Scheduling tweets in bulk in advance (my way)

I’ve created my own system to tweet a row from this spreadsheet every day.

The name of the Twitter account is @fideobobdydd, a way of sharing high quality videos in Welsh from various genres. Social media like Twitter have the potential to find audiences for videos and vice-versa, when algorithmic search and recommendation sometimes (feel like they) put content in Welsh at a disadvantage. This is what I’d like to investigate, anyway.

At the moment it tweets once per day at a set time. It’s a proof of concept which could easily be extended or adapted.

Why create a system? I’ve tried Hootsuite, Buffer and similar systems but on the whole these are too cumbersome for me. On the spreadhset I can see half a month and move things around quickly. Working with others is easy because the spreadsheet is on Google Drive.

I doubt that Hootsuite as a company is losing sleep over it. It’s just my homebaked solution to a particular problem. 🙂

It would be possible to add other sources rather than relying on manual input of videos. At the moment if there is a gap on any given day, there is no tweet. I could create a long list of videos to post randomly as well as the spreadsheet list, or syndicate videos from a list of favourites or YouTube playlist, and so on. Of course other platforms like Facebook Video are also possible.

Here’s some technical info. This is a PHP script which talks to the Twitter API. Rather than use the Google Drive API I have done a speedier implementation of retrieving the content as CSV.

Diolch i Nwdls am y (cy)syniad gwreiddiol o Fideo Bob Dydd.

Rough notes on using social media in one’s second language

My emphasis on this blog has changed over the years. It’s interesting to read back over old posts where I documented my progress with Welsh. Later on I was pretty uninhibited about blogging through the medium of Welsh on here, as a means of practising and as a method of seeing more stuff in Welsh online. Although very beneficial for me I guess it’s uncommon to practise like that in public. There were/are quite a few non-standard grammatical formations in my posts as well. Or, in other words, mistakes.

A few people have asked me recently about my experiences using social media in Welsh as a second language – especially blogging. Someone was asking me today about the experience and challenges as part of her research project.

So here’s a copy of some notes I sent as I figured they might be of interest to people who read this blog.

In hindsight it took me a while to get to a standard where I thought I had anything to say. There are blogs out there where people practise the very basics – which is obviously fine – but I think I wanted to do something more expressive. I think writing to be understood (which was an aim) is a challenge. There were a whole load of things to accomplish before even considering that as an option. I think I considered it for a fair while before actually doing it.

That said, as opposed to blogging, tweeting in Welsh was something I started quite early on I think. You could liken it to a child gaining confidence in learning to speak (or walk, etc.).

The first thing I tried on a computer was emailing in Welsh – even just greetings and valediction around an email in English. I made loads of mistakes with that but it was a key learning experience.

One thing to mention is that Facebook is not always the friendliest place for practising Welsh. It’s common to receive comments from ‘friends’ who are not comfortable with seeing Welsh being used. For example people have said things like ‘did a cat walk on your keyboard?’, ‘that’s easy for you to say’ and also some quite blatant expressions of disdain/displeasure at seeing Welsh being used. It’s funny how very few people say ‘I don’t understand your message, would you be able to give me a translation or a summary in English please?’, which is surely a more courteous way of answering. I’ve heard that that these attitudes cause problems for people who are learning, particularly the more timid. I’m a pretty confident person but even I sometimes feel a bit gun shy about using Welsh on Facebook. Interface is irrelevant here – it’s about existing friend group and expectations. Maybe this point counters the hypothesis that fluent Welsh users are judgmental about informal Welsh and bratiaith. That is, in my experience by contrast it has been the non-Welsh speakers who cause problems.

Twitter is better for confidence because it’s not predominently based on offline relationships for many people. There is a lot of freedom and variation in the way it’s used. There is a more of a sense that people can experiment, be individual and also that those who don’t appreciate it should just unfollow. And then blogging offers the best feeling of a space you control yourself where anything goes, at least in my experience.

These notes are incomplete and are based on personal experiences rather than data.

