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Why do Computers Suck at Languages?

I studied Computational Linguistics, which is the part of linguistics that tries to teach computers human languages. It's a very interesting subject, responsible for machine translation, dictation software, text-to-speech tools, dialog systems like Siri and many more applications. If you want to learn a bit more about Computational Linguistics, what problems there are for computers to deal with human language and what the future looks like, you can now watch my intro talk from the Polyglot Conference in Budapest:

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How Many Hours to Learn a Foreign Language?


I'm often asked how many hours it takes to learn a foreign language, how many hours the asker should plan to spend on learning language X, (more rarely) how many hours it took me to learn a language. Here's an attempt at an answer.

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So Many Ways to Learn Esperanto

The Master List of Resources for Learning Esperanto. Courses, grammars, exercises, vocabulary, pronunciation, lots of reading materials from easy readers to literature, ways to improve your writing, listening practise through podcasts, audiobooks and videos, and much more. Must bookmark!

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Launching a Special Challenge

I created the 6 Week Challenge several years ago and it has been faithfully running four times a year, always starting on February 1, May 1, August 1 and November 1, for a pattern that's roughly 6 weeks on, 6 weeks off. The next challenge is almost upon us, starting on May 1. And this time, I want to mix things up!

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More Recent Additions

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Progress since January this year

10 / 30 Foreign books read, i. e. excl. German + English
333 / 700 Total hours of lang. study

(This is manually updated, so not always up to date)

What do Polyglots do for Fun?

This year I organized my first major conference: the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin. It turned out a study in how polyglots like to have fun, with nearly 230 participants from 35 countries coming together for 4 days of program. Until now, I had only organized smaller meet-ups or done minor work for bigger conferences (like organizing the "JES al novuloj" scholarships for the Junulara E-Semajno). Then, Richard Simcott suggested at last year's Polyglot Conference in Budapest that there may be no European polyglot event in 2014, and I decided to pick up the slack.

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Results of 2013

My original goal was to do 700+ hours of language study this year and read 50 books (30 in languages other than German/English). Instead, I only managed 643 hours of language study and 32 books (22 in languages other than German/English), so I am quite disappointed in myself.

My final list of books:

Book 1: "B.A.f.H. - Das Neueste vom Bastard Assistant" by Florian Schiel
Book 2: "Το ταξίδι στη χώρα που δε βλέπουν τα μάτια..." by Αντώνης Καλογήρου
Book 3: "Io Alessandro" by Steven Pressfield
Book 4: "L'Irak du silence" by Marie de Varney

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Review of "Japanese Kanji & Kana: A Complete Guide to the Japanese Writing System"

Lately I've been getting back into Japanese, which I had studied for a few months last year around this time. (Read about my challenge "Understand Your Favourite TV Series in 30 Days".)

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