LINGUIST List 32.3021

Fri Sep 24 2021

Rising Stars: Meet Asya Yurchenko!

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <everettlinguistlist.org>



Date: 24-Sep-2021
From: LINGUIST List <linguistlinguistlist.org>
Subject: Rising Stars: Meet Asya Yurchenko!
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Dear Linguist List Readers,

For the first rising star of 2021 we have Asya Yurchenko, an MA student making her meteoric rise at Technische Universität Dresden. She has run and participated in a number of interesting experiments. These include creating a corpus of English in Indian newspapers (along with the web crawler necessary to attain the data) and working on a project on English in Madeira in cooperation with linguists from TU Dresden and TU Dortmund. She's been involved in not just one but two joint publications accepted by high-profile journals in corpus linguistics and English linguistics. This is only a sliver of what Asya has accomplished and we expect to see great things from her in the future. For now, let's get to her piece!

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One of the biggest strengths of linguistics, for me, is its multidisciplinary nature. Because of how central language is to the human experience, its connection to practically all areas of our lives cannot be understated. This makes cooperation between linguistics and other fields such as psychology, anthropology, neurobiology, law, social and forensic sciences as well as computer science a logical endeavor. In the future, I foresee these multidisciplinary ties becoming even stronger, with linguists being able to contribute even more to different fields where our expertise might be required. For instance, although the discipline of forensic linguistics is already thriving, with experts in the field constantly contributing important findings to the existing body of knowledge, I expect to see forensic linguists and other forensic experts working together more closely in the future on a variety of language-related elements of crime. Furthermore, I foresee linguists entering and contributing more to those areas of research which, at the moment, are still mainly considered to be the domain of computer science, such as Natural Language Processing, AI, human-machine interaction, etc.

Two areas from the sphere of computer science that I would like to see more linguists participate in are fake news detection and automatic text summarization. With the ongoing pandemic and the countless misinformation campaigns which have been disseminated since its outset, as well as with the rise of populist, social media-savvy politicians and insidious conspiracy theories, the need for effective fake news identification and labelling has never been greater. In my opinion, fake news detection is an incredibly important area of research on which linguists, computer scientists, forensic experts and psychologists alike can collaborate (hello again, multidisciplinarity!).

Automatic text summarization (ATS), to me, is another area of great relevance. With the enormous, ever-increasing volume of information we are confronted with every day, most of which we simply do not have the time to process, ATS has the task of making it significantly easier to handle. While the complex cognitive process of how humans summarize information is a fascinating subject of study in itself, a question ATS asks is how can we get a computer algorithm to approximate it in order to produce concise, meaningful summaries? Furthermore, with huge advancements having been made over the past decades on automatic summaries of news articles and scientific papers, ATS researchers are now turning their attention to other text genres, such as books, screenplays, opinion pieces, Twitter threads, as well as tasks like multi-document and user-guided summarizations. Such a wide variety of text types, approaches and methods makes this an incredible field for experimentation and (again!) collaboration for experts from different fields, most importantly linguistics and computer science. It is also something I can see myself contributing my unique perspective to in the future.

However the future of linguistics may look, I am sure that it will continue to be filled with innovation, experimentation and creativity, which are some of the qualities I cherish the most about the field. I will forever be grateful to my advisor and mentor Prof. Dr. Claudia Lange for fostering these qualities in her students by encouraging us to always think outside the box and come up with research ideas which are bold, original and exciting. And, most importantly, to have fun with our research! Without her encouragement, I do not see myself having ever attempted to quantify estrangement in the language of Futurama for ICAME or having created a verbal lie detection method for my master’s thesis using the British comedy show Would I Lie to You? as my research database. It is this opportunity to be creative and come up with unique ways of doing research that, for me, makes linguistics one of the most innovative sciences. As a research associate and PhD student-to-be, I look forward to fostering boundless experimentation and creativity in my own future students and imparting on them the value of unique ideas.

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Page Updated: 24-Sep-2021