cApStAn

2023-01-31
by Pisana Ferrari

Stanford University’s initiative to replace racist and harmful terminology backfires

Further to widespread internal and external criticism and mockery, Stanford University has taken down their “Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative” (EHLI) website, created in May 2022. The EHLI was an effort co-sponsored by the Stanford CIO Council and the People of Color in Technology (POC-IT) affinity group. The primary motivation of the initiative was to …

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2023-01-31
by Pisana Ferrari

Interlingua, a language that can be understood by anyone who speaks Latin languages, going viral on TikTok

On TikTok Orlophe Vauchertres, is introducing millions of people to Interlingua, a language which can be understood by anyone who speaks a Romance language, from Spanish to French to Italian to Romanian to Portuguese, whether they have studied it or not. Orlophe’s real name is Carlos Valcárcel Riviero, and he is is a philologist and teacher …

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2023-01-29
by Pisana Ferrari

M. NourbeSe Philip’s work was translated and published without her consent. Who ultimately owns the stories we tell?

NourbeSe Philip is a Caribbean born Canadian poet, novelist, playwright, essayist and short story writer. One of her books, Zong!, published in English in 2008, is at the heart of a major translation controversy. Zong! is a 182 page poetry cycle composed of words sourced exclusively from the two-page case report, Gregson vs. Gilbert, which related to the murder of 150 …

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2022-12-28
by Pisana Ferrari

Is visual media replacing text as our culture’s dominant form of expression? Pictures’ capacity to convey “a thousand words” is a palpable advantage

Meghan O’Gieblyn is an award-winning author and “spiritual advice columnist” at Wired. In a recent article she reassures us that visual media is not (yet) replacing text as our main form of expression but that do we need to be aware that our relationship to language is changing. On the one hand the artificial intelligence …

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2022-12-28
by Pisana Ferrari

“Permacrisis”, “gaslighting”, “goblin mode” and “shortage” are some of the Words of the Year 2022

It’s that time of the year again when dictionaries announce their selection of top trending words. “Words of the Year” (WotY) are supported by usage statistics and tend to reflect societal attitudes and concerns. The tradition dates back to 1971, with the German Wort des Jahres, and the American Dialect Society’s WotY is the oldest English-language version …

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2022-11-23
by Pisana Ferrari

Research by MIT cognitive scientists sheds light on the features that make “legalese” so difficult to understand for lay people

A study by MIT scientists from the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS), published in September 2022 in Science Direct, has analysed thousands of legal documents using a text analysis tool that identifies repeating textual features. Their research has pinpointed several features that distinguish legal from nonlegal texts, including unnecessary jargon, passive sentence structures, …

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2022-11-23
by Pisana Ferrari

The introduction of emoji skin tones to improve inclusivity has opened up a complex conversation around identity and digital self-representation

In 2015 the Unicode Consortium introduced the possibility to choose from different skin tones when using emoji of faces, gestures and people. This was part of an overall effort, on the part of the consortium, to improve diversity and inclusivity in emoji online communications (1). However, this move has also opened up a complex conversation …

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2022-11-22
by Pisana Ferrari

“Algospeak”, a new vocabulary that has emerged on TikTok as content creators try to get around algorithms and strict content moderation

Seggs, leg booty, cornucopia, nip nops, S.A., D.V. and panoramic are just a few examples of a new vocabulary that is emerging on the TikTok social media platform, often referred to as “Algospeak”(see table below for the meanings). In a recent article for the The New York Times senior staff editor Melina Dukic writes that …

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2022-11-21
by Pisana Ferrari

Japanese bestselling author Haruki Murakami on writing in a foreign language … and why less is more

The Guardian has recently published an extract from the last work by Japanese bestselling author, translator and academic Haruki Murakami, Novelist as a vocation. In this extract Murakami writes about how he became a writer and how he “discovered” the unique and original style which characterises his literary work. Murakami had just turned 29 when …

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2022-11-21
by Pisana Ferrari

“Neurodiversity” may be the next frontier in discussions around DEI in the workplace

Cultures and societies are dynamic and so is awareness of social justice issues. Recent global movements such as #metoo and #blm have shone a light on many of the inequities in the world and highlighted the need to work towards a more inclusive society. Awareness of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is …

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2022-11-17
by Pisana Ferrari

New film celebrates Nüshu, China’s secret, female-only language from feudal times. Is it still relevant to women today?

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village “Holding my brush to write this letter, two streams of tears flow/ Of the thousands hardships I have suffered nobody knows” … These words are translated from “Nüshu”, which literally means “the script of women”. Nüshu is a writing system created and used exclusively by …

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2022-11-17
by Pisana Ferrari

Recent study reveals the extent to which accent bias is pervasive in British educational and work settings

A study on accent bias in Britain, titled “Speaking up”, has recently been published by the Sutton Trust, a UK charity whose work focuses on social mobility issues. The study, based on the experiences of sixth-formers, university students and professionals, reveals that 30% of university students, 29% of university applicants (mainly 17-18-year-olds), and 25% of …

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