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ELSNews is the quarterly newsletter produced by ELSNET, reporting on activities of ELSNET and its members, and on other topics of interest to the European language and speech processing communities.

It covers recent developments in Information Society Technologies (IST), Human Language Technologies (HLT) and related EC initiatives, reports of on-going research at ELSNET sites, and updates on the progress of EC-funded HLT projects.

Highlights of this issue are outlined below. An electronic version of the newsletter can be downloaded from here [3 MB, .pdf ]. To receive a free copy by mail, you may subscribe using this online form.

ELSNews   Winter 2002 Issue

+ Front page: LangTech Forum 2002 - Showcasing the Industry

Andrew Joscelyne, a language technology analyst working with the EUROMAP consortium, and a member of the LangTech Programme Committee, reports on the LangTech 2002 event in Berlin.

+ SIGDial: Towards International Standards for Language Resources

Key-Sun Choi, Director of KORTEM-Kaist and Laurent Romary, Researcher at Loria-INRIA the challenges and opportunities of the new ISO committee (TC37/SC4) dedicated to the provision of standards for language resource management.

+ Product announcement: Canoo Announces New German Language Products

Canoo AG's German morphological analysis software offers intelligent text processing for information retrieval and language processing applications.

+ Interview: From Phonetic Symbols to the Cambridge Grammar

ELSNews Editor Lynne Cahill caught up with Geoffrey Pullum, who is currently travelling the world promoting his most recent publication, the massive Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, co-authored with Rodney Huddleston, on a recent visit to Sussex.

+ Summer School report: European Masters in Language and Speech is booming

Students describe their experiences of the European Masters Summer School in Leuven, Belgium.

+ ELSNET News: What is ELSNET going to do in the next framework programme?

ELSNET co-ordinator Steven Krauwer outlines possible ways of continuing the work of ELSNET in the EC's sixth framework programme, and invites the ELSNET community to come up with ideas and ingredients for a new ELSNET project as a thematic network.

+ ELSNET News: ELSNET Roadmap Online

ELSNET's HLT roadmap, developed in close collaboration with the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH (DFKI), comprises an analysis of the present situation, a vision of where we want to be in ten years from now, and a number of intermediate milestones that would help in setting intermediate goals and in measuring our progress towards our goals.

ELSNews   Autumn 2002 Issue

Highlights of this issue are outlined below. An electronic version of the newsletter can be downloaded from here [4 MB, .pdf ]. To receive a free copy by mail, you may subscribe using this online form.

+ COLING goes to the Orient!

Robert Dale, Professor in the Department of Computing at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and Director of the Centre for Language Technology reports on this year's event in Taiwan.

+ Feature: Workable Efficient Language Documentation: A Report and a Vision

Daffydd Gibbon, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Bielefeld, reflects on experiences of working on projects documenting endangered languages in Africa - some of the lessons learnt and some hopes for the future.

+ Conference Report: Text Mining: A Major Advancement for Knowledge Management

Jon Herring, Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Oxford, outlines the EUROMAP Language Technologies seminar held on 4 September 2002, which presented emerging text mining technologies to the business community.

+ The SIGdial Page: SmartKom - Intuitive Multimodal Human-Machine Communication

Wolfgang Minker and Peter Regel-Brietzman, from the scientific staff at DaimlerChrysler, Research and Technology (Germany), showcase the SmartKom project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, which aims at developing advanced concepts for intuitive human-centered interfaces.

+ Feature: The UNISYN Lexicon For Speech Synthesis

New ELSNews editor Lynne Cahill, together with Sue Fitt and Steve Isard from the Centre for Speech Technology Research
at the University of Edinburgh, discuss the UNISYN lexicon, which aims at creating a meta-lexicon of English that contains abstract phonological specifications of English words, which are then converted into surface pronunciation forms by a set of accent specific rules.

+ Press Release: A Bold Initiative to help Preserve Endangered Languages

To help explore and record linguistic diversity across the globe, Lisbet Rausing Charitable Fund has initiated a programme of grants to support the documentation of endangered languages, and has appointed the School of Oriental & African Studies, London University to administer the scheme. The foundation has provided £20,000,000 over ten years to create an international scholarly program to study endangered languages.

