http://lexikos.journals.ac.zaDirect User Guidancein e-Dictionaries forText Production andText Reception — The VerbalRelative in Sepedias a Case Study*D.J. Prinsloo, Department of African Languages, University of Pretoria,Pretoria, South Africa ([email protected])Theo J.D. Bothma, Department of Information Science,University of Pretoria, South Africa ([email protected])Ulrich Heid, Department of Information Science and Natural LanguageProcessing, Hildesheim University, Hildesheim, Germany and Department ofAfrican Languages, University of Pretoria ([email protected])andDaniel J. Prinsloo, Entelect, Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, South Africaand Department of African Languages, University of Pretoria,Pretoria, South Africa ([email protected])Abstract:This article introduces a prototype of a writing (and learning) assistant for verbalrelative clauses of the African language Sepedi, accessible from within a dictionary or from a wordprocessor. It is an example of how a user support tool for complicated grammatical structures in ascarcely resourced language can be compiled. We describe a dynamic light-weight tool aimed atcombining user-knowledge with text production support, i.e., user-involved interactive text production of the complicated verbal relative in Sepedi. In this article, the focus is on access in a dictionary use situation. Although the tool is intended as a writing assistant to support users in textproduction; it also satisfies text reception and cognitive needs, but its focus is on solving text production issues related with the interaction between lexical items and complex grammatical structuresin the African (Bantu) languages and for learning by users and/or training users in this interaction.Keywords:WRITING TOOLS, USER-GUIDANCE, USER SUPPORT, TEXT PRODUCTION,E-DICTIONARIES, AFRICAN LANGUAGES, SEPEDI, COMPLEX GRAMMATICAL STRUC-*This article represents follow-up work on an initial design study for user support in complexgrammatical structures presented at Euralex 2014 (Prinsloo et al. 2014). The website Sepedihelper.co.za was introduced at eLex 2015 (Prinsloo et al. 2015).Lexikos 27 (AFRILEX-reeks/series 27: 2017): 403-426
http://lexikos.journals.ac.za404D.J. Prinsloo, Theo J.D. Bothma, Ulrich Heid and Daniel J. PrinslooTURES, RELATIVE CONSTRUCTIONOpsomming: Direkte gebruiksleiding in e-woordeboeke vir teksproduksieen teksresepsie — die werkwoordrelatief in Sepedi as gevallestudie. Hierdieartikel stel 'n prototipe van 'n skryf- en (leer)hulpmiddel bekend vir werkwoordrelatiewe konstruksies in die Afrikataal Sepedi, wat vanuit 'n woordeboek of 'n woordverwerker toeganklik is. Ditdien as voorbeeld van hoe 'n gebruikershulpmiddel vir ingewikkelde grammatikale strukture in 'nhulpbronbeperkte taal saamgestel kan word. Ons beskryf 'n dinamiese liggewig hulpmiddel watgemik is op die kombinering van gebruikerskennis met teksproduksie-ondersteuning, dit wil sê,gebruikersbetrokkenheid by interaktiewe teksproduksie van die ingewikkelde werkwoordrelatiewe in Sepedi. In hierdie artikel is die fokus op toegang tydens 'n woordeboekgebruiksituasie.Hoewel die werktuig bedoel is as 'n skryfhulpmiddel om gebruikers in die produksie van teks teondersteun, voldoen dit ook aan teksresepsie- en kognitiewe behoeftes. Die fokus is egter op dieoplossing van teksproduksiekwessies wat verband hou met die interaksie tussen leksikale items enkomplekse grammatikale strukture in die Afrikatale asook op die aanleer van taal deur gebruikersen/of die opleiding van gebruikers in hierdie interaksie.Sleutelwoorde:SKRYFHULPMIDDELS, GEBRUIKERSLEIDING, GEBRUIKERSONDERSTEUNING, TEKSPRODUKSIE, E-WOORDEBOEKE, AFRIKATALE, SEPEDI, KOMPLEKSEGRAMMATIKALE STRUKTURE, RELATIEFKONSTRUKSIE1.IntroductionOver the last ten years, several writing aid tools have been developed (seebelow for an overview). Their purpose is to support users who need to producetexts (e.g. in a language that is not their L1). This support can be obtained in adictionary use situation or from a word processor. The focus in this article is onguidance in text production when using an e-dictionary for text productionwith verbal relatives in Sepedi. Such user support can either be obtained bychecking words, sentences or paragraphs