Technology Innovations

Posts Tagged ‘Words


Bangalore-based startup Plustxt has designed a messaging application that not only offers an alternative to standard text messaging, but also allows users to do so in regional language.

Pratyush Prasanna, co-founder of Plustxt Mobile Solutions, is of the view that conventional messaging will soon be redundant. “For the amount of data used for sending an sms, the charges are exorbitant,” says the 32-year-old IIT-Kharagpur and IIM-Calcutta graduate who earlier worked with Microsoft, startup venture Gupshup and Xerox. “With increased penetration of smart phones and data there are other ways to communicate.”

In January, the company launched two apps on the Android platform: Plustxt, an English-language messaging app similar to the globally popular Whatsapp, and Plustxt India, which allows users to communicate in eight regional languages. Within months, the apps have recorded 60,000 downloads encouraging Prasanna and his team to work on versions for other platforms like Apple’s iOS and Nokia’s Symbian.

The regional language app, which the company is focusing on, allows users to combine English with a vernacular language. The user can type out with the regular mobile keyboard and the app transliterates the word to the chosen local language and English. The app is integrated with SMS so an app to app message will be sent over data, but a sms will be sent if the recipient has not downloaded the app. Read more in this report by Radhika P Nair.

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Zack Chia - Apple is Black

Screen shot 2013-05-19 at PM 12.19.20

 

This is really a cool idea that would help in avoiding a collision. In an effort to reduce physical traffic signage and accidents, light show company Laservision are experimenting using a sheet of water with light laser projecting on it. This is done up at the Sydney Harbour Tunnel with more available in the city as well. The good thing about having such signage is the fact that it literally catches your attention. If the driver fails to notice it, he could still drive through it without heading into a collision. These pop-up signs has started off since 2007 and has therefore successfully prevented vehicles from turning into unintended traffic. I could see more of this being used in other parts of the world. In Singapore water sheet projection is used primarily for visual aesthetics. One example is the foundation of wealth in Suntec city where people had their…

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A world memory champion and a neuroscientist have joined forces to create a language-learning website called Memrise, which combines mnemonic tricks with a game to help users learn quickly and efficiently. Memrise makes learning a game with virtual gardens that users must tend. As they do, they also earn points and thereby fight their way up a community-wide leaderboard. Read more


It is strange how fast things change. Technology is ever evolving and so is language ¾ the change has become constant. In my school days we used to be taught that English language evolved over many years but now there were certain standard forms of words, letter writing, and phrases used in “formal” conversations and writings and denoted the usage of “good quality” language.

Now that school of thought is history. Everything has changed from what I learnt in school and the way I edit/write today. The language style, spellings, punctuation uses, and many such things have changed from the way I understood them in my childhood and used to be grilled in by the teachers. And I am not in my 30s yet!

As an editor, therefore, it has become imperative for me to keep updated with the changes in English language. I have been reading a lot past few weeks about editing lessons and what some of the forums have to say on editing guidelines. I found some good links which I thought it best to share here.

In one of my regular visits to Poynter.org, website for journalists and editors, I happen to click on News University. And that opened a plethora of lessons on editing, writing and what not. A must see.

I registered and took a course on “Cleaning Your Copy”. The course teaches everything an editor needs to be skilled with: Grammar, Style, Punctuation, and Spellings. Each section is a pack of lessons. It also teaches you things like proper sentence construction, active/passive voice, modifiers, pronouns, etc. Moreover, the website offers tips on reporting, writing, management, and everything you can imagine related with journalism and media.

Obviously books are a big help when it comes to editing. Style manuals such as Chicago Manual of Style are followed by most (non-technical) publishing houses in India. But to test yourself or for a fast access to grammar lessons you can visit Protrainco.com. I found this website’s grammar archives very useful. You can get some very good language tips here.

Wanted to provide a Youtube.com video on books editing, but there’s nobody there giving tips on that one.

Here’s one from me: It is always good to keep grooming your language skills and the best way is to keep practicing (conversing) with people who speak the language better and more fluently than you do. And sign up with some good language forums. Hope this helps. I may suggest some such forums next time.