ELSNews   Summer 2002 Issue

Highlights of this issue are outlined below. An electronic version of the newsletter can be downloaded from here [2 MB, .pdf ]. To receive a free copy by mail, you may subscribe using this online form.

+ Lively Discussions Behind Cloister Walls

Andreas Kellner, Senior Scientist in the Man-Machine Interfaces Research Group at Philips Research Labs, Aachen, reports on the ISCA Tutorial and Research Workshop on Multimodal Dialogue in Mobile Environments.

+ Feature: D’Homme : Dialogues in the Home Machine Environment

David Milward, CTO at Linguamatics Ltd., summarises the achievements of the EU-funded D'Homme project (Dialogues in the Home Machine Environment). For more information, project reports, latest demos, and an audio visual presentation, visit the D’ Homme Web site.

+ Feature: The Dictionary of the Future - Some Proposed Extensions

Despite the enormous interest in electronic dictionaries, little attention has been paid to the language user. Michael Zock, permanent researcher in the LIR group (Langues Information Représentations) at LIMSI, Orsay, France, outlines some possible ways to make dictionaries more useful for people processing or learning a language.

+ The SIGdial Page: Wireless Multimodal - the Next Challenge for Speech Recognition

Roberto Pieraccini, director of the Natural Dialogue Group at SpeechWorks International, signposts some of the growth activity in the development of multimodal technologies for wireless applications.

+ Feature: FASTY - A Multilingual Approach to Text Prediction

Marco Baroni, researcher at ÖFAI, describes the FASTY (Faster Typing for Disabled Persons) EU-funded project, which aims at providing speakers of languages other than English with predictive typing systems.

+ Feature: Information Extraction from Football Reports in the MUMIS Project

Horacio Saggion, Hamish Cunningham, and Yorick Wilks from the University of Sheffield Department of Computer Science, Thierry Dclerck, senior consultant at DFKI’s LT Lab, and Peter Wittenburg, Head of the Technical Department of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, focus on technology developed at the University of Sheffield for the EU-funded MUMIS project (Multimedia Indexing and Searching Environment). The domain chosen for tuning the software components is football - in particular the Euro 2000 Championships.

ELSNews   Spring 2002 Issue

Highlights of this issue are outlined below. An electronic version of the newsletter can be downloaded from here [1.75 MB, .pdf ]. To receive a free copy by mail, you may subscribe using this online form.

+ First International Conference on Global WordNet

Piek Vossen, currently Chief Technology Officer at Irion Technologies, reports on the Global WordNet's first international conference held in India from 21-25 January 2002. Piek was also project manager of the EuroWordNet HLT project.

+ GATE – A New Release

Hamish Cunningham, Kalina Bontcheva, Diana Maynard and Valentin Tablan from the University of Sheffield, describe the latest developments in GATE - General Architecture for Text Engineering.

+ Second ELSNET MT Roadmap Workshop at TMI in Japan

Mikel Forcada, Associate Professor in the Department of Software and Computing Systems at the University of Alicante and Harold Somers, Professor of Language Engineering in the Centre for Computational Linguistics at UMIST report.

+ Neurosoft: Theory and Practice

Cezary Grzegorz Dolega, Head of R&D at Neurosoft, profiles the company and its products.

+ Feature: Speech Research and Technology in Kaunas University of Technology

Dr. Algimantas Rudzionis, Head of the Speech Research Laboratory at Kaunas University of Technology, gives an idea of past and present work being done there in speech technology.

+ Featured Events

2 June 2002, Towards a Roadmap for Multimodal Language Resources and Evaluation, LREC 2002, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain
23 June - 6 July 2002, , Il Ciocco, Italy
July 15-26, 10th ELSNET European Summer School, Evaluation and Assessment of Text and Speech Systems, Odense, Denmark

ELSNews   Winter 2001-2 Issue

An overview of this issue is outlined below. An electronic version of the newsletter can be downloaded from here [3.3 MB, .pdf ].

+ Looking Forward to FP 6

Steven Krauwer identifies some characteristics of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme that are particularly relevant to the language and speech technology community, and outlines how ELSNET is positioning itself for the programme.

+ The European Project CORETEX

Marcello Federico, Senior Researcher at ITC-IRST, the Istituto Trentino di Cultura and Michael Pitz, Researcher at RWTH Aachen, the Aachen University of Technology, describe the objective, mid-term results and future work of the CORETEX project which aims at improving core speech recognition technologies.

