07 Feb 2018

HOW DID LANGUAGE DEVELOP IN THE DIGITAL AGE?

When a dominant language like Spanish or English replaces some indigenous language, in some field like literature/ businesses and these indigenous languages are considered old or better still, old-fashioned, therefore some languages have been seen to have evolved. Because people and scholars are revitalizing various languages online, the question now is will these languages be able to thrive digitally? Then is it possible for a non-digital language to be communicated on the internet?

How Literacy Changed Oral Language

Oral language is dialogic and flexible, allowing for speakers and hearers to interact to clarify meaning. Rich as we are with oral language, once literacy began to flourish, words once were spoken could travel beyond the limitations of time and space. Speakers were no longer required to convey information; however, the intentions of the speaker (writer) could be interpreted in unintended ways. Whereas oral language is highly interactive yet fleeting, and written language permanent yet inflexible, digital media offers a high degree of interactivity, while also possessing the relatively permanent nature of writing.

Language technologies are software systems designed to handle human language and are therefore often called “human language technology”. Human language comes in spoken and written forms. Speech and text technologies process or produce these different forms of language, using dictionaries, rules of grammar, and semantics. This means that language technology (LT) links language to various forms of knowledge, independently of the media (speech or text) in which it is expressed. speech and text technologies overlap and interact with other multimodal communication and multimedia technologies because When we communicate, we combine language with other modes of communication and information media – for example, speaking can involve gestures and facial expressions. Digital texts have pictures and sounds.

What Language Technology Can Do

Language Translation

Spelling Correction

Information Extraction

Text Summarization

Question Answering

Speech Recognition

Speech Synthesis

Language Technology Tools

Language and literacy are being powered up by digital media, resulting in new forms of (digital) literacy. This makes possible the rise of new literacies beyond reading and writing print text.

Machine Translation

The most basic approach to machine translation is the automatic replacement of words in a text written in one natural language with the equivalent words of another language. this can be useful in subject domains that have a very restricted, formulaic language, such as weather reports. However, in order to produce a good translation of less restricted texts, larger text units (phrases, sentences, or even whole passages) need to be matched to their closest counterparts in the target language.

Search Engine

Searching the Web is probably the most widely used language technology application in use today, although it remains largely underdeveloped Google offers spelling correction for misspelt words and incorporates basic semantic search capabilities that can improve search accuracy by analysing the meaning of terms in a search query context.

 Speech Interaction

Speech interaction is one of many application areas that depend on speech technology, i.e., technologies for processing spoken language. Speech interaction technology is used to create interfaces that enable users to interact in spoken language instead of using a graphical display, keyboard and mouse. Today, these voice user interfaces (VUI) are used for partially or fully automated telephone services provided by companies to customers, employees or partners.

Challenges

Although language technology has made considerable progress in the last few years, the current pace of technological progress and product innovation is too slow.

Widely-used technologies such as the spelling and grammar correctors in word processors are typically monolingual, therefore getting some words correctly to another language can be difficult.

The next generation of search engines will have to include much more sophisticated language technology, especially to deal with search queries consisting of a question or other sentence type rather than a list of keywords.

Another challenge is that human language is ambiguous. Ambiguity creates challenges on multiple levels, such as word sense disambiguation at the lexical level (a jaguar is both a brand of car and an animal) or the attachment of prepositional phrases at the syntactic level.

 

Article by: Busayo Tomoh

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