Sunday, September 13, 2009

Internet, English and Language

In many languages, Greek and Latin roots constitute an important part of the scientific vocabulary. This is especially true for the terms referring to fields of science. For example, the equivalent words for mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, and genealogy are roughly the same in many languages. As for computer science, numerous words in many languages are from American English, and the vocabulary can evolve very quickly. An exception to this trend is the word referring to computer science itself, which in many European languages is roughly the same as the English informatics: German: Informatik; French: informatique; Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese: informática; Polish: informatyka.

We live in the age of information. It pours upon us from the pages of newspapers and magazines, radio loudspeakers, tv and computer screens. The main part of this information has the form of natural language texts. Even in the area of computers, a larger part of the information they manipulate nowadays has the form of a text. It looks as if a personal computer has mainly turned into a tool to create, proofread, store, manage, and search for text documents.
Our ancestors invented natural language many thousands of years ago for the needs of a developing human society. Modern natural languages are developing according to their own laws, in each epoch being an adequate tool for human communication, for expressing human feelings, thoughts, and actions.

For the last two centuries, humanity has successfully coped with the automation of many tasks using mechanical and electrical devices, and these devices faithfully serve people in their everyday life. In the second half of the twentieth century, human attention has turned to the automation of natural language processing. People now want assistance not only in mechanical, but also in intellectual efforts.

We need resources for NLP, the problem is that most of them are in English (such as sentiWordNet and General Enquirer), and only just a few in the other languages. Lexical and ontological resources are fundamental for NLP. This puts non-English speakers in a serious disadvantage.

The most-used language on the Internet according to Wikipedia is English. Although the total number of native English speakers in the world is about 322 millions, which is only around one fifth of the total internet users; the amount of English web content approaches 80%.

Generally speaking, when a language has got the position of a universal language, the position tends to be affirmed and extended by itself. Since "everyone" knows and uses English, people are almost forced to learn English and use it, and learn it better.

Besides the importance of the Internet grows rapidly in all fields of human life, including not only research and education but also marketing and trade as well as entertainment and hobbies. This implies that it becomes more and more important to know how to use Internet services and, as a part of this, to read and write English.

But English is changing fast too. There is no area of the culture that collision's more intensely than that, for the web has changed English more radically than any invention since paper, and much faster. According to Paul Payack, who runs the Global Language Monitor, "there are currently 988,974 words in the English language, with thousands more emerging every month". By his calculation, English will adopt its one millionth word in late November. To put that statistic another way, for every French word, there are now ten in English.

So far from debasing the language, the rapid expansion of English on the web may be enriching the mother tongue. Like Latin, it has developed different forms that bear little relation to one another: a speaker of Hinglish (Hindi-English) would have little to say to a Chinglish speaker. But while the root of Latin took centuries to grow its linguistic branches, modern non-standard English is evolving at fabulous speed. The language of the internet itself, the cyberisms that were once the preserve of a few web boffins, has simultaneous expanded into a new argot of words and idioms: Ancient or Classic Geek has given way to Modern Geek.


A Cuban In London said...

A peach of an article. English is still the lingua franca with Spanish's 330 million speakers (approx) a close third (in first place is Mandarin) but today's societies are changing fast, so fast that we have now a hybrid that I despise thoroughly: Spanglish.

Your post is a timely reminder of how far we've come and how nowadays technology advances at a pace faster than before. How many years elapsed between telephone and fax? How many between mobile phone and text?

Greetings from London.

Jenny said...

Hi Mariana,

Very interesting post and the topic you raise feels very relevant in this time and age. You are so right that English has gained the position of a universal language, and taken over the role that Latin once played. I am from Sweden and we Swedes are known for being “anglophiles” and to have a pretty weak ethnic identity. This is a pity in many ways. I often hear people younger than myself speak “Swenglish”, translating typically English idoims directly into Swedish in a very non-grammatical manner. But then again, I am not sure whether that is a sign or linguistic impoverishment or enrichment of Swedish. Probably both. This process is unstoppable, that is for sure.

However, it is also positive that English has become a universal language. For instance, here on Blogger we can speak to people from all over the world without worrying about language barriers. That is amazing in many ways.

Take care

paulandrewrussell said...

Hi Mariana,

Great post.
It's interesting to note that even though we now have instant web translators, people are still taking up English as the language to use on the web.

So in one instance the web has made life easier, taking some of the boring tasks and doing them for us, but it has actually also encouraged people to learn another language, even though the tools are there to translate for us, without us having to learn. hmmm? Interesting.

Renee said...

You are always teaching us something.

Thank you.

Renee xoxo

Fantasia Lillith said...

Perfect timing! I can send this to my mother. THANK YOU!!

I find that your article is a fresh change to the oft demonisation of new technology as the end of all things pure in language. Texting is evil etc. and no - I am not a tween.

Never have people written so much or read so much. One could argue over quality but when you look at how many blogs are out there ... when have "the little people" had such a voice?

great post.

Uncle Tree said...

That last line is hilarious, Mariana! Geek speak, Greek speak, it's all the same to's French.

So what? Am I supposed to feel some kind of sorry for all those folks who have yet to learn English? Get with the program! He-he-he, I'm just kidding. Really, I'm glad you know it as well as you do. But I can still play a part, be a helper, a teacher, as best I can, just by being here, writing with as large a vocabulary as I can, and by using as much gusto as I have at the moment.