+ The Ferret – Ferreting out passages of similar text in large document collections

Independently-written texts have different fingerprints, even when the same author is writing on the same subject on different occasions. This fact has been utilised in the development of a Plagiarism Detection system (commonly known as the Ferret) to find passages of similar text in students’ essays. Caroline Lyon, Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at the University of Hertfordshire, explains.

+ INTERVIEW: Learning the Lazy Way - Walter Daelemans

Walter Daelemans, director of the Centre for Dutch Speech and Language (CNTS) at the University of Antwerp, is one of the best-known exponents of the memory-based learning approach to language and speech processing. Daelemans and his team were responsible for the TiMBL suite of memory-based learning algorithms and metrics, which is distributed free for research use.

+ Jewels Website Launched

Visit The Joint European Website for Education in Language and Speech at hltcentral.org/jewels. There are seven main sections: General, News, Information, Recommendations, Institutions & Courses, Tools & Materials and Search.

+ These Are Hard Times

ELSNews welcomes its new columnist Dr. Ken Church, Head of the Department of Data Mining at AT&T Labs Research in New Jersey, and author of this issue's Opinion Column.

+ A Breadth of NLP Applications

Professor Elizabeth D. Liddy, Director of CNLP, School of Information Studies at Syracuse University in New York, profiles some of CNLP’s technology highlighting opportunities from the licensing in of technology from Be-Bee, Inc.

+ SIGdial: The DARPA Communicator Programme

The DARPA Communicator programme focused on the development of systems that could support "real-world" complex problem-solving activities in spoken dialogue systems, using travel as the target domain. Alexander Rudnicky, Senior Systems Scientist in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon outlines the programme and summarises some of the results.

+ Featured Events

2 June 2002, Towards a Roadmap for Multimodal Language Resources and Evaluation, LREC 2002, Las palmas, Canary Islands, Spain
23 June - 6 July 2002, Dynamics of Speech Production and Perception, Il Ciocco, Italy
July 15-26, 10th ELSNET European Summer School, Evaluation and Assessment of Text and Speech Systems, Odense, Denmark

ELSNews   Autumn 2001 Issue

An overview of this issue is outlined below. An electronic version of the newsletter can be downloaded from here [2.6 MB, .pdf ].

+ New Swedish Graduate School for Language Technology

A high quality graduate education that will become an important factor for research in natural language processing is the bold goal of GSLT, the recently opened Swedish National Graduate School in Language Technology.

+ SYNFACE: A Speech-driven Synthetic Face as a Communication Aid for Hearing-Impaired People

In this feature, Andrew Faulkner, Principal Research Fellow at University College London Department of Phonetics and Linguistics, profiles SYNFACE, a recently-funded IST project to develop and evaluate speech-driven facial animation to assist hearing-impaired people in using the telephone.

+ RACAI – Romanian Academy Centre for Artificial Intelligence

Dr. Dan Tufis, Director of RACAI, gives an update on the HLT activities at the Centre.

+ MT Summit VIII - A Forum on Machine Translation Technologies

A forum of MT research as well as a showcase of translation and multilingual technology, MT Summit VIII brought together representatives of universities, companies, and international organisations involved in MT either as developers, providers, or users. Andrei Popescu-Belis, from ISSCO, University of Geneva reports.

+ Swords into Ploughshares at Malvern

ELSNews interviews Roger Moore, Chief Scientific Officer at 20/20 Speech Ltd. He is also visiting Professor in the Department of Phonetics and Linguistics, University College London, and was the President of the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA) from 1997 to 2001

+ SIGdial page - Stray Thoughts from a Crossroads

Hans Dybkjær, software developer and project leader at the Prolog Development Center A/S, Brøndby, Denmark gives a commercial eye-view of the 2nd SIGdial Workshop, held on September 1-2, 2001 in conjunction with Eurospeech 2001.

+ BalkaNet - A Multilingual Semantic Network for the Balkan Languages

K. Oflazer from Sabanci University, S. Stamou and D. Christodoulakis from Patras University outline the BalkaNet IST project, which aims at building a multilingual lexical database consisting of wordnets in: Greek, Turkish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Czech, and Serbian.

