October 18th, 2004


Hopkins hope held out

As mentioned before in this journal, I've been to JHU's summer school for computational linguistics before (summer of 2003), and I had a chance (that didn't pan out) to go to the workshops last summer.

This week I've just been volunteered by my advisor to be one of the students on a project to work on parsing conversational speech (longtime readers will recognize that this is the subject of my master's thesis work!). The proposal is being headed by a certain bigshot in the NSF, so there's a reasonable chance it'll be accepted.

Unlike last year's proposal, this year if the proposal is accepted, there's a near 100% guarantee that I'll be able to participate. Baltimore isn't my favorite place in the world to spend summer 2005, but it would be really good to have the experience and networking opportunities that it will provide.
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syntax tree

Cary Grant is gay, hypothetically

a [female] friend said today, of Cary Grant "oh, I was so glad to hear that he was bisexual -- if he was gay, it'd spoil my fantasy so much."

Well, nothing stops the linguist. It's interesting that [at least for this one example] changing Cary Grant's sexuality is much harder to change in a hypothetical than (for example) the other barriers to the enaction of her fantasy: that he would at this moment be 100 years old, and that he is currently, um, dead.

And yet, his sexuality is something that is not a matter of direct record (while his age is). It seems (upon introspection) that hypotheticals about age and status among the living are easier to reverse in imagined worlds than personal tastes, even if we have very little evidence on the personal tastes, and the odds of my friend having luck convincing a gay man to explore bisexuality (while not very good) are better than her luck at reviving the dead.
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