A million words? My God, it's no wonder I can't speed up my own thinking processes, even though I put in a lot of practice. As a matter of fact, my brain just locked up on me. I b bak laiter.

Charles Gramlich said...

One thing I was always impressed with was the huge vocabulary of English. As I understand it, it's the biggest vocabulary of any language in the world, and that indicates a great flexibility I think.

geek said...

Hey Mariana. What's up?

We are indeed living in an interesting time, aren't we? I think this age -- the digital age -- is subject to new things that we can explore.

One cannot deny that there is need in speaking English. I mean, even the Japanese -- who are very nationalistic, in a sense -- now seek the help of us Filipinos in speaking English.

It is also interesting (you also mentioned it here), how English is being localized in many parts of the world. There are words in Hindi-English or Filipino-English or Indonesian-English, for example, which do not appear in American English, British English or the Standardized English.

I'm glad that you are posting a lot of things from your field and we get to learn from them.

Good day to you.

otin said...

I have no idea what you are talking about!!!! hahahaha! All I know is that I speak English and that is all that I understand!

Anonymous said...

English began to spread all over the world in the time of the English Empire. Later on, the USA became the most powerful nation on earth and therefore English prevailed. Today, in the age of information, most developments take place in the USA and in consequence English continues to be the protagonist among all other languages. Maybe the fact that it is so practical contributes to this phenomenon.

Whatever the reason and despite becoming richer and richer, it still has a long way to go. It has interfered and it still does in many other tongues through loans, loan translations (calques) or simply by adapting the original term in English to the parameters of the target language (chat = chatear in Spanish). This is just the beginning.

foam said...

modern geek? lol ..

i'm ready to sign up for "Modern Geek 101" ..
i can't keep up with it anymore ..

i also have to add that i have a ton of respect for anybody who blogs or writes in a language that is not their native tongue.

Rakro said...

Ciertamente el inglés parece ser el nuevo latín. Y su rápida evolución - o deformación - es un claro ejemplo del choque tan intenso (y constante) entre culturas y generaciones. Supongo que es sólo cuestión de tiempo para que el Spanglish, el Hinglish y los demás híbridos desplacen a los idiomas actuales.

Sin embargo, me pregunto cómo podremos entendernos en idiomas que cambian cada año y para los que no parece haber regla alguna. A mí a veces ya me cuesta entender algunos mensajes de texto o conversaciones en mensajero (por no decir messenger XD)

En fin, leyendo tu post, hoy se me antojó dejarte el mio en español.

Shadow said...

the language has grown that fast?? amazing. nothing's escaping the modern evolution, is it...

Mariana Soffer said...

a cuban in london:
Thanks a lot mr cuban, I like when you step by at least to say hi.
it is true, it is becoming more and more popular spanglish, I just been to miami a month or two ago and it seemd that that was the official language of the place.

What you say about the different communication media that existed trouth the years, it is a subject that fascinates me also. I love the history of it, and how it changed relations among people, commerce, globalization, and many more stuff. Also it is interesting that you need a big infrastructure to be able to use any kind of communicatio media, which do not evolve from one day to the other, and how some are built on top of others already existing infrastructures, like internet over the phone using the modem.

Take care and thanks mr london

Mariana Soffer said...

very intersting the facts you are sharing with us about how your language is being empoverished, I did not knew that, I did not imaging that would happen in a country like yours given the things I get to see and know from your culture (which are not that much).
I agree that we need a universal language, it is very important for us, now day we can communicate so easily and so fast, but I do not know enough about linguistic evolution to know how to prevent most languages to empoverish and only one to grow and get richer fast.

Thanks a lot jenny for your comment
Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

Well, that is true, that would help prevent english to become such a monopoly in the web, but I think people do not use them much because they are still working really bad, and most of the texts are not able to be understood when translated for us.
Interesting what you say, it is true that the web encouraged us to learn new things, including english language. But I do think that the tools are not ready yet, we do not have a choice still, we have to learn E or we are left out of most of the net. I did some research about automatic translations and parallel texts. We have to improve that fields sI guess, but nlp people do not pay that much atention to it as one would have thought they will.

Take care and taks a lot for your compliment, be well.

Mariana Soffer said...

It s true, hope I do not become a bore, and keep it fun, that is important also.

Thanks a lot for stepping by, take care a lot, and be well my friend.
Whish you the best

Mariana Soffer said...

Fantasia Lillith
Thanks for stepping by, I agree that demonization is no good, it is limited minded people who do that thing.

You are right about the blogs, it is amazing the amount that there are, I think that each day there are aproximately 70.000 new created on the net as well as the millions and millions that are already there.

Nice to have you hear my friend
Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle Tree
You are hilarious too uncle.

I love to learn from you uncle, is fun and stilish (you use nice words), I really want to keep improving my language skills dough, I think that the task to write you keep learning all your life, and even more when it is not your mother tongue the text you write in. But definitely want to learn more, teach me.

Hold still, I will take out the b out of your head, I think that is what is locking the words in. There it is, the problem I guess are too much unexpressed thoughts (at least that is what happens to me).

Thanks to my dear uncle, teacher and tree.

Mariana Soffer said...

Charles Gramlich
Yes is impressive, but gramatically it is much easier than some other languages, like spanish for example.
I think it is also related to the fact that they colonized many countries and took words from them. And also that they invented many modern artifacts, which they had to give a name.