+ Workshop Report Lexicom 2001: Masterclass Workshop on Lexicography and Lexical Computing

Sue Atkins, an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the Information Technology Research Institute, University of Brighton (ITRI) since 1998, who received an Hon.D. Litt from the University of Brighton in July 2000 for services to lexicography, reports on the first Lexicom Workshop on Lexicography and Lexical Computing which took place at ITRI from July 16-20, 2001.

+ Bean Counting

John Nerbonne, Professor in the Department of Humanities and Computing at the University of Groningen, discusses dealing with the demands a "publish or perish" culture.

+ Just a little Imagination at Eurospeech 2001

Gerrit Bloothooft, researcher and lecturer at the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics reports on Imagination 2001 – a competition for young and innovative researchers in the field of HLT - held in association with Eurospeech 2001, with a prize of €5000 for the most imaginative application.

ELSNews   Summer 2001 Issue

An overview of this issue is outlined below. An electronic version of the newsletter can be downloaded from here [4.1 MB, .pdf ]. To receive a free copy by mail, you may subscribe using this online form.

+ ELSNET Summer School goes to Prague

Patricia Martin, a Programme Manager at Microsoft working in the team, reports on the 9th ELSNET Summer School on Language and Speech Communication held in Prague.

+ ReadIt! Applies a Revolutionary Approach to Reading Education

In this feature, Luc Julia, R&D Director, discusses BravoBrava!'s software that helps children to read. The software has been commercialised by a spin off company - Soliloquy Learning - and a demo of it is available here.

+ ICAME, Where Will You Go?

Geoffrey Sampson, a member of the ELSNews editorial team, reports on the 22nd ICAME conference held in Louvain-la-Neuve.

+ Evaluation in Speech and Language Engineering : An Expert Bird ’s - Eye View

Earlier this summer there were two events whose purpose was to discuss evaluation of speech and language technology systems: International Course on Speech and Language Engineering Evaluation, and Workshop on Evaluation for Language and Dialogue Systems at EACL01. Patrick Paroubek from LIMSI-CNRS reports.

+ SIGdial page - The USIX Interact Project : Adaptivity in Dialogue Systems

This fourth SIGDial contribution to ELSNews presents Interact, a Finnish dialogue project aimed at developing models for natural and adaptive human-computer interaction.

+ HLT 2001 – Human Language Technology Conference

ELSNews editor Jenny Norris gives some impressions of the HLT scene in the USA, and reports on HLT 2001 in San Diego.

+ MorphoLogic’s First Decade

Morphologic is 10 years old this year. Szabolcs Kincse, Morphologic's International Relations Manager, describes the origins of the company and outlines some recent developments including current research projects.

+ The Profession in 2001 – European Initiatives

John Nerbonne gives his impressions of ACL/EACL 2001 in Toulouse, and highlights some European organisational initiatives that are breaking new ground.

ELSNews   Spring 2001 Issue

This issue is dedicated to work associated with minority languages and the table of contents is outlined below. An electronic version of the newsletter can be downloaded from here [344 KB, .pdf ]. To receive a free copy by mail, you may subscribe using this online form.

+ What is a Minority Language?

Geoffrey Sampson, a member of the ELSNews editorial team, discusses the problems of trying to define this elusive and ambiguous term.

+ MULTEXT-East Resources Revisited

This article discusses resources developed under the MULTEXT-East and Concede projects.

+ Developing Language Technology for a Minority Language: Progress and Strategy

Members of the IXA group, created in 1988 with the aim of modernising the Basque language through the development of language resources, present an open proposal for making progress in Human Language Technology.

+ What is this Technology ever Going to Do for Minority Languages?

Nicholas Ostler, Director of Linguacubun Ltd. and President of the Foundation for Endangered Languages, formulates some answers.

+ SIGdial page: Language Technology as aid to preserving linguistic diversity

Jens Allwood discusses the role that language technology can play in preserving the world's languages.

+ Europe's Ignored Languages

Tony McEnery discusses the factors influencing the "digital divide" between Europe's indigenous languages and NIMLs (non-indigenous minority languages) such as Bengali, Cantonese, Gujarati, Panjabi and Urdu.

+ Letters to the Editor

More reaction to the debate stirred up by the controversial last Opinion column by Professor Yorick Wilks which was published in the Autumn 2000 issue.

+ Ypres' Keepers

John Nerbonne looks at the consequences of the rise and fall of Lernout and Hauspie for language technologists.

