Understanding Natural Language Is Hard

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When we listen to someone, do we actually hear and parse what they say, or do we somehow gestalt what they "must have meant"? Do we actually construct in our minds a sentence that is close to the one they said, and has a plausible meaning?

Lots of times I've heard people say something that's patently false, and yet believe they have expressed themselves clearly. Others have then supported them, and the look I get is clearly "What the hell is wrong with you?!?"

So I'm starting to collect examples, and perhaps will write about this more completely and coherently some day.

Here's my first explicit example:

[0] Rodney brooks talks about Elon Musk.

Here's another example of weird language things. This tweet:

In that, "Wil Wheaton" (@wilw) wrote: Each half of this has at least two interpretations. Picking the right interpretation is a matter of working out what the most plausible meaning would be, and then just assuming that's it.

Another one - what does this actually mean?

Does this mean that Apple guarantees that given an iPhone, they guarantee that after one year it will no longer work?

If that's not what it means:

This is related to the thing I wrote on Not If You Hurry.


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