Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the statistical and/or rule-based modeling of natural language from a computational perspective. This modeling is not limited to any particular field of linguistics. Traditionally, computational linguistics was usually performed by computer scientists who had specialized in the application of computers to the processing of a natural language.
Computational linguists often work as members of interdisciplinary teams, including linguists (specifically trained in linguistics), language experts (persons with some level of ability in the languages relevant to a given project), and computer scientists. In general computational linguistics draws upon the involvement of linguists, computer scientists, experts in artificial intelligence, cognitive psychologists, mathematicians, and logicians, amongst others.
Computational linguistics as a field predates artificial intelligence, a field under which it is often grouped. Computational linguistics originated with efforts in the United States in the 1950s to use computers to automatically translate texts from foreign languages, particularly Russian scientific journals, into English.  Since computers had proven their ability to do arithmetic much faster and more accurately than humans, it was thought to be only a short matter of time before the technical details could be taken care of that would allow them the same remarkable capacity to process language.
When machine translation (also known as mechanical translation) failed to yield accurate translations right away, automated processing of human languages was recognized as far more complex than had originally been assumed. Computational linguistics was born as the name of the new field of study devoted to developing algorithms and software for intelligently processing language data. When artificial intelligence came into existence in the 1960s, the field of computational linguistics became that sub-division of artificial intelligence dealing with human-level comprehension and production of natural languages.
In order to translate one language into another, it was observed that one had to understand the grammar of both languages, including both morphology (the grammar of word forms) and syntax (the grammar of sentence structure). In order to understand syntax, one had to also understand the semSantics and the lexicon (or 'vocabulary'), and even to understand something of the pragmatics of language use. Thus, what started as an effort to translate between languages evolved into an entire discipline devoted to understanding how to represent and process natural languages using computers.
Computational linguistics can be divided into major areas depending upon the medium of the language being processed, whether spoken or textual; and upon the task being performed, whether analyzing language (recognition) or synthesizing language (generation).
Speech recognition and speech synthesis deal with how spoken language can be understood or created using computers. Parsing and generation are sub-divisions of computational linguistics dealing respectively with taking language apart and putting it together. Machine translation remains the sub-division of computational linguistics dealing with having computers translate between languages.
Some of the areas of research that are studied by computational linguistics include:
The Association for Computational Linguistics defines computational linguistics as:
Published - November 2008
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