Diplomacy Lab Bids Awarded to Modern Languages’ David Marcus and Kyoko Masuda

Posted November 24, 2020

Two faculty members of the School of Modern Languages, David Marcus, Lecturer of Arabic, and Kyoko Masuda, Director of Japanese Program and Associate Professor of Japanese & Linguistics, have had their Diplomacy Lab projects accepted by the State Department. The two successful bids were in response to the State Department’s project on Language Curriculum Development for Diplomats: Specialized vocabulary, spaced repetition, and automated lexical leveling in over 60 languages. 

See below for more information on these two awarded projects: 

1) A Corpus Analysis of High-Frequency Vocabulary in Modern Standard Arabic, Project Lead: David Marcus 

With a team of Arab students at Georgia Tech, the Project Coordinator will (1) create a database of online Arabic corpus analysis tools (there are over 10 available), (2) use one of these tools to highlight high-frequency vocabulary in an MSA database, probably using an online newspaper such as Egypt's Al-Ahram, drawing on BYU's high-frequency Arabic word lists, and 3) if time allows, create (or begin to develop) a morphological analysis tool for "lemmatization" 

It is expected that a publishable linguistics paper will arise from the project as well, i.e.: 

Morphology in Arabic is far more extensive than in most other languages, for it combines a root-letter-system [kh r j - yakhruj= he leaves, makhraj - an exit, alkhaarijiyya = foreign affairs] and a uniquely elaborate word-form-system smaf'al is a "place noun:" makhraj = an exit, madrasa=  school, etc.] Therefore the linguistic assumption that Stemming and Lemmatization work in a particular manner, is inadequate for Arabic. In other words, "Stemming" fails to address the language learner's needs.  

The project coordinator, David Marcus, Ph.D. has taught Arabic since 1988, at Middlebury College, Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and elsewhere. He was also on the team that developed the first edition of Georgetown's celebrated Al-Kitaab Arabic curriculum. One of his research areas is Arabic dialectology. (However, since Arabic language databases (corpora) mainly employ Formal Arabic, this project will not address the Arabic dialects.). 

2) A Corpus Analysis of the use of function verbs in Japanese Manga and light novels, Project Lead: Kyoko Masuda 

According to Nakamata (2019) who analyzed Japanese spoken corpus, not only content words, but also function words are topic-dependent, which is in fact, against some of the previous studies. The current project aims to deal with this issue by examining the popular Japanese manga and light novels. With a team of Georgia Tech students, the project coordinator will (1) examine the most frequently used content words in Manga/light novels, (2) investigate the frequent used function words and compare the results of Nakamata’s (2019) studies, (3) study use of passives, benefactive constructions, and interactional particles, which are all challenging-to-acquire by Japanese L2 learners, which would help developing pedagogical materials.   

The project coordinator, Kyoko Masuda, Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, joined Georgia Institute of Technology in 2004, and has taught both Japanese and Linguistics. Her main research areas consist of Cognitive Linguistics, Japanese-as-second Language Acquisition, Discourse Study, and Sociocultural Theory. Recently, she was a visiting scholar at Japanese National Institute of Japanese Language and Linguistics (NINJAL) in Tokyo, compiling many corpora (written, spoken, dialects, learners' corpus such as I-JAS, C-JAS).  She expects to work with a few Georgia Tech graduate and undergraduate students of Japanese at intermediate/high level who love to engage in text mining in Japanese Manga and light novels.   

The Atlanta Global Studies Center will be providing financial support to the projects. 

Georgia Tech is a member of an elite group of universities participating in the State Department’s Diplomacy Lab program.  The aim of the program is to harness the drive, intellect, and creativity of our students to solve some of the most difficult challenges confronting American foreign policy. The initiative enables the State Department to “course-source” research and innovation related to foreign policy, giving students concrete, hands on experience addressing real world problems within the context of their academic coursework. Students participating in Diplomacy Lab explore challenges identified by the State Department and work under the guidance of faculty members who are authorities in their fields. This initiative allows students to contribute directly to the policymaking process. 

For more information: GT Diplomacy website  https://diplomacylab.gatech.edu/ 

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