If I would be a linguist, I would speak wery vell…

I talked to my parents the other evening for the first time in many months. They again had to ask me twenty questions to try and understand what it is I am studying. My poor little parents. When people ask them what their eldest daughter is up to, they reply, “Oh, she is off in Germany doing a masters program in… uh… language.” Those people then smile to themselves, picturing yet another liberal arts female throwing away money on a frou-frou humanities degree.

So how is one to explain to one’s mother support vector machines or linear regression or kernel methods or how one would shatter data in the most efficient way possible?

My mom was trying to convince me that the term ‘algorithm’ had become a buzz word in California, attributable no doubt to Ask.com’s ridiculous advertising campaign to get one up on Google. I thought I would mention some of the buzz words cropping up in my little circle. Most of these are due to the fact that non-native English speakers have a tendency to pronounce words in a deliciously amusing way.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Algorithm => Al-gore-ithm
  • The unique solution => The eunuch solution
  • Vague and available => wake and awailable

And of course, the worst mistake of all which most every German makes and is the title of this post, wherein the conditional is put in the if-clause… I am not helping things by writing that in a post. Because by validating that expression in text on the internet, I am making my future work that much more difficult. After all, everyone knows that ‘the the the’ is ungrammatical. However, I just now wrote it. And if I wanted to generate grammatical English rules on the fly by parsing huge amounts of text on the internet… well, I can see that my work is cut out for me.