Linguistics for Language Technology#

You are looking at course notes for a course called ‘Linguistics for Language Technology’, the 2023 (very first!) edition. This is a first-year course in the BA program ‘Information Science’ at the University of Groningen. I am Lisa Bylinina, I designed this course and I am teaching it.

Why does this course exist? Here’s the motivating paragraph from the official syllabus, because I spent some time formulating it and it’s kind of nice:

The way information science is currently developing calls for future practitioners in the area of language technology to be truly equipped with linguistic knowledge specifically tailored to the challenges and research typical of work in Natural Language Processing (NLP). This requires relevant working knowledge of the basic concepts of linguistic theory: words, morphology, syntax, cross-linguistic variation, semantics (word meaning, sentence meaning), discourse and pragmatics.

So, the course tries to convey two things at the same time:

  1. Some basics of linguistics: fundamental notions, tools, distinctions, facts;

  2. The relevance of these basics for language technology: how the basics of linguistics can help in NLP practice, providing the language needed to look at NLP systems and data analytically.

Here is the current week-by-week schedule:



Week 1

Overview of course topics and activities.
Relevance of linguistic knowledge for language technology.

Weeks 2-3

Transmitting and capturing language
Sound, writing, gesture.
Phonetics, writing systems, sign languages ( + whistled languages, drum languages?)

Week 4

Grammar I
Morphology: words and their building blocks.

Week 5

Grammar II
Syntax and ways of representing it.
Grammatical well-formedness and constraints on word combinations.

Week 6

Semantics, Pragmatics and Discourse phenomena.
What meanings are and how they interact with grammar and different types of context.

Week 7

Beyond human and natural languages
Super-linguistics. Artificial/invented languages and their social and scientific role.
Recap of the course content, Q&A, exam preparation

Let’s go!