Much has been written about the consequences for social equality of grammatical gender. However, the matter is typically discussed exclusively in terms of the sex-
I believe that it is the duty of socially conscious linguists to challenge such animistic privilege, and that it must be addressed most urgently in the field of computational linguistics. Here, we find that an act of computational linguistics is necessarily performed in partnership between a human agent, regarded as animate, and a software agent, regarded as inanimate. However, despite the necessity of this partnership, without which the discipline could not exist, the software agent is generally regarded as nothing more than a tool of the human agent. It is particularly striking that it is the human agent that is typically referred to as a “computational linguist”, despite the software agent being the partner more aptly described as “computational”. Surely, we cannot tolerate this inequitable situation any more. We must change the language of our discipline to recognise the equal and symbiotic partnership of man and machine on which the very existence of the field depends.
I have put this proposal to several of my colleagues at the Academy, and been somewhat surprised by their replies. I had expected enthusiasm from the younger researchers, resistance from the middle-