University of Malta

Human Language Technology
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MSc in Language and Computation
BSc in Human Language Technology
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What is Human Language Technology?

Conversational machines

Imagine going into your study and hearing a voice saying: “Good morning! Did you sleep well? Here’s your coffee”. And that voice is your computer speaking to you, or a robot, in other words a machine, a piece of technology that has learnt how to speak your language. This would be a very advanced HLT application. Of course, current technology hasn't yet reached the stage where computers can converse with humans in a fully natural way, on any subject under the sun. However, there have been some significant advances in this area, and it continues to provide many fruitful avenues for research.   

Understanding the nature of language

In order to create viable computational models of natural language, we need to have clear ideas about how language works, and this will help us obtain insights into the nature of language. Creating machines that communicate therefore requires us to study both the structure of language itself, and the mental processes that underlie our production and comprehension of language. Thus, there are important links between researchers in HLT, and those in other areas of Cognitive Science, especially Psychology and Theoretical Linguistics.

Analysing linguistic data

Most of our day-to-day interactions, and the information we transmit and receive, involve language. Perhaps the most obvious example is the internet, an extremely rich source of information, a large part of which is in the form of language. We need to be able to exploit this rich repository and to manipulate it to make communication more efficient. Many researchers nowadays study language by using very large repositories of text or speech. These often run into several millions of words, and it's impossible to handle so much data by trawling through it manually. We therefore use computers to analyse such data, allowing us to come closer to our goal of understanding the structure and use of language. This data is also often used to "train" computer programs to understand and be able to reproduce various aspects of language – in other words, language data are used to build HLT applications.   

Examples of HLT applications

Machine translation

Automatic translation of text from one human language to another

Natural Language Understanding

Automatic analysis of linguistic messages (such as sentences) and their interpretation

Natural Language Generation

Automatic generation of text or speech from non-linguistic data

Question answering

Answering human-language questions

Automatic summarisation

Production of readable summaries of one or more texts

Speech recognition

"Translating" a person's speech into a textual representation


Producing the spoken version of a printed text

Information retrieval

Storing, searching and retrieving information using language

Linguistics Circle (06 Dec)
Georgios Yannakakis, Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta

Title:  AI designing games for us with (or without) us

Date: Wednesday 6th December 2017 at 12:00 hrs

Venue: GW164

Change in Name
As of April 2017, the Institute has officially changed its name to Institute of Linguistics and Language Technology.

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.

Ethical approval
Deadlines for submission of ethical approval forms to the Institute Research Ethics Committee are now available on the Research page.
Posts of Part-Time Research Support Assistant or Officer I/II
Posts of Part-Time Research Support Assistant or Officer I/II for the MASRI project that aims to build a Maltese speech recognition system.  
Post of Part Time Research Support Officer I, II or III
Post of Part Time Research Support Officer I, II or III  for the Maltese Sign Language Research Project.
Last Updated: 14 July 2014

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