Monday, June 4, 2012

Obama's Polish death camp quip. Ambiguity.

Obama on Tuesday used the expression "a Polish death camp" while honoring a Polish World War II resistance hero rather than wording that would have made clear that he meant a death camp that Nazi Germany operated on Polish soil during its wartimeoccupation of Poland.
Warsaw has been waging a campaign for years against phrases such as "Polish death camps" or "Polish concentration camps" to refer to Auschwitz, Treblinka and other German killing sites. The language deeply offends Polish sensitivities because Poles not only had no role in running the camps, but were considered racially inferior by the Germans and were themselves murdered in them in huge numbers.
"In referring to 'a Polish death camp' rather than 'a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland,' I inadvertently used a phrase that has caused many Poles anguish over the years and that Poland has rightly campaigned to eliminate from public discourse around the world," Obama wrote. "I regret the error and agree that this moment is an opportunity to ensure that this and future generations know the truth."
D - an innocent mistake. English is ambiguous. In fact, all natural human languages are.
I mean, the camp WAS *in* Poland. That technically makes it a Polish camp.
In Poland, run by Germans, sure. My point here is that a language design that cleverly nestles prepositions in a brief and condensed fashion within compound nouns (and other grammatical categories) would allow great nuance- and less gaffes.
For example:
1) death camp FOR Poles
2) death camp BY poles
For that matter, the term "death camp" is itself vague. We joke here about the retirement home next door in this fashion. Seriously- it's where the elderly go to die.
Particularly with a Lojban-esque vocabulary generation system relying on c.1000 word roots for the million vocabulary items needed in a robust language (in one form or another) we need clever use of prepositions (and other 'function word' categories). I'm just starting to look at Lojban now, and will likely acquire the c. 1300 word roots this summer. 
Ranto on Espo: Again, never ever say Esp*****o. Recall that horror movie where you summon a ghost if you say "Candy Man" 3x? Same thing - but in the form of internet trolls and auto keyword spam. 
Espo claimed to need "only 1000 words or so" initially. Now they're around 10,000. Those are 10,000 ROOTS you need to learn. Seriously, at 10,000 words in English, I am fluent in a NATURAL language!
Building on Lojban, a carefully planned embedded preposition system in compound concepts would allow a future world president to avoid the former social gaffe. After all, CVn will parse "Polish death camp" as a-camp-for-death-IN-Poland. Voila- no gaffe. Note that attempt to mislead by being overly vague will become immediately obvious when the speaker resorts to the most broad and unspecific of mid-level concepts (the highest CVn will go- see entries on propaganda).
I must wait until I learn Lojban before I complete CVn - or even begin the proto-vocabulary. I will build on its successes - and overcome its limitations.

language from monkey lip smack face gesture?

 Although lip-smacking makes a quiet sound (similar to "p p p p"), it is not accompanied by phonation, which is produced by vocal cord vibration in the "voice box" or larynx.
Although superficially lip-smacking appears to involve simply rapid opening and closing of the lips, the x-ray movies show that lip-smacking is actually a complex behaviour, requiring rapid, coordinated movements of the lips, jaw, tongue and the hyoid bone (which provides the supporting skeleton for the larynx and tongue). Furthermore these movements occur at a rate of about 5 cycles per second, the same as speech, and are much faster than chewing movements (about 2.5 cycles per second). Thus, although lip smacking superficially resembles "fake chewing," it is in fact very different, and more like speech
D - making P and not B the natural default. Maybe growling on top produced the first B voiced P?

Friday, May 25, 2012

kinship naming systems compared

In particular, they tested the idea that the world's kinship systems achieve a trade-off between the two competing principles of simplicity and informativeness.

If you look at the kinship systems in the languages of the world, you can't make them simpler without making them less useful, and you can't make them more useful without making them more complicated. There is a tradeoff between these two explanatory principles."
Kemp and Regier found that this trade-off explains why languages use only a handful of the vast number of logically possible kinship categories.
"The kinship systems that are used by languages lie along an optimal frontier, where systems achieve a near perfect trade-off between the competing factors of simplicity and usefulness," Kemp said.