+ Human Language Technology Issues for Haitian Creole

Marilyn Mason, President and COO of Mason Integrated Technologies, questions assumptions about the standardisation of written forms of language using Haitian Creole as an example.

+ Fictional Family for Basque

Larry Trask objects to recent press statements about Basque in leading British and French newspapers.

ELSNews   Winter 2000-01 Issue

Some of the articles in this issue are outlined below. An electronic version of it can be downloaded from here [1.1 MB, .pdf ].

+ HLT Products Win IST 2001 Prizes

ELSNews extends its congratulations to Sympalog, from Germany, who have developed a toolkit for speech recognition, understanding , and dialogue, called Full Conversation, and to , from France, for their comprehensive language learning course, TeLL me More, and asks both companies to give an idea of the research background of their products.

+ Open Language Archives Community (OLAC)

Steven Bird, University of Pennsylvania and Gary Simons, SIL International outline some of the issues and challenges of OLAC and the Open Archives Initiative (OAI).

+ The Changing World of Lexicography

ELSNews editor Jenny Norris interviews Sue Atkins who is currently working on the FrameNet and ISLE projects, and was awarded with an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Brighton in August 2000 for her contribution to lexicography.

+ SIGdial: Supporting Meetings on Discourse and Dialogue

David Traum from the University of Southern California summarises SIGdial's efforts in encouraging and publicising meetings to enable discourse and dialogue researchers to exchange information and collaborate.

+ Letters to the Editor

The ELSNews Autumn issue contained the last in a series of thought-provoking Opinion columns by Professor Yorick Wilks. His last piece - "He stopped one piece too late" according to one correspondent - resulted in three outspoken letters published in this issue.

+ Pubs, Poets, and the Weather: CL and NLP in the Dublin Area

Josef van Genabith from Dublin City University gives an overview of CL and NLP undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, together with HLT research activities in the Dublin area. There is also and HTML version of this piece.

ELSNews   Autumn 2000 Issue

Some of the articles in this issue are outlined below. An electronic version of it can be downloaded from here [1.9 MB, .pdf ].

+ COLING 2000 Goes Across Europe

This year the International Conference on Computational Linguistics returned to Europe, splitting its sessions between Saarbrücken in Germany, Nancy in France, and Luxembourg. According to ELSNews's reporter Mates, this 18th COLING "was not only a scientific meeting, as so often in the past. This time ... people representing industry were involved in all parts of the conference". The report was an innovation for ELSNews also, the first contribution by a non-human -- as well as being a member of the University of the Saarland computational linguistics group, Mates is a dachshund.

+ Welcome to New ELSNET Members

Two new industrial ELSNET nodes are each introduced in an ELSNews column:

  • MDT, based in Oisterwijk (Netherlands), specialises in speech recognition products; its "Observer" platform, designed for use in production environments such as hospitals or law offices, combines historical data into its knowledge tree with automatic voice control.
  • Tilde, founded in Latvia in 1991, works towards providing language technologies for the various Baltic countries, aiming at the levels of support already available for major world languages.

+ EURALEX 2000

The European Association for Lexicography held its 9th biennial conference in Stuttgart in August. For many years, innovations in print lexicography have largely been associated with the British-originating monolingual learners' dictionaries of English; but in Stuttgart there was a feeling that bilingual lexicography was beginning to re-emerge, revitalised, and to correct the Anglocentric imbalance of the last ten to twenty years.

+ Imagination 2001

ELSNET announces a challenging Eurospeech Special Event: a contest for young innovative researchers, to demonstrate or simulate a new, imaginative and creative application of speech and language technology, for a prize of €5000.

+ SIGdial: Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

This and future issues of ELSNews are offering a page to the ACL's SIGdial group, formed in 1997, to report on its activities. On this first SIGdial page its president, Laila Dybkjær, outlines the origins and nature of the Group.

+ Text and Speech Triggered Information Access

The 8th ELSNET Summer School was held in June on the beautiful Greek island of Chios around the topic of Text and Speech Triggered Information Access. Micha Baum of the Viennese Telecommunications Research Centre describes both the courses of study and the vibrant social and touristic activities which between them made this summer school an unforgettable event.

+ Do We Need COLING and ACL Conferences?

