Friday, February 05, 2010

Language Log - The annihilation of computational linguistics at KCL

Language Log - The annihilation of computational linguistics at KCL: "But why target linguists? Of course linguists are by no means the sole target of the various restructuring exercises. In the sciences at King's the entire division of Engineering was shut, whereas a host of other disciplines have been targeted in the humanities (including Classics, Paleography, and American Studies). Linguists at KCL are scattered across a number of depts, so are an easy target for slogans like `only units with critical mass will be retained.' There had been discussions several years back about forming a linguistics department from the dozen or so linguists spread across CS, Philosophy, Greek, German, Education etc, but the administration decided against it.

Still, it's probably true that the marginal position of the field (neither hardcore humanities, nor hardcore science, nor hardcore engineering) and the widespread lack of awareness of what linguists do or why is an important contributing factor. Mark Liberman has, with some justification, been castigating linguists for their part in this over the pages of this blog. How critical this problem is is illustrated by the current crisis, though alleviating it is of course a long term project."

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