Despite tremendous scientific progress over the past fifty or so years, there still seems to be a long way to go before we can reach a comprehensive explanation of human spoken language behaviour and can create a speech technology with performance approaching or exceeding that of a human being. It is my belief that progress is hampered by the fragmentation of spoken language research across many different disciplines, coupled with a failure to create an integrated view of the fundamental mechanisms that underpin one organism’s ability to interact with another.
In fact I would argue that "spoken language is the most sophisticated behaviour of the most complex organism in the known universe", and that we have grossly underestimated the amazing ability that human being's have evolved for communicating with each other. As a consequence, we have completely failed to realise the significance of spoken language as a topic of fundamental scientific investigation that could provide a unique window into the intricate workings of the human mind. Spoken language should sit alongside particle physics (the science of the infinitessimally small) and cosmology (the science of the infinitely large) as one of the most important scientific research topics of the current era. It is only the illusion of the ease with which we acquire and use spoken language that blinds us to its truly fantastic nature.