
Sometimes that approach complicates matters. Instead of getting a single translation for the phrase “What is the fare for a ride to the city center?” for instance, you must choose a button for the phrase “Can you” and another for the phrase “take me to.”
When pressed, the buttons display the foreign translation, and the app offers a spoken translation that is easily understandable.
Lonely Planet’s Phrasebook series ($6 each for dozens of languages, for iPhones and Android devices) also breaks down queries into major categories, and the app’s search box helps you quickly narrow the list of possible phrases. Like the Odyssey series, it works when you have no network connection.
The spoken translations are good, but the delivery is often so fast that a user would find it difficult to repeat the phrases. As a result, the app is less effective as a learning tool than Odyssey Translator.
For most people, a low-price app is all you’ll need. But spending a little more on an app may yield you features that will come in handy.
Some of the higher-price apps are meant less for quick lookups than for serious language students and translators who are looking for more precision.
Take Ultralingua. The company produces titles for nine different languages at from $10 to $25 apiece, each of which provides offline translations. The apps work on the iPhone, Windows and some Palm devices.
The apps mostly translate single words only, so if your query involves a longer phrase, it would take many minutes to complete the task. But if you want to know the Spanish word for “shoot,” in the cinematic or billiards context, the app gives you the answers.
It also offers a full range of conjugation options for verbs. And in a category where iTunes users complain about occasionally inaccurate translations, the Ultralingua series has attracted consistently good reviews.
That contrasts with one of Ultralingua’s competitors in the high-price category, Jibbigo, which is available for eight languages, at about $25 each. It functions like Google’s Translate, but without the need for a network connection. And the new bi-directional translation feature of the Google Android app is available on all of Jibbigo’s titles.
Jibbigo worked consistently well for me, but many iTunes critics complained that the app often failed to recognize their spoken queries.
Matthew Harbaugh, chief operating officer of Mobile Technologies, which publishes Jibbigo, said the company would soon issue updates based on the feedback from iTunes and Android customers. He added that Jibbigo was considering ways to let users test the apps before buying.
Until that happens, the app will require a leap of faith that may be too far for many iPhone users to make.
Quick Calls
IPad owners preparing for golf season can get an edge on the competition with the Golf Digest Hot List issue ($5). The app includes reviews of 94 clubs and video tutorials, among other features. … Picasso fans will appreciate the new iPhone app 3D Photo ($1), which turns snapshots into cubist photo portraits. … If you’d like a quick view of your income tax liabilities, try TaxCaster Mobile (free on Android and Apple devices), from Intuit.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Translation Services Cleveland OHIO -- Latest News

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Today is
On April 12, 1961, a young Soviet pilot named Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the earth
Read more: http://lightbox.time.com/2011/04/12/first-man-in-space-vintage-soviet-propaganda-glorifying-yuri-gagarin/#ixzz1JK4Z3uJ4

Monday, April 11, 2011

Translation Services Cleveland OHIO--Latest News

Original Publication: http://www.suntimes.com/business/4773863-417/language-translation-apps-for-smartphones-make-traveling-lighter.html

Smartphone apps have left many office tools and devices collecting dust.
Add language translators to that growing list.
A few years ago, a wave of portable translation products hit the market, promising to make navigating Russian markets or ordering at a French restaurant a breeze. Ranging from color-screen e-dictionaries to checkbook-size devices that utter travel phrases in a robotic voice, these gadgets typically cost well north of $100.
But translation apps have recently taken over, dramatically improving the experience and lightening the suitcase a little. More words and phrases have been packed into the new generation of apps, which can translate even complicated sentences saddled with one or more dependent clauses.
Thanks to advances in speech-recognition technology, several apps let you skip typing and instead dictate a sentence to have the translation spoken back to you immediately -- or to the person to whom you’re talking -- in a natural human voice. Best of all, many are free.
Competition is about to get a lot stiffer, with no less a player than Google entering the market. The tech giant released its iPhone app Google Translate earlier this year, based on its Web application.
I tested Google’s product and several competitors, running them through the same set of words and phrases useful for traveling -- a mixture of food- and hotel-related words, American idioms, conversation starters and corporate jargon.
I was very impressed with the apps’ speech-recognition features in particular. They were all able to translate phrases and sentences without too much difficulty and allowed easy switching between a language pair. Although it’s cumbersome to talk to a phone while conversing with a foreign friend or merchant, a well-done speech-recognition function will come in handy more than you might imagine. I recently had a taxi driver in Shanghai who couldn’t comprehend the word “airport.”
A major shortcoming, however, is that most translation apps require an Internet connection to access their dictionaries. Often, travelers can’t access a wireless data network abroad or afford steep international roaming charges.
Speech-recognition features also can be spotty, requiring you to repeat constantly. It’s best to keep phrases short. The apps particularly had trouble with the word “eggplant,” with one app repeatedly insisting I said “xporn.” Whatever that is.
Overview: Translator with 11 input and 11 output languages. Has a free version that contains only English-Spanish pair and flashing ads.
Pros: Simple to use. Works well, for the most part. Can hold a recording up to nearly a minute (though a lengthy input produced several errors). Can use it to Facebook chat with non-English-speaking friends (speech input and voice translation output).
Cons: Pricey. Voice output quality isn’t as good as others (robotic voice; some languages were downright static-y). Occasionally freezes. Speech recognition for input is available for only six languages. Needs Internet.
Takeaway: Accurately translated six of 10 phrases. Not worth $20 when there’s a free alternative that’s better.
Overview: Features 58 languages for typed input and output (only 20 are speech-capable). Translations uploaded by native speakers. Has a free version with flashing ads and no voice input/output.
Pros: Voice output is pretty realistic, with good native accents. Ability to switch among languages without retyping input. Keeps history of your searches. Contains obscure languages, such as Afrikaans and Albanian. Lets you select the type of Spanish you want (Argentinean, Dominican or Castilian). Ability to display a larger font, though not as large as Google’s enlarged text.
Cons: No speech input capability, requiring you to type. Speech output is available for only 20 languages. Brief pause prior to rendering speech output. Crashed several times during test. Translations for some non-Roman alphabet languages (Korean, Arabic) are rendered in phonetic-sounding words in Roman alphabet, not its native alphabet. Requires Internet.
Takeaway: Packs many languages, but its lack of speech recognition for input is a glaring weakness.
Overview: Translates English-Spanish via speech and typing. Sells other language pairs for $4.99 apiece. Claims its speech recognition adapts to your voice.
Pros: Doesn’t require Internet connection. Clear speech output, though a bit robotic in sound. Keeps history of your searches for future look-up. Ability to go back and forth between languages.
Cons: Contains only one language pair. Must pay for other language pairs. Speech recognition wasn’t as reliable as Google, at least on first try.
Takeaway: Speech recognition accurate for six of 10 words/phrases on first try. Not requiring Internet connection is a major plus and makes it stand out from others.
Overview: Can translate 57 languages for both input and output. Can accept speech input for 15 languages and provide spoken translations in 23.
Pros: Simple, clean interface. Speech recognition was more reliable than others. Realistic voice and excellent native accents (rolling Rs for Castilian Spanish, for example). Ability to enlarge text to full screen by tapping on the zoom icon. Can save often-used phrases/words. Has a wide variety of languages, including Albanian, Galician, Macedonian, Welsh and Yiddish.
Cons: Speech recognition wasn’t always reliable, particularly translating from a foreign language to English. (“I’d like to order tofu and fish” in Mandarin Chinese was translated as “I want entertainment tofu” in English.) Needs Internet connection, except for saved words and translation history.
Takeaway: Lives up to Google’s reputation for solid software. A must for next trip abroad, but pay attention to roaming charges. Speech recognition accurately translated eight of 10 test words/phrases on first try.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Millions Watch Twin Baby Boys Babble: Are They Truly Talking?

