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Will You Learn ROILA, the Robot Language, to Befriend Your Robot Overlords?

roila logoResearchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have been developing a new language that they hope will be easy for both robots and humans to learn. ROILA (Robot Interaction Language) was designed because modern speech-recognition software -- as anyone who has tried to use Voice Control on the iPhone or similar software -- is not refined enough to understand the nuances of most human languages, such as irregular verb tenses and contextual deviations in meaning.

The Eindhoven team utilized algorithms to generate ROILA's roughly 850-word vocabulary, which includes grammar staples like verbs, adverbs, adjectives, nouns and pronouns (I, you, he and she). Built from phonemes (linguists and 'Twin Peaks' fans should be intimately familiar with those basic units of sound) that are shared among major languages, ROILA sounds like Dutch, English and African lexica met in some kind of Esperanto-esque mashup. Example: Biwu wekepo buse kulil bubas? (What color is the museum?)

Instead of grammatical irregularities or declined verbs, ROILA utilizes word markers to indicate a verb's tense. (Another example: Pito fosit bubas [I am walking to the house]; Pito fosit jifi bubas [I walked to the house]; Pito fosit jifo bubas [I will walk to the house]) Interestingly, the only gender that ROILA recognizes is for he/she pronouns.

Of course, the greater question is whether robots need their own language at all, and whether humans would be inclined to learn it in addition to their native one. At least for English speakers, the phrase "Pito leto fosit webufo buno besati" ("I can go left or right") contains more than twice the syllables than its English translation. PopSci points out that ROILA's vocabulary includes some war-like words ("attack," "army," "destruction" and "gun") that we hope were added for the benefit of gamers and not the coming Robot Apocalypse. (It's also somewhat telling that the ROILA word for "love" is "loki" -- the Norse god of mischief.) It's a bit sad that we keep inventing languages, like Klingon and Na'vi (which have more speakers than ROILA, we'd wager), while many of the world's isolated dialects keep dying out. [From: PopSci]

Tags: EindhovenUniversityOfTechnology, Esperanto, grammar, invented language, InventedLanguage, language, linguistics, robot interaction language, robot language, RobotInteractionLanguage, RobotLanguage, robots, roila, top