Plenary Lecture

Multilingual and Crosslingual Meaning of Verb Prefixes

Assistant Professor Nives Mikelic Preradovic
Professor Damir Boras
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Zagreb, Croatia
E-mail: nives.mikelic@gmail.com

Abstract: Multilingual dictionaries and parallel text corpora provide a powerful means for discovering the shared linguistic knowledge across languages. One of the phenomenathat has been revealed in many languages (English, Italian, Russian and especially German), but still not treated cross-linguistically,is the close relationship between the verbal aspect and Aktionsart (a syntactic-semantic category covering the manner of action, action type, verbal character or aspectual character) as well as the fact that both the aspect and Aktionsart are result of the derivational process. For the proper interpretation of Aktionsart in any language, the function of prefix in the derived verb is the mostimportant: if the prefix exhibits the function of semantic modification, then it signifies Aktionsart of the derived verb, causing the change of verbal aspect as well. In our recent research we discovered the unique semantic features of verb prefixes in Croatian and captured them in the Croatian verb valency lexicon CROVALLEX. The syntactic and semantic connection between base verbs and derived prefixed verbs was revealed and modeled as rules which contribute to the enrichment of the CROVALLEX lexicon. We analyzed all productive derivational verb prefixes in Croatian and proved that the prefix entails not only the change in the verbal aspect, but, more importantly, the change in the lexical meaning of the verb, the change in valency frame (both the number of arguments and the surface forms) as well as the syntactic-semantic class.We proved that the process of prefixation establishes connection between different base verbs that start to share the same semantic feature due to the prefix attached. Furthermore, when determining the typology of semantic features of each productive prefix in Croatian we realized that the features implicated by prefixation usually mean temporality (inchoative, punctuative, durative, iterative), locativeness, direction (adlative, ablative, perlative), dimension (intensive, diminutive), state change (resultative, mutative), transformativity, distribution, comitativity, etc. Our future step is to discover the possibility for the automatic cross-linguistic transfer of these semantic features from Croatian to Latin, Italian and German (as well as vice versa), using available digital texts of bilingual and multilingual dictionaries(digitized in the Croatian Dictionary Heritage and Croatian European Identity projector collected from free Internet sources). As a result, we plan to capture the semantic parameters of verb classes in each language that unify verbs with a certain syntactic and semantic behavior, proving the possibility to generalize the knowledge of the cross-linguistic transfer to acquire the syntax and semantics of verbs in all four languages. Research questions posed here will reveal if there is a possibility to extract the specific semantics and function of verb prefixes cross-linguistically, providing a framework for the description and comparison of individual languages. We believe that our present work sets markers for the future research, but also determine the Croatian share in the European language diversity.

Brief Biography of the Speakers:
Nives Mikelić Preradović is assistant professor at the Department of Information Sciences, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb. She obtained her MA in Croatian language and literature and Information sciences at the University of Zagreb andher MPhil in Natural Language Processing at Cambridge University, UK. She obtained her PhD in 2008 at the Zagreb University on the development of the Croatian Valency Lexicon – Crovallex and accentual-derivational models for Croatian nouns and adjectives as well as accentual-conjugational model for verbs. In 2006 she spent a semester doing teaching and research at Georgetown University, USA. Her general research interests include developing multilingual valency lexicon ofverbs and nouns, syntactic/semantic classification of verbs and nouns, morphosyntactic annotation, sentiment analysis (opinion mining), computer-assisted language learning and text summarization. She participated in several international and national projects: ACCURAT (Analysis and evaluation of Comparable Corpora for Under Resourced Areas of machine Translation), CESAR (CEntral and South-east europeAn Resources), Abu-MaTran (Automatic Building of Machine Translation), Typology of Knowledge and Information Processing Methods and Design and Management of Public Knowledge in the Information Space. She published a book, 10 book chapters and about 30 scientific papers in international journals and conference proceedings, part of them in WSEAS conferences.

Damir Boras is full professor with tenure at the Department of Information Sciences and the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb. He is the head and the founder of the Chair for lexicography and encyclopaedic science at the Department of Information and Communication Sciences. His main recent research interests are dictionary heritage and dictionary knowledge presentation, linguistic databases, computer assisted language learning, morphosyntactic annotation, terminology extraction and building multilingual valency lexicon of verbs and nouns as well as service learning. He has been principal investigator or research team member in many projects related to the application and introduction of the information technology, high and elementary education, publishing and jurisdiction (Sources for Croatian Heritage and Croatian European Identity, Croatian Dictionary Heritage and Croatian European Identity, Croatian dictionary heritage and dictionary knowledge presentation etc.). He conductes several courses at graduate and postgraduate level of the Information Science studies. Furthermore, he published more than 60 scientific and professional papers, textbooks and manuals and more than 30 reports in international and domestic scientific congresses in the field of information and communication sciences, text and natural language processing, lexicography and encyclopaedia. He is a member of many committees and boards (Committee for Science, Education and Culture of the Croatian Parliament, Board of the National Center for External Evaluation of Education, National Scientific-field board for Social sciences at the National board for science, etc.).

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