The eminent evolutionary biologist Eörs Szathmáry once told me that “linguists would rather share each other’s toothbrush than each other’s terminology”. Indeed, for biologists, who have agreed to disagree within a shared framework, the linguistics wars must seem utterly outlandish. This observation got me thinking: what are the greatest ideas in the history of linguistics? Could we at least agree on those? The mission of this website is to find such ideas, controversial as they might be, and share them here hoping that one day you won’t use my toothbrush anymore.
He considered himself to be an “OWL”, just another Ordinary Working Linguist. To others, however, he is “a towering figure among linguists without writing a single book”. As a linguistics student, it is sadly possible to be unaware of his name, but it is impossible to be working without his ideas, which have revolutionized our understanding …
“Particles of raw inspiration sleet through the universe all the time. Every once in a while one of them hits a receptive mind, which then invents DNA or the flute sonata form or a way of making light bulbs wear out in half the time. But most of them miss. Most people go through their lives without being hit by even one.
Some people are even more unfortunate. They get them all.”
— Terry Pratchett, Wyrd Sisters
During the day I am a computational linguist, also known as a lifeform that turns coffee into computer programs that process natural language. I am heading a research team at the Sony Computer Science Laboratories Paris, where we are on a quest for the origins and evolution of language, innovative language technologies, and robots that
will enslave humanity can talk. On this site I express my unfiltered personal opinions, but feel free to check my homepage for my scientific, peer-reviewed publications and this GitHub page where you can get your hands on the open-source language technologies that I helped to create.