language

265 posts
Isotype, a picture language

Jason Forrest delves into the history of a single Isotype and a bit of the general background on the picture language: Isotype is a highly refined picture language designed for educating people with as few words as possible. Created by Otto Neurath in 1925, the International System of Typographic Picture Education (ISOTyPE) evolved over the next two decades with the collaboration of Marie Neurath and Gerd Arntz. The trio developed...

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Why some Asian accents swap Ls and Rs

Vox delves into why Ls and Rs often get replaced by Asian speakers using English as a second language. Some sounds aren’t prevalent in other languages, and it’s not the same across all Asian languages. Tags: Asian, language, Vox

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Changing size analogies and the trends of everyday things

When you try to describe the size of something but don’t have an exact measurement, you probably compare it to an everyday object that others can relate to. Using the Google Books Ngram dataset, Colin Morris looked for how such comparisons changed over the past few centuries. I especially like the bits of history to explain why some words fell into and out of fashion. Tags: language, n-gram, size

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Dialect book of maps

In 2013, Josh Katz put together a dialect quiz that showed where people talk like you, based on your own vocabulary. Things like coke versus soda. It’s a fine example of how we’re often talking about the same thing but say or express it differently. Speaking American is the book version of the dialect quiz results. It’s a fun coffee/kitchen table book to flip through casually. It’s not just a...

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It’s All Greek (or Chinese or Spanish or…) to Me

In English, there's an idiom that notes confusion: "It's all Greek to me." Other languages have similar sayings, but they don't use Greek as their point of confusion, and of course there's a Wikipedia page for that. Mark Liberman graphed the relationships several years ago, but the table on Wikipedia references more languages now. So I messed around with it a bit. "Chinese" is the leading point of confusion, then...

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Translating images to words

With Google's image search, the results kind of exist in isolation. There isn't a ton of context until you click through to see how an image is placed among words. So, researchers at Google are trying an approach similar to how they translate languages to automatically create captions for the images. Now Oriol Vinyals and pals at Google are using a similar approach to translate images into words. Their technique...

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Visualizing Substratum

As part of my internship at Interactive Things, I was offered the opportunity to work on a purely self-directed project. I decided to create a visualization based on the interview collection of Substratum. I was involved in the redesign of the website itself and the idea for a more quantitative or lexical access to the content was part of my initial concept exploration. You can read more about the design process...

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