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Linguistics Circle 2013-2014
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Linguistics Circle occasional seminar series 2013/2014 


Lonneke van der Plas (University of Stuttgart) Global Methods for Cross-Lingual Semantic Role and Predicate Labelling

  • Date: Friday 27th June, 2014 at 10.00 hrs
  • Venue: Library 2
Broad-coverage semantic annotations for training statistical learners are only available for a handful of languages. In this talk, I will address the problem of transferring semantic annotations, more specifically semantic role labellings, from one language to another using parallel corpora. Previous work has transferred these annotations directly at the token level. Alignment errors and translation shifts represent major sources of mistakes in the direct transfer approach which result in incorrect and incomplete annotations in the target language.

I will present two methods that try to remedy this problem. One improves the quality of the transferred semantic annotations by using a joint syntactic-semantic parser that learns a global model of the correlations between syntax and semantics of the target language and smooths out the errors from automatic transfer. The second knowledge-lean method aggregates information across the whole parallel corpus, using techniques from cross-lingual word sense disambiguation.


Taehong Cho (Department of English Language and Literature, Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea) Production and Perception of Prosodic Strengthening

  • Date: Wednesday 22nd January, 2014 at 11.00 hrs
  • Venue: Library 2
There has been a growing awareness among speech researchers that one of the major sources of systematic speech variation is prosodic structure, and that mechanisms underlying speech production and perception in a given language or across languages cannot be fully understood without taking prosody into account. To better understand the phonetics-prosodic interface, recent laboratory work has paid special attention to speech phenomena in the vicinity of three prosodically strong positions, i.e., (1) domain-initial and (2) domain-final positions, and (3) accented or stressed syllables. These three positions are taken to be essential positional elements of prosodic structure, and it has become increasingly evident that speakers mark each of these prosodic positions differentially with some form of phonetic strengthening (often referred to as prosodic strengthening), which delineates the hierarchically-nested prosodic structure of speech utterances. In the first part of this talk, I will review some of the phonetic events that signal prosodic structure. In the second part of the talk, I will introduce results of some of our earlier work to discuss how prosodically-driven phonetic variation, which is often marked by fine-grained, yet systematicphonetic details in speech production, is used by listeners in speech comprehension. I will end this talk by briefly sketching models that may adequately capture how speakers may strengthen segments in prosodic landmark locations during speech production and how listeners may use the resulting acoustic correlates of prosodic strengthening during word recognition.


Onno Crasborn (Centre for Language Studies of Radboud University, Nijmegen) Interactive functions of the non-dominant hand in the Sign Language of the Netherlands

  • Date: Wednesday 16th October, 2013 at 16.00 hrs
  • Venue: Maths & Physics 401
One of the remarkable differences between signed and spoken languages is the presence of two symmetrical articulators in sign languages: the two hands. All sign languages that have been studied make intensive use of both hands, both in the phonology of lexical signs and in the morphosyntax. In the lexicon, roughly half of the signs are one-handed. In two recent research projects, we have investigated 1) what the other hand does during the articulation of a one-handed sign, and 2) how the two hands are used in tandem to express complex constructions. This talk will focus on situations where there is a change in dominant hand from right to left or vice versa. These dominance reversals can be very brief, lasting only a single sign, or can persist for many sentences. On the basis of systematic transcription of the Corpus NGT containing over 70 hours of sign language dialogues, dominance reversals have been established to be used by all signers in the corpus and to be quite frequent. One of the functions of a brief reversal of dominant hand will be discussed in some more detail, referring to cases where the other hand is active in managing the interaction between signer and perceiver. Their linguistic vs. gestural nature will be discussed,  and compared to interactive functions of gestures of hearing speakers.


Linguistics Circle (13 March)

Dr. Pawel Rutkowski, University of Warsaw

Title: What corpus data can tell us about sign language grammar: The case of Polish Sign Language

Date: Wednesday 13th March 12-14

Venue: GW154



Class timetables are now available from this page.

For study-units LIN1063, LIN1065, LIN2013 and LIN5063, please click on this page to check the Academic English timetable.

Last Updated: 23 January 2015

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