The Week in Review: April 14, 2023

The state of California is hard at work to improve the state’s language education programming — earlier this week, the state opened up applications for public agencies to receive a $2,500,000 grant toward professional development of language educators. 

This comes not too long after MultiLingual reported on California’s work toward investing in language education last November. 

Meanwhile, we’ve also got long reads and language-focused features from outlets like the New Yorker and the New York Times. Plus, with insightful blog posts and exciting press releases from Welocalize, Tomedes, and Lionbridge, this week’s been packed with news you can use.

Got news you’d like to share in next week’s Week in Review? Send it over to our editorial team here

What is ‘algospeak’? Inside the newest version of linguistic subterfuge (via The Conversation)

If you’ve ever spent any time on TikTok, you may have found yourself scratching your head wondering what words like “mascara” and “unalive” could possible mean in seemingly nonsensical contexts. Some celebs have even found themselves in hot water after the misunderstandings caused by the words’ atypical usage.

These words are used as placeholders for more common ones that TikTok’s algorithm flags as inappropriate. As it turns out, there’s a name for such words: “algospeak.” In a piece for The Conversation, Dr. Roger J. Kreuz examines the phenomenon and traces back the history of speaking in hidden language.

New Mexico Is Losing a Form of Spanish Spoken Nowhere Else on Earth (via the New York Times)

As one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, Spanish is well-known for its dialectal variation. From the ceceo of Iberian Spanish to the lunfardo of Buenos Aires in Argentina, there are all sorts of geographically-linked quirks in pronunciation, slang, and morphology across the Hispanosphere.

Earlier this week, the New York Times documents a little-spoken dialect of Spanish native to the northern part of New Mexico, which retains many features of older dialects that have since been lost in the modern era.

Educator Workforce Investment Grant: Effective Language Acquisition Programs (via grants.ca.gov)

Earlier this week, the state of California began accepting applications for grants to provide language educators with professional development training. Public agencies can receive up to $2,500,000 that will go toward the training and education of teachers in language acquisition programs. The state will be accepting applications until May 12, and recipients are expected to be notified in mid-July.

What Kind of Mind Does ChatGPT Have? (via the New Yorker)

In this long read from the New Yorker, journalist Cal Newport attempts to find out “what’s really happening under the hood” of large language models (LLMs).

“What kinds of new minds are being released into our world? The response to ChatGPT, and to the other chatbots that have followed in its wake, has often suggested that they are powerful, sophisticated, imaginative, and possibly even dangerous. But is that really true?” Newport asks. “If we treat these new artificial-intelligence tools as mysterious black boxes, it’s impossible to say.” 

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