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SCIENCE
June 15, 2012 | By Jon Bardin, Los Angeles Times
In an attempt to replicate the early experiences of infants, researchers in England have created a robot that can learn simple words in minutes just by having a conversation with a person. The work, published this week in the journal PLoS One, offers insight into how babies transition from babbling to speaking their first words. The 3-foot-tall robot, named DeeChee, was built to produce any syllable in the English language. But it knew no words at the outset of the study, speaking only babble phrases.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 1, 1985
In your editorial (March 20) about the Soviet scientist Iosef Shklovskii you neglected to mention the "play on words" in his statement of why he was unable to leave the Soviet Union: "Yes, I was ill. I had diabetes. Too much Sakharov." Sakhar is the Russian word for sugar. MICHAEL J. BAZYLER Los Angeles
MAGAZINE
December 20, 1998
Regarding Joy Horowitz's "A Room With a View" (Nov. 22): I have taped above my desk the words that the author found copied by her father from Gustave Flaubert, along with her own conclusion: "The futility of words in the face of feeling; the longing for more. This is what my father the psychologist understood best. Still, we keep trying, because even as words fail us, the greater failure is in abandoning our hearts." Both should be made available in the Oxford Book of Quotations. I have more hope today because of this story and these two citations.
BOOKS
January 19, 1992
Anyone who gets angry enough to write a letter because she finds three words she's never heard of does not enjoy "learning new words." By throwing the unfamiliar at us, your Book Review is not--to quote Susan Groothuis (Letters, Dec. 29)--using "extraordinary methods to baffle and unsettle us." You are challenging us. I, for one, welcome it. EILEEN FLAXMAN, LOS ANGELES
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 29, 2013 | By Deirdre Edgar
An article in Friday's Times featuring centenarian and frequent letter writer Carleton Ralston caught the eye of reader Trent Sanders of La Canada Flintridge. Sanders is himself, to borrow reporter Gale Holland's phrase, a man of letters. Not only is he a regular correspondent to the Readers' Rep office, but he's had 54 letters to the editor published in The Times since 1985. "My compliments to Mr. Ralston," Sanders emailed. "Letters to the editor are one of the few ways an individual can influence public debate.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 29, 1989
It's unfortunate that the members of Guns N' Roses lack the maturity to deliver their message without having to make every fourth word a foul one. At the recent Coliseum concert, the guitar player served up some incredibly trite lead, but not before proving that, yes indeed, he was a member of GNR: He too has a marvelously varied vocabulary, which also contains only four-letter words--duhh. What a gem. What a sterling example for the kids who came to hear good music. What a jerk.
SCIENCE
April 12, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
Baboons don't read, don't speak and perhaps can't understand language at all. But scientists have found that they can learn to recognize writing on a computer screen, identifying correctly most of the time which combinations of letters are words ("done," "vast") and which are not ("telk," "virt"). The discovery may help explain how reading evolved in humans, researchers said, bolstering a theory that the skill first arose from animals' ability to distinguish objects, rather than from the uniquely human demands of verbal communication.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 25, 1989
In their June 11 letters denouncing "word taboos," Eric Borer and Evan S. Marlowe seem to be saying: Because our society is permeated with vulgarity, violence and crime and because "we have as much to fear from ribaldry as from dirty laundry," let us be rid of all taboos. If I understand their message, vice should not be taught as evil, because it is part of our society. This kind of mentality led to the downfall of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. RICHARD D. SWIFT Rancho Cucamonga
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