Thanks a lot for your thinking my friend

Paul said...

Haha, that's a very clever ending. I am hoping that two things happen at the same time. That we develop a universal language, naturally and organically, that retains the best bits of all the world's languages and that the great rich diversity of separate languages (including indigenous languages)is retained and respected. I hope we can achieve both.

Mariana Soffer said...

how are you doing my friend? I have been really busy lately.

You are right about this times, it is funny because my sister came to visit us to our country (my mom and I) an we where just teaching my mother how to use skype, so she can use it with my sister. Those things among many other are interesting to explor stuff from now.

Yes it is fascinating how language influance each other, how they mix an evolve.

I m gla that you share my interests also.

Hope you are well too, take care

Mariana Soffer said...

You really make me laugh, are you drunk, stone, or just like that?

Anyway I am glad you slep by this place man.

Whish you well

Mariana Soffer said...

lucy: it is true, they spread it first, among other things, because england was a colonialist country. I agree also with what you say later on this paragraph (indeed I said the same on one of my replies before).

I was thinking also that english spoken movies and movies and english sang music where the most heard all over the world, that could have had also an important influence on us all.

It is also incredible as you say, the speed at which other language are incorporating english words to it.

Thanks for your reflections in here!

Mariana Soffer said...

Yeah, it is funny, I always thought that is better when you manage to add a bit of humor to things in life. aint it?

Thanks for your respects dear foam, but to tell you the truth, I do not thing there are all drawbacks for me in producing english materials, somethings are easi to write, at leats in my case, when you feel more detached from them, like when you interact in another form than in your habitual way.

Take care my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

Rakro says:
Certainly english seems to be the new latin. And its fast evolution, or deformation, is a clear example of the constant and intense cultural crash among different cultures and generations. I guess is just a matter of time for spanglish hinglish and other hibrid language take the place of the actual spoken ones.

Nevertheless, I ask my self how is it possible that we understand eachother in languages that change each year, and for which there seems to be no rule at all. For me is already difficult to understand some text messages or conversations done trough messenger.

Reading your post, today I felt like leaving mine in spanish

Mariana Soffer said...

I think it is excelent that you left you comment in english, it means you understood my message and wanted to do something about it, even dough it was small.

I agree with what you say in it, and found in it new interesting points to refelct about also. Regarding how different languages evolve, I think they evolve in a very similar way different cultures do. They are probably really interconected both.

You probably think I am crazy that I am replying and translating you to english language, but I feel I am one of the few persons in this world that do serious nlp in languages different to english, so I guess there it goes my serious collaboration to languages such as the spanish one.

Thanks a lot for everything and hugs to your soul

Mariana Soffer said...

It is amazing isn't it? as I said before:

Regarding how different languages evolve, I think they evolve in a very similar way different cultures do. They are probably highly interconected both characteristics in the a same civilization.

An honor to recieve your visit shadow.
Be well and keep writing marvelous poems.

Mariana Soffer said...

It is an honor to have you hear. And even more if you are having fun.

I liked a lot what you say, one of the most clever reflections I got on this post. Thanks a lot for that.

Now you leave me thinking if we should do something for acomplish what you said, and if so, what kind of thing coud that be?

take care paul

ines said...

Which ones are the major language families?

Mariana Soffer said...


This is a list of the top ten families with wide recognition as phylogenetic units, in terms of numbers of native speakers, listed with their core geographic areas.

1. Indo-European languages (Europe, Southwest to South Asia, America, Oceania)
2. Sino-Tibetan languages (East Asia)
3. Niger-Congo languages (Sub-Saharan Africa)
4. Afro-Asiatic languages (North Africa to Horn of Africa, Southwest Asia)
5. Austronesian languages (Oceania, Madagascar, maritime Southeast Asia)
6. Dravidian languages (South Asia)
7. Altaic languages (Central Asia, Northern Asia, Anatolia, Siberia)
8. Austro-Asiatic languages (mainland Southeast Asia)
9. Tai-Kadai languages (Southeast Asia)
10. Japonic languages (Japan)

Raul said...

How quick do languages change, and what makes them evolve?

Mariana Soffer said...

According to a book I was recently reading about the evolution of language:

Language change is not an inherent or measurable feature in languages, it depends on historical, social factors, which means that there are certain circumstances which accelerate the process of change. In the absence or of these factors, human languages tend to remain unchanged. This conservatism of languages is beneficial in terms of communication effectiveness and learnability and it can easily be observed in all human communities. As I said, there are many factors which trigger language change. It is obvious, for example, that the Neolithic revolution is one of them. Another one is the migration of human groups or the invasion and colonization of territories. But these are relatively recent phenomena in the history of humanity. Let’s think about the Paleolithic period, which lasted more than a hundred thousand years and where the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of human populations were quite different from the ones we know today. The main factor in language change is hybridization, that is, when there is contact between speakers of different languages. It is obvious that in a Paleolithic environment there were fewer opportunities for mobility and for exchange between human communities than in the Neolithic or Metal Age periods, and therefore fewer opportunities for language contact. On the other hand, Paleolithic societies were not highly stratified, which means that pressure from elite groups was not a relevant factor in language.

