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The Now, The New & The Next in Careers

Hot Careers in Linguistics for Social Media

18 Jun 2012 12:14 PM | Anonymous

By Sharon Wiatt Jones

Social media is spreading knowledge globally at the speed of a “Tweet.”  Jeff Bullas

LOCALIZATION.  What’s a geo-lingual visitor to do when the language of a website is indecipherable?   Leave.  U.S. marketers using monolingual tweets are at a potential disadvantage, according to Common Sense Advisory, which found that 72.4% of consumers prefer to learn about products and services in their primary language. Language Lines Services CEO Louis F. Provenzano, Jr. reports that 60 million (20%) of U.S. legal residents speak a language other than English at home. The fastest growing language on Twitter is Arabic. Kindle’s vision is ambitious: “Every book ever printed in every language all available in 60 seconds.” Notable global trends in social media are:

--Especially high online user engagement in Israel, China, Russia, Brazil, and India.

--Exploding Internet use in emerging markets (India, China, and South America).

--Increasing number of languages supported on major platforms, such as Facebook (70+) and Google (64).

Kindle recruits software engineers who have skills to "dive deep on localization bugs, solving issues in multiple languages...” Nuance hires natural language processing and understanding engineers for applications in Japanese, Spanish, Korean, and Chinese. Linguist translation software designers and bilingual application support/helpdesk analysts are also in demand. Global SEO specialists perform multilingual keyword analysis. They adapt content and web sites for search engines in different languages and countries. Similar occupations include computational linguist or architect, search quality engineer, and internationalization engineer. A terminologist has expertise in a specialized subject. Localization professionals go beyond translation, selecting the most appropriate images, graphics, colors, music, and themes. Language Scientific seeks interns in multilingual graphic design in addition to localization marketing. Electronic Arts has found that game localization pays off. Its openings include social game localizer, localization testing manager, and social localization specialist. Geosocial networking is a growing field, with mobile users offered incentives for social shopping in their local area. Typical jobs in geolocation include GIS software developers, product engineers, and test engineers.

SPEECH SCIENCE. Speech scientists develop intuitive touch and speech interfaces in various languages for use in mobile devices, applications, and services. Most people have heard of “Siri,” the Apple iPhone voice-activated personal assistant. Nuance has openings such as voice developer and speech output designer to work on entertainment and automobile products.  Ad copy advises consumers to simply tell Dragon TV what you want and it delivers…by name, genre, title. Dragon Drive will initially be available in six languages, provide navigation instructions, and play music selected by users. BBN Technologies, a Raytheon subsidiary, recruits for openings in Speech & Language Technologies: associate scientist, software engineer (speech recognition/NLP/multimedia), and language understanding intern.

ADAPTIVE TECHNOLOGY. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technology helps those who cannot use natural speech to communicate due to hearing problems, autism, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and stroke. Apple’s VoiceOver, a mobile device interface in 36 languages, is user-friendly for those with disabilities. Braille displays and hearing-aid compatible headsets are some of the available features. Computerized gaming therapy can be used for children with autism. The results are moving, as a child says, “I love you mommy,” for the first time. DynaVox Mayer-Johnson hires clinical content developers with backgrounds in speech-language pathology to create applications for those with adults and children with disabilities. Graphic artists create Picture Communication Symbols.

ENDANGERED LANGUAGES. Lise Dobrin, an assistant professor in linguistics at the University of Virginia, has found a new use for her digital archive of Papua New Guinea’s dying Arapesh language. Research she conducted 15 years ago was discovered by Facebook users who wanted to learn their native tongue.  Indigenous language advocates, teachers, and researchers are using mobile devices to promote literacy in countries with limited access to technology. “IT missionaries” now facilitate Bible translation using cell phones in countries that pose a danger to evangelists. In addition to Arabic, Hebrew, and Greek, SIL International employs font designers, who enabled script for an alphabet based on camel branding marks for readers in western Sudan and eastern Chad.

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