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August 26, 2012

New research shows over 400 languages may have originated in Turkey

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

The ancient land of Anatolia is now in the west of modern Turkey.
Image: NASA.

Journal Science published research this week showing that modern Indo-European languages originated in Turkey, around 9,000 years ago. Over 400 languages, spoken by in excess of 3 billion people, are traced back to Anatolia, now part of modern-day Turkey.

The paper, “Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family“, contradicts the established view that the Indo-European group of languages originated in the Pontic steppes of south-west Russia around 6,000 years ago. Researchers used techniques originally developed to track the spread of viral epidemics to give new insights into the development of languages. They say that “Both the inferred timing and root location of the Indo-European language trees fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8,000 to 9,500 years ago.”

The hypothesis that Indo-European languages came from Anatolia was first proposed in the 1980s by archaeologist Colin Renfew, Baron Renfew of Kaimsthorn.



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New research shows over 400 languages originated in Turkey

New research shows over 400 languages originated in Turkey

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Anatolia composite NASA.png

The ancient land of Anatolia is now in the west of modern Turkey.
Image: NASA.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Academic journal Science published research this week claiming that modern Indo-European languages originated in Turkey, around 9,000 years ago. Over 400 languages, spoken by in excess of 3 billion people, are traced back to Anatolia, now part of modern-day Turkey.

The paper, “Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family“, contradicts the established view that the Indo-European group of languages originated in the Pontic steppes of south-west Russia around 6,000 years ago. Researchers used techniques originally developed to track the spread of viral epidemics to give new insights into the development of languages. They say that “Both the inferred timing and root location of the Indo-European language trees fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8,000 to 9,500 years ago.”

The hypothesis that Indo-European languages came from Anatolia was first proposed in the 1980s by archaeologist Colin Renfew, Baron Renfew of Kaimsthorn.



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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

March 21, 2012

Savage on Santorum on Savage

Savage on Santorum on Savage – Wikinews, the free news source

Savage on Santorum on Savage

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In an interview Monday, candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination Rick Santorum criticized advice columnist Dan Savage and said he would pray for him. In return, Savage pointed out Santorum’s controversial social conservatism positions. Santorum’s disagreement with Savage stems from the santorum neologism coined in Savage’s column Savage Love in response to comments made by former Pennsylvania Senator Santorum about homosexuality; Savage’s readers voted to define santorum as: “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”

Dan Savage
Dan Savage
Image: Dan Savage (2005).
Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum
Image: Gage Skidmore (2011).
The santorum neologism was coined in Dan Savage’s column Savage Love in 2003 based on the last name of Rick Santorum.
Cquote1.svg He obviously has some serious issues. Cquote2.svg

—Rick Santorum

Former Senator Santorum was interviewed Monday by the RealClearPolitics website RealClearReligion and was asked, “If you happen to run into Dan Savage, what would you say to him?” The Republican presidential nomination candidate replied, “I would tell him that I’m praying for him. He obviously has some serious issues. You look at someone like that who can say and do the things that he’s doing and you just pray for him and hopefully he can find peace.”

This is not the first instance where Santorum has commented publicly about Dan Savage. ThinkProgress called his most recent comments on Savage an “improvement”, and noted that Santorum previously stated Savage is “below the dignity of anybody”.

Mother Jones magazine contacted Savage for a response to Santorum’s comments. Savage emphasized Santorum’s controversial positions on social issues in contrast to his “dirty joke”, replying, “Rick Santorum thinks that women who have been raped should be compelled—by force of law—to carry the babies of their rapists to term, he thinks birth control should be illegal, he wants to prosecute pornographers, etc., etc., basically the guy wants to be president so that he can micromanage the sex lives of all Americans…and I’m the one with issues? Because I made a dirty joke at his expense eight or nine years ago and it stuck? I’m the one with issues?”

Cquote1.svg The man who wants to get his hands on the nuclear football so he can micromanage your sex life … thinks I have issues. That’s hilarious. Cquote2.svg

—Dan Savage

Savage concluded, “Rick can pray for me. I’ll gay for him. And we can call it even.”

In a subsequent piece posted to the website of the Seattle, Washington paper The Stranger, Savage elaborated on his response to Santorum. He commented, “The man who wants to get his hands on the nuclear football so he can micromanage your sex life … thinks I have issues. That’s hilarious.”

