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Linguistics Circle 2017-2018
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 Linguistics Circle occasional seminar series

The Institute of Linguistics organises an occasional series of seminars, where local and international speakers are invited to present the results of recent research which is of interest to both professional (computational) linguists and members of the broader public.
The seminars take place in an informal setting and their primary aim is to encourage discussion. Students and members of the public are welcome to attend!

Current Seminars (2017-2018):
I am always looking for speakers in the Linguistics Circle Seminar. Please contact Lonneke van der Plas if you have something to present.


 Dr. Elizabeth Mathews, University of Dublin Author of Language, Power and Resistance – Mainstreaming Deaf Education

Title: Unpacking Mainstreaming Policy and Practice: opportunities and challenges for deaf children in Ireland

Date: Monday 3rd September at 09:30 - 11:00

Venue: Gateway Hall E

Historically, the field of deaf education has been an ideological battleground between medical and social models of d/Deafness and their respective educational approaches: speech and sign language. Until the 1970s, the dominance of one model over the other was played out in schools for the deaf. Particular schools favoured oralism or manualism, and shifts occurred in response to changing social conditions. One consistent feature of this educational system, however, was that deaf children had the opportunity to interact with their deaf peers, supporting the development of the Deaf community and the intergenerational transfer of a social model of Deafness. This fostered the growth of sign languages, often regardless of the philosophy of the particular school. From the 1970s onwards, however, deaf education changed with the arrival of what became known as mainstream education. On the one hand, this presented opportunities for deaf children to access education in their local communities with their hearing peers in a way. On the other hand, mainstream schools have struggled to include deaf children unless they can learn in the same way as hearing children do. As a result, debates between medical and social models of deafness continue to rage, though they take place now outside the deaf school system. There has been much debate about the suitability of mainstream environments for deaf children. This paper examines the contemporary mainstream system of deaf education in Ireland. It uses interview data from parents, teachers and Deaf children to tell the stories of those embarking on mainstreaming deaf education. A discussion and questions will follow the presentation.

Kindly email if you wish to attend the presentation and discussion.


 Prof.  Isabella Poggi, University Roma 3

Title: The lexicon of gaze. Methods of analysis and research results

Date: Friday 27th April at 12:00

Venue: LBR2


While in the domain of body communication several authors have written down lexicons of gestures, no similar endeavour has been undertaken about eye-gaze signals.

This work presents  some studies aimed at describing the phonology, the lexicon, and the morphology of the communication system of gaze. I will show how such investigation may exploit various research methods, from ethnosemantics to observational analysis, from empirical studies to computer simulation, and overview the general structure of the lexicon of gaze, finally focusing on some specific lexicons, like one of the orchestra conductor’s gaze.


Dr. Stavros Assimakopoulos and Ms Rebecca Vella Muskat, University of Malta

Title: Exploring discriminatory attitudes in Malta: a discourse-analytic approach 

Date: Friday 23rd March at 12:00

Venue: GW156 

In this talk, we will summarise the research carried out at the Institute of Linguistics and Language Technology of the University of Malta under the auspices of the EU co-funded C.O.N.T.A.C.T. project. Our study, which followed the common methodology of the C.O.N.T.A.C.T. consortium, focused on hate speech as a manifestation of hate crime in Malta. More specifically, through quantitative and qualitative analyses, we sought to identify the extent to which comments posted online in reaction to articles in local news portals can be found to encompass discriminatory attitudes towards two target minorities: migrants and members of the LGBTIQ community. The obtained results indicate that while both xenophobia and homophobia can be detected in some of the comments made by online users in local news portals, the former is a much more prevalent than the latter. In an attempt to further probe into the reasons for the emergence of such discriminatory discourse online, we then administered an online questionnaire and conducted focus group interviews, which provided us with some insights as to why discriminatory attitudes appear to have recently been on the rise in relation to migrants, and seem to have been correspondingly contained in the case of the LGBTIQ minority group.


Prof. Barbara Plank, University of Groningen

Title: Transfer Learning for Natural Language Processing (NLP) - Where are we now?

Date: Friday 16th March at 12:00

Venue: GW156


Understanding language automatically is at the core of Natural Language Processing (NLP), a fast-growing research  field. Deep learning has brought rapid advances in NLP and improved performance to a point which enables industrial use. However, current NLP models are static and unable to adapt. They can solve only one problem at a time and cannot generalize from closely related problems: every time a new language, task or domain is encountered a new system is developed from scratch.  In this talk I will survey recent transfer learning approaches for NLP. These include work on deep multi-task learning, semi-supervised and cross-lingual learning for leveraging limited (or fortuitous) annotated resources.


Dr Roman Klinger, University of Stuttgart

Title: "Emotion Analysis in Social Media: Corpus Annotation and
Predictive Models"

Date: Friday 9th March at 12:00

Venue: GW156

"Emotion analysis in text is an extension to sentiment analysis in the
sense that classes to be predicted are not only positive and negative,
but (for instance) joy, anger, fear, surprise, disgust, and sadness. In
the first part of this talk, I will report on a corpus annotation study
on Twitter and results of state-of-the-art models known from sentiment
analysis. In the second part, I will highlight some remaining
challenges, including multimodal information (images and text) and the
meaning of modifiers (which emotion is "I am not angry"?).


Mr Marc Tanti, University of Malta

Title: Collecting an Annotated Image Description Corpus for the Generation of Rich Face Descriptions

Date: Wednesday 28th February at 12:00 

Venue: LC118

The past few years have witnessed renewed interest in NLP tasks at the
interface between vision and language. One intensively-studied problem
is that of automatically generating text from images. In this paper,
we extend this problem to the more specific domain of face
description. Unlike scene descriptions, face descriptions are more
fine-grained and rely on attributes extracted from the image, rather
than objects and relations. Given that no data exists for this task,
we present an ongoing crowd sourcing study to collect a corpus of
descriptions of face images taken `in the wild'. To gain a better
understanding of the variation we find in face description and the
possible issues that this may raise, we also conducted an annotation
study on a subset of the corpus. Primarily, we found descriptions to
refer to a mixture of attributes, not only physical, but also
emotional and inferential, which is bound to create further challenges
for current image-to-text methods. 



Past seminars
(Seminars from previous years:2016-20172015-2016, 2014-2015, 2013-2014, 2012-2013, 2011-2012, 2010-2011)

Linguistics Circle (26 June)

Dr. Olga Bogolyubova, University of Malta

Title: Personality Traits and Subjective Wellbeing in the Language of Social Media

Date: Wednesday 26th June 12-14 

Venue: GW214


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.

Stress Management Sessions for students

Sedqa, in collaboration with the University of Malta, will be holding two sessions on stress management for students.

Tobacco cessation
Visit the underneath link for more details: 
Last Updated: 13 August 2018

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