Google Invincible

German Newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung talked with the bavarian SEO specialist Marcus Tandler from OnPage. Topics lead from the rise and fall of platforms as Yatego and Googles influence on this up to the rise of Google, the fall of Altavista and Tandlers prognosis, that Google seems to be invincible (although he thought the same on Altavista once).

FAZ.NET: Eine Plattform für alles


How Linguists try to Decipher the Monkey Language

Campell Monkey

It was pretty clear that "krak" ist the Campell Monkey term for "Leopard in sight", as scientists determined it by observing them in their home forests of Ivory Coast. Research revealed: The Campell Monkey vocabulary differenciates in this regard between hawks, leopards, and other but minor potential sources of danger. You need to know by here that those monkeys are famous for their advanced communication forms with rudiment syntax. Ok, so the assumption, "krak" means "Leopard" was stable until they found recently Campell Monkeys on Tiwai Island in Sierra Leone, that use the same vocabulary but obviuosly with a different meaning - as there are no leopards on this island. As they failed to get a plausible explanation they with their current approach, they startet to think in more linguistic patterns and to apply linguistic methodology - and finally encountered a solution that seems to be rather promising:

Here’s where it gets tricky: word meanings tend to be contextual. In human language, we choose the most specific term available and, when we don’t, the listener infers that there is a special reason why we opted for a relatively vague word. Simply put, “words compete with each other,” Schlenker says. “And you use the more informative one.”


See the article on the Scientific American: Monkey See, Monkey Speak

Or read the paper by Philippe Schlenker et al.: Monkey semantics: two ‘dialects’ of Campbell’s monkey alarm calls

Image: "Cercopithecus campbelli lowei“ von Badgernet - Eigenes Werk. Lizenziert unter CC BY-SA 3.0 über Wikimedia Commons.

Rilke on Gaga

Lady Gaga (6216738190)

So, let's talk about Lady Gaga. She has a German poem tattooed on her Iggy Pop-side arm (which is the left one) and it goes like this (line break follows tattoo calligraphy):

Prüfen Sie, ob er in der tiefsten Stelle Ihres
Herzens seine Wurzeln ausstreckt, gestehen
Sie sich ein, ob Sie sterben müßten, wenn es Ihnen
versagt würde zu schreiben. Muss ich schreiben?

It is by Austrian poetrist Rainer Maria Rilke and the tattoo-studio Three Tides in Osaka, Japan.

My favorite blog for applicated poetry Doktor Fausti Weheklag und Höllenfahrt posted an article on this tattoo, this poem, this writer and Lady Gaga, German magazine Titanic, Sister Act, mistranslations and some other corresponding topics.

Doktor Fausti Weheklag und Höllenfahrt: Wenn es Ihnen versagt würde to translate

Image by English: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Lions, cats, buffaloes, flies and orang-utans

Natural languaes (and some planned languages as well) bring forth strange flowers from time to time. For example, in many languages there exist sentences that are built of the same word or syllable all over. Let's call it a "repetion play" and take a closer look:


The following is a Chinese poem that tells the story of a poet who is craving for lion flesh while living in a cavern. This is an incredible example of those repetition plays and only possible due to the Chinese distinguishment of word by tone pitch. The following table shows the poem in Traditional Chinese, in Pinyin transliteration and as a translation, on the Wikipedia page you can also hear a native speaker reading it out.












« Shī Shì shí shī shǐ »

Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.

Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī.

Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì.

Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì.

Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì.

Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì.

Shíshì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shíshì.

Shíshì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī.

Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī.

Shì shì shì shì.

« Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den »

In a stone den was a poet called Shi Shi, who was a lion addict, and had resolved to eat ten lions.

He often went to the market to look for lions.

At ten o'clock, ten lions had just arrived at the market.

At that time, Shi had just arrived at the market.

He saw those ten lions, and using his trusty arrows, caused the ten lions to die.

He brought the corpses of the ten lions to the stone den.

The stone den was damp. He asked his servants to wipe it.