As we have seen, the assumption that language change happens at a given rate, or that it can be understood regardless of external factors, is a serious mistake that has pervaded historical linguistics for centuries. Evidence for this comes from a variety of sources, e.g. the fact that (relatively) isolated populations, like the ones we find in islands, speak languages with markedly archaic traits if compared to other related languages.

So it seems it seems there is not an easy response to this. Like what happens with most human disciplines research.

Vesper said...

Mariana, this is a truly fascinating post for me. I’ve always had a special interest in languages, in the words’ origins, and a good ear…. Ten words in English for every word in French? – Wow!

What I cannot stand though is people mutilating the written English language, which I see happening more and more often on the Internet.

Mariana Soffer said...

Makes me really happy that you enjoyed the post, I did not know you had an interest for language, I like that fact about you.

Well English is changing at an amazing rate I think, which was never saw before, and I do not think there is anything we can do about it, to make it go towards where we want. I was thinking that there are also different deformations made, depending on whether you are using twitter, writting on a blog, txt messages, talking on the phone and other media trough you can transmit words.

Be well my friend, and take care

Rayuela said...

Esta vez, estoy absolutamente de acuerdo con vos.

Mil besos!

Ghost Dansing said...

i like words a lot...... i'm glad they use them a lot on the internets....

otin said...

If you don't lighten up and have some fun, I am gonna kick your butt! LMAO!!!! (Just kidding(sort of)

Rob Bryanton said...

Hi Mariana, this is what I love about your blog - every time I visit you are off on another fascinating tangent. The idea that the English language is growing at an accelerating pace is new to me but it certainly makes sense. Shall we all throw a big party when the language passes the one million mark?

I love how this concept of language growing and changing at an accelerating pace can be tied to the accelerating expansion of our universe, to the transhuman movement, and to Kurweil's coming Singularity. I talked about some of those concepts in "Computers and Consciousness".

Are you familiar with this clip from The Singularity is Near?
In it, Robert Anton Wilson talks about the accelerating growth of information throughout history - he calls it "The Jumping Jesus Phenomenon". A very interesting idea. He bases this on the work of Alfred Korzybski, who I talk about in "The Map and the Territory".

Sometimes I think it's not the world that is moving faster, it's me that is moving slower. In a relativistic universe, how do I tell the difference?

Keep up the great work!


Mariana Soffer said...

Rayuela says:
this time i completelly agree with you.

I am happy to hear it, I guess you did enjoy thhis post since you are interested in language related areas and information.

Thanks for stepping by and I also send you kissing to you back

Mariana Soffer said...

my friend I know you wish good things for me, do not worry about it. But why do you say I should lighten up, I do not think the post is pretty sad, needer are the mood of my replies. Is it because I am serious most of the time?
I would like to know what you think.

Take care and teach me to have fun with you otin.

Mariana Soffer said...

ghost Dansig
You are quite a character man, you made me laugh, remember I am a latin gal. Nice asociation the one you made.

bye bye

Mariana Soffer said...

rob bryanton
first of all thank you very much for the compliment. As a matter of fact it just reach the millons words, you have an interesting intuition,we can make the party anyway.Check here:

You are right, it is the preliminaries of the transhuman movment, we are developing a seamless connection infraestructures that works with computers as well as humans. That is the first important step I think for reaching trahuman era and the singularity also.
Fascinating post by the way.

You are right that this kind of language evolution must be part of our conversion for the arrival of the singularity, I have to think what this produces in humanity more carefull.

To tell you the truth I was not familiar with the comming of the singularity video by K that you mention, but I did read some of his post an thought about the subject. This did not used to convinced me much at the begining, it sounded too mystical for my scientific mind. Now I am starting to like the idea.

I found that post about map and territory fascinating, the idea about map versus territory,and the marvelous alice concepts.

Well I do belive the world is changing faster, and therefore it is more difficult for us to adapt, to change, but the point resides in how relevant are this changes for humanity, how they really change the core of it? I am not sure most of the new technologies can do it.

I did also liked the other post where you talk about turing, I was to admire him since I was 15. If you want me to I can recomend you an excelent book for non math people and non program ones that can teach you all the concepts in a simple language and is excelent.

Maybe one day we can do a brainstorm together, trough gmail, gtalk, or any other thing. just by exchanging ideas about what is going on with humanity in this word along with the technilogy factor influencing it.

Take care and incredibly lucid as ever

Ghost Dansing said...

bioluddites and transhumanism.....

Mariana Soffer said...

Ghost Dansing
Very interesting what they say about communication and trans-humanism, good discussion, I think you should post it in rob blog also, he will probably like it

kj said...

ten english words for every one in french, mariana? that makes me feel better about not knowing so many vocabulary words.

i heard an interesting program on memory yesterday, how our ability to chronicle our memories via digital cameras and utube and video advances risk REPLACING real memory with reactive memory.


love to you mariana,

Mariana Soffer said...

I guess there are too many words, not to mention the emoticons and those weird symbols people used on text messages and on internet nowadays.

Yes we are replacing our hability to remember with external aids, but I do not think it is such an important thing to have a good memory, it is more important to know how to think, to be wise, and to be able to solve stuff. (I say this because my memory has always been terrible, I tend to forget too many things, people are amazed at my lack of memory when they get to know me). Seriously I think it might be usefull but not a fundamental skill for us.

