Pablo Alonso ‘17

Studied at Luther: German major, linguistics minor

1.  Why was it important to you to include a linguistics your studies while you were at Luther?

Linguistics helped me get to the point in my career where I'm at today. But most importantly it taught me to think critically, and to see that the natural sciences and social sciences are not at odds with one another. We can apply the scientific process to something as human as language. 

2.  What sort of occupation or professional activity are you engaged in now?

I'm a conversational designer for AT&T. When you call to ask about the status of your account or ask to pay your balance and a robot answers and assists you, I'm behind that. I try to make sure that the customer experience is pleasant and smooth, while also making sure that even though they are talking to an AI, it still feels like they are getting the experience they'd get from a human agent. 

3.  In what ways has the knowledge you gained through studying linguistics contributed to how you engage with your current work and/or the world in general?

These days I use a lot of the knowledge I gained from Phonetics and Phonology to make sure our AI sounds as natural as possible. However, my real interests lie in Syntax. I finished my MA in Computational Linguistics in 2020, and in my free time I sit down and ponder what kinds of patterns are possible in language. I read a lot on mathematical and computational Linguistics, try to understand it, and ask myself what the mathematical complexity of language is, and if it is, in fact, computable. I am still thinking about going back to finish a PhD in Linguistics... maybe in a couple of years.