Do robots love language? Bias and Google Translate

Loving Language

Translate Tongan? You'll have to ask him--Google Translate can't help. Translate Tongan? You’ll have to ask him–Google Translate can’t help.

I tend not to follow the mainstream. I study languages that others don’t, and I’ll often gravitate towards marginal dialects when I can. When I speak Arabic, I try to throw in a little Moroccan when I can. Speaking Russian, I might add a little bit of a Ukrainian accent. Right now, I’m learning Swiss German, which I’m afraid will irritate my standard German-speaking friends.

Google Translate follows the mainstream. It is a tool developed by a savvy business filling a commercial need. People who have and spend money need an application to conduct their business more easily. I addressed the relative value of languages in an earlier post.

Unfortunately, Google Translate reflects the mainstream. It offers the languages of the powerful, and translates using the language of the status quo without respect for what is good…

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What the Fuck is Fuckable

Heather Matarazzo

Seriously? What the fuck is fuckable?? I don’t know if I can answer that question for you, but I can share my own experience.

When I was 19 or so, I was standing in a Starbucks in West Hollywood with a director, talking about the upcoming film we were about to shoot. It had been a long road, but we had finally made it. Waiting for our coffee, I could see that he seemed a bit uneasy. I asked him if everything was ok. He said yes. I didn’t believe him, so I asked him again. He looked at me and said “Heather, I’m sorry, we have to give your role to another actor. The producers don’t want you.” I didn’t understand. I had been attached to this project for two years, and now two weeks before filming, I’m being let go. I asked him why. He looked me dead…

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Inky Breadcrumbs and the Forgotten Magic of Writing by Hand

EJB Writing Studio

Photo by Erin J. Bernard Photo by Erin J. Bernard

Hey, writer! When was the last time you took a good look at your own hands? I mean, a really, really good long look?

Sure, they’re fluttering in and out of the periphery of vision over the course of any average day, assisting in the picking up and setting down of life’s dull and delightful objects. But, most often, their task feels secondary – to hold up for inspection the things you’ve deemed far more fascinating: smartphones, babies, books, burritos.

There’s little incentive to notice them. And this strikes me as odd. So do it now. Have a good, long gander. What do you see? Look carefully: your hands are miraculous, surprising, ordinary, and, for my money, entirely underappreciated.

You’re in good retroactive company. I’m first writing this by hand, in fact, down here in Mexico, though by the time it reaches its final destination…

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Wine: Eternal In Our Minds, Not On Our Shelves

Bottlenecker

old-crusty-wine-bottle

I had a customer come in the other day looking for a bottle of Ridge Monte Bello. The thing is, he didn’t just want any old bottle. He was specifically looking for the 1995 vintage.

“1995?” I sputtered. “Yeah, you won’t find anything that old in our store. You’d be hard pressed to find it anywhere.”

The customer seemed confused. “A wine from 1995 is old?”

In the end, the whole endeavor was pointless, as we didn’t even have a current vintage of the Monte Bello available, but it illustrates a curious and commonly held misconception: that wine lasts forever. Much like the concept of “love at first sight” and astrology, these notions are deeply ingrained in culture, and difficult to root out.

I can tell you definitively, though: wine is not eternal.

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Our Favorite Books and Why We Love Them

The Daily Post

At Automattic, we have a plethora of book lovers. We love to read and we love to share. And today, we’re going to share books we’ve loved with you, in the hopes that you’ll return the favor and share your favorite books with us in the comments.

lorilooLori McLeese

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Joan Didion allows us into her year after her husband, Gregory Dunne, died. I read this book once or twice a year, and it always brings tears, though I know the outcome. It’s not a romanticized love story, it’s a real love story, and it’s about those incredible, raw, numbing, forgetful moments you find yourself emerged in as grief washes over you.

My favorite passage:

Was it about faith or was it about grief?

Were faith and grief the same thing?

Were we unusually dependent on one another the summer we swam and…

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This Writer is Sponsored by Herself

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

the-lovers-tarot-card So I now look for partners with a job, a car, a driver’s license, and a good sense of humor.

Kelly Sundberg, Brevity‘s managing editor, responds to recent posts here and on Salon:

For almost nine years, I was married to a man who was our family’s primary source of income. During this time, I finished my undergraduate degree, had a baby, completed an MFA, and wrote the first draft of my memoir. You could say—I guess—that my then-husband sponsored me during that time. Still, although he was the primary breadwinner, I didn’t spend my days lounging around sipping mimosas in puddles of sunshine while lazily scrawling my manuscript. Things were still tough, and the day that I walked out on my marriage, I said firmly and clearly to anyone who would listen: I will never be financially dependent on my partner again.

Judging by my Facebook…

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Top Tips to Impress the Ladies

banal muffins

chat up line 1 huffpost

‘Make Girls BEG To Sleep With You After SHORT-CIRCUITING Their Emotional And Logical Mind Into A Million Reasons Why They Should…’

This is the first line of Julien Blanc’s website, ‘pimpmygame.com.’ One scrolls down to find terms such as ‘validation stack,’ ‘social hook point,’ and the ‘four pillars of sex-worthiness,’ all capitalised to assert their validity as if he were some sort of sexual guru Heidegger, which is a terrifying concept in itself. (Note: for the purposes of this post, I have made all the terms lower case in an attempt to undermine him).

He offers 13 hours of PURE RAW TRAINING for the very reasonable price of $5,481. This includes membership of the private Julien Facebook group which comes up as ‘priceless’ in the breakdown of prices, so we’re talking about a real bargain here. I had to stop scrolling through the site, firstly because it felt like I…

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Sweet Home Alabama

Matt Miklic

Baldwin County Probate Judge Tim Russell, as of Thursday, has opted to no longer perform any kind of marriage at his office.

He said the decision was largely related to an increasing work load within the Probate Office, but acknowledged that he’s “morally opposed” to same-sex marriage.

Russell, who has been the county’s Probate Judge for five years, said he’s committed to conducting one more marriage—a heterosexual marriage to a former county employee—but, after that, he’s done.

— AL.com


When I was 17 I got my first job that didn’t involve fast food, as a technology assistant in the central office of the Baldwin County Board of Education. The job was a new one they’d created for a high school student who had shown promise in computer science. It seemed glamorous to me then, but really it was a way to find someone who was willing to string ethernet cable through school attics in the middle…

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