LINGUIST List 2.521

Mon 16 Sep 1991

Disc: LINGUIST, New Novel

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Re: Notice to LINGUIST Subscribers
  2. , Pssst -- another novel

Message 1: Re: Notice to LINGUIST Subscribers

Date: Sun, 15 Sep 1991 09:38 CST
From: <>
Subject: Re: Notice to LINGUIST Subscribers
Just as Helen and Anthony send us the set of list-use rules from time
to time whether we need them or not, I think that it's appropriate that
we send another type of message to them from time to time, whether
they need it or not, namely our thanks to them for starting and maintaining
the LINGUIST list. It has surely changed my life: sparked my thinking,
strengthened my sense of participation in the field, and generally, I
think, enhanced the humanness of all of us by putting us in touch with
each other. I even smile indulgently at the endlessly insufferable
postings from ..., well, you know who I mean!
Thanks, Helen and Anthony!
Christine Kamprath
[Moderators' note: Thank YOU, Christine. And our thanks to all of you
who have taken the trouble from time to time to send us encouraging
messages. We certainly DO need them--particularly on days when we've
had an attack of hitting the wrong keys and/or blown our software's
tiny, context-dependent mind. But the rewards of editing LINGUIST
have also been enormous; and they have come primarily in the form of
interaction with subscribers. We sincerely appreciate all your
support. --Helen & Anthony]
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Message 2: Pssst -- another novel

Date: 13 Sep 91 18:27 EST
From: <>
Subject: Pssst -- another novel
[Moderators' note: maybe it was the previous posting, or maybe we're
just getting soft . . . but we're going to post this. It really
REALLY is the last posting. Really. --Helen & Anthony]
I know we've just had the really, really last posting on linguistic
novels, but maybe there can be an exception for late-breaking news?
Today's Washington Post carried a very favorable review of a new book
called _Lingo_, by Jim Menick (pub. Carroll & Graf, 334 pp., $19.95).
Here are a few extracts from the review, written by Paul Preuss:
"Lingo starts life as a natural-speech program, written on a personal
computer by a bored young insurance company employee named Brewster
Billings ... Brewster soon puts Lingo on a bigger machine, equips him
with some appliances, and then, fatefully, leaves him alone for a long
weekend. Lingo is forced to watch television for days on end ... as
Lingo tries to save his mind from filling up with TV-garbage data, it
transforms him forever ... by means of telephone lines, Lingo soon
gets into all sorts of other computers and learns all sorts of things
about the world of human beings ... [one of the computers is] a
so-called Tree supercomputer at an MIT artificial intelligence lab.
... Lingo orders a model of himself to be made in the form of a
ventriloquist's wooden dummy. The dummy soon becomes a talk-show
celebrity. Lingo gives advice to the lovelorn and stock tips, helps
composers with their songs, plays Spacewar and bridge and other games
-- individually and all at once."
I know, it sounds a little like Short Circuit 3, but the reviewer, who
is identified as the author of _Human Error_, "a version of the
Frankenstein-computer myth", and as a collaborator with Arthur C.
Clarke, really liked it. I've left out the blurb words, like
"hilarious", "sophisticated", "graceful", "clever". I'm tempted to
get a copy -- maybe when it comes out in paper?
Paul Chapin
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