<oo><dh><translate> Characterizing Linguistic Divergences in Machine Translation
Professor DumbledoreAlbus Dumbledore versus Noam Chomsky

What is linguistics?

Overview of core concepts used in our project

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Linguistics | an introduction
Often times, people think linguists are translators. This is a misconception. Linguistics is the scientific study of language. While linguists may study and learn foreign languages as part of their work, the field is broader than these tasks. Saeed (2003) describes how linguists have traditionally defined languages in modules. The diagram to the left is a variation of his own hierarchial representation of these modules (p. 9). Each of its elements are described in detail below. Pursue the following descriptions to gain a better understanding of how linguists think of language and general concepts used throughout this project.
Phonetics | [fəˈnɛtɪks]
"Phonetics is the study of the minimal units that make up language. For spoken language these are the sounds of speech -- the consonants, vowels, melodies, and rythms" (Mihalcek and Wilson, 2011, p. 36). Different languages contain different sets of possible speech sounds. For instance, French contains nasalized vowels that English, German, and Slovak do not. The English "shhh" sound, in words such as Chicago and slush does not exist in Slovak. On the other hand, the trilled Slovak "r," in zmrzlina ("ice cream") and štvrtok ("Thursday"), is not present in any of the other three languages. A further issue is that alphabets often times do not accurately reflect phonetic information. English is a notorious example of this. Note that the character "a" in cat versus animal versus Asia represents very different vowel sounds!
Linguists discuss different languages in relation to each other all the time, and its important that they have means to accurately discern speech sounds in these discussions. In articulatory phonetics, linguists can discuss speeech sounds by how they are physiologically produced, or in acoustic phonetics, linguists can discuss sounds in terms of their physical properties (Mihalcek and Wilson, 2011, p 36). For the purpose of universally representing all the sounds of the world's languages, the International Phonetic Association developed the International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA system. It is an alphabetic system of notation which attempts to establish individual characters for every physical speech sound or phoneme (IPA, Handbook).
Phonology | /phonology/
Phonetics is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds. Phonology is concerned with how speakers of a language mentally represent physical speech sounds in their head. For instance, does cat end with the same speech sound that the word take starts with? Most native English speakers would respond, "Yes!" However, on closer examination, we find that this is not the case. The "t" in take is aspirated while the "t" in cat is not. Native English speakers can test this. Pronounce each world with your palm facing your mouth at a distance of 1-2 inches. You'll feel a puff of air as you pronounce the "t" in take but not in pronouncing the "t" in cat. For native English speakers, the difference between these two phonemes is not meaningful, and they both are part of the same allophone, or mental representation (Odden, 2005, p. 2-3, 44).
Morphology & Syntax | [[[morph]V-ologyA]]N & [NP[[Det][Nsyntax]]]
Morphology is the study of the internal structure of words (Katamba and Stonam, 2006, p. 3). Syntax is the study is how words are assembled or ordered to build grammatical phrase and sentence structures (Carnie, 2013, p. 4). There is extensive interaction between these two language modules.
Consider the English word color. It can be a noun which refers to physically properties such as "red," "green," "orange," etc. or a verb meaning "to add color." Morphological markers may be added to color to produce new words with new meanings, for instance, color-ful and color-less. From one noun, suddenly we have an array of adjectives. To the verb color, we can add markings which indicate features such as person or tense: "He colors," "The girl is coloring drawings," "They colored." Now consider the following sentences: "The pages were uncolored," "The uncolored pages were thrown out," "The discolored paper can be recycled." Through morphological marking, a verb (arguably) becomes an adjective, certainly more so in the last two sentences than the first.
In the above examples, there are a lot of constraints on where or in what order the different color derivations are able to appear in a sentence. "He colorful" and "The girl is uncolored drawings" are ungrammatical sentences. The famous syntactician Noam Chomsky coined the following two sentences:
(1) Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
(2) Furiously sleep ideas green colorless.
The first is grammatical but nonsensical. The second is both nonsensical and ungrammatical ("Colorless green ideas do not sleep furiously -- or do they?" 2008). Syntactic rules govern speakers' perception of grammaticality in their native language. Of course, the examples so far are restricted to English. It is important to be aware that meaning and grammaticality is encoded into morphological and syntactic modules differently across languages. English has little morphology compared to the Slavic languages where case marking is extensive. Consider the following sentences:
(1) Robert hit Maria.
(2) Maria hit Robert.
The syntactic ordering is altered between the two sentences, and this in turn drastically alters their meaning. In the first, Robert is the subject and Mara is the direct object, i.e., the recipient of Robert's hitting. In the second, Maria is the subject, and Robert is the recipient of Maria's hitting. Grammatical rules in Slovak would forbid the same syntactic switch from resulting in the same meaning switch. Instead, the meaning switch would have to be encoded by case marking.
(1a) Robert bije Mariu.
(1b) Mariu Robert bije.
(1c) Mariu bije Robert.

