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I am delighted to support the fund drive for the LINGUIST List in the year of its 30th anniversary. Like so many of my colleagues I have relied on the services of the LINGUIST List throughout the years, and this gives me a wonderful opportunity to share some glimpses from my career as a computational linguist as well as some reflections on the development of the field during these three decades.
When the LINGUIST List was started in 1990, I was a PhD student in general linguistics at the University of Gothenburg, trying to complete a thesis on situation semantics (a framework of formal semantics that has since faded into oblivion) and mostly ignorant of the computational side of linguistics that later became the focus of my career. The 1990s was the decade when computational linguistics was transformed by the so-called statistical revolution, which meant a methodological shift from carefully hand-crafted rule-based systems that delivered a deep linguistic analysis but were often lacking in coverage and robustness to statistical models trained on corpus data going for breadth instead of depth.
The statistical turn in computational linguistics is also...
One of the most important emerging topics in language science and linguistics is only adjacent to the field, a consequence of its existence more than a part of its own domain: public outreach and education.
Linguistics is becoming increasingly important to the public and the interests of those otherwise uninvolved. As we continue to develop new ways to interact with technology using natural language, as we continue to challenge the ideas of what language ought to be like, and as we continue to see more modern examples of language contact and change alongside globalization and new avenues of communication, good outreach will cement itself as a primary objective for linguists. Language should be studied for its own sake, of course, and not all future research need concern itself with social issues or the public eye. Yet it will be increasingly difficult to separate this aspect from the field itself. Linguistics can and should ...
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