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One of my favorite children’s books, Before You Were Born, recounts the legend of the angel Lailah, whom rabbinic lore has accompanying babies in utero, sharing the history of their souls. When they’re born, Lailah touches them gently above their lip, leaving an indentation and causing them to instantly forget all the wisdom she’s imparted. Ostensibly the ability to speak goes out the window as well, leaving a babe to slowly piece together the nuances of language over many years. Apparently, the twin brothers who’ve become YouTube darlings didn’t get the memo.
Millions of people have watched the baby boys, clothed only in diapers and socks, appear to have a full-fledged conversation in their kitchen relying on just one syllable repeated over and over. “Da” becomes a question, an exclamation, a statement. There is cadence and inflection and intuitive understanding of the need to take turns, with one listening while the other babbles. With the accompanying hand gestures — and even the occasional kung-fu-like kick — it feels hard to deny these guys are having a real convo in their own private language. (More on Time.com: Study: Why Language Has More to Do with Math than You Think)
Babies should be babbling by 10 months and using identifiable words by 14 months, on their road to slapping full sentences together. The twins in the video are using what’s known as “reduplicated babbling,” in which they repeat a sound, according to Hope Dickinson, coordinator of Speech-Language Pathology Services at Children’s Hospital Boston at Waltham, who spoke with Thrive, the pediatric health blog of Children’s Hospital Boston:
It’s fun because these two are demonstrating great mimicking of multiple aspects of conversation. It really demonstrates how very young children communicate and know how a conversation works, even before they have the words to use. They will eventually begin to replace the babbling strings with words. If you listen closely, you’ll even hear a couple of words: One says “mama” when looking at the camera, and one or both say “up” more than once when picking up a foot.
One thing they are using wonderfully is turn taking, as in first one “talks” and then pauses and the other responds. They are also imitating the various intonations we use in conversation and speaking. There is fantastic rise and fall to their pitch and tones. Sentences or exclamations end loudly and emphatically, and there is also some questioning (rising) intonation. They are using gestures to supplement their talking, much like adults do. Their body distance is even very appropriate for most Americans; not too close, but not too far either.
Are twins more likely to understand each other as babies? It may seem that way, but it’s probably not true. “Some people believe twins have the ability to generate their own detailed language, a twin language, but it doesn’t seem to be true in terms of a fully developed language system,” Stephen Camarata, professor of hearing and speech sciences at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told The New York Times.
“They are going back and forth and enjoying each other’s company, but they aren’t saying anything specific like, Hey, Mom’s videotaping us. Look at her hair.” (More on Time.comWhen Parents Favor One Kid Over the Other, Is It Okay to Admit It?)
For April Fool’s Day, Ellen DeGeneres took the liberty of translating the boys’ conversation as they cooked up a trick to play on their parents:
Let’s hide in the hamper…and surprise Mom!
We did that last year.
I know! Let’s tell Dad that Mom’s pregnant again.
Don’t give them any ideas.
The twins’ video has been posted in countless places, but at Twin Mama Rama, where their mother maintains a blog, one viewer had some good advice: “When your boys get older, you should make them sit and watch it whenever they get into an argument.”
Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2011/04/07/millions-watch-twin-baby-boys-babble-are-they-truly-talking/#ixzz1IxLKlgjO