tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post5444394689769721802..comments2017-03-27T14:13:54.660-04:00Comments on The Lousy Linguist: Why Linguists Should Study MathChrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09558846279006287148noreply@blogger.comBlogger26125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-52376317643037501642016-11-22T15:39:55.118-05:002016-11-22T15:39:55.118-05:00Dear Chris:
I'm currently doing a course in T...Dear Chris:<br /><br />I'm currently doing a course in Theoretical Linguistics, and one of its pillars is Formal Semantics. I also study Statistical Methods, but here the answer is self-evident: you won't get anywhere without a solid foundation in statistics. My question, therefore, concerns Formal Semantics: Noab Winter in his 'Elements of Formal Semantics' makes it clear that the proper understanding of his textbook is virtually impossible without at least elementary knowledge of the naive set theory. I've found a classic introduction to this in 'Naive Set Theory' by Paul R. Halmos, but I believe there are other, more general, introductory texts in maths that are worth taking a look at. If so, could you please advise on a couple of such texts with the linguists' needs in mind?<br /><br />Respectfully yours,<br />DmytroAnonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-44897275361584471652016-07-09T15:02:53.256-04:002016-07-09T15:02:53.256-04:00Thank you, Thank you, Thank you so much sir. :DThank you, Thank you, Thank you so much sir. :DMayukhnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-28012323359798435562016-07-07T09:56:33.013-04:002016-07-07T09:56:33.013-04:00Mayukh,
Statistics, statistics, statistics. Maybe...Mayukh,<br /><br />Statistics, statistics, statistics. Maybe a little linear algebra to understand word vectors. But mostly statistics. Chrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09558846279006287148noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-56156341259961894532016-07-07T09:16:42.822-04:002016-07-07T09:16:42.822-04:00Sir, I'm a student of language aspiring to be ...Sir, I'm a student of language aspiring to be a linguist and preparing myself to get into some of the best universities in my country. It would be very appreciated if you can tell me what portions of math I need to concentrate on. Mayukhnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-15692104629784944772016-01-10T09:40:33.913-05:002016-01-10T09:40:33.913-05:00Faction,
If you goal is to teach a specific langu...Faction,<br /><br />If you goal is to teach a specific language to second language learners, my guess is no, you probably don't need math. Not my field though.Chrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09558846279006287148noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-38037185911793165292016-01-10T01:37:34.841-05:002016-01-10T01:37:34.841-05:00Chris, I'm just starting undergrad in linguist...Chris, I'm just starting undergrad in linguistics with a view to taking applied linguistics (by coursework, not research) once I'm done. Interested in language teaching.<br /><br />Would you say mathematics is as necessary for me as it would be for someone looking to become an academic?Factionhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03119424070908341661noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-48580096033848860612013-10-12T17:10:32.709-04:002013-10-12T17:10:32.709-04:00hi , good site i've found
i have a question an...hi , good site i've found<br />i have a question and i wud be thankful to u if u send the answer on my email .<br />what mathematical & also computational modules i have to be skillful in , so that i can study computational linguistics ?<br />thank so much<br />ohlife538@gmail.com<br />SALMANarman armanihttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15987623601605549436noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-17544821401649029242013-03-20T21:23:13.295-04:002013-03-20T21:23:13.295-04:00Micha, also consider this. ESL/EFL & Pragmatic...Micha, also consider this. ESL/EFL & Pragmatics are wide open areas for newcomers to make their mark with bold ideas. The stats people don't get that stuff at all. They'd be a eager ear for someone with some raw ideas about how to use math to help the fields. You don't have to be a math guru, but once you understand the basics of modeling, you could generate a lot of raw ideas that the hard core stats folks would never have thought of. I recommend walking through the Coursera course "Model Thinking". It's an intro to the basic ideas of using models to understand data. Not particularly language oriented, but a lot of good ideas.Chrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09558846279006287148noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-23581547448115984412013-03-20T09:43:27.477-04:002013-03-20T09:43:27.477-04:00Well, that's pretty disheartening. On the brig...Well, that's pretty disheartening. On the bright side it means that since I have to dust off my stats book anyway I might as well go after the fun stuff.Micha Boettigerhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08210232551153304794noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-89652557023503389602013-03-19T21:24:14.996-04:002013-03-19T21:24:14.996-04:00Micha, it's a fair point that the "softer...Micha, it's a fair point that the "softer" branches (..."gentler arts"?) are not yet as subsumed by mathematical modelling. ESF/EFL is often concerned with teaching methods (nothing wrong with that), but second language acquisition is now full on immersed in mathematical models of learning (take a look at this http://www2.hawaii.edu/~lucao/papers/Onnis.RoleofSLinSLA.final.pdf ).<br /><br />Pragmatics is also well under way in immersion too. Check out this doosy: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:tdxzB1T-LgcJ:www.stanford.edu/~ngoodman/papers/KnowledgeImplicature-v2.