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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

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Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: Generating basic skills reports for low-skilled readers
Author: Sandra Williams
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: The Open University
Author: Ehud Reiter
Institution: University of Aberdeen
Linguistic Field: Psycholinguistics
Abstract: We describe , a Natural Language Generation (NLG) system that generates a personalised feedback report for someone who has just completed a screening assessment of their basic literacy and numeracy skills. Because many users have limited literacy, the generated reports must be easily comprehended by people with limited reading skills; this is the most novel aspect of , and the focus of this paper. We used two approaches to maximise readability. First, for determining content and structure (document planning), we did not explicitly model readability, but rather followed a pragmatic approach of repeatedly revising content and structure following pilot experiments and interviews with domain experts. Second, for choosing linguistic expressions (microplanning), we attempted to formulate explicitly the choices that enhanced readability, using a constraints approach and preference rules; our constraints were based on corpus analysis and our preference rules were based on psycholinguistic findings. Evaluation of the system was twofold: it compared the usefulness of NLG technology to that of canned text output, and it assessed the effectiveness of the readability model. Results showed that NLG was more effective than canned text at enhancing users' knowledge of their skills, and also suggested that the empirical ‘revise based on experiments and interviews’ approach made a substantial contribution to readability as well as our explicit psycholinguistically inspired models of readability choices.


This article appears IN Natural Language Engineering Vol. 14, Issue 4.

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