In a 2003 interview with the Associated Press, Rick Santorum compared legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States to supporting bestiality. Readers of the Savage Love advice column selected a new definition for the Senator’s last name, and Savage created a website SpreadingSantorum.com to promulgate the spread of the phenomenon. The term became a prominent result in searches online, and gained dominance on Web search engines including Google, Bing, and Yahoo!.

Rick Santorum himself has acknowledged and discussed the existence and prevalence of the santorum neologism phenomenon; he was quoted by The Canadian Press on his assessment of Google’s response: “To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website or through their system is something that they say they can’t handle. I suspect that’s not true.” Santorum criticized the response of the press to the phenomenon in a 2011 radio interview, saying, “It’s offensive beyond, you know, anything that any public figure or anybody in America should tolerate, and the mainstream media laughs about it.”



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March 15, 2012

Wikinews interviews New York bar owner on Santorum cocktail

Wikinews interviews New York bar owner on Santorum cocktail

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

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Wikinews interviewed one of the owners of a New York City bar about a popular new politically-themed cocktail drink called Santorum. The beverage was inspired by the santorum neologism coined in advice columnist Dan Savage’s column Savage Love in response to comments made by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum about homosexuality; Savage’s readers voted to define santorum as: “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”

Background

The santorum neologism has inspired satirical forms of parody, including this political cartoon by Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic artist Zach Weiner. 2012.
Image: Zach Weiner.

The Pacific Standard bar is located in Brooklyn, New York, and is co-owned by Jonathan M. Stan and John-Christian G. Rauschenberg. Stan commented on the creation of the Santorum cocktail, “When he was winning in the polls, I thought, ‘OK, I’ll do a Santorum’.” Regarding how long the beverage will be made available, Stan remarked to The Brooklyn Paper, “We’ll keep it around until he’s irrelevant. I hope he’s there the whole way”.

The main ingredients of the Santorum drink include vodka of an orange citrus variety, Baileys Irish Cream, and Angostura bitters. It is served in a cocktail glass and topped with Godiva chocolate flakes. The beverage is priced at US$8.00, and upon an order for it, the bartender will recount for the customer the definition of the santorum neologism.

Troy Patterson of Slate Magazine ventured over to Pacific Standard to sample the new santorum cocktail at the bar. After tasting the beverage, Patterson observed, “My Santorum was sweet but balanced, with a subtle citrus pucker”.

Cquote1.svg [The santorum neologism is] offensive beyond, you know, anything that any public figure or anybody in America should tolerate, and the mainstream media laughs about it. Cquote2.svg

—Rick Santorum

In a 2003 interview with the Associated Press, Rick Santorum compared legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States to supporting bestiality. Readers of the Savage Love advice column selected a new definition for the Senator’s last name, and Savage created a website SpreadingSantorum.com to promulgate the spread of the phenomenon. The term became a prominent result in searches online, and gained dominance on Web search engines including Google, Bing, and Yahoo!.

Rick Santorum himself has acknowledged and discussed the existence and prevalence of the santorum neologism phenomenon; he was quoted by The Canadian Press on his assessment of Google’s response: “To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website or through their system is something that they say they can’t handle. I suspect that’s not true.” Santorum criticized the response of the press to the phenomenon in a 2011 radio interview, saying, “It’s offensive beyond, you know, anything that any public figure or anybody in America should tolerate, and the mainstream media laughs about it.”

Interview

Pacific Standard owner, Jonathan M. Stan, displays the Santorum cocktail drink as a finished product at the bar. (2012).
Image: Pacific Standard, provided by the owners.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What inspired you to create a cocktail after the santorum neologism?

John Rauschenberg: Santorum the person has been in the news throughout the primary season, and we thought it would be interesting to try to create a delicious drink that mimicked the appearance of the Dan Savage meaning of “santorum.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How did you first hear about the definition of the santorum neologism that grew out of the contest from the Savage Love advice column?

JR: We don’t really remember. It’s been around forever. Probably read about it somewhere.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What are your thoughts about Rick Santorum’s views on gay rights?

JR: It’s not for us to take a stand on any political issues. We’ll leave that to the professionals.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you think it was an appropriate form of satire for Dan Savage to popularize the definition of the santorum neologism created in his advice column?

JR: We thought it was funny. Whether it is appropriate or not is another thing we leave to the pros to decide.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png When was the Santorum cocktail first created?