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESiGIn6AVW9KiXi1Fg_DSjqpjF8uJB9t_GwTPcWy8pyTx7kF_QojdvMBNULJhiEbIpp_NKqRslIv509eyWKqcxU0SxZfjg3ZOl5mgXzcfMAq-PyrZnIitgad3TP1tNNz1OqAXgiJ&sig=AHIEtbTpiTa_PImupFCGFYxbe7U8wnv1Zg <br /><br />I do not mean to suggest that everyone interested in language and linguistics should drink the kool-aid of stats and mathematical modelling. But you ignore it at your own peril.Chrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09558846279006287148noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-48653933210152198692013-03-19T11:46:04.938-04:002013-03-19T11:46:04.938-04:00Cool, so I see your point as far as computational ...Cool, so I see your point as far as computational linguistics and corpus related work, but is math the future of softer branches of linguistics like EFL/ESL which is home to most of the world's small time linguists as well? Or language documentation, or where we hit the social sciences with pragmatics?Micha Boettigerhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08210232551153304794noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-73104435529231232172013-02-02T10:50:58.092-05:002013-02-02T10:50:58.092-05:00@gerat, yes, I can see that. Algebra is just good ...@gerat, yes, I can see that. Algebra is just good logic training.Chrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09558846279006287148noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-75101930425939633122013-01-31T20:44:10.750-05:002013-01-31T20:44:10.750-05:00I am mainly a syntactician, and I think studying a...I am mainly a syntactician, and I think studying algebra is possibly one of the most important things I have every done in thinking about linguistics. And NOT in the sense of a statistical model, an NLP construction, or some sort of vague `evaluation metric'. <b>Any</b> relation, rule, logical statement, feature-targeting, recursive set operation, structural representation, transformation, abstraction about a principle, etc. is necessarily a statement about and implicitly relying on algebra.00000gerathttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16684234092644159838noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-34642472194665275592012-08-05T15:10:29.623-04:002012-08-05T15:10:29.623-04:00Linguistic science necessarily involves maths, whe...Linguistic science necessarily involves maths, whether we like it or not. I would suggest that there are two distinct areas where linguistics research becomes reliant on maths:<br /><br />1) deductive <b>logical inference and mathematical modelling</b> (see for instance, <a href="http://singularcontiguity.wordpress.com/" rel="nofollow">A singular contiguity</a>) and<br /><br />2) inductive <b>statistical evaluation</b> of hypotheses, models, etc., against data (see for instance, <a href="http://corplingstats.wordpress.com/" rel="nofollow">corp.ling.stats</a>).<br /><br />Even if you don't think of your research as 'mathematical', deductive and inductive implications arise. Think about the simple act of citing a particular construction in a paper. You have to consider:<br /><br />1) the logical justification for choosing <i>this</i> utterance rather than another (which you will no doubt go on to discuss in general terms in the paper), and <br /><br />2) some degree of statistical representativeness (or otherwise) of your choice.<br /><br />Linguists should therefore really study some mathematics! <br /><br />I thoroughly appreciate that many students who come to linguistics from a non-scientific background can find this prospect intimidating. But formal logic and set theory are a must. If you are to test hypotheses against data then you need to study an introduction to experimental design and statistics. You need to know, prosaically, that what you think you can conclude from your data is logically sound and statistically robust.<br /><br />However, I think the problem is more significant than "students who do not study maths will be at a disadvantage when working in linguistics".<br /><br />I would argue that the challenge for linguists in statistical analysis are frequently more taxing than those presented in, say, medical research. Many medical researchers outsource their analysis to professional statisticians (indeed in Britain, drug trials <i>must</i> now be carried out through approved centres). Everyone uses standard protocols, the design of the experiment belongs to a standard set and the statistical analysis processes are routine.<br /><br />Again, in physics, no-one seriously disputes what are termed the 'auxiliary assumptions' of experiments (unless they obtain surprising results, such as "cold fusion"). Auxiliary assumptions are all those we take as being axiomatic for the purposes of any experiment. The success of the physical sciences rests on the robust reliability of observed laws and laboratory equipment based on these laws. Experiments can rely on solid foundations, and results can have an unambiguous interpretation.<br /><br /><i>Without labouring the point, linguistics is in neither of these situations!</i> Linguistic data, whether obtained in the lab or extracted from a corpus, is necessarily an indirect expression of underlying generative processes (and as we know, linguists do not agree as to what these are or even what their primitives might be). Lab experiments cannot penetrate these generative processes or easily constrain output. We look through a mirror, darkly.<br /><br />As I comment on my blog <a href="http://corplingstats.wordpress.com/" rel="nofollow">corp.ling.stats</a>, I would suggest that there are challenges for linguists to try to come to terms with statistics, but also for statisticians to focus on some difficult linguistic problems. We need to talk to each other.corplingstatshttp://corplingstats.wordpress.com/noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-87952670743917951642011-01-26T17:22:23.213-05:002011-01-26T17:22:23.213-05:00techczech, yes you make some fair points. There ar...techczech, yes you make some fair points. There are limits to the role math can play in any scholarly field. nonetheless, I still think any 24 year old entering a PhD program today would be putting themselves in a serious career hole if they didn't make some attempt at math competency.Chrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09558846279006287148noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-83636863011740362952011-01-26T09:25:52.914-05:002011-01-26T09:25:52.914-05:00I