Accents and Speech Recognition

Anyone who’s ever used Siri has likely experienced the frustration of not being understood. There’s a fundamental – almost existential – panic that surfaces when someone else doesn’t know what you’re saying. It’s an even bigger problem for people with accents other than “General American English”[1]. Voice interfaces struggle with accents, from regional American accents … Continue reading Accents and Speech Recognition

Arbitrariness in Language, Pt. 1

Pretty much since its inception, one of the core principles of linguistics has been that language is arbitrary (De Saussure, 1916; Hockett, 1960). That is, there’s no apparent relationship between a sign and what it signifies; nothing inherent about the word “dog” suggests that it must refer to the DOG concept[1]. But this hasn’t stopped … Continue reading Arbitrariness in Language, Pt. 1

An Introduction to Indirect Speech Acts

Language is a central component of human interaction. We use language for everyday conversations, for writing emails, discussing scientific research, composing poetry, and much more. Crucially, the use of language does not occur in a vacuum; language is always produced in a given context, and is always interpreted in a given context. Context includes everything … Continue reading An Introduction to Indirect Speech Acts