After the stone den was wiped, he tried to eat those ten lions.

When he ate, he realized that these ten lions were in fact ten stone lion corpses.

Try to explain this matter.


In contrast, the Japanese example works not due to same syllables with different pitch but with different ways to read the same Kanji . There is a story around this sentence and the scholar Ono no Takamura meeting the emperor Saga Tennō. Here you can see the sentence as a seemingly meaningless repetition of the Kanji, the way to pronounce it correctly next to the way to write it normally as well as the translation.

子子子子子子子子子子子子 neko no ko no koneko, shishi no ko no kojishi (猫の子の子猫、獅子の子の子獅子) The young of cat, kitten, and the young of lion, cub.


My favorite blog on nerdy things io9 came up with this some days ago with the english-centric title The most confusing sentence in the world uses just one word. But I have to admit: It is really confusing. Here, neither graphemes nor sounds are the source of confusion, but classical homonymy, i.e. the same word bears several meanings. This special sentence has its own website hosted by its inventor, linguist William J. Rapaport from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a complete history, many examples and discussions. Here you see the sentence, a (shortened) parse tree visualization of its parts of speech and a "translation" to understand the somewhat constructed meaning.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. Buffalo sentence 1 parse tree.svg Buffalo who live in Buffalo, and who are buffaloed (in a way unique to Buffalo) by other buffalo from Buffalo, themselves buffalo (in the way unique to Buffalo) still other buffalo from Buffalo.


In most cases, German needs a small introduction in order to get a repetition play working, as in "Wenn Fliegen hinter Fliegen fliegen fliegen Fliegen Fliegen nach." which means thas flies flying behind other flies are flying behind other flies. But I have also found an example that comes without other words and makes also use of the homonymy. The content, however, is even weirder than in the English example...

Weichen Weichen weichen Weichen, weichen Weichen weichen Weichen Weichen [V] Weichen [S] weichen [Adj] Weichen [S], weichen [V] Weichen [S] weichen [Adj] Weichen [S]. If switch points avoid soft switch points, than  switch points avoid soft switch points.

I invented such a repetition play by myself. It is based on the nesting of clauses and the use of similar light verbs, so it is a bit different from the others:

Der Mann, der die Aufsicht über den Bau der Brücke, die über den Fluss, der stets kaltes Wasser führte, führte, führte, führte ein aufregendes Leben. [Aufsicht führen], [über einen Fluss führen], [kaltes Wasser führen], [ein aufregendes Leben führen] The man, who leads the construction of the bridge that is going over the river that conducts cold water, has an exciting life.


Ook! is a so called esoteric programming language and is a derivate of another one called (rightly) brainfuck. As programming languages can be understand as planned languages and as Ook! was designed in order to be understood at least by orang-utans I think it is only fair to consider it here. I present an example code to write the famous "Hello World" program next to the basic programming cocepts and the omitted output:

Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook? Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook! Ook! Ook? Ook! Ook? Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook? Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook! Ook! Ook? Ook! Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook? Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook! Ook! Ook? Ook! Ook? Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook? Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook! Ook! Ook? Ook! Ook? Ook. Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook. Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook.
  • Ook. Ook?
    Move the Memory Pointer to the next array cell.
  • Ook? Ook.
    Move the Memory Pointer to the previous array cell.
  • Ook. Ook.
    Increment the array cell pointed at by the Memory Pointer.
  • Ook! Ook!
    Decrement the array cell pointed at by the Memory Pointer.
  • Ook. Ook!
    Read a character from STDIN and put its ASCII value into the cell pointed at by the Memory Pointer.
  • Ook! Ook.
    Print the character with ASCII value equal to the value in the cell pointed at by the Memory Pointer.
  • Ook! Ook?
    Move to the command following the matching Ook? Ook! if the value in the cell pointed at by the Memory Pointer is zero. Note that Ook! Ook? and Ook? Ook! commands nest like pairs of parentheses, and matching pairs are defined in the same way as for parentheses.
  • Ook? Ook!
    Move to the command following the matching Ook! Ook? if the value in the cell pointed at by the Memory Pointer is non-zero.
Hello World

One question remains: Why are so many animals involved in this...?

