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TorgoX (1933)


"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Sunday January 13, 2002
01:34 PM

Linguistics is like Unix

[ #2091 ]
Dear Log,

Linguistics is like Unix:

In Unix/linguistics, there's a great big toolbox of programs/terms -- "bc", "grep", "cut" ; "ergative", "subject", "thematic role". Nobody knows the whole toolbox. What most people do know, they learned just by assimilation. People often don't like you if you go using tools they don't know.

Everyone wants to reform the toolbox to make it more "regular". No-one agrees on how.

If you invent something that becomes part of the toolbox, you become famous for it -- probably more famous for that than for anything else you'll ever do.

Some people (Formalists) think the documentation (the grammar) dictates the implementation (the parser/generator). They are opposed by others (Functionalists) who think the implementation dictates the documentation. In either case, the man pages are unreadable, or at least surprisingly inscrutible.

See, I told you linguistics is like Unix.

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