Nicholas Evans


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To compress or not to compress? A Finite-State approach to Nen verbal morphology
Saliha Muradoglu | Nicholas Evans | Hanna Suominen
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Student Research Workshop

This paper describes the development of a verbal morphological parser for an under-resourced Papuan language, Nen. Nen verbal morphology is particularly complex, with a transitive verb taking up to 1,740 unique features. The structural properties exhibited by Nen verbs raises interesting choices for analysis. Here we compare two possible methods of analysis: ‘Chunking’ and decomposition. ‘Chunking’ refers to the concept of collating morphological segments into one, whereas the decomposition model follows a more classical linguistic approach. Both models are built using the Finite-State Transducer toolkit foma. The resultant architecture shows differences in size and structural clarity. While the ‘Chunking’ model is under half the size of the full de-composed counterpart, the decomposition displays higher structural order. In this paper, we describe the challenges encountered when modelling a language exhibiting distributed exponence and present the first morphological analyser for Nen, with an overall accuracy of 80.3%.

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Modelling Verbal Morphology in Nen
Saliha Muradoglu | Nicholas Evans | Ekaterina Vylomova
Proceedings of the The 18th Annual Workshop of the Australasian Language Technology Association

Nen verbal morphology is particularly complex; a transitive verb can take up to 1,740 unique forms. The combined effect of having a large combinatoric space and a low-resource setting amplifies the need for NLP tools. Nen morphology utilises distributed exponence - a non-trivial means of mapping form to meaning. In this paper, we attempt to model Nen verbal morphology using state-of-the-art machine learning models for morphological reinflection. We explore and categorise the types of errors these systems generate. Our results show sensitivity to training data composition; different distributions of verb type yield different accuracies (patterning with E-complexity). We also demonstrate the types of patterns that can be inferred from the training data, through the case study of sycretism.