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Language in the News

An Cód: Craicing the Code in Irish

Language, Language in the News

It’s often assumed that computing coding lessons are always taught in English because most (though not all) programming languages use English language syntax.

Not so.

Hour of Code is worldwide

Hour of Code is worldwide

Take this great example of learning to code in Irish (Gaeilge), part of the Hour of Code initiative in 2016, thanks to computer science professor Kevin Scannell (@kscanne), from Saint Louis University in Missouri in the United States of America.

The Irish Independent newspaper tells us that Hour of Code‘s focus is on “making coding fun through the use of popular games like Minecraft, as well as films such as Star Wars and Frozen“.

Learning to code as Gaeilge thanks to Hour of Code

Learning to code in Irish thanks to Hour of Code and Professor Kevin Scannell.

2016 was the “third year the (Hour of Code) event has been run in Ireland since it was taken up by digital learning movement, Excited“, co-founded by Irish member of parliament, Fine Gael’s TD Ciarán Cannon (@ciarancannon).

The Indo also says that “Prof Scannell kickstarted the initiative as he loves the language and believes children should be able to access coding lessons in their mother tongue.”

Who could argue with that?

Super initiatives. Kudos, or should I say “Comhghairdeas” to all concerned.

Oh, and about that “Irish” word “craic”.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

Kudos and Comhghairdeas* to Duolingo’s Irish Language Volunteers

Language, Language in the News, Translation Technology

The Irish President (Uachtarán Na hEireann) Michael D. Higgins (Micheál D Ó hUigínn) (@PresidentIRL) has publicly recognized seven volunteers for their work in building up the Irish language (Gaeilge) version of the crowd-sourced, languagelearning social app Duolingo (@duolingo).

Duolingo on Twitter

Duolingo on Twitter

This is first time I’ve read about a head of state doing something like this in the language space, although volunteerism is something that’s often acknowledged publicly by officialdom.

Indeed, it is well-deserved recognition for these Duolingo volunteers given the results.

Duolingo Irish in the Top Ten

Over the past two years, over 2.3 million people had downloaded the language app and selected Irish as the language they wanted to learn. This means that Irish is in the top 10 most popular languages offered by Duolingo.

Over 2.3 million users have selected Irish as the language they want to learn on Duolingo

Over 2.3 million Duolingo users have selected Irish as the language they want to learn

About 75% of these Irish language users are outside of Ireland, and the majority of new learners are located in the United States.

President Higgins commended the volunteers’ efforts at the official residence of the President, Áras an Uachtaráin, saying that their contribution was “an act of both national and global citizenship”.

The President also took this opportunity to comment on the status of the Irish language generally and about Government plans for the language.

Well done to Duolingo and to its volunteers in Ireland, and indeed everywhere!

The Duolingo Lessons for Other Languages

The Journal.ie quotes Oisín Ó Doinn, one of the volunteers, who was clearly delighted so many are enjoying the benefits of the contributions made to the Irish language lessons on Duolingo:

“The fact that an average of 3,000 people a day have begun using the Duolingo Irish course shows the massive worldwide interest in our native language and makes all the hard work we put in worthwhile.”

Aodhán Ó Deá (@aodhanodea) of Conradh na Gaeilge (@CnaG) was also quoted by the Journal.ie about Irish language proficiency and the reasons behind it. Some of his remarks will resonate with many Irish people:

“The thing I hear again and again from people is ‘I’d love to learn the language’, and I wish I learned it in school’.

So, despite all the negativity we hear about the Irish language, particularly from within Ireland, Duolingo’s success with their Irish language version again proves that not only do people want to try and master conversational Irish but that when the digital user experience (UX) of language learning suits their world, and it is made easy and is fun, they will give it an honest shot and try to learn.

Duolingo Irish language lesson in action

Duolingo Irish language lesson in action

Again it is also clear how smart use of technology and an ever-improving UX can benefit the health of “minor” languages.

Duolingo language learning options. Duolingo also offers gamfication and social ventures to the experience of learning Irish.

Duolingo language learning options. Duolingo also offers gamfication and social features to the experience of learning Irish.

It will be interesting to see how the Duolingo impact plays out, if at all, in the responses to questions about Irish language usage in the next Irish census!

Other languages, please take note!

The Irish President's speech to Duolingo's Irish volunteers and about the Irish language generally is on SoundCloud

The Irish President’s speech about Duolingo’s Irish volunteers, and about the state of the Irish language generally is on SoundCloud.

You can listen to the Irish President’s Áras an Uachtaráin speech about Duolingo’s Irish volunteers and about the Irish language on SoundCloud.

  • Congratulations (in Irish).
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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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XLIFF 2.1 open for public review

Language in the News

XLIFF Version 2.1 has reached an important milestone in its development. On October 14, the OASIS XLIFF TC members approved the first Committee Specification Draft and sent it immediately for the first public review. The OASIS Administration made the call for public comments on October 26, 2016. The first public review period will end on November 25, 2016.

The public review draft was extensively presented and discussed at the FEISGILTT workshop at LocWorld32 in Montreal last week.

