LINGUIST List 4.667

Mon 06 Sep 1993

Disc: ARPA's Human Language Technology Program

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  1. , RE: 4.659 ARPA's Human Language Technology (HLT) Program
  2. Michael Covington, Re: 4.659 ARPA's Human Language Technology (HLT) Program

Message 1: RE: 4.659 ARPA's Human Language Technology (HLT) Program

Date: Sat, 4 Sep 93 04:24 MET
From: <WERTHalf.let.uva.nl>
Subject: RE: 4.659 ARPA's Human Language Technology (HLT) Program

I must say I can't pretend to understand the fragment of ARPA's HLT program,
but if it isn't actually gibberish, it does sound very disquieting. My first
reaction was to dismiss it as gobbledygook, and the sort of thing that a non-
linguist might imagine was the most important thing about language - I mean
the sort of person who might write letters to the newspapers about slipshod
speech etc. But then, if such a person was in charge of a (presumably)
expensively funded project, the whole thing becomes much more alarming. I
think it's the oppositions assumed between "functionality" and "science"
and "cognitive objectives" and "scientific understanding" which I, as a
cognitive linguist, find most inexplicable. We have to ask: WHOSE
functionality and cognitive objectives? The language user's? (surely not).
The project designer's? The funding body's? Another thing I find totally
weird is the assumption that something resulting from social evolution (as
opposed to physiological evolution, presumably) is somehow unscientific.
Please let me have the whole megillah - I need a good horror story at this
time of night.
Greetings,
Paul Werth.
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Message 2: Re: 4.659 ARPA's Human Language Technology (HLT) Program

Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1993 23:06:26 -Re: 4.659 ARPA's Human Language Technology (HLT) Program
From: Michael Covington <mcovingtai.uga.edu>
Subject: Re: 4.659 ARPA's Human Language Technology (HLT) Program

I, too, recently received the DARPA document that Vicki Fromkin quoted,
and which seems to say that there is no "fundamental science" of language
(?!).

That document was sent to people whose preproposals for BAA9331 (a grant
proposal solicitation) were rejected.

This is the first time I've seen theoretical up-to-dateness used as grounds
for *rejecting* grant proposals.

Vicki's question was to whom we should complain. I don't think a complaint
from disgruntled non-awardees (such as myself) would carry any weight, but
a groundswell from the linguistics community might. The question is who is
responsible for keeping DARPA abreast of current science. Ultimately,
Congress, but there ought to be intermediate levels at which scrutiny
and criticism could be directed.

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