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SBE 2020: Submission Detail

ID Number: 286
Title: On the role of linguistics in the future of SBE in NSF
Lead Author: Smolensky, Paul
Abstract: How do people effortlessly and efficiently understand what they read and hear, and how do they produce, at an amazing rate, complex speech streams understandable by others? How are these remarkable abilities acquired by learners, especially young children? Research on these questions has produced tremendous progress, but the more we learn about the complexity of language, the further we seem to be from understanding how ordinary people can have such a remarkable command of it, well beyond that of our best computer systems. Progress in an information-based economy is severely constrained by our computers inability to automatically understand the immense quantities of information in the form of human language. Language is studied from many methodological perspectives. But there will always remain a central place for the discipline of linguistics, which makes crucial contributions that are entirely distinct from other disciplines, contributions deriving from a unique perspective emphasizing cross-linguistic variation and general principles of grammar. Steadily increasing support for the increasingly interdisciplinary range of work done by linguists will accelerate the current progress in understanding human language, with many consequent benefits for language technology and language instruction in the multilingual information age.
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