JR: A few months ago.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What ingredients go in the Santorum cocktail?

JR: Bailey’s, orange vodka, bitters, and chocolate flakes.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How is the Santorum drink made?

JR: The ingredients are shaken and/or poured into a cocktail glass. See the pictures.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Your Santorum cocktail creation has already received media coverage from publications including: The Brooklyn Paper, The New York Times, Jezebel, Metro.us, EDGE on the Net, and Instinct Magazine. Did you think when you created it that the Santorum cocktail would receive this news coverage?

JR: Not at all. We were just trying to come up with a topical and funny new cocktail for our customers to laugh about and enjoy.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What culinary dishes would you recommend that go well with the Santorum cocktail?

JR: You’d probably be having the cocktail at dessert time, so something sweet: ice cream or pie.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Is the drink popular? How many times do you suppose you’ve served it at your establishment since its creation?

JR: The drink was mildly popular for the last few months, but of course has become a great deal more popular since getting all this publicity. We have no way to estimate how many times we’ve served it overall, but we’re now pouring around ten a night.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What are some reactions of your patrons after seeing the availability of Santorum as a cocktail?

JR: Most people find it amusing. Some people want to demonstrate their bravery and ability to overcome their mental blocks by drinking one. A lot of people think it’s a really appealing mix of ingredients.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Has anyone come into your facility specifically because they have heard they can order the Santorum cocktail and wish to try it?

JR: Yes, especially recently.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Has the availability of the Santorum cocktail at your pub prompted any interesting political discussions amongst your staff and customers?

JR: Nothing more serious than the usual light political banter. Given our location and clientele, most of our customers are of a similar mind politically and there isn’t much disagreement.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How long do you plan on making the Santorum cocktail available at your bar?

JR: As long as Santorum stays relevant in the news and customers are interested in ordering it.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Have you heard any feedback from Rick Santorum or the Santorum campaign about the Santorum cocktail?

JR: No.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Were you at all worried about legal repercussions from creating a cocktail inspired by the santorum neologism?

JR: Not at all. There’s nothing legally wrong with it.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Have you created any other drinks named after politicians?

JR: No.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What are your thoughts about the satirical definition for the neologism “romney” (“to defecate in terror”) created by Jack Shepler inspired by an incident involving Mitt Romney’s family dog?

JR: We don’t really have any.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you think you might create a new cocktail based on this “romney” neologism?

JR: Not based on that definition. If we ever came up with a “romney” cocktail it’d probably be something different. Maybe something incredibly bland.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Comedy hosts Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report have each reported on the santorum neologism repeatedly on their satirical news programs. If asked to do so, would you be willing to appear on these programs to mix up a special Santorum cocktail for the host?

JR: Absolutely.

Gallery



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February 14, 2012

Santorum neologism spreads to Romney

Santorum neologism spreads to Romney – Wikinews, the free news source

Santorum neologism spreads to Romney

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Internet
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A new website SpreadingRomney.com now appears prominently among Internet search results for Mitt Romney’s last name and defines romney as: “to defecate in terror”. Spreading Romney was inspired by the santorum neologism coined in advice columnist Dan Savage’s column Savage Love in response to comments made by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum about homosexuality; Savage’s readers voted to define santorum as: “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”

While defining romney as a verb, the word “terror” in the definition given at SpreadingRomney.com links to an article that appeared January 5 in The Huffington Post titled “Mitt Romney’s Dog Incident Comes Back To Haunt Him”. The article describes a 1983 incident where Romney was reported to have affixed his family’s pet Irish setter named Seamus to the roof of their vehicle for 12 hours while on a car trip to Canada; press coverage of the matter recounted how the animal let loose its bowels due to a fear response during the experience.

Similar to online searches leading to the santorum neologism website originally created by Dan Savage, SpreadingSantorum.com, queries for Romney yielding top search results for SpreadingRomney.com are not limited only to Google but extend to other search engines including Bing as well.

Cquote1.svg I don’t recall seeing it recently, so it appears to be a new gain. Cquote2.svg

Danny Sullivan

MSNBC quoted search engine expert Danny Sullivan, who observed that the website had likely risen of late in search results: “I don’t recall seeing it recently, so it appears to be a new gain.”