"Interestingly, very similar principles explain cross-language variation in color categories and spatial categories, as well as kinship categories," said Regier, associate professor of linguistics and cognitive science at Berkeley, and an author on the earlier work on color and space. "It's rewarding to see similar principles operating across such different domains."


(D - about the author)

Personal statement

I study the relation of language and thought - exploring how universals of cognition shape languages, and to what extent speakers of different languages think differently.  Specific recent projects concern spatial language, color naming, word learning, and the “poverty of stimulus” argument in language learning.
D - gamers use terms for this optimal tradeoff between variables. A "munchkin" will "minimax" a game system.
Minimax (sometimes minmax) is a decision rule used in decision theorygame theorystatistics and philosophy for minimizing the possibleloss for a worst case (maximum loss) scenario. Alternatively, it can be thought of as maximizing the minimum gain (maximin). Originally formulated for two-player zero-sum game theory, covering both the cases where players take alternate moves and those where they make simultaneous moves, it has also been extended to more complex games and to general decision making in the presence of uncertainty.
D - sadly, real life lacks RPG game 'infinity effects' to exploit! <:
E.g. DND v3.0:
1) spell 'monstrous regeneration',
2) converts all damage into subdual (except from fire and acid, which remains lethal),
3) there are very minor healing spells that heal an infinite amount of subdual-only damage.
The result was extremely cheap healing of 100s of points of subdual damage!
D - too bad language is not quite that easy to finesse. Heck, most of the purported gains in designed languages are really just arbitrary tradeoffs. 
1) remove the need for 'agreement' between grammatical elements of a sentence
2) e.g. in English, "I am" yet "you ARE" - both are forms of "to be",
3) this provides a redundant datum which may allow a statement to be understood despite problems hearing every syllable. 
Of course, it also makes a language more difficult to learn. Most designed languages remove mandatory grammatical agreement due to this.
Espo is an exception.
1) (a) big dog is "grand-A hund-O" (I capitalized the grammatical indicator)
2) yet big dogs would be "grand-A-J hund-O-J".
Essentially this translates roughly to big-ez dog-ez (-ez meaning plural).
The qualities of a child-acquired first natural language are often at odds with the need for a designed language (a nominal 'world language' aux-lang) to be easy to learn for:
1) an adult
2) of no particular scholarly talent
3) possibly without a multilingual background
4) without much time and energy to expend
5) and is not highly motivated 
to learn.
D - Espo immediately places itself in the above respect as even MORE difficult than English, which also has some mandatory grammatical agreement. This makes it difficult for the 'ESL scenario' (adult / second language) to learn. This expanded range of grammatical agreement in Espo is IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) more appropriate to a First-Acquired-by-Child natural language than a designed world language.
D - this quandary of competing demands between a child/first and adult/second language has resulted in some novel solutions. Language X / Language 53 plans to increase the complexity of their language each generation, as a higher percentage of the world population learns it.
D - IMHO, the most elegant solution is the one I presently have reserved solely for fiction - VERSE (search for it). Of course, there is no reason I cannot add the pitch system from VERSE onto my CVN design to replace closed class function words (and affixes and particles) with pitch contained by the other grammatical elements. This would increase brevity. My VERSE proposal allows a flexible either/or system for indicating 'function world' elements either as pitch, or 'words' - or BOTH!

Friday, May 11, 2012

color naming and cultures. the order.