Thanks a lot for writting KJ. Interesting thing the one you tell, if you have a link or something about it please send it or post it, I would like to see it.

kj said...

mariana, would you like me to mail you a copy of my book as my gift to you? it would be my pleasure and i would be honored if you are able to accept it.

you would need to email me your mailing address:


Mariana Soffer said...

I am moved, I feel a little embarased also of accepting it, but that is just my shy side, because I would love to have it I am dying of curiosity about it. I will email this to you now, so you have my proper address.
Let me tell you that the honor is mine, I hope I would be able some day (soon) to return the nice gesture to you.

the walking man said...

Mariana I have read this three times and to be honest with you, I never dissect language. To me deconstruction of language is counterproductive to the creative expression in the use of words.

Mariana Soffer said...

The talking man
Thanks a lot my friend for trying that hard to understand me. I think we have one main difference about how each one of us thinks about things. And I an learning a lot from you, I am happy with it, because I think I am too much towards the side of science which is based on fixed methods, evidence and non holistic aproach to things, and facts, and I forget about magig, spiritual life and integral life, living, and many other completitudes.

Well in language is completely true what you say, besides it is evident that the hole is much more than the sum of its parts.

But there are methods of NLP which do not disect the texts to understand it, they take a holistic kind of aproach for processing it. Actually those are the methods that I mostly use, because they are more interesting, you can train for example neural networks with lots of sentences, to buld a model that predicts the response to a question, or other related things.

But you are right disecting it makes the magic go away, therefore you lose the main value the text provides. But i think that maybe you can practice discecting and also keeping the big picture without loosing is magic ih your mind.

Renee said...

Amazing writing Marianna.

Thank you too for your comment on my blog, it is so helpful.

Love Renee xoxo

Angela Recada said...

Hello Marianna,

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog to introduce yourself. Your blog is a treasure! I will definitely be back to read more of your fascinating posts. It's so wonderful to find a blog with so much substance and interesting information.

It's also a pleasure to find another jazz fan! I enjoy the music of so many jazz musicians, it's difficult to pick my favorites. It depends on my mood, I guess. If I'd have to choose a musician I enjoy above all others, though, I'd have to say Carlos Santana. Not jazz, but it's what I'm in the mood for today.

I see you are a neighbor on Blogland Lane, and a blogging friend of two of my favorite people, Renee and KJ. How wonderful!

Best wishes,

Mariana Soffer said...

I am really glad that my comment was helpful, it is just based on real and simple things.
Thank you very much for your compliment about this post.

Take lots of care with yourself


Mariana Soffer said...

Angela Recada

My pleasure, it was very nice checking out what you say there. And also thank you very much for having such a nice opinion of my place in the cyberspace.

I guess there are not that many people who enjoy jazz nowadays, so it is good to find a friend that does.

I like santa a lot too, but I am not very fond of his last couple of cd s, but he has some awesome cd s that I used to listen to non stop, and another good thing it has is that he is pretty cheerfull which is nice.

I did not realize that we where neighbours, how intersting, neither that we had mutual blogging friends. This means that we will surelly get along really well.
Take care

Harlequin said...

so well done, as usual.
I have to leave some Latin: Spectemur agendo,
which was made for you whose actions are so consistent with her beliefs.

BTW-- I had the marvelous opportunity to study Latin for all of my public schooling and four years of undergraduate education...also Old and Middle English... not much Greek, unfortunately!

Mariana Soffer said...

Thank you very much, nice saying by the way whish I could be describe using those latin words.

It is great that you had that chance, I always whish that I knew more usefull and interesting languages, I happen to study 6 years of hebrew at highschool, which I never get to take a chance to use. I guess I will need to go to israel for that, which is not in my plans any time soon.

Take care
It seems like

Robb Todd said...

I like to make up words like "glorpzipsnap." My goal is to create the millionth word. Is there a prize?


~otto~ said...

Maybe I should start writing in Esperanto

Ted Bagley said...

I'm sorry, it's gotta be me, what were you trying to say with this? All I could get from it it was advocating for a meta-language, that isn't being followed.
Help me out.

Maxine said...

That's interesting Mariana. Are there any otherwords that fit this trend? I'm trying to think of strong concepts that you'd expect to be variations on the same root love, death, or evil. But I still don't think they operate this way...? Am I right?

John Ettorre said...

Very interesting, Mariana. This makes me wonder about how you acquired English yourself. Your command of the language seems very precise, including even idiomatic English, and thus it makes me wonder if you were raised in a bilingual house.

Ande said...

This was a very interesting text. Many people think about this, me too. I wonder if English will evolve into a true world language and all other languages will be regional dialects. Is this a good thing do you think

Dave King said...

The development of the English language is like a mango tree -very difficult to follow all the roots and branches, but you seem to have covered most of the main ones. An absorbing post.

Bee said...

I like to think of myself as a Classic Geek that has undergone some modernization.

Very interesting essay!

Uncle Tree said...

We get pictures now. Yeah!
I am too sexy for my hands.

See you soon, sweet niece.
But be careful, and watch your step. Hugz!

benjibopper said...

I would hope English, as it spreads, also adapts to its new locales and fragments, breaks into sub-categories of English so that some semblance of language diversity remains, even as other languages sadly disappear.

Mariana Soffer said...

rob todd
I am sure you can do it, you just need to develop a strategy that virally spreads is trough the net, and that is it. But I regret to inform you that you can not create the million word, cause O already said it did happen already, so you can create the 1.100.000 word for example or wait until we reach 2 millions, your choice.

