Is There Natural Language after Data Bases?
The undisputed favorite application for natural language interfaces has been data base query. Why? The reasons range from the relative simplicity of the task, including shallow semantic processing, to the potential real-world utility of the resultant system. Because of such reasons, the data base query task was an excellent paradigmatic problem for computational linguistics, and for the very same reasons it is now time for the field to abandon its protective cocoon and progress beyond this rather limiting task. But, one may ask, what task shall then become the new paradigmatic problem? Alas, such question presupposes that a single, universally acceptable, syntactically and semantically challenging task exists. I will argue that better progress can be made by diversification and focusing on different theoretically meaningful problems, with some research groups opting to investigate issues arisinq from the development of integrated multi-purpose systems.