Research shows first language attrition in bilingual people is more common than expected

Researchers at the University of Essex in England are finding that language attrition in bilingual people is more common than previously thought. Language attrition is when second language learners, who do not use their first language regularly, often start to feel ‘rusty.’ It is very common, according to the university’s website. According to research, immigrants can be affected by this phenomenon as attrition happens to those who move away from their first language environment. Monika Schmid, a professor at the department of language and linguistics at the University of Essex, wrote on her website that attrition can happen due to the language not being used after migration.     Linguistic knowledge can be affected by ageing, illness or trauma, or changes […]

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Presentation shares contributions of deaf culture

Former Toronto MPP and disabilities activist Gary Malkowski came to Carleton on Nov. 5 to talk to faculty and students about ableism and audism. The presentation was in sign language with interpreters present to translate for the audience. The event, “Anti-Ableism and Anti-Audism,” aimed to inform attendees about discrimination against people with disabilities and the deaf community. Ableism is defined as the discrimination against people with disabilities, while audism is the discrimination of people in the deaf community. Malkowski said he was the first member of a parliamentary council in the world to speak sign language as a main form of communication. Malkowski opened the presentation with a basic question: why does our culture believe people with disabilities are not […]

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Words you’ve never seen before

We do not speak the same English that was spoken 400 years ago and new words are added to dictionaries every year.  There are hundreds of words that have fallen out of use throughout history, but there are specific qualifications for a word to be “lost.” According to Stephen Chrisomalis, a University of Toronto professor who pens the linguistics website, “The Phrontistery” or “thinking place,” a lost word must have a header entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, must have been used in modern English, and may not be found in its proper context on any readily accessible website. Additionally, the word must be used in a standard English variety rather than a regional dialect or must not be a […]

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From ‘carpe diem’ to ‘YOLO’ – How the spoken word changes

If you were to travel to the future, would you be able to understand what anyone was saying? What if you went back in time? Would the language be different enough to make communication impossible? Daniel Siddiqi, the assistant director of the linguistics department at Carleton University,  is a specialist of words and sentence structure. He says that if someone were to travel back in time 1,000 years, the language they would find would be incomprehensible. “If you went back in time you wouldn’t be able to speak to anybody,” he says. If the time traveller was less ambitious and travelled back in time only 500 years the language they would find would be much easier to understand, Siddiqi says. This is because […]

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U of T and Microsoft collaborate to create voice language translator

Microsoft and scientists at the University of Toronto (U of T), have developed new software that is capable of translating verbal messages to a different language in the original speaker’s voice. The technology was presented by Rick Rashid, Microsoft’s chief research officer, during a presentation in China Oct. 25. The technology first takes the text of one’s speech, collected through voice recognition software, and translates it word by word into the desired language, Rashid explained during the presentation. A text-to-speech system then converts the translated text, which is reordered so as to make sense in the new language, into verbal speech. The system plays back the translated message in the voice of the original speaker, through the use of samples […]

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