Tone restoration in transcribed Kammu: decision-list word sense disambiguation for an unwritten language

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding


The RWAAI (Repository and Workspace for Austroasiatic Intangible heritage) project aims at building a digital archive out of existing legacy data from the austroasiatic language family. One aspect of the project is the preservation of analogue legacy data. In this context, we have at our hands a large number of mostly-phonemic transcriptions of narrative monologues, often with accompanying sound recordings, in the unwritten Kammu language of northern Laos. Some of the transcriptions, however, lack tone marks, which for a tonal language such as Kammu makes them substantially less useful. The problem of restoring tones can be recast as one of word sense disambiguation, or, more generally, lexical ambiguity resolution. We attack it by decision lists, along the lines of Yarowsky (1994), using the tone-marked part of the corpus (120kW) as training data. The performance ceiling of this corpus is uncertain: the stories were all annotated, primarily for human rather than machine consumption, by a single person during almost 40 years, with slowly emerging idiosyncratic conventions. Thus, both inter-annotator and intra-annotator agreement figures are unknown. Nevertheless, with the data from this one annotator as a gold standard, we improve from an already-high baseline accuracy of 95.7% to 97.2% (by 10-fold cross-validation).


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • word sense disambiguation, Kammu, decision lists, lexical ambiguity resolution, tone restoration, legacy data
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLinköping Electronic Conference Proceedings
EditorsStephan Oepen, Kristin Hagen, Janne Bondi Johannessen
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch
EventNodalida 2013 - Oslo
Duration: 2013 May 23 → …

Publication series

ISSN (Print)1650-3686
ISSN (Electronic)1650-3740


ConferenceNodalida 2013
Period2013/05/23 → …

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

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