This special section in this issue of IEEE Signal Processing Magazine is dedicated to the theme of spoken language technology, exploring “signal” processing techniques for both speech and language. The articles in this issue cover “language” and/or “understanding” aspects of “signal” processing, beyond the conventional scope of speech processing. This forms a stark contrast to the special section in the September 2005, speech technology in human-machine communication, where only half of the articles dealt with language processing while the focus was on the more traditional tasks of speech analysis and recognition with the trend towards speech understanding.