It was about one and a half years ago that I finally I arrived where I had always wanted to be and do what I had always wanted-- teach students, support small language communities and conduct research on African languages on my doorstep. The University of Cape Town and my new colleagues welcomed my efforts to establish the Centre for African Language Diversity-- CALDi as well as The African Language Archive-- TALA and I was recently appointed the Mellon Research Chair: African Language Diversity this initiative. The main aim of CALDi is to train young African scholars in descriptive linguistics and open up space for research into African languages at UCT with the hopes of countering the dominance of African linguistics outside the continent. It has been a great challenge for which my whole career has been a form of preparation...Read more
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Index Structures for the Exploration of Natural Language Corpora
Linguistic Resources for Natural Language Processing 06
This study describes the development of a large-scale corpus query system – a specialized search engine used to perform advanced types of pattern search, especially for patterns used by linguists interested in discovering syntactic phenomena in large corpora.
Beginning with a review of traditional search engine algorithms, the main focus then shifts to suffix arrays, a data structure that has been available since 1987, but is not commonly used in large-scale search engines for various technical reasons.
Recently developed algorithms are considered in this study as the starting point for a new attempt to re-introduce the suffix array as a data structure of practical value to corpus-linguistic research. One of the key findings is a technique that combines several suffix arrays using indexed bit vectors and enables the searching of layers of meta information, such as part-of-speech information and semantic labels, in parallel to searching the text. A set of algorithms operating on that data structure is presented, enabling sophisticated pattern matching, such as gap-matching and gap-filling, as well as improved methods of concordance generation. The final chapters present practical examples of how the new system is used to make linguistically relevant discoveries in real corpora.