Traditionally, linguistics graduates have always found jobs within academia, writing or translation fields. But, with the technological advancements and increasing digital transformation, linguistics graduates are finding their skills in high demand in the technology sector, particularly for the areas related to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
The regular readers on Stoodnt (and my followers) should remember my previous articles about how AI and digital transformation are creating huge demand for humanities & liberal arts graduates and the career scopes of liberal arts degrees within the technology sector.
Tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft have been aggressively hiring linguists in the last couple of years. Many other companies and startups in the AI market are turning to those with linguistic backgrounds to help aid in things like product development and customer service.
Okay! So, what’s the big deal with computational linguistics?
Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field that draws on expertise in disparate areas such as linguistics (the study of languages), psychology and computer science. Computational linguists develop computer systems that deal with human language.
They build products and applications that can perform tasks such as speech or voice recognition (e.g., Siri, Alexa), speech synthesis, search engines (Google Search), machine translation (e.g., Google Translate), grammar checking, text mining, automated text analysis, and many others.
Computational linguistics is very closely related to Natural Language Processing (NLP). But, they have got certain differences. Computational Linguistics tends more towards Linguistics and answers linguistic questions using computational tools. Natural Language Processing involves applications that process language and tends more towards Computer Science.
NLP is a field of computer science that is at the intersection of artificial intelligence and computational linguistics. NLP deals with programming computers to process large natural language corpora. In simple words, NLP involves intelligent analysis of written language.
Computational linguistics professionals are also getting in high demand in India as well. Check out the top computational linguistics job positions in India on LinkedIn.
In this post, Vandana, Dual Doctoral Researcher at IIT-Kharagpur and ISI (Kolkata), writes about the computational linguistics field in details. Vandana is from a core humanities background. She is an MA Linguistics graduate from BHU. I met her at IIT-KGP campus a few weeks back and was really amazed to hear about her career journey – from Languages to Computer Programming & AI.
While Biomedical engineering has been getting a lot of interest, the field of biomedical sciences remains largely esoteric and unexplored. Over to Vandana…..
Careers in Computational Linguistics
By Vandana, PhD Scholar at IIT-Kharagpur & ISI-Kolkata
Hello! I am Vandana. Born and brought up in Ranchi, where I completed my 10th and 12th in PCB stream. I always had a keen interest in languages therefore, I decided to pursue my further studies in Arts.
I did my Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from Ranchi University. Here I was introduced to Linguistics which eventually became my area of interest and then I pursued my Masters in Linguistics from Banaras Hindu University.
After completing my Masters, I received Research Fellowship in at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata where I began my research career.
I registered my Ph.D. at the Humanities and social science department, IIT Kharagpur where I am currently working towards the completion of my Ph.D.
What is Computational Linguistics?
In its simplest form, Computational Linguistics can be said to be the study of languages using computers. With the advancement of languages, we can collect a huge database of machine-readable language texts and analyze them using computer techniques.
Applications of Computational Linguistics
Computational Linguistics is of great importance in this age of digital information age. It helps in creating tools for important present-day practical tasks such as machine translation, speech recognition, speech synthesis, information extraction from text, grammar checking, text mining and many more.
It is being largely used in virtual voice assistants as Siri of Apple, Alexa of Amazon and Cortona of Microsoft.
Career Prospects in Computational Linguistics
In this present era of Artificial Intelligence, the prospects of this field are numerous. Big firms like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook have a fair demand for Computational Linguistics for various roles. Also, this area offers research positions with good funding in research labs across the globe.
My PhD Project
My Ph.D. topic focuses on a Corpus driven approach towards the Discourse Analysis of Hindi Newspaper Texts. The corpus-driven approach means a data-driven approach which helps to find quantitative linguistic patterns in the newspaper discourse which further are analyzed using the qualitative approach of Discourse Analysis.
Required Skills to Make a Career in Computational Linguistics
I think the first and foremost requirement would be to able to handle a large amount of data and apply analytical approach while analyzing them for any kind of pattern. A basic understanding of Linguistics especially Phonetics, Phonology, Semantics, and Morphology is required in this field. And, familiarity with computer languages like R and Python is always an added advantage.
Challenges I Faced While Coping with Statistics & Programming Since I am from Arts & Humanities Background
In general, the course curriculum for any subject of Arts & Humanities is mostly subjective in its approach and there is very less scope of any application of Statistics and Programming. Though at the level of research when working with data everyone needs to have a basic understanding of Statistics and Computer Programming.
When I was introduced with this during my coursework at ISI, initially it was not easy to cope up with it because of the fact that I had little familiarity with the concepts but eventually with regular practice and hard work it became better.
My Experience at ISI and IIT-KGP
It has been a great pleasure to be a part of two of the prestigious institutes of the country. While ISI being a more research-centric institute contributed to developing a deep-thinking ability; IIT, being a technical institution, added a more analytical approach to my research.
So, both have contributed equally in their own way towards the development of my professional as well as personal growth.
I am supposed to submit my PhD thesis this September (2019).
After my PhD, I am planning to apply for post-doctoral research abroad as it will give a holistic experience to my research career.
Career Advice & Tips for the Folks Interested in Exploring the field of Computational Linguistics
Since this is a booming industry in the present times, I feel with proper knowledge and guidance one can easily excel in this field. You will need to get the basics right from the beginning and then with determination and hard work success is bound to come to you.
Featured Image Source: CIO