In 1960 Eugene Wigner wrote a now-famous article titled The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences. In 1993, the homophonic quotient groups for French and English (the quotient of the free group generated by the French (respectively English) alphabet determined by relations representing standard pronunciation rules) were explicitly characterized. In this talk we will explore the mathematical and philosophical connections between these two works. Mathematically I will describe how my colleagues Herbert Gangl and Dorian Lee (PO'15) and I, native speakers of three quite different languages, applied the methodology proposed in 1993 to our three language systems: German, Korean, and Turkish. Our results point to some interesting differences between these three languages (or at least their current script systems). An overview of the algebraic theory of languages will be included, as well as a philosophical discussion of the implications of these results.
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