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.

Author: Lucello

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9 thoughts on “If I would be a linguist, I would speak wery vell…”

  1. Generating grammatical English rules based on text found on the internet is a scary thought… both in the quantity of data and the rules that might be generated.

  2. Sometimes I have arguments with my roommates about whether a certain construction is grammatical, and they throw at me, “but Google found 32,000-some hits for it!”

    One should never argue with a native speaker. But how is one to argue with Google?

  3. First off, the set of native speakers who speak their language without any grammatical error is only a very small subset of all native speakers. Moreover, when talking about a language that doesn’t have an undisputed grammar (like English), even debates between native speakers are fully justified. Just think back to discussions in last semester’s Syntactic Theory for examples.

    I certainly agree with the fact that some things are certainly wrong. However, keep in mind that not everything you think is funny is also wrong.

  4. E.g. gaps as in “I don’t know *what* he’s talking *about*”, singular cases of “they” as in “*Someone* forgot *their* shoes.”, and special cases such as “It’s *me*” vs. “It’s *I*”.

  5. “English is the most popular language solely due to it liberal nature. Almost everything goes, as long as it makes sense. As the non natives far outnumber the natives, this classification between “native” and “non native” is a bit vague…perhaps in need of a better feature selection method ­čśë

    It has been taught to us again and again from various examples through the course of history that majority wins even if its wrong.

    In short, at the end of the day, who decides whats wrong and whats “more” wrong ­čÖé

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