Do we really need to know grammar to understand language? What if we can have billions and billions of words of data to work with and put it through a computer?
Well, that is pretty much what corpus linguistics is.
Here is a nice article about how Google Translate works. It may not be full proof but it is better than anything else we have. A human being will have heard an uncountable number of words in his or her lifetime and we use that input to understand what others are trying to say. So why not a computer with lots of etext in it?
That is I guess the attraction I have to corpus linguistics.