Computational linguistics Models, Resources, Applications by Igor A. Bolshakov and Alexander Gelbukh

By Igor A. Bolshakov and Alexander Gelbukh

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The ancient Mayan writing system was deciphered with statistical methods. middle of the twentieth century, applications of linguistics were limited to developing and improving grammars and dictionaries in a printed form oriented to their broader use by non-specialists, as well as to the rational methods of teaching natural languages, their orthography and stylistics. This was the only purely practical product of linguistics. In the latter half of the twentieth century, a new branch of applied linguistics arose, namely the computational, or engineering, linguis- INTRODUCTION 25 tics.

Spell checkers have been available for more than 20 years, but some quite evident tasks of correction of words, even taken separately, have not been yet solved. To put a specific example, let us consider the ungrammatical string *teached in an English text. None of the spell checkers we have tried suggested the correct form taught. In an analogous way, if a foreigner inserts into a Spanish text such strings as *muestrar or *disponido, the Spanish spell checkers we have tried did not give the forms mostrar and dispuesto as possible corrections.

Therefore, simple hyphenation programs only border upon the software that can be considered linguistic proper. As to spell checkers that use a large word list and complicated morphologic tables, they are just linguistic programs. WORD, WHAT IS IT? As it could be noticed, the term word was used in the previous sections very loosely. Its meaning seems obvious: any language operates with words and any text or utterance consists of them. This notion seems so simple that, at the first glance, it does not require any strict definition or further explanation: one can think that a word is just a substring of the text as a letter string, from the first delimiter (usually, a space) to the next one (usually, a space or a punctuation mark).

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