Tessa Masis


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Corpus-Guided Contrast Sets for Morphosyntactic Feature Detection in Low-Resource English Varieties
Tessa Masis | Anissa Neal | Lisa Green | Brendan O’Connor
Proceedings of the first workshop on NLP applications to field linguistics

The study of language variation examines how language varies between and within different groups of speakers, shedding light on how we use language to construct identities and how social contexts affect language use. A common method is to identify instances of a certain linguistic feature - say, the zero copula construction - in a corpus, and analyze the feature’s distribution across speakers, topics, and other variables, to either gain a qualitative understanding of the feature’s function or systematically measure variation. In this paper, we explore the challenging task of automatic morphosyntactic feature detection in low-resource English varieties. We present a human-in-the-loop approach to generate and filter effective contrast sets via corpus-guided edits. We show that our approach improves feature detection for both Indian English and African American English, demonstrate how it can assist linguistic research, and release our fine-tuned models for use by other researchers.


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ProSPer: Probing Human and Neural Network Language Model Understanding of Spatial Perspective
Tessa Masis | Carolyn Anderson
Proceedings of the Fourth BlackboxNLP Workshop on Analyzing and Interpreting Neural Networks for NLP

Understanding perspectival language is important for applications like dialogue systems and human-robot interaction. We propose a probe task that explores how well language models understand spatial perspective. We present a dataset for evaluating perspective inference in English, ProSPer, and use it to explore how humans and Transformer-based language models infer perspective. Although the best bidirectional model performs similarly to humans, they display different strengths: humans outperform neural networks in conversational contexts, while RoBERTa excels at written genres.