• Document: Dialect MT: A Case Study between Cantonese and Mandarin
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Dialect MT: A Case Study between Cantonese and Mandarin Xiaoheng Zhang Dept. of Chinese &. Bilingual Studies, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hung Hom, Kowloon Hong Kong ctxzhang@polyu.edu.hk translation as an altemative way to achieve Abstract automatic machine translation (Martin, 1997a, 1997b). Machine Translation (MT) need not be Translation or interpretation is not necessarily confined to inter-language activities. In this an inter-language activity. In many cases, it paper, we discuss inter-dialect MT in happens among dialects within a single language. general and Cantonese-Mandarin MT in Similarly, MT can be inter-dialect as well. In particular. Mandarin and Cantonese are two fact, automatic translation or interpretation most important dialects of Chinese. The seems much more practical and achievable here former is the national lingua franca and the since inter-dialect difference is much less latter is the most influential dialect in South serious than inter-language difference. Inter- China, Hong Kong and overseas. The dialect MT' also represents a promising market, difference in between is such that mutual especially in China. In the following sections we intelligibility is impossible. This paper will discuss inter-dialect MT with special presents, from a computational point of view, emphasis on the pair of Chinese Cantonese and a comparative study of Mandarin and Chinese Mandarin. Cantonese at the three aspects of sound systems, grammar rules and vocabulary 1 Dialects and Chinese Dialects contents, followed by a discussion of the design and implementation of a dialect MT Dialects of a language are that language's system between them. systematic variations, developed when people of a common language are separated Introduction geographically and socially. Among this group of dialects, normally one serves as the lingua Automatic Machine Translation (MT) between franca, namely, the common language medium different languages, such as English, Chinese for communication among speakers of different and Japanese, has been an attractive but dialects. Inter-dialect differences exist in extremely difficult research area. Over forty pronunciation, vocabulary and syntactic rules. years of MT history has seen limited practical However, they are usually insignificant in translation systems developed or comparison with the similarities the dialects commercialized in spite of the considerable have. It has been declared that dialects of one development in computer science and linguistic language are mutually intelligible (Fromkin and studies. High quality machine translation Rodman 1993, p. 276). between two languages requires deep Nevertheless, this is not true to the situation understanding of the intended meaning of the in China. There are seven major Chinese dialects: source language sentences, which in turn the Northern Dialect (with Mandarin as its involves disambiguation reasoning based on standard version), Cantonese, Wu, Min, Hakka, intelligent searches and proper uses of a great Xiang and Gan (Yuan, 1989), that for the most amount of relevant knowledge, including part are mutually unintelligible, and inter-dialect common sense (Nirenburg, et. al. 1992). The task is so demanding that some researchers are 1 In this paper, MT refers to both computer-based looking more seriously at machine-aided human translation and interpretation. 1460 translation is often found indispensable for A than B tall successful communication, especially between Cantonese: Cantonese, the most popular and the most A ~{ ~_ B influential dialect in South China and overseas, A goul gwo3 B (4) and Mandarin, the lingual franca of China. A tall more B Sente

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