produced by the user, or by guidinghim/her to adequate solutions. Most such tools focus on lexical choice (e.g. incollocations). For languages with complicated morphosyntactic structures, suchtools should cover not only lexical choice, but also the interaction between lexicon and grammar. The South African African (Bantu) languages are a typicalexample of such languages, and we will use Sepedi as a case in point in thepresent article.We will present the prototype of Sepedihelper, a tool that can assist dictionary users in the construction of Sepedi verbal relative constructions, which area typical example of the complexity that arises from the interaction betweenlexical choice and the grammatical system of the language. The prototype ispresented in a stand-alone version, but the objective is to include it into aninteractive e-dictionary, e.g. an English–Sepedi translation dictionary.In the remainder of this introduction, we recall the main lines of the stateof the art in writing aids; in section 2, we present the concept of direct user
http://lexikos.journals.ac.zaDirect User Guidance in e-Dictionaries for Text Production and Text Reception405guidance which underlies the Sepedihelper. Sections 3 and 4 are devoted to themorphosyntactic properties of the relative construction and show the complexity involved in the interaction between lexical choice and the building-up ofcorrect grammatical constructions. In sections 5 and 6 we show the principlesunderlying the writing support for Sepedi relatives, as well as the properties ofthe actual implementation of the tool. A "guided" tour from the dictionary userperspective follows in section 7 and we conclude in sections 8 and 9 withremarks on first experiences with dictionary users, as well as plans for futurework. While we exemplify the principles of direct guidance for dictionary userson the Sepedi relative construction, we are convinced that more constructionsfrom the African (Bantu) languages, as well as more generally any kind ofinteraction between lexical choice and grammatical (or morphosyntactic) constraints of a given language, could be dealt with along the same lines.Writing tools have a great potential for user support in an e-dictionary,especially for text production but also for text reception of complicated grammatical structures in any language. Such tools should be designed to take thedictionary user's expertise into account in terms of the level or strategy forguidance provided.Regarding text production, this article illustrates the working of a Builderfor assisting users to write relatives in Sepedi (see Section 3). In a similar vein,the tool should be able to translate a Sepedi relative phrase into English. Thenature of the support should typically also link to a user's level of knowledgeof the grammatical system of L2 and should therefore take different user types,based on their knowledge of the L2 and their information needs into consideration (cf. Tarp (2008)), which can be summarised as follows:———A user with a very limited knowledge of the language or a casual user,e.g., may prefer a machine translation option in the dictionary, with linksto the grammar rules which may be consulted on demand. Cf. Bosch andFaaß (2014) as an example of direct user guidance to the correct answerin the compilation of possessive constructions in Zulu plus rule-basedmachine translation technology. Possessive constructions in Zulu can beregarded as complicated, requiring substantial knowledge of the nominal class system, possessive concords, exceptions to the formation rules,etc. which many inexperienced users may not have at the time of consulting the tool.On the other hand, a user who has a fair knowledge of the language mayrequire a different type of support, e.g. through decision trees, i.e., a seriesof basic choices made by the user. Examples have been discussed forcopulatives, kinship terminology, colour terms, etc. Cf. Bothma et al. (2013),Prinsloo and Bosch (2012), Prinsloo et al. (2011), Taljard and Prinsloo (2013).In certain cases, a user might benefit more from a bird's eye viewthrough well-structured guidance paths such as tables and diagrams one.g. kinship relations, grammatical moods and meanings, etc. Cf. Prinsloo et al. (2012).