The Atlantic reported that as of yesterday, SpreadingRomney.com had received 3,416 like button clicks from Facebook and 1,261 posts on Twitter. The site appeared third in a Google search for Romney, directly below the former Massachusetts Governor’s Wikipedia page.

In a 2003 interview with the Associated Press, Rick Santorum compared legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States to supporting bestiality. Readers of the Savage Love advice column selected a new definition for the Senator’s last name, and Savage created a website SpreadingSantorum.com to promulgate the spread of the phenomenon. The term became a prominent result in searches online, and gained dominance on Web search engines including Google, Bing, and Yahoo!.

Cquote1.svg [The santorum neologism is] offensive beyond, you know, anything that any public figure or anybody in America should tolerate, and the mainstream media laughs about it. Cquote2.svg

—Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum himself has acknowledged and discussed the existence and prevalence of the santorum neologism phenomenon; he was quoted by The Canadian Press on his assessment of Google’s response: “To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website or through their system is something that they say they can’t handle. I suspect that’s not true.” Santorum criticized the response of the press to the phenomenon in a 2011 radio interview, saying, “It’s offensive beyond, you know, anything that any public figure or anybody in America should tolerate, and the mainstream media laughs about it.”

The company Go Daddy manages the domain name for the website SpreadingRomney.com; the site was registered by an Indianapolis, Indiana-based company named Ayokay LLC which was formed on January 1. The website reportedly started operating on January 10. Rachel Maddow commented upon it on January 12 on her program The Rachel Maddow Show. The founder of SpreadingRomney.com, Jack Shepler, informed Sullivan that he holds no ties to any political campaign group and formed the website out of a comedic motivation.

New York Magazine noted that there may be another neologism this time derived from the last name of presidential candidate Newt Gingrich; linking to an established website for SpreadingGingrich.com. That site is currently asking visitors to submit suggestions for a new definition of gingrich.



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September 2, 2010

Welsh TV pioneer Owen Edwards dies at age 76

Welsh TV pioneer Owen Edwards dies at age 76

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Owen Edwards fronted the launch of Welsh language station S4C in 1982

Owen Edwards, the former director of BBC Wales and the first chief executive of Welsh language television station S4C, died on Monday at the age of 76. Edwards had suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for over twenty years.

Edwards started his career with the BBC in 1950 as a broadcaster. He worked on regional news programmes and reported on such events as the Aberfan disaster. In 1961 he began presenting Heddiw (‘Today’), the BBC’s Welsh early evening news programme. He took a role behind the camera in 1966.

In 1974, Edwards was made director of BBC Wales. Under his control, both Radio Wales and Radio Cymru were launched. He left the post in 1981 to found S4C, a Welsh language television station. He stayed with the channel until his retirement in 1989. In 2008, Edwards was presented with a special achievement award for his contributions to media.

Menna Richards, the current director of BBC Wales, commented on Edwards death. She said, “He was a man who truly loved Wales, and his legacy to our nation’s public life is rich and enduring.” Current S4C chair John Walter Jones said, “He managed to establish a Welsh language television service that was admired throughout the world.”


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December 28, 2009

Elvish, Klingon and Na\’vi: Constructed languages gain foothold in film

Elvish, Klingon and Na’vi: Constructed languages gain foothold in film

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Monday, December 28, 2009

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The release of the movie Avatar, written and directed by James Cameron, has generated increased interest in the field of constructed language, also known as conlang. Cameron asked American linguistics professor Paul Frommer to develop a language spoken by the extraterrestrial people in the film known as the Na’vi.

Klingon language alphabet, from Klingon Language Institute
Image: Brian Ammon.

Author J. R. R. Tolkien developed Elvish languages for his literary series The Lord of the Rings. The Elvish language was featured in scenes of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson.

The Klingon language (tlhIngan Hol) was developed by linguist Marc Okrand, initially for use in the 1984 film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Okrand drew inspiration from Klingon lines spoken by actor James Doohan in the film Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Doohan portrayed character Montgomery Scott in the Star Trek series. A dictionary for Klingon developed by Okrand, The Klingon Dictionary sold over 300,000 copies.

