Saturday, October 17, 2009

Judge This!

(screen shot from NBC's Community)

I'm not normally a spelling fanatic, mainly because I'm such a horrible speller myself. However, I'm also not a set designer for a major network sitcom production. Unlike the person who designed the backdrop for the recent episode of NBC's Community which featured a gigantic sign reading "JUDGES BOOTH." I'm reasonably certain that the booth in question is possessed by the judges in question, rendering the preferred orthography as "JUDGES' BOOTH" (same in MLA and APA, see Purdue's excellent OWL site for MLA and for APA):

add ' to the end of plural nouns that end in -s:
--- houses' roofs

--- three friends' letters


See for yourself: Community, Season 1 : Ep. 5 "Advanced Criminal Law", 9:26 minute mark (on Hulu)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I guess I'm a few months behind the curve on this one, but I just watched the Google Wave demo about the new social media/collaboration tool and I'm seriously impressed. They said it should go live in 2009, so maybe by Christmas? Pretty please...

In any case, when the video first started, the guy said something that caught my ear. He mentioned that traditional email is built around the snail mail model where a message is an object that goes from a sender to a receiver. But, Google Wave discards that model in favor of a model of a "conversational" where the conversation as a whole is a single object which simply gets updated in a single place, not sent around (like a chat session).

This struck me as linguistically interesting because this is more in line with traditional conversation analysis theory which centers around "the floor" where one can "hold the floor", or "interrupt the floor", etc. This more natural model of conversations has yielded a beautiful and elegant collaboration tool that I can't wait to get my hands on. Hopefully Google's model of conversations is more coherent than the ragtag sloppiness that pervaded the linguistic analysis of conversations. It's a tough field, no doubt.

Also, near the end, the speaker made what I took to be a geek version of a linguistic relativity claim: he said the it was only the Google Web Toolkit (HTML 5 & Java) that allowed him to think of Wave's possibilities that he never would have thought of otherwise. I'm not sure this is really true, of course, but a cute thought nonetheless.

NLPers: How would you characterize your linguistics background?

That was the poll question my hero Professor Emily Bender posed on Twitter March 30th. 573 tweets later, a truly epic thread had been cre...