The 24/7 digital café for Welsh learners

I’ve been thinking about this idea for Welsh learners and I can’t get it out of my head.

What if there were a way to fire up Skype now and have a spoken conversation in Welsh with somebody?

At the moment you could fire up Skype for a chat (substitute Google+ Hangouts for Skype if you prefer) but what if you don’t know any other Welsh speakers? What if you do know some but they’re not online right now? What if the timezone you’re in doesn’t help? What if you’re a bit shy and you’d rather start practising at home before venturing out?

The core of the idea is a way to solve those problems, a 24/7 digital café if you like. You would visit this site and declare: I am online at (say) 7PM on Monday night GMT and then people could meet you online for a chat at that time.

You could also also list your skill level if desired, and your interests like mountaineering or literature or Hollywood or cooking or whatever.

In the short term it could start with a few conversations here and there. The aim is to have people having Welsh conversations 24/7 so there are always people online to chat with. If you didn’t have such a great chat then you bid the person hwyl fawr and then move on. It’s a bit like Chatroulette but less random.

The speaking and listening part is important. I know there are people on IRC channels (text-based chat) and there are blog posts and other articles you could read in Welsh online. You could start your own blog. But this is about speaking and listening.

People around Wales and beyond who are learning the Welsh language usually do so by means of courses – some of which are predominantly online like BBC’s or SaySomethingInWelsh, some of which are predominantly offline like those of Acen or Cymraeg i Oedolion and some of which are probably a bit of both.

But a course on its own is not enough to learn. You need to practise. You need to make heaps of mistakes in a variety of registers and contexts. You need to talk about things you care about and move beyond hoffi coffi and dw i’n dod o

Has this idea been/being tried? What about other languages? I’d welcome comments from anyone.

Is anyone interested in being part of some tests? Are any of the above companies/institutions interested in being part of something like this?

Comments are open.

语言

語言就廣義而言,是一套共同採用的溝通符號、表達方式與處理規則。符號會以視覺、聲音或者觸覺方式來傳遞。嚴格來說,語言是指人類溝通所使用的語言-自然語言。一般人都必须通过学习才能获得语言能力。語言的目的是交流观念、意见、思想等。语言学就是從人類研究語言分類與規則而發展出來的。研究語言的專家被稱呼為語言學家。當人類發現了某些動物能夠以某種方式溝通,就誕生了動物語言的概念。到了電腦的誕生,人類需要給予電腦指令。這種「單向溝通」就成了電腦語言。

Çekoslovakyalilastiramadiklarimizdanmissiniz?

This article on “difficult languages” is The Economist at its absolute best.

My title above is Turkish and apparently means “Were you one of those people whom we could not make into a Czechoslovakian?”.

I especially liked the bit about different kinds of “we” in Kwaio, which is spoken in the Solomon Islands. We need something like that in English! That’s “we” as in all of us.

The suggested “hardest” language appears to be the result of some pretty extensive research. Let’s just say there is no mention of Welsh, nor should there be.

(Hat tip: languagehat.com)

Flags are not languages (Easyjet website is wrong)

Easyjet have recently changed their website. Now you get a language selection screen. So far so good I guess (for a website).

But unfortunately instead of just the names of languages, there are flags as well.

The flags on this page may look colourful, but having them there is WRONG.

I’m not being pedantic here. It is simply wrong.

If you don’t get the flag screen when you visit easyjet.com and you want to see it, it may be because of your browser’s language setting. (In Firefox for instance, go to Tools | Options | Content | Languages.)

Failing that, look for and delete a browser cookie that stores Easyjet’s language setting. (In Firefox for instance, go to Tools | Options | Privacy | Show Cookies then search for “easyjet”.)

Here’s a slightly dated but classic web page about flags and languages (summary: don’t).

I’m not going to point out every case of this, but when a big company does it then it’s closer to becoming a de facto standard. It has an influence on other people and companies. This isn’t a particular beef with Easyjet, it’s just a clear example of this problem. My patience here is flagging. Etc.

