The Linguist

The Linguist 57,4 - August/September 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 30 of 35

@Linguist_CIOL Q Before your MA at City, you did a degree in German Studies. Why did you choose languages? A I grew up in different countries around the world, and took English, German and French for my International Baccalaureate. In my final year of school I read David Crystal's Language Death – I just couldn't put it down! After that, I was hooked on language. Q What work experience did you have before getting your current job with gweek? A While doing my MA, I worked as Assistant Editor for an online publication. I received intensive copy editor training, which came naturally to me, and I quickly realised I could make a good career that way. After my degree, I took on a second job in office administration at Euro London Appointments recruitment agency for multilingual people. I then managed my own print title at NewBay Media (now Future Publishing), for two years. In addition to providing training in journalism, my time as an editor enabled me to develop corporate skills, such as staff management and representing a brand. Most recently, I was appointed Editor of Ogmios, the magazine of the Foundation for Endangered Languages (FEL) – a charity to which Professor Crystal made frequent reference in Language Death. This work has given me the opportunity to make an impact in a relatively unknown sub-field of language. Q When did you decide to venture into the field of speech analysis? A While I haven't sought employment using my foreign languages, working with speech and language is a top priority. I wanted a more technical linguistics role, and started scoping Hayley Ferguson on her journey from Translating Popular Culture MA to speech analyst at gweek Just the job out the job market after I was accepted onto my second MA (in Applied Linguistics). The majority of posts required a PhD, MA in Speech and Language Therapy or machine learning experience. I made contact with gweek when a senior role was advertised; the requirements were an academic background in linguistics or equivalent practical experience. Q What does gweek do? A It is an award-winning artificial intelligence (AI) app that teaches users to communicate clearly, authentically and with greater impact by analysing speech and providing clients with constructive feedback. It is working to develop the world's speech intelligence. Q What does your role involve? A I haven't got a background in machine learning, so my role isn't technical. My day- to-day is varied, but on an average shift, I will analyse speech in real time or annotate audiovisual recordings using software designed for this purpose. My academic background in subtitling (from my MA) is especially helpful. Someone in my role has to be confident with audiovisual software. Q What are your career plans? A AI is increasingly making use of linguists, so I plan to continue my career in language tech. That said, I'm heartfelt about the FEL's cause. If everybody in language dedicated a little bit of time towards this under-served sub-field, the world's languages would be in a better position. I firmly believe that, as linguists, we can't keep saying 'yes' to cultural homogenisation – we need to embrace linguistic diversity before it's too late. What values? As Robert Johnson suggests ('Whose Culture is it Anyway?', TL57,3), 'culture' can mean, among other things, "values, beliefs and worldview, our cognitive DNA". This definition is especially important in global political terms. After terrorist attacks, such as those on Westminster Bridge in March 2017, political leaders are apt to invoke 'our values' and 'way of life'. This language is dangerously loose, suggesting that those phrases are self- explanatory, that they denote absolute states ('values', 'way of life'), and even that we (who are 'we'?) have a monopoly on virtue. Such atrocities appear to have been 'Islamist-inspired'. Their perpetrators in the UK have mostly been British, but in terms of "values, beliefs and worldview", they clearly oppose this country's mainstream culture. While terrorist attacks cannot be condoned, some nettles must still be grasped. What inspires Islamism? What are the values of Islamists and their sympathisers (who are generally unlikely to carry out attacks) – not just killing infidels and earning a place in Paradise? How do they view the values of Western countries: Imperialist? Xenophobic? Warmongering? Or might some of them have a more positive view? Intercultural understanding is vital in striving to have "more in common than that which divides us". Paul Guest ACIL Put your questions on crosscultural awareness to Robert Johnson: OPINION & COMMENT Coverage of special needs I often discuss the topics covered in The Linguist with a friend. Recently, there was a great article about dyslexia ('Dealing with Word Blindness', TL56,4) and a shorter item on 'Can Bilingualism Aid Autistic Kids?' (TL57,2). I find it very important to talk about research in this area. When I was in primary and secondary school, very few people wanted to talk about dyslexia. Joanna Biernat MCIL 31

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