Scientific Report of the 1st VariAMU Workshop

The first VariAMU Workshop was hold in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in March 2014 and was composed of 3 thematic sessions and a concluding session. Fruitful discussions and presentations came out of these two days. New collaborations and projects emerged and a common frame emphasizing methodology was drawn. The programme and most of the presentations supports are available here.

1 – Computational Tools and Natural Language Processing session

The session revealed good potential of interactions. The need for good quality data was outlined, particularly regarding variations (pathological speech, children speech, spoken data, etc.). The need to be careful on every steps of the ‘pipeline’ (including token segmentation for Mandarin and Cantonese) came repeatedly as a major issue. This axis will therefore work on the convergence on tools and methodology about the speech corpus pipeline.

2 – Language Pathology session

This session was planed to help the participant meeting and sharing their scientific interests. Two projects are identified:

  • On Parkinson’s disease patients. The project is about bringing the study undertaken by Serge Pinto (AMU) and Ana Nunes (UM) onto Cantonese patients, by capitalizing on already established projects. Man-tak Leung (PolyU) will help recruiting Parkinsonian’s patient. Angel Chan (Poly U) will help collecting the data.
  • Speech Therapy Master: The project is to organise a workshop about voice for the students of the Speech Therapy Master from Poly U. Colleagues from Aix-en-Provence are interested in taking part in the organisation. The outlining idea of this workshop is to bring the students to be implied into research projects.

Other collaboration paths:

  • World Voice Day: The collaboration could results in an annual event in Hong Kong for the World Voice Day.
  • The impact of speech implement on psychosocial evaluation. (To be strengthened with Macau.) The project runs currently thorough the Portuguese-speaking areas and may include other languages (Cantonese).
  • Other themes likely to bring collaborations: cleft palatal, dyslexia, second language acquisition.
  • Collaboration with the Speech Therapy Clinic in Hong Kong is in view.

The collaborations are about sharing methodologies, but also methodological experiences as well as instruments (EMA, EVA, EEG…) in order to harmonise the data collection as well as the experimental treatment et tools. The need and difficulty to drive comparative studies with very similar data is emphasized. To meet this requirement, multisite data collection is possible, towards a really perfectly parallel data collection. By this way, data collected in Hong Kong could be, for example, treated in Aix-en-Provence, or conversely.

3 – Corpora Session

The corpora session revealed the potentiality for collaborations about dialectal variations. Creole studies may be included. Computational dialectology is also mentioned. This axis is transversal to UM, Poly U and AMU. Here again, the necessity to share methodology is outlined. Identified avenues for collaborations:

  • Dialectal prosodic structures comparison (HK and Guangzhou Cantoneses comparison) (Roxana Fung, Poly U)
  • Acoustical comparison of Macau and HK Cantoneses (Andrew Moody, UM)
  • Creoles studies (cf. AMU)
  • Corpora transcription/coding approach comparisons.

4 – Concluding session: General outcomes

The data collection and treatment came up as a recurrent issue through the three sessions, as well as the need to be careful in the data comparison. Methodology emerges therefore as a transversal thread. By bringing new methodologies, the collaborations will draw new paradigms and ground-breaking theoretical outcomes.

Scientific framework

The specificity of the project relies on the capacity to address this methodological issue from different perspectives (Pathology, Acquisition, Corpus, NLP, etc.). Therefore, beyond tools and data sharing, there is a need to frame these approaches within transversal methodology and theory. Constructional grammar is proposed as a theoretical frame, to depart from representational or descriptive approaches.

Another specificity of the project lies in the encounter of quantitative linguistics and cross-linguistics, crossing over from cognitive sciences, neurology, to social and psychological approaches, with connections with disability studies, for example by working on emotion processing. To this regard, the Brain and Language Research Institute (Aix-en-Provence,) can provide good connections with the VariAMU project, about the theoretical issues in language processing (Philippe Blache, AMU). Future prospects to expand the physiotherapy and clinical behaviour assessment are also considered (Angel Chan, Poly U).

The next scientific step consists of strengthening the on-going or emerging collaborations and of listing the different topics treated in each department in order to make apparent what further connections and collaborations could be drawn.


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