Distinguished Visitor

Distinguished Visitor from 2013

CILLDI, in conjunction with the Alberta Language Technology Lab, is pleased to welcome Dr. Trond Trosterud as a Distinguished Visitor to the University of Alberta, October 17-25. A long-time advocate for Indigenous language rights, Dr. Trosterud earned his PhD from the University of Tromsø in Norway in 2004, following a successful private-sector career in language engineering. Today, Dr. Trosterud is the Director of Giellatekno, the centre for Saami language technology at the University of Tromsø, and is one of the world's foremost experts on developing cutting-edge language technology for Indigenous languages.  Beyond his innovative work with the indigenous Saami languages of Scandinavia, Dr. Trosterud also sits on the board of Norwegian Language Council, the National Centre for Nynorsk Education, and the Kvensk Institutt, and has served as the vice president of the Northern European Association for Language Technology.

Dr. Trosterud will be giving several presentations on campus during his time here, as well as offering a hands-on workshop.  Details are provided below.  We look forward to seeing you there!

CILLDI and ALT Lab gratefully acknowledge the support of the Faculty of Native Studies, Department of Anthropology, Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, Department of Computer Science, Department of Linguistics, Canadian Institute for Nordic Studies (CINS), Distiguished Visitors Fund, the Office of Vice-President (Research) of the University of Alberta, and Canadian Circum-Polar Institute (CCI) in bringing Dr. Trosterud to campus.

Schedule of Events

Friday, October 18  --  Theoretical implications of developing working analyzers for inflectional languages. 3:00-4:00 pm, CSC B2.

Monday, October 21 - Friday, October 25  --  Computational morphological models for indigenous languages.  Centre for Comparative Psycholinguistics, Lab 103 (basement of Old Arts Building)

Tuesday, October 22 -- Why do rule-based formalisms work well for commonly-used language technological tools?  2:00-3:00 pm. Athabasca Hall 3-32.

Thursday, October 24 -- Reversing language extinction. How language technology can contribute in the revitalization of the linguistic heritage of the Americas. 5:00-7:00 pm. Telus Centre, Meeting Room 134 and Atrium. Town & Gown - lecture open to the general public and academia.

Friday, October 25 -- "There are no indigenous people here; we all have electric light" -- Two centuries of assimilationist policy in the Nordic countries.  2:00-4:00 pm. Senate Chamber, Old Arts Building.

 For further information on any of these events, see below, or contact Antti Arppe (arppe@ualberta.ca, 780-492-1935) or the CILLDI office (cilldi@ualberta.ca, 780-248-1179).

Linguistics colloquium

Theoretical implications of developing working analyzers for inflectional languages

Date & Time: Friday, October 18, 3-4pm
Location: CSC B2

Creating computational models and analyzers for inflecting languages, using e.g. finite state transducers, is interesting for linguistic research for at least three reasons. First, they are accurate descriptions of grammars ("generative" in the original sense of the word), and therefore offer a merciless test-bed for the descriptive linguist. Second, when the analyzers give rise to working applications, such as web-based language learning tools, it opens up new research possibilities. For example, from a community of approximately 20,000 speakers of North Saami, our interactive pedagogical programs show a log of over 400,000 pupil responses relating to noun and verb paradigms. These responses provide a valuable resource for psycholinguistic and pedagogical research related to L2 acquisition. Third, the development of spell checkers and interactive dictionaries for endangered language communities makes it possible to study the impact that these programs have on the process and prospects of language revitalization.

Workshop and Tutorial

Computational morphological models for indigenous languages

Monday-Wednesday, October 21-23, 4-7pm
Friday, October 25, 4-6pm
Location: Centre for Comparative Psycholinguistics, Lab 103 (basement of Old Arts Building)

Participants will develop a basic morphological transducer for their language of choice, following the model developed by the Giellatekno Institute. These will cover the most common noun and verb inflections, and will be good enough to be useful for a variety of purposes e.g. interactive e-dictionaries.

RSVP, as well as inquiries for further details by October 14 to: arppe@ualberta.ca

Computer Science NLP seminar

Why do rule-based formalisms work well for commonly-used language technological tools?

Date & time: Tuesday, October 22 at 2-3pm
Location: Athabasca Hall 3-32

There seems to be two main approaches to NLP. Firstly, statistical approaches that can be used to create applications for end-users.  These work, but they are not seen as that interesting by linguists. Secondly, there are linguistic approaches such as LFG/HPSG, which are linguistically interesting, but are still awaiting a breakthrough in being successfully turned into working applications. I will present an approach that combines the best parts of both approaches, giving rise to working solutions while still being linguistically interesting. Moreover, this approach also has something to offer for morphologically complex languages, including many Canadian First Nations languages.

Town and Gown

Reversing language extinction. How language technology can contribute to the revitalization of the linguistic heritage of the Americas

Public talk followed by discussion and refreshments
Date & time: Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 5-7pm
Location: Telus Centre, Meeting room 134 and Atrium

Language is the defining property of humankind. Still, languages are disappearing at an increasing and alarming rate. Reversing the process by which a minority language is replaced by a majority one is by no means easy, but as shown by several indigenous Saami languages of Scandinavia, it is possible. For North Saami, with 20,000 speakers, a language shift which started in parts of it core area in the 1970s has now been turned back. Culturally assimilated parents across the whole Saami area have learned Saami as adults, and are now raising their children in Saami. In the space of one generation, North Saami has gone from being invisible in the schools and mass media, to being the medium of instruction in education up to and including higher education, being bolstered by a daily newspaper and daily TV news broadcasts. Moreover, Inari Saami, with less than 300 speakers, has acquired a new and youthful image with a nationally famous rapper, and has recruited a new generation of speakers through a successful language nest program.

This talk gives an overview of the key milestones in the revitalization of Saami languages over the last several decades, including a discussion of how the development of language technology has enabled and supported minority language use in a modern society. Beyond their practical applications for Indigenous communities, these tools also open up new avenues for research into the psychology of language processing and language learning.

Note: This talk is open to everyone from the University and the community at large.

Joint seminar hosted by Department of Modern Languages and Culture Studies, Canadian Institute of Nordic Studies (CINS), Department of Anthropology, Canadian Circumpolar Institute, and Faculty of Native Studies

"There are no indigenous people here; we all have electric light" -- Two centuries of assimilationist policy in the Nordic countries.

Date & Time: Friday, October 25 at 2-4pm
Location: Senate Chamber, Old Arts Building

In the Nordic countries, indigenous peoples and the ethnic majority can look back at at least two millennia of coexistence. How old and how thorough the assimilation process has been varies from area to area, as does the official policy in the different countries. In Norway and Sweden, policy towards the Saami was an important part of the foreign policy. In the domestic policy assimilation and segregation have taken turns in being the dominant paradigms during different historical eras. In Finland, the development has been different, due to the close linguistic relationship between Finnish and Saami. All the Saami languages have witnessed degrees of language shift over the last two centuries. Some, but not all, of the Saami languages have also been able to reverse this shift, to a degree almost unseen in other parts of the world. This talk will give an overview of the historical background to the contrasting policies in the different countries, and also discusses the background and outcomes of the revitalization movement.