By the way I liked the world you choose, hope I can be that creative myself.

Take care and thanks

Mariana Soffer said...

You can do that, and many other things that you want, the issues with that is that I do not think you are going to easily reach people with your new communication style, you have to plan how the make that language an influential one. Or maybe you just want to talk to a few friends and be able to understand yourself, you do not care about reaching big audiences, in which case just go ahead.

Take care Otto and thanks

Mariana Soffer said...

ted bagley
This is about making people thing what is going on with the different languages and globalization and the use of internet along it. That and all the practical aspects related to it, such as how to develop a meta-language for being able to communicate different cultures (which I do not think it is a very good option currently). I think web 2.0 will take more advantage of creating a meta language because that one is created from scratch, while the one for human languages needs adapting to the existing ones.
Got it better, or wanna ask something else? please go ahead, do not be shy.

Best wishes my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

john Ettorre:
Thank you very much.
It is nice that you feel curiosity for me, and I feel really flattered regarding what you say about my English. I was not born in a bilingual house, but I took English lessons since I was around 10. Besides I was a huge fan of literature, and I always thought you loose a lot if you read the translation and the original, so I tried to learn English on purpose because I used to love poets such as Poe, story tellers such as o'Henry, and several other ones.
What I did is lived for several months at the uk, all by myself, and also studied my masters and worked in LA, which really improved my speaking and comprehension skills.
To end with, do not forget that I did computer science since a very young age and all the material for that was in English.
I do also check my expressions at Google once in a while, to try to improve them.

Thanks a lot for the interest. Please feel free to correct any mistakes or suggest any thing regarding language, I am still eager to improve and learn.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot ande. I am glad that this concerns you too.
Well I am almost sure that it will evolve to be the main world language in the internet. Maybe not so much among spoken languages from the different world populations.
I think that the ideal future of languages would consist in population using their own language, and also in using the English one as a common way of communicating among different cultures.

Take care Ande

Mariana Soffer said...

Dave King
Thank you very much, is really nice what you are telling to me here. But I think I could still develop in more detail many things such as how language genealogy trees evolved in time.

I am glad you like the post indeed, feel free to suggest any other thing that is of your own interest

Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

Glad you like it, and found it interesting.
Sorry I am a big tired and I can not understand which trend do you refer to? To which parts of the text do you refer to? And how do you think they work like?
Please let me know a little more clear what do you refer to and I will be more than happy to answer and help you understand how it works.
Regarding the concept you mention like love and some more, there have been interesting studies to measure the value of the terms intensity and other characterictical ones, and how they change along time and among cultures. I do not know if that is related with what you refer that.

Thanks a lot for stepping by

Mariana Soffer said...

You too! I love considering me a geek, I am a proud one indeed.

Thanks a lot bee

Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle tree
I agree you are too sexy, lets stop this before we do anything stupid.

I am trying to no give the wrong step that will give me lots of inconvenient in life, the one that one you take it is not easy to come back. I am fighting as much as I can for that. Today I walked as I should, although It was hard to keep on the line that I should.
Thanks for taking care
Love dear uncle.

Mariana Soffer said...

English adapts to local languaes as well, and local langues adapt to english. They both influence and modify each other in a particular way.
IT is like you say there are many ramifications of english and probably there wold be even more. The sad part is the disappearing of entire language which will also alter and make their culture to get lost.

Great comment Benji

Thanks a lot

kj said...

dear mariana, i plan to send you-know-what mail to you in the next few days.


John Ettorre said...

Mariana, you are really something. I don't recall ever coming across any blog anywhere in which you felt so much energy, passion, enthusiasm and even love in the writer/host. But that is of course why you have so many readers and commenters. They all feel as if they've been invited to the greatest party ever, hosted by the warmest hostess they know.

Mariana Soffer said...

I am so excited, thanks a lot for that! You do not know how much I apreciate it.

You are a great gal

Ted Bagley said...

I asked my wife,"Isn't Web 2.0 part of "Globalization?"
She says,"Some would say it's a reaction to "Globalization, because people are creating their own messages and content".
I say, "Afterall, every reality has it's fantasy to support it."
It's that old promise of public salvation as if all we ever lacked was information or access.

Mariana Soffer said...

John Ettorre:
You are such a nice guy!, Thanks a lot for your amazing words towards myself and my blog.
This is one of the nicest compliments I ever recieved! You are making me feel happier right now.

Ted Bagley said...

I like the hostess, too. :)

Mariana Soffer said...

Ted bagley
Excelent comment man, really good. Your brain is pretty sharp.
Listen if you want to know in more detail what web 2.0 is look here:"If Web 2.0 was about user generated content and social applications such as YouTube and Wikipedia, then Web 3.0 is about open and more structured data - which essentially makes the Web more 'intelligent'."

That sentence "every really has .." it is great. Anyway the idea of creating the web 2.0 was to create a common way of communicating among web applications, the information transmited included which kind of information was going to be exchanged, for example name and telephone number of company employees, and the list of its values. But as you know the famous phrase "technology bites back", many different ways of communicating the same kind of data ended up being created in most of the fields, therefore instead of globalization it ended up being particularization.

Your last paragraph is amazing also, you are so right, as if information manipulation where going to save humanity from their miserable lives. I guess they should look more thowards the spiritual side.

