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The Enterprise-D's computer shows us on multiple occasions that it can deal with natural language input. One notable example of extended conversation is in TNG '11001010':

PICARD: Computer, explain Red Alert.

COMPUTER: Initiated as a programmed response. The magnetic field containing the antimatter had weakened. There was no fail-safe available.

PICARD: Why wasn't I notified?

COMPUTER: Unknown.

PICARD: Present condition?

COMPUTER: The magnetic field is now restored. Containment is restored. Propulsion is at maximum efficiency.

This continues for a while, so I shan't bore you with the details.

The Computer can even deal with Lwaxana Troi's talking to it as if it were a person:

LWAXANA: Hello, computer? Is Commander Riker still on the Bridge?

COMPUTER: Negative. Riker is currently in holodeck three.

LWAXANA: Holodeck? Where is that?

COMPUTER: Follow the comm. panel lights. They will lead you there.

(TNG 'Manhunt')

So, if the computer can deal with natural language requests, why does Picard order 'Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.' rather than something more like 'Replicate a cup of hot Earl Grey tea?'

marked as duplicate by Often Right star-trek Jun 21 '16 at 7:44

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    Why would he use a long-winded command like 'replicate a cup of hot Earl Grey tea' when just 'tea Earl Grey' works? What I wonder is, why doesn't he just say 'the usual'? – user14111 Jun 21 '16 at 7:15
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    Because he knows what happened to Kirk's chicken sandwich and coffee? – Wad Cheber Jun 21 '16 at 7:22
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    related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/64605/… – Adeptus Jun 21 '16 at 7:26
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    @OftenRight - I think it's pretty obvious that Picard is shortcutting the menu. "Tea", "What Kind of tea", [sigh] "Earl Grey", "Specify Temperature, [sigh] "Hot". – Valorum Jun 21 '16 at 7:49
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    @OftenRight Maybe, just maybe he sometimes orders Tea. Lipton. Iced. – Major Stackings Jun 21 '16 at 7:59