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Two Meanings for NLP



Recently in my twitter feed I encountered a use without explanation of the initials NLP (of course tweets don't allow for much by way of explanation). I wasn't familiar with them, so I did some googling, and was left unsure whether the tweeter had meant "Neuro-Linguistic Programming" or "Natural Language Processing."

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP1) is a fringe-science therapy in the manner of EST or even Scientology, using language that suggests a Chomskian foundation, though the impressive language is just for show.

Natural Language Processing (NLP2) on the other hand, is a field of computer engineering that seeks to give computers the ability to understand and speak English, French, Mandarin, etc. ... and ideally to pass the Turing test.

The phrase behind NLP2 seems straightforward and commonsensical, although it refers to a demanding and technical body of scientific work. The phrase behind NLP1, on the other hand, seems like it must refer to some demanding and technical body of scientific work, although it doesn't. There is a lesson there somewhere.


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