Image Credits:
"Buffalo sentence 1 parse tree" by Johndburger (SVG by King of Hearts) - w:Image:Buffalo sentence 1 parse tree.png. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


Almost all examples are extracted from Wikipedia and I have placed the respective links in the text before.

Search Technology and Search Business

New Idea Engineering is a California based Enterprise Search Consulting company. Their homepage host an unteresting collection of texts to the business as well as to the technology of search. This includes for example:

  • Search Industrie Overview: The search industry is an ecosystem with a number of different companies and related technologies that together provide complete solutions for intranet and customer-facing content search.
  • Mergers and Acquisition Map: Like many dynamic industries, enterprise search vendors and companies with related technologies have grown not only by sales but also by acquisition and merger.
  • Anatomy of a Search Engine


Turn speech into actionable data as a service

Nice approach: The California-based startup Wit.Ai offers Speech Recognition for any kind of task, from mobile apps to robotics. Instead of creating such components themselves, developers can use the Wit.Ai technology, send them spoken language and get back structured data. If this works out I think it will have a major impact on the number of apps and even household items that understand natural spoken language commands. Nice! makes it easy for developers to build applications and devices that you can talk to. Our vision is to empower developers with an open and extensible natural language platform. learns human language from every interaction, and leverages the community: what’s learned is shared across developers.

via Technology Review: Sprache für das Internet der Dinge

Semantic and Contextual Online Marketing

On Gründerszene, Torge Kahl published an great overview of the targeting methods in online advertising (sorry, only in German). Obviously, I am especially interested in the contextual and semantic targeting techniques. There are some funny (well, depends on the point of view) not so adequate article placements based soley on context...

Diese Targeting-Methoden orientieren sich am Text der Webseite, auf der das Banner ausgeliefert wird. Man unterscheidet zwischen kontextuellem und semantischem Targeting.

Gründerszene: Display Marketing Mit diesen Targeting-Verfahren kommen Eure Werbebanner gut an

German Localization + 1 Extra-Dollar for Thimbleweed Park is a really cool stretch goal

Stretch goals for the localization of Thimbleweed Park

Interesting news regarding the Thimbleweed Kickstarter: Videogame localization legend Boris Schneider-Johne offered via Twitter to localize the brand new classic retro graphic point and click adventure game into German - for free:

Schneider-Johne was responsible for the great localization of the Lucasfilmgames graphic adventures Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island. Schneider-Johne first changed from videogame journalism at the German game magazine Power Play to the localizing site which as a matter of fact did not yet exist at this time.

His first localization was a localized "hack" of the Activision adventure game "Murder on the Mississippi": He used a Hex-Editor to alter the text-assets of the game - and created en passent one of the first german videogame localizations at all.

Well, as you may have seen on the image above: this is the kind, cool and tremendous reaction of the Thimbleweed Makers on Boris' kind, cool and tremendous offer.

Delay causes syncronizity between Neurons and Hipsters

Female hipster with bike by Lorena Cupcake

The Neuroscientist Jonathan Touboul does research on hipster-alike-neurons, i.e. "they fire when every neuron around them is quiet; or they fall silent when every neuron around them is chattering." (I myself was not aware of this definition of hipster and feel quite uncomfortable hip right now, but that will pass.) And he noticed some rather interesting similarities between societies involving hipsters in general and brains involving hipster neurons in particular:

But members of society do not have immediate knowledge of cultural trends. Neither do neurons immediately recognize what other neurons are up to.

So the important term here is: immediate. There is a delay - and due to the delay, there comes syncronizity in the reaction: This is why hipsters look all the same. Read more on the mathematics behind it on io9: A Mathematical Model Explains Why All Hipsters Look The Same. Or, with a broadend focus on entrepreneurs at NoStartupHipsters: What do Neurons, Hipsters and Entrepreneurs have in common?