Linguimericks, Etc.—Book १९ SpecGram Vol CLXXIII, No 1 Contents From the Archives!—Alien Syntax Trees—The SpecGram Archive Elves™

Away from Animacy Equality in Computational Linguistics

Olga Gerakova
Moscow Institute of Language Function

In June of last year (SpecGram CLXX.2), Oleg Gerakoff published a screedy little rant entitled “Towards Gender Equality in Computational Linguistics”, in which he bleats bitterlyas is the wont of computational linguistsabout the perceived inappropriate inequality between animate and inanimate “partners” in computational linguistic endeavors.

While such grousing is Gerakoff’s apparent right as a supposed human being, there are much more pressing matters to attend to within linguisticscomputational and otherwise.

For example, linguists’ incessant whinging about the fall of French Discontinuous Negatives coupled with the rise of Redundantly Multilingual Pretension Markers in BWFSEDPRCLCEE has the French feeling très énervés and pissed off. Grammatical inflation has led to a rapid devaluation of the largest noun compounds, which has irked the Germans. The recently declared war on NLP from the Γραμματο-Χαοτικον has all of the computational linguists threatening to replace everyone with very small shell scripts. Perhaps worst of all, the excess utilization of ergativity in conlangs has begun to strain the world’s Phonotronic Energy Reserves, which has gotten the knickers of certain Swiss warlords into very unpleasant knots.

But more to the point, one cannot compare the struggle between sex-based genders to the struggle between animacy-based genders. Men and women may have different needs and abilities, but they overlap significantly, and we all recognize the overlap is more important than the differences. Compare that to the many vast differences and minimal similarities between animate and inanimate entities. And really, when was the last time a computer program complained about its treatment? (Eugene Goostman notwithstanding.)

Most importantly, treating computer programs as animate will almost certainly have the opposite of the desired effect if Gerakoff’s true goal is to have computational linguists treated as human beings. (Eugene Goostman notwithstanding.)

To Gerakoff I say, do what you will, but don’t be surprised by your failure if you continue along this path! (Eugene Goostman notwithstanding.)

Linguimericks, Etc.Book १९
From the Archives!Alien Syntax TreesThe SpecGram Archive Elves™
SpecGram Vol CLXXIII, No 1 Contents