School of Languages and Linguistics - Research Publications

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    The pacific expansion: Optimizing phonetic transcription of archival corpora
    Billington, R ; Stoakes, H ; Thieberger, N (ISCA, 2021-01-01)
    For most of the world’s languages, detailed phonetic analyses across different aspects of the sound system do not exist, due in part to limitations in available speech data and tools for efficiently processing such data for low-resource languages. Archival language documentation collections offer opportunities to extend the scope and scale of phonetic research on low-resource languages, and developments in methods for automatic recognition and alignment of speech facilitate the preparation of phonetic corpora based on these collections. We present a case study applying speech modelling and forced alignment methods to narrative data for Nafsan, an Oceanic language of central Vanuatu. We examine the accuracy of the forced-aligned phonetic labelling based on limited speech data used in the modelling process, and compare acoustic and durational measures of 17,851 vowel tokens for 11 speakers with previous experimental phonetic data for Nafsan. Results point to the suitability of archival data for large-scale studies of phonetic variation in low-resource languages, and also suggest that this approach can feasibly be used as a starting point in expanding to phonetic comparisons across closely-related Oceanic languages.
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    Developing a workforce to support research reliant on data and compute
    Turpin, A ; Gruba, P ; Pozanenko, A ; Stupnikov, S ; Thalheim, B ; Mendez, E ; Kiselyova, N (CEUR, 2021-01-01)
    We describe the construction, operation and evaluation of the Melbourne Data Analytics Platform; a group of academics whose mission is to support research requiring non-trivial data analysis or compute at the University of Melbourne.
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    Developing global citizenship through real-world tasks – a virtual exchange between North American university students and Italian upper-secondary school students
    Trapè, R ; Hauck, M ; Muller-Hartmann, A (Research-publishing.net, 2020-11-30)
    This paper concerns a virtual exchange project between the University of Virginia (UVa), United States, and an upper-secondary school in Pavia, Italy. Centred on the question of gender equality, the project has been designed to take place over three years (2018–2021) with a direct reference to Robert O’Dowd’s transnational model of virtual exchange for global citizenship education, proposed in 2018. As an integrated part of the language learning curriculum, the project creates a virtual space which parallels the space-time of traditional class tuition, and which students can inhabit with a significant degree of autonomy. More specifically, this paper gives an account of how students, through real-world tasks, could develop global citizenship.
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    AusKidTalk: An Auditory-Visual Corpus of 3- to 12-Year-Old Australian Children's Speech
    Ahmed, B ; Ballard, KJ ; Burnham, D ; Sirojan, T ; Mehmood, H ; Estival, D ; Baker, E ; Cox, F ; Arciuli, J ; Benders, T ; Demuth, K ; Kelly, B ; Diskin-Holdaway, C ; Shahin, M ; Sethu, V ; Epps, J ; Lee, CB ; Ambikairajah, E (ISCA, 2021)
    Here we present AusKidTalk [1], an audio-visual (AV) corpus of Australian children’s speech collected to facilitate the development of speech based technological solutions for children. It builds upon the technology and expertise developed through the collection of an earlier corpus of Australian adult speech, AusTalk [2,3]. This multi-site initiative was established to remedy the dire shortage of children’s speech corpora in Australia and around the world that are sufficiently sized to train accurate automated speech processing tools for children. We are collecting ~600 hours of speech from children aged 3–12 years that includes single word and sentence productions as well as narrative and emotional speech. In this paper, we discuss the key requirements for AusKidTalk and how we designed the recording setup and protocol to meet them. We also discuss key findings from our feasibility study of the recording protocol, recording tools, and user interface.
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    The “other” Spanish: Methodological issues in the study of speech timing in Chilean Spanish
    Reynolds, I ; Maxwell, O ; Wigglesworth, G (International Speech Communication Association (ISCA), 2020-01-01)
    This paper is a preliminary account of speech rhythm and some phonological properties of Chilean Spanish in spontaneous dialogues. Different dialects of Spanish have been studied using rhythm metrics measuring the durational variability of vocalic and consonantal intervals. There are, however, methodological issues regarding the segmentation of intervals, often overlooked in previous research, such as the criteria for categorising certain segments into the different intervals and the segmentation of different voice qualities. The present study addresses this gap and compares rhythm metrics obtained using two methods of segmentation based on the available literature. The analyses reveal that a strictly 'acoustic' approach to segmentation of intervals results in slightly inflated metrics. Nevertheless, both methods show there is significant durational interval variability in Chilean Spanish, compared to other dialects of Spanish, that may be connected to phonological properties of the variety.
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    Be Not Like the Wind: Access to Language and Music Records, Next Steps
    Thieberger, N ; Harris, A (European Language Resources Association (ELRA), 2020)
    Language archives play an important role in keeping records of the world’s languages safe. Accessible audio recordings held in archives can be used by speakers of small and endangered languages, and their communities, and provide a base for further research and documentation. There is an urgent need for historical analog tape recordings to be located and digitised, as they will soon be unplayable. PARADISEC holds records in 1228 languages. We run training for language documentation and are developing technologies to localise access to language records. A concerted effort is needed to support language archives and sustain language diversity.