Google Translate is now instant. But still fun (and dangerous).

Google Translate has already accelerated my Welsh learning. It helps to decipher a daunting piece of text.

Now Google Translate is instant. They changed the interface slightly and it flashes up the equivalent translation as you type. Boy.

In other words you get the same flawed “translations”, now even faster!

Try it for Welsh to English.

Example phrases:
Dw i’n cyfieithu.
Defnyddia yn ofalus.
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri

I wish there were a proper online Welsh-to-English dictionary that did instant look-ups. It would take some of the friction out of reading difficult books. Just leave the laptop open, type a difficult word and get the meaning NOW.

Having to click is too slow a method because it breaks the flow of the book. Reaching for a dictionary is even worse. The look-up needs to be as near to the speed of thought as possible.
🙂

I say “proper dictionary” because Google still gets words wrong y’see. It’s based on statistical translation and uses the “most likely” translation based on a corpus of text equivalents in both languages. It also seems to have a limited vocabulary.

And a reminder…

Don’t use it for roadsigns! But you can use it to check the gist of a professional’s translation…

The origins of words, with Sioned Stryd-Cludydd

Mostly, what comes from the mouth of Janet Street-Porter is total bum gravy. This is no exception.

“We had a Welsh-speaking budgie. My mother missed Wales very much. I don’t feel Welsh at all. There’s no Welsh words for anything modern.”

Street-Porter is one of those people who enjoys a level of media coverage disproportionate to her level of ability or insight. (Incidentally people like this are certainly not worth protesting against, don’t waste your time. Maybe a quick throwaway blog post though…)

It did make me think how someone can really struggle if they attempt to pass comment on things they know very little about. And I figured, it’s at least a good chance for me to learn more Welsh words.

So if you have any good modern words, feel free to comment. And together let’s make a page on the INTERNET!

Modern means anything of, relating to, or characteristic of the present or the immediate past. But no use being ultra-strict about it.

Here are some modern Welsh words, each with an English translation.

ailgoedwigo (reafforestation)
ailgylchu (recycling)
amser real (real time)
biohinsoddeg (bioclimatology)
blogiwr (blogger)
chwyddo mewn (zoom in)
cludadwyedd data (data portability)
cnewyllyn (kernel)
cronfa ddata (database)
cyfalaf menter (venture capital)
cyfieithu peirianyddol (machine translation)
cywasgu data (data compression)
datganoli (devolution)
diagram Venn (Venn diagram)
dirwasgiad (recession)
gallu i ryngweithredu (interoperability)
gwefan (website)
meddalwedd (software)
porthiant RSS (RSS feed)
rhesymeg Boole (Boolean logic)
sebon dogfennol (docusoap)
siocled (chocolate)
system weithredu (operating system)
teledu (television)
tewdra (obesity)
troseddwr rhyfel (war criminal)
unben ffasgaidd (fascist dictator)
weldiad bôn (butt weld)

You might sometimes notice the Latin root of some words. Welsh has incorporated words from Latin for many, many centuries, just as English has done with Latin, Greek and French. Seemingly “civilised” Welsh words, particularly certain legal concepts which might be assumed to derive from Latin, can often date from pre-Roman times. Read John Davies A History Of Wales!

Globalisation can sometimes result in many different languages all adopting the same, or a similar, word for something. I’m thinking of “chocolate” in different languages, as well as “blog”, “wiki” and so on.

I heard that teledu was the result of a magazine competition to find a suitable word when it was a new technology (is this true?). It’s based on darlledu (broadcast). Of course, the English word “television” was mocked when it emerged for being half-Greek and half-Latin. And I now mock modern attempts to coin English words like “staycation“, which just catch on anyway.

New Welsh words are frequently invented of course, just as English ones are.

Language is, in the words of George Orwell, “an instrument which we shape for our own purposes”.

Sources: Geiriadur BBC, Geiriadur Llanbedr, Termiadur