Writing across Languages

Multilingual Annotations

As someone who studies English and is interested in language and cultural multiplicity (but also aware of the existing hierarchies), I found our first assignment extremely fascinating; yet challenging. I have always been interested in linguistics, but never had the brain for it. It is as they say: Linguistics is the math (or even the physics) of a language. I do believe that by simply watching the video tutorial, I would have not understand the point of our assignment. However, when analyzing multilingual sentences via the Google Colab in our session the goal became clear.

As expected, the Colab was not able to correctly annotate multilingual words. However, it is noteworthy to mention that we also indicated an error in the POS tags of a sentence fully written in English. Having said that, Google Colab or systems alike would naturally make more mistakes with multilingual sentences. That is because of the high hierarchy of English Language and that English “that once dominated in the name of imperial rule and now does so in the name of global communication and economic opportunity” (Glimour 3).

Nonetheless, As a result of rapid immigration, globalization, as well as development in media and social networks societies are changing. Therefore, living in a multilingual and multicultural community is not extraordinarily. In addition, many experts and writers challenge the ideology surrounding “Standard-English” together with the concept of monolingualism by recognizing, valuing, and using linguistic diversity. As Rebecca L. Walkowitz rightfully claims that “Globalization bears on all writers working in English today“ (3). That is why mostly, English is the main language with which a novel is written. These „born translated novels“ in Walkowitz’s term, such as The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee, challenge the notion of monolingualism.

The Childhood of Jesus, which is originally written in English, is the translation of the Spanish the characters are actually using. Hence there were many multilingual examples in the novel. One good example would be the „Llave“ which appears three times in a sentence and each time the Google Colab gives it a different POS tag. However, in most cases „foreign“ words are titled as PROPN. These assignments may help to improve the system to better understand and recognize multilingual languages in the future.

Glimour, Rachael. “Introduction: Bad English.” Bad English Literature, Multilingualism, and the Politics of Language in Contemporary Britain, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2020, pp. 1–37.

Walkowitz, Rebecca L. Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature. Columbia University Press, 2015, pp. 1-48.

Ein Gedanke zu “Multilingual Annotations

  1. iskabe

    Thank you for your thoughts on multilingualism and the effect globalization has on the English language. I think you (and Mrs Walkowitz) are quite right. Although the domination of the English language somehow perpetuates the English imperialism in the world, many different nations and cultures have appropriated and therefore changed the language. A "pure" or "original" English does no longer exist. As with other imperial languages like French or Spanish, there exist many versions of it. At the same time, of course, the post-monolingual novel also writes against the notion of an English domination by bringing forth many other "smaller" languages, that reflect the way the speakers in those novels communicate in reality. English might not even play a role in their life. As to the way the programme reacts to those multilingual texts: I find it almost ridiculous how many mistakes it makes in the tagging of POS and dependency. I shows that the programme has no idea at all how to deal with unknown words (which, although I know nothing of that field, can't be to hard to programme, can it?). The next step would of course be, to have a programme actually understand other languages than English. But it seems DH still has a long way to go there...

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