Linguistic Issues in Language Technology, Volume 10, 2014
This paper presents a cognitively-inspired algorithm for the semantic analysis of nominal compounds by intelligent agents. The agents, modeled within the OntoAgent environment, are tasked to compute a full context-sensitive semantic interpretation of each compound using a battery of engines that rely on a high-quality computational lexicon and ontology. Rather than being treated as an isolated “task”, as in many NLP approaches, nominal compound analysis in OntoAgent represents a minimal extension to the core process of semantic analysis. We hypothesize that seeking similarities across language analysis tasks reflects the spirit of how people approach language interpretation, and that this approach will make feasible the long-term development of truly sophisticated, human-like intelligent agents. The initial evaluation of our approach to nominal compounds are fixed expressions, requiring individual semantic specification at the lexical level.
We describe CALL-SLT, a speech-enabled Computer-Assisted Language Learning application where the central idea is to prompt the student with an abstract representation of what they are supposed to say, and then use a combination of grammar-based speech recognition and rule-based translation to rate their response. The system has been developed to the level of a mature prototype, freely deployed on the web, with versions for several languages. We present an overview of the core system architecture and the various types of content we have developed. Finally, we describe several evaluations, the last of which is a study carried out over about a week using 130 subjects recruited through the Amazon Mechanical Turk, in which CALL-SLT was contrasted against a control version where the speech recognition component was disabled. The improvement in student learning performance between the two groups was significant at p < 0.02.