don't disagree with the sentiment but I must...I don't disagree with the sentiment but I must take strong exception to this statement: "mathematical models are fast becoming the best way to understand complex phenomenon"<br /><br />1. Mathematical models do not equate understanding; they are what they are i.e. models - mathematical nets cast over the ocean of language to catch mathematically-catchable phenomena. On their own, they do nothing. For instance what does Zipf's law tell us about language? Nothing. Nevertheless, it is a very good model of certain property of written texts. What has tree-representation syntactic structure told us about language? Not a single thing (unless you're a Chomskean). However, it is extremely useful for modelling certain aspects of syntax. Hidden Markov models proved the best way to simulate speech recognition. Yet, they do not help us understand how we recognize fluent speech in the least. They model certain properties of speech to make them computable.<br /><br />Mathematical models never describe (let alone understand) reality. They only model its computable aspects. Sure, they have been very successful in many practical (spectacular) respects. But they have failed just as often - NLP being the prime example.<br /><br />2. It is true that certain phenomena (such as word frequencies, results of experiments, probabilities, etc.) can only be approached through mathematical models. But these models tend to serve as metaphors for non-mathematical understanding and do not represent actual understanding. Your example in a later post about the mystery of the real impact of word frequencies is a case in point.techczechhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03071876778771965740noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-42391048613171579852010-09-02T14:43:44.074-04:002010-09-02T14:43:44.074-04:00Great. Here I was deciding what branch of Linguist...Great. Here I was deciding what branch of Linguistics to specialize in and I find this article. I'm severely dyscalculic!WONDER_Ahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14492553692189184766noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-62503243335322472232010-03-15T08:11:14.006-04:002010-03-15T08:11:14.006-04:00just stumbled into your site:
do see "The Gri...just stumbled into your site:<br />do see "The Grid of Languagee: A Deep Structure Surfaces in Tagalog" by Luis Umali Stuart at LingBuzz (ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/000996).<br />i'd be happy to hear what you and your readers think. <br />LUSsaturhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13864155120031805101noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-34737858308160331862010-02-05T21:13:37.219-05:002010-02-05T21:13:37.219-05:00steve, yes, I probably could have just used "...steve, yes, I probably could have just used "stats" and been safe. That's mostly what linguists need as a research tool (true for Mankiw's post as well). I used "math" simply because it's a term more people are going to relate to.Chrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09558846279006287148noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-80106115358709529502010-02-05T20:58:00.951-05:002010-02-05T20:58:00.951-05:00*"I'm sure objections can be raised."...*"I'm sure objections can be raised."<br /><br />as a mathematician, i'd have to agree.stevehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03414011093442846802noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-65778500555748326392010-02-02T20:45:23.403-05:002010-02-02T20:45:23.403-05:00Stan, well said. Specialization can lead to re-inv...Stan, well said. Specialization can lead to re-inventing the wheel (as a square, usually) as well as general tunnel-vision. I'm a fan of multi-disciplinary teams. Sigh, these remain remarkably rare.Chrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09558846279006287148noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-59659003141903219272010-02-02T07:57:51.075-05:002010-02-02T07:57:51.075-05:00Symbol manipulation in one area probably enhances ...Symbol manipulation in one area probably enhances one's effectiveness in others. I think it's fair to say that a basic understanding of maths is an advantage in almost any academic discipline, linguistics included. One could advance a similar case for music, or indeed psychology or history, and so on. Specialisation is <i>de rigueur</i>, unfortunately.Stanhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03386875624025404452noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-68441270468020503982010-01-19T22:41:55.839-05:002010-01-19T22:41:55.839-05:00It's great how you seem to have established a ...It's great how you seem to have established a good following with others; who are either involved in linguistics or have some knowledge of what you do. I still need you to help me find out how to advertise for my own blog. I particularly liked your push up analogy, and the ending statement, nicely said.<br />"Math is push-ups for your mind. Nuff said."MISS LORIhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/06665960136750727634noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-52091416043549133782010-01-19T18:47:19.587-05:002010-01-19T18:47:19.587-05:00Ooops, pressed publish instead of edit, in any cas...Ooops, pressed publish instead of edit, in any case, yes, logic is well worth any linguists time, I agree. Thanks for the comments!Chrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09558846279006287148noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-520807396714463309.post-71452055728997975202010-01-19T18:46:05.780-05:002010-01-19T18:46:05.780-05:00B H, good points. 'm not sure which paper you&...B H, good points. 'm not sure which paper you're referring to, though this one seems close: <br /><a href="http://www.ling.ed.ac.uk/~gpullum/bcscholz/Contrasting.pdf" rel="nofollow">Contrasting Applications of Logic in Natural Language Syntactic Description</a> (pdf)Chrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09558846279006287148noreply@blogger.com