Tu and Twitter: End for ‘vous’ in French?

Updated 08 September 2012
0

Tu and Twitter: End for ‘vous’ in French?

LONDON: The informal version of “you” in the French language — “tu” — seems to be taking over on social media, at the expense of the formal “vous,” according to the BBC. As in many countries, online modes of address in French are more relaxed than in face-to-face encounters. But will this have a permanent effect on the French language? Anthony Besson calls most people “vous.”
As a young man, it is a sign of respect to those older than him, and he’s often meeting new people through his work in PR in Paris. Yet this all changes on social media. “I always use ‘tu’ on Twitter,” Besson says. “And not just because it takes up fewer of the 140 characters!” Lots of other French people do exactly the same.
“Tu” is normally for family and friends, but when you’re communicating through @ symbols, joining networks and tweeting under a pseudonym, a formal “vous” can seem out of place, even to someone you’ve never met.
Antonio Casilli, professor of Digital Humanities at Telecom ParisTech engineering school, says the web has been used as a tool for breaking down social barriers from its very beginning, resulting in a distinctively “egalitarian political discourse.”
The pervasive pattern of speech on the Web in the 1990s, he says, was “cyber-utopian California-style libertarian discourse, inherited from 1960s counter-culture.”


Put the toolbox away — new robot assembles IKEA chairs

Updated 19 April 2018
0

Put the toolbox away — new robot assembles IKEA chairs

SINGAPORE: Sick of struggling with incomprehensible instructions and a baffling array of planks and screws? Help is at hand in the form of a new robot that can assemble an IKEA chair in minutes.
The robot, developed by scientists at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, can put together the wooden IKEA chair in just eight minutes and 55 seconds — a swift timing that may give even DIY enthusiasts a run for their money.
The device, consisting of two mechanical arms with grippers, starts the process by taking photos of the parts spread on the floor with a 3D camera, which is supposed to mimic the cluttered environment after flat-pack furniture is unboxed.
Each arm has a similar range of motions to that of a human, while sensors mounted on the wrists monitor how much force is being exerted by mechanical fingers as it picks up tiny parts to expertly put the chair together.
“For a robot, putting together an IKEA chair with such precision is more complex than it looks,” said team leader Pham Quang Cuong, an assistant professor at the university.
“The job of assembly ... has to be broken down into different steps, such as identifying where the different chair parts are, the force required to grip the parts, and making sure the robotic arms move without colliding into each other.”
The team is now looking into further developing the robot so it can learn to construct furniture by copying humans, reading an instruction manual or even just viewing a finished product.
They are also working with the automotive and aircraft manufacturing industry where the robot could be used for such tasks as drilling holes in aircraft.
But those looking for help in assembling more household items from Swedish furniture giant IKEA may be disappointed — for now the unnamed robot can only construct a humble chair.