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'HSE Linguistics Students Have Really Good Methodological Background'

'HSE Linguistics Students Have Really Good Methodological Background'

Professor Geeraerts visited HSE School of Linguistics in November to deliver a course on cognitive sociolinguistics for students of Bachelor's programme in Fundamental and Computational Linguistics and Master’s programme in Linguistic Theory and Language Description and hold individual consultations. The visit was initiated by Nina Dobrushina (School of Linguistics). Prof Geeraets has also been long acquainted with Ekaterina Rakhilina, the Head of the School of Linguistics.

The course comprised four lectures. Prof Geeraerts noted the high level of interaction with the students who were very motivated and engaged. During individual consultations, Prof Geeraerts met over 15 HSE students. They all presented their projects in different fields and subfields. Some were purely variational studies, others − sociolinguistic; a number of projects were vocabulary-oriented. There was also some historical, diachronic work. ‘That was really interesting,’ comments Prof Geeraerts. ‘Because, on the one hand, I myself have also been involved in such projects, so I could relate to what the students were doing. On the other hand, what the students had to show was quite interesting and I could see that the students had really good methodological background. They were able to come up with actual description, data-based description of linguistic phenomena. In the lexical field, the lexical typology approaches that are being practiced here are obviously very interesting. On the more sociolinguistic side there were studies on dialect change, standardization of language and dialect loss. That was one of the topics that I included in my lectures, so there was a lot of correspondence, a lot of overlap.

I particularly appreciate the combination that is immediately there between computational approaches and more purely linguistic approaches, which of course in a sense continues a relationship between mathematics and linguistics that used to be a typical feature of Russian linguistics

Combining computational and linguistic approaches in one programme

Prof Geeraerts found HSE linguistics programme very strong – judging from the students and also from the way it’s constituted. ‘I particularly appreciate the combination that is immediately there between computational approaches and more purely linguistic approaches, which of course in a sense continues a relationship between mathematics and linguistics that used to be a typical feature of Russian linguistics. I think that is an extremely good starting point. Such a combination is only just emerging in linguistic departments of European universities. It’s computational in a different sense: not so much computational modeling but statistical corpus analysis. It’s definitely not natural language processing. Statistical data enables you to derive more objective results. The research is technology driven as more texts and tools become available. It is definitely the case that it is not always as well-entrenched in the curricula for training linguists as here, at HSE. In that respect I really think positively of the way HSE programme is built.’

I really see a growing convergence between the foundational fundamental studies and the applied studies because applied studies can use information that comes from the more usage-based fundamental studies

Practical aspects of cognitive sociolinguistics

‘Sociolinguistics research is not meant to be purely theoretical,’ states Prof Geeraerts. ‘You try to come up with data, and that data could be useful in different applications, not necessarily technological ones. There can be pedagogical approaches. To give you one example, in the type of sociolinguistics and variational studies we have been doing, there are methods for indicating the degree of typicality of different lexical items for certain varieties of language. So usually lexicographers will make a distinction between the vocabulary of Netherlandic Dutch and Belgian Dutch (Flemish). That’s of course not a binary phenomenon, that’s a cline, and the question is how you assign the index of specificity. That’s the kind of things that come out of the more corpus-oriented approaches. In similar ways, if you think of translation studies, you need certain types of frequency information. With these fundamental studies — I wouldn’t call them theoretical, I’d call them fundamental and not specifically practice-oriented  — we come up with new forms of frequency information, and that could play a role as input for teaching methods or as input for translation approaches. In the long run (but not that long really) I really see a growing convergence between the foundational fundamental studies and the applied studies because applied studies can use information that comes from the more usage-based fundamental studies. And obviously there also will be feedback in the other direction. The needs of specific applications will formulate the questions for fundamental research. I can end by saying that specifically in Europe that type of combination will become more important, because financial support for purely theoretical research may start to decline. There is a tendency to ask for validation of results.’ 

See also:

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Why might a grandmother and her grandson not understand each other? Why would linguists want to go to Dagestan? Is it possible to save the less commonly spoken languages of small nations and Russian dialects? Nina Dobrushina, Head of the Linguistic Convergence Laboratory answered these questions in an interview with HSE News Service.

Former HSE Exchange Student Returns as Post-Doc in Linguistics

Originally from Pavia, Italy, Chiara Naccarato developed an interest in Russian early on in her studies, completing her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Russian Language and Linguistics at the University of Milan. She recently joined HSE as a postdoctoral researcher in the Linguistic Convergence Laboratory after completing her PhD studies in Linguistic Sciences at the Universities of Pavia and Bergamo.

Lecture Series Explores Communicative Supertypes, Russian as a Reality-Oriented Language, and Language & Culture

On March 19 and 22, Per Durst-Andersen, professor in the Department of Management, Society and Communication at Copenhagen Business School, gave three lectures at the Higher School of Economics on topics that fall under his current research interests, which focus largely on cognitive linguistics; communicative and linguistic typology; language, culture and identity; semiotics; and the philosophy of science. A well-known expert in cross-cultural pragmatics and specialist in business communication, Professor Durst-Andersen delivered the lectures as part of the ‘Language in the Universe of Culture: Russian Communicative Style’ course.

Francis Tyers – Drawn by Russia’s Linguistic Diversity

One of HSE’s newest faculty members is Francis Tyers, who will join the School of Linguistics on August 28 as an Assistant Professor. A native of Normanton on Soar, a small village in the south of Nottinghamshire in England, he joins HSE following a postdoctoral fellowship at UiT Norgga árktalaš universitehta in Tromsø in the north of Norway, where he worked on language technology for Russian and the Sámi languages. Prior to that, he completed PhD studies in the Department of Languages and Information Systems at the Universitat d'Alacant in Spain.

'HSE Students Are not Content with Knowing Things — They Immediately Want to Solve Linguistic Problems'

Guglielmo Cinque is a professor of linguistics at the University of Venice and one of the most well-known European generativists. Recently he paid a week-long visit the HSE School of linguistics, and now shares his impressions of our students and staff, as well as of this year's weather in Moscow.

HSE Student Elizaveta Kuzmenko Receives Google's Women Techmakers Scholarship

Google announced the recepients of its several scholarship programs, including the Women Techmakers Scholarship (formerly the Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship). Among this year's winners Elizaveta Kuzmenko, 1st year student on the Computational Linguistics MA programme at the HSE School of linguistics. 

'Students at HSE Have a Good Sense of Linguistic Diversity'

Yale postdoc Kevin Tang recently gave a talk at HSE on his research in experimental phonology. We talked to Kevin about his conversion from an engineer to a linguist and asked him how he liked the feedback he received from HSE students.

School of Linguistics Launches an Online Course on Typology

The aim of the course is to obtain the idea of the lexicon as a complex system and to get the methodology of the typological approach to the lexicon cross-linguistically, as well as to learn about the general mechanisms of semantic shift and their typological relevance.

'I Am Happy the Conference on Caucasian Languages Finally Took Place in Moscow'

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‘Our Students Were Able to See that HSE is a Real Research University’

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