Facebook has announced a new advance in its automatic translation tools which will improve communications between users around the world.
The new advance is based on Facebook’s ‘M2M-100’ multilingual machine translation (MMT) model, which is able to translate between any pair of 100 languages without relying on English data.
As explained by Facebook:
“When translating, say, Chinese to French, most English-centric multilingual models train on Chinese to English and English to French, because English training data is the most widely available. Our model directly trains on Chinese to French data to better preserve meaning. It outperforms English-centric systems by 10 points on the widely used BLEU metric for evaluating machine translations.”
By cutting out the initial step of first translating into English, Facebook’s new system is better able to maintain the original meaning of the text, which will help to maximize communication between Facebook users.
Facebook’s translation tools could play a key role in maximizing business opportunities, by facilitating cross-border commerce into regions where language barriers exist. Businesses might, for example, want to branch into the growing Indian market, but they’re currently unable to because they can’t effectively communicate. Facebook’s translation advances could play a key role in this respect, and help to open up new opportunities – especially given the platform’s increasing focus on eCommerce and on-platform exchange.
That could be further assisted by the development of Facebook’s own currency, which would separate it from local banks. That project is still a way off, but Facebook is looking towards a future where any business, anywhere, would be able to sell to anybody, across the world, on Facebook’s marketplace.
As such, these new advances are significant – and what’s more, Facebook is open-sourcing its work on the project to facilitate improved translation tools more broadly.
Combine this with Facebook’s cross-border insights, and it’s clear where the platform is headed. If Facebook can connect the world, and provide universal communications access, that could lead to significant new opportunities.
Does ‘goblin mode’ sum up 2022 for you?
Sleep is associated with a state of muscle relaxation and reduced perception of environmental stimuli. — Image: Rachel CALAMUSA (CC BY-SA 2.0)
When you think back across 2022, which word or phrase captures the zeitgeist? Each year the Oxford English Dictionary selects its word of the year and this year the selected ‘word’ (or rather phrase) is “goblin mode.”
The Oxford Word of the Year is intended to represent “a word or expression reflecting the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past twelve months, one that has potential as a term of lasting cultural significance.”
As to what “goblin mode” means, Oxford defines this as “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”
As far as lexicographers can assess, the word has been in use since 2009 when it first entered the digital lexicon on Twitter.
Apparently, the phrase gained traction from February 2022, possibly as a reaction to a return to so-termed “normalcy” after COVID-19 restrictions began to be lifted in many countries.
In terms of context, the London Evening Standard develops an example of “goblin mode” as: “Sinking into your sofa under a blanket stained with tomato from takeaway pizza – the crusts of which are long cold in the box on the floor but you’ll probably eat them later. Gormlessly watching Too Hot To Handle with no sense of irony. Making no plans to do anything as productive as, say, brushing your teeth or leaving the house.”
Whereas The Guardian uses: “Goblin mode is like when you wake up at 2am and shuffle into the kitchen wearing nothing but a long t-shirt to make a weird snack, like melted cheese on saltines”.
This puts “goblin mode” firmly in the slacker arena.
To be considered, a word or phrase must be supported by evidence of real language usage. This is based on context, frequency statistics and other language data.
This year represented the first year when the selection process for ‘Word of the Year’ was opened up to English speakers for the first time in its history. Across a period of two weeks more than 300,000 people cast their vote against a pre-made list.
With the 2022 vote, “goblin mode” got 93 percent of the more than 300,000 votes. “Metaverse” finished second. In third place was “#IStandWith” (to represent mass social media reactions to a perceived injustice, such as “#IStandWithUkraine”).
Time will tell whether “goblin mode” or “metaverse” has the most capital.
Previous words of the year have included vax (2021) and climate emergency (2019). The last ten years have given us:
2015 😂 (Face With Tears of Joy, Unicode: U+1F602, part of emoji)
2019 climate emergency
2020 No single word chosen (due to this being the year of COVID-19 turmoil).
2022 goblin mode
A week ago another dictionary -Merriam-Webster – announced its word of the year this year as “gaslighting”. While the word is old, possibly dating back a hundred years, its use has spiked across 2022. “Gaslighting” refers to the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage.
Does ‘goblin mode’ sum up 2022 for you?
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