natural language

GC: n

CT: In computing, natural language refers to a human language such as English, Russian, German, or Japanese as distinct from the typically artificial command or programming language with which one usually talks to a computer. The term usually refers to a written language but might also apply to spoken language.

S: (last access: 21 March 2014)

N: 1. natural (adj): c.1300, naturel, “of one’s inborn character; hereditary, by birth;” early 14c. as “of the world of nature (especially as opposed to man),” from Old French naturel “of nature, conforming to nature; by birth,” and directly from Latin naturalis “by birth, according to nature,” from natura “nature”
language (n): late 13c., langage “words, what is said, conversation, talk,” from Old French langage (12c.), from Vulgar Latin linguaticum, from Latin lingua “tongue,” also “speech, language”. The form with -u- developed in Anglo-French. Meaning “a language” is from c.1300, also used in Middle English.
2. A human language. For example, English, French, and Chinese are natural languages. Computer languages, such as FORTRAN and C, are not.
Probably the single most challenging problem in computer science is to develop computers that can understand natural languages. So far, the complete solution to this problem has proved elusive, although a great deal of progress has been made. Fourth-generation languages are the programming languagesclosest to natural languages.
3. A language whose rules are based on current usage without being specifically prescribed.
4. natural language: term standardized by IEEE, CSA and ISO/IEC.

S: 1. OED –; (last access: 21 March 2014). 2. (last access: 21 March 2014). 3 & 4. TERMIUMPLUS.



CR: artificial intelligence, artificial language, computer science.