Yorick Wilks, ELSNews resident opinion columnist, asks in his farewell column whether we still need two natural language computing organisations, now that the ACL has "moved to a global, federal structure and renounced its American imperial origins". He decides that arguments for the redundancy of COLING are no better founded than criticism of the British House of Lords; we need COLING to provide a home for good papers on unfashionable topics by good researchers of the unfashionable gender.

* In the next issue, ELSNews welcomes its new opinion columnist, John Nerbonne of Groningen.

+ The ACL Goes International in Hong Kong

The first International meeting of the Association of Computational Linguistics was held in Hong Kong in October -- the first plenary ACL meeting outside the USA. Julio Gonzalo (Spanish Distance University) reports that this conference "was seen as a major step towards the internationalisation of the ACL", and included more research on Asian NLP than ever before. Other new trends included tighter bonds with Information Retrieval, and data-mining the Web.

+ ELSNET Pursues Global Collaboration

At the Hong Kong ACL Conference, Steven Krauwer, ELSNET Chairman, organised a workshop entitled "Infrastructures for Global Collaboration", in which invited participants floated ideas for encouraging developments to make collaboration and information exchange between different world regions easier. ELSNET is preparing a number of initiatives relating to this workshop, to be publicised on our website and in future issues of ELSNews.

+ A European Masters in Language and Speech

A common curriculum in Language and Speech, approved by ISCA and the European chapter of the ACL and leading to a certificate signed by the Presidents of those associations as well as a Masters degree of an individual university, is now a reality. Thirteen European universities are participating in the programme. Gerrit Bloothooft (Utrecht University) describes the system, and Caren Brinckmann (University of the Saarland) gives her impressions as a student at the first E-Masters Summer School.

+ Lexicon Development for Speech and Language Processing

Rodmonga Potapova, of Moscow State Linguistic University, reviews a book under this title edited by Frank Van Eynde and Dafydd Gibbon. The book is designed for independent study by people interested in language and speech technology, as well as for students and professional scientists. Published by Kluwer (Dordrecht), the book is available at a special price through ELSNET.

ELSNews   Summer 2000 Issue

Some of the articles in this issue are outlined below. An electronic version of it can be downloaded from here [1.7 MB, .pdf ]. To receive a free copy by mail, you may subscribe to ELSNews using this online form.

+ LREC 2000 -- Resources for the Millennium?

Athens in May/June was the venue for the second international conference on Language Resources and Evaluation. Its 300 oral and poster presentations were complemented by eleven pre- and post-conference satellite workshops. Emerging trends included XML, semantic coding, and work on minority and less-studied European languages. One worry is whether the increasing involvement of industry may end by shifting research resources out of reach of the academic community.

+ INLG 2000 and Language Processing in Israel

June saw the birth of a new international conference series, on Natural Language Generation. The first conference took place at Mitzpe Ramon, Israel, in the midst of the stunning scenery of the Negev Desert. One highlight was a session on evaluation of generation systems -- this area of NLP having tended to neglect evaluation issues in the past. John Carroll's report on INLG 2000 uses the opportunity to include a wide-ranging survey of the Israeli NLP scene.

+ TRINDI Project Nears Conclusion

Robin Cooper of Göteborg University reports on the Task Oriented Instructional Dialogue project, due to end in August. It has focused on techniques for representing and updating information about the state of a dialogue; the TRINDIKIT toolbox allows users to experiment with different kinds of information state and updating rules. Project members hope to make TRINDIKIT user-friendly enough for dialogue system developers who are interested in a "plug and play" approach.

+ The European Language Resources Association

Khalid Choukri, Chief Executive Officer of ELRA, describes its activities and role as an interface between language resource providers and users.
Founded in 1995, ELRA is a focal point for provision of information about language engineering, and for the collection, marketing, distribution, and licensing of language resources.

+ Talking to Computers in Bellagio

The 3rd workshop on Human-Computer Conversation took place in the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni on the shore of the beautiful Lake Como. Research in this area is sometimes seen as a theoryless "black art". According to our reporter Nick Webb (Sheffield), though, "those who claim to have no theory have actually embodied some theory or other" -- and their work would be more successful if they were more aware of this.

