Research technologies in the language sciences are in a period of unprecedented development, and the judicious use of new technologies can result in rapid advances, even paradigm shifts, in the nature and scope of research.
We aim to develop and integrate existing research-based tools, hardeware, and in particular build on existing components such as Alveo and Exsite9. To capitalise on possibilities now in reach, techniques will include collection of big data by citizens (crowdsourcing), automated analysis and visualisation of corpora, and modelling of language interaction and evolution.
Mobile apps will make possible crowd-sourced acquisition of linguistic corpora and corresponding metadata, and technology for receptive language and/or hearing assessment, using eyetracking, ultrasound, and/or iPad-based interactive activities.
Computational tools will use and make accessible to a wider research community more advanced statistical techniques (e.g. multilevel analyses, cluster/factor analysis, phylogenetic analysis, simulation, machine learning for prediction, and visualisation).
For example, Discursis is an analysis system for assisting language researchers in visualisation of data and metrics for analysis based on 'semantic recurrence plots' (time series analysis techniques). The recurrence plots will be extended from transcribed text to audio, permitting the analysis of prosody, speaker identification, conversational turns, emotional state.
Similar tools for Learning, Processing, Shape and Evolution (on the community-based, micro-level) would allow (semi-) automatic estimation of the frequency of acoustic, lexical, or grammatical events and their distribution by speaker, time, and discourse context. These advanced tools will remove many bottlenecks to the analysis of data on new languages, allowing much more rapid building of minority-language corpora. Relevant to Evolution on the macro-level, novel techniques will be developed for inferring language relationships, quantifying language similarity and modelling the evolution of both languages and language traits over time.
Robots will serve as a modelling tool for various theories across the Centre, particularly Evolution, in which they can be used to instantiate hypothesized requirements for language to evolve. App platforms are also beginning to migrate to robots and other autonomous devices which can capture rich movement contexts as well as sensory data, with novel developments expected to increase exponentially over the life of the Centre. The use of autonomous robots to capture rich linguistic scenarios will be trialled in selected fieldwork locations.
We will also develop a language prosthesis to assist people as their language declines due to Alzheimer’s or other neurological conditions. The prosthesis will be used by the individual to assist in daily living, to identify conversational difficulty, then deliver predictive language scripts based on a customised database collected by Centre researchers. The prosthesis will have assistive technology applications in health and education.