I've seen it claimed that Chinese had no word for pink before modern European contact, while the Russians use separate words for dark and light blue.
Yet amongst all cultures, the historic and pre-historic record seems to show that people named and identified the colors in a specific order: black and white, then red, green and/or yellow, blue, brown, then finally a smatter of purple, pink, orange, or gray. A paper in the latest issue of PNAS, titled "On the origin of the hierarchy of color names," notes:
If a population has a name for red, it also has a name for black and white (but not vice versa), if it has a name for green, it also has a name for red (but not vice versa), and so on.
So why would this be true across all cultures? Why wouldn't someone point and something and call it "blue" before they did "red"?
Cultural differences
Different cultures have different terms for colors, and may also assign some color terms to slightly different parts of the human color space: for instance, the Chinese character 青 (pronounced qīng in Mandarin and ao in Japanese) has a meaning that covers both blue and green; blue and green are traditionally considered shades of "青." In more contemporary terms, they are 藍 (lán, in Mandarin) and 綠 (lǜ, in Mandarin) respectively. Japanese also has two terms that refer specifically to the color green, 緑 (midori which is derived from the classical Japanese descriptive verb midoru 'to be in leaf, to flourish' in reference to trees) and グリーン (guriin, which is derived from the English word 'green'). However, in Japan, although the traffic lights have the same colors that other countries' have, the green light is described using the same word as for blue, "aoi", because green is considered a shade of aoi; similarly, green variants of certain fruits and vegetables such as green apples, green shiso (as opposed to red apples and red shiso) will be described with the word "aoi".
Similarly, languages are selective when deciding which hues are split into different colors on the basis of how light or dark they are. English splits some hues into several distinct colors according to lightness: such as red and pink or orange and brown. To English speakers, these pairs of colors, which are objectively no more different from one another than light green and dark green, are conceived of as belonging to different categories.[1] A Russian will make the same red-pink and orange-brown distinctions, but will also make a further distinction between sinii and goluboi, which English speakers would simply call dark and light blue. To Russian speakers, sinii and goluboi are as separate as red and pink or orange and brown.[2]
Hungarian and Turkish have two words for "red": piros and vörös- vörös is a darker red (Hungarian), and kırmızı and al (Turkish). Turkish also has two words for "white": beyaz and ak. Similarly, Irish uses two words for green: glas denotes the green color of plants, while uaithne describes artificial greens of dyes, paints etc. This distinction is made even if two shades are identical.
In Komi language, green is considered a shade of yellow (виж, vizh) and it's called турун виж (turun vizh): "grass yellow".
D - here is an exciting thought. We can expand human vision into infra-red and ultra-violet now!
D - the initial application for humans will be to correct male red / green colour blindness.
But why stop there? We can gain the colour range of the goldfish!
I am curious, once a human can see a full 'octave' (a doubling of frequency) of light, will we interpret that octave like we do music? Humans hear 20-20,000hz (at least before hearing damage). Will we cease to think of purple as somehow close to red?
Would it change our colour naming conventions? After all, infra-red will be the 'new red'. Will IRR-R be the in-between unnamed colour, with orange being the next prominent colour?
D - I am also interested in the use of polarized vision by humans. After all, if an old person needs to replace their lens via surgery, why not polarize the implant so  they don't need to wear those dorky glasses in 3D movies?
D - the mantis shrimp has the most amazing vision.
Some animals can also see in full colour vision even at night. 
D - I've always thought our society's red / green pairing should have been blue / yellow instead. 
1) the colour blind can still differentiate blue and yellow, and
2) red pigment signs need to absorb all other colours to appear red. All other colours are more energetic. This leads to the faded, often almost invisible once-red signs. Red is a bad choice.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

text analysis of Obama's Grant Park speech

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.
I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America."
D - the results?
Some top phrases containing 5 words (without punctuation marks)Occurencies
i know you didn't do
the united states of america
Some top phrases containing 3 words (without punctuation marks) Occurencies
yes we can 7
in this election 3
this is our 3
it's the answer 3
the united states 3
to those who
D - single words?
America, tonight, people, nation, victory et al.
A lot of can will and then 'those' you don't agree with the can/ will part.
D - I quite admire BBC for including the quotation marks to denote and highlight controversial phrasing.
euphemistically referred to its content as "enhanced interrogation techniques".
Only three of the CIA's "high value targets" were waterboarded.
Twelve of them covered the application of the "enhanced interrogation techniques", including waterboarding.
"I was honoured to serve my country after the 9/11 attacks. I am proud of the decisions that I took ... I have no regrets."
D - no, a sociopath wouldn't. Feeling no guilt is NOT a good thing. 
Is waterboarding torture? Well, we certainly thought so when it was OUR team on the receiving end!
---------- (wiki)