Great reflection Ted thanks, please ask me anything about the web that I will be happy to explain.

Jon said...


Just a question that is a bit unrelated to your post here but was spurred by a comment you left for me...

Have you ever read Paulo Freire? Some of his ideas about consciousness and language seem so close to the work that you're doing here in the www

Also wondering... you're a teacher... eh? Mind me asking about your students and any strategy you have for breaking through?

email if you like (and I'd appreciate the conversation):

jwpnfld at gmail dot com

Mariana Soffer said...

Sure, feel free to ask.
I never even heard of him, but i will be ckecking it inmediatelly, you are right about language, I do work a lot about that, but about consciousness, I tried to a little, but I am nor sure that I understand enough.
Sorry to disapoint you but I am not a teacher, I tried to, since I always wanted to do research and be in academia, I thought just the necessary classes to have my degree.
Regardings teaching I love doing it, when it is with people that are really interested in the topic, and I also like teaching how to do some things to the people who work in the team that I lead.
So are you a teacher yourself? what do you teach about?
Sure you can also reach me at, we can chat by gtalk also if you want.
I would also like that
take care

Mariana Soffer said...

ted bagley
You are such a lovely guy!
Just to let you know about the web confusion an all of it:
In the beginning was the World Wide Web. Then we were going to have the Semantic Web. (Then we had Web 2.0, but that’s another story.) But maybe the Semantic Web wasn’t semantic enough for some, so they changed the name to Linked Data, and it began to take off a little more. Now there’s an argument on whether all linked data are Linked Data!

otin said...

When I say to lighten up, what I mean is that you should not always be so serious! Talk about some things that you enjoy outside of the analytical world, unless that is what you really enjoy. Do you like the beach? Do you like wine and dancing? Do you go shopping? These are the kinds of things that I would like to know about you. It may be boring to you to talk about these things, but it would interest me. I want to learn about people as well as statistics and theories! :)

Anonymous said...

I can't keep up! I'm going back to bed! Ha!I really feel like this too sometimes. Everything changes so fast, too fast! I just get use to one thing and then it changes. Oh my!
I love reading your words, you. Always so interesting. Food for my brain *dance*

Mariana Soffer said...

Otin, my dear
I understood what you meant, but I was not that sure.
You see, the thing is that I do not like to talk about my personal life in public, I am kind of shy about it. But You are right I am in a period of my life where I talk about serious things more than enough.
I do not like the beach, sorry I am too white and the sand anoys me, but I like it when I am in the water jumping the waves.
I love drinking and dancing, but of course I need good music,dough the wine can be cheap. But I am not doing it very often nowadays, I will come back dough. I like buying clothes and shoes, I like it a lot, and I tend to do it quite often, specially when I travel abroad.
No it is not boring at all, I just been kind of uptight lately. I prefer to relate with intelectual stuff than with peronal things, because I am kind of sad. Well hope you enjoy my small personal talk, I did. And I think it is great that you do both

Best Wishes

Mariana Soffer said...

Sleepy girl, I tend to sleep a lot too, around 10 hours a day I need.
Sorry you mean that you feel how? is it Sleepy? Hope I am right.

I am currently amazed about how quickly time passes, I can belive I came back from LA more than 2 years ago. Time flows and flies like hell.

Thanks a lot Saraha, you are so clever, you suprise me with some of the small comments you make.

Anonymous said...

  Ancient or Classic Geek
  has given way to Modern Geek.

  soon to be Postmodern Geek :)

× × ×


Ted Bagley said...

Mariana, I could be wrong, but that sounds like a different sounding aricle.

Mariana Soffer said...

ted bagley:
do you refer about the links I send you, there where articles for you to understand what the web 2.0, 3 semantic web, and all of that means. I thought you where interested in that, besides it is pretty related to language, those tihngs include the language definition and the content at the same time.
Or was it refer to what otin asked?
If you are kind enough let me know what do you refer to when you say that.

Thanks a lot pal!!!

Mariana Soffer said...

Very interesting point, the evolutive stages in which the languages are, that must influence the interaction with the other languages, and how they adapt, conquer, take words and impose words to the other one.

You also made me wounder which other stages are, does hypermodern exist? or just postmodernity.
Intersting thing.

Thanks a lot T for making me think new stuff, and opening my world a little each time.

Take care nice guy

Z said...

One advantage of the English language is that it has always been willing to absorb words from other languages, and to invent words too. This isn't a new thing, look at the vast number of words that Shakespeare invented 400 years. We embrace new words and enjoy them. I do myself, as long as they are not some hideous jargon designed to obscure meaning rather than describe something better (I remember a discussion with my late mother, talking about the difference between a geek and a nerd). I also love the history of language and how we use ancient words - for example, this morning I was in a town a few miles away and parked outside the notice board which explains the derivation of the town's name, from two Anglo Saxon words, both of which are still in use today.

Mariana Soffer said...

Very interesting fact about english, I did not know about that, but I guess is fairly common in cultures that colonize countries that are far from themselves, therefore they tend to mix more with the ones that are being colonized.
I had that discussion a millon times, because I called myself a nerd when I introduce me to other people and my friends sometimes say I should t do that, I should say I am a scientist or at least a geek.
I love to discover where words come too, that happend to me a lot while living in LA, I realized that many of the places and streets had spanish names (because that use to be mexico), with added letters or not, and pronounced with weird accent for the original word. For example there is "rancho conejo" which is , that means "rabbit ranch", which I think it is gramatically wrong in spanish it could be "el rancho de los conejos" instead.

