Natural Language Processing

Essay by herrsJunior High, 8th gradeA+, March 1996

download word file, 8 pages 3.4

There have been high hopes for Natural Language Processing. Natural Language Processing, also known

simply as NLP, is part of the broader field of Artificial Intelligence, the effort towards making machines think.

Computers may appear intelligent as they crunch numbers and process information with blazing speed. In truth,

computers are nothing but dumb slaves who only understand on or off and are limited to exact instructions. But

since the invention of the computer, scientists have been attempting to make computers not only appear intelligent

but be intelligent. A truly intelligent computer would not be limited to rigid computer language commands, but

instead be able to process and understand the English language. This is the concept behind Natural Language


        The phases a message would go through during NLP would consist of message, syntax, semantics,

pragmatics, and intended meaning. (M. A. Fischer, 1987) Syntax is the grammatical structure. Semantics is the

literal meaning.

Pragmatics is world knowledge, knowledge of the context, and a model of the sender. When

syntax, semantics, and pragmatics are applied, accurate Natural Language Processing will exist.

        Alan Turing predicted of NLP in 1950 (Daniel Crevier, 1994, page 9):

        'I believe that in about fifty years' time it will be possible to program computers .... to

make them play the imitation game so well that an average interrogator will not have more than

70 per cent chance of making the right identification after five minutes of questioning.'

        But in 1950, the current computer technology was limited. Because of these limitations, NLP programs of

that day focused on exploiting the strengths the computers did have. For example, a program called SYNTHEX

tried to determine the meaning of sentences by looking up each word in its encyclopedia. Another early approach

was Noam Chomsky's at MIT. He believed that language could...