114: Computational Linguists
Title text: Chomskyists, generative linguists, and Ryan North, your days are numbered.
Black Hat has become bored with attacking Emo kids, a cultural and, particularly, musical phenomenon characterised by introversion and angst. This has become a common target of mockery for its tendency to claim that 'no-one understands me', when in fact such feelings are common amongst teenagers, which is probably why he now feels that they are too easy a target for him.
Instead, Black Hat has chosen to attack computational linguistics, an interdisciplinary field which combines theoretical linguistics, artificial intelligence, statistics, and other areas of study, to attempt to create a rule-based model of language. This has given rise to a number of competing theories, some of which may appear to contradict each other. He may be associating the two groups, suggesting that computational linguists are constantly bemoaning that their 'field is so ill-defined', and that this has similarities to the emos' refrain above, or he may just be taking a swipe at them by suggesting that they think themselves above normal scientific methods.
Linguistics itself is still a hotly debated subject, as is seen by the various conflicting theories on the origin of languages like the forms of Proto-Indo-European language.
The title text is a reference to some of the people who contributed to language theory:
- Noam Chomsky is an influential American psychologist and linguist who, based on cross-cultural studies, proposed a still-disputed theory that the human brain is unique from that of other species in that it includes a fundamental Language Acquisition Device (LAD) that is pre-programmed with basic rules of grammar and syntax: thus, language is innate to humans.
- Generative linguistics is a term within linguistics that is used in several ways, some of which are contradictory. This may be why it is chosen as a target by Black Hat.
- Ryan North is the author of the webcomic Dinosaur Comics, and has a degree in computational linguistics.
- [Black Hat is standing next to a large badge which says FUCK Computational Linguistics]
- Black Hat: And the dumbest thing about emo kids is that... I... You know, I'm sick of easy targets. Anyone can make fun of emo kids. You know who's had it too easy? Computational Linguists. "Ooh, look at me! My field is so ill-defined, I can subscribe to any of dozens of contradictory models and still be taken seriously!"
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