2018

The Humanities Center in coordination with BYU’s Office of Research and Creative Activities (ORCA) will hold its annual ORCA Symposium on Friday, October 26th at 3:00 PM in 4010 JFSB.

Blake Perry Smith – Open Source Consistency Evaluation for Chinese Word Segmentation

Chinese in its written form does not separate its characters by spaces. Imagine if this were the case with English and a sign at a job fair displayed “opportunityisnowhere.” Regardless of the intent being to announce that “opportunity is now here,” that can easily be read pessimistically without proper spacing.

Computers must first be able to accurately and consistently identify word boundaries before any other language processing takes place. Tools called ‘segmenters’ do this essential work of parsing Chinese. State-of-the-art systems ‘learn’ how to accomplish this task from training data composed of human-segmented text. These sets of training data, or corpora, are widely distributed for use by researchers and practitioners in the development of segmenters. Importantly, these manual segmentations serve as a basis for computing probabilities for whether to segment a given sequence. However, the involvement of human judgement in developing these corpora results in inconsistencies that have proven to be detrimental to segmenter performance (Sun et al. 2003).
Surprisingly, researchers have found that increased accuracy in segmentation does not lead to increased quality of machine translation output for Chinese (Chang et al. 2008). Rather, parser consistency was shown to produce better results in downstream machine translation. We believe that because of how segmenters learn to parse, consistent parses within training data strongly correlate to consistent parses by the segmenters themselves. Thus, ensuring consistency within corpora is a viable way to improve the quality of subsequent translations.

We present a tool that detects and reports inconsistent segmentations either within a single corpus or between two corpora. By releasing our software under an open-source license, our work can have real implications for advancing computer effectiveness in Chinese word segmentation and consequently in advancing the state-of-the-art for machine translation.

Kate Menlove – Das jüdische Weib: The Impact of Nahida Ruth Lazarus

There is little material that is written by women about the lives and work of women in the early nineteenth century. There are almost no works focusing on the Jewish concept of women and family. One book, written in 1896 by a German convert to Judaism Nahida Ruth Lazarus, combines both women’s social experiences and the Jewish attitude towards women in a book titled, “The Jewish Woman”. While Lazarus’ book is unique in content, there are also very few copies in circulation, making it very rare. For my ORCA project with Dr. Michelle James, I am reading this document and creating annotations, as well as preparing an introduction. I have used library and internet resources, as well as speaking with a library director in Leipzig, Germany and interviewing a Lazarus scholar, Dr. Katharina Gerstenberger, about Lazarus and the time period. This project is to be posted on BYU’s Sophie Digital Library.

The impact of this project will not affect the entire world, or even an entire University. However, it will be an invaluable resource to those interested in German History, Women’s Studies, or Jewish Studies. Lazarus doesn’t just write a historical account of women in Judaism; she celebrates the strength of women from several different generations. She highlights their sacrifices and how they have fought against societal norms on occasion. I truly believe that this book can empower women. Lazarus encourages us all to become who we want to be and not only settle for what life has allotted us.

Isaac Robertson – The White Girl’s Burden: Feminized Colonial Ecology as Access to Post-Colonial Natural History

In its first volume, L. T. Meade’s 1887 periodical for girls, Atalanta, published a variety of colonial fiction and boys’ adventure fiction written by the likes of H. Rider Haggard, Grant Allen, and John Strange Winter. Throughout the magazine, these authors explore life and travel in disparate exotic environments, from India’s military compounds to Hawaii’s volcanoes. Even Atalanta’s fairytale literature seems imbued with colonial elements. However, while much of the current scholarship devoted to Atalanta focuses on its position within education and the New Woman movement, much less has been said concerning its obsession with colonial environments. What purpose would colonial adventure fiction hold within a fin-de-siècle girl’s magazine like Atalanta?

Drawing upon recent theory in post-colonial ecocriticism, Victorian natural history, and nineteenth-century temporality, I argue that Atalanta’s girls advocate for a new imperial approach founded in ecological relationality. I trace how the changing concerns of the Empire in fin-de-siècle Britain, coinciding with the shifting role of boys’ colonial fiction, necessitated an adjustment to the imperial structure and its literature—including a better negotiation of cultural difference and a balance between domestic morality and the difficult realities of colonization. I then examine how Atalanta responds to these changes by presenting a liminal girl who interacts with the empire ecologically. The negotiating capabilities of this girl within a colonial environment, along with an imbrication of Darwinian and Rousseauian construct of nature, allow her to collapse hierarchies and characterize herself as a specimen of postcolonial natural history—capable of speaking on behalf of colonized nature. Her subsequent proposal for the empire to follow suit ultimately signifies a renewable moral resource for England’s imperial future. My presentation develops this argument through an analysis of how Paul Hamilton Hayne’s American poem, “The Story of an Ambuscade,” shifts in meaning when published within Atalanta’s context.

