Saving the wisdom of Elders

first_imgThere are hundreds of dying languages across Africa. In South Africa, there are seven listed as endangered by the Endangered Languages Project. Lost Tongue follows Helena Steenkamp as she learns the ancient language of her ancestors, and in so doing, regains her identity.Ouma Geelmeid explains the flower metaphor in N/uu. (Image: Lost Tongue)Sulaiman PhilipDirector Davison Mudzingwa’s Lost Tongue documentary follows Helena Steenkamp as she learns N!uu, the 25 000-year-old language of her ancestors. Shot over three years, it tells the story of one Khomani San woman as she learns from one of the last three native speakers.Mudzingwa and his cinematographer, Themba Vilikazi, passed through the towns of Andriesvale and Upington in the Northern Cape while shooting a previous short film. What struck him the most was the chosen language of the communities, Afrikaans.“It was shocking to me that people communicated in Afrikaans. I began wondering about the problem of identity when you don’t speak your mother tongue. Then we met Helena. She was asking herself these questions about her own identity. She wanted to speak the language she was meant to be speaking.”For Steenkamp, the N!uu language represents the singular nature of her people. For too long the language was not considered a thing of value. Nobody tried to learn it or pass it on to another generation. As she learns she discovers that her mother tongue is more than just vocabulary. It teachers her deference for her surroundings and gives her an understanding of her ancestry. It enhances her holistic relationship with all of her world.Cinematographer Themba Vilikazi follwing Helena Steenkamp through the Karoo landscape . (Image: Lost Tongue)There is a doomed romanticism in being the last speaker of a language, a sense of empowerment that comes from speaking a mother tongue. As the elderly speakers of native tongues die, Mudzingwa explains, we lose more than a language. Younger generations lose an understanding of an identity rooted in a language they cannot speak.“Once you lose a native tongue, you lose indigenous knowledge. You are cut free from the identity carried by language. Ancient wisdom dies. You lose a culture and a way of knowing who you are.”That N!uu is endangered is a result of deliberate actions on the part of colonists who, in need of cheap labour, forced the indigenous population to learn and speak Afrikaans. San children were educated in Afrikaans, and catechized into believing in the superiority of Western culture and language.“Something brutal happened to these people. Forced to not speak their own language, they have lost their identity and culture. When we lose our language, wisdom dies. Our way of living becomes alien. We lose sight of who we really are,” Mudzingwa explains.Lost Tongue Trailer from MYA Productions on Vimeo.What we lose when languages die“In general terms we will lose thousands of years of knowledge when we allow a language to die. All that awareness that we transfer orally from generation to generation will be lost.”Science, art and understanding local ecology is lost. Knowledge about geography, agriculture and art are passed on through language. When a language dies, people lose their own creation myths and their sense of belonging to something unique.There are about 7 billion people on the planet; we speak about 7 000 different languages. By the end of the century half of those languages will be dead, heard only on recordings and studied by linguists. Young people are forsaking their mother tongues for, mostly, English, the patois of the digital age.As the world’s population urbanises there is benefit in having a single dominant language. However, we don’t just lose a language; we lose the unique perspectives created by different languages. Robert Holman of Columbia University and the Endangered Language Alliance poetically put it to a New York Times reporter: “Language is consciousness. Everybody wants to speak English, but those lullabies that allow you to go to sleep at night and dream — that’s what we’re talking about.”Why does it matter if a language vanishes? Language is an evolving, living expression of a society. Even English as we know it will be totes dead in a millennium. Social media is changing language. English today is not your grandpa’s English. What was once just text speak is being sounded out in the real world.And new words are being created, a mulatto of English and abbreviations that sound weird to an untrained ear. There are odd sounds in unexpected places. As linguistic researchers Lauren Spradlin and Taylor Jones point out, this new language is not simply about Twitter character limits; it’s about re-arranging sound.Language evolves as the culture evolves. The changes in the English language are not primarily about efficiency. They are, says Spradlin, about millennials being expressive and adding new dimension to words. And it should be celebrated.Technology may still prove able to save dying languages. Or at least preserve them for generations that follow. Mudzingwa points out: “It is chilling the number of dying languages there are. In Canada and New Zealand people are using mobile apps to record the voices of elders. People can now listen and learn right on their cellphones. This is technology that we can utilise across Africa.”There are hundreds of dying languages across Africa. In South Africa, besides Nu/u, there are six languages – !Xun, Birwa, Khoekhoe, Khwe, Korana and Siphuti – that are listed as endangered by the Endangered Languages Project.Language gives us more than just the ability to communicate, says Mudzingwa. It connects us to everything. It is community and a feeling of self. Saving indigenous languages, “…should definitely be one of the top priorities of a community and a nation. Once we lose that bit of language, we lose that history of who we are.”Watch:New York has long been a city of immigrants, but linguists now consider it a laboratory for studying and preserving languages in rapid decline elsewhere in the world.last_img read more

