Variamu Seminar #1

Visioseminar (LPL, PolyU, Macau U)

Preserving and sharing linguistic resources with SLDR/ORTOLANG

Bernard BEL (LPL), Arnaud GINGOLD (LPL)

November, 3, 2014

Linguistic data include recorded or written corpora, their annotations/analyses, lexical and grammatical resources, and tools for the display and processing of diverse forms of data. The main challenge of designing a repository and associated curation procedures lies in putting a minimum set of constraints on the data produced by a research project, and altogether allowing its long-term preservation for usage by other teams. To this effect, the repository should create an extensive amount of descriptive metadata in standard formats, persistent identifiers targetting fine-grain content, and an integrated management of access rights complying with the consent of project participants and the legal context of the archive.

We will describe these steps in the current SLDR/ORTOLANG framework, taking as an example the creation and curation of a speech corpus.

Voice Therapy Training Programme – PolyU, Hong Kong

In the wake of the recent launch of  the Master of Speech Therapy  at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the members of Axis 3 – Language and Pathologies offer an international  joint Training Week dedicated to Voice Therapy, to be held in March 2015.

Gathering AMU, PolyU and Macau U professors, the training session will consist in a week of lectures and workshops addressed to the students of the Speech Therapy MA at PolyU.


  • Fundamental knowledge about voice and functional dysphonia
  • Voice assessment tools in clinical practice and research
  • Voice therapy clinical practice
  • Workshops



Type of Events



March 2014


First Variamu Workshop

PolyU, Hong Kong

August 2014


Second Variamu Workshop

LPL, Aix-en-Provence

October 2014


Brigitte Bigi (LPL) at CBS

Collaboration wih Roxana Fung (CBS)

PolyU, Hong Kong

October 2014 – April 2015


Émilien Gorenne (LPL) at CBS

(Erasmus Mundus PhD)

PolyU, Hong Kong

November 3d, 2014

Seminar #1

Bernard Bel

& Arnauld Gingold

Preserving and sharing linguistic resources with SLDR/ORTOLANG


PolyU / LPL

December 2014


Laurent Prévot (LPL) at CBS

PolyU, Hong Kong

January 2015


Julie Abbou (LPL) at the Department of English

Collaboration with Cathy Wong and Angela Tse

PolyU, Hong Kong

January 13th, 2015


Tiago Attoni

Speech disorders in Huntington´s disease, Sydenham’s chorea and Neuroacanthocytosis


PolyU / LPL

March 2015


Voice Training Week at the Speech Therapy School

PolyU, Hong Kong

March 24th, 2015


Angel Chan

Typological variations in the acquisition of relative clauses: evidence from child Cantonese


PolyU / LPL

March  – May 2015


Roxana Fung (CBS) at the LPL

Collaboration with Brigitte Bigi (LPL)

LPL, Aix-en-Provence

July 15th, 2015

 SEMINAR #4   Organisational issues


PolyU / LPL

July 2015


Yao Yao (PolyU) at the LPL

Collaboration with Laurent Prévot (Werewolf Project)

