Loneliness of the long-distance linguist.

At long last, here it is! The blog I've been threatening for some time. I think I was inspired to finally get my butt in gear last night after having met up with Mark Liberman over at http://www.languagelog.com, which reminded me of when I used to have interesting conversations about linguistics. Okay, I still have interesting conversations about linguistics, but it struck me last night how software-ized I've become in the last couple of years. I heard these words coming out of my mouth, and that was it, the end, game over: Theories are only useful insofar as they let you make stuff. And that, my friends, means that I have become an engineer.

In other words, my dad was right all along. (Hi, Dad!)

Of course, if you ask the developers who work with me, I'm a linguist straight up, the end, game over. So where does that leave me?

I have lots of opinions about the right place for the boundary between research and product. Increasingly I have lots of opinions about the business motivations for the location of that boundary, and when and why it should move. I still have opinions about theoretical linguistics, but now I have opinions about how it can be used. I'm feeling good about that.

I think I wrote a pretty good dissertation. It was not a brilliant dissertation, but if it had been a brilliant dissertation, or maybe just a very well-evangelized dissertation, it would have been read by maybe a few hundred people over very many years. For the last couple of years I've been working on Windows, which when Vista ships is going to be linguistically accessible to a few billion people. For a former academic like me, the numbers are staggering; I've added a whole lot of zeroes. I make stuff that people can and will use. It's a big shift from where I was a few years ago.

I plan to use this blog to provide information about what's going on in the Windows international space. A couple of my colleagues already have pretty good developer blogs that are worth reading for all kinds of information about our Windows and .NET NLS APIs (http://blogs.msdn.com/michkap and http://blogs.msdn.com/shawnste). In this blog I hope to provide some of the other pieces around our Language Roadmap and Local Language Program plans, hear some of your concerns about the international support that we provide today and your requests for future support, and generally riff on things linguistic.

Let's go.