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    The Language Documentation Quartet
    Musgrave, S ; Thieberger, N (University of Colorado at Boulder, 2021)
    As we noted in an earlier paper (Musgrave & Thieberger 2012), the written description of a language is an essentially hypertextual exercise, linking various kinds of material in a dense network. An aim based on that insight is to provide a model that can be implemented in tools for language documentation, allowing instantiation of the links always followed in writing a grammar or a dictionary, tracking backwards and forwards to the texts and media as the source of authority for claims made in an analysis. Our earlier paper described our initial efforts to encode Heath’s (1984) grammar, texts (1980), and dictionary (1982) of Nunggubuyu, an Australian language from eastern Arnhemland. We chose this body of work because it was written with many internal links between the three volumes. The links are all encoded with textual indexes which looked to be ready to be instantiated as automated hyperlinks once the technology was available. In this paper, we discuss our progress in identifying how the four component parts of a description (grammar, text, dictionary, media, henceforth the quartet) can be interlinked, what are the logical points at which to join them, and whether there are practical limits to how far this linking should be carried. We suggest that the problems which are exposed in this process can inform the development of an abstract or theoretical data structure for each of the components and these in turn can provide models for language documentation work which can feed into hypertext presentations of the type we are developing.
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    UniMorph 3.0: Universal morphology
    McCarthy, AD ; Kirov, C ; Grella, M ; Nidhi, A ; Xia, P ; Gorman, K ; Vylomova, E ; Mielke, SJ ; Nicolai, G ; Silfverberg, M ; Arkhangelskij, T ; Krizhanovsky, N ; Krizhanovsky, A ; Klyachko, E ; Sorokin, A ; Mansfield, J ; Ernštreits, V ; Pinter, Y ; Jacobs, CL ; Cotterell, R ; Hulden, M ; Yarowsky, D ; Calzolari, N (European Language Resources Association (ELRA), 2020-01-01)
    The Universal Morphology (UniMorph) project is a collaborative effort providing broad-coverage instantiated normalized morphological paradigms for hundreds of diverse world languages. The project comprises two major thrusts: a language-independent feature schema for rich morphological annotation and a type-level resource of annotated data in diverse languages realizing that schema. We have implemented several improvements to the extraction pipeline which creates most of our data, so that it is both more complete and more correct. We have added 66 new languages, as well as new parts of speech for 12 languages. We have also amended the schema in several ways. Finally, we present three new community tools: two to validate data for resource creators, and one to make morphological data available from the command line. UniMorph is based at the Center for Language and Speech Processing (CLSP) at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. This paper details advances made to the schema, tooling, and dissemination of project resources since the UniMorph 2.0 release described at LREC 2018.
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    Scaling processes of clause chains in Pitjantjatjara
    Defina, R ; Torres, C ; Stoakes, H (Interspeech, 2020)
    Clause chains are a syntactic strategy for combining multiple clauses into a single unit. They are reported in many languages, including Korean and Turkish. However, they have seen relatively little focused research. In particular, prosodic features are often mentioned in descriptions of clause chaining, however there have been vanishingly few investigations. Corpus-based studies of the prosody of clause chains in two unrelated languages of Papua New Guinea report that they are typically produced as a sequence of Intonation phrases united by pitch-scaling of the L% boundary tones in each clause with only the final, finite, clause descending to a full L%. The present study is the first experimental investigation of the prosody of clause chains in Pitjantjatjara. This paper focuses on one type of clause chain found in the Australian Indigenous language Pitjantjatjara. We examine a set of 120 clause chains read out by three native Pitjantjatjara speakers. Prosodic analysis reveals that these Pitjantjatjara clause chains are produced within a single Intonational Phrase. Speakers do not pause between the clauses in the chain, there is consistent linear downstep throughout the phrase and additionally phrase final lowering occurs at the end of the utterance. This differs from previous impressionistic studies of the prosody of clause chains.
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    Perception of consonant length in familiar and unfamiliar languages by native speakers of Mandarin, Italian and Japanese
    Tsukada, K ; Hajek, J (ISCA, 2020)
    This study builds on our previous research and provides additional analyses to determine if there is a relationship between the ability to process consonant length in familiar and unfamiliar languages for learners of Japanese whose native language is Italian or Mandarin. The emphasis is on L2-L3 (second-third language) phonetic influence. Japanese and Italian use consonant length contrastively, but not Mandarin. We thus asked if Mandarin learners with higher proficiency in Japanese are more or less accurate in length identification than Italian learners with first language (L1) experience of consonant length. Specifically, we focused on finding out if learners who accurately identify Japanese consonant length might also be accurate in their identification of the length category in Italian. Four groups of listeners differing in their L1 (Italian x 2 groups, Japanese, Mandarin) and experience with consonant length participated in forced-choice identification experiments. L1 Japanese and L1 Italian listeners identified the length category more accurately in their L1 than in the foreign language (FL). The ability to identify consonant length in Japanese and Italian by 18 advanced Mandarin-speaking learners of Japanese seemed unrelated. This suggests that speech processing skills acquired in one FL may not automatically transfer to another FL.