Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Computer automatically deciphers ancient language

Computer automatically deciphers ancient language: "Regina Barzilay, an associate professor in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, Ben Snyder, a grad student in her lab, and the University of Southern California’s Kevin Knight took that claim personally. At the Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics in Sweden next month, they will present a paper on a new computer system that, in a matter of hours, deciphered much of the ancient Semitic language Ugaritic. In addition to helping archeologists decipher the eight or so ancient languages that have so far resisted their efforts, the work could also help expand the number of languages that automated translation systems like Google Translate can handle."

Friday, February 05, 2010

Overview (BOLD:PNG)

Overview (BOLD:PNG): "There is a pressing need to document the world's linguistic heritage while there is still time. The consequence of language shift is that many genres -- and many whole languages -- are quickly falling out of use. Professional linguists are compiling grammars and dictionaries, but this is painstaking work, and is not keeping up with the pace of language loss. This project is addressing the problem by training university students and literacy teachers to collect and curate oral texts from indigenous languages."

Language Log - The annihilation of computational linguistics at KCL

Language Log - The annihilation of computational linguistics at KCL: "But why target linguists? Of course linguists are by no means the sole target of the various restructuring exercises. In the sciences at King's the entire division of Engineering was shut, whereas a host of other disciplines have been targeted in the humanities (including Classics, Paleography, and American Studies). Linguists at KCL are scattered across a number of depts, so are an easy target for slogans like `only units with critical mass will be retained.' There had been discussions several years back about forming a linguistics department from the dozen or so linguists spread across CS, Philosophy, Greek, German, Education etc, but the administration decided against it.

Still, it's probably true that the marginal position of the field (neither hardcore humanities, nor hardcore science, nor hardcore engineering) and the widespread lack of awareness of what linguists do or why is an important contributing factor. Mark Liberman has, with some justification, been castigating linguists for their part in this over the pages of this blog. How critical this problem is is illustrated by the current crisis, though alleviating it is of course a long term project."