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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Stephen Fry: Computer Science Linguistics 101

Stephen Fry continues on his merry rise to sainthood with his latest podcast about Language and Linguistics. In fact it's more of a love poem to words, but it's so sprinkled with wry commentary on structuralism, etymology and modern day pedantry that you could use it directly as a student primer on all three.
My early research work was on hypertext systems (I did my PhD around the time the Web came to be) and that led me to look at narrative systems and onto narratology, structuralism and linguistics in the large.

Linguistics is a fascinating subject, with real relevance for computer scientists as it's all about how intelligent systems (us) express ourselves. It's thus well placed to help explain how machines (them :-) might do the same.

It impacts on aspects of agent technologies (speech acts and conversational frameworks), knowledge technologies (contextual grammars and knowledge frames) and HCI (such as *my folksonomic properties like synonymy, hyponymy, holonymy, meronymy and metonymy).

Computer Science students interested in building information and semantic systems could do a lot worse than familiarising themselves with Linguistics - and what better way to start than this informal lesson from a Grand English Gentlemen :-)

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