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Toward a Cognitive Classical Linguistics
The Embodied Basis of Constructions in Greek and Latin
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EVALD – a Pioneer Application for Automated Essay Scoring in Czech

Abstract

In the paper, we present EVALD applications (Evaluator of Discourse) for automated essay scoring. EVALD is the first tool of this type for Czech. It evaluates texts written by both native and non-native speakers of Czech. We describe first the history and the present in the automatic essay scoring, which is illustrated by examples of systems for other languages, mainly for English. Then we focus on the methodology of creating the EVALD applications and describe datasets used for testing as well as supervised training that EVALD builds on. Furthermore, we analyze in detail a sample of newly acquired language data – texts written by non-native speakers reaching the threshold level of the Czech language acquisition required e.g. for the permanent residence in the Czech Republic – and we focus on linguistic differences between the available text levels. We present the feature set used by EVALD and – based on the analysis – we extend it with new spelling features. Finally, we evaluate the overall performance of various variants of EVALD and provide the analysis of collected results.

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Replacing Linguists with Dummies: A Serious Need for Trivial Baselines in Multi-Task Neural Machine Translation

Abstract

Recent developments in machine translation experiment with the idea that a model can improve the translation quality by performing multiple tasks, e.g., translating from source to target and also labeling each source word with syntactic information. The intuition is that the network would generalize knowledge over the multiple tasks, improving the translation performance, especially in low resource conditions. We devised an experiment that casts doubt on this intuition. We perform similar experiments in both multi-decoder and interleaving setups that label each target word either with a syntactic tag or a completely random tag. Surprisingly, we show that the model performs nearly as well on uncorrelated random tags as on true syntactic tags. We hint some possible explanations of this behavior.

The main message from our article is that experimental results with deep neural networks should always be complemented with trivial baselines to document that the observed gain is not due to some unrelated properties of the system or training effects. True confidence in where the gains come from will probably remain problematic anyway.

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Describing Life: Towards the Conception of Howard Pattee

Abstract

A description of living systems is still a topic of discussion among a number of disciplines. By an evaluation of the approaches, we get to an axis differentiating those that are indisputable in sense of dealing with verifiable and measurable phenomena. We thus also get to approaches that integrate particular extensions when dealing with the possibilities to describe living systems and processes. It is a task for biosemiotics to find connections of these approaches and thus ways to enrich each other or simply describe phenomena to the widest extent possible. One of the authors whose work is permeated by this idea is Howard Pattee. Inspired by his work, we discuss the options of description when talking about living systems and semiotic apparatuses. We do so by a formulation of two viewpoints that differ in questions of contextual dependency, interpretation and necessity of the existence of an autonomous agent as indispensable elements for the description of life phenomena.

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Aesthetic Universals in Neil Gaiman’s Post-Postmodern Mythmaking

Abstract

Aesthetic theory, as reflected in both contemporary cognitive (Patrick Colm Hogan) and more traditional structuralist criticism (H.G. Widdowson), points to the dynamics between familiarity and surprise as the driving force behind the pleasure we derive from reading fiction. This paper explains how Neil Gaiman’s works, particularly his novel Neverwhere, utilize genre expectations and reinvent mythologies in order to captivate audiences in the current age of unprecedented access to information and a rather superficial intertextuality. The paper draws on Brian Attebery’s analyses of the literature of the fantastic to place Gaiman within the context of both modernist and postmodernist legacies, while proposing that his works could be best understood as representative of the current cultural paradigm, sometimes labelled as the pseudo-modern or post-postmodernism. The discussion of the shifting paradigm is used as a backdrop for the scrutiny of the devices employed in Gaiman’s writing: the pre-modern focus on storytelling, prototypicality, modernist “mythic principle”, postmodernist textual strategies, and utilization of current technologies and mass-communication media.

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Alienation and Character Typology in African American and Native American Narratives: A Jungian Reading of The Bluest Eye and Winter in the Blood

Abstract

Alienation is a recurring literary subject in the United States. Its peculiarity is occasioned by the phenomenon of racial segregation, among others, with which the society is characterized. Thus, considerable critical attention has been given to the causes as well as the attendant socio-political, economic and psychological imports on the victims. From a psychological perspective, specifically, this paper engages in a comparative analysis of the effects of alienation on characters of African American and Native American origins produced by the same system in two novels which have African American and Native American roots – Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and James Welch’s Winter in the Blood, respectively. In order to understand the variance and/or convergence in the personality formations of the African American and Native American characters in the narratives, consequent upon the racially alienating system, the paper adopts Carl Jung’s psychological theory of personality typology, labelled introversion and extraversion, with a view to assessing how, typically, persons of these origins are more likely to react to the socio-political, cultural and economic situations affecting them as minority ethnic groups in the United States.

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A Bond Stronger Than Marriage: Discipleship in the Works of Christopher Isherwood

Abstract

This paper is concerned with Christopher Isherwood’s portrayal of his guru-disciple relationship with Swami Prabhavananda, situating it in the tradition of discipleship, which dates back to antiquity. It discusses Isherwood’s (auto)biographical works as records of his spiritual journey, influenced by his guru. The main focus of the study is My Guru and His Disciple, a memoir of the author and his spiritual master, which is one of Isherwood’s lesser-known books. The paper attempts to examine the way in which a commemorative portrait of the guru, suggested by the title, is incorporated into an account of Isherwood’s own spiritual development. It discusses the sources of Isherwood’s initial prejudice against religion, as well as his journey towards embracing it. It also analyses the facets of Isherwood and Prabhavananda’s guru-disciple relationship, which went beyond a purely religious arrangement. Moreover, the paper examines the relationship between homosexuality and religion and intellectualism and religion, the role of E. M. Forster as Isherwood’s secular guru, the question of colonial prejudice, as well as the reception of Isherwood’s conversion to Vedanta and his religious works.

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Early Modern Cultural Hybridity: Bartholomew Fair as a Heterotopia of Hamlet

Abstract

As a contribution to the discussion of Shakespeare’s “appropriability” (Stanley Cavell), this paper examines some aspects of the cultural position of Hamlet on the Jacobean entertainment market, as they are indicated in Ben Jonson’s comedy Bartholomew Fair (1614). The metatheatrical features of Bartholomew Fair may be said to measure the play’s resistance against appropriating the unique and problematic aspects of Hamlet, such as the Ghost or The Mousetrap. These are deconstructed in Jonson’s comedy, which anticipates the Enlightenment views of the social functioning of theatre as a “moral institution”.

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“I am rather strong on Voyages and Cannibalism”: The other Dickens and other Victorians in Richard Flanagan’s Wanting

Abstract

This paper analyses Richard Flanagan’s novel Wanting (2008) as a narrative informed by a revisionary and critical attitude to nineteenth-century ideologies, which is common to, and, indeed, stereotypical in much neo-Victorian fiction. Drawing on the biographies of two eminent Victorians: Charles Dickens and Sir John Franklin, Flanagan constructs their fictional counterparts as split between a respectable, public persona and a dark, inner self. While all the Victorian characters are represented as “other” than their public image, the focus in the novel, and in this paper, is on Dickens’s struggle to reconcile social propriety with his personal discontent. Flanagan represents this conflict through Dickens’s response to the allegations that starving survivors of Franklin’s ill-fated Arctic expedition resorted to cannibalism. The zeal with which the Victorian writer refuted such reports reveals his own difficulty in living up to social and moral norms. The paper argues that the main link between the different narrative strands in the novel is the challenge they collectively pose to the distinction between the notions of civilization and savagery.

Open access