(2a) Maria bije Roberta.
(2b) Maria Roberta bije.
(2c) Roberta bije Maria.
In sentence 1a to 1c, Robert undergoes no morphological change and thus is in the nominative case, meaning he is the sentence subject. Maria is the recipient of the action "hit." The "-a" to -u feminine singular ending change marks her as the direct object, and changing the order of the sentence does not over ride the meaning behind this morphology. Conversely, in sentences 2a to 2c, Robert is the direct object, as marked by the masculine animate singular suffix "-a." In general, the accusative case marks the direct object in Slovak in addition to many other semantic features. There are 4 further cases in Slovak: the genitive, the locative, the instrumental, and the dative.
Semantics | ∃x(L(x) ∧ S(x))
"Semantics is the study of meaning communicated through language" (Saeed, 2003, p. 3). A person can read a sentence and understand all of its phonological, morphological, and syntactic elements but discerning its meaning often times involve navigating ambiguity. For instance, consider the English sentence, "I saw the man with telescope." Is "the man" holding a telescope? Or did the speaker use a telescope to see him?
Logic is used to develop notation intended to clarify ambiguity in formal semantics. An example of such notation in our header. Where L indicates "is a linguist" and S indicates "studies Semantics," the notation means that there are some linguists who study semantics, but not all linguists necessarily study semantics. This meaning is subtlely but exactly different from other ambiguous English sentences such as, "Linguists study semantics" or "Every linguist studies semantics" or "Semantics is studied by linguists."
A distinction can be made between direct and indirect speech. For instance, "Do the dishes," "Will you please do the dishes?" and "Gee! The dishes are really piling up" are all sentences with very different surface forms. The first is an imperative, the second a request, and the last is an observation. However, depending on context, all three sentences may have the same semantic core: the addresser is communicating to the addressee that he should do the dishes.
In comparing two languages, phonetic, phonological, morphological, and syntactic elements assemble differently in the languages to produce elements with unique surface forms that nevertheless convey a corresponding if not equivalent meaning. Compare the following English and Slovak:
(1) Do Žiliny pôjdeme autobusom.
    into Žilina-gen,fem,sing go-fut -1per,pl bus-ins,mas,sing
(2) We will take the bus to Žilina.
(3) We will go by bus to Žilina.
The Slovak verb for "to take" vziať could not have the second meaing that the English verb "to take" has in sentence 2. Note that "the bus" is the direct object in sentence two. In sentence three, "the bus" is not a direct object; it's an instrument and is marked as such by the instrumental case marking "-om." When "the bus" appears as an instrument in English, no such morphological marking is possible and instead this feature is marked with the preposition "by."
Cognition| analyzing language with language
Note that though is somewhat of a hierarchy described as existing between the modules listed above, they interact top to bottom and bottom to top. That linguists are attempting to scientifically describe language with language presents an interesting dynamic! Throughout this project, we will be using concepts from primarily morphology, syntax, and semantics, in developing hypotheses, methodology, and in understanding the results of our analysis.
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