Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:No big changes (Score 1) 578

by raju1kabir (#48733731) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?

in modern-day Poland, when you ride the train, there are multi-lingual signs instructing on how do do things like open the windows or operate the toilet. The signs appear in Polish (it's Poland, after all), German (much of Poland was Germany and vice versa), Russian (it was under the Soviet sphere of influence), and French (the international language). No English.

That's because they assume English speakers already know how to use a toilet.

I'll see myself out.

Comment: Re:Universal Translators? (Score 1) 578

by raju1kabir (#48733691) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?

Google Translate works well with text about long-standing topics and which doesn't employ recently emerged idiom.

And it is far better with language pairs that share a lot of cultural exchange.

That's because it substantially operates without any real semantic analysis, but instead on statistical analysis of human-translated texts. They feed in books and articles which exist in both English and Spanish, for example, and the computer sees which words and phrases tend to match up.

This approach provides workable results, but it has its limits. In particular it's never going to get much better with contemporary idiom, since that's rarely used in translated materials in the required bulk. They'll have some best-selling novels here and there, but not the wide range of contexts necessary to make it really function.

Comment: Re:English-ish? (Score 1) 578

by raju1kabir (#48733629) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?

Can you give us some first hand experience where you found someone in China who was not able to speak Mandarin?

I'm not the person you're responding to, but I traveled from one corner of China to the other with some colleagues from Beijing. They were native Beijing Chinese, I am a foreigner.

We had meetings in almost 100 cities and towns, and also did some sightseeing during free time.

The catchphrase of the journey was "why don't these people speak Mandarin?" I think they said it (in English) more in those few months than everything else combined. We had endless comical misunderstandings over food, meeting arrangements, transport, and everything else that didn't involve higher-ups or more educated people.

When dealing with people who could read and write, very often they'd clarify by making characters in their air with their hands or scribbling them out on a piece of paper, because that often covered the gaps better than speaking.

But sometimes that failed, and on occasion they became so frustrated that I ended up taking over by pantomiming or using my flash cards, just to break the tension and move things along.

Comment: Re:English-ish? (Score 1) 578

by raju1kabir (#48733563) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?

There really isn't a language more simple that I know of.

The simplest one I know of, and one with which I'm much more familiar, is Indonesian (also Malaysian; these are essentially dialects of each other).

You can learn the basic grammar and vocabulary in a few weeks, something that would take months or years in many other languages.

And then you will not be able to understand 90% of what people are saying. Due to the lack of formal grammatical structure, native speakers have created a vast array of continually evolving tags and circumlocutions and helper mechanisms to provide missing semantic details.

I would assume it works the same way in Chinese.

Personally, I'd prefer a grammar that's baked into the language. Indonesian can be extremely poetic, and it's nice when you have the time, but it's a beast to truly follow the nuance of conversations unless you are surrounded by it all day long, and continue to keep up with changes year after year.

Comment: Re:Chinese that speak English (Score 1) 578

by raju1kabir (#48733453) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?

There's cases in English, but they are only used in some contexts, and some uses are optional and/or ambiguous (e.g. "who" vs. "whom" in embedded clauses can be ambiguous as to case agreement), thus making them substantially more difficult to deal with than languages that have regular case systems.

They're not "substantially more difficult to deal with" at all, because outside of pronouns, you can ignore them.

"Whom", like it or not, is dead in 50 years. Nobody cares and almost nobody will even notice if you fail to use it.

Spelling is more complicated by far than the grammar case system in Finnish.

This problem has almost completely been solved by technology. Context-sensitive spelling systems in everyone's electronic devices will put the issue to rest, because people aren't using pen and paper anymore.

Several of the sounds are among the rarest and most difficult to pronounce out there, and the inventory is larger than a majority of languages outside Africa.

Everyone can understand someone speaking with the typical substitutions found in, e.g., a German or Spanish accent. These things don't matter.

Comment: Re:English-ish? (Score 1) 578

by raju1kabir (#48733405) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?

Uttoxeter, Billericay or Loughborough

Cherrypick much? 99,999 out of 100,000 English speakers will live their entire lives without speaking any of these names.

I come across a lot of very awkward English from very well educated people; I really do. They are not stupid - English is difficult to master.

Doesn't matter. It functions as a market language. The goal is to be understood. For those with the interest, it is possible to speak English well; a hobby for the refined, like the opera or collecting rare books. For the rest, getting one's point across is a satisfactory outcome, and one reached more easily than with Chinese, where people speaking poorly are vastly harder to comprehend due to lack of tonal fidelity.

China is already on the charm offensive in UK in a major way

And they're conducting this offensive in English. Once everyone in China learns English - and that, or something approximating it, is happening - there's little reason for people in England to turn around and learn Chinese. Perhaps it will provide an advantage for a tiny number of people in certain fields, but that's about it.

Everyone in Denmark learning English sure didn't turn into everyone in the USA learning Danish.

In any case, the Achilles' Heel of Chinese is the writing system, which you ignored in your reply. Even Chinese schools in China teaching Chinese to Chinese children start with the Latin writing system before they move on to characters. As long as there are alternatives that do not use the Chinese writing system, Chinese will never be the global lingua franca or anything like it.

Comment: Re:Cynicism (Score 1) 148

Ah, I see, you have to use the HTML entity rather than typing the character directly: €

That seems odd for a page that was sent with a UTF-8 character set indication in the headers. If you send the â character in the form it gets mangled, which is something I would have expected to happen on a site last updated in 1998, before anyone thought about encodings.

Comment: Re:Touristy places will be in for a surprise.. (Score 1) 148

The incumbent operators will have little or no incetive to build out their network capacity/coverage, since the need to upgrade capacity is mainly driven by tourists.

What are you talking about? There is almost no place on earth where the majority of phone traffic comes from tourists. Maybe airports.

Comment: Re:Cynicism (Score 4, Insightful) 148

increased usage means more cost for the provider. How does that offset the income loss?

Let's say the carrier currently charges EUR 1/MB for a service that costs them EUR 0.02/MB to provide, and customers use 1 million megabytes. That's EUR 20,000 in costs and EUR 980,000 in profit.

Then they are forced to charge their domestic rate of EUR 0.10/MB for roaming data, and customers stop being stingy and use 20 million megabytes. That's EUR 400,000 in costs and EUR 1,600,000 in profit.

Obviously these numbers are plucked straight from my ass but surely you can see how it's possible. Roaming charges are almost pure profit as it is, and that's only possible because we're a captive market.

P.S. What is up with Slashdot still not being able to display the Euro symbol (â)? This is 2014, isn't it?

Comment: Re:Good, I guess (Score 2) 148

In the USA I believe the idea of the FCC forcing AT&T to wholesale its lines to competitors is completely alien?

It actually used to be the law of the land. During that period (around 2000) there was an incredibly vibrant broadband ISP scene. Unfortunately the FCC changed its mind (and no doubt a few briefcases full of cash changed hands) and now the situation has reverted to the anti-consumer oligopoly you see today.

No problem is insoluble in all conceivable circumstances.