In today’s New Scientist:
Languages are wonderfully idiosyncratic. English puts its subject before its verb. Finnish has lots of cases. Mandarin is highly tonal.
Yet despite these differences, one of the most influential ideas in the study of language is that of universal grammar. (…) For five decades this idea has dominated work in linguistics, psychology and cognitive [...]
In March 1860 the New York Times reviewed The Origin of Species:
Meanwhile, Mr. DARWIN, as the fruit of a quarter of a century of patient observation and experiment, throws out, in a book whose title at least has by this time become familiar to the reading public, a series of arguments and [...]
Already multinational in expression, English was becoming a global phenomenon with a fierce, inner multinational dynamic, an emerging lingua franca described by the historian Benedict Anderson as “a kind of global-hegemonic post-clerical Latin”.
The accuracy of computer speech recognition flat-lined in 2001, before reaching human levels. The funding plug was pulled, but no funeral, no text-to-speech eulogy followed. Words never meant very much to computers—which made them ten times more error-prone than humans. Humans expected that computer understanding of language would lead to artificially intelligent machines, inevitably [...]