I am a math and statistics student/enthusiast as well as a fiction writer with cultivated interest in a few foreign languages. Linguistics has held appeal to me for many years, but I admit to having only had a cursory introduction to the field.

Lately I have been searching for an access point and quite naturally turned to The Algebraic Theory of Context-Free Languages by Noam Chomsky and Marcel-Paul Schützenberger. I assume that reading this text is, at this point in time, as much like reading history as it is like reading linguistics, but I have been stimulated nonetheless, especially by all the possibilities of connecting algebra and linguistics.

My questions are the following:

  • What other (past or current) papers are worth reading for a non-linguist to develop an adequate view of the linguistic landscape?
  • In your opinion, what are some linguistic papers/ideas/schools of thought that might interest someone who is part-mathematician, part-humanist?
  • For the linguists out there: is there a book or paper about linguistics that you wish everyone in society would read?

Also, one more (possibly too esoteric) question:

  • Does anyone know of applications of Gröbner bases in (computational) linguistics?

Thanks so much for humoring the questions of an outsider. I look forward to your responses!


  • You might find Jim McCawley's The Syntactic Phenomena of English a decent roadmap to some areas of data-driven syntactic theory, and his companion Everything Linguists Have Always Wanted to Know about Logic (But Were Ashamed to Ask) for the relations among logic, semantics, pragmatics, and syntax. Both are from University of Chicago Press.
    – jlawler
    Nov 23 '13 at 18:35
  • 1
    possible duplicate of Looking for a good beginners reference to learn computational linguistics
    – prash
    Nov 23 '13 at 23:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.