Katherine J. Zhang


A Hmong Corpus with Elaborate Expression Annotations
David R. Mortensen | Xinyu Zhang | Chenxuan Cui | Katherine J. Zhang
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

This paper describes the first publicly available corpus of Hmong, a minority language of China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and various countries in Europe and the Americas. The corpus has been scraped from a long-running Usenet newsgroup called soc.culture.hmong and consists of approximately 12 million tokens. This corpus (called SCH) is also the first substantial corpus to be annotated for elaborate expressions, a kind of four-part coordinate construction that is common and important in the languages of mainland Southeast Asia. We show that word embeddings trained on SCH can benefit tasks in Hmong (solving analogies) and that a model trained on it can label previously unseen elaborate expressions, in context, with an F1 of 90.79 (precision: 87.36, recall: 94.52). [ISO 639-3: mww, hmj]

Learning the Ordering of Coordinate Compounds and Elaborate Expressions in Hmong, Lahu, and Chinese
Chenxuan Cui | Katherine J. Zhang | David Mortensen
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Coordinate compounds (CCs) and elaborate expressions (EEs) are coordinate constructions common in languages of East and Southeast Asia. Mortensen (2006) claims that (1) the linear ordering of EEs and CCs in Hmong, Lahu, and Chinese can be predicted via phonological hierarchies and (2) that these phonological hierarchies lack a clear phonetic rationale. These claims are significant because morphosyntax has often been seen as in a feed-forward relationship with phonology, and phonological generalizations have often been assumed to be phonetically “natural”. We investigate whether the ordering of CCs and EEs can be learned empirically and whether computational models (classifiers and sequence-labeling models) learn unnatural hierarchies similar to those posited by Mortensen (2006). We find that decision trees and SVMs learn to predict the order of CCs/EEs on the basis of phonology, beating strong baselines for all three languages, with DTs learning hierarchies strikingly similar to those proposed by Mortensen. However, we also find that a neural sequence labeling model is able to learn the ordering of elaborate expressions in Hmong very effectively without using any phonological information. We argue that EE ordering can be learned through two independent routes: phonology and lexical distribution, presenting a more nuanced picture than previous work.


Morphology Matters: A Multilingual Language Modeling Analysis
Hyunji Hayley Park | Katherine J. Zhang | Coleman Haley | Kenneth Steimel | Han Liu | Lane Schwartz
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 9

Abstract Prior studies in multilingual language modeling (e.g., Cotterell et al., 2018; Mielke et al., 2019) disagree on whether or not inflectional morphology makes languages harder to model. We attempt to resolve the disagreement and extend those studies. We compile a larger corpus of 145 Bible translations in 92 languages and a larger number of typological features.1 We fill in missing typological data for several languages and consider corpus-based measures of morphological complexity in addition to expert-produced typological features. We find that several morphological measures are significantly associated with higher surprisal when LSTM models are trained with BPE-segmented data. We also investigate linguistically motivated subword segmentation strategies like Morfessor and Finite-State Transducers (FSTs) and find that these segmentation strategies yield better performance and reduce the impact of a language’s morphology on language modeling.