Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tweeting Kluges

The Twitter hashtag #linguistics is ablaze with links to this Scientific American article about Gary Marcus' claim that language is far from "optimal." It's a pretty short and simple article, not much meat, but it has a lot of links (maybe too many?).  Money quote:

Visual abilities have been developing in animal predecessors for hundreds of millions of years. Language, on the other hand, has had only a few hundred thousand years to eke out a place in our primate brain, he noted. What our species has come up with is a "kluge," Marcus said, a term he borrows from engineering that means a solution that is "clumsy and inelegant, but it gets the job done." 

3 comments:

arnie said...

I've never come across that spelling before. I would spell it kludge myself, although I see a couple of dictionaries seem to allow kluge as a variant.

Chris said...

arnie, interesting point, especially since Marcus wrote a book with "kluge" in the title (and written really large across the front page). Wiki has both, though they prefer your spelling as well. Not sure why Marcus went with the shorter spelling.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kludge

Faldone said...

Thank you for spelling it kluge. I remember that spelling back in the '70s and cannot shake the idea that kludge rhymes with fudge.

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