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It only took Amy Adams a single montage to learn to speak Heptapod. @courtesy Denis Villeneuve.
This year, the Oxford English Dictionary added “chillax” and “whatevs” as official dictionary entries, more or less officially anointing them real English words. Last year’s additions included “douchebaggery” and “Scorsesean” (ie stylistically similar to the films of Martin Scorsese). Language changes a lot, all the time, and much faster than we realize because we’re wired to barely even notice.
When I was a kid, we were taught vehemently that it was never ok to split an infinitive (“to boldly go…”), nor to end a sentence with a preposition (“I can do without.”). People were constantly getting on other people’s cases about split infinitives and end-of-sentence prepositions, like it was some sort of sacred duty to the sanctity of the English language. Now, it’s been years since I’ve heard anyone give a shit about either (good riddance).
Fortunately for us, our brains are well equipped to handle this transition. Our native languages will change immensely over our lifetimes, and we will barely even notice; we just naturally, and automatically, adapt to these changes**. Unfortunately for machine learning-based algorithms that do natural language processing, they need a lot of language data to improve. And while humans can usually understand and use a new word/phrase/usage the first time they hear it, these algorithms need many, many examples be collected from real speakers and fed to them for training.amy
I still don’t know if the end of this movie is real or not. Does anyone else suspect that everything after the blast might be a Jacob’s Ladder scenario?. @courtesy Denis Villeneuve.
So, even were Google to build a perfect language algorithm, it would always trail behind the fast-changing nature of language. And, even if you could collect a few billion language samples a day to feed the algorithm the data it needs to keep up with these linguistic changes , it would still be slower than us humans and our ability to learn new language on the fly at a speed of n=0.
**For every person there will be a few additions to your language that’ll just sound weird, though these new words/phrases/usages may be very different for people even from the same regional/linguistic background. For me, it’s “all the” to mean “a lot of”, such as if you ask someone if the want some blackberries and the say they want “All the blackberries!”
- Jack Connor