Will THEY turn into robots, with less work for translators?
Thread poster: Jacek Krankowski
Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
English to Polish
+ ...
Jan 31, 2003

\"As the world becomes smaller through advances in telecommunications, the

need for communication between speakers of different languages becomes greater. Concerns about cultural and economic hegenomy argue against the use of any natural language, and machine translation is not yet perfected and available to speakers of all languages. With the technological developments of the last decade, such as powerful computers, graphical interfaces, and the World Wide Web, an excellent

opportunity has been created for a computer-mediated visual inter lingua to meet this need. This iconic language should be designed to take advantage of the technology. People will be able to communicate with an iconic language

without the need to draw the pictures themselves, since they can choose

these pictures from the screen. This paper describes VIL, an iconic visual

inter lingua based on the notion of simplified speech.

Before we describe VIL, we will first give some conditions that a new world language must conform to, and mention some earlier iconic languages.\" Read on:


On the other hand, as I said in another thread, \"cognitive psychology has shown that people think not just in words but in images\" (Pinker). Are we then going back to pre-language times?

[ This Message was edited by:on2003-01-31 20:14]

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xxxElena Sgarbo  Identity Verified
Italian to English
+ ...
Sounds good (though not in Spanish...) Feb 1, 2003

To make the Visual Inter Language appealing to Spanish- speaking communicators, perhaps its abbreviation (or is it an acronym, already?) \"VIL\" should be modified. \"Vil\" in Spanish means \"vile\" -a qualification opposite to what the system\'s developers (and the system itself) would merit.

In any case, this VIL proposal sounds really interesting. It may also be terribly complex... To represent thoughts / ideas as icons?

On the other hand, iconization may not be unattainable, as long as consensus is reached for each icon\'s meaning. Think about it: we are already doing that (i.e., \"iconization\") with the Arabic numbers.

I remember that being in elementary school, as soon as I learned to say the numbers from 1 to 10 in English, I asked my mom why, if we had a common representation for numbers, we had to call them one thing in Spanish and a different thing in English.

(Later I also learned that within Chinese dialects, a similar phenomenon occurs between cantonese and mandarin, that can be mutually understood in writing but not in speech).

The flip coin to the language-tied-different-designation problem, of course, is the ability to understand what the icon (or the Arabic number) represents. That must be terribly neat -and satisfying.

Now, what it all means for us, translators....well, that\'s a whole other thread

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United Kingdom
Local time: 01:54
English to German
+ ...
I think this hasn't been thought through Feb 2, 2003

People already use icons for communication. Why don\'t we all adopt the Chinese system if that makes understanding easier? Or look at Egyptian hieroglyphs, even though individual hieroglyphs seem to be unambiguous -- an eye, a duck etc -- you still don\'t know what they stand for without some additional information.

I don\'t like the \"notion of simplified language\" because I don\'t think it exists.

If you simplify one part of a language another one will become more complicated unless you find a way of simplifying our brains. You can teach a gorilla a simplified language using a limited number of icons or signs but humans will always develop more and more icons, probably a few dozens icons for \"table\" because nobody can agree on what a table is. Language is an intrinsic part of what we are, it can\'t be simplified, regulated or imposed. Just look at sign language. Wouldn\'t it be nice if there was only one sign language all over the world? We could all learn it, hearing or not, and communicate without problem. Well no, it abides to the same rules as every other language, different groups and communities develop dialects and their own signs that aren\'t understood by others. Language develops constantly within a socio-cultural context and this development can\'t be stopped. If you were able to simplify language you would inhibit communication, not promote it. And anyway artificial languages have never caught on or when have you last ordered a beer in Esperanto? If you want to communicate with a maximum of people you have to learn a maximum of languages, there is no way around it.

Of course we use artificial language when we talk to our computers but that\'s because they are too stupid to understand us otherwise, far less intelligent than gorillas in fact. Our brains are far too anarchic and language is far too diverse to be pressed into a mould -- and that\'s how I like it.

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Will THEY turn into robots, with less work for translators?

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