LPL, Aix-en-Provence

August 2015


Jasmin Sadat (LPL) at PolyU and Macau U

Supervision of Students from the MA of Speech Therapy

PolyU, Hong Kong /

Macau U

 October 2015


 Third Variamu Workshop LPL, Aix-en-Provence




Who When Where
Brigitte Bigi (LPL) visited the Chinese and Bilingual Studies Department at PolyU for a collaboration with Roxana Fung on Adding SPPAS into Cantonese. October 2014 PolyU, Hong Kong
Emilien Gorène (PhD Erasmus Mundus) stayed from October, 2014 to April 2015 at the Chinese and Bilingual Studies Department, PolyU. October 2014to April 2015 PolyU, Hong Kong
Laurent Prévot (LPL) was at PolyU for two weeks, in December 2014. December 2014 PolyU, Hong Kong
In January 2015, Julie Abbou (LPL) has worked with Cathy Wong and Angela Tse at PolyU on Gender in Cantonese and English. January 2015 PolyU, Hong Kong
Serge Pinto, Joana Revis, Antoine Giovanni, Camille Galland, Alain Ghio (LPL) and Ana Nunes (Macau U) were at PolyU for the Voice Training Week (Speech Therapy School) March 2015 PolyU, Hong Kong
Roxana Fung (PolyU) was at the LPL for a 3-months research stay, working with Brigitte Bigi (LPL) on the Adding SPPAS into Cantonese Project. March-May 2015 LPL, Aix-en-Provence
Chu-ren Huang (PolyU)  stayed at the LPL for the closing meeting of MUTLI Erasmus Mundus Programme, and Variamu updates July 2015 LPL, Aix-en-Provence
Yao Yao (PolyU) visited the LPL to work onthe Werewolf project July 2015 LPL, Aix-en-Provence
Jasmin Sadat (LPL), will be in PolyU and Macau to supervise Students from the Master of Speech Therapy at Hongkong Polytechnic University. August 2015 PolyU, Hong Kong


Scientific Report of the 2nd VariAMU Workshop

Following the 1st Variamu workshop at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in March 2014, the 2nd Variamu Workshop was held on Wednesday 20th and Tuesday 21st August 2014 at the Speech and Language Laboratory, in Aix-en-Provence.

Participants presented their new projects, new collaborations and advancements in on-going collaborations. Besides sessions dedicated to each axis, the working sessions gave room to transversal discussions about variations and corpora, as well as the preparation of the Voice Training 2015, to be held in Hong Kong. The workshop was also the chance to present the experimental platform of the Lab.

The main outcomes of the workshop are presented below.

The detailed programme can be found here.



The core of the language technologies session was based on the integration of variation phenomena in automatic treatment of speech. Different sorts of variation were discussed, from meaning variation to cross-linguistic variations, and variations in pathological speech, shedding light on new methodological proposals (multimodality, ontology and semantics) and in-development tools (SPPAS, MarsaTag).

First, Laurent Prévot emphasised the need for multimodal corpora and analysis to take account of variation at an individual, situational and linguistic level. Through a study of feed-back in several speech situations (dialogal corpora, spontaneous speech, task-orientated speech), his results showed that the most important factor of variation are the meta-data (that is, the speakers). Multimodality opens therefore path to the possibility to compare inter-individual, inter-situational, cross-linguistic and cross-cultural situation.

Brigitte Bigi and Roxana Fung presented a new Variamu project consisting into the development of the software SPPAS into Cantonese. This collaboration emerged to respond to the lack of automatic tool in Cantonese. SPPAS is an automatic speech segmentation and annotation tool based on language-independant algorithms and allowing tokenization, phonetization, alignement, syllabification, repetition, etc. In order to develop the Cantonese version of SPPAS, a pronunciation dictionary, a word-based dictionary and an acoustic model are needed. The Hong Kong Corpus for Adult Cantonese (HKCAC), an 8 hours corpus including detailed phonetic descriptions will provide material for the software. The discussion brought the issues of code-switching treatment, a frequent phenomenon in Hong Kong Cantonese (Cantonese, English, Mandarin).

Quantitative approaches for studying variations was the topic of Emilien Gorenne’s talk. He presented a study of automatic detection of variations in Schizophrenian patients’ speech. 18 features were measured, such as fluency, lexical richness, number of verbs, etc. The outcomes show inter-individual and inter-situational variations.

Grégoire de Montcheuil provided an overview of Ortolang, a collaborative project involving 6 laboratory partners. Ortolang includes a corpus and data repository (SLDR), speech annotation tools (SPPAS and Phonedit), and a speech transcription tool (MarsaTag). The presentation focused then on MarsaTag, a tool combining a tokenizer, a morphosyntax tagger, a POS tagger and a parser. Further developments will consist in building a webservice and a common XML data exchange. So far, the software is developed for written or spoken French input, while the adaptation for Chinese would be possible

Demonstrating that metaphors requires conceptual mapping from source domain to target domain, Chu-Ren Huang proposed to model the conceptual mapping of metaphor on a theory of ontology. Such a conceptual mapping principle offers three methodological and theoretical advantages: 1) to predict possible new uses of metaphors, 2) to provide a classification for non-literal uses, and 3) to measure the conceptual difference of the terms compared.


