Tag Archives: language

Automatic Detection of the Language of a Tweet

Two days ago, in my post to extract automatically my own tweets, and to generate some html list, I mentioned that it would be great if there were a function that could be used to distinguish tweets in English, and tweets in French (usually, I tweet in one of those two languages). And one more time, @3wen came to rescue me! In my previous post, I spent some time to extract mentions to other twitter accounts, and urls. This time, I have to remove those two informations, that are not relevant to get the language of a tweet.

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Inglés ? Französisch ?

When I started to blog, I found it “natural” to blog in French. Not “natural” in the way Dominique Bouhours sees it: according to Bouhours, only the French language exactly reflects the natural way of thinking

La langue française est peut-être la seule qui suive exactement l’ordre naturel, et qui exprime les pensées en la manière qu’elles naissent dans l’esprit

as he wrote it). “Natural” in the sense that French is my mother language. And perhaps also because, as a French, I did not really see the interest of using another language… Yes, somehow, I still feel that we (French people) believe that Antoine de Rivarol was right when he said, in his Discours sur l’universalité de la langue française that French is innately superior to other languages: French has an element of probity attached to its genius, it is not the language of the French, it is the language of humanity

Dégagée de tous les protocoles que la bassesse invente pour la vanité et le pouvoir, elle en est plus faite pour la conversation, lien des hommes et charme de tous les âges, et puisqu’il faut le dire, elle est de toutes les langues la seule qui ait une probité attachée à son génie. Sûre, sociale, raisonnable, ce n’est plus la langue française, c’est la langue humaine

But I might be exaggerating here: if I can express more subtle things in French, it simply means that my English is too poor. I mean, in my work as a professor and a researcher, I do use English on a daily basis (reading textbooks, discussing with colleagues, or co-autors, writing research papers, etc). But blogging is just for fun… so at first, I started to blog in French.

Then, while I was giving a short course in Brazil, I understood that some students there actually did go to my blog. They were using online translation – which translated quite poorly by that time – and some asked me if I could write more posts in English. I did have also a request from Tal, the editor of http://r-bloggers.com/ who asked me to share my posts that contain R codes with the R community (i.e. non French-speaking people). So I decided to write more and more posts in English. Except perhaps posts related to my undergraduate courses.

I thought about all that recently because, while I was in Europe last week, some colleagues in Amsterdam mentioned my blog, claiming that there were (still) too many posts in French. While on the other hand, some French colleagues still ask me why I do not write only in French.

Somehow, I still find it more comfortable to write in French, especially on French related issues (e.g. politics and pools, or university related debates). But I still like the idea that my post may be interesting for students in Brazil, actuaries in the U.K. or researchers in Norway… So I guess I will try to write more posts in English. Which is not that complicated actually, since, as a French academician (or George Bernard Shaw, the source is not clear) once put it “English is a language that is relatively easy to speak poorly“. So, let’s do it….