People across the world love Twitter. But the Twitter experience isn't quite the same in English, Spanish, Arabic, or Japanese.
English-speaking Twitter users are used to being able to say a certain amount in a 140-character limit. Since the beginning of Twitter, that 140-character limit has gotten others on Twitter a different amount to say—usually more—depending on the language they're speaking.
That's one reason Twitter decided to test doubling its character limit from 140 to 280 characters for some users.
"In languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French," Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen and senior software engineer Ikuhiro Ihara wrote in a blog post announcing the test. "We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we're doing something new: we're going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming."
It's not quite as simple as languages with character-based writing systems fitting more in a tweet than languages with alphabets.
Within languages that use alphabets, some have longer words than others. Think about German, with its crazy-long words.
In languages with larger sets of sounds, words tend to be shorter, according to University of California, Berkeley linguistics professor Peter Jenks. In languages with fewer sounds to draw on—which isn't a sign of a language's complexity—words tend to be longer. Hawaiian, Swahili, and Bantu languages are a few that rely on longer words based on fewer sounds, Jenks said.
"If you're a speaker in a language that has longer words, there's no way the same number of characters is going to convey the same amount of information," said Jenks, a syntactician who specializes in East Asian, Southeast Asian, and African languages.
Some languages, too, are a better written match to the sounds they represent. French, with all its extra vowels, takes a lot more characters to communicate a single sound. English, too, has this problem. Think about a word like "through" which takes four characters at the end just to make one vowel sound.
Spanish, on the other hand, is a closer match for each character or few characters to communicate a single sound.
Chinese languages, where a single character represents an entire word, are the most efficient in writing, and definitely don't run into the cramming problem as much as English or French. Korean uses symbols to represent different syllables—so it doesn't take up as much space as writing in English, but isn't quite as efficient as Mandarin.
Languages with non-Roman alphabets, like Arabic, Thai, or Farsi, generally run into the same space issues as a language with the Roman alphabet would.
In its blog post, Twitter focused on the comparison between English and Japanese. Only 0.4 percent of tweets sent in Japanese used all 140 characters, but 9 percent of tweets sent in English did. Twitter also found that most Japanese tweets used 15 characters, while most English tweets used 34. Twitter isn't testing its 280-character limit for users who tweet in Japanese, Korean, or Chinese.
As an editor at BuzzFeed Japan pointed out, longer tweets have been around for Japanese-speaking users for a while.
Double the characters will give English-speakers—and speakers of most other languages, to varying degrees—a similar Twitter experience.
Throughout this course, you will build a portfolio of written tasks. There are two types of written tasks, known as written task 1 (WT1) and written task 2 (WT2). These are very different in nature.
Written task 1 is an 'imaginative piece' in which you demonstrate your understanding of the course work and a type of text. For example you could write a letter from one character to another character from a novel that you have read for Part 3 or 4. Or you could write a journalistic review of a speech that was studied in Part 1 or 2. Because the possibilities are endless, it is easy to write irrelevant work. Therefore it is important that you look at several samples and several tips for guidance on the written task 1.
Written task 2 pertains to HL students only. It is a critical response to a text or texts, written in light of one of six prescribed questions from the IB Language A: Language and Literature guide. These questions can be answered using texts from all parts of the syllabus.
Remember: An essay is not an acceptable type of text for the written task 1. Students are encouraged to step into someone's shoes, explore a different role and practice writing different types of texts. The Paper 2 and the written task 2 provide opportunities for students to practice essay writing.
* At SL students must have written at least three written tasks 1s. One must be on Parts 1 and 2, one must be on Parts 3 and 4, and the other can be on any part. Again this is a minimum requirement.
* One of the two tasks submitted at HL is a written task 1 and the other is a written task 2, meaning that HL students submit either 'possibility 1' or 'possibility 2' from the table below.
|HL only||Parts 1 & 2||Parts 3 & 4|
|Possibility 1||written task 1||written task 2|
|Possibility 2||written task 2||written task 1|