Cquote1.svg You know your alien language has taken off when a German guy translates rap songs into it. Cquote2.svg

National Public Radio on Klenginem

Klingon became quite popular and has developed a usage among Star Trek fans. The Klingon Terran Research Ensemble in the Netherlands created an opera in Klingon. The play Hamlet by William Shakespeare was translated into Klingon. A German Trekkie who goes by the moniker Klenginem posted videos to YouTube where he raps songs he translated into Klingon by musician Eminem. Klenginem has been cited recently in pieces on constructed language in The New York Times, ABC News Nightline, and National Public Radio. “You know your alien language has taken off when a German guy translates rap songs into it,” said National Public Radio of Klenginem.

Linguistics professor Frommer received his PhD degree from the University of Southern California (USC), and subsequently shifted his focus into the business arena. He returned to USC to teach at the Marshall School of Business. Cameron tasked Frommer with creating an entire language for the Na’vi people.

In an interview with Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times, Frommer voiced hope that the language would continue to be used separate from the movie, as Klingon has. “I’m still working and I hope that the language will have a life of its own,” said Frommer. The Na’vi language created by Frommer contains over 1,000 words, as well as a structural system and rules format for usage. Frommer told Vanity Fair that the language was fairly developed, commenting, “It’s got a perfectly consistent sound system, and grammar, orthography, syntax”.

Cquote1.svg I hope that the language will have a life of its own. Cquote2.svg

Linguistics professor Paul Frommer

Frommer explained the direction given to him before creating the language, “Cameron wanted something melodious and musical, something that would sound strange and alien but smooth and appealing.” The Avatar writer-director provided Frommer with approximately three dozen words of the Na’vi language he used in his scriptment for the film. “That was the starting point. Probably the most exotic thing I added were ejectives, which are these sorts of popping sounds that are found in different languages from around the world. It’s found in Native American languages and in parts of Africa and in Central Asia, the Caucasus,” explained Frommer. Cameron and Frommer worked together for four years developing the language.

The linguistics professor relied on inspiration provided by Cameron, and avoided drawing upon influences from Elvish, Klingon, and the international auxiliary language Esperanto. Sample words in the Na’vi language include “Uniltìrantokx” (oo-neel-tih-RAHN-tokx), meaning “Avatar”, and “tireaioang” (tee-REH-ah-ee-o-ahng), which means “spirit animal”. Maclean’s reported that fans of Avatar were anxious for more instructive material from professor Frommer about the language in order to learn how to speak it with others that appreciated the film. “The response has been quite remarkable and totally unexpected. I never thought there’d be this level of interest. But I really don’t think of Na’vi as a competitor to Klingon. If it does develop a following, that would be quite wonderful,” said Frommer of the response to the language from Avatar fans.

Cquote1.svg We wanted to ‘out-Klingon’ Klingon. Cquote2.svg

Avatar writer-director James Cameron

The Na’vi language is itself a minor plot point in the film Avatar. The character Jake Sully portrayed by Sam Worthington endeavors to learn the language while living on Pandora. A botanist portrayed by actress Sigourney Weaver instructs a scientist played by actor Joel David Moore on how to become conversational in the language.

Zoe Saldaña, the actress behind warrior princess Neytiri in Avatar, picked up the Na’vi language faster than her fellow cast members. “Zoe owned the language and everyone had to match her, even her accent,” said Cameron. Saldaña remarked that the most difficult part about acting in the film was speaking in English with the accent of the Na’vi people. Cameron touted the rich nature of the Na’vi language in publicity for his film. “We wanted to ‘out-Klingon’ Klingon. The best sci-fi movies immerse the audience in that world until it doesn’t seem alien to them,” said Cameron to USA Today.



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November 17, 2009

Egypt registers first domain name in Arabic

Egypt registers first domain name in Arabic

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

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Tarek Kamel addressing the 2009 Internet Governance Forum
Image: Henrik Hansson.

Egyptian Communication and Information Technology Minister Tarek Kamel announced on Sunday that the country had filed an application for the “.misr” (“.Egypt”) top-level domain (مصر‎ in Arabic) and that registrations for second-level domains would begin as of midnight (2200 UTC) at an Internet conference sponsored by the United Nations. According to Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) chief executive Rod Beckstrom, six countries have applied for top-level domains in three languages since the Internet coordinator opened up the use of non Latin scripts yesterday.

“Now we can really say that Internet will speak Arabic,” said Kamel at the start of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)’s fourth conference at Sharm el-Sheikh.

The expansion of Internet domain names with Internationalized Domain Names (IDN), containing non-Latin characters is the fruit of six years of discussions and technical work, resulting in the ICANN voting on October 30 to allow the new domain names. It has been called the move the “biggest change” to the Internet “since it was invented 40 years ago”.