Very nice having you here, thanks for stepping by

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I'm from Finland but lives in Sweden. Everybody talks english here. Your blog is so fascinating. I'm following it now on.

Mariana Soffer said...

thank you very much, I am glad you like it, rally, please feel free to ask if you do not understand something.
So you moved around the nordic countries there are really exotic places for me,(I have been to Sweeden many many years ago, I do not remember anything).
So you are a diver, how interesting. Must be amazing to live doing that.

bye bye

Tumblewords: said...

So much to enjoy and learn here on your blog. Thank you for finding me and leaving breadcrumbs so I could find my way to you. I'm excited about reading your posts!

Mariana Soffer said...

I am also happy to have met you, you are a really talented artist for the little I got to see in your neat blog. I love mixing and and science, that Is my favourite stuff to do.
I just realized what breadcrumbs are, jaaaa, the rests of the breads that kids leave, jua.
Hope you like some of my posts, Pick the ones you think you will like the most, because I am kind of eclectic and I do not think you are going to like them all.

Ted Bagley said...

I'm sorry, I totally lost my train of thought with this because a semantic web just feels weird for me, I don't know why yet. I'll check out you links again and catch up with the next post.

g-man said...

Every Friday write a story that has a central plot and a main character and make it EXACTLY 55 words...No More, No less.
Some of my players though prefer to wtite in poetic form...Thats OK as well. As long as there is only 55 words..And after you write and post your 55. Come to my blog and tell me that you are up.
Other readers will follow....Galen

Mariana Soffer said...

please do not worry we all make mistakes and get distracted. It happens to me too often indeed. To tell you the truth I did not like it myself either (because I did not understand it), until I started working with it.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks for the quick reply with the instructions, so I guess pretty soon you will have my comment telling you that I posted my short poem.


JanetK said...

Great lot of comments - and although late, I will add some.
1. you missed the native American language groups in your list I think.
2. the number of words in English is deceptive. A great many are no longer used or used only in some locales. It is larger than French but not really ten times larger as the French list does not include all its old words and regional ones.
3. I think English is expanding both vertically and horizontally. There is already a large difference between the written and oral languages but now the texting version is being added. The different technical languages are growing apart as each area of expertize gets more isolated. The mixed languages (Chinese English, Indian English etc.) drift further from the 'mid-Atlantic' version. Of course words and structures move between these different Englishes because many people use several.
4. Languages may change at different rates but there is a sort of upper limit. It is difficult for a language to change so fast that grandparents and grandchildren can not converse. An old lady like myself had to converse with grandparents when I was young and converse with grandchildren now that I am old. Neither group's language is my language, mine is in between.

Mariana Soffer said...

Really clever comments, thanks
1.I guess you are right
2.You are probably right, it woudnt make sense such a big different, I was thinking that we could also start counting the "emoticons" if we really want to add words, numbers can be easily disorted, guess you know. But anyway I guess they have a different criteria for including english than french words
3.Very intersting reasoning. I think it is really clever the fact that the different disciplines have ,due to the increasing specialization, a language of their own, I am working with different ontologies for the different fields, and forgot to include that step. Well I guess languages are not an easy subject.
4.Very clever also the idea of the limits of the change rate, but I am thinking that specially in the states generations are willing to separate and differentiate from each other as much as they can. So the different generation will need or want to understand each other just during a short period of time, for example in the case of parents and childrens 12 years might be enough. I am not sure about this, dough, I am just thinking out loud

Thanks for your fabulous insights.

Anonymous said...

Again, I wish I was more on top of this blog. Sorry. But this is also a fascinating topic. I have volunteered in South America teaching English as a foreign language and I am now going to begin teaching English as a second language here in Chicago. The idea of teaching the language here is ok. But teaching it in South America was somewhat unsettling. While I realize, for all the reasons you mentioned, that learning English is imperative in all parts of the world, it is still disheartening because I think languages are beautiful in their diversity and it saddens me to think that one day we may only speak one language. Especially if that language is English, because, in my opinion, there are so many more beautiful languages out there. Not to mention the fact that we United States-ians are not only imposing our language but also our culture onto the rest of the world. Diversity is beautiful.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks my friend!
Really interesting! what an interesting life, for me it is fascinating to live and relate with other cultures. I think you learn so much then.
Well I did it myself also but not teaching people from foreign exotic places, that is something I would like to experiment.

Do not get so sad my friend. First, since language is one of the fundamental parts of a culture, when they are imposing their culture they will impose at some extend their language, that is a fact.
For me it is sad also that people at my country think it is much cooler to use the Yankee plastic baseball hats instead of the traditional Argentinian ones from the gauchos. And millions of others examples that I can talk about. That is clearly lame for me, but us wanting to learn your language can open doors for us, and does not necessarily imply we will forget about ours (I hope that). Anyway why don't you think a plan for minorities to help them learn better and cherish more their languages, and then try to implement it, wouldn't it be great that? I think we need incentives from the ones we look up to now.

Love S

Afranio do Amaral said...

Sou Afranio do Amaral, e morro e renasço para seguir fugindo de mim.

Mariana Soffer said...

obrigado amaral e un pracer. Eu nao falo bein portugueish asi que esqueza.