Language

English has the scientific edge — for now

In illustration of a man gesturing while giving a speech to an audience
British scientist Michael Faraday addresses the Royal Institution in London in 1855, in a painting by Alexander Blaikley. Photo: Rischgitz/Getty

For centuries, science was a multilingual affair, powered by French, German, English and other tongues. But since the early 1970s, English has become the undisputed lingua franca of scientific papers, conferences, and discourse.

Why it matters: English-speaking countries now have a huge leg up in technical research, including the current rages — artificial intelligence and quantum computing. But, while English is highly unlikely to be dethroned, its advantages are eroding due to an increasingly healthy research environment in China, the fast transmission of research papers across the internet, and AI-aided translation technology that is shrinking the language barrier.

Facebook launches language option for Alaska's Inupiaq

Photo: Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Facebook has added Inupiaq, a indigenous language spoken in northern Alaska, as an option to its community translation tool, per the AP.

The details: It's only available on the Facebook website, not its app — at least for now. Facebook spokeswoman Arielle Argyres told the AP that the social media giant will soon add Cherokee and Canada’s Inuktut language. "It’s important to have these indigenous languages on the internet. Oftentimes they’re nowhere to be found. So much is carried through language — tradition, culture — and so in the digital world, being able to translate from that environment is really important," Argyres said.

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