“Over half the Internet users around the world don’t use a Latin-based script as their native language,” commented Rod Beckstrom, president of the ICANN. “IDNs are about making the Internet more global and accessible for everyone.”

Cquote1.svg Now we can really say that the Internet will speak Arabic Cquote2.svg

—Tarek Kamel

The IGF conference will address access to the Internet, notably local content reflecting different cultures and languages. Other key topics are cybercrime and safe Internet usage. The theme of the conference is “Creating Opportunities for All”, reflected in a speech by the United Nations Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang. “The voice of developing world must be heard,” he said.

ICANN, a non-profit, private organisation, currently limits the application for new domains to national governments or territories, although domain names will be available to individuals at a later date via national registries.



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November 12, 2009

Scientists find key human language gene

Scientists find key human language gene – Wikinews, the free news source

Scientists find key human language gene

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

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Researchers have found a crucial genetic difference between humans and chimps that could help explain our language and speech abilities. The difference lies in a gene called FOXP2 which encodes for a protein of the same name. This acts as a transcription factor, controlling the activity of other genes.

A rendering of the FOXP2 protein

The human and chimp versions of the protein differ in only two of their 740 amino acid components, but when researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, replaced the human gene with the chimp version in neurons grown in the laboratory, they found it affected the expression of at least 116 other genes.

The results are detailed in a paper published on Thursday in the scientific journal Nature.

Author of the study Dr. Daniel Geschwind, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said the gene had a “major role” in differences between chimps and humans. “We showed that the human and chimp versions of FOXP2 not only look different but function differently too.”

Cquote1.svg We believe FOXP2 is not only important for the higher order cognitive aspect of language but also for the motor aspect of speech and language Cquote2.svg

—Genevieve Konopka, University of California, Los Angeles

Some of the affected genes control the formation of connections in the brain, whilst others relate to facial movements. Several have already been found to be involved in language disorders. Mutations in FOXP2 itself were also known to affect speech and language; the gene was first identified in members of a family suffering from language problems who were found to share a genetic mutation.

Frances Vargha-Khadem at University College London has studied patients with FOXP2 mutations, and agrees with the new research. As well as language problems, some of her subjects have changes in the shape of their jaws, mouths and tongues. She thinks that chimps may also have these differences.

“We believe FOXP2 is not only important for the higher order cognitive aspect of language but also for the motor aspect of speech and language,” said Genevieve Konopka, one of the authors of the paper at UCLA.

Previous research indicates that the changes in FOXP2 occurred around 200,000 years ago with the rise of modern humans. Geschwind also suggests that several of the related genes may have evolved together. Preliminary studies have shown signs that they too emerged relatively recently.

Scientists are now keen to further study FOXP2 and the genes that it affects. Geschwind believes this could eventually lead to breakthroughs in treatment for disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, which affect language skills.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the A.P. Giannini Foundation and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.



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January 16, 2008

Naked News to create international language editions

Naked News to create international language editions

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Naked News logo.
Image: Naked Broadcasting Network.

Last week, Naked News announced that it would dramatically increase its international language mandate to news reporting, with three new broadcasts. Already reporting in English and Japanese, the global organization is launching Spanish, Italian, and Korean-language programs, for television, the web, and mobile devices.

Wikinews interviewed one of the English broadcast’s anchors a little while ago, about the program. The broadcasts feature daily news and human interest pieces, presented by an anchor who gradually removes their clothing.

The internationally-focused newscast created a stir upon its launch in 1999, but has since expanded with online viewers in 172 nations. A male version failed shortly after it launched.

Naked News President David Warga commented in a press release that “our intention at Naked News is to be a global media source, much like CNN or BBC World. We are looking forward to expanding into other languages as well, because there is definitely a market demanding our brand of infotainment.”

Unlike the foreign stations run by the BBC or CNN, the international broadcasts will not be produced by the company. Branding and practices will be licensed to the other production and distribution companies.

Warga claims that, instead of presenting the naked female form as “fluff-head bimbos”, their news organization “encourages society to see women as being smart, powerful, and sophisticated.” Despite this, the press release lists hotel rooms as being one of the primary distribution methods; hotels account for a large segment of the pornography industry’s broadcast market.



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