Monday, April 11, 2016

COST ELN STSM on multi-word production (1): The start

At the end of 2014, the COST Action IS1401 Strengthening Europeans' Capabilities by Establishing the European Literacy Network (ELN) started. We will explore how to help people (students, adults, novices and experts, and foreign language learners) to write and read better. You can read about he official statement, goals, and working groups on the COST ELN website.

One instrument in COST actions are STSM (short term scientific missions). Combining my interests in writing processes and multiword expressions (which I follow in the COST action PARSEME (PARSing and Multi-word Expressions) Towards linguistic precision and computational efficiency in natural language processing, I applied for a research adventure with Ioannis Dimakos from the Department of Primary Education of the University of Patras. He heads the Laboratory of Cognitive Analysis of Learning, Language and Dyslexia. Under Constantin Porpodas this lab participated in the COST action A8 "Learning disorders as a a barrier to human development."

For this STSM we work on a multi-lingual study on multi-word expression (MWE) production. A great part of natural language (either spoken or written) consists of MWE (i.e., sequences of words with special meaning and/or syntactic properties). Those units have to be learned, the use and meaning cannot be deduced from a simple combination of the words involved. MWEs are rather fixed units and they are typically stored as complete units in dictionaries. It has been shown widely that knowledge of such units plays a key role in reading and listening. However, there is very little research on the production of multi-word expressions. In a pilot study, I could show that MWEs of various kinds (idiomatic phrases, terminology, grammatical constructions, etc.) are produced with significantly shorter pauses between the words involved than when producing any other sequence of words. This study was based on texts produced by German university students who wrote short argumentative essays, the writing was recorded using Inputlog. It has been shown in great detail that use, structure, and semantics of MWEs are similar across European languages and European cultures. In this STSM we will investigate whether this holds also for the production of MWEs in German and Greek.

So, in the second week of April 2016, I travelled to Patras, found a really nice hotel by the sea with a great view, and we started our small project.

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