Working Session 1: CORPORA & TOOLS

The crucial goal of Variamu is to have comparable datasets in order to make cross-linguistic comparisons. For this purpose, a data repository will be created. The repository seeks to host the broadest range of types of speech and metadata: interactional data, second language data, treebanks, aligned corpora for Natural Language Processing, etc.

The repository will allow:

  • to know what can be described;
  • to list what comparable corpora are already done;
  • to know what corpora need to be built;
  • to share corpora and methodologies;
  • to publish a guidelines/best practices for the corpora to be built.

A list of useful corpora and comparable data with brief description will be designed, with the view to create a Variamu data collection on the Speech and Language Data Repository, (part of the Ortolang project). The status of the data (private or public) is still to discuss.

Brigitte Bigi (AMU), Philippe Blache (AMU), Roxana Fung (PolyU), Mantak Leung (PolyU), Grégoire de Montcheuil (AMU), and Stéphane Rauzy (AMU) will take part in the repository project.



The second session gathered works, mainly dedicated to variations both within and across languages. Prosodic, phonetic and syntactical features of Cantonese, English and French were scrutinized, mixing contrastive approaches and structural variations descriptions.

Roxana Fung exposed a comparative study of prosody in two varieties of Cantonese: Hong Kong Cantonese and Guangzhou Cantonese. Measures on vowel space (formants), voice quality, key, register, and speech rhythm were made. First results displays that voice quality and speech prosody are two promising areas to explore phonetic distinction. The outcomes were enlightened by a presentation of evaluative epi-discourses about this variation.

Reporting on the Vowel Variation in Conversational Speech project, Christine Meunier presented the first results. The project studies cross-linguistic variation of vowel reduction in spontaneous speech. To understand this phenomenon, the pronunciation of phonological neighbours is observed in different languages. Outcomes in French shows that, differently than in Spanish and English, higher is the neighbourhood, more speakers hyperarticulate, while perception is more difficult. The next step will consist in a comparison of French results with Cantonese and will include tonal factors, lexical factors (word frequency, etc.), syntactical factors (function words vs. content words) and syllabic factors (monosyllabic vs. plurisyllabic words), as well as speakers’ characteristics (vowel reduction).

If segmental features are frequently under scrutiny in pronunciation studies, supra-segmental features, such as stress, are often neglected. Word stress in English is highly unpredictable and there is a high variation across Englishes. For Hong Kong English, stress may be influenced by Cantonese tones, Cantonese stress and metric rules. After a solid review of the literature, Cathy Wong presented an experimental design methodology to study stress in Hon Kong English. The study seeks to determine if there are HKE stress patterns, and if such, whether they are structural or normative. The results could open path to comparison with other Englishes

Julie Abbou discussed the embedment of gender in language, focusing on the variation of the gender grammaticalization across languages. Through an exploratory study of translation from English to Cantonese, she aimed to compare the linguistic levels and “spaces” of gender in English and Cantonese, two so-called genderless languages. The presentation rose also questions about the status and normalisation of written Cantonese.



This session was dedicated to writing studies and pathology studies.

Chinese writing system components are made up of stroke, logographemes (cluster of strokes), radicals and characters. In his presentation Dustin Lau questioned how to delimit logographeme unit. Based on the hypothesis that the writing duration will be higher between the end of a logographeme and the beginning of the next one, than between 2 strokes from the same logographeme, Dustin Lau made a methodological proposal, consisting in measuring the time distance between stroke writing. The results show that the longest duration lies at the radical boundary. These first outcomes give avenues for next studies, such as the nature of the stimuli (dictation, radical copying, …) or developemental data, such as kid’s sequence of development.

