Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Sinophone

I am not a sinophone, I think eventually we may all have to become at least partionally sinophonic. 

I've been regularly reading articles on http://www.kurzweil.net/ with interest but today one arrived in my twitter stream that disappointed me.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/globa-accelerating-technologies-will-create-a-global-state-by-2050

So I have submitted a comment and I am awaiting its approval:

The “Global Language Snowball Effect”

I think some of the fundamental facts have been missed here. Chinese is (one of) the fastest growing langauge(s) on the internet (http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm) , it is probably more likely that some derivative of Chinese will become the global language, if such a global language were to develop.

It was also disappointing to read the following:

” It will certainly not be Chinese, since the world will utterly reject China’s incredibly clumsy and stupid writing system”

From a non sinophone perspective this may be a much held view but is it really a sensible view. To express it in such a clumsy and inarticulate manner just detracts from what was quite an interesting premise. A small bit of research would show you the variety and richness of the languages that are similar to Chinese. A little further research might have shown you that despite your (and my) ignorance of the language it is a powerful analytic language that depends on sytanx rather than morphology.
I suggest this article is edited to remove what appears to be xenophobic content that adds little to the debate.

I wonder if it will be added?

2 comments:

  1. Well, it's not there yet, but they have published one comment that complains about calling another language system "stupid".

    Kurzweil does use that broad brush of his with gay abandon, doesn't he? As in our previous conversation in which he was brought up, my problem with him is that he over-extrapolates from insufficient data, and he seems to be living up to that impression with this posting.

    As to whether he's right or not, I don't know, but the key statistic would be how much any language is used on the internet by people for whom it is not their first language. Of course the use of Chinese is exploding on the internet - China has a vast population and is rapidly expanding its use of technology. The question is whether there is any sign of other nationalities adopting Chinese, as they have English. If not, then Kurzweil has a decent chance of being right in his prediction, if not in his characterisation of Chinese languages.

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  2. Just checked and it still says awaiting approval. Which is cool since I submitted it with 2 corking typos/spelling errors :-)

    The author has little connection to Ray Kurzweil, in fact RK has been an outspoken critic of the author's earlier work. Allowing him to publish on the site I believe shows a willingness to enter into a debate even if you don't like what the other side says. Interestingly, the author, of Australian decent, has travelled widely and has been a professor in AI at a Chinese University according to the oracle of everything graffitipedia. So perhaps he is not as ignorant of the language as I had assumed? Still, doesn't excuse the childish dismissing of a major world language as "stupid".

    I re-read our previous discussion and would love to continue it. Yes, in general I do fear the misuse of statistics and extrapolation beyond the data is fraught with difficulty. I do believe that some of the modelling within the data, presented by RK in his essay, show some interesting patterns - but I talk your previous point, if you selected the development of semiconductors the exponential progression would stall somewhat.

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