The 5 Sales Tools Every Company Will Use in 2019

first_imgBrad AndersonEditor In Chief at ReadWrite How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culture Related Posts Over the past couple years, the machine learning niche has exploded into the mainstream. Startups have popped up left and right to show off their innovative new tools, and Google — the tech giant above all tech giants — now claims to be a machine learning company.This sudden spike in AI interest is not as surprising as it might seem. People have wanted smart robots since the earliest days of sci-fi. Thanks to strides in natural language processing and other tech advances, the long-awaited arrival of machine learning is finally here.For sales processes, machine learning is a dream come true. More than 40 percent of salespeople find prospecting leads to be the hardest part of the job, with 22 percent feeling that qualifying those leads is even harder. Now, AI can sift through prospects using advanced analytics to discover which ones are the most likely to convert, then spit out a list of the best leads in seconds. No more spending two-thirds of the day entering data and researching leads — with machines on the case, salespeople can spend their time talking to prospects and closing deals.Not all sales tools are created equal, though. The successful sales teams of the future will lean on these to win more deals: Personalized mobile appsPlenty of sales fall through due to issues beyond the salesperson’s control, and those issues are often a result of the company’s product or service. A service that is unclear in its execution — no matter how valuable that service may be — can cause potential buyers to back out quickly, leaving the salesperson in the lurch.However, if the service is presented in a sleek and well-executed format that is easily accessible during a sales call, salespeople will be free to work their magic without restraint. When building a personalized app for the donor registration organization DKMS, the software development team at Clevertech focused on simplifying and streamlining the original system to help retain users. Its sophisticated mobile solution increased user retention by 60 percent and significantly improved awareness and understanding of DKMS’s service with the simplicity of a cleaner presentation.Salespeople are only as strong as the product or service they’re looking to sell. By arming them with an easy-to-navigate and easy-to-transport display, companies can provide salespeople with everything they need to educate prospective clients on the value of what they provide. Smart searchAI-enabled searches cut through the mire of unqualified leads to pick out the individuals and companies best matched to the seller’s product or service. If there is one machine learning tool that every company needs, it’s this one.Node, an AI-powered discovery engine, is going all-in on sales enablement. The company recently announced $5 million in new funding and brought in two top AI researchers to develop its latest product.“AI has incredible potential in sales,” says Greg McBeth, head of revenue at Node. “New tools allow companies to discover valuable customer information that they would otherwise miss, then act on that information at the right time with the right message.” ChatbotsModern consumers prefer to do most product research on their own. They use smartphones to compare prices, check social media for reviews, and read articles about the pros and cons of each choice. By the time they reach out to a salesperson, they are almost ready to close. In B2B sales, the process is longer, but the premise is the same: Online research has replaced the old-school necessity of verbal description in sales.Chatbots guide website visitors to complete tasks that get them closer to closing. They can provide information about local stores, set up appointments to speak with salespeople, and answer questions about products and services. The best ones embody the personalities of the brands behind them, giving would-be customers a more personalized experience.Cloud solutionsIt’s 2018, and the office is now mobile. Salespeople on the go should not be isolated from their tools and resources. “Frustrated customers are beating up your salespeople because your sales teams are out there all on their own,” explains Phil Rainsberger, director of strategy and customer experience at Tier 1. “They don’t have answers to customers’ questions, they don’t have up-to-the-second information, they’re disconnected from your company’s systems, and as a result they’re unable to provide real-time information and make decisions that every type of business and customer is beginning to demand.”Modern cloud solutions allow sales teams to access information from anywhere, empowering them to make faster decisions and capitalize on opportunities in the field. Not only do cloud solutions speed up the sales process, but they also lower the budget hit from slower, more expensive information systems.Salespeople from cloud-powered companies can do in one meeting what those from other companies do in several, reducing the number of opportunities for deals to get away.Sales AccelerationCRM’s are the anchor to any sales environment. However, common complaints from sales reps is that their CRM is too clunky and slows them down. But the information contained within is a vital system of record. Companies that have a 360 degree view of their core customers have a competitive advantage.Reduce the weight of a CRM by adding additional products to your technology stack. This will reduce the daunting nature of a CRM, further driving adoption and making your CRM investment more valuable.Sales teams should consider investing in sales acceleration software that integrates with their CRM, improving sales productivity. As you explore sales acceleration solutions, make sure they’re designed for your specific (inside or outside) sales strategy.Sales teams won’t go away anytime soon, but their tool kits are expanding rapidly. The companies with the best sales results in the future will be the ones that leverage the full power of their technological advantages. These four technologies provide a starting point, but truly tech-centered sellers should keep up with the latest advancements to stay ahead of their industries. China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com. What Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Star… Tags:#sales tools How to Get Started in China and Have Successlast_img read more

India Eyes Development of New Ports

first_imgzoom India is looking to develop a number of new and small ports for commercial shipping transportation, according to data released by India’s Ministry of Shipping.Based on the traffic and cargo scenario of the country’s twelve Major Ports, a master plan has been prepared for expansion of port capacity, which includes a number of new ports.Namely, it is understood that India’s Kolkata Port proposed the development of a port at Sagar Island, West Bengal, in an effort to reduce the constraints including long river navigation, available draft navigation due to persistent siltation and high dredging cost. Projected traffic is to be around 3.5 million tons per annum in 2020 increasing to around 27 million tons in 2035.Additionally, V. O. Chidambaranar Port proposed the construction of a port in Enayam near Colachel, Tamil Nadu. Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the site is currently under preparation and the first container berth in Phase-I is expected to be operational by December 2020.Furthermore, Paradip Port Trust suggested the development of Paradip Outer Harbour in Odisha, which would increase the port’s capacity from from 140 to 250 million tons per annum by 2020.Techno-Economic Feasibility Report (TEFR) for the Paradip Outer Harbour upgrade has been prepared and a Detailed Project Report (DPR) is expected to be completed by the end of May 2017.last_img read more