http://lexikos.journals.ac.za406D.J. Prinsloo, Theo J.D. Bothma, Ulrich Heid and Daniel J. PrinslooSuch technologies, integrated into the dictionary, may enable the user to findthe correct information at an adequate level of detail and complexity requiredto solve his/her information need, thereby individualising the data presentedto the user in terms of his/her information need. Cf. Bothma (2011), FuertesOlivera and Tarp (2014), Tarp (2008, 2011, 2012), Verlinde (2011).The purpose of such tools is to guide users to the information they arelooking for, i.e., without having to first study complicated grammatical structures in order to find the required information. We use the term user support(technologies) as an umbrella term for all such technologies. To date, we havedescribed only the three technologies listed above. Additional such technologies and designs exist, e.g., Interactive Language Toolbox (https://ilt.kuleuven.be/inlato/), Writing assistants and automatic lexical error correction: word combinatories (Wanner et al. 2013), A collocation writing assistant for learners of Spanish(Alonso Ramos et al. 2014), user driven task and problem-oriented multifunctional leximats (Verlinde et al. 2010), online data-driven lexicographic instrumentson foreign language learning (Buyse and Verlinde 2013), the work of Bertels andVerlinde on lexicography and corpus analysis (Bertels and Verlinde 2011), etc.All such techniques can be embedded in an e-dictionary and are intended togive information on demand, i.e., the user has the option to consult the tool ifthe "standard" dictionary article does not provide sufficient data to solve theuser's specific information need. It would also be possible to embed such toolsin a word processor, or for the user to consult such tools as stand-alone tools;this, however, is not the focus of this article and will not be addressed further.The focus is therefore on a tool embedded in an e-dictionary; access in this caseis from the e-dictionary. The user therefore consults the dictionary, in the current case about the translation of the English word "who" into Sepedi (i.e., a translation/text production information need), and upon finding that (s)he needsmore help than is available in the "standard" dictionary article, accesses theSepedihelper on demand.2.Direct user guidance as a support techniqueDirect user guidance as an additional technique in the e-dictionary to provideuser support for complex grammatical structures is not a solution for all usersupport. We regard it as a complementary technology that may be used inconjunction with other user support technologies for specific grammatical constructions, and the same way as these it should only be available to the user ondemand, depending on the user's level of language knowledge, the nature of theinformation need and the user's choice of support tool. In Prinsloo et al. (2014),we presented a design study to show that user support through direct userguidance can provide solutions in the case of complex concordial relationshipsbetween nouns and pronouns. In terms of the Function Theory of Lexicography(Tarp (2008), Bothma and Tarp (2012), Fuertes-Olivera and Tarp (2014)), thedesign provides for text production, text reception and cognitive information
http://lexikos.journals.ac.zaDirect User Guidance in e-Dictionaries for Text Production and Text Reception407needs. In this article, we report on further work that has been done in thisregard, viz. the development of a small-scale prototype to demonstrate the feasibility of such a tool. We describe it from the perspective of the end-user, i.e.,how (s)he could go about solving his/her information need by using the prototype tool. We also briefly describe the technologies we used to develop theprototype tool and report on some observations from user-studies.As will be clear from the discussion above and from Prinsloo et al. (2011,2012), such techniques are made available "on demand", i.e., users are notforced to use them if they feel that their information needs have been solved bythe "standard" dictionary article. In every case, the use of such a technique istherefore a conscious choice of the user to find more information or information that is easier to use, digest or apply than the information available in thedictionary, the outer text of the dictionary or other reference tools such asgrammar books that the user may have available.The importance of the user perspective as the main thrust in the compilation of modern dictionaries has been emphasized in numerous publications,e.g., Gouws and Prinsloo (2005), Tarp (2008, 2011, 2012), Fuertes-Olivera andTarp (2014). The concept of user-support appropriately puts the user in focus.Compare Tarp's (2012: 253) idea of individualization when he refers to "quicker,more accurate and personalized satisfaction of the corresponding user needs".Our approach to user support furthermore does not necessarily put the userinto a specific category (e.g., as a learner of the language): it is not profile-basedand does not assume that the user will be interested to study a complete grammatical paradigm before being able to produce (or understand) texts. We therefore also cater for the casual, on-the-fly user, who is not interested or in a position to devote time to the in-depth learning of a foreign language, but relies onaccess to appropriate information from the e-dictionary and additional tools ondemand.3.Grammatical