Robert Pugh


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Comparing methods of orthographic conversion for Bàsàá, a language of Cameroon
Alexandra O’neil | Daniel Swanson | Robert Pugh | Francis Tyers | Emmanuel Ngue Um
Proceedings of the Fourth workshop on Resources for African Indigenous Languages (RAIL 2023)

Orthographical standardization is a milestone in a language’s documentation and the development of its resources. However, texts written in former orthographies remain relevant to the language’s history and development and therefore must be converted to the standardized orthography. Ensuring a language has access to the orthographically standardized version of all of its recorded texts is important in the development of resources as it provides additional textual resources for training, supports contribution of authors using former writing systems, and provides information about the development of the language. This paper evaluates the performance of natural language processing methods, specifically Finite State Transducers and Long Short-term Memory networks, for the orthographical conversion of Bàsàá texts from the Protestant missionary orthography to the now-standard AGLC orthography, with the conclusion that LSTMs are somewhat more effective in the absence of explicit lexical information.

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Codex to corpus: Exploring annotation and processing for an open and extensible machine-readable edition of the Florentine Codex
Francis Tyers | Robert Pugh | Valery Berthoud F.
Proceedings of the Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Indigenous Languages of the Americas (AmericasNLP)

This paper describes an ongoing effort to create, from the original hand-written text, a machine-readable, linguistically-annotated, and easily-searchable corpus of the Nahuatl portion of the Florentine Codex, a 16th century Mesoamerican manuscript written in Nahuatl and Spanish. The Codex consists of 12 books and over 300,000 tokens. We describe the process of annotating 3 of these books, the steps of text preprocessing undertaken, our approach to efficient manual processing and annotation, and some of the challenges faced along the way. We also report on a set of experiments evaluating our ability to automate the text processing tasks to aid in the remaining annotation effort, and find the results promising despite the relatively low volume of training data. Finally, we briefly present a real use case from the humanities that would benefit from the searchable, linguistically annotated corpus we describe.

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Developing finite-state language technology for Maya
Robert Pugh | Francis Tyers | Quetzil Castañeda
Proceedings of the Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Indigenous Languages of the Americas (AmericasNLP)

We describe a suite of finite-state language technologies for Maya, a Mayan language spoken in Mexico. At the core is a computational model of Maya morphology and phonology using a finite-state transducer. This model results in a morphological analyzer and a morphologically-informed spell-checker. All of these technologies are designed for use as both a pedagogical reading/writing aid for L2 learners and as a general language processing tool capable of supporting much of the natural variation in written Maya. We discuss the relevant features of Maya morphosyntax and orthography, and then outline the implementation details of the analyzer. To conclude, we present a longer-term vision for these tools and their use by both native speakers and learners.

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A finite-state morphological analyser for Highland Puebla Nahuatl
Robert Pugh | Francis Tyers
Proceedings of the Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Indigenous Languages of the Americas (AmericasNLP)

This paper describes the development of a free/open-source finite-state morphologicaltransducer for Highland Puebla Nahuatl, a Uto-Aztecan language spoken in and around the stateof Puebla in Mexico. The finite-state toolkit used for the work is the Helsinki Finite-StateToolkit (HFST); we use the lexc formalism for modelling the morphotactics and twol formal-ism for modelling morphophonological alternations. An evaluation is presented which showsthat the transducer has a reasonable coveragearound 90%on freely-available corpora of the language, and high precisionover 95%on a manually verified test set


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Universal Dependencies for Western Sierra Puebla Nahuatl
Robert Pugh | Marivel Huerta Mendez | Mitsuya Sasaki | Francis Tyers
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

We present a morpho-syntactically-annotated corpus of Western Sierra Puebla Nahuatl that conforms to the annotation guidelines of the Universal Dependencies project. We describe the sources of the texts that make up the corpus, the annotation process, and important annotation decisions made throughout the development of the corpus. As the first indigenous language of Mexico to be added to the Universal Dependencies project, this corpus offers a good opportunity to test and more clearly define annotation guidelines for the Meso-american linguistic area, spontaneous and elicited spoken data, and code-switching.


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Investigating variation in written forms of Nahuatl using character-based language models
Robert Pugh | Francis Tyers
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Indigenous Languages of the Americas

We describe experiments with character-based language modeling for written variants of Nahuatl. Using a standard LSTM model and publicly available Bible translations, we explore how character language models can be applied to the tasks of estimating mutual intelligibility, identifying genetic similarity, and distinguishing written variants. We demonstrate that these simple language models are able to capture similarities and differences that have been described in the linguistic literature.

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Towards an Open Source Finite-State Morphological Analyzer for Zacatlán-Ahuacatlán-Tepetzintla Nahuatl
Robert Pugh | Francis Tyers
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on the Use of Computational Methods in the Study of Endangered Languages Volume 1 (Papers)


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How to account for mispellings: Quantifying the benefit of character representations in neural content scoring models
Brian Riordan | Michael Flor | Robert Pugh
Proceedings of the Fourteenth Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications

Character-based representations in neural models have been claimed to be a tool to overcome spelling variation in in word token-based input. We examine this claim in neural models for content scoring. We formulate precise hypotheses about the possible effects of adding character representations to word-based models and test these hypotheses on large-scale real world content scoring datasets. We find that, while character representations may provide small performance gains in general, their effectiveness in accounting for spelling variation may be limited. We show that spelling correction can provide larger gains than character representations, and that spelling correction improves the performance of models with character representations. With these insights, we report a new state of the art on the ASAP-SAS content scoring dataset.


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Automatic Token and Turn Level Language Identification for Code-Switched Text Dialog: An Analysis Across Language Pairs and Corpora
Vikram Ramanarayanan | Robert Pugh
Proceedings of the 19th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

We examine the efficacy of various feature–learner combinations for language identification in different types of text-based code-switched interactions – human-human dialog, human-machine dialog as well as monolog – at both the token and turn levels. In order to examine the generalization of such methods across language pairs and datasets, we analyze 10 different datasets of code-switched text. We extract a variety of character- and word-based text features and pass them into multiple learners, including conditional random fields, logistic regressors and recurrent neural networks. We further examine the efficacy of novel character-level embedding and GloVe features in improving performance and observe that our best-performing text system significantly outperforms a majority vote baseline across language pairs and datasets.


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A Report on the 2017 Native Language Identification Shared Task
Shervin Malmasi | Keelan Evanini | Aoife Cahill | Joel Tetreault | Robert Pugh | Christopher Hamill | Diane Napolitano | Yao Qian
Proceedings of the 12th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications

Native Language Identification (NLI) is the task of automatically identifying the native language (L1) of an individual based on their language production in a learned language. It is typically framed as a classification task where the set of L1s is known a priori. Two previous shared tasks on NLI have been organized where the aim was to identify the L1 of learners of English based on essays (2013) and spoken responses (2016) they provided during a standardized assessment of academic English proficiency. The 2017 shared task combines the inputs from the two prior tasks for the first time. There are three tracks: NLI on the essay only, NLI on the spoken response only (based on a transcription of the response and i-vector acoustic features), and NLI using both responses. We believe this makes for a more interesting shared task while building on the methods and results from the previous two shared tasks. In this paper, we report the results of the shared task. A total of 19 teams competed across the three different sub-tasks. The fusion track showed that combining the written and spoken responses provides a large boost in prediction accuracy. Multiple classifier systems (e.g. ensembles and meta-classifiers) were the most effective in all tasks, with most based on traditional classifiers (e.g. SVMs) with lexical/syntactic features.