While I go back to reading some more grammar newsletters, enjoy life!

 

Useful Links

Mayfield Handboolk

Good Grammar, Good Style Archive at Protrainco.com


Putting an apostrophe, the standalone single quote punctuation (’), in the right place is a difficult and puzzling task when we write in English.

To many of us it is, I would say, as confusing as the comma.

But there are ways to master the art of placing the apostrophe correctly. Understanding and learning some basic rules of the confusing punctuation can help us reduce our errors faster. (Please note that the following information is based on my understanding and some extra reading, therefore, it is not a complete study on correct use of apostrophe.)

BASIC FUNCTION

Mainly, the apostrophe has two uses in English: to indicate possession/ownership and to show omission of words or numbers (also called contraction).

Apostrophe Showing Possession

Vivek’s bike
Maya’s father
Chandra’s pen
Its (see the explanation for it’s)
The examples show that the punctuation is placed with the possessor and not the object.

Apostrophe Showing Contraction

1990s     = ’90s
Can’t     = Cannot
Hadn’t   = Had not
Hasn’t   = Has not
I’m        = I am
It’ll        = It will (similarly, we’ll = we will)
It’s        = It is (Note: It’s is a short form for ‘it is’ whereas Its indicates possession. For example, It’s great that she finally got a job. The machine works on its own at the push of a button. Therefore, in case of it’s and its, we must identify the function of the apostrophe to place it accordingly)
I’ve       = I have
Let’s     = Let us
Mustn’t = Must not (similarly, shouldn’t = should not, couldn’t = could not)
She’s    = She is/has (similarly, he’s = he is/has)
Should’ve = Should have (similarly, could’ve = could have)
There’s = There is
We’re   = We are/were (similarly, they’re = they are/were)
Who’s   = Who is (Note: Who’s is a contraction of Who is whereas Whose is a possession. For example, Who’s in the other room? Whose desk is this?)
The examples show the contraction of words.

RULES OF POSSESSION-INDICATING APOSTROPHE

  1. A noun is a word that refers to a person, place or thing. A singular noun refers to one person, place or thing, for example: boy, desk, book, etc. To show possession to a singular noun, we mostly add apostrophe and s (’s) (as shown in examples above). Plural nouns (which refer to more than one person, place or thing) that do not end in (s) also follow the same rule. For example: The children’s park, the men’s room, the women’s club.
  2. Common nouns refer to general objects, a non-specific person, place or thing, for example: cars, winter, dog, chance, tables, etc. Both singular and plural common nouns that end in (s) can form the possessive by using only an apostrophe after the s. For example, tables’ legs, cars’ parking. The common nouns that do not end with s will use ’s, e.g., dog’s food, girl’s dress.
  3. Proper nouns (names of people, cities, countries, for example: Sagarika, India, Bangalore) can form the possessive either by using the ’s or simply adding the apostrophe () if the name ends in s. Now it is acceptable to use either form (James’s or James’). For example: Mr James’s car, The Bakers’ cookies.
  4. When you need to show two people owning/sharing the same thing, the apostrophe and s (’s) should be placed after the second person only. For example: Rohit and Veena’s trekking to the forest was exciting. Neha and Shalini’s friend has returned from the US.
  5. If two people do not share/own the same thing, the apostrophe and s (’s) should be used for both. For example: Neha’s mother and Shalini’s aunt are good friends.
  6. Indefinite pronouns are words which replace nouns without specifying which noun they replace, for example: both, few, most, none, some, everybody, nothing, etc. They form the possessive by using the apostrophe and s (’s). For example: everybody’s concern, a day’s work, a moment’s notice.
  7. Many name or terms are either possessive or descriptive. In such cases, we should use an apostrophe and s (’s) if the name is a singular/plural possessive noun or an *irregular plural noun. For example: Levi’s jeans, Westside Women’s Store, Blossoms’ kids wear. [*Most nouns are made plural by adding an s to the singular form. If the noun ends with an s, ch, sh, or x, an es is added to make the noun plural. Plural nouns that are not made plural in this way are irregular plural nouns. For example: men, women, city, etc.]