World War II

During World War II both Japanese troops, especially the Kempeitai, and the officers of the Gestapo,[112] the German secret police, used waterboarding as a method of torture.[113] During the Japanese occupation of Singapore the Double Tenth Incident occurred. This included waterboarding, by the method of binding or holding down the victim on his back, placing a cloth over his mouth and nose, and pouring water onto the cloth. In this version, interrogation continued during the torture, with the interrogators beating the victim if he did not reply and the victim swallowing water if he opened his mouth to answer or breathe. When the victim could ingest no more water, the interrogators would beat or jump on his distended stomach.[114][115][116]
Chase J. Nielsen, one of the U.S. airmen who flew in the Doolittle raid following the attack on Pearl Harbor, was subjected to waterboarding by his Japanese captors.[117] At their trial for war crimes following the war, he testified "Well, I was put on my back on the floor with my arms and legs stretched out, one guard holding each limb. The towel was wrapped around my face and put across my face and water poured on. They poured water on this towel until I was almost unconscious from strangulation, then they would let up until I'd get my breath, then they'd start over again... I felt more or less like I was drowning, just gasping between life and death."[38] The United States hanged Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American prisoners of war.[9]
D - so we can add hypocrisy to the brutality and sanctimony.

gestures and spoken language

Among their key findings is that gestures -- more than actions -- appear to make people pay attention to the acoustics of speech. When we see a gesture, our auditory system expects to also hear speech. But this is not what the researchers found in the case of manual actions on objects.

The results revealed that the volunteers performed better during congruent trials than incongruent trials -- they were faster and more accurate when the gesture matched the spoken word. Furthermore, these results were replicated when the volunteers were told to pay attention only to the spoken word and not the gesture. Taken together, these findings suggest that when gesture and speech convey the same information, they are easier to understand than when they convey different information.

Kids asked to physically gesture at math problems are nearly three times more likely than non-gesturers to remember what they've learned.

D - (God I hate this ever changing font stuff. Gotta learn HTML!!!)

D - I move my finger along under the story book line I'm reading with my nieces. I also indicate objects or actions in the picture being referred to.

D - sign language can be distinguished from other hand movements by a predictable hertz rate of movement.

Information-transfer (IT) rates in bits/sec were estimated for a variety of methods of human communication and modalities of reception. Using previously published data, a range of communication rates for which transmission is highly accurate was established for each method and modality. These communication rates were converted into a normalized unit of transmission (words/sec). The normalized units were then converted into estimates of IT rate (bits/sec) using Shannon's (1951) calculations of the information content of a single letter of the alphabet. Maximal estimates of IT rates of roughly 40 to 60 bits/sec are observed for speech (through audition) and for reading and sign language (through vision). Maximal rates roughly 50 percent lower are obtained for reading through the tactual sense.

D - I hope to exceed this data transmission rate in my tonal VERSE scheme. The musical tone in VERSE replaces all closed class function words. Stripped of tone, a sentence is often just Subject Verb Object.
Were I to ever combine this approach with my CVN / Decimese vocabulary, with a 1:1 phoneme/ morpheme relationship, this could result in a very dense data transmission rate per second.

twitter /blogo spheres /verses oh my! net jargon.

D - I cannot believe it, CBC is all digital and internetty now!
The times, they are a'changin'.

Twitter is a microblogging tool to tell loyal followers what you're doing at any given time, in 140 characters or less.


Slang for the Twitter universe, it stands for the community of Twitter users and their collective voice.

The twitterverse, like the blogosphere, has created a cornucopia of new online jargon including:
  • tweeps - Twitter followers, someone's Twitter peeps as in people
  • tweetup - A meetup (organized or impromptu gathering) of people that use Twitter
  • twitt - A newbie (or an insignificant, bothersome person) using Twitter
  • twitterati - Twitter power users, the tweet elite whose feeds attract thousands of followers
  • twitterature - Classic literature in tweets
  • retweet - Copying and posting another person's Twitter content
  • twibe - A group of Twitter users interested in a common topic
  • sweeple - Sweet Twitter people
  • tweepish - Feeling sheepish or regretful about something you tweeted
  • tweetaholic - A person addicted to tweeting
  • twittermob - A flash mob formed as a result of sharing information on Twitter
  • twitterhea - Feeling compelled to tweet constantly about every meaningless thing you do
  • twalker - One who "stalks" others on Twitter in the sense that he or she doesn't post tweets but rather just reads them and therefore lurks like a troll
  • tweckling - One who "heckles" via Twitter, most commonly seen at conferences or town halls