Maika Bahr – Japanese Exotica in Dutch Still Life Paintings: A Post Colonial Study of Harmen Steenwyck’s Vanitas Works

In 1635, Japan enacted a policy of seclusion and successfully shut themselves off from the world. The only country that Japan was willing to keep ties with was the Dutch Republic. For over two hundred years, Japan’s only contact with Europe was with the Dutch traders who would land on the island of Dejima to conduct business. The Dutch Republic, which was very wealthy at the time, began to paint still-life paintings that showcased their riches that they had obtained while abroad, including objects from Japan.

Harmen Steenwyck’s painting titled Still Life: An Allegory of the Vanitas of Human Life from 1640 is a humble piece that showcases an impressive example of a Japanese sword that was brought back to Europe. I propose that with this painting, the Dutch artist exhibited Orientalist feelings and meant to convey a sense of superiority in military prowess and commercial success over the Japanese. After looking through the archival images at the Netherlands Institute for Art History I was able to find two more paintings by Steenwyck where the same Japanese sword is depicted. After researching the symbolic meaning of other objects surrounding the sword in all three paintings and the symbolic meaning that the Dutch attached to weapons, I was able to solidify this thesis. Still Life: An Allegory of the Vanitas of Human Life clearly depicts the pride of the Dutch Republic and their condescending attitude towards their Japanese allies.

Corey Ketring – How to Improve Chinese L2 Learners’ Performance in Oral Presentations Formulaic Language Instruction and the CAPF List

This study examines disfluent phenomenon in thirty-nine L2 Chinese academic oral presentations. Eight types of disfluencies are found in the data. The most prominent types of disfluencies are silent pauses and filled pauses. Several features of disfluency were observed in learners’ speech in our data that are not commonly seen in native speakers’ speech; these differences significantly distinguish second language speech from normal native speech (1. silent pauses, filled pauses and hesitation with sound extension within a word; 2. repeating the first character of a word with/without sound extension; 3. silent pauses, filled pauses and hesitation with sound extension at an incorrect prosodic location; 4. content reduction).

In order to improve L2 learners’ speaking fluency and accuracy in their presentations, it is suggested that a list of academic formulaic sequences for oral presentations should be created, accompanied by systematic training on the sequences. A Chinese Academic Formulas for Presentation (CAFP) list of four sub-categories of formulaic sequences was therefore created in order to offer useful language tools for L2 learners to improve fluency in their academic oral presentations. Sequences are presented according to their pragmatic functions in discourse (e.g. introducing the main topic, introducing the background, describing methods, introducing the outline of the presentation, signaling transitions, referring to literature and citation, defining terms, describing quantities and trend, giving examples, explaining causality, expressing opinions and attitude, listing and classifying, comparing and contrasting, referring to visuals, referring to discussion objects, explaining, emphasizing important information, reporting findings, summarizing, expressing the contribution of the research, ending the presentation). It provides learners useful polywords, institutionalized expressions, and phrasal and sentence builders throughout the presentation. These tools can help students conserve mental effort in areas such as transitions and sentence building, thus allowing them to focus their attention on the content and accurate navigating specialized lexicon. Activities used to develop learners’ knowledge of formulaic language in presentations are also proposed to enhance formulaic language instruction in classroom settings.

Sophie Determan – The Pygmalion Project

The goal of my project is to assist Dr. Roger Macfarlane in developing the online index of the Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts which will be centered at BYU. The OGCMA is an important and widely-used index that identifies 30,000+ artworks spanning from the 300-1900s. But despite the breadth of the index, there is not a single example of a film mentioned in any entry. This is a serious gap in classical scholarship because no other guide contains significant film references. The scope of my project is to evaluate and contribute scholarly metadata for over forty films that will comprise the “Pygmalion” article in the OGCMA-online index.

Scrutinizing various Pygmalion films and films proposed by others as Pygmalion films, I have established criteria to judge whether a film is a deliberate adaptation of the myth or merely shares archetypal similarities. The most fundamental points of consideration are three: 1) the act of creation, 2) the erotic potential of the artist, and 3) acknowledgement of the Pygmalion myth. I began with a simple grid system of these relevant characteristics, which soon developed into a dynamic three-axis graph. This graph not only charts each film’s adaptive treatment of the myth, but also its relationship to fellow cinematic adaptations and the original foundation text.

This presentation will explain how this analytical tool helps to clarify new ways of understanding the scope of Pygmalion reception, using the following six titles as examples: Mad Love (1935), One Touch of Venus (1948), My Fair Lady (1964), Miss Congeniality (2000), Lars and the Real Girl (2007), Ruby Sparks (2012). This presentation will contain benefit not only for classics students, but for adaptation studies and film departments since the three-axis graph can be modified to fit other foundation texts like Frankenstein or Cinderella.

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