114: Computational Linguists

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Computational Linguists
Chomskyists, generative linguists, and Ryan North, your days are numbered.
Title text: Chomskyists, generative linguists, and Ryan North, your days are numbered.

[edit] Explanation

Here Black Hat is criticising computational linguistics, which overlaps between various field like theoretical linguistics, artificial intelligence, etc. 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 joke in the comic is that Black Hat, instead of trying to poke fun at angsty emo kids, decides to poke fun at computational linguists for their attempts to model natural languages on computers using the various contradictory theories that are floating around nowadays. He may be associating the two groups, suggesting that their cries of "[their] fields being so ill-defined..." has similarities to emos constantly crying about how "people don't understand them, really" (or he may just be taking a swipe at people who think themselves above normal scientific methods).

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. He also teased Randall in the title text of this comic.

[edit] Transcript

[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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Why Ryan North? 21:49, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

First of all, Ryan North happened to specialize in computational linguistics in his masters degree. He was mentioned because he was a computational linguist. On a side note, Ryan North's father was called Randall (though he was not the Randall whose comics this wiki explains).

This may have somehow influenced Ryan's name appearing on this list.--Commarchinin (talk) 12:44, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

It may also be a joke on Ryan's webcomic name: "Dinosaur Comics" 09:52, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Don't particle physicists have the same issue: string theorists, Bohmians, Many-worldsians, Copenhagen-interpretians, all-possible-pathians, etc.? Djbrasier (talk) 02:55, 1 March 2017 (UTC)

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