The first “dot” release after XLIFF 2.0 delivers on the modularity promise of the XLIFF 2 architecture. XLIFF 2.1 defines two new namespaces and brings a full native ITS 2.0 capability via its ITS Module without breaking the backwards compatibility with XLIFF 2.0.

OASIS logoXLIFF 2 Core and 7 out of 8 XLIFF 2.0 Modules are unaffected by the 2.1 release. Apart from a major bugfix for the Change Tracking Module and the brand new ITS module, XLIFF 2.1 brings Advanced Validation capability. XLIFF 2.1 (and XLIFF 2.0 also) can be now 100% validated with standardized validation artifacts without regress to custom validation code. The expressivity of the validation framework was greatly enhanced by the usage of Schematron and NVDL schema languages on top of XML Schemas (xsd) that were available in XLIFF 2.0.

All comments from the wider community (those who are not members of the XLIFF TC) are collected through the XLIFF TC’s publicly archived comment list.

When posting a comment, please include the string “XLIFF 2.1 csprd01” in the subject line. You may want to number your comments if you’re sending a few of them, and the subject line should give an idea on what your comment is about.

Collected comments and the progress of their disposition are public and can be followed on the XLIFF TC JIRA project.

The XLIFF TC plans to have satisfactory dispositions for all comments by the end of November 2016, and approve the second public review draft by December 6, 2016.

For the progression of the standard from the Committee Specification stage to the Candidate OASIS Standard stage, early adopters within the TC and outside of the TC need to demonstrate implementability of the new standard by making public Statements of Use and posting those to the TC. Write to the TC comment list if you are interested in an early implementation and need advice.

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David Filip is Chair (Convener) of OASIS XLIFF OMOS TC; Secretary, Editor and Liaison Officer of OASIS XLIFF TC; a former Co-Chair and Editor for the W3C ITS 2.0 Recommendation; and co-moderator of the Interoperability and Standards WG at JIAMCATT. He has been also appointed as NSAI expert to ISO TC37 SC3 and SC5, ISO/IEC JTC1 WG9, WG10 and SC38. His specialties include open standards and process metadata, workflow and meta-workflow automation. David works as a Research Fellow at the ADAPT Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

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Blame Florida. Again: Is Coding Just Another Language?

Language in the News

An interesting debate: Is coding just another language?

If coding's a language, then missing commas wouldn't matter.

If coding’s a language, then missing commas wouldn’t matter.

Some people in Florida seems to think so, and the Senate there is set to act.

For me, this “let’s-all teach-little-kids-coding” stuff is about parental fears, blind ignorance about what constitutes a core competency and non-exportable skill (such, as say, “design”), and a living embodiment of that Shavian observation about us getting what we deserve from democracy. That such a misguided approach to the future welfare of our children and educational strategy is backed up by the usual suspects (translation: the media) is no surprise.

So,here are some reasons that coding is not just another language, based on those very moves in Florida to er, codify just the opposite view into law.

Do I think this proposal will pass muster?

Two words: “Hanging chad.”

Let’s all challenge this nonsense about coding being the same as French or Chinese when you come across it.

And, do move over CoderDojo and Co and let in the designers and user experience geeks.

You know you want to.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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The Advent of Finnish Emojis: Happy Holidays, Headbangers

Language in the News, Personalization and Design, Travel and Culture

The Finnish government has released its own set of emojis (絵文字) that capture just what it means to be so Finnish. Reflecting the season that’s in it, you can view these emojis advent-calendar style on the web.

The emojis’ release was covered by National Public Radio’s (NPR) All Tech Considered radio program from the U.S. It’s worth listening to.

Headbanger emoji

Headbanger emoji: “In Finland, heavy metal is mainstream. There are more heavy metal bands in Finland per capita than anywhere else.” (Source: xmas.finland.fi)

These emojis capture a wide range of Finnish cultural nuances and emotional states across a spectrum of subjects: headbanging (there are more heavy metal bands in Finland per capita than anywhere else, apparently), saunas, woolly socks, legendary Nokia mobile phones, how Finnish people behave at the bus stop and that Finnish kids know not to lick metal things in the cold, it’s all there. And more.

Check out those Finnish emojis. What a great way to be at the forefront of technology and educating the world about culture at the same time. Let’s see more of this approach!

So, it remains for me to wish you all the happiest of seasonal greetings, where ever, and whatever, you are.

Here’s to 2016.

Suomi Mainittu!

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Language and Your Internet Experience. YMMV

Language in the News

Yup, when it comes to your online experience, your mileage may vary (YMMV) for sure, depending on the language you speak.

Check out this great article from The Guardian if you don’t believe me!

The digital language barrier: how does language shape your experience of the internet?

Internet experience? Your mileage may vary depending on what language you speak.

Internet experience? Your mileage may vary depending on what language you speak.

It’s a powerful insight into how language interplays with the digital divide on this planet.

Some of the prognosis for the diversity of the world’s tongues is quite depressing, though.

Regardless, there are rich pickings for all interested in language there: from educators to technologists.