Kate McCurdy


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Generalising to German Plural Noun Classes, from the Perspective of a Recurrent Neural Network
Verna Dankers | Anna Langedijk | Kate McCurdy | Adina Williams | Dieuwke Hupkes
Proceedings of the 25th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning

Inflectional morphology has since long been a useful testing ground for broader questions about generalisation in language and the viability of neural network models as cognitive models of language. Here, in line with that tradition, we explore how recurrent neural networks acquire the complex German plural system and reflect upon how their strategy compares to human generalisation and rule-based models of this system. We perform analyses including behavioural experiments, diagnostic classification, representation analysis and causal interventions, suggesting that the models rely on features that are also key predictors in rule-based models of German plurals. However, the models also display shortcut learning, which is crucial to overcome in search of more cognitively plausible generalisation behaviour.

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Adaptor Grammars for Unsupervised Paradigm Clustering
Kate McCurdy | Sharon Goldwater | Adam Lopez
Proceedings of the 18th SIGMORPHON Workshop on Computational Research in Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology

This work describes the Edinburgh submission to the SIGMORPHON 2021 Shared Task 2 on unsupervised morphological paradigm clustering. Given raw text input, the task was to assign each token to a cluster with other tokens from the same paradigm. We use Adaptor Grammar segmentations combined with frequency-based heuristics to predict paradigm clusters. Our system achieved the highest average F1 score across 9 test languages, placing first out of 15 submissions.


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Inflecting When There’s No Majority: Limitations of Encoder-Decoder Neural Networks as Cognitive Models for German Plurals
Kate McCurdy | Sharon Goldwater | Adam Lopez
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Can artificial neural networks learn to represent inflectional morphology and generalize to new words as human speakers do? Kirov and Cotterell (2018) argue that the answer is yes: modern Encoder-Decoder (ED) architectures learn human-like behavior when inflecting English verbs, such as extending the regular past tense form /-(e)d/ to novel words. However, their work does not address the criticism raised by Marcus et al. (1995): that neural models may learn to extend not the regular, but the most frequent class — and thus fail on tasks like German number inflection, where infrequent suffixes like /-s/ can still be productively generalized. To investigate this question, we first collect a new dataset from German speakers (production and ratings of plural forms for novel nouns) that is designed to avoid sources of information unavailable to the ED model. The speaker data show high variability, and two suffixes evince ‘regular’ behavior, appearing more often with phonologically atypical inputs. Encoder-decoder models do generalize the most frequently produced plural class, but do not show human-like variability or ‘regular’ extension of these other plural markers. We conclude that modern neural models may still struggle with minority-class generalization.

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Conditioning, but on Which Distribution? Grammatical Gender in German Plural Inflection
Kate McCurdy | Adam Lopez | Sharon Goldwater
Proceedings of the Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics

Grammatical gender is a consistent and informative cue to the plural class of German nouns. We find that neural encoder-decoder models learn to rely on this cue to predict plural class, but adult speakers are relatively insensitive to it. This suggests that the neural models are not an effective cognitive model of German plural formation.


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Linked Data for Language-Learning Applications
Robyn Loughnane | Kate McCurdy | Peter Kolb | Stefan Selent
Proceedings of the 12th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications

The use of linked data within language-learning applications is an open research question. A research prototype is presented that applies linked-data principles to store linguistic annotation generated from language-learning content using a variety of NLP tools. The result is a database that links learning content, linguistic annotation and open-source resources, on top of which a diverse range of tools for language-learning applications can be built.