To further enhance your knowledge about the use of apostrophe, you can read more on the websites under My Pick.

My Pick

Apostrophe

Online Writing Lab


Reading a book is not an easy task for me. Reason: As an editor I read all day long and therefore bedtime reading is mostly for getting a good sleep… in five minutes (average speed: 1-2 pages)!

Last week I finished reading Blink: the power of thinking without thinking, the bestselling book written by Malcolm Gladwell.

Well, the book is very well written without doubt. The way he has described human psyche is not only very true but wonderfully explained.

Although I don’t read much of such kinds of books because they are too loaded with examples to prove the same point, this one was interesting in the following ways:

  • It is an easy read. Its matter-of-fact tone helps an average reader like me to easily understand some aspects of human psychology and how it works. 
  •  

  • The examples cited in the book are very basic and are explained interestingly, so it is easy to understand and remember them when they are cited later in the book. 
  •  

  • There is one major argument that flows through the book – thin slicing – and each minor argument connects to the major argument, making it more realistic, grounded, and digestible.

Although I took almost three months to read the book, I liked it when I finished reading it. For a fast reader, I am sure it is a good book. For a slow reader like me, it is a good book if read in less than two months!

And since we are speaking about the human psyche here, unlike Gladwell, Mark Gungor talks about it in a funny way:

 

Watch the video from YouTube.com to understand the difference between male brain and female brain. Get a laugh!


Lately my game fever is back. It is that phase carrying on in which I feel like getting hooked to playing word games – my favourite brain booster.

I think they are a brilliant change from the usual learning tips to improve our vocabulary. Word games such as crosswords, quizzes, puzzles, or text twist are interesting, different and enjoyable. Not only do these games provide entertainment, they help us apply what we have learnt thus far. And playing these games is not restricted to computer or Internet. 

Reader’s Digest’s Word Power section is one of the best vocabulary builder exercises I have read so far. It is a monthly bite. For each answer they provide detailed meaning, origin, and explanation, and that’s their unique style. In fact now there are millions of books and ways in which you can access such games. On Internet, my favourite is East of the Web website’s Eight Letter word game. Wanna play? Visit: http://www.eastoftheweb.com/games/Eight1.html

The Eight Letter game helps you build as many words as you can out of a set of letters, precisely out of eight letters. The sets keep changing as you proceed through different levels. This is exciting! Scrabble just goes a little further by helping you form words by connecting them with each other. If you play it with ‘only dictionary words allowed’ rule, it is a great brain booster.

Another fascinating game is the Text Twister, which makes you race against time, play with a set of letters, shuffle them, and guess more, more, and more.

Some of my friends agree that word games are vocabulary builders. “Of course word games help, how could they not? Crossword puzzles are a favorite of mine. Try easy ones first,” advises Bob, a friend in an online forum of English language, adding, “Read a lot and you’ll eventually pick it up. More important are vocabulary, grammar, and idioms. Read, read, read. Listen, listen, listen. And talk to native speakers as much as you can.”

Another member of the forum says, “Scrabble would probably be most helpful when played with others with a similar command of the language (and skill level). In cryptic crosswords the answers are usually pretty commonplace, obscurity being confined to the clues, but a solver without large knowledge of idioms and phrases will be rather handicapped.”

That is right. But that’s what adds to your knowledge when you try and find out more about what you don’t know. Solving crosswords, puzzles and quizzes with people who have better vocabulary than yours is especially helpful because that is when you get to learn the most. Next time using the newly learnt words in their correct places helps in remembering them forever.

Considering this, social networking websites such as Facebook and Orkut are popular platforms for people from all over the globe to play word games together and learn together. And having played many such, I can say – it is really helpful and loads of fun.

Try some and gain score – in life and in game.

My pick

Crosswords: BBC English Language Quizzes

Text Twist: Yahoo! Text Twist, Eight Letters


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