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Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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What is English? And Why Should We Care?

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To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.


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Academic Paper


Title: Automatic summarisation of discussion fora
Author: Almer S Tigelaar
Institution: University of Twente
Author: Rieks Op Den Akker
Institution: University of Twente
Author: Djoerd Hiemstra
Institution: University of Twente
Linguistic Field: Computational Linguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics
Subject Language: Dutch
Abstract: Web-based discussion fora proliferate on the Internet. These fora consist of threads about specific matters. Existing forum search facilities provide an easy way for finding threads of interest. However, understanding the content of threads is not always trivial. This problem becomes more pressing as threads become longer. It frustrates users that are looking for specific information and also makes it more difficult to make valuable contributions to a discussion. We postulate that having a concise summary of a thread would greatly help forum users. But, how would we best create such summaries? In this paper, we present an automated method of summarising threads in discussion fora. Compared with summarisation of unstructured texts and spoken dialogues, the structural characteristics of threads give important advantages. We studied how to best exploit these characteristics. Messages in threads contain both explicit and implicit references to each other and are structured. Therefore, we term the threads hierarchical dialogues. Our proposed summarisation algorithm produces one summary of an hierarchical dialogue by ‘cherry-picking’ sentences out of the original messages that make up a thread. We try to select sentences usable for obtaining an overview of the discussion. Our method is built around a set of heuristics based on observations of real fora discussions. The data used for this research was in Dutch, but the developed method equally applies to other languages. We evaluated our approach using a prototype. Users judged our summariser as very useful, half of them indicating they would use it regularly or always when visiting fora.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Natural Language Engineering Vol. 16, Issue 2, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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