+ Cross-lingual Knowledge Management: a topic coming your way

The ELSNews opinion columnist Yorick Wilks questions whether industrial Knowledge Management systems are just hype or something that NLP researchers need to get involved with. Widely selling packages such as Autonomy and Excalibur seem to ignore the last thirty years of language research: is this the fault of the research community, for being too interested in "winning small competitions over a single mini-functionality", and not enough in fusing modules for real commercial purposes?

+ Report on the 3rd CLUK Colloquium

Computational Linguistics UK (CLUK) is an informal association which organises annual meetings where doctoral students can present their work in a relaxed atmosphere at an early stage, and where there are also one or two invited speakers.

+ RIAO 2000

An international conference on Computer-Assisted Information Retrieval (in French, "RIAO") is held every three years. In April it came to the Collège de France, in Paris. Scientific communities which are usually separate, including information retrieval, natural language, and speech and vision researchers, were drawn together by the theme "Content-Based Multimedia Information Access". The papers and demos clearly showed that information is more than just text, and that search is becoming intelligent, just like reading.

ELSNews   Spring 2000 Issue

Some of the articles in this issue are outlined below. An electronic version of it can be downloaded from here [2.3 MB, .pdf ]. To receive a free copy by mail, you may subscribe to ELSNews using this online form.

+ What will you do for the new ELSNET?

In the lead story, ELSNET coordinator Steven Krauwer (Utrecht University) says that ELSNET activities under the European Commission's IST Programme have now started for real. In a rallying call to the HLT community to pool its knowledge through the ELSNET web site, Steven says "ELSNET was not set up to be operation where a handful of people sitting in an office do all the work".

+ New Faces in ELSNET

Steven Krauwer says good-bye to Mariken Broekhoven, outgoing assistant coordinator, and welcomes her successor Brigitte Burger. Meanwhile, Geoffrey Sampson (University of Sussex) introduces Jennifer Norris, the new editor of ELSNews.

+ Does ELSNET no longer Go East?

Tbilisi State University, in the nation of Georgia in the Caucasus, became an ELSNET node in 1998. Natural language computing research in Georgia was given fresh impetus by the ELSNET Goes East project, now ended. George Chikoidze of Tbilisi describes the positive impact these Western links achieved, and stresses the need for the initiatives to be continued in some form -- otherwise, "we shall stumble over the threshold of the Information Age and then retreat in disorder".

+ Human Language Technology discussed at the Royal Society

Current research developments in "Computers, language and speech" were the topic of a discussion meeting at London's venerable Royal Society in September 1999 (co-sponsored by the British Academy). Gerald Gazdar (University of Sussex) identifies common threads emerging from contributions by thirteen international speakers.

+ What are we doing all this for?

In his regular comment column, Yorick Wilks (Sheffield University) debates user involvement in HLT R&D with Marc Blasband (Compuleer). While Marc asserts that "the end user must be central in fact and not just in words" according to Yorick, "the end user is never the main motivation for a researcher -- and you can't change that"!

+ ELSNews Letters Page

New editor Jennifer Norris opens her columns to letters expressing readers' views and opinions, whether scholarly or informal and off-the-cuff.

+ Results from the DISC Projects

Niels Ole Bernsen and Laila Dybkjær (University of Southern Denmark) survey the outcome of the successive DISC projects,
concluded in December 1999, on best practice in development and evaluation of Spoken Dialogue Systems. The core result is the DISC Best Practice Guide. The Guide will continue to be updated in the future, so user comments and feedback are welcome.

+ Multimedia Interaction for the New Millennium

Mark Maybury (the MITRE Corporation) gave an ELSNET-supported keynote speech at the Eurospeech 1999 conference in Budapest. The new issue carries the second and final part of Mark's text

+ European Student Journal

Nikos Fakotakis (University of Patras) describes WEB-SLS, a web-based journal of research by students of Speech and Language Engineering. The journal is sponsored by ISCA, EACL, and ELSNET, and publishes contributions, including PhD summaries, from students up to doctoral level. "We especially encourage graduate students and students doing postgraduate master courses to submit manuscripts".

+ SENSEVAL-2 -- Second Word Sense Disambiguation Competition

Following the success of SENSEVAL-1, Adam Kilgarriff (University of Brighton) announces a second international exercise, running between now and summer 2001. SENSEVAL-2 will add more languages to the word-sense disambiguation exercise. Potential contributors are currently invited to help decide the structure of SENSEVAL-2.