Technology


I’ve been a bit neglectful of this blog lately, and yes, I know I say that at the beginning of just about every post these days, but unfortunately it’s even more true now than ever.

The main reason I’m so busy is that I’ve been helping out in massaging and sanitising data for an electronic dictionary of Kaurna, the language traditionally associated with Tandanya and much of the surrounding region. The language officially became ‘extinct’ almost a hundred years ago, but on the basis of two dictionaries written in the mid 19th century, linguistic revival efforts are having some huge success. Places in and around Tandanya have taken on alternative Kaurna names, you can learn Kaurna through all levels of education and you can even study Kaurna linguistics at a tertiary level. Not bad for a ‘dead’ language.

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Long term readers of this blog would probably know that I occasionally like to mess around with Google Earth and to try out new things to do with languages and so forth. It began with an exercise in mapping some known and established place names in the Sydney Metropolitan Area, mostly concentrated in and around the Harbour, and then it moved on to a small project of mine to map the region of the Northern Territory with which Wagiman is traditionally associated.

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Last night on The Cutting Edge, a documentary entitled The Nuclear Comeback investigated the nuclear power option with respect to its costs, its benefits in terms of lowered carbon emissions, its safety, especially with terrorists attacks – infrequent as they are – at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and long-term effects such as waste storage. It was immensely interesting and I hope SBS publishes transcripts, videos possibly, and other information about it.

I wasn’t studiously taking notes unfortunately, but some of the facts and figures in the documentary, most of which came from the nuclear industry itself, are too amazing to forget.

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In blogging, if you haven’t posted for a week, there’s a slim chance someone might consider you defunct. If you were a word, the OED might feel inclined to put an innocent looking (Arch.) next to you, or worse, (Obs.).

I feel then, that I should post something to keep the bloggospheric undertaker at bay and, quite fortuitously, there’s lots going on to discuss.

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Earlier on this afternoon, I heard a cricket commentator, having heard about someone whose name he didn’t immediately recall, promise that he’d google him up. This would not be a natural usage for me, although it’s unequivocally clear what he means; it’s completely synonymous with (in my view) the more natural version to google someone, i.e. to search for them on Google.

Anyway, I started wondering how common the construction google up is, so I went and googled it… up, and here’s a breakdown of the returned hits on all permutations:

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Cross posted at the new matjjin-nehen.

Bill Poser, of Language Log fame, has recently developed a small piece of software that calculates how much data space you need to fit whatever format, compression or length of audio file you have.

I understand it’s probably not going to be the most highly sought-after program this Saturnalia, but I, for one, have a legitimate need for it in my role as audio engineer for an archive. Having to figure out how much space a file will consume, or calculating the sample rate of a partially corrupted file using long-hand methods, can quickly become tedious, and I’m glad I now have a calculator to do this for me.

The program’s called AudioSpace and has been released under a GNU general public license, meaning it’s available for free. While you’re there though, check out Bill’s other software. There’s a regular expressions development tool, a possible word generator, an IPA standardiser and plenty more programs that would be highly useful to computational linguists, programmers, and geeks in general.

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