Editor’s note: Martin Edic is tech writer at Language Intelligence, a Rochester, New York-based translation and localization firm. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared under the title, “‘It’s not free,’ don’t talk complicated, language extinction and AI SuperGLUE.”  

As someone working within language, translations and cross-cultural learning, I’m always interested in reading articles related to language and culture around the world. Throughout August our team ran into the usual array of odd but interesting pieces. In this post I will share a few tidbits from four of these articles. On the most basic level, all of the articles are focused on human communication. That said, the articles cover a variety of topics: a look at cultural confusion that can mess up an intended message; how execs on earnings calls can make their message seem worse through the language they use; the terrible cultural loss when a language becomes extinct; and finally the complexity of explaining language to AI systems.

Do you think knowing a language is enough to effectively communicate in other countries? You also need to understand the language of their cultural interactions:

“I have experienced shopkeepers in several places in the Middle East who insisted at checkout that I didn’t have to pay – it was ‘on the house.’ If you didn’t know about the local culture, you might be quite surprised, thank them and attempt to walk out of the store! Those familiar with the culture, however, would know that the token gesture was merely a sign of respect and that the appropriate response would be to insist on paying as usual.”

From the Association for Talent Development (ATD)

An overly complex use of language can materially and negatively impact stock prices:

“When we analyzed the data using a regression model, we found that the use of non-plain English and erroneous expressions, which together w...