Serge Pinto gave an update of the Speech in bilingual Parkinsonian’s disease patients project, involving Ana Nunes and him. After a presentation of Parkinsonian’s disease symptoms concerning language (among others, speech impairment due to brain damage), Serge Pinto presented the FraLusoPark protocole, gathering France, Brazil and Macau teams with the view to share it with the Hong Kong team.



The Voice Training session is a new collaborative Variamu project.

Gathering AMU, PolyU and Macau U colleagues, this training session will consist in a week of lectures and workshops addressed to the PolyU Speech Therapy School students. The Training will be held in Hong Kong, early March 2015.


Camille Galant (AMU), Alain Ghio (AMU), Antoine Giovanni (AMU), Ana Nunes (Macau U), Serge Pinto (AMU) and Joana Revis (AMU) will join the new Speech Therapy School in Hong Kong for a one-week training in collaboration with Angel Chan (PolyU), Dustin Lau (PolyU), Mantak Leung (PolyU), and Valérie Pereira (PolyU).

Dustin Lau will supervise the event.


The training will consist of:

  • 6 lectures (3h/lecture, 30 students, 2 lectures a days)
  • Rehabilitation practices workshop (1 day, 20 students groups)

The total teaching load will be 18 to 24 hours.

The Aix team will propose a provisional programme and title proposals, based on the following topics:

  • Evaluation
  • Best Practices
  • Evidence in terms of treatment approach
  • Voice and Quality of Life
  • After surgery rehabilitation.

The schedule needs to be checked in accordance with PolyU timetable in the next few days.



Too often, linguistics analyses language by separating the different factors, in order to face the linguistic complexity. However, it is now well evidenced that this separation leads to the loss of crucial elements, since understanding language implies understanding variation.

In addition, variation has long been treated as noise. It is only recently that attempts are made to integrate variation in the analysis and to understand its role in the language complexity. It remains that variation is an imprecise word.

This session shed light on the different dimensions of variation at stake in language studies.

  • The border between variation and language deficiency: is it possible to draw a scale of variation, within pathological speech is integrated?
  • Therapy as be adaptation to other constraints / range of variations
  • Multimodal variation (and inter-modal compensation)
  • Variability of expectations in communication (in terms of representation)
  • Variation as an adaptation to a context
  • Variation as a compensation
  • Language change as a variation and variation in Language change
  • Language evolution along life (perception / production)

Two transversal dimensions completed these topics:

– Variation in prototypical situations vs. Variation in actual productions

– Macro-variations (across languages: different grammar rules,) and micro variation (within a linguistic system: different relations of a given phoneme / word, etc.)

Methodological implications follow this exploration of variation dimensions:

– To measure variation (according to a given state)

– To adapt tools and theories, by taking account of variation

– To use variation measures for linguistic analysis.

Second Variamu Workshop, August 20-21, 2014 (Programme)

The second VariAMU Workshop will be held at the Speech and Language Laboratory (Laboratoire Parole et Langage), in Aix-en-Provence, the 20th and 21st August 2014.



9h Welcome                                                                                                                     Room B011

9h15 Language Technology Session                                                                  Room B011

Variation and Feedback

Laurent Prévot

Adding Cantonese into SPPAS

Brigitte Bigi & Roxana Fung

Stochastic Analysis of Natural Conversation Corpora, with automatic detection of speech details

Emilien Gorenne

Ortolang: Tools Grégoire de Montcheuil
Metaphor is Ontological Incongruity Chu-Ren Huang

10h45 Coffee Break

11h-12h  Working Session 1                                                                                   Room B011

Corpora & Tools (Chair: Chu-Ren Huang / Brigtte Bigi)

12h-14h Lunch

14h-15h15 Lab / Facilities Visit

15h15 – 15h30 Coffee Break

15h30 – 17h Linguistics & Phonetics Session                                                 Room B011

Voice quality and speech prosody: An exploration of the phonological distinctions in two accents of Cantonese

Roxana Fung

Advancements in the “Vowel variations in conversational speech” project

Christine Meunier

An Exploration of Word Stress in Hong Kong English

Cathy Wong

Gender variations in “genderless” languages: An English/Cantonese comparison

Julie Abbou


9h Language Pathologies Session                                                                   Room A -102

The use of sub-character units in writing Chinese characters

Dustin Lau

Advancements in the “Speech in bilingual Parkinson’s disease patients” project

Serge Pinto

10h15 Coffee Break

10h30-12h  Working Session 2                                                                         Room A -102

Preparation of the Voice Training in HK (Chair: Mantak Leung / Serge Pinto)

12h-14h Lunch

14h-15h15 Organisation, schedule and project management               Room B011

15h15 – 15h30 Coffee Break

15h30 – 17h Working Session 3                                                                            Room B011

Variations in Linguistics (Chair: Cathy Wong / Christine Meunier)

17h-17h30 Closing session                                                                                    Room B011

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.

The First VariAMU Worskhop Gallery

Hong Kong Polytechnic University, March 10 & 11, 2014

Laurent Prevot launching the Workshop (Introductive Session)
Laurent Prevot launching the Workshop (Introductive Session) 

Pr. Huang Chu-Ren at the Introductive session
Pr. Huang Chu-Ren at the Introductive session 

Cathy Wong's talk in the Introductive Session
Cathy Wong’s talk in the Introductive Session 

Yao Yao and Angel Chan, the main organisators of the Workshop
Yao Yao and Angel Chan 

Roxana Fung at the Corpora Session
Roxana Fung at the Corpora Session 

Discussions during the Corpora Session
Discussions during the Corpora Session 

Brigitte Bigi's talk (Corpora Session)
Brigitte Bigi’s talk (Corpora Session) 

Valerie Pereira's presentation, Language Pathology Session
Valerie Pereira’s presentation, Language Pathology Session 

Discussions in the Language Pathology Session
Discussions in the Language Pathology Session 

Dustin Lau's presentation (PLanguage Pathology Session)
Dustin Lau’s presentation (Language Pathology Session) 

Angel Chan during her presentation (Language Pathology Session)
Angel Chan during her presentation (Language Pathology Session) 

Concluding Session
Concluding Session 

Concluding Session
Concluding Session 

Concluding Session
Concluding Session 

First VariAMU Workshop – March 9-11, 2014 (Programme)

The first VariAMU Workshop will be held at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Here is the programme

March 9 (Sunday)

9:30am – 12:30pm (venue: M1603, 16/F, Core M, PolyU)
Conference Workshop
Chair: Chu-ren Huang & Laurent Prévot

Coffee Break

1:00pm (venue: Regal Court, Regal Kowloon Hotel)

  • Project lunch

March 10 (Monday)

9:30am – 12:30pm (venue: GH803, 8/F, Core G, PolyU)
Big-group session on Project Introduction, Variation and Complexity
Chair: Chu-ren Huang

12:45pm (venue: Bistro Restaurant, Hotel ICON)

  • Project lunch

2:30pm – 5:30pm (venue: GH803, 8/F, Core G, PolyU)
Small-group session on Computational Tools and NLP
Chair: Philippe Blache

6:45pm (venue: the Green Restaurant)

  • Project diner, w/ the scientific attaché of French consulate

March 11 (Tuesday)

9:30am – 12:00pm

  • Free time for small group informal meetings

12:00 – 2:30pm (venue: GH615, 6/F, Core G, PolyU)
Small-group session (w/ working lunch) on Corpora: Data and Methodologies
Chair: Yao Yao

1:30pm – 4:00pm (venue: GH803, 8/F, Core G, PolyU)
Small-group session on Language Pathology
Chair: Angel Chan

4:00pm – 6:30pm (venue: GH803, 8/F, Core G, PolyU)
Big-group meeting on Summary, Agreement, Future Plans*
Chair: Chu-ren Huang, Laurent Prévot

Session 1

  • Sum-up of scientific discussions on the previous days

Session 2 – Organization

  • Consortium Agreement – Planning of the activities
  • Planning of the summer school
  • Planning of joint grant applications (ANR, RGC, etc.)
  • Brainstorming for actions strengthening the institutional collaboration

* Open to VariAMU project members only

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