Walls have Fears

On walls live creatures
They don’t just have ears
They have eyes and they have teeth
And they sure don’t have tears

What adds to their terrors
Is that they can’t be easily seen
But you can feel their presence
If you are one of their victims

They can communicate with each other
With a system more sophisticated
Than that of elephants or whales
It’s so sophisticated that only
Intelligent Design can explain them

They have concrete manifestations
But they are mostly abstract
No wonder so is their food
They don’t eat your meat
They eat your lives and your work and your protestations

You can be safe from them if you want
It’s all a matter of belief and loyalty and obedience
As it has always been through the ages
With other kinds of fearsome creatures

The question is whether you accept
The benevolent supremacy of the Intelligent Designer
Who put them there to watch over you

Just believe and abide and salvation can be yours
Don’t and you, with your work and your life
Can be completely mucked up, inside and outdoors

Author: anileklavya

मैं सांगणिक भाषाविज्ञान (Computational Linguistics) में एक शोधकर्ता हूँ। इसके अलावा मैं पढ़ता हूँ, पढ़ता हूँ, पढ़ता हूँ, और कुछ लिखने की कोशिश भी करता हूँ। हाल ही मैं मैने ज़ेडनेट का हिन्दी संस्करण (http://www.zmag.org/hindi) भी शुरू किया है। एक छोटी सी शुरुआत है। उम्मीद करता हूँ और लोग भी इसमें भाग लेंगे और ज़ेडनेट/ज़ेडमैग के सर्वोत्तम लेखों का हिन्दी (जो कि अपने दूसरे रूप उर्दू के साथ करोड़ों लोगों की भाषा है) में अनुवाद किया जा सकेगा।

7 thoughts on “Walls have Fears”

  1. Anil,

    … moving my questions over here:

    I’m curious to know why the module has to be in the operating system. Is that because there’s a different keyboard involved — with an expanded set of characters ?. . . If so, does that let eg. Hindi-speakers _code_ differently ? … which wouldn’t, on the face of it, make much sense to me, since programming languages, even though they use the qwerty keyboard’s letters and symbols, can’t in any sense be called ‘English’?

    If I’d had to guess how these systems work before you told us about the modules, I’d have assumed that the m.o. must be exactly like your innovation — i.e., separate from the operating system:

    I have made a little contribution by designing a system for adding language-encoding support on top of the operating system.

    … doesn’t sound like a ‘little’ contribution at all.

    … Something amusing that occurred to me as I read your post is that you might almost say that Sanskrit anticipated extreme textual flexibility by a few thousand years. That language was for centuries exclusively oral. Then, after the invention of writing, it was independent of any particular writing system — in spite of its tremendous sophistication. . . . I know that Sanskrit texts in Southeast Asian countries a long way from their homeland were written in the scripts of those regions … and so Sanskrit also influenced the evolution of the foreign writing systems. For instance, the order of symbols in the ‘fifty sounds’ of the Japanese syllabary was copied from the order of letters in Indian alphabets — something I actually learnt from a conversation with an English linguist.

    … I am genuinely keen to read your answers, and thanks again for your invitation to keep enquiring …

    1. I didn’t check the blog for some days.

      About the questions regarding the language module:

      It makes more sense to have the language module as part of the operating system because then it becomes available to all the programs installed on the system. However, there are so many languages in the world, with most of them having little commercial potential for the vendors of the operating systems, that most of the languages of the world are not properly supported on today’s computers, at least not as well as the elite few like English, French, Chinese etc.

      But coding (programming) is a totally different thing, which has not much to do with the language support, except that if you want to add multiple language support to your programs, you rely on the operating system, or use some libraries (programs which are used by other programs that are used by the users) that are available. Or you provide your own support. The program are written in programming languages which are different from natural languages, although most of them use English words (and to some extent English syntax). It is possible to have versions of programming languages that use words and scripts of other languages. But once a program is compiled (converted into a machine language that computers understand) it does not matter what version (in the above sense) of the programming language was used.

      Language support on computers basically involves three things:

      Input method: A way to type text using the keyboard (how keys map to characters or other units of the script)
      Storage: A way to store text consistently (which numbers map to which characters or other units of the script)
      Display: A way to display the text on the screen (how the images in the font correspond to characters or other units of the script)

      For some languages there is a one-to-one correspondence among the above three, thus making things easier. For others, this correspondence is more complex, causing problems for developers of language support modules. But then what is easy and what is difficult and what is better and what is worse also depends on the ways today’s computers are designed and the characteristics of the scripts (writing systems). If the computers had first been developed in China (or India, for that matter), we might have a completely different view of things.

      Yes, linguistics has an old connection with Sanskrit and the Paninian grammar. Modern linguistics owes a great deal to the Paninian grammar. Some people even claim that modern (descriptive) linguistics has not really advanced much beyond the Paninian grammar (though I wouldn’t go as far as that). And most of the scripts of South and South East Asia have been derived from Brahmi, the script that was used for Sanskrit and Pali etc. The fact that at an abstract level there are a lot of similarities among these scripts has been used by some researchers (including me) to do interesting and useful things with computers.

  2. Hi Anil,

    I’ve just stumbled on your generous and thoughtful answer to my question from June … Very many thanks.

    This I found particularly intriguing:

    === The fact that at an abstract level there are a lot of similarities among these scripts has been used by some researchers (including me) to do interesting and useful things with computers. ===

    Does a summary of that work exist in language that’s not too technical? If so, I’d like to read it.

    … This time, I’m asking to be notified of follow-up comments by email, since I might forget to check in when you have a chance to reply — I’m guessing in, say, December. [smiley goes here]

    … On the other question about time zones, I wondered about IST but must have mis-calculated and concluded that that wasn’t a possibility.

    1. === Does a summary of that work exist in language that’s not too technical? If so, I’d like to read it.

      Most of such material is likely to be in the form of research papers or books. One of them is here. It shouldn’t be very difficult to understand, but that might depend on how familiar you are with certain terms. If I come across some more non-technical summary (or if I write), I will let you know.

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