Mirjam Ernestus


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Seeing the advantage: visually grounding word embeddings to better capture human semantic knowledge
Danny Merkx | Stefan Frank | Mirjam Ernestus
Proceedings of the Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics

Distributional semantic models capture word-level meaning that is useful in many natural language processing tasks and have even been shown to capture cognitive aspects of word meaning. The majority of these models are purely text based, even though the human sensory experience is much richer. In this paper we create visually grounded word embeddings by combining English text and images and compare them to popular text-based methods, to see if visual information allows our model to better capture cognitive aspects of word meaning. Our analysis shows that visually grounded embedding similarities are more predictive of the human reaction times in a large priming experiment than the purely text-based embeddings. The visually grounded embeddings also correlate well with human word similarity ratings. Importantly, in both experiments we show that the grounded embeddings account for a unique portion of explained variance, even when we include text-based embeddings trained on huge corpora. This shows that visual grounding allows our model to capture information that cannot be extracted using text as the only source of information.


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The Nijmegen Corpus of Casual Czech
Mirjam Ernestus | Lucie Kočková-Amortová | Petr Pollak
Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'14)

This article introduces a new speech corpus, the Nijmegen Corpus of Casual Czech (NCCCz), which contains more than 30 hours of high-quality recordings of casual conversations in Common Czech, among ten groups of three male and ten groups of three female friends. All speakers were native speakers of Czech, raised in Prague or in the region of Central Bohemia, and were between 19 and 26 years old. Every group of speakers consisted of one confederate, who was instructed to keep the conversations lively, and two speakers naive to the purposes of the recordings. The naive speakers were engaged in conversations for approximately 90 minutes, while the confederate joined them for approximately the last 72 minutes. The corpus was orthographically annotated by experienced transcribers and this orthographic transcription was aligned with the speech signal. In addition, the conversations were videotaped. This corpus can form the basis for all types of research on casual conversations in Czech, including phonetic research and research on how to improve automatic speech recognition. The corpus will be freely available.


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The Nijmegen Corpus of Casual Spanish
Francisco Torreira | Mirjam Ernestus
Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'10)

This article describes the preparation, recording and orthographic transcription of a new speech corpus, the Nijmegen Corpus of Casual Spanish (NCCSp). The corpus contains around 30 hours of recordings of 52 Madrid Spanish speakers engaged in conversations with friends. Casual speech was elicited during three different parts, which together provided around ninety minutes of speech from every group of speakers. While Parts 1 and 2 did not require participants to perform any specific task, in Part 3 participants negotiated a common answer to general questions about society. Information about how to obtain a copy of the corpus can be found online at http://mirjamernestus.ruhosting.nl/Ernestus/NCCSp

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Spontal-N: A Corpus of Interactional Spoken Norwegian
Rein Ove Sikveland | Anton Öttl | Ingunn Amdal | Mirjam Ernestus | Torbjørn Svendsen | Jens Edlund
Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'10)

Spontal-N is a corpus of spontaneous, interactional Norwegian. To our knowledge, it is the first corpus of Norwegian in which the majority of speakers have spent significant parts of their lives in Sweden, and in which the recorded speech displays varying degrees of interference from Swedish. The corpus consists of studio quality audio- and video-recordings of four 30-minute free conversations between acquaintances, and a manual orthographic transcription of the entire material. On basis of the orthographic transcriptions, we automatically annotated approximately 50 percent of the material on the phoneme level, by means of a forced alignment between the acoustic signal and pronunciations listed in a dictionary. Approximately seven percent of the automatic transcription was manually corrected. Taking the manual correction as a gold standard, we evaluated several sources of pronunciation variants for the automatic transcription. Spontal-N is intended as a general purpose speech resource that is also suitable for investigating phonetic detail.

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The Kachna L1/L2 Picture Replication Corpus
Helena Spilková | Daniel Brenner | Anton Öttl | Pavel Vondřička | Wim van Dommelen | Mirjam Ernestus
Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'10)

This paper presents the Kachna corpus of spontaneous speech, in which ten Czech and ten Norwegian speakers were recorded both in their native language and in English. The dialogues are elicited using a picture replication task that requires active cooperation and interaction of speakers by asking them to produce a drawing as close to the original as possible. The corpus is appropriate for the study of interactional features and speech reduction phenomena across native and second languages. The combination of productions in non-native English and in speakers’ native language is advantageous for investigation of L2 issues while providing a L1 behaviour reference from all the speakers. The corpus consists of 20 dialogues comprising 12 hours 53 minutes of recording, and was collected in 2008. Preparation of the transcriptions, including a manual orthographic transcription and an automatically generated phonetic transcription, is currently in progress. The phonetic transcriptions are automatically generated by aligning acoustic models with the speech signal on the basis of the orthographic transcriptions and a dictionary of pronunciation variants compiled for the relevant language. Upon completion the corpus will be made available via the European Language Resources Association (ELRA).