This article offers a personal perspective on the development of language and information processing over the last half century, focusing on the use of statistical methods. Introduced, with computers, in the 1950s, these have not always been highly regarded, but were revived in the 1990s. They have proved effective in more ways than might have been expected, and encourage new thinking about what language and information processing involve.

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Author notes

This article is the text of the talk given on receipt of the ACL's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. The figures provided in the article reproduce the slides used for the talk.

Computer Laboratory, William Gates